Nick Fotiu

Nick Evlampios Fotiu was tough as nails. As a son of a Greek father and Italian mother he had the temperament in his blood. When Nick grew up in Staten Island he used to take the 3½ hour journey to Skateland, which was an ice rink in New Hyde Park. The trip required two buses and two subways so it wasn't unusual that Nick stayed there until they closed.

Years later Nick reflected back on those times.

"Sometimes I'd find myself on the subway in the middle of the night and I'd say to myself, ' Am I nuts or what ? Is this all worth it ? I'd be up at 3 AM, and getting home at 9 AM because it was often easier to get ice between 5 AM and 7 AM - so just when people were first getting up, I'd be coming home from the rink, dropping of my gear, and going to work," Nick said.

And when the Rangers practiced at Skateland, Nick was around to carry the players sticks and telling them that he one day would make it to the big league.

Nick could very well have become a professional boxer. He was very strong and went on to become the Police Athletic League Boxing Champion and surely could have had a future as a pro boxer. His boxing skills was something that many players experienced in the hockey rink throughout the years. Not many wanted to fight Nick for obvious reasons. Nick never saw himself as a goon though.

"I'm no goon. I play hockey. I check. If anybody wants to fight, I'll fight," Nick once said. Not that many people really wanted to fight him. Dave "The Hammer" Schultz, one of hockey's most infamous tough guys, wrote in his book that Fotiu was the only man he was afraid to fight in his NHL career.

Nick started playing competitive hockey in 1971 for the New Hyde Park Arrows in the NY Rangers sponsored Metropolitan Junior Hockey Association. He then went on to play for the Cape Cod Cubs in the (NAHL) where he in his first year picked up a league high 371 Pim's. In June 1974 the New England Whalers (WHA) signed him as a free agent. Nick played two seasons for the Whalers before he was signed by the NY Rangers on July 1976.

Nick became an instant hit in the Big Apple as the crowd embraced their "local kid." Nick was after all a native New Yorker who had lived in NY all his life (he attended New Dorp High School). It has always incorrectly been said that Nick was the first native New Yorker ever to play for a New York team, which isn't quite true. Billy Burch, born in Yonkers, NY used to play for the NY Americans back in the 1920's and 30's.

After three seasons in New York, Nick was claimed by the Hartford Whalers in the 1979 expansion draft. The NY management weren't happy to see Nick go to Hartford so they re-acquired Nick in 1981. During his second stint in NY he became even more popular. One of the most appreciated things among the fans was when Nick tossed pucks up to the crowd after pre-game warm-ups. This became a ritual before every home game.

Nick won the Rangers Fan Club award (Frank Boucher Trophy), given to the most popular player on and off the ice. He won it in 1982 and 1984. Unfortunately his time in NY had to come to an end. On March 11, 1986 he was traded to Calgary. Nick went on to play for Philadelphia and Edmonton as well shortly thereafter. Nick retired after the 1989-90 season, shortly before his 38th birthday.

Nick wasn't a very technical player but had a pretty decent shot and was a pretty fair skater as well. He didn't excel in any of these departments, but he was a fierce competitor who always played hard and who was willing to lay out heavy hits as well as drop the gloves.

Nick, who probably has the NHL's best middle name - Evlampios - retired with 646 NHL games under his belt. He scored 60 goals and 137 points in that time, as well as picking up 1362 PIM. He also played 110 games in the WHA, scoring 5 goals and 9 points plus 238 PIM.


Unknown 5:16 PM  

Great story. I remember my power skating coach, Laura Stamm, also the coach of the New York Rangers and Islanders say that, "End to end, Nick Futio was the fastest player on the Rangers."

Anonymous,  1:39 PM  

I met Nick Fotiu this weekend and was thrilled to meet someone I had admired since I started watching hockey as a teenager. I asked to take a picture with him and told him how awesome I thought he was. His friendliness and humility were absolutely mindblowing. Truly a legend.

Steve Mag,  5:24 PM  

One of my favorite Rangers as a teenager...loved his passion and toughness...a true legend of the Broadway Blues!!!

Vinnie Espo,  2:47 PM  

Had the pleasure of meeting Nick at my grandson's hockey program which
met at the Ranger/s practice facility in upstate NY. This was
shortly after the hockey season
opened, last November. I talked to
him a good 15 minutes, and then we
took pics with my son and grandson,
it was like I knew him for years.
As tough as he was on the ice,that,s
how nice he was off.

JOE Bel,  7:59 PM  

I was assistant to the DJ Lance at Nick's night club in Falmouth on Cape Cod called " The Hunt Club" I helped out from about 1983-86. I was only 17 and underage when I began working in the DJ booth. Nick used to look at me when I was 17 or 18 and say, " is this kid old enough to be in here??" He wasn't super friendly, but he would nod at me.
He had this monster bouncer named Richard built like Lou Ferrigno with blond hair. The girls loved Richard. Nick didn't really need a,bouncer. I saw him take a guy causing trouble with one hand and punch his lights out 3-4 times... Nick was the toughest guy I ever saw. Those were fun times for an underage kid pretending to be a twenty something. Thanks Nick ��

Brock Mathieson 2:03 PM  

Brock Mathieson:I remember playing in the Metropolitan hockey League against Nick at a game at Madison Square Garden. And I had my first Junior league hockey fight against him! He was a couple of years older and more physically like a full grown man than I was then but we went toe to toe at center ice under the Garden lights in a heavyweight brawl! Neither giving a inch! We both gave our best and neither where the worse for wear! What I did remember was everyone was telling me what a great job I did standing toe to toe with him but I was young and did not know his reputation! After the game he skated over to me and congratulations while telling me that was the best fight he had in the Met. League. I still did not understand the significance of the fight until after the game and Brad Park and Jim Nelson of the Rangers personally congratulated me! I can't remember any other encounters with him after that and thinking that I had more concerns as a defenseman in the league like stopping the great Joey Mullen!

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