Forgotten Goaltender

March 29, 2010

Darren Puppa

Filed under: Maple Leafs,Sabres,Tampa Bay — Mike Kemezis @ 3:48 pm
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Daren Puppa was the goalie I fondly remember playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning back in their expansion era days. And now that I am older and have an apprication for hockey history and stats, I want to relive all those netminders I grew up hearing about but have been forgotten due to their lack of outstanding-ness. Here’s to you Mr. Puppa and where ever you are now.

Daren was drafted by the Sabres in 1983 in the 4th round (74th overall). He was a standout at RPI before turning pro in 1985, playing 20 games for the Rochester Americans and 7 for the Sabres. In is first start Daren posted a 2-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers, the 2 time defending Stanley Cup Champs. Daren would bounce up and down for the next couple of seasons until 1988-89 when he stayed with the big club for the whole season, seeing action in 37 games. The next year Daren played in the majority of Buffalo’s games, posting a career high 31 wins, a .903 save percentage and a 2.89 GAA. The 1989-90 season was the best year for Daren as he was named to the NHL All-Star team, selected to The Sporting News All-Star Second Team, named a Second Team All-Star by the NHL and finished second in the Veniza voting.

Unfortunately Daren was not able to recaputre his stellar form of the 1989-90 season and was traded from the Sabres to the Maple Leafs in 1993 along with Dave Andreychuk for Grant Fuhr. After only 8 games with the Maple Leafs, Daren was picked up by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 expansion draft.  The next day, however, he was acquired by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second phase of the 1993 expansion draft. Daren would become the starting goaltender for the Tampa Lightning in their inaugural season and put up a respectable 22-33-6 record with a 2.71 GAA.

Daren would regain the form he showed while in Buffalo in 1989-90 with Tampa Bay in 1995-96. With 29 wins and career bests in GAA, 2.46, and save percentage, .918, Daren led the Lightning to the playoffs for the first time in team history. For his outstanding season, Daren finished third in the Vezina voting.

Daren also suffered a few injuries in the 95-96 season, something that would plague him for the rest of his career. Back surgery caused him to only appear in 6 games in 1996-97. He had back trouble again in the middle of the 97-98 season and only could appear in 26 games. A strained groin caused him to miss most of the 1998-99 season and a cracked rib prevented him from playing in all but five games in 1999-2000, his final season. Over his last four seasons he was only able to play in 50 games and amass 12 wins. He retired in 2000 and still resided in the Tampa area.

Daren owns several Tampa Bay goaltending records such as most games played (206), losses (91), most shots faced (5477), and is tied with Kevin Weeks for most losses in a single season (33).

His played in 429 NHL games with a record of 179-161-54 with 19 shutouts. He played in 16 NHL playoff games with a 4-9 record.

Daren had two outstanding seasons, but was never consistent from one season to the next. Just when it seemed like he had found his game again in 1995, nagging injuries took their toll and force him to retire.


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