|Born||October 16, 1972
Elektrėnai, Lithuanian SSR,
|5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
|SKA Saint Petersburg
New York Rangers
New York Islanders
Ak Bars Kazan
|Ntl. team|| Russia &
Unified Team &
|NHL Draft||5th overall, 1992
New York Islanders
|Playing career||1988 – present|
Darius Kasparaitis (Russian: Дарюс Каспарайтис; born October 16, 1972) is a Lithuanian-born Russian professional ice hockey defenseman currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Known by the nickname Kaspar, he has dual citizenship in the United States and Russia, and he plays for the Russian national ice hockey team.
Kasparaitis left Lithuania for Russia at age 14 after training with Aleksey Nikiforov to play ice hockey at a higher level. Kasparaitis played his first game for Dynamo Moscow, one of the premier teams in the Soviet Union at the age of 16 during the 1988–89 season, and won the Soviet League championship with them in 1992.
He was drafted by the New York Islanders with the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Kasparaitis has played for the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers.
Kasparaitis is known for his aggressive physical playing style — including the famous hip check — and has led his teams in hits several times, including his rookie season, in 1992–93 NHL season with the New York Islanders. One of the players that he seemed to single out during that season was Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, as he repeatedly knocked Mario out of his game during the Patrick Division finals, as the Islanders upset the Penguins in Game Seven. Lemieux had to play with his Lithuanian antagonist when Kasparaitis was traded to the Penguins, a trade that did not only demonstrate Kasparaitis' harsh side but also his scoring talents. Kasparaitis' biggest moments in Pittsburgh were a devastating hit on Eric Lindros in 1998 that knocked Lindros out of action for 18 games and made Kasparaitis a near folk-hero in Pittsburgh, and scoring a game seven overtime goal vs. Buffalo in 2001. Kasparaitis eventually wound up back in the Empire State, being signed to the New York Rangers. It was widely speculated that his contract was going to be bought out prior to the 2005–2006 season; however, the Rangers chose to keep him for leadership purposes. During the 2005–06 season, he served as an alternate captain of the Rangers, along with Jaromír Jágr and Steve Rucchin, as the Rangers had no captain.
Due to the fact that Lithuanian ice hockey team was relatively weak and hadn't ever played in major competitions, Kasparaitis chose to represent Russia in official events. In December 2005, Kasparaitis was chosen to represent Russia in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
At the start of the 2006–07 season, Kasparaitis was replaced as an alternate captain with the Rangers by newly acquired Brendan Shanahan. He was waived by the New York Rangers on January 24, 2007 and subsequently demoted to the Rangers' affiliate in Hartford, as the coaching staff perceived him to be not in top game shape. Despite working hard towards a return to the NHL, Kasparaitis was once again waived by the Rangers prior to the 2007–08 season.
On November 3, 2007, the Rangers announced that Kasparaitis had been loaned to SKA St. Petersburg of the then-Russian Superleague (RSL), now the KHL. The deal was made possible due to a lack of a transfer agreement between Russia and North America at the time. However, the Rangers retained his NHL rights. Kasparaitis continues to play for SKA St. Petersburg today.
Kasparaitis is now a naturalized American citizen. He and his first wife Irina (born 1965 in Russia) have a daughter named Elizabeth. After they divorced, Kasparaitis married a Swedish real estate agent named Ingela. Kasparaitis and his second wife divorced the summer of 2006. Now he and his girlfriend Lisa Carrol have twin daughters named Liv and Lilly born in Sweden, September 3, 2008.
|1992–93||New York Islanders||NHL||79||4||17||21||166||18||0||5||5||31|
|1993–94||New York Islanders||NHL||76||1||10||11||142||4||0||0||0||8|
|1994–95||New York Islanders||NHL||13||0||1||1||22||—||—||—||—||—|
|1995–96||New York Islanders||NHL||46||1||7||8||93||—||—||—||—||—|
|1996–97||New York Islanders||NHL||18||0||5||5||16||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||New York Rangers||NHL||80||3||11||14||85||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||New York Rangers||NHL||44||1||9||10||48||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004–05||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||28||1||3||4||118||3||0||0||0||6|
|2005–06||New York Rangers||NHL||67||0||6||6||97||2||0||0||0||0|
|2006–07||New York Rangers||NHL||24||2||2||4||30||—||—||—||—||—|
|2006–07||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||12||0||3||3||8||—||—||—||—||—|
|2007–08||Hartford Wolf Pack||AHL||4||1||0||1||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|2007–08||SKA Saint Petersburg||RSL||33||1||4||5||83||8||0||2||2||4|
|2008–09||SKA Saint Petersburg||KHL||26||0||1||1||34||—||—||—||—||—|
|Olympic medal record|
|Gold||1992 Albertville||Ice hockey|
|Silver||1998 Nagano||Ice hockey|
|Bronze||2002 Salt Lake City||Ice hockey|
|World Junior Championships|
|European Junior Championships|
Played for the Soviet Union in:
Played for CIS/Unified Team in:
Played for Russia in:
|Senior Int'l Totals||51||3||12||15||50|