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MY DRAFT DAY: GASTON GINGRAS
My Draft Day: Gaston Gingras
 
MONTREAL | June 18th, 2012
My Draft Day: Gaston Gingras
In late June, hundreds of players all over the world will be anxiously awaiting to hear their name called. It’s a day that players never forget, least of all Gaston Gingras whose name was announced 30 years ago.

“Back in my day, the draft was hardly was it is today. All I could really do is wait by the phone,” recalled the former Habs defenseman who won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986.

“When I was drafted, I was already playing pro hockey with the WHA’s Birmingham Bulls. My roommate was Michel Goulet and I knew guys like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier,” remembered Gingras of his WHA opponents.

With the rival league folding in 1979, the possibility of being snatched up by an NHL team was appealing for a 20-year-old Gingras, who returned home to Temiscaming, QC, for the summer to await word from an NHL club.

Meanwhile the Draft was underway at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. After trading their first round pick, the Canadiens had to wait until the second round at No. 27 to make their first selection. When that time came, a phone rang 569 km away in Northern Quebec much to Gingras’ delight.

“Temiscaming is a small town that’s made up of 99.9% Canadiens fans so let’s just say that the news of my drafting was well received,” said Gingras who was drafted on the same day as future teammates Mats Naslund, Rick Wamsley and Guy Carbonneau.

Thrilled at the news of being drafted, Gingras nonetheless had his feet planted firmly on the ground.

“It’s funny to say, but that time wasn’t the greatest era to be drafted by the Canadiens. I mean, the team was coming off four straight Stanley Cups. They of course had the “Big Three” on the blue line along with Rod Langway. So I was happy to have the chance to be a Canadien, but I knew I was facing a tough challenge to even crack their lineup.”  

For Gingras’ quaint hometown, his selection by the Habs caused quite the commotion.

“Two other players from the area had been drafted, including Andre Savard by the Bruins and Richard Lemieux by Vancouver, but for me to be chosen by the Canadiens was real source of pride for our community.”

Even three decades later, Gingras still fondly remembers the confidence the Canadiens showed in him.

“It was nothing short of a dream come true. The Canadiens always represented the pinnacle of hockey and I’m still as big a fan of the team as I’ve ever been.”