Darius Kasparaitis (born October 16, 1972) is a Lithuanian American former professional ice hockey defenceman. He mainly played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers. He is a four-time Olympian and three-time medalist, winning one gold medal, one silver medal, and one bronze medal. He received the title of Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR in 1992 and was inducted into the Russian and Soviet Hockey Hall of Fame in 2016. His 28 career Olympic games is a record among Russian national team's players.
October 16, 1972|
Elektrėnai, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)|
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
Ak Bars Kazan
SKA Saint Petersburg
5th overall, 1992|
New York Islanders
Kasparaitis left Lithuania for Russia at age 14 after training with Aleksey Nikiforov to play ice hockey at a higher level. Kasparaitis played his first game for Dynamo Moscow, one of the premier teams in the Soviet Union, at the age of 16 during the 1988–89 season, and won the Soviet League championship with them in 1992. He was drafted by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Kasparaitis played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, and New York Rangers.
Kasparaitis was known for his aggressive physical playing style and led his teams in hits several times, including his rookie season, in 1992–93 NHL season with the New York Islanders. On November 17, 1996, Kasparaitis was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. While playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1998 Kasparaitis' made a hard hit on Eric Lindros that knocked Lindros out of action for 18 games. On March 19, 2002, he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline, where he spent the remainder of the 2001–02 NHL season. Kasparaitis eventually wound up with the New York Rangers when he was signed on July 2, 2002. During the 2005–06 season, he served as an alternate captain of the Rangers, along with Jaromír Jágr and Steve Rucchin, as the Rangers had no captain.
Because the Lithuanian ice hockey team was relatively weak and hadn't ever played in major competitions, Kasparaitis chose to represent Russia in official events. In December 2005, Kasparaitis was chosen to represent Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. At the start of the 2006–07 season, Kasparaitis was replaced as an alternate captain with the Rangers by newly acquired Brendan Shanahan. He was waived by the New York Rangers on January 24, 2007 and subsequently demoted to the Rangers' affiliate in Hartford.
Kasparaitis was once again waived by the Rangers prior to the 2007–08 season. On November 3, 2007, the Rangers announced that Kasparaitis had been loaned to SKA St. Petersburg of the then-Russian Superleague (RSL), now the KHL. The deal was made possible due to a lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and North America at the time. However, the Rangers retained his NHL rights.
Kasparaitis left an enduring impression with Ranger fans with the team salute that he created. After every Rangers home win, Kasparaitis would direct the players to center ice and have the whole team follow in saluting the fans by raising their sticks in the air before departing the ice. The tradition is still carried on by the Rangers for every home win. He continued to play for SKA Saint Petersburg in the 2008–09 season. In 26 games, he contributed a single assist.
In the 2009–10 season, he did not play due to an injury and eventually announced his retirement at the conclusion of the season. Since his retirement he has attempted to become eligible to represent Lithuania internationally, which he finally did in 2018, playing for the team in the World Ice Hockey Championships Division 1B.
In early 2015, Kasparaitis co-founded the Verzasca Group, a Florida-based real estate development company, of which he holds the title as president. They took the name Verzasca from the Swiss river, because of the "transparency that the firm strives to bring to both its investors and its development partners." Later in the year, the company had gained approval on two residential projects in the Miami area.
Kasparaitis holds dual Lithuanian and United States citizenship. He is the father of six children. He has a daughter by his first wife, Irina. His second marriage, to Ingela ended in divorce in 2006. He and his current wife, Lisa, have twin daughters and three sons.
Regular season and playoffsEdit
|1990–91||Dynamo Moscow II||USSR III||16||3||7||10||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1991–92||Dynamo Moscow II||CIS III||8||2||1||3||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|1992–93||New York Islanders||NHL||79||4||17||21||166||18||0||5||5||31|
|1993–94||New York Islanders||NHL||76||1||10||11||142||4||0||0||0||8|
|1994–95||New York Islanders||NHL||13||0||1||1||22||—||—||—||—||—|
|1995–96||New York Islanders||NHL||46||1||7||8||93||—||—||—||—||—|
|1996–97||New York Islanders||NHL||18||0||5||5||16||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||New York Rangers||NHL||80||3||11||14||85||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||New York Rangers||NHL||44||1||9||10||48||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004–05||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||28||1||3||4||118||3||0||0||0||6|
|2005–06||New York Rangers||NHL||67||0||6||6||97||2||0||0||0||0|
|2006–07||New York Rangers||NHL||24||2||2||4||30||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||12||0||3||3||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|2007–08||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||4||1||0||1||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|2007–08||SKA Saint Petersburg||RSL||33||1||4||5||83||8||0||2||2||4|
|2008–09||SKA Saint Petersburg||KHL||26||0||1||1||34||—||—||—||—||—|
- June 20, 1992: New York Islanders 1st round pick, 5th overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.
- November 17, 1996: Traded by the New York Islanders, along with Andreas Johansson, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Bryan Smolinski.
- March 19, 2002: Traded by the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Rick Berry and Ville Nieminen.
- July 2, 2002: Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
- November 3, 2007: Loaned to SKA St. Petersburg.
Awards and HonorsEdit
- 1990: European Junior Championship All-Star Team
- 1992: World Junior Championships Best Defenseman
- 1992: Honoured Master of Sports of the USSR (renamed Honoured Master of Sports of Russia in 1993)
- 2016: Russian Hockey Hall of Fame
- "Kasparaitis named to Russian Hockey Hall of Fame". Lighthouse Hockey. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
- Diamos, Jason (November 18, 1996). "Islanders Trade Kasparaitis for Smolinski". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
- Profile, Philadelphia Daily News. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
- Eric Lindros timeline
- Eric Lindros' concussion history Archived 2011-03-05 at the Wayback Machine
- Grdnic, Dale (March 20, 2002). "Kasparaitis dealt to Colorado for Nieminen, Berry". The Times. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
- "Rangers sign Kasparaitis". United Press International. July 2, 2002. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
- Dellapina, John (September 25, 2007). "Rangers waive defenseman Darius Kasparaitis". Daily News. New York. Retrieved October 19, 2016.
- "Dinosaur On Ice". New York. 2010-02-03. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- "Kasparaitis beidz karjeru" (in Russian). parSportu.Iv. 2010-04-18. Archived from the original on 2012-02-27. Retrieved 2012-02-03.
- Kasparaitis putting retirement on hold, thehockeynews.com. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
- "КХЛ: Дарюс Каспарайтис станет тренером в СКА" (in Russian). КХЛ. June 19, 2010. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
- PR, Newswire (February 19, 2015). "International Real Estate Developer, Verzasca Group, Enters U.S. Market, Launches Residential Developments In South Florida". The Street. Archived from the original on September 16, 2016.
- Melendez, Eleazar David (February 19, 2015). "Russian Investors Plan Something Strange for Miami's Luxury-Happy Market: Something More Modest". Daily Business Review.
- Bandell, Brian (February 19, 2015). "Russian condo developers launch firm with new projects in Miami". Florida Business Journal.
- Lariviere, David (March 31, 2015). "Former NHL Veteran Darius Kasparaitis Is Building Condos In Miami". Forbes. Retrieved February 13, 2016.
- "Darius Kasparaitis: "Fabrikas oficialiai uždaromas!"". hockey.lt (in Lithuanian). May 17, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
- Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or ESPN.com, or Eurohockey.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
|Awards and achievements|
| New York Islanders first round draft pick