Esso Hockey since 1936
Legends Of Hockey
Esso Hockey since 1936
  • List
  • Summary
  • Biography
  • Stats

  • STATS
Players
Biography

The New York Islanders drafted Denis Potvin first overall in 1973 to serve as the foundation of their developing expansion team. He surpassed all expectations and became the first NHL defenseman to score 1,000 career points, all while functioning as the cornerstone of the franchise's four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980 to 1983. Potvin's wealth of natural talent allowed him to jump into the offensive rush while serving as a tough physical presence in his own end of the rink. He was one of the most complete blueliners to ever step onto the ice. A less discussed facet of Potvin's game was his mean streak. Opposing forwards learned quickly that they were better served avoiding confrontations with one of the NHL's lesser-known tough guys.

The native of Ottawa, Ontario, excelled at football and hockey as a youngster. Having opted to pursue the latter, he made the Ottawa 67s of the Ontario Hockey Association in 1968-69. Potvin enjoyed an outstanding junior career, registering 329 points in five seasons. He was often paired with the offensively gifted Ian Turnbull to form one of the most lethal blue line partnerships ever seen in junior hockey circles. During Potvin's last year in Ottawa, he established an OHA single-season record for defensemen with 123 points.

As the highly touted first pick in the 1973 Amateur Draft, Potvin quickly made his presence felt in the NHL. He amassed 54 points in 1973-74 while displaying the confidence of a ten-year veteran. Potvin was the obvious choice in the Calder Trophy voting at the conclusion of the season. That year he also lived out a dream by playing with his brother Jean, who remained with the club for nearly five years. Potvin emerged as one of the leaders of a rapidly improving Islanders squad that reached the Stanley Cup semifinals in only its third season.

Following the 1975-76 campaign, Potvin was awarded the Norris Trophy, an honour he also received in 1978 and 1979. He experienced his most productive offensive output in the last of those years with 101 points. Between 1980 and 1983, he captained New York when they became only the second team in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup four times in succession (Montreal did it twice). His overtime goal in the 1980 finals against Philadelphia gave his team the momentum and confidence it needed to win its first title. Potvin's top post-season output occurred in 1980-81, when he recorded 25 points in 18 games.

The talented defenseman distinguished himself on the international stage through his play on Canada's 1976 and 1981 Canada Cup teams. He retired at the conclusion of the 1987-88 season with regular-season totals of 310 goals and 1,052 points. Potvin also registered 56 goals and 164 points in the playoffs. In addition to his four major trophies, Potvin was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team five times and the Second All-Star Team twice.

The leadership qualities demonstrated by Potvin, along with his exceptional talent at both ends of the ice, placed him in a category reserved for only a handful of NHL defensemen. The Ottawa 67s hosted a special gala in his honour and raised his number to the rafters of the Ottawa Civic Center. Following a game on March 31, 1988, a cheering Nassau Coliseum audience paid homage to his career when his number 5 sweater was retired. Potvin was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and the ceremony was held in his hometown of Ottawa for the first time.

The popular Potvin joined the broadcasting ranks post playing career. In 1993, he was hired to add colour to Florida Panthers television broadcasts, remaining until 2009. In 2010, he was hired as an analyst on Ottawa Senators television broadcasts and he returned to the Panthers telecasts in 2014.

Career Statistics
REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1968-69 Ottawa 67's OHA-Jr. 46 12 25 37 83
1969-70 Ottawa 67's OHA-Jr. 42 13 18 31 97 5 2 1 3 9
1970-71 Ottawa 67's OHA-Jr. 57 20 58 78 200 11 4 6 10 26
1971-72 Ottawa 67's OHA-Jr. 48 15 45 60 188
1972-73 Ottawa 67's OHA-Jr. 61 35 88 123 232 9 6 10 16 22
1973-74 New York Islanders NHL 77 17 37 54 175 -16
1974-75 New York Islanders NHL 79 21 55 76 105 +28 17 5 9 14 30
1975-76 New York Islanders NHL 78 31 67 98 100 +12 13 5 14 19 32
1976-77 Canada Can-Cup 7 1 8 9 16
1976-77 New York Islanders NHL 80 25 55 80 103 +42 12 6 4 10 20
1977-78 New York Islanders NHL 80 30 64 94 81 +57 7 2 2 4 6
1978-79 New York Islanders NHL 73 31 70 101 58 +71 10 4 7 11 8
1978-79 NHL All-Stars Ch-Cup 2 0 0 0 0
1979-80 New York Islanders NHL 31 8 33 41 44 +13 21 6 13 19 24
1980-81 New York Islanders NHL 74 20 56 76 104 +38 18 8 17 25 16
1981-82 Canada Can-Cup 7 2 5 7 12
1981-82 New York Islanders NHL 60 24 37 61 83 +38 19 5 16 21 30
1982-83 New York Islanders NHL 69 12 54 66 60 +32 20 8 12 20 22
1983-84 New York Islanders NHL 78 22 63 85 87 +55 20 1 5 6 28
1984-85 New York Islanders NHL 77 17 51 68 96 +36 10 3 2 5 10
1985-86 New York Islanders NHL 74 21 38 59 78 +34 3 0 1 1 0
1985-86 Canada WEC-A 7 1 4 5 6
1986-87 New York Islanders NHL 58 12 30 42 70 -6 10 2 2 4 21
1987-88 New York Islanders NHL 72 19 32 51 112 +26 5 1 4 5 6
NHL Totals 1060 310 742 1052 1356 185 56 108 164 253
Esso hockey medals of achievement