January 17, 2013

Doug Jarvis: Secret Weapon

Montreal coach Scotty Bowman kept pestering management for a particular player in the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft.

He was not the biggest name available, not by a long shot. He was not even a projected first round pick. He was not even that well liked by Montreal's own scouts.

He was Doug Jarvis.

Jarvis would go on to become the NHL's ultimate iron man, a defensive center extraordinaire and a key member of 4 Stanley Cup championships. But scouts thought he was too small and had little offensive upside. He was a long shot to make the NHL.

Scotty Bowman knew better. He trusted his instincts, and his source. It was Peterborough Petes junior coach Roger Nielson who tipped Scotty off about Jarvis, claiming he was hockey's best faceoff man. Not the best in junior hockey, but the best in all of the world.

While Bowman kept pestering the Habs to draft Jarvis, Montreal GM Sam Pollock never did. He passed on him to select Robin Sadler, Pierre Mondou and Brian Engblom. Toronto would claim him in the second round with the 24th pick.

Bowman's pestering did pay off in the long run though. 23 days later Pollock and the Leafs agreed to a trade whereby prospect defenseman Greg Hubick would join the Leafs in exchange for Jarvis.

No one could have expected what would happen next. In September Jarvis wowed everyone in his first NHL training camp. He was going to be one of the last cuts of camp as the Canadiens had every intention of letting him develop in the minor leagues as per norm in Montreal those days. But a late training camp injury to star center Jacques Lemaire allowed Jarvis to start the season with the big team.

It turned out to be the first of 560 consecutive games Jarvis would play in a Habs jersey.

With his incredible faceoff ability and mature defensive game, Jarvis quickly found a home centering fellow defensive standout Bob Gainey and veteran Jim Roberts. They would be a top checking line and ace penalty killers. They were key contributors to Montreal's 4 consecutive Stanley Cup championships to close out the 1970s.

Read the full Doug Jarvis biography here

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the story Joe.
I know Robin Sadler from his years with the Feenstra Flyers from Heerenveen in The Netherlands, where he played together with Wayne van Dorp. With Larry van Wieren, Jack de Heer and Jan Janssen they had the best attacking-line in Europe at that time. They played for The Netherlands at the 1980 Winter Olympics and also in the Europa Cup-tournament against CSKA Moskow, with all the russian legends still playing there. Too sad I was too young at the time to fully realise how special it was to be able to watch some of the world's best players play and enjoy it. Good memories though.