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December 02, 2015

Dave Fortier

Born in Sudsbury, Dave Fortier joined the St. Catherine's Blackhawks to play junior hockey. St. Catherine's won the OHA Major Junior playoffs. By the completion of those playoffs NHL scouts had walked away impressed by the hard hitting Fortier. The Toronto Maple Leafs were impressed enough to take him 23rd overall in the 1971 Amateur Draft.

Fortier was immediately placed in the Toronto farm system, specifically the Tulsa Oilers. While Tulsa doesn't sound like a hockey hotbed, Fortier was delighted to go to Tulsa, specifically because of head coach Marcel Pronovost.

"I'd heard a lot about Tulsa" Dave said, "and I knew how many guys had gone directly from Tulsa to the Leafs. And then I figured Marcel would really be able to teach me how to play defense, since he was an all-star defenseman in the National League."

Tulsa was equally excited about Dave, as Oiler GM Ray Miron can attest.

"I liked Fortier the very first time I saw him play for St. Cathrine's," says Tulsa Oiler boss Ray Miron. "I liked his size . He's big and strong, he can skate and he can hit. Boy, can he hit!"

Oiler Coach Marcel Pronovost said "Dave is a dedicated athlete and never mouths off or complains. He works hard in practice and gives 100 % effort every minute he is in the game."

A former high school football player, Fortier loved the physical game.

"I've played a bit of football, and I liked it because of the body contact. The same goes for hockey, I don't feel I've been in a game unless there's been a lot of good, hard hitting."

Dave led the Oilers in PIMs with 217 minutes in 1971-72, which included 13 fights. He also scored 7 goals and 20 assists.

Dave split the 1972-73 season between Tulsa and the Toronto Maple Leafs. His play at the CHL level was steady and improving, scoring 2 goals, 20 assists and 148 PIM. The Leafs, looking for some toughness, were somewhat disappointed with Dave's performance at the NHL level however. Scoring 1 goal and 3 assists to go along with 63 PIM, Dave often went out of his way to try and land a big hit. As a result, Dave often put himself out of position and became a bit of a liability. There was also concerns that his size, 5'11" and 190lbs, was too small for the kind of player he was trying to be, at least at the NHL level.

Fortier returned to the Leafs camp for 1973-74 hoping to find an NHL job but was relocated to Oklahoma City of the CHL. He had his best professional season as a member of the Blazers. He scored 10 goals and 38 assists while keeping the opposition honest with 200 penalty minutes.

Toronto gave up on the hard hitting defenseman that they once had hopes for by the summer of 1974. They trade him and Randy Osburn to Philadelphia in exchange for Cowboy Bill Flett, a rugged winger who could fill Toronto's role of toughness. However Fortier never played in the Philly organization as the New York Islanders plucked Fortier off of the Flyers in the Intra-League Draft.

Dave became a regular member of the New York Islanders for the next two seasons. He played in 65 games in 1974-75, scoring 6 goals and 18 points and 79 PIM. He also was a +14 and appeared in 14 playoff contests. In 1975-76 Fortier took a step backwards in his NHL development as he became a spare part on Long Island. He played sparingly in 59 games but registered no goals and just 2 assists. He also only had 68 PIM. He wasn't getting enough ice time to really play at his rugged best.

The Islanders sold Fortier and Ralph Stewart to the Vancouver Canucks. Fortier played sparingly for the Canucks in 1976-77, scoring once and adding 3 assists with 125 PIMs.

Fortier opted to leave the NHL when he signed with the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA. He played one year there before winding up his career in the NEHL with the Erie Blades.

When all is said and done, Fortier didn't quite live up to the scouts expectations. He did manage to appear in 205 games, scoring 8 goals and 21 assists for 29 points, plus 335 well earned penalty minutes. He also appeared in 20 playoff games.

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