A look at the Quebec Nordiques’ All-Decade team for the 1980s
This is part of a series detailing the all-decade team for every NHL franchise for the 1980s. The all-time teams were compiled using a mix of skill, longevity and statistics; it is not necessarily the best, most memorably or most talented players. Instead, this is the list of players by each position who had the best numbers over a prolonged period (i.e. at least three full seasons between 1980-81 and 1989-90) during the regular season. A complete list is available here.
Team: Quebec Nordiques (1980-81 to 1989-90)
325-375-100, .459 WIN PCT, 3,073 GF vs. 3,172 GA, -99 Diff, 7/10 Playoff Appearances, 0 Stanley Cups
Quebec was such an interesting team as a hockey fan, one that I personally miss. Their rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens was fantastic, especially their playoff meetings. And they were an exciting offensive team for the first half of the 80s. While not as strong as the Oilers, they didn’t have the same slow ramp-up that Winnipeg and Hartford struggled with after the WHA merger. Quebec was .500 for a few years, then had three consecutive 90+ point seasons before the wheels fell off, culminating in a horrible ’89-90 season that saw the team win just 12 games. The net result of the Nordiques’ rise and fall was a win percentage of 45.9% that ranked them 13th in the league. Their offense was above-average, finishing ninth with an average of 3.84 goals per game. But they allowed an ugly 3.97 goals per game, ranking their defense 15th (and dropping their goal differential to 13th). They were a competitive team when they made the playoffs, even getting a pair of runs to the Conference Finals (in 1982 and 1985). While they could be incredibly frustrating to cheer for, I wish they were still around.
Left Wing: Michel Goulet (736 GP, 434-457-891, +48, 565 PIM, 47 GWG)
Michel Goulet was an all-world talent for Quebec for much of the decade, and one of the best offensive left wingers in NHL history (in my opinion). He had four 50-goal seasons, three more 40-goal seasons, and 32 goals in his rookie year. He cleared 100 points four times, and had two more in the 95-96 range. His +48 rating hides the fact that he was an impressive +144 from ’81-82 to ’85-86; unfortunately, as the team’s fortunes turned, he was a -96 from ’86-87 to ’89-90. He had eight consecutive seasons of at least 349 shots, and he scored an incredible 141 powerplay goals (including 91 over a four-year span). And he also chipped in an impressive 47 game-winning goals (11% of his total). One of the greatest left wingers of his era, and one of the greatest players in Nordiques’ history.
Centre: Peter Stastny (737 GP, 380-668-1,048, -11, 687 PIM, 43 GWG)
Stastny also spent the entire decade in Quebec. If it wasn’t for his misfortune of playing in a small Canadian market during the Wayne Gretzky era (something Dale Hawerchuk sympathizes with), Stastny would haven regarded much more highly. Beginning with an incredible 109 points in his rookie season (which stood until Teemu Selanne came along in ’92-93), Stastny posted 100+ points in six consecutive seasons, and 7 of his first 8. He had six seasons of 70+ assists, including a high of 93 (and 139 points) in ’81-82). He had five 40-goal seasons, three 30-goal seasons and two 20-goal seasons. However, his two-way play was weaker than Goulet’s. Stastny was a respectable +76 in his first six seasons, but was -87 in the next four. He was -21 or worse three times, including an awful -45 in ’89-90. But he contributed 120 powerplay goals (clearing 15 PPG three times), and his 43 game-winning goals represented 11% of his goal total during the decade. He also cleared 200 shots five times, along with three more in the 189-199 range. An amazing talent for an exciting team, he scored over 1,000 points for Quebec during the 1980s.
Right Wing: Real Cloutier (169, 80-115-195, +24, 82 PIM, 10 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Marian Stastny
Honourable mention to Stastny, who came into the league with a bang but then faded badly; he scored 35 goals and 89 points in his first seasons, and by his fourth year he was down to just 21 points in 50 games. Cloutier was one of the Nordiques’ early stars. He just made it into consideration with 169 games over three seasons, but I gave him the nod over Stastny because he had better +/- numbers, and because he was an incredible talent for Quebec in the WHA during the 1970s. He scored an impressive 195 points in 169 games, and 10 of his 80 goals were game-winners. It’s too bad his glory years were spent in the WHA, and are therefore largely ignored by the NHL.
Defense: Mario Marois (294 GP, 33-136-169, +78, 573 PIM, 1 GWG)
Marois was without question the top Nordiques defenseman during the decade. He only had three full seasons during a six-year tenure, but he was a fantastic two-way talent. Three seasons of 40+ points, he also hit 91+ PIM four times. He had a positive +/- in five of his six seasons, including a high of +51 in ’83-84. He was also the Nordiques’ captain from 1983 to 1985.
Defense: Randy Moller (508 GP, 33-119-152, +55, 1,002 PIM, 6 GWG)
Honourable Mention to Normand Rochefort
Normand Rochefort had a long tenure with the Nordiques, but none of his stats particularly stood out. He was decent in a number of areas without really standing out in any of them. Moller on the other hand was a tough stay-at-home defender who posted 120+ PIM in each of his seven seasons for Quebec during the 1980s. He was also positive for +/- in five of season seasons, despite playing for some of the weaker Quebec teams in the back half of the decade. He also chipped in offensively, posting 20+ points four times (and scoring at least 14 points in every season).
Goalie: Dan Bouchard (225 GP, 107-79-36, 5 SO, 3.59 GAA, 0.878 PCT*)
*NOTE: save percentage is from ’82-83 to ’84-85 only
Quality goaltenders are few and far between in Quebec’s history, so there really was no other choice besides Bouchard. This is not to diminish Bouchard at all, but rather to point out that he was an anomaly in Quebec goaltending history: he had a winning record, decent stats, and a lengthy stay. Bouchard was above-.500 in three seasons, and one game below .500 in his other two. His GAA was below 3.50 in three of five seasons, and he only went above 4.00 once. Bouchard was arguably the best goaltender in Quebec’s NHL history, not just the 1980s.