The Class of 1984
MONTREAL - When Michael Jackson glitter gloves and Walkmans were all the rage in the summer of 1984, the Canadiens were busy setting the foundation for a championship.
In only his second NHL Entry Draft as general manager, Serge Savard had four picks in the first 51 slots and the former Habs great made the best of them. By snagging Petr Svoboda (5th), Shayne Corson (8th), Stephane Richer (29th) and Patrick Roy (51st), Savard helped pave the way to Stanley Cup No. 23, to be raised in 1985-86.
Now over 20 years later, the architect of the Canadiens' last two Stanley Cup triumphs humbly admits to not knowing the coup he pulled that fateful afternoon in the summer of 1984.
"Anytime you select a player, there is a certain risk involved," admitted Savard, Canadiens GM from 1983 though 1995. "There are no guarantees they will succeed, believe me."
That being said, Savard did manage to snag a future Hall of Famer, and three-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner who just happened to have average success with the Granby Bisons as a teenager. Once Roy hung up his pads following the 2002-03 season, he like Wayne Gretzky before him for forwards, rewrote the record book for goalies including most postseason victories (151).
"I don't think anyone could've imagined Patrick having such a brilliant career," said Savard with a smile.
The player he chose just before Saint Patrick was no slouch either. Richer remains the only player not named Guy Lafleur to have scored 50-plus goals more than once for the Canadiens. The hard-shooting winger notched 50 goals in 1987-88 before scoring 51 times in 1989-90.
You would also be hard-pressed to say that Savard misfired with his two first picks that day, either. Savard took a walk on the wild side by selecting Svoboda at No. 5 overall, with the Czech defenseman then creatively defecting from his homeland to become a Hab. Svoboda then managed the rare feat of cracking the Canadiens' lineup as an 18-year-old on his way to playing seven seasons in Montreal. He still ranks 11th all-time among Habs defensemen with 229 points.
At No. 8, Savard went Canadian reaching out to Shayne Corson, a prototypical power forward who would go on to play 19 NHL seasons, including 11 with the Habs. Across his two stints with the Canadiens, Corson played in two All-Star Games and sits in the top 10 in all offensive categories for Habs left wingers.
Even though he may not have been as successful with his remaining picks that day, Savard could always say he discovered the Crosby family, drafting Sidney's dad Troy at 240th overall.
The class of 1984 played a whopping 4,267 NHL games, amassing 1,911 points, 551 wins, 66 shutouts and seven Stanley Cups.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com