The upcoming NHL Entry Draft has me thinking about 1971, and the twin talents that were Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne. Their story may have some application for Oiler fans as we fret over Stu MacGregor making the right decision at the summer draft. Although Lafleur was chosen #1 overall, Dionne was also a tremendous talent and a cornerstone player for a long period of time.
I am in NO WAY comparing Lafleur and Dionne to young Hall and Seguin; I am saying that sometimes a draft really does give you two quality choices and a no-lose situation. These two kids are not Mario and Wayne, but they are the best of their draft year and all things being equal should have long careers as impact players for their drafting club.
How could it go wrong? Detroit did it beautifully with Dionne, installing Ned Harkness as coach on May 22, 1970. This was about one full season before the Dionne draft. Harkness was a very poor coach, so they moved him to General Manager! There, he drafted Marcel Dionne (great!) and proceeded to run the team into the ground, making the once proud Red Wing organization a laughing stock. Dionne found a way to get out of a bad situation.
Joe Pelletier has a nice article on the two legends and the spring of 1971.
The Oilers aren’t going to call up Jordan Eberle this season. I’m left wondering if it might be better for Sportsnet to run the Falcons games for the rest of the year. Ratings might improve.