This week on The Broadway Hat Podcast I was joined by former NHL Defenseman Rumun Ndur. Rumun played parts of 4 NHL seasons and was the first Nigerian-born NHL player. After 29 episodes you get a feeling beforehand if you and the person you are interviewing will click and I had that feeling right away with Rumun. One of the nicest guys in the world. Before we get into Rumun’s career check out his episode.
How did a guy born in Zaria, Nigeria end up in the NHL? At a young age, Rumun’s father who practiced medicine in Nigeria moved the family to Hearst, Ontario. Living outside Toronto he grew up loving hockey and watching the Maple Leafs. From there he played youth hockey and was drafted in the 9th round of the OHL draft by the Guelph Storm. In the interview, he shares a great story about that draft day. He actually stormed out of the draft upset because he kept on falling so he wasn’t there when he was selected.
Ndur played 22 games in his first OHL season but took a huge jump forward in his second year. Rumun played 61 games and put up 39 points while also racking up 176 PIMs. He also added 4 goals in 9 playoff games. Following the season Ndur was named the OHL’s Most Improved Player in the 1993-94 OHL Coaches Poll. The year got even better when he was selected 69th overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. In his last year with Guelph Rumun served as the Assistant Captain and scored 10 goals which was the team lead for a defenseman. His 187 PIMs also lead the team.
Calder Cup Championship
Rumun’s professional career started with a championship. Under the leadership of a young John Tortorella the Rochester Americans won the Calder Cup in Ndur’s rookie season. Rumun led the team with 306 PIMs during the regular season. Ndur added 33 more PIMs on their run to the Calder Cup and produced 3 points. He also led the team with a +11 plus-minus rating in the playoffs. Here is a highlight reel of Rumun that has his incredible on ice celebration with the Calder Cup.
Our guy @Rumz75 was not afraid to drop the gloves. Also an electric celebration with the Calder Cup in those sweet @AmerksHockey jerseys. Check out our episode with him! https://t.co/dsXzcH3vEB #nyr #LetsGoBuffalo #nhl #StanleyCup #StanleyCupFinal #MTLvsTBL #ThursdayMotivation pic.twitter.com/H6UpG5SLGJ— The Broadway Hat Podcast (@Broadwayhatpod) July 1, 2021
Rumun spent parts of 4 years in the Sabres organization. In his second professional season, he made his NHL debut against the Hartford Whalers, and for the second consecutive season, he led Rochester in PIMs.
Ndur appeared in one game in the 1997-98 season but made the team out of training camp in his 4th year. In our interview, Ndur talked about his time playing in front of NHL legend Dominik Hasek and his unbelievable work ethic. This also came up in our episode with Greg Gilbert (Episode Link here) who played with him in Chicago. After playing eight games with Buffalo during the 1998-99 season he was placed on waivers and was picked up by the New York Rangers.
New York Rangers
During the interview, Rumun talks about entering the Rangers locker room that had some NHL legends in it. Playing on the same team as Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter, and of course the greatest player of all-time Wayne Gretzky. While he was on the Rangers Rumun achieved another career milestone scoring his first NHL goal. Ndur scored the Rangers’ only goal in a 1-1 tie with the Washington Capitals. He scored against 2x All Star and Vezina Trophy winner Olaf Kolzig. Pretty good brand name to get your first NHL goal against. Ndur also got to experience an incredible MSG and NHL moment playing in Wayne Gretzky’s last game. Rumun shared in the interview how special that was for a kid growing up in Canada and how surreal that moment was. Here is a clip from that part of the interview.
Awesome clip from this weeks episode with @Rumz75 talking about playing in @WayneGretzky’s final game. Check out the full episode here https://t.co/dsXzcHl73b #nyr #nhl #StanleyCup #SocialMediaDay #HockeyTwitter #PodernFamily #WednesdayMotivation #Trending pic.twitter.com/iXvqPV9czF— The Broadway Hat Podcast (@Broadwayhatpod) June 30, 2021
During his second season with the Rangers Ndur was placed on waivers and was picked up by the expansion Atlanta Thrashers. Rumun finished the season with Atlanta playing 27 games and scored his second NHL goal against the Florida Panthers. Rumun would also finish the season with an NHL career-high 71 PIMs.
Following his season with Atlanta Ndur played two seasons in the Chicago Blackhawks organization with the Norfolk Admirals and then made his first jump overseas playing in the Austrian hockey league. Ndur returned to the states a year later, playing a season with ECHL and then in the UHL. In his second season in the UHL, he jumped back overseas. This time to Slovenia and the HK Jesenice. Ndur would go on to win the Slovenia Championship. Rumun then went to play in the English Elite Hockey League (EIHL), where he became a crowd favorite with the Coventry Blaze. Ndur had his own fan club and went on to win two EIHL Championships and one Challenge Cup with Coventry.
Ndur would play three seasons in the EIHL before playing his last season with Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL. After a 15-year professional hockey career, Ndur retired after the 2010 season. Ndur now coaches junior hockey back in Ontario.
Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players.