Esa Tikkanen (born January 1 1965) is a former Finnish ice hockey forward. He played 20 seasons in the NHL with Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, New Jersey Devils, Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. Esa Tikkanen is a five-time Stanley Cup Champion.
Esa Tikkanen played junior years in his home town Helsinki with Jokerit. He played Canada 1981-82 with Regina Blues (SJHL) and Regina Pats (WHL). After he came back, Tikkanen signed with HIFK in Finnish SM-liiga. Tikkanen was drafted in the fourth round (80th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1983 NHL draft. Tikkanen played 36 games for HIFK in 1984-85 season before joining the Oilers for 1985 playoffs.
Edmonton Oilers was one of the greatest NHL team of all time, when Tikkanen came to 1985 playoffs. Leading by Wayne Gretzky, Edmonton won second straight Stanley Cup 1985 and Tikkanen gets his name engraved to Stanley Cup by playing only three games. Tikkanen won three more Stanley Cups with Edmonton (1987, 1988 and 1990) and became key part of team’s first line along with Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky. Kurri and Gretzky were roles to score goals and Esa Tikkanen was more defensive player. Tikkanen was also famous at confusing opponents with his Tiki-Talk (Finnish-English, that many players did not understand what he was saying).
New York Rangers and rest of NHL career
In March 1993, Tikkanen was traded to New York Rangers. Tikkanen was part of the team that brought Stanley Cup back to the New York after 54 years in 1994 after beating Vancouver Canucks in game seven. In July 1994 Tikkanen was traded to the St. Louis Blues. After 11 games in 1995-96 season, Tikkanen was traded to New Jersey Devils – three weeks later he was again traded, now to Vancouver Canucks.
The 1996-97 season Tikkanen traded back to the New York and the Rangers. New York Rangers went to the Eastern Conference Finals that season, but physical Philadelphia Flyers was too good this time. In the summer of 1997 Tikkanen became a free agent and he signed with Florida Panthers – this was also short story and Tikkanen was traded to Washington Capitals at March 1998 – Capitals went to Stanley Cup Finals, but they lose 4-0 to Detroit Red Wings. Tikkanen signed third time with New York Rangers 1998, he only played 32 games before injury sidelined him for the rest of the season.
Tikkanen played 877 NHL games, scored 244 goals and 386 assists and took 1077 minutes in penalties in his career.
Other interesting stuff
In 1999-2000 Tikkanen played season with Helsingin Jokerit in Finland after that he played with Moskitos Essen of the DEL in Germany – Tikkanen retired 2001. In 2004-05 Tikkanen surprised many as he took role of the player-coach for the Anyang Halla, a South Korean team in the Asian League Ice Hockey – he made 25 points in 30 games, but Halla did not make the playoffs.