Gerry Desjardins

Gerry Desjardins was originally a prospect in the Montreal Canadiens system. After tearing up the American Hockey League in 1967-68, the Habs traded the hot prospect to Los Angeles in exchange for two draft picks. One was Dick Redmond (actually selected by Minnesota as Montreal flipped the pick in another trade) and the other was Steve Shutt.

Desjardins went on to a good NHL career, but nothing like what the Hall of Famer Shutt accomplished. It goes down as a lopsided trade in Montreal's favor.

But a closer look shows that Desjardins was a good goalie - a goalie who really did belong in the National Hockey League.

The trade was great for Gerry. He immediately became the Kings #1 goalie for the next two seasons. It was a great opportunity for Gerry to show he could play at this level.

"It was with the Kings that I got my first taste of the NHL," recalled Desjardins. "During my first training camp with the Kings after I was acquired in the trade I never expected to make the Kings. Ahead of me was the great Terry Sawchuck who played most of the games the previous season, the Kings first in the NHL, and Wayne Rutledge. The two of them had split the goaltending with the Kings in 67-68 and I figured I'd be the odd-man out."

"It was the last day of training camp in Barrie, Ontario, and Kings GM Larry Regan told me I was going to the farm club at Springfield. The following morning, the Kings were set to travel to Winnipeg for their final pre-season game when I found out they had just traded Sawchuk to Detroit and that I was going to start the season with the Kings. Three games into the regular season our other goalie, Wayne Rutledge, sustained a serious groin injury and missed a good portion of the season. As it turned out I ended up playing in 60 games and was selected the Kings MVP."

In addition to being named as the King's MVP he was named as a finalist for the Calder Trophy, the NHL's Rookie-of-the-Year award. Desjardins finished 3rd in voting behind Norm Ferguson and the winner Danny Grant.

Desjardins was dealt to Chicago in February of his second season with the Kings. The six-player deal saw three Kings head to Chicago (Bryan Campbell and Bill White) in exchange for goalie Denis Dejordy, forward Jim Stanfield and defenseman Gilles Marotte.

Gerry's stint in Chicago was short. Playing behind the great Tony Esposito, Gerry didn't get in a lot of game action.

"It was tough to go from playing almost every game to basically not playing at all" recalled Desjardins, who played in only 32 games in approximately 2 1/2 seasons with Chicago.

Gerry was picked up by the New York Islanders in the 1972 expansion draft. The Isles were hoping Desjardins could duplicate his expansion heroics during his LA days, but it didn't happen that way. Gerry played admirably for a very bad team. In two years he had only 14 wins against 52 losses, with 9 ties in 80 total games.

Gerry jumped to the WHA for most of the 1974-75 season but returned to the NHL when the Buffalo Sabres acquired his rights from the Islanders. It was a great move by Buffalo and salvaged Desjardins career.

Playing behind a strong team, something Gerry wasn't used to, was a great highlite for the goalie from Sudbury Ontario. He stepped in immediately and help the Sabres down the playoff drive, going 6-2-1 with a 2.78 GAA. He earned the nod as the starting goalie for the playoffs where he went 7-5 in a league high 15 playoff contests.

Desjardins returned for two more full seasons in Buffalo and was a standout. He went 60-27-17 in 104 games but the Sabres never quite seemed to be able to get to the next level when it came to playoff time.

Gerry played in just 3 games in the 1977-78 season before he hung up his blocker and catching glove. He was struck in the eye with a puck in a game against the Boston Bruins.


Anonymous,  5:16 AM  

"Old Cyclops"...got hit in the eye...came back, and lost a playoff games vs the Islanders...here in Buffalo we called him "Old Cyclops"

Anonymous,  4:04 PM  

In one playoff game, on Buffalo's home ice, the Islanders scored the winning game with only 19 seconds left to play.

relve,  6:49 PM  

Gerry was a good goaltender here in L.A. and I never really understood the reasoning behind his trade to Chicago? Nor did I understand trading Bill White? Although our owner was a weirdo-at best!!! And considering the L.A. fans having thrown stuff at Terry after he lost that last game to Minnesota, 9 to 4 (I think) to end their first playoff run. Apparently L.A. fans had no respect for one of the greatest goalies of all time. Fortunately they've improved vastly since that time...I hope Gerry D is doing well!
Robert e Lee

Anonymous,  9:13 AM  

@relve: When they got Vachon from the Habs, the writing was on the wall. However, it remains to be seen why a team as bad as the Kings were at the time (my have times changed) would get a goalie when it was the rest of the team that needed improvement.

Robert e Lee 10:16 PM  

I totally agree 'anonymous'! Now if only I could find out what Gerry is doing today and if he has any kids playing in the NHL...that would please me very much...he was a real nice guy when he played out here in L.A.

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