This is Bernie Nicholls. His nickname was the “Pumper Nicholl kid” because he used to punch the air with his glove (it was a big deal at the time, you had to be there). He was drafted and came to the show with the Kings, and had a brief career with the Oilers too.
He was an amazing goal scorer. He wasn’t fast (he was in fact slow, very slow for the NHL) but he had this staccato style that allowed him to change directions or shoot from wonky spots. He rarely tipped what he was planning and lots of goals were scored on goalies who weren’t ready. He had this move where he’d fake a slapshot, move quickly (he had quick hands) to change the angle and then rip it shelf.
Nicholls scored 41 goals (in 55gp) in the AHL before getting called up to the majors and scored 14 goals in his first 22 games to end his first season (81-82). He ended up with 475 goals with a one season high of 70.
He is quite famous for older Oilers fans like me, for one very large moment in team history. Taken directly from hockeydraftcentral:
Nicholls found himself at the center of a controversy after he was traded by N.Y. Rangers to Edmonton as part of the Oct. 4, 1991, deal that brought Mark Messier to New York. Nicholls, the biggest veteran name on the Rangers’ end of the trade, immediately declared that he would never report to any team in Canada, and certainly not while his wife, Heather, was bedridden and expecting twins.
The Rangers refused to honor Nicholls’ wishes that he be left out of the deal, setting off a controversy that Nicholls’ fueled by making further statements that he would not play for a rebuilding team and would not play in Canada. He also felt the Rangers could easily substitute another player in the deal, and was concerned that he would become trade bait once again if he went to Edmonton.
Nicholls began a holdout against reporting to Edmonton and was suspended by the Oilers for failing to join the team. The suspension would cost him roughly $9,000 of his $700,000 salary for each missed game. Nicholls then indicated he would go to Edmonton if they gave him a big raise over his current contract, while also saying that he hoped Edmonton might trade him back to Los Angeles.
Nicholls said his pregnant wife was particularly interested in seeing him earn Messier’s former salary (more than $1.1 million in Canadian funds), and that if he was given this money, she would agree to move to Edmonton. Heather Nicholls was due to give birth to twins on Dec. 14, 1991, but had been having trouble with the pregnancy and Nicholls said there was no way he would leave her side until the babies were born. Nicholls and his wife had been trying to have children for five years and had even lost out in two efforts to adopt, when the babies’ mothers changed their minds at the last minute and withheld the children from planned adoptions. Nicholls therefore feared anything that might disrupt the pregnancy.
On Nov. 29, 1991, Heather Nicholls gave birth to a baby boy and girl, clearing the way for her husband to join the Oilers with no changes to his contract. Elated at the birth of his children, Nicholls announced his intention to play for Edmonton on Dec. 1, 1991, after having forfeited over $200,000 in salary during his holdout. He was removed from the Edmonton suspension list and reported to the Oilers in time for a Dec. 6, 1991, game at Winnipeg, but did not make his Edmonton debut until a Dec. 10, 1991, game at Vancouver. Nicholls was widely praised for putting his career in jeopardy so he could stick by his wife.