Nick Fotiu is among the top 100 New York Rangers of all time but probably not for his hockey skills. Fotiu was a fan favourite for being the first Staten Island born player to play for the Rangers and for his love of the fans in the cheap seats.
It all began for Fotiu in the North American Hockey League. Nick played 72 of 74 regular season games for the Cape Cod Cubs in the NAHL’s inaugural season, 1973-74, his first year of pro hockey. He put up decent offensive numbers with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. However, his claim to fame was leading the league in penalty minutes with 371, 55 more than second place Dave Ferguson of the Syracuse Blazers.
In that first year in the NAHL, Fotiu played 13 games in the playoffs, scoring four games and adding seven assists while sitting 80 minutes in the sin bin. The Cubs reached the semi-finals before falling to the Long Island Cougars four games to two.
In 1974-75, Nick started his season with the Cape Codders but was called up to the World Hockey Association after five games. In those five, it looks as though Fotiu was being used for his offensive abilities just as much as his toughness with three points and a relatively mild 13 minutes in penalties.
WHA / NHL
Nick played 110 regular season games in the World Hockey Association between 1974-75 and 1975-76 with the New England Whalers. In 1975-76, he sat 94 PIM over 49 regular season games and 57 in just 16 playoff games. The Whalers reached the WHA semi-finals before the Houston Aeros eliminated New England 4-3.
Fotiu played 646 regular season games in the National Hockey League from 1976-77 to 1988-89 with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers. Over that time, he spent 1,362 minutes in the box. Most of his career was spent with the Rangers. The Whalers selected him in the 1979 expansion draft when they entered the NHL but traded him back to the Rangers in January, 1981.
His professional hockey career ended with a partial season in the American Hockey League in 1989-90 with the New Haven Nighthawks.
Nick coached in the ECHL for five years. He was head coach of the Nashville Knights in 1992-93 and 1993-94, reaching the post season both years. He was head of the Johnstown Chiefs for three seasons from 1995-96 to 1997-98. In the final year with the Chiefs, he was replaced 30 games into the season.