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May 16, 2016

Donald Dufresne

One of the nice stories out of the Montreal Canadiens 1993 Stanley Cup championship involved little used defenseman Donald Dufrense.

Quebec city native Donald Dufrense played four seasons of junior hockey with Trois Rivieres and was a two time QMJHL all star. The Montreal Canadiens drafted him 117th overall in the 1985 NHL draft.
Over the next five seasons the husky defenseman played 119 games with Les Canadiens, plus another 126 in the minor leagues.

Though he barely played in the spring of 1993, he earned a Stanley Cup ring with Montreal that year. In fact, despite playing in only one other game through the entire playoffs Montreal coach Jacques Demers made sure to get Dufresne into one game in the Stanley Cup finals to ensure he got his name on the Stanley Cup. Dufresne replayed defenseman Kevin Haller for one game. Demers did not have to do that, and he risked infuriating the Los Angeles Kings for assuming victory was safe. But that's what made Demers one of the all time great "player's coaches" in the history of the game.

"I went for dinner, I couldn't eat. I tried to take a nap, I couldn't sleep," recalled an excited Dufresne. "I thought about the name on the Cup all day. I told Jacques before the game, 'Thank you, I will give my life for you tonight.' And I did."

A stay-at-home defenseman, Dufresne proved to be handy depth defenseman. He had good size and played his man toughly but cleanly. He lacked agility on his skates but made up for that by understanding his positioning and playing a conservative style. Offensively he showed little creativity, but was never expected to. He proved to be an effective contributor in his limited role.

Dufresne went on to play a total of 268 NHL games with stints with Tampa, Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Edmonton. He was never able to establish himself as more of a regular NHL player partly due to injuries. He always seemed to be battling an assortment of ailments that plagued him, such as bad back.

Dufrense went on to become a notable coach and assistant coach at the junior and minor pro levels. No doubt he employs some of what Jacques Demers taught him every time he steps behind the bench.

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