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November 26, 2015

Gilles Marotte

Stubby Gilles Marotte was one of hockey's best kept secrets when he played.

The aggressive Marotte was a rock 'em sock 'em defenseman despite his size at 5'9." He was so adept at jarring bodies that he was accurately nicknamed Captain Crunch.

"People keep their heads up when they come down Marotte's side," said Emile "Cat" Francis, the GM of the Rangers who acquired Marotte in 1973. "He's one of the best hitters in the league."

Marotte was originally Boston Bruins property, but after just two seasons he was packaged in one of the biggest trades in hockey history. Marotte, Jack Norris and Pit Martin were the three players traded to Chicago in exchange for Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield. The trade goes down as one of the most lopsided in history as the Bruins got some great years out of Espo, Hodge and Stanfield. At the time Marotte was struggling to live up to his advertising as one of the best defensemen ever developed in the Canadian junior leagues.

Marotte played solidly for 2 1/2 years in Chicago, though was never able to shake his advanced billing before the Hawks in turn dealt him to Los Angeles for a large package including Bill White.

Marotte enjoyed his time in Los Angeles. He matured and was given a chance to play regularly without much pressure. He developed into a nice player, even representing the Los Angeles Kings in the 1973 All Star Game.

During the 1973-74 season the Kings moved Marotte to the New York Rangers.

"He's what we need," said Francis again. "He'll win us some respect around the league. And he's an experienced defenseman."

For 2 1/2 years Marotte patrolled the Rangers blue line in the twilight of his career. He was claimed off of waivers by the St. Louis Blues in 1976-77 but split the year between the Blues and the minors. He was released following that season.

Marotte took his act to the WHA for one final season in 1977-78, splitting the year between Cincinnati and Indianapolis.

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