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June 17, 2007

NHL Entry Draft History: 1984

The 1985 NHL Entry Draft was all about Mario Lemieux.

Mario was the best player available bar none, despite some lingering skepticism over his attitude. He was also making headlines prior to draft day, going on record as to state that he did not want to play for his hometown Montreal Canadiens because he felt there would be too much pressure. And he was already in contract negotiations with Pittsburgh, owners of the 1st pick. The contract negotiations were definitely not progressive.

It all came to a head on draft day, when Lemieux's name was called by Penguins general manager Eddie Johnston. Upset over the contract talks, Lemieux refused to put on a Penguins sweater, although he said he'd be happy to play for the team once he could sign an acceptable contract -- which finally happened 10 days after the actual draft. The whole sweater debacle happened on national television, as this was the first draft to be televised.

To make the draft more dramatic, the host Montreal Canadiens shocked the hockey world and the political world when they not only selected Czech defenseman Petr Svoboda with the 5th overall pick, but then unveiled him to the audience. Official defection paperwork would begin soon after.

Other long time NHLers drafted in the 1st round include Kirk Muller, Ed Olczyk, Al Iafrate, Shawn Burr, Shayne Corson, Doug Bodger, JJ Daigneault, Sylvain Cote, Gary Roberts, Terry Carkner, Kevin Hatcher and Mikael Andersson.

There were some first rounds busts, such as Craig Redmond, Trevor Stienburg, Roger Belanger, Dave Pasin, and Selmar Odelein. Two players never really had a chance to make the NHL. Minnesota's 13th overall pick David Quinn had a blood disorder which ended his career. And the New York Islanders 20th overall pick Duncan MacPherson apprenticed for three years in the minor leagues before dying in an avalanche while on a ski vacation in the Austrian Alps in 1989. Much mystery surrounded his disappearance until is body was not found until 2003.

The second round produced Craig Billington, Todd Gill, Scott Mellanby, Stephane Richer, Stephen Leach, Jeff Brown and Paul Ranheim. The Islanders bad luck continued, as their second round pick, right winger Bruce Melanson of Oshawa, died of heart failure the following year.

While Lemieux was the class of the draft, Patrick Roy was not far behind. The Montreal Canadiens found their future superstar still available at 51, and snatched him up. Brett Hull would come in a close 3rd. He wasn't drafted until the 117th selection, by Calgary. Luc Robitaille was drafted even lower, at 171 by Los Angeles!

Some other late round finds included Trent Yawney, Steven Finn, Michal Pivonka, Ray Sheppard, Kris King, Paul Ysebaert, Kirk McLean, Kjell Sameulsson, Cliff Ronning, Jiri Hrdina, Don Sweeney, and David Volek.

Perhaps the best late round fine though was Los Angeles' 69th selection - Tom Glavine. Unfortunately for the Kings, the Atlanta Braves also drafted Glavine in the second round of the 1984 Major League Baseball draft. Needless to say, Glavine chose to stick to the pitching mound.

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