Just 5'9" and 190 pounds, Randy Burridge wasn't the biggest player on the ice. Although he was never afraid of the physical game, Randy quickly learned to use his excellent one-step quickness to become a useful player in the land of giants known as the National Hockey League.
Randy peaked in 1988-89, scoring a career high 31 goals. However injury problems took their toll on the Fort Erie, Ontario native. He would only tally 32 and 28 points in the following two seasons in Boston.
The lowered production and lack of healthy precipitated a trade to Washington. The Capitals moved Stephen Leach to Boston in hopes that Randy could remain healthy and rediscover his scoring touch. Their gamble paid off initially as Randy scored 23 goals and a career high 67 points despite missing 14 games in the 1991-92 regular season.
Disaster struck in training camp 1992 however. Burridge blew out his knee and was forced to undergo surgery which cost him all but 4 games in the regular season. He did return to the lineup in time for the playoffs, where he scored 1 goal in 4 games, although clearly he lacked the extra step because of his long layoff.
Often a blown-out knee can mean the end for a small player who relied on his wheels to succeed in the NHL like Burridge, but Randy made a successful comeback in 1993-94. He played in 78 games and scored 25 goals, but added just 17 assists for 42 points.
The Capitals traded Burridge to Los Angeles early in the lock-out shortened season of 1995. Burridge never got untracked in California, scoring just 4 times in 38 games. He was released at the end of the year.
The Buffalo Sabres signed Randy in time for the 1995-96 season. The move paid off handsomely as Randy, who was seemingly written off by the rest of the league, regained his form when he scored 25 goals and 58 points in 74 games – good enough for second on the Sabres scoring charts.
Randy’s success in Buffalo was fleeting as changes in coaching and management left him out of the Sabres' plans. He would play sparingly over the next two years but by the end of 1997-98 he had his contract bought out by the Sabres.
"I played pretty good for Buffalo when they played me, but they didn't play me all that much," Burridge said. "They wanted to go in a new direction. I was kind of bitter the way it ended."
Randy couldn't find an NHL contract in 1998-99. He ended up splitting the year between Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL and the Hannover Scorpions in Germany. He was all set to hang up the blades after that season when the Detroit Red Wings offered him a training camp try out. Randy went to the camp with the idea that if he couldn't make the team he would retire.
"To move my family to the minors, I don't want to do that. It's not good for the kids. Instead, I'll just say, 'I've had a great career. But I don't want to. Not yet," said Randy at the time.
Unfortunately the great depth of the Red Wings meant that he would not make the NHL team. He was true to his word and to his family, and gave up the game he loved so dearly.
Randy retired with an impressive 199 goals and 450 points in 706 NHL games. He was a strong playoff contributor as well. He scored 18 goals and 52 points in over 100 post season matches.