PIERRE TURGEON: Former top pick found success everywhere he went — almost

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A big 2023 Hockey Hall of Fame class covers a lot of ice.

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Three goalies, a general manager and a trio of greats among NHL players, coaches and international women’s hockey will join the puck pantheon this Monday. It brings the Hall’s total residency to 298 players, including ten women, 115 builders and 16 on-ice officials.

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Debate on who else should be nominated by the secretive 18-person selection committee is an endless exercise, but won’t take away from a memorable ceremony in Toronto this weekend for these seven inductees. Here’s one of their stories.


BORN: Aug. 28, 1969, Rouyn, Que

HALL PASS: His 1,327 points previously made him the highest-scoring retired player not elected to the Hall … Ranks 32nd in career NHL assists with 812 … Won the 1993 Lady Byng Trophy for good on-ice conduct … Played in four NHL all-star games … Led almost all of his various teams in scoring in at least one season.

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BY THE NUMBERS: Games played: 1,294 GP, (515 goals, 812 assists, 1,327 points, 452 PIM) … In 1986-87, had a 154-point QMJHL season and was the first-overall pick that year by Buffalo … Led the Sabres with 88 points in 1988-89 season and was seventh in the NHL with 106 in ’89-90 … First on the Montreal Canadiens in scoring in ‘95-96 with 96 points and, after a trade to St. Louis, managed better than 20 goals and 60 points in each of his five seasons there … In 109 NHL playoff games had 97 points.

THE STORY: Turgeon has few regrets about how his splendid career unwound including success with six different teams, but would likely have wanted a longer stint in his home province with the Canadiens.

As their captain, he literally held the torch high in the closing ceremony of the Montreal Forum in 1996 with the other greats in franchise history, but spent only 104 games there after an ill-fated trade early the next season to toughen up the team. It contributed to Montreal’s 30-year Stanley Cup drought.

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But typically for Turgeon, he made the best of the move and assisted the Blues in making the playoffs all five of his seasons. Nor was he ever fazed to be so long on the Hall’s waiting list.

“If you look at the selection committee, the number of people they’re looking at, there’s a lot of great players that had a great career. So it’s got to be tough for them to decide.

“It’s crazy I played hockey for a living and just a privilege to be a part of this Hall. I get on that ice today and I still love the game.”

Dale Hunter certainly didn’t feel any affection for Turgeon in a 1993 playoff game when, in a fit of frustration he slammed the celebrating Turgeon from behind after his goal propelled the Islanders past Hunter’s Capitals in the playoffs. Turgeon’s separated shoulder and concussion kept him out all but one more game that spring. Hunter got a 21-game suspension

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Turgeon, on the other hand, only went over 40 penalty minutes once in 20 seasons and 36 total minutes in playoffs.

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DID YOU KNOW: His induction completes three straight No. 1 overall picks from 1987-89 reaching the Hall with Mike Modano and Mats Sundin.

QUOTE: “Pierre is different from most superstars. He doesn’t know how good he is, so when I have the chance, I remind him.” – Former Islanders teammate Steve Thomas.

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