March 28, 2016

Andre St. Laurent

For a player who participated 644 career NHL games, Andre St. Laurent somehow has become one of the most anonymous players in the eyes of National Hockey League history.

Andre St. Laurent, the nephew of former NHLer Dollard St. Laurent, was born in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec in 1953. He would rise to junior stardom with the Montreal Junior Canadiens in the early 1970s.

The New York Islanders took note and drafted St. Laurent with the 49th overall selection in 1973. The small but spirited forward played parts of five seasons on Long Island, finding a home on the "Commotion Line" with Garry Howatt and Bobby Nystrom. St. Laurent was a scrappy player who took as much pride in preventing goals as in scoring them.

The Islanders shipped St. Laurent to Detroit in 1977 for Michel Bergeron. Bergeron never amounted to much as a player but would one day become a NHL coaching standout. St. Laurent, meanwhile, erupted for a 31 goal and 70 point season with the Red Wings, earning team MVP honours.

St. Laurent's production slipped to 18 goals the next season, expediting his departure from Detroit. He was packaged to Los Angeles with two first round draft choices (Larry Murphy and Doug Smith) for Dale McCourt. Though St. Laurent was a serviceable forward for parts of three seasons, he had trouble sticking in the line up. Troublesome back pains were really nagging him by this point, something he would have to deal with for years.

The Pittsburgh Penguins claimed St. Laurent off the waiver wire in 1982. By this time he had cemented his game as a faceoff specialist and defensive forward shadowing the top players in the league. He played admirably against the Islanders' superstar Bryan Trottier in the 1982 playoffs.

"He's the type other centers hate to play against," Penguins coach Eddie Johnston said. "He's always doing little things to frustrate you. You like to play him against the another team's most physical center."

"Everybody would like to score goals," St. Laurent said, "but through my career, I've had trouble scoring. When that happens you try to find other ways to contribute."

He would also return briefly to Detroit, rounding out his NHL career in 1984. In 644 career NHL games Andre St. Laurent scored 129 goals, 187 assists and 316 points.

St. Laurent extended his career by playing two years in Sweden and parts of three seasons in France.

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