November 22, 2015

Jose Charbonneau

This is how one would sum up Jose Charbonneau's roller coaster hockey career in just a few words:

He was a pretty promising prospect who bombed big time and even quit playing at one point. He later had some "Voodoo" treatment and resurged into a bit of a fan favorite before ultimately making a second quick exit from the NHL and finding success in Europe.

Let us explain.

Jose was the 1st round draft choice, 12th overall, of the Montreal Canadiens back in 1985. There was much hope that this highly touted Drummondville Voltigeur could step in and become the next French-Canadien superstar in Montreal, which was needed as Guy Lafleur had recently retired. However any comparisons to Lafleur should have been wiped out of peoples heads immediately. At best Charbonneau would have developed into the second coming of Mario Tremblay. Jose played a similarily aggressive and kamikaze hitting style of Tremblay, and the hope was that Jose could develop into a solid 30 goal man as well.

Jose started his first year in the AHL with the Sherbrooke Canadiens where he had a less than great season. He scored 14 goals and 41 points in 72 games but came on stronger towards the end of the season. In the playoffs he was one of the better players on the team, scoring 5 goals and 17 points in 16 contests.

Jose really stepped it up in the AHL the following season, scoring 30 goals and 65 points in 55 games. He also was called up to Montreal for the first time, but disappointed greatly. He only had 2 assists in 16 games. He was rarely used in 8 playoff contests as well. He made very little impact at all in his short time in Montreal, although in all fairness he wasn't given the proper opportunities to succeed.

By that point Jose had been written off by the savageous Montreal media. Although he had a better start in 1988-89 (1 goal 4 points in 9 NHL games) he was traded to Vancouver on January 25, 1989 in exchange for Dan Woodley - another former high draft pick who failed miserably.

Charbonneau played 13 games for the lowly Canucks and picked up just one assist. He was all but invisible out there during his tenure and was soon demoted to the minor leagues.

After another full season in the minors and a year with the Canadian national team, Charbonneau had had enough. Things weren't going the way he had hoped and he didn't like the way pro hockey was treating him. So he all but disappeared from the hockey scene, toiling in obscurity with second division club teams in the weak hockey nations of Switzerland, Germany and Holland.

Charbonneau returned to Vancouver during the summer time and even joined the Vancouver Voodoo of Roller Hockey International for the summer of 1993. It was a good way to keep playing hockey while earning a little extra pocket cash. He quickly established himself as one of the top players on the Voodoo and the entire RHI. He scored 25 goals and 43 assists for 58 points in just 14 games!

Being a former Canuck, the media paid a lot of attention to his comeback-on-wheels story. Soon enough the Canucks checked him out and offered him a training camp tryout. For the man who was now becoming known as "Joltin' Joe" it was a chance at redeeming his NHL career.

Joe not only made the team but played really well for the Canucks in 1993-94. He appeared in 30 games and scored 7 goals and 14 points. He played an aggressive, hard hitting forechecking game mostly on the 4th line, but became a bit of a cult hero because of it. He supplied some infectious energy in his limited but effective role. Unfortunately injuries shortened his season to just 30 games.

Joe got caught in the numbers game the following year. The Canucks, fresh off of their Stanley Cup run of 1994, had a lot of depth on right wing. Joe spent all but three games that lockout shortened 1994-95 season in the minor leagues.

Joe left for Europe after that, where he played well a number of seasons with a number of German teams..

The Ferme-Neuve, Quebec native totaled 9 goals and 13 assists for 22 point in 71 NHL games. He added one goal in 11 playoff gamess.

So that's the story of Joltin' Joe Charbonneau - a first round pick chewed up by the media and fans who managed to come back and redeem himself nicely.

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