September 09, 2016

Paulin Bordeleau

Paulin Bordeleau has excellent hockey bloodlines. His older brothers Jean-Paul and Christian also played in the National Hockey League. Christian joined Paulin in the World Hockey Association in the 1970s, too.

Paulin's son Sebastian would play in the National Hockey League in the late 1990s, while another son, Paulin Jr., would play pro hockey in Europe.

Paulin Sr. was an excellent junior player with two of Canada's iconic junior franchises. He helped the Montreal Jr. Canadiens win the Memorial Cup in 1970. He did the same in 1973 while playing for the Toronto Marlies.

He impressed many with his hockey talent in junior. Many scouts and scribes believed he would prove to be the best of his hockey playing brotherhood. And, as told by legendary hockey reporter Frank Orr, King Clancy was a real fan.

"King Clancy says he's one of the few people in hockey he'd pay to watch play hockey," wrote Orr. "Bordeleau is a great entertainer, and Clancy added that he hasn't seen a guy with that kind of skating ability since Howie Morenz."

Another reporter compared him to Dave Keon, with his "aggressiveness and uncanny stickhandling ability." Another noted how Bordeleau gave Denis Potvin, the clear top junior player in the country, "fits" in head to head meetings.

The tiny speedster turned pro with the Vancouver Canucks in 1973. The Canucks had drafted him 19th overall. Bordeleau turned down a contract offer from the WHA's Toronto Toro's who had drafted him 4th overall in their draft.

NHL success would not follow Bordeleau out to the west coast. Size was his issue, as well as several other Canucks players. Over the next three seasons he would struggle to score his 33 career goals, 56 career assists and 89 career points in 183 games.

In 1976 Bordeleau moved home to Quebec, joining the Nordiques of the WHA. He played a strong role with the team that would win the WHA Avco Cup championship that season, scoring 42 goals in the regular season, and another 12 goals in 16 playoff games.

Bordeleau would play two more seasons with the Nordiques, but did not make the team upon their joining of the National Hockey League in 1979-80.  He ended up taking a year off from hockey that year. His career seemed over.

Bordeleau headed over to Europe in 1980, becoming a dual citizen of France and playing eight seasons in their top league, reportedly earning $5000 a month and given a house and a car. He also began playing for France's national team, competing at the 1986 and 1987 World Championships and the 1988 Olympics in Calgary.

Bordeleau made hockey history in those Olympics. He scored the very first shootout goal in Olympic hockey history. Bordeleau and Derek Haas, another Canadian with a WHA background, each scored in a game versus Norway that could not be decided in overtime. It was an important win for France, as the victory kept them out of last place in the Olympics. It was seen as a major accomplishments for France, who were far from a noted hockey nation yet soon to be hosts of the 1992 Olympics.

Bordeleau went on to a lengthy coaching career, stepping behind benches in France and Germany as well as New Brunswick and back in the NHL as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

His stint in New Brunswick was interesting as he actually returned to the ice for three games while coaching. The Fredericton Canadiens were decimated by injuries, so the 44 year old coach played in three games, scoring one goal and three assists.

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