It has now been 50 years since André “The Moose” Dupont gave his first skate in Madison Square Garden, New York. Without knowing it, the Rangers’ first choice – 8e in total – would make history three years later …
The 71-year-old Trifluvien will have played only 7 games in the New York uniform before taking the direction of Saint-Louis, notably under the orders of the Trifluvien Jean-Guy Talbot, following an exchange between the two teams,
“New York drew me in the first round and in my sophomore year they traded me to the Blues for Gene Carr. They absolutely wanted to have young Carr who was to become a superstar in the National League. It was good for me because it allowed me to start playing regularly in Saint-Louis. I was coached by Al Arbor and in my second year, it was Jean-Guy Talbot who coached us, ”he recalls.
“Then the Blues dealt with the Flyers and Fred Shero coached in Philadelphia. I had played for him in the minor leagues and we won the championship in the Central League. He knew me, he knew what kind of player I was and he wanted me in the trade. It was another very good thing for me. ”
Without knowing it, the transaction sending him to Philadelphia would allow him to make history forever, a few years later. Indeed, the Flyers would become the Broad street bullies from 1972-1973, which coincided with the arrival of the Trifluvien.
“I was there almost nine years and we went to the Stanley Cup finals four times. I have never missed the playoffs in my career. We won two Stanley Cups in a row with the Flyers. When I got there, the reputation of Broad street bullies was being built, ”he explains.
“I know everyone was talking about Broad street bullies and it still is today, but we had a damn good hockey team. We had a lot of talent, but nobody talks about it. We had eight players who scored 20 goals. ”
The recipe was a winner. Besides the intimidating side, the Flyers had plenty of speed and renowned players, allowing them to reach the Stanley Cup Final three years in a row.
In 1972-1973, Dave Schultz collected 259 penalty minutes, Bob Kelly 238, Don Saleski 205, Gary Dornhoefer 168 and Moose 164. The following year, Schultz climbed to 348 minutes spent in the dungeon, while Dupont followed at 216, ahead of Saleski (131), Kelly (130) and Dornhoefer (125). In 1974-75, Schultz still dominated, this time with 472 penalty minutes, ahead of the Moose at 276 and star forward Bobby Clarke (125). Unfortunately for the Flyers, the Canadian had the upper hand in 1976.
“The Canadian had a good team and finished first overall. On the other hand, we lost the best goalie in the league (Bernard Parent) and Rick MacLeish just before the playoffs so it’s as if the Canadian had lost Ken Dryden before the playoffs started. We might not have beaten Montreal, but the series could have been different. We lost all our games by one goal and Bernard (Parent) made the difference of at least one goal per game, easily, ”concedes the one who also participated in three Memorial Cup tournaments in junior age.
Although he was only able to lift the coveted trophy twice, it remains his most memorable memories to this day.
“The cup is the ultimate goal of all hockey players. In our first final, we faced the big team of the time, the Boston Bruins. Nobody was giving us a chance and we lost the first game in overtime. In the second game, we beat them overtime at home before winning the other two games at home. Game number five, we lost 5-2, but we came back to win game number six 1-0, at home, ”he recalls.
“You work all year to become champion and when that happens it’s special. We celebrate as a gang! We had a lot of offensive talent. We had Orest Kindrachuk playing on the third row and he picked up 20 goals. Schultz and Saleski were not just toughs, they knew how to play hockey. The guys picked up between 15 and 20 goals. ”
Dupont, who made the All-Star Game in 1976, was never going to deviate from his robust play, following with seasons of 214 penalty minutes, 168, 225, 135 and 107 (in just 58 games). He will end his career 14 minutes from 2000 in total. It also occupies the 56e rank in NHL history in this regard.
“We had fun, but we were always fearful in all the fights. Whoever tells me he’s not afraid is wrong. Every fight you take part in, you are fearful. First, we don’t want to lose. Second, you don’t want eat one on the nose. It is normal, it is the human in itself. We had the courage to do it, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t afraid, ”he says.
The Moose returned to Quebec to end its career. He was captain of the Nordiques, a formation led by none other than Michel Bergeron.
“I arrived in the early days of the Nordiques and we had a whole hockey team with Dale Hunter and the Stastny brothers (and five 35-goal scorers). We went to the conference final against the Islanders and I really thought we had a chance to make it to the Stanley Cup final. If we had beaten them, we would face Vancouver in the final and we had a very good chance. ”
The robust defender retired at 34. He became a scout for the Ottawa Senators and since 2000 he has been a player adviser with Agent Paul Corbeil.
“The game has changed a lot and it’s made more about speed. By removing the red line, the game has changed from A to Z. Everyone is still on the move so it’s a lot harder for the defenders. They must be very fast and very mobile. Now the pass comes from behind the goal and goes to the blue line on the other side, ”he says.
The one who has made a living by throwing away the gloves many times, in particular, is on the lookout for the new reality. Moreover, the abolition of fights in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) is a hot topic at present in Quebec.
“Everyone is making a big deal out of it, but I think there were only four or five fights in junior last year. There is none left! It’s ridiculous to make a drama with that, ”he recalled.
“I think the hockey of today is there. The only thing I see is that it brings a little more sneaky shots behind the camera. There is more freedom too. In my day, the smaller players weren’t going to annoy everyone because they had to pay the price afterwards, ”he concludes.