Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Clint Malarchuk: The Game I'll Never Forget

Recommended Posts


Clint Malarchuk: the former Nordiques goalie recalls the day that the contentious Montreal-Quebec rivalry turned ugly - The Game I'll Never Forget - Quebec Nordiques

Chuck O'Donnell

DURING THE INFAMOUS GOOD Friday Brawl between the Canadiens and us in the 1984 playoffs, the benches emptied, there were fights all over the ice surface, the backup goalies were fighting, the coaches were screaming at each other, and Hunter brother was fighting Hunter brother.

Recently they brought back a bunch of the guys from that--game you know, Chris Nilan, Pat Price, and so on--and held some reunion games in Montreal and Quebec City. I was kind of surprised they would do something like that. I don't know how the games turned out, but I wouldn't be surprised if a couple of the guys wanted to go at it again for old-time's sake.

Back in the 1980s, that rivalry was unbelievable. We hated the Canadiens and I'm sure if you asked them, they hated the Nordiques. Even the cities--Montreal and Quebec City--seemed to hate each other. It was very intense until the day the Nordiques moved to Denver and became the Avalanche.

The excess of media coverage just magnified everything. There was a ton of hockey media in Montreal and Quebec City in those days. Back then, there was a lot of hype, and it just made the rivalry that much more intense. You always bad reporters asking you about the rivalry, magnifying every little word that was said.

Through the years, there were many, many battles between the teams, but it never reached the level it did when we met in 1984, in the finals of the old Adams Division.

The Canadiens entered Game 6 with a chance to eliminate us. The brawling started after the second period. I wasn't even in the game. When the first brawl happened, the benches cleared. The period had just ended and everybody was out there mingling. There were a lot of things going on, a lot of talking and some pushing and shoving. The animosity just kept going up, up, up. And before anyone knew it, everyone just paired off and started fighting. I don't know how long it went on for, but it was awhile.

I remember--they showed this on TV not too long ago--the two linesmen had Jean Hamel and Louis Sleagher. This is at the end of the second period. Sleagher threw an overhand left and caught Hamel flush and knocked him cold. It ended up injuring his eye and I'm not sure he ever came back from that eye injury.

So Richard Sevigny, the Canadiens backup, and I are throwing punches at each other, really going at it. At one point, he's trying to go after Dale Hunter. I told him that Hunter would kill him and he just turned to me and said, "That's not the point." He was just like all the other Canadiens: They all wanted to get Hunter. Even Dale Hunter's brother wanted to fight him. They had Mark Hunter and he eventually became paired off with Dale and he started throwing punches at him. It was brother fighting brother! I don't know if that's ever happened before. It was just a wild scene.

Even the coaches, Jacques Lemaire and Michel Bergeron, began yelling at each other. Those guys hated each other.

When they finally got it all cleared up, the refs sent us to our dressing rooms. When it came time to come out, I remember Dale Hunter saying to me, "Watch my hack." He thought someone was going to jump him while we were warming up.

So when we came out for the third period, that punch by Sleagher and what it did was fuel to the fire. Montreal just wanted revenge. Here's the funny thing: Dale Hunter and I had been ejected, but they didn't tell us between periods. We canoe out for the third period like normal. In those days, you didn't have to go right to the bench, you could skate around and warm up a little bit before play started. We were skating around and then another brawl started.

We were skating around, loosening up, and sure enough Dale got into with, well, I'm not positive who he started with. It ended up being another big brawl. I ended up pairing off with Sevigny, the Canadiens' backup goalie. There were fights going on everywhere. It's kind of scary being on the ice during one of those. You don't know what's going to happen next. You don't know if you're going to get sucker punched or something like that. You're paired off with somebody, and you don't know if someone else is going to come in and make it a two-on-one. It can be frightening.

I don't know how they ended up settling everyone down and breaking up all the fights. It was a mess, but eventually they restored order. There were a lot of ejections. I think 10 guys total were thrown out. I think Peter Stastny ended tip with a broken nose and got kicked out for us and that was a big blow because lie was a big weapon for us. Dale and myself and I think Alain Cote got kicked out. We elided up losing that game and were eliminated.

It was ugly, even though back in those days brawling was more acceptable. You just don't see those things anymore--except maybe in an exhibition game between former Nordiques and Canadiens.

--As told to Chuck O'Donnell

Malarchuk's Career Statistics

Position: Goalie Height: 6'0" Weight: 185 pounds

Born: May 1, 1961, in Grande Prairie, Alberta

Drafted: By Quebec, third round, No. 74 overall, 1981

Season Team Games Mins. Record GA GAA SO SV%

1981-82 Quebec 2 120 0-1-1 14 7.00 0 .788

1982-83 Quebec 15 900 8-5-2 71 4.73 0 .863

1983-84 Quebec 23 1,215 10-9-2 80 3.95 0 .865

1985-86 Quebec 46 2,657 26-12-4 142 3.21 4 .895

1986-87 Quebec 54 3,092 18-26-9 175 3.40 1 .884

1987-88 Washington 54 2,926 24-20-4 154 3.16 4 .885

1988-89 Wash./Buff. 49 2,754 19-19-8 154 3.36 2 .893

1989-90 Buffalo 29 1,596 14-11-2 89 3.35 0 .903

1990-91 Buffalo 37 2,131 12-14-10 119 3.35 1 .891

1991-92 Buffalo 29 1,693 10-13-3 102 3.73 0 .887

Totals 338 19,030 141-130-45 1,100 3.47 12 .885

Playoff totals 15 781 2-9-0 56 4.30 0 .853

Fighting Battles on and off the Ice

IN 10 NHL SEASONS, CLINT MALARCHUK won 141 games, posted a 3.41 goals against average, shared the league lead in shutouts one season, and was picked to play with the NHL All-Stars against the Soviets in Rendez-Vous '87 But even he knows he'll always be known for the accident that almost took his life.

On March 22, 1989, the Sabres goalie was involved in a goalmouth collision with St Louis Blues winger Steve Tuttle and Buffalo defenseman Uwe Krupp. Tuttle's skate sliced Malarchuk's neck like a scythe cutting wheat severing his jugular vein Malarchuk had the presence el mind to get up quickly and race off the ice. But with each beat of his heart. blood was spurting out of the wound.

It's been said that the sight of the injury sickened so many fans at the old Auditorium that the Sabres' medical staff ran out of stretchers. Malarchuk could have died right then and there, but he got immediate attention. He got 300 stitches and spent just one night in the hospital. Miraculously, he returned to play a week later.

"It's my claim to fame, and that's aft right," Malarchuk says. "People say I was courageous for coming back. That's how I want people to view it. I was tough and I came back as quick as I could. Everyone in the media said. 'That's it. He's done. He'll never come back.' I was back playing in a week. The reason did that was: You get bucked oft the horse, you have to get right back on, Otherwise, the fear factor gets worse. When I came back, I was still weak because of the amount of blood I had lost. I was still getting my strength back and it was July.

"At the moment of the accident, I thought I was done. I thought I was going to die. That's why I got off the ice as quick as I did. I knew my morn was home watching the game and I didn't want her to see that."

Although that may have been Malarchuk's most public battle, he's had a lot of private ones. Years after the incident, he sought medical treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. He suffered through constant anxiety attacks and at one point, went two weeks with virtually no sleep.

It's been a hard road for the Grande Prairie. Alberta native, but Malarchuk is philosophical about his journey. "If you go through adversity and win, you become a stronger, wiser person," says Malarchuk, who has three children with his wife, Christy.

Malarchuk is in his second season as the Florida Panthers goalie coach. General manager Rick Dudley, who hired Malarchuk in July 2002, was impressed with his work as coach of the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL and Idaho Steelbeads of the WCHL and thinks he's the man to tutor Roberto Luongo, the Panthers' young goalie. "Clint has worked and excelled in all levels of hockey," Dudley says. "At every level he has bean revered and respected by teammates, coaches and colleagues."

Malarchuk began his career with Quebec, After bouncing between the minors and the Nordiques, he established himself as one of the best goalies in the league during the 1985-86 season, going 26-12-4. He was traded to Washington during the 1987-88 season, going 24-20-4 and tying for the league lead with four shutouts.

The following season, he was traded to Buffalo, where he would eventually play his final NHL game in 1992. In his first start with Sabres, Malarchuk recorded a shutout over the Rangers. He then beat two divisional toes Hartford and Boston. He was 3-1-1 as a Sabre when Tuttle's skate blade nearly ended his life.

"There's probably always someone, somewhere talking about that accident," Malarchuk says.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Century Publishing

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good Friday Brawl was awesome. I did not read the entire post but I remember that a Habs player was sucker punched and never played another NHL game. This game is often played on NHL Classics.

And I remember when he got his throat slit that was gross watching the blood spray out of his neck! I am surprised that it does not happen more often at the incredible high speeds the game is played at.

Edited by JMMR

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
And I remember when he got his throat slit that was gross watching the blood spray out of his neck! I am surprised that it does not happen more often at the incredible high speeds the game is played at.

Goalies wear neck guards nowadays. They didn't back then, but that event scared the bejesus out of anyone who played the goalie position.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can remember when that happen on the tube... I know I was floored that he came back to play a few days later...

And yet, I still became a goalie... am I nuts or what... :wacko:

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...