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PostSubject: the changing fortunes    Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:03 am

Doug Wickenheiser was selected by Montreal with the first pick at the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. The decision was highly controversial as the fans in Montreal had hoped the team would take francophone star Denis Savard.[117] Wickenheiser's transition to the NHL was difficult; his popularity was harmed by comparisons of his struggles to Savard's immediate success with the Black Hawks. He was traded to the Blues midway through the 1983–84 season.[118]

Gainey explained the changing fortunes of the franchise following their playoff defeat at the hands of the Nordiques in 1982: "We can't put on our sweaters anymore and expect to win."[119] The Canadiens' mystique had been broken by consecutive playoff losses to the upstart Minnesota North Stars, the Oilers and the Nordiques. The loss to Quebec in 1982 was the culmination of a vicious series where the players attempted to hurt and intimidate their opponents, while the media argued over which team better represented francophone Quebec.[119] Montreal's growing rivalry with Quebec peaked two years later in 1984 when they eliminated the Nordiques in six games, but not before the Good Friday Massacre made headlines. A hit by Quebec's Dale Hunter on Montreal goaltender Steve Penney sparked a bench-clearing brawl at the end of the second period.[120] A second brawl, including some players who were ejected as a result of the first, erupted before the start of the third period.[121] Ten players were ejected from the game, and 198 penalties in minutes were handed out as a result of the incidents, which proved a turning point in the game as Montreal scored five third period goals to win.[120]



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