Mike Hartman was a tough as nails winger who earned an honest living by keeping NHL opponents honest.
Mike played his junior hockey with the OHL's Belleville Bulls and North Bay Centennials. Although Mike Hartman played junior hockey in Canada, he is a proud American born in Detroit, Michigan. He grew up in a hockey family as his father was the team photographer for the Detroit Red Wings.
The Buffalo Sabres drafted Hartman 131st overall in 1986. The following season he was enjoying his first taste of NHL action as he split his season between the OHL, the World Junior Hockey championships, and the Sabres. Mike acquitted himself nicely with 69 minutes in penalties in 17 games, but also 3 goals and 6 points.
Hartman spent most of the 1987-88 season apprenticing in the minor leagues, but returned to the NHL on a full time basis in 1988-89. Hartman set a Sabres team record with 316 penalty minutes but also added 8 goals and 17 points. His impressive season all but ensured him of an NHL paycheck for the next few years.
Mike continued to do his yeoman's work over the next two years with the Sabres. He was held to just 60 games player in each year, but scored 11 and 9 goals respectively. He also reduced his penalty minute totals to the 200 mark. Without ruining his reputation as a player who would aid his teammates at any time, Hartman was able to help his team by taking less penalties and making more of a contribution while on the ice.
Hartman's development made him an attractive commodity around the NHL. The Winnipeg Jets thought enough of him to make sure he was included in a large trade just prior to the beginning of the 1991 season. That trade saw the Sabres trade Mike, Darrin Shannon and Dean Kennedy to Manitoba for Dave McLlwain, Gord Donnelly and a draft pick (used to select Yuri Khmylev). However in Winnipeg Mike's development was slowed as they wanted him to play more of the traditional "goon" role than a solid grinder role. He would last only one season in Winnipeg before he was left exposed in the 1992 expansion draft.
The Tampa Bay acquired Mike in that draft. he would put in a solid effort with the first year Bolts. He scored 4 goals and 8 points and was only -7 on a bad expansion team. But he would end the year as a member of the New York Rangers.
Injuries limited Mike to just 35 games and no playoff games in the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup championship year. Although he did not play enough games to qualify him for inclusion of his name on the Stanley Cup initially, although by the time the engraving occurred he was included. Mike calls just being present for that magical playoff run his career highlight.
Mike would play just one more NHL game following that championship victory. He would end up toiling with several minor league teams before finishing his career in Germany in 1999.
Mike retired with 397 NHL contests under his belt. In that time he scored 43 goals and 35 assists for 78 points in addition to 1388 penalty minutes. He added 106 penalty minutes (and no points) in 21 playoff contests.