December 11, 2013

Forgotten Superstar: Marc Tardif of the Quebec Nordiques

This Granby, Que. native was in the Montreal Canadiens system already as a junior where he played for the Thetford Mines Canadiens (QJHL) and Montreal Jr. Canadiens (OHA). Marc Tardif collected 138 points (63 goals, 75 assists) in 105 regular season games for the junior Canadiens and 43 points (22 goals and 21 assists) in 25 playoff games. During his last junior season for the Jr. Canadiens (1968-69) he led them to a Memorial Cup title.

Marc was drafted 2nd overall by Montreal in the 1969 draft. He started the 1969-70 season playing for Montreal's farm team club Montreal Voyageurs (AHL) where he racked up 58 points (27 goals and 31 assists) in only 45 games before getting the call up to the big club in February 1970. He only played sparingly in the 18 games that he played with the Habs, scoring 3 goals and 5 points but the management was impressed by what they saw. He went on to play regular shifts with the Canadiens for the following three seasons, scoring 19, 25 and 31 goals. Considering the fact that he played on a checking line the season he scored 31 goals it was a good result. He also won the Stanley Cup on two occasions (1971 and 1973).

In February 1972 Marc was drafted by Los Angeles Sharks of the newly formed WHA. He was offered a substantial sum of money, reportedly more than twice what Montreal was offering, and decided to make the jump to the WHA. He never was happy in Los Angeles though. The climate was good but he had a real problem with the language. He didn't speak much English and was surrounded by English speaking players. He still drifted through the 1973-74 season scoring a respectable 70 points, including 40 goals.

In April 1974 LA moved its team to Michigan and was named the Michigan Stags. Their financial situation was really bad and before folding they sold Marc, who to that point had played 23 games, scoring 12 goals and 17 points.

Marc was traded to his native Quebec and was reborn as a hockey superstar. His 1975-76 season was superb as he led the Quebec Nordiques and the WHA in goals (71), assists (77) and points (148).

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