clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sam Pollock: A Beautiful Mind Part III — Trader Sam

While the last two articles on Sam covered two of his more famous moves, this one delves into his brilliance on today's lesser known trades.

Thinking on how next to pillage another team
Thinking on how next to pillage another team

Sam Pollock made a name for himself by roasting other teams with trades throughout his career. Really, he was a bit of a jerk when you think about it. My father can attest, as Pollock was his neighbour growing up. I've mentioned this before, but my father's most memorable conversation with the legendary GM was being told "get your F-ing beer off the sidewalk." But, he is much, much more than some guy that told my dad off well over a decade before I was born.

A stark contrast to my decidedly sadder articles on the trades of the 90s, here are some brilliant moves made by Trader Sam.

1969 brought a good one. Pollock sent Gary Monahan and Doug Piper to the Detroit Red Wings for Bart Crashley and Pete Mahovlich. The Habs had picked Monahan over Mahovlich in the 1963 draft, which makes it interesting that they eventually sent him away for a guy they originally passed on. Mahovlich had played 82 games in Detroit, and only scored nine goals. In eight seasons with the Tricolore, he would score 223. Perhaps this was a product of his environment, but nonetheless, that's not too shabby.

The very next year, Sam sent Dick Duff to the L.A. Kngs for Dennis Hextall and the Kings' second round pick in 1971. Dick Duff was a good player. He played another 100 games in the NHL and put up 38 points. Dennis Hextall only ever played for the Habs affiliate in the AHL, and Dick Duff was in the twilight of his career. The big story of this trade is the guy that the Habs got with the second round draft pick. That second rounder wound up being inducted into the Hall of Fame, has his jersey retired by the club, and his name appears on the Stanley Cup nine times. I'm talking of course about Larry Robinson. Excellent trade.

In 1971, Sam moved Mickey Redmond, Bill Collins and Guy Charron to the Detroit Red Wings for another Mahovlich. Frank Mahovlich. Pollock had always wanted The Big M and now he had his wish. Mickey Redmond was a very good player with the Red Wings, but this was a clear win. While he only played four seasons in a Habs uniform, Mahovlich won two cups with the team and was a huge playoff performer in both wins. Perhaps being reunited with his brother gave him a boost, because not only was he clutch in the playoffs, he had his best season ever in 1971-72, racking up 96 points. He's also a former member of the Canadian Senate if you're into that kind of stuff. I'm a political science nerd so I had to throw that in.

Fast forward two years to draft day, 1973. The St. Louis Blues really wanted to acquire goaltender John Davidson and didn't think he would be around when their eighth overall pick came around. Sam traded his fifth overall pick and his fourth rounder to the Blues for their eighth overall and their third rounder. Pollock was gambling that the guy he wanted would still be around at eighth overall. He was, and his name was Bob Gainey. How about five cups as a player and his number 23 retired by the club. Not. Too. Shabby.

Again exchanging with the Blues four years later in 1977, Pollock sent Jimmy Roberts, who was nearing the end of his career, for the Blues third round pick in 1979. Now this may have looked, at the time, like a bad deal. He sent a guy who was a part of six Cup-winning teams away for a draft pick that was two years away. But let's not forget that Sam was brilliant with draft picks. That third round pick wound up being the guy who captained the Canadiens to their most recent cup victory in 1993. That's right, Guy Carbonneau. All told, I would say that this one worked out just fine.

These are just some of the trades that Sam Pollock made throughout his career. You'd be rather hard pressed to find a trade he made that could be considered bad. If anyone knows of one, please tell me, because I was only born in 1990 and my research has not shown me a single trade that didn't work out in the end. This article doesn't even make mention of the Ken Dryden or Guy Lafleur moves that I wrote about in the last two articles and I think it's a pretty damn impressive resume.

Those familiar with my articles will know I like to compare the past and present. It's both impossible and absurdly unfair to compare Marc Bergevin to Sam Pollock. I'm inclined to now go ahead and make my statement: Sam Pollock is not only the best GM the Canadiens have ever had, but the best GM in the history of the entire National Hockey League.

Rest easy Sam, you've earned it.

Part II: Drafting Guy Lafleur Part III: Trader Sam