Earlier this week, NHL free agent center Jason Arnott announced his retirement. Arnott last played for the St. Louis Blues in 2012, his sixth organization. Drafted at seventh overall by the Edmonton Oilers in 1993, the 6’5” forward was expected to make an immediate impact. Although Arnott posted an impressive 33 goals and 68 points as a 19-year-old rookie, he never fulfilled the potential many saw in him.
But he did have a very solid career. In 2000, Arnott scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in double overtime for the New Jersey Devils against the Dallas Stars. He experienced a bit of a renaissance in the post-lockout NHL too. Arnott’s rookie total of 68 points remained his career high until 2005-06, when he finished with 76. Three seasons later, he set the Nashville Predators single-season goal record with 33.
Arnott closes his career just shy of 1,000 career points with 938. He added over 1,200 minutes in penalties for good measure. That’s nice and all. I hope Arnott finds success in his post-hockey life. But for me, his greatest contribution came in the fall of 1997.
Many people hold NHL 1994 for Sega Genesis up as the hockey game to end all hockey games. I would argue that NHL 1998 for the original PlayStation poses a strong challenge. Jim Hughson and Daryl “Razor” Reaugh’s commentary provided entertainment. Hughson with his signature, “That’s robbery!” call on big saves and Reaugh’s one-liners like, “That’s what you get when you go the wrong way on a one way street” were favorites of mine.
The game featured Gretzky as a Ranger, the Legion of Doom Flyers, and the soon-to-be, back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. When the NHL teams proved too tough for my 8-year-old self, I took out my frustrations on Teams England and Japan. The fact that those nations had hockey teams, and that I could play against them, blew my mind.
But what really set NHL 98 apart was its intro, which brings me back to Arnott. Have a watch below.
That’s Arnott slamming the penalty box door closed to the “Got a problem with authority?” voice-over. For some reason, that singular moment left an indelible mark on me. Jason Arnott became one of my favorite players. It just looked so … cool. And cool was everything to a fledgling second grader.
Happy trails, Mr. Arnott.