We are winding down the Chicago Blackhawks Greatest 100 countdown, and we end up on #22 and Eric Nesterenko who was a solid force for the Chicago Blackhawks from the mid 50’s to early 70’s.
Eric Nesterenko was a young kid that was signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs to become the next big thing in the NHL. Unfortunately for Nesterenko and the the Leafs things just didn’t work out, and after 5 seasons was basically sold to the Chicago Blackhawks.
He was a tremendous defensive forward so his offensive numbers never come shouting across the page. The one number that does stand out when you look at his career stat line is that he along with Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, and Bob Murray are the only 4 Chicago Blackhawks to ever play 1,000 games in a Chicago Blackhawks jersey.
Nesterenko was the jack of all trades off the ice, and if you research his other jobs its very interesting, but he did get a bigger contract out of the Wertz’s when he tried out and received a contract by the Toronto CFL team. The ploy worked which is really a head scratcher when you look back at how cheap the Wertz family was back then.
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The highlight of Nesterenko’s career had to be the 1961 season, when the Chicago Blackhawks were able to hoist the Stanley Cup. He was very deep in the twilight of his career when the Hawks lost the 1971 Stanley Cup to the Montreal Canadiens. It is said that Billy Reay played Nesterenko instead of the younger players in that final period which is part of the blame for the blown 2-0 lead at Chicago Stadium.
Nesterenko’s career went from over a decade of the original 6 to seeing expansion in the NHL a couple of times more than doubling the league’s franchises which probably helped extend his career longer than it would have 10 years earlier.
Nesterenko stat line isn’t totally impressive, but he was a Chicago Blackhawk for a long time and 2 generations of fans knew his defensive game very well!
Only 22 more days until the NHL season kicks off from the United Center.