When dealing with this week's AGM, I found out that his nickname matched his quickness and aggressiveness when in the crease. Also, it seemed that he was such a catch that he'd often go back to some of his former teams for a second tour of duty with them....or at least two of the teams he played with that happened. In either case, whether he was used as either a starter or as a back-up; he was game either way. This week, we talk about the career of Rick Tabaracci.
Tabaracci started off his career in the MTJHL in 1985-86 with the Markham Waxers. His played 40 games and when a decent 19-11-3, though his 5.18 GAA wasn't something to be proud of. However, he moved onward to the major junior ranks with the Cornwall Royals in the OHL for the 1986-87 season; yet it was a rough start with a 23-32-3 record in 59 games. It was enough, however, for the young Tabaracci to get drafted 26th overall in the 1987 Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was a motivating factor for Tabaracci, as his second year in Cornwall, Tabaracci went 33-18-6 and lead the OHL with three shutouts on the season. It garnered Tabaracci OHL First All-Star status and a chance to play in the IHL after the season with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Tabaracci got no-decision in his only appearance in relief during the IHL playoffs.
The 1988-89 season saw Tabaracci starting off with the Penguins and playing the back-up role to Wendell Young, even seeing time replacing Young in October of '89, but was sent back down to the OHL after that. Going back, even with some pro experience, wasn't as good for Tabaracci in the season, as he went 24-20-5 for the season, but helped carry the Royals to the OHL semi-finals, before losing the Peterborough Petes. The future was bright for Tabaracci, but the Penguins saw him as disposal. In the summer if 1989, the Penguins traded Tabaracci, along with Randy Cunneyworth and Dave McLlwain to the Winnipeg Jets for Andrew Bain, Jim Kyte, and Randy Gilhen.
The 1989-90 season with a new club, Tabaracci split his time in the minors with the AHL's Moncton Hawks and the IHL Fort Wayne Komets. In 27 games with Moncton, Tabaracci went 10-15-2, while he went 8-9-1 in 22 games with the Komets. The 1990-91 season saw Tabaracci starting the season in Winnipeg as a back-up to Bob Essensa, which started out well before Tabaracci pulled a hamstring and was sent back to Moncton to rehab it. It was disappointing at both sides, going 4-9-4 in Winnipeg and 4-5-2 in Moncton. The 1991-92 season saw Tabaracci start out with Winnipeg, but after going 1-3-1 to start the season, he was sent down to Moncton. He was called up and went 1-3-0 in December before getting sent back down for another stint before returning in February. As a whole, the 1991-92 yielded a 6-7-3 record in Winnipeg, with a 10-11-1 record in Moncton. Tabaracci was the goalie of choice for the Jets' playoffs, which only last seven games, Tabaracci going 3-4. The 1992-93 season saw the injury bug rear its ugly head again, with back spasms plaguing Tabaracci. It caused Tabaracci to split time again between Winnipeg and Moncton, going 5-10-0 in Winnipeg and 2-1-2 in Moncton before the Trade Deadline in 1993.
On March 22nd of 1993, the Jets traded Tabaracci to the Washington Capitals for former AGM Jim Hrivnak. Tabaracci was used as a back-up for Don Beaupre and went 3-2-0 in his six games with the team. Tabaracci also got the call in the playoffs, going 1-3 in the games he played in for the Caps. The 1993-94 started out even more ominously with Tabaracci tearing some knee ligaments in training camp, which made him start the season out with the Portland Pirates to rehab it. Tabaracci went 3-0-0 in his Portland stint and was moved up to the Caps roster at the end of October and stood back-up for the year playing in 32 games and going 13-14-2, while going 0-2 in his playoff appearances. With the lockout of 1994-95 saw Tabaracci play with the Chicago Wolves of the IHL while the NHL was dark, going 1-1-0 in his games there, while going 1-3-2 with the Caps. Again, the Trade Deadline came and Tabaracci was on the move again.
On April 7th 1995, Tabaracci was dealt to Calgary for a fifth round pick because of a logjam in net for Washington. Tabaracci would play in five games for Calgary and go 2-0-1 for the Flames. In 1995-96, Tabaracci got a good break with the Flames, as he was able to split time with another former AGM, Trevor Kidd; and get 43 games in. Tabaracci shined in his games, going 19-16-3 and getting two games in the playoffs, going 0-2 in those games. However, with another logjam in net, Tabaracci had to fight for time in the 1996-97 season in Calgary. Tabaracci played seven games in Calgary that year, going 2-4-0 before getting shoved out of the equation.
In November of 1996, the Flames traded Tabaracci to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Aaron Gavey. Tabaracci was thrown right into the starter's role in Tampa, playing a total of 55 games for the Bolts and going 20-25-6 with four shutouts as the starter. It was short lived as the Bolts traded Tabaracci back to Calgary in the summer for a fourth round pick. The 1997-98 season would be another split season for Tabaracci in Calgary, splitting time with Dwayne Roloson. Tabaracci got 43 games going 13-22-6 for the season for a dismal transitional Flames team. But, what better way to solve that, but another trade. This time, the Flames traded Tabaracci BACK to the Capitals for future considerations. The 1998-99 season saw Tabaracci take a backseat to Olaf Kolzig and have a horrific 4-12-3 record; but it could have been the best 4-12-3 record ever, as Tabaracci had a 2.51 GAA and .906 save percentage-- which were some of the best numbers of his life.
The 1999-2000 season was a travel-filled one for Tabaracci. He couldn't get onto a team until November when the Atlanta Thrashers picked him up as a free agent, after he played one game with the Canadian national team (one loss). The Thrashers played Tabaracci for one game (one loss) before trading Tabaracci to Colorado for Shean Donavan. The Avalanche only played Tabaracci two games (0-1-0), as Tabaracci kicked around the IHL with the Cleveland Lumberjacks (5-5-0), Orlando Solar Bears (11-6-4), and Utah Grizzlies (4-4-3). The 2000-01 season saw Tabaracci stay in the IHL ranks with the Grizzlies backing up Mike Bales, going 14-13-1, but with a 2.44 GAA and .921 save percentage on the year. It was Tabaracci's last at the pro level, as he retired after then.
During his career, Tabaracci was very involved the community and continued to contribute to the Calgary area after his retirement with the Rick Tabaracci Community Golf Tournament, which ended after this past summer. While no one knows his exact whereabouts now, there has been word he settled down in Salt Lake City, Utah to own his own business. While injuries and happenstance took it's toll, Tabaracci did all he could and even when his record showed worse than desired results, he didn't seem to be completely out of it and kept his teams in it. He did was he could and quietly bowed out when he knew it was time. Teams wanted him because of his character, hence why he was re-acquired a couple of times.