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. For those reasons, Deader begins the top half of the Top 19 Avalanche Players Of All Time.
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.
It's difficult these days to really appreciate just how tough the roster from that the inaugural season of the Avalanche really was. Deadmarsh fit into a scrappy forward lineup that included Claude Lemieux (117 PIM), Warren Rychel (147 PIM) and the ever-psychotic Chris Simon (250 PIM). Only Rychel wasn't a threat to score goals.
It's a shame that true power forwards don't excel as much in the "new NHL" as they did back in the mid-1990s. They were an excellent weapon against trapping defenses and helped to police the ice when an enforcer was unavailable. In 2006-07, it looked as though Ian Laperriere would become such a player, but since then his offensive production has dropped and he's returned to his role as an almost exclusive defensive agitator. The current Avalanche have no modern-day Adam Deadmarsh, much to their detriment. Maybe Darcy Tucker will fill that role. Maybe.
Deader was also money in the playoffs. In 1995-96, the first Cup year, he scored 17 points in 22 games, including five goals. In 1998-99, he scored 12 points in 19 games. And in 1999-00, he tallied 4 goals and 15 points in 17 games. While not quite Claude Lemieux in his post-season heroics, Deadmarsh was an extremely valuable player to have in the playoffs.
Maybe most importantly, Deader could fight. He never hesitated to drop the gloves when necessary, and never backed down, especially against the Red Wings. In his career he kicked the asses of Martin Lapointe, Vladimir Konstantinov, Brendan Shanahan and Darren McCarty. And he hated the Flames, too.
Deadmarsh played very well overall 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.
Deader only played six seasons with the Avalanche (and eight overall), but he left quite a mark. In 405 games played, he scored 271 points and sat in the penalty box for 667 minutes. Too bad he couldn't have had more time to pad those numbers.
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.
(This is an expanded and revised version of an older post that ran previously on MHH.)
[Highest rating: 7. Lowest rating: 13. Average score: 9.83]