As the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft approached, the two names that got the most attention heading into it were Guy Lafleur of the Quebec Remparts from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Marcel Dionne of the St. Catharines Black Hawks from the Ontario Hockey Association. With the first overall pick in the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, both of the Quebec natives were hoping to be selected by their hometown team. When the Canadiens decided to go with Lafleur, the Red Wings gladly selected Dionne with the second pick in the Amateur Draft.
In his rookie season, Dionne was able to put up 77 points (28-49-71) in 78 games with the Red Wings and earned an invitation to Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series. With Gordie Howe retiring from the NHL one year prior to Dionne’s arrival in Detroit due to a chronic wrist injury, then-Red Wings General Manager Ned Harkness said that Dionne gave the fans some excitement to compensate for the loss of Howe.
After playing for four seasons with the Red Wings and recording 366 points (139-227-366) in 309 games, Dionne was traded to the Los Angeles Kings prior to the 1975-76 season along with Bart Crashley in exchange for Terry Harper, Dan Maloney and Los Angeles’ 2nd Round Pick in 1976; which was later dealt to the Minnesota North Stars who drafted Jim Roberts. Dionne would go on to spend the next 12 seasons of his career in Los Angeles where he really made a name for himself both on and off the ice. He topped the 100-point mark seven times, was a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award and was selected to the NHL First and Second All-Star Teams twice each. While in Los Angeles, Dionne helped form what was known as the Triple Crown Line with Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor at the beginning of the 1979-80 season and together they became one of the highest-scoring trios in league history before a serious injury to Simmer split them up. In his twelve seasons with the Kings, Dionne suited up in 921 games and recorded 1,307 points (550-757-1307).
In 1986, Dionne was traded to the New York Rangers at the trade deadline in hopes of winning a Stanley Cup with the Rangers that season. Unfortunately for Dionne, New York failed to win a Cup in the three seasons he played for the Broadway Blueshirts.
Marcel Dionne played 1,348 games in the NHL, finishing with 1,771 points (731-1040-1771) and 600 penalty minutes. Although he managed to fly under the radar a lot of the time and still to this day is known as the one of most underrated scorers in NHL history, Dionne’s numbers speak for themselves as he sits 4th all-time in goals (731), 5th all-time in points (1,771) and 9th all-time in assists (1,040).
For Dionne, giving back to the community is something that has been close to his heart since he was playing junior hockey as a teenager.
“I was about 14 or 15 years old when I first started,” explained the Drummondville, Quebec native. “I was playing hockey and we were active within the community as a team, whether it was for diabetes or anything else, we were helping out. You start to make your way up to the pros and everyone knows you locally, so they have different functions and invite you to them,” he continued. “But once you turn pro, it’s very different. When you go to places you’re not really used to visiting, you get a lot of appreciation from different people and it makes it fresh all the time and I think that’s right.”
For Marcel Dionne, although he was active as a teenager within his hockey community, he stayed active throughout his career wherever he ended up playing, but he says that once you retire from the game, it gives you a lot more time to do things you want to do and help out the charities you want to help out.
“It’s a lot easier to do to all of this after you’re done playing because during your career you have a schedule you have to follow so it’s a lot tougher,” chuckled the 1992 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee.
“You learn more about everything you’re able to do once you retire. I’ve always had a knack for getting involved and as an athlete you get exposed to a lot of things that the average person doesn’t usually see,” he continued. “You get request from people who are dying, especially young people and it’s a tragic thing but it makes you really aware of what’s going on. I’m 60 years old now and the last 10 years have been a big part of our lives, for me, my wife and my family and I feel very fortunate that I’m able to do this right now.”
Although he doesn’t do any charity work with his former teams, Dionne has taken it upon himself to donate to charities that are close to his heart and helps raise awareness for what he feels is important. He started Marcel Dionne Inc. in Niagara Falls, Ontario, after his hockey career ended in order to stay active and on his feet. Through Marcel Dionne Inc. he hosts many events and fundraisers to raise money and awareness for specific causes.
“I’m directly involved with prostate cancer, colon cancer, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and MS (multiple sclerosis),” explicated Dionne. “I raise a lot of money for the hospital here in Niagara Falls and for cancer research, so a lot of fundraisers over the last five years have helped us raise a lot of money for these causes.”
One of the causes he is very active and informal about is prostate cancer. He understands that at his age you have to take precaution and go in to get tested for what is considered very serious.
“One in seven men will have prostate cancer so it’s important for men 50 years and over to be screened and to get tested, you need to educate yourself about prostate cancer and go in for check ups because it’s very serious,” explained the eight-time All-Star. “Every single year we raise more and more money and awareness and each year we get closer to our goal.“
To learn more about Marcel Dionne and what he is up to in the community, visit http://marceldionne.com/