Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthday greetings to Pierre Turgeon

Turgeonwhiteskates250 Pierre Turgeon was born on this day in 1969.

A star with the Granby Bisons (QMJHL), Turgeon was the first overall  selection, by the Buffalo Sabres, in the 1987 Entry Draft. His offensive play  dazzled the Buffalo faithful,  with many thinking they had their next Gilbert Perreault.

He would be traded, early in the 1991-92 season, to the New York Islanders in a multi-player deal that saw Islanders star Pat Lafontaine go the other way.

The trade had no bearing on Turgeon’s offensive performance, when the reached a career high in points (132) with the Islanders the following season. The Islanders would go on to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Patrick Division Final, before falling the the eventual Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens.

Turgeon then achieved a childhood dream, after the Islanders decided to clean house, when he was traded to Montreal  with Vladimir Malakhov for Kirk Muller, Mathieu Schneider and Craig Darby on April 5, 1995.

He scored 20 points in 15 games for the Canadiens, but the team failed to make the playoffs in that strike-shortened season.


In his only full season in Montreal (1995-96), he scored a team high 96 points in 80 games.

He was also named team captain, after predecessor Mike Keane was dealt to Colorado as part of the Patrick Roy trade, and would be the last to wear the “C” for the Canadiens in the Montreal Forum.

Turgeon would win the Molson Cup as the Canadiens’ player of the year.

Despite a decent personal season, the Canadiens squeaked into the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round in six games.

Though he managed six points in those half dozen post-season games, being the captain took on the weight of discontent and the criticism of media and fans alike.

Some fans and media felt Turgeon had underachieved in the playoffs and that he did not act like a captain.


Allegations even came out that Canadiens president Ronald Corey only gave Turgeon the captaincy due to his francophone heritage to lead the Canadiens from the Forum to the Molson Centre.

By the start of the 1996-97 season, Turgeon found himself the third –line centre in training camp. Unhappy, he requested a trade before the start of the season.

In his last game with the Canadiens (Oct 29, 1996), a 5-4 loss to Phoenix, Turgeon was playing left wing (he was a centre) on the first line. He assisted on all four Canadiens goals.

Later that night, the childhood dream ended when Turgeon was traded to the St. Louis Blues, along with Rory Fitzpatrick and Craig Conroy, in exchange for Murray Baron and Shayne Corson.

Journalist Réjean Tremblay assessed the trade this way;

“Players like Pierre Turgeon are part of an infinitely small minority. There are only so many who can collect a hundred points as season year after year.

When you get such a player, you make him happy and let him produce.

You don’t put him on the third line with pluggers who can’t score.”

In his 104 games with Montreal, Turgeon scored 50 goals and added 77 assists for 127 points.

He would continue playing for the Blues, Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche before retiring in 2007 . In his 19-year career, Turgeon racked up 515 goals and 812 assists in 1294 games. He scored 97 points in 109 playoff games.

1 comment:

Yves said...

Really.... those years were painful.

Réjean Tremblay said it right..... "you make him happy and let him produce".

We had some bright spots in those "dark years". Turgeon was certainly one of them.