The player who ranks No. 28 on the Chicago Wolves Top 40 countdown, presented by Jewel-Osco, joined the team in 2003 and immediately became a fan favorite for his timely goals and physical play.
Karl Stewart wasn’t drafted while playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers — perhaps because he was listed at only 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds — but he quickly proved to be a worthy professional who played much bigger than his size.
Stewart was just 20 years old for his entire rookie season, but wound up with 10 goals, 32 assists and 186 penalty minutes while helping the Wolves reach the West Division Final. He also made his NHL debut with the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 7, 2003, and notched an assist in his first game.
Stewart spent two more seasons with the Wolves. He posted 16 goals during the regular season for the dominant 2004-05 team, but missed key time during the Calder Cup Playoffs due to injury. Head coach John Anderson was giddy when Stewart became health enough to return to the lineup in time for the finals against the Philadelphia Phantoms.
“It adds a ton of speed to our lineup, certainly a lot of grit,” Anderson told the Daily Herald’s Mike Spellman on June 1, 2005, “And he was one of our leading scorers before he got hurt.”
After posting 22 goals in 2005-06 — finishing his Wolves career with 48 goals, 58 assists, 596 penalty minutes and a +42 plus/minus rating in 220 regular-season appearances — Stewart split the 2006-07 NHL season between the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Stewart stayed in the AHL/NHL for two more seasons before enjoying six seasons with the DEL’s Straubing Tigers, where he amassed 81 goals before retiring after the 2014-15 season. He now works for the Washington Capitals as an amateur scout.
Want to enjoy more of the countdown?
No. 40: Gage Quinney
No. 39: Tim Breslin
No. 38: Nathan Oystrick
No. 37: Ben Simon
No. 36: Curtis McKenzie
No. 35: Kamil Piros
No. 34: Mark Mancari
No. 33: Simon Gamache
No. 32: Guy Larose
No. 31: Wade Megan
No. 30: Shane Harper
No. 29: Michael Davies