To say that true "power forwards" are a rare breed in the NHL is an understatement. Most big, brawny forwards these days are really good at checking, fighting and being called for penalties, but they don't do much else. Most of them couldn't score a goal even if Jose Theodore was in net. On the flip side, most talented scorers rarely if ever drop the gloves or throw an elbow when prudent. It's very much an either-or situation.
The ability to be both a scorer and a banger is what made Adam Deadmarsh so important to the Colorado Avalanche and later the Los Angeles Kings. "Deader", as he was called on the ice, could put the puck in the back of the net on a regular basis but had no problem getting dirty and physical and throwing his weight around.
In just the six NHL seasons in which Deadmarsh played more than 60 games, he scored more than 20 goals five times. In those same six seasons, he averaged more than 113 penalty minutes. His scoring touch was rarely hampered by his tough, physical style of play.
Adam Deadmarsh was drafted 14th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by Quebec, and stayed with that franchise through the move to Denver in 1995-96. In that Stanley Cup-winning year, Deader scored 48 points to go with his 142 penalty minutes during the regular season, then topped it all off with 17 points (including five goals) in 22 playoff games. Even more notable than his place on the team was his place on the Stanley Cup. His name was misspelled as "Deadmarch". Luckily for him, the NHL Cup-keepers corrected the mistake (the first ever correction) and today his moniker is correctly listed.
Deadmarsh continued to play very well for the Avalanche, and scored more than 40 points each season until 2000-01. That's when things turned ugly for him. Ed Jovanovski hit him hard during a fight in November 2000 and Deader ended up with a serious concussion. He missed much of that season because of it. Then, just prior to the trade deadline, he was shipped to the Los Angeles Kings with Aaron Miller in exchange for Rob Blake and Steve Reinprecht---the Avalanche went on to win the Cup again that season, and Deadmarsh this time just barely missed getting his name (correctly spelled, this time) engraved again. Worst of all, the Avalanche beat the Kings in the playoffs to get there.
Though set back by injury and post-season frustration, Deadmarsh had no problem finding a home with the Kings. He quickly earned the admiration of the fans in Los Angeles just as he had in Denver. In 2001-02, he had his best season ever offensively, scoring 29 goals and 62 total points in 76 games.
The next year, however, his head once again took the brunt of his physical style of play, and he suffered another serious concussion. On December 29th, 2002 the Kings placed Deadmarsh on the disabled list after he complained of chronic dizziness and headaches. He never played another game in the NHL. At the age of 27, Adam Deadmarsh's professional hockey career had ended. Eventually, after a lengthy but futile rehab effort and the 2004-05 lockout, he announced his retirement on September 22, 2005.
In hockey, it's not uncommon for tough, physical players to be done in by their own style of play. But when they play with as much heart and intensity as Adam Deadmarsh did, their short careers are honored with legacies that last much longer. Kings and Avalanche fans alike will always have a place in their hearts for Deader.