Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reijo "Rental Rexi" Ruotsalainen and Waiver Rules

Little guy Reijo Ruotsalainen is the reason for Evgeni Nabokov's waiver problems
There's was a lot of talk about Evgeni Nabokov and waiver rules this past weekend. For those unfamiliar with waivers, please read Pension Plan Puppets Waivers 101: A Guide to the NHL Waivers Rules. While making my daily round of reading hockey blogs at work, I was given fond memories of Reijo Ruotsalainen - the reason the waiver rule was created.

From Eliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts:
Get the sense the league lacks much sympathy for Nabokov, but what about guys such as Marek Svatos or Kyle Wellwood? They really didn't have NHL options. The waiver rule was created because Reijo Ruotsalainen joined Edmonton on March 5, 1987 for a Cup run - after his Swiss season ended. Would a Jan. 1 deadline for such players to return without waivers be worthwhile?
Reijo "Rexi" Ruotsalainen is that guy that Pierre McGuire kept talking about during the World Juniors this year (comparing Ryan Ellis' style to Reijo's) and because Ruotsalainen's record 21 career points by a defenceman at the WJHC was broken by Ellis. The Finnish defenceman is considered one of the best skaters ever.

This from Greatest Hockey Legends:

Paul Coffey was Ruotsalainen's most comparable peer. Like Coffey, Rexi's skating ability was simply phenomenal. He had an incredible set of wheels, blessed with great speed and the ability to get into gear within a step. And he skated backwards and laterally equally as well, perhaps even better than Coffey. In fact he could skate better in reverse than most forwards could skate forward! He effortlessly drifted across the ice as the opposition skaters strained to keep up. It was nothing short of beautiful, and perhaps only equaled by a Scott Niedermayer or a Katerina Witt!
Ruotsalainen played a majority of his NHL games with the New York Rangers, but did not get along with new coach Ted Sutor after Herbs Brooks was fired during the 1984-85 season. After the season, Ruotsalainen left for Switzerland to play for SC Bern. Seeing the comparisons to Paul Coffey, Edmonton Oilers GM Glen Sather chased after Ruotsalainen's services. He made a complex trade to acquire his NHL rights (Oilers trade Don Jackson, Mike Golden, Miroslav Horava and future considerations (Stu Kulak) to Rangers for Clark Donatelli, Vile Kentala, Jim Weimer and Reijo Ruotsalainen), but he could not buy out the contract from SC Bern. Instead, he waited until after the Swiss season for Ruotsalainen to join the team. Ruotsalainen came to Edmonton in early March 1987 and the Oilers won the Stanley Cup that year. Ruotsalainen left for Europe again to maintain Olympic eligibility (no NHLers allowed then), but would return to the Oilers yet again after a trade with the New Jersey Devils and help the Oilers win another Stanley Cup in 1990.

Ruotsalainen never played in the NHL again after that season, but left his mark on the NHL waiver rules. "Rental Rexi" only played 26 regular season games with the Edmonton Oilers, but still won two Stanley Cups.


  1. Great post. Going to find a video of him skating now.

  2. I remember him skating with the Rangers... what they say about his skating is true, one of the best I've seen

  3. Good rule to have, lots of good talent in those leagues that could help teams for playoffs

  4. Can you guys at DirtyDangle post video of this guy skating? cant seem to find anything

  5. Only clip I have found of him so far.


    He scores at the 8:25 mark

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  10. Watch from Vimeo "Reijo Ruotsalainen highlights" Wow!

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