Damian Rhodes had a dream of playing in the NHL since his early childhood. It started while playing "knee hockey" in his family basement with a local buddy. The two would scamper about on their knees, savouring that feeling of making the glorious glove save.
From the moment that puck entered his mitt, Rhodes knew that goaltending would be his position of choice. He joined the rich tradition of Minnesota's youth hockey programs and progressed through the ranks to backstop for the Michigan Tech Huskies from 1987 to 1990. While there, he made plenty of big saves but is perhaps best remembered for scoring a goal on January 21, 1989.
During his time with the Huskies, Rhodes was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs who assigned him to the American Hockey League upon the completion of his colligate career. Rhodes joined the Newmarket Saints for the 1990-91 season and stayed with the club as they relocated to St John's a year later. After a year of splitting time between the pipes in St. John's with Felix Potvin, Rhodes would take on the lion's share of the games following Potvin's promotion to the NHL. Rhodes would record 27 wins in 52 games during the 1992-93 season in AHL.
The following year Rhodes too would reach the NHL. He would serve as backup to Potvin, seeing action in 22 games and posting an impressive 2.62 goals against average.
In 1996 Rhodes' time in the Leafs' organization would come to an end. He was traded to the New York Islanders as part of a three-way trade, ultimately being shipped to the Ottawa Senators.
With the Sens, Rhodes finally landed his first starting role. Victories, however, were a bit hard to come by in the early years. But as Ottawa's fortune's improved, so to did Rhodes' bottom line. By the close of the 1997-98 campaign, he finally finished with a .500 record and a personal-best five shutouts. During the season that followed, he helped lead his team to the third-best record in the NHL.
In 1999, the NHL underwent another expansion and welcomed the Atlanta Thrashers. Following a trade with the Senators, Rhodes became the first player acquired in Thrasher history. The move meant plenty of ice time for the goaltender, but it also meant plenty of shots. By November of his first campaign, Rhodes had suffered a knee and ankle injury that sidelined him for remaining 45 games. He would return to the Thrashers' goal the following season. In 38 games for the club he would provide stable goaltending, though the Thrashers struggled through the growing pains that are expected of an expansion team.
Hernia surgery limited Rhodes' play and effectiveness between 2001 and 2004. He saw action in both the ECHL and AHL before hanging up his skates for good. When the sun had set on his NHL career Rhodes had 99 career wins and an impressive 2.83 career goals against average.