I love the NHL Draft. I have for a long time. I like looking back,and hindsight being 20/20, seeing how it should have gone, or how it would look “if you knew then what you know now”. Who were the biggest surprises, the biggest busts and the best of the best for that year. I will from time to time check in on a particular year and bring memories to you. First up, I will look at the first draft I remember, the 1984 draft.
MARIO SNUBS THE PENS
Obviously the biggest story coming from the ’84 draft was Mario Lemieux refusing to put on the jersey of the team that drafted him, the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lemieux had been unable to come to a contract agreement with the Pens before the draft, and the concensus #1 pick used the draft table to silently express his displeasure with how the contact talks were progressing. Eventually they reached a deal and the rest is history. Lemieux turned the Penguins from perennial doormat to league powerhouse en route to becoming one of the most dominant fixtures in the game.
Gary Suter, Calgary Flames – Selected in the ninth round, 180th overall from the University of Wisconsin, Gary Suter ended up playing over 1,100 games and registering more than 800 points. Suter was the NHL rookie of the year in 1985-86.
Luc Robitaille, Los Angeles Kings – When you get a Hall-of-Famer in the ninth round, the Stars are in your favor. Deemed to be too small and slow for the NHL, all “Lucky Luc” did was net 668 goals and just under 1400 points in a stellar 19 season NHL career.
David Quinn, Minnesota North Stars – Drafted 13th overall out of high school, the defenseman played three seasons at Boston University before dropping off the radar. He ended up playing parts of two seasons in the minors, before turning to coaching. He never played an NHL game.
THE CLASS OF THE CLASS OF 1984
Here are the top performers from the draft, by position:
G: Patrick Roy – One of the best ever behind the mask is far and away the best goalie drafted in 1984. He was drafted in the third round, 59th overall, and was the third goalie selected (Craig Billington and Daryl Reaugh were taken before him).
D: Gary Suter – see above
D: Kevin Hatcher – A nice blend of size and skill, Hatcher played over 1,100 games and eclipsed the 30 goal mark, an impressive feat for a defenseman.
LW: Luc Robitaille – see above
C: Mario Lemieux – Sits 7th all time in scoring, with the second most career points per game as the Hall-of-Famer won 2 Stanley Cups and numerous other awards.
RW: Brett Hull – Perhaps the purest goal scorer in hockey history. He bulged the twine an incredible 741 times in his career, en route to posting more goals than assists in his 20 seasons.
Perhaps one of the greatest draft classes ever. Roy, Lemiuex, Hull, Robitaille, Suter and Hatcher would be a pretty difficult unit to beat. Other notables include Gary Roberts, Stephanie Richer, Kirk Muller and Ed Olczyk.