Michel Goulet was probably the most consistently high scoring left winger in the National Hockey League throughout the entire 1980s. The native of Peribonka, Quebec did this under the intense pressure of the hometown Quebecois fans, as most of his career was spent with the Quebec Nordiques.
Goulet became a household name in Quebec's capital city before he even became a member of the Nordiques. He was a high scoring junior player with the Quebec Remparts. In just his second year in junior, his first full season, he led his team with 73 goals and 135 points in 72 games.
Despite his incredible junior success in such a short time, Michel elected to skip his final two seasons of junior eligibility and join the World Hockey Association's Birmingham Bulls despite not being able to speak any English. Goulet scored 28 goals in his only season with the "Baby Bulls." Goulet credits Birmingham coach John Brophy for teaching him the defensive aspects of hockey, something he, like many others, rarely paid attention to in the Quebec Junior League. Goulet would develop into a reliable two way performer at hockey's highest level.
The 1979 NHL Entry draft is considered to be the strongest draft class in NHL history. Michel was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round, 19th overall. Others in that draft class include Mike Gartner, Ray Bourque, Mark Messier and Glenn Anderson.
In hindsight, Goulet's selection of 19th overall seems a little low, but Goulet took measures to make sure only Quebec could draft him. Agent Guy Bertrand went to court after the 1978-79 season and won an order that said he could not be forced to enter the NHL from the WHA unless his contract was first offered to Quebec Nordiqus, as stated in Goulet's contract. All other teams shied away from drafting Goulet due to this court order.
Though known as a goal scorer, Michel started out slowly in the NHL. He concentrated on improving his defense and doing small things to help his team win. He would quickly blossom into one of the league's brightest shooters.
In 1982-83 he scored what proved to be a career high 57 goals while adding 48 assists. The following season he scored 56 goals and a career high 121 points. He would continue his string of consistency for the rest of the decade, scoring 55, 53, 49 and 48 goals in the following seasons.
Many automatically credit Quebec's other superstar Peter Stastny with helping Goulet achieve such lofty totals, but Michel is quick to point out that his regular center for 7 season was Dale Hunter. Stastny and Goulet did team up on specialty teams play, of course.
One would have to wonder how good Michel Goulet would have been playing a full season on Wayne Gretzky's left wing. Gretzky never had a regular left winger until the arrival of Esa Tikkanen, but in Canada Cup tournaments Goulet was often Wayne's left side partner. He played on a line in the 1984 Canada Cup with Gretzky and Rick Middleton. In 1987 Goulet is often the forgotten man on Team Canada's top line of Goulet-Gretzky-Mario Lemieux. Goulet provided offense but was more or less the defensive safety valve as well.
The Quebec Nordiques fell on tough times by the early 1990s. That combined with off season knee surgery saw the Nords trade away their French-Canadian hero to Chicago where Goulet teamed up with Jeremy Roenick and Steve Larmer to guide the Hawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup finals, only to come up short against Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Goulet proved to be a consistent 25-30 goal scorer and team leader with the Hawks. But on March 16th, 1994 he suffered one of hockey's most horrific injuries. Goulet slid into the end boards head first after losing his footing while at a fast pace. He needed to be carried off the ice fully stabilized in a stretcher as he had suffered a severe concussion and head trauma. He would never play again.
Michel Goulet continues to be active in the NHL. He works with his old organization, only now in a new city. He is the director of player personnel for the former Quebec Nordiques, now the Colorado Avalanche.
Michel officially announced his retirement on January 26, 1995, after scoring 548 goals and 1,152 points. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998 along with another Quebec Nordique great - Peter Stastny.