A first-round draft pick by the Washington Capitals in 1990, John Slaney became one of the AHL’s premier offensive defensemen over his career.
Slaney came to the American Hockey League in 1992 and picked up a goal and an assist in his professional debut, a sure sign of things to come. With the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1992-93, Slaney set league records for goals (20) and points (66) in a season by a rookie defenseman, and he had 27 points in 29 games with the Portland Pirates in 1993-94 before spending the rest of the season with the parent Capitals.
Over the next five years, Slaney would spend the majority of his time playing for Washington, Colorado, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Nashville in the NHL before signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999. With the expansion Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 1999-2000, Slaney saw time both at defense and forward and had a career year, leading the team with 30 goals and 60 points in just 49 games while quickly becoming a fan favorite.
In 2001, on the eve of the AHL All-Star Classic in Wilkes-Barre, Slaney was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Penguins’ departing captain took one last bow in front of the home crowd and earned All-Star Game MVP honors with a three-point performance. By season’s end, Slaney had racked up 67 points in 65 games between Wilkes-Barre and the Philadelphia Phantoms, and was voted the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s top defenseman.
In 2001-02, Slaney was named a team captain for the AHL All-Star Classic held in his native St. John’s, N.L., and went on to capture the Eddie Shore Award again, becoming just the third player ever to win it in back-to-back years. He was a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2003-04 on the strength of 19 goals, 48 assists and a plus-20 rating in 59 games for the Phantoms, and in 2005 he helped Philadelphia to a Calder Cup title.
Slaney made his fifth career All-Star Classic appearance in 2006, and on Jan. 21, 2007, he became the first defenseman in AHL history to reach 500 career points. Slaney, who finished his playing career in Europe, returned to the AHL as an assistant coach with the Portland Pirates in 2011 and remains in that position today.
At the time of his last game, Slaney’s career totals of 166 goals, 353 assists and 519 points were all career records for an AHL defenseman.