Ilkka Sinisalo

Ilkka Sinisalo was a terribly underrated forward on some strong Philadelphia Flyers teams during the 1980s. Often overlooked by the likes of Brian Propp, Mark Howe, Tim Kerr, Pelle Lindbergh and Ron Hextall, Sinisalo quietly was a key cog in the Philadelphia team that twice reached the Stanley Cup finals.

Undrafted by the NHL, the HIFK (Finland) left shooting right winger was signed by the Flyers in 1981 as an undrafted rookie free agent, a practice that is now forbidden for European players under the NHL collective bargaining agreement. The Flyers made other teams look foolish for not taking a chance on this fine player.

An exceptional skater, Sinisalo was an unheralded two way winger. He had great hockey sense and vision which made him a regular on both the power play and penalty kill. He was a good compliment to the immovable Tim Kerr on Flyers power plays. Sinisalo would use his one step quickness to get into passing lanes, often acting as a diversion while Kerr got into position in front of the net. He also possessed deadly wrist and backhand shots. On the penalty kill Sinisalo's speed and anticipation made him a regular. At regular strength Sinisalo was equally strong at both ends of the ice. He ranks high on the Flyers all time +/- leader list.

When healthy, Sinisalo was a consistent 30 goal/70 point scorer. However health was a luxury for Sinisalo, as he only played in excess of 70 games in 3 of his 10 full NHL seasons. In fact in 1988-89 severe arm and ankle injuries limited him to just 13 contests, and 1 goal.

After nine seasons in Philadelphia, the aging winger signed on with the Minnesota North Stars in 1990-91. His stay there was short as he was traded to Los Angeles after just 46 games in Minny. Ilkka only played 10 games over 1 1/2 seasons in Los Angeles, and finished his North American career uneventfully in the minor leagues.

He returned to play several seasons in his native Finland before becoming involved in the management of a Finnish team. He also became a landlord in a Helsinki apartment complex where Janne Niinimaa lived while still playing in Finland early in his career.

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