Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mark Napier vs. Mike Bossy

Regarding the Mark Napier vs. Mike Bossy draft, the thinking among Montréal fans at the time, and contrary to the Doug Wickenheiser pick, was unanimous that the local kid/scoring machine should be our choice if we had a crack at him. We didn't have the resources available today to do any research, but none of the picks that year were as sexy as picking him seemed to be. There were grumblings that he was too soft and might get killed in the NHL, but those fears existed during his junior career also. He was obviously a target every game he played, and was intimidated and threatened by goons specifically brought in to take him out, yet he persevered. The junior leagues in the seventies were just as crazy as you might expect, and opposition coaches didn't want him to beat them.

The retort to the line that he might be too soft was that you just had to surround him with the proper players, as he was with the National de Laval, and like the Islanders did by lining him up with Clarke Gillies and Bryan Trottier, and the Oilers did with Wayne Gretzky and Dave Semenko.

Another line of reasoning was that he wasn't a strong defensive player. There's a story that during the 1977 draft, Bill Torrey asked his chief scout who was left when their turn came up in the first round. The reply was: "Mike Bossy, can score but can't check, and Dwight Foster, can check but can't score."

"Get me the scorer," Torrey is reputed to have said, "I'll teach him how to check."

The Canadiens had a shot at him at the #10 overall slot, but chose to go with Mark Napier, who seemed to be as good a scorer as Mr. Bossy in junior, and had played a pro season in the WHA with Birmingham without ending up deceased, so they felt he was a better candidate. They may have been greedy or unrealistic and thought that Mr. Bossy would still be waiting for them at #20 overall. They ended up missing by three slots, and got Normand Dupont as the consolation prize.

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