Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 12, 2017 at 6:25 PM
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Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski, who was involved in one of the most lopsided trade deadline deals in league history, died on Tuesday. He was 49.

The cause of death was not immediately known for Zalapski, who represented his native Canada in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta.

Zalapski was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the fourth overall pick of the 1986 draft. He was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team in 1989 and spent three-plus years with the Penguins before being traded to the Hartford Whalers on March 4, 1991.

Zalapski joined John Cullen and Jeff Parker in being sent to the Whalers in a six-player deal that saw Hall of Famer Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings head to Pittsburgh.

With Francis centering the team's second line behind Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, the Penguins would go on to win Stanley Cup titles in back-to-back seasons.

Zalapski fared well in Hartford, recording a career-high 20 goals and setting up 37 others in 79 games during the 1991-92 season before adding 14 tallies and a personal-best 51 assists in the following campaign. He also played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

The Edmonton native then ventured to the Calgary Flames for parts of five seasons, collecting 21 goals and 55 assists.

"We are deeply saddened with the news of Zarley's passing," Flames president Ken King said in a statement. "We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey; made Calgary his home following his playing career; represented our alumni executive; and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family. This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Zalapski finished up his NHL career by spending limited parts of one season each with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.

"We are saddened today to hear of the passing of Flyers Alumni defenseman Zarley Zalapski at age 49. RIP Zarley," the Flyers posted on Twitter.

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