Esso Hockey since 1936Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
Federko, Bernie

Federko, Bernie

With a seemingly consistent low profile throughout the rest of the hockey world, Bernard Allan Federko was respected and loved by the fans of St. Louis, Missouri. Never one to bask in the limelight, his consistency earned him 1,130 points during a 14-year NHL career of which 13 were spent in the "Gateway to the West".

A native of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada, Bernie Federko was born on May 12, 1956 and played his minor hockey in the town of approximately 1,000 people from 1962-73, including a year for the Foam Lake Flyers senior club at the age of 16. Beginning with the 1973-74 season, Federko traveled 240 kilometres northwest down the Yellowhead Highway to Saskatoon, where he became a member of the junior Blades. There he would play three seasons in the Western Canada Hockey League, leading Saskatoon to the league finals in both 1975 and 1976. He became a hot commodity among NHL Scouts in 1975-76, breaking Bobby Clarke's single season record for points with 187 and leading the playoffs in scoring with 45 points in 20 games. His efforts were rewarded with a 1st Team All-Star berth, WCHL MVP honours and a high-ranked position among draft eligible prospects.

Both the NHL and WHA Amateur Drafts took full advantage of the two-time WCHL finalist Saskatoon Blades in 1976, pilfering three of the club's forwards in the top seven picks of the NHL Draft. Selected sixth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the WHA Draft, Federko was also selected seventh overall behind teammates Blair Chapman and Fred Williams in the NHL and quickly proved his junior stats were not a fluke and the St. Louis Blues had chosen wisely. After a strong training camp the gifted pivot was sent to the Blues' Central Hockey League farm club in Kansas City. He would record 69 points in 42 games for the baby Blues and along with linemate Brian Sutter, earn an immediate recall to St. Louis. There he would procure a permanent NHL job with 23 points in 31 games for the Smythe Division leaders. Despite missing the second half of the season, his efforts in KC were not forgotten as the CHL awarded him with a berth on the 2nd All-Star Team and the Ken McKenzie Trophy as Rookie-of-the-Year.

The 1977-78 season marked the beginning of 12 consecutive seasons for Federko as a member of the St. Louis Blues. The 1978-79 season proved to be a break-out year, leading an extremely weak Blues' club with 64 assists and 95 points, eighth in the entire league. Rapidly the ever-patient playmaker led St. Louis to noted improvements, recording his first of four 100+ point seasons in 1980-81 and coinciding with a second-place overall finish for the Blues with a club record 45 wins and 107 points.

During his 13 seasons as a member of the Blues, Federko led the Blues in scoring nine times, including eight consecutively from 1979-86, along with three straight 100-points seasons from 1984-86. "The Magician" as he came to be known in St. Louis circles, led the Blues to within a single goal of the Stanley Cup Final in 1986. Despite playing in only three rounds, Federko finished as the leading playoff scorer with 21 points. Then Blues' Head Coach Jacques Demers stated, "He's got to be the most underrated player in this league." This was proven to be accurate by his participation in only two All-Star contests during his career. The consummate playmaker was a wizard behind the net, ala Wayne Gretzky, becoming the first player in NHL history to record 50+ assists for 10 consecutive seasons, leading his General Manager Ron Caron to quip, "He makes the average or above-average player look like a star at times."

Before leaving the Blues in 1989, Federko would achieve numerous personal milestones. On March 19, 1988, he would, appropriately, record an assist to become only the 22nd NHL player to reach the 1,000 point barrier. He spent his final season with the Blues as captain, a reward for his dedication to both the team and the city. Following the 1988-89 season, Federko held 11 St. Louis Blues' career records, including games played (927), goals (352), assists (721) and a record he had broke at the beginning of his 8th season, points (1,073).

Following a shocking trade of St. Louis' favourite son during the summer of 1989, Federko played one final season with the Detroit Red Wings, enabling him to reach the 1,000 games played milestone. He would retire after a 57-point campaign for the Wings and on March 16, 1991, his number '24' sweater was raised to the rafters of the St. Louis Arena, becoming just the fourth Blues player to have the honour bestowed upon him.

After a brief stint as the General Manager of the St. Louis Vipers in Roller Hockey International, Federko remained in St. Louis working with the Blues as the Colour Commentator on television broadcasts. Federko would receive a well deserved accolade with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

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