May 14, 2015

Claude Cardin

Claude Cardin made a memorable impression in his first NHL game.

Unfortunately it was not a good impression. And his coach - none other than the legendary Scotty Bowman - never did forget about it.

The St. Louis Blues inaugural season of 1967-68 saw the Blues purposely stock their roster with veteran players. Dickie Moore. Doug Harvey. Glenn Hall. Al Arbour and many more. Experience would not be this first year team's downfall.

But goal scoring was a serious concern. And in an attempt to remedy that, the Blues scoured the Quebec senior league for veteran scoring stars, hoping to unearth a hidden gem.

One of the players they went after was Cardin. He was an aggressive, play making left winger with the Sherbrooke Castors the previous five seasons. He helped the Castors win the Allan Cup as Canada's amateur champions in 1965, and return to the final tournament again in 1966.

Cardin was once a Montreal prospect, and was still technically their property. The Blues had to swing a deal with the Habs, sending an unreported sum of cash to Montreal to land Cardin.

Cardin had a pretty nice rookie pro season with the Blues' farm team in Kansas City. It earned him a call up to the NHL.

Unfortunately it would be a short one.

Cardin got a couple of shifts in the game, but then the unexplained happened. When coach Bowman called his name for the next shift, Cardin just froze. He never went out for his shift. The not-amused Bowman left him on the bench for the rest of the game, and demoted back to the minor leagues quickly thereafter.

Cardin never did get into another NHL game.

Blues regular Ron Schock was, well, shocked.

"I haven't seen anything like it before or since," Schock said. "He couldn't move his legs. On the bench, you kinda felt sorry for him, though."

He did continue to play pro until 1971, including two more seasons in the Blues' organization.

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