Nick Harbaruk started his life in a hotly contested bit of land during a World War, and immigrated to Canada at the tender age of five with his family. He played junior hockey in Toronto, where his family had settled, eventually making his way into the pros in 1964-65.
After two games with the Rochester Americans, Nick went to Tulsa. He played four seasons with the Tulsa Oilers while attending the University of Tulsa. During the 1967-68 season, he played briefly for Vancouver, but soon returned to Tulsa, opting to put his university degree and his wife, an Oklahoma native, ahead of his professional hockey career.
It was a plan that paid off Harbaruk: he finished his degree and was later claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1969 Intra-League draft. When he entered the NHL, it was as one of only four players with a college degree. His academic credentials established, he devoted himself to becoming one of the hardest checking defensive forwards in the league.
Although he was never a high goal scorer, his style suited the Penguins, who were looking for some hard hitters. He played four seasons in Pittsburgh before being traded to St. Louis in October 1973. After a year with the Blues, he jumped to the WHA, citing the money he was being offered by the expansion Indianapolis Racers as his chief incentive. After three more seasons of professional hockey, he retired and became the coach of Seneca College. In his seven years behind the bench, he posted a 118-25-3 record, and won three Ontario College championships, as well as silver and a bronze medal in the Canadian finals.