One of the best puckhandlers and playmakers in the NHL, Craig Janney has averaged nearly a point per game in a little over 13 years of big league play. His creativity and knack for fooling defenders with an ability to find the open man made him one of the highest-scoring forwards in the 1990s.
Born In Hartford, Connecticut, Janney first gained fame as a high school star with Denfield Academy. He was chosen to play with the U.S. national team at the 1985 World Junior championships where he scored six points in seven games. He entered Boston College the next year, played again at the World juniors, and was drafted in first round, 13th overall, by the Boston Bruins in the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.
During the first year after being drafted, Janney exploded for 81 points in 37 games for Boston College. He was named to the Hockey East first all-star team and the NCAA East first All-American all-star team. The Bruins were anxious to get him into uniform but the Bruins felt that a year with the U.S. national team would be of greater benefit to him. Janney was one of the top scorers on the team during the 1987-88 pre-Olympic exhibition games. He played strongly at the Calgary Olympics, scoring six points in five matches although the team finished a disappointing seventh.
Following the Olympics, Janney stepped into the Boston lineup and averaged more than a point per game during the last 15 games of the season. He also played well and was a key factor in the Bruins' march to the 1988 Stanley Cup final where they succumbed to Edmonton. Although Janney's production was not as high as expected in 1988-89, his downtime was attributed to getting acclimatized to the long NHL season. He experienced injury problems in 1989-90 but was hot in the playoffs as the Bruins reached their second Stanley Cup final in three years.
Janney seemed to establish himself as a regular with 92 points in 1990-91 but his play was, at times, indifferent. He helped Team USA reach the Canada Cup final in 1991 and started the 1991-92 season in Boston. Later in the year he was traded to the St. Louis Blues for another playmaker, Adam Oates. It was hoped he would form a deadly partnership with Brett Hull and revitalize his career. In 1992-93 he registered a personal-high 106 points but was unable to sustain that offensive pace. In March 1994 he was traded to Vancouver as compensation for the Blues signing restricted free agent Petr Nedved. Janney refused to report and sat out a week until the two teams reached an agreement whereby he was traded back to St. Louis for a package of players.
Janney played well for the fourth place U.S. team at the 1994 World Championships but clashed with new St. Louis coach Mike Keenan in 1994-95. He was traded to San Jose where he spent parts of two seasons then shipped to the Winnipeg Jets late in 1995-96. He entered the record books that year as one of the last Jets as the team was transferred to Phoenix in the off-season. On the Coyotes, Janney's offensive magic clicked in spurts with power forward Keith Tkachuk. In January 1999 he was traded to the New York Islanders where he played 18 regular season matches before retiring.