Monday

Alex Pirus

This is Alex Pirus. As a rookie in 1976-77 Pirus made a big bang with the Minnesota North Stars.

Pirus was one of seven rookies used regularly by the North Stars that season, with stylish Roland Eriksson and dependable Glen Sharpley also of note. But it was the 6'1" 205 winger Pirus who drew much of the praise from coach Ted Harris.

"Alex Pirus hits harder than anybody I've ever seen in a North Stars jersey," said Harris. The coach probably didn't mind Pirus' unexpected offensive contributions either. The 41st overall pick in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft chipped in with 20 goals and 37 points, many of those in the second half of the season.

Pirus took the unusual route to the NHL. Very few NCAA players advanced to the NHL in the 1970s. But Pirus actually left the University of Notre Dame early to compete in professional hockey. The honours business student made his business crunching NHL bodies and scoring goals.

"Checking is a better part of my game," said Pirus. "Keeps me awake and more involved in the game. I don't look for an individual guy and pick him out to check. If a guy is there for a check, I hit him."

Yet Pirus was a clean player. He only picked up 47 penalty minutes in that freshman season. He had one notable fight though, wrestling Dave "The Hammer" Schultz to the ice with few punches thrown.

"I don't fight unless someone gives me a cheap shot or a spear. I don't mind taking a hard hit - that doesn't bother me. Now if I get infuriated, that's something else again."

Despite the promise, Alex Pirus soon disappeared from the NHL scene. He suffered through a terrible sophomore campaign, scoring just 9 goals and finishing the year in the minors. From that point on he was mostly a minor league player, getting call ups with the North Stars and briefly with the Detroit Red Wings. He would play in a total of 159 NHL games, scoring 30 goals and 58 points. 

Pirus completed his business degree at Notre Dame in the summer of 1978. His life took a different turn altogether after hockey. He found religion, but remained active in the hockey world. He served as a minister and a leading figure with Hockey Ministries International, combining hockey and religion in summer camps. He also has served as the chaplain for Chicago Blackhawks and AHL Chicago Wolves players.

2 comments:

Caleb,  November 6, 2013 at 5:47 PM  

I had Pirus as an Instructor at an HMI camp in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Great guy and a great coach. Wish I would've been lucky enough to play for him. I'll never forget the story he told about fighting either Terry O'Reilly or Dave Schultz.

justin chiampa March 29, 2016 at 4:50 AM  

You forgot about the time he got pummeled by John Wensink in the famous "Wensink challenges the Minnesota bench" game. It's probably his greatest claim to fame.

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