Here's an interesting story about a player I knew next to nothing about, and certainly nothing about his devoted following.
30 years ago a group of Calgary based fans formed the Gilles Lupien Fan Club. Lupien was a slow, towering defenseman, a borderline NHLer who appeared in 226 games, none of which were with the Calgary Flames. Lupien played with Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Hartford. The group grew once Lupien left Quebec for Pittsburgh in particular. A Penguins fan from Norway apparently became a chartered member.
Much like the Rory Fitzpatrick all star campaign, the club was mostly in jest but somehow fully sincere. David Shoalts of the Globe & Mail attests to their validity, even if though talk of the 30 year reunion is clearly all in good humour.
Born in Brownsburg, Quebec, Lupien was scouted by the Montreal Canadiens as a diamond in the rough. They chanced their 2nd round, 33rd overall pick in the 1974 NHL draft on him. After over 3 seasons apprenticing in the minor leagues, Lupien joined the Canadiens in time for their 1978 and 1979 Stanley Cup championships.
Lupien stood at 6'6" and 205 lbs, making him the biggest man in hockey at the time. Not surprisingly, his ticket to the NHL was the effective use of his size. He was a willing physical combatant, though never classed as a true heavyweight. Still, he knew his role, once saying "I'm not dumb, I know very well that I'll never be part of the Ice Capades."
Despite his poor skating and small role on the team, the Habs thought enough of Lupien to make multiple back room deals to ensure he was not selected by any of the merging WHA teams in a special draft in 1979. A season later he was traded to Pittsburgh and then Hartford. The career 5 goal scorer scored twice in his debut with the Whalers.
After retiring from hockey "Loopy" tested his entrepreneurial skills. First he bought into a Dunkin' Donuts franchise and later organized a program to help former NHL players adjust to their lives after hockey.
Nowadays Lupien is a well known hockey player agent, most notably representing Roberto Luongo. His clients have also included Felix Potvin, Martin Lapointe, Patrick Lalime, Martin Biron, Frederic Cassivi, Mathieu Chouinard, Denis Gauthier, Daniel Boisclair, Manny Fernandez, Claude Lapointe, Sebastien Bordeleau and Donald Audette.