MONTREAL - Former Canadiens defenseman Eric Desjardins may have retired a Philadelphia Flyer, but like countless other players before him, he won his Stanley Cup in Montreal.
Desjardins' retirement comes 17 seasons after he first broke in with the Canadiens in 1988-89. Drafted in the third round, 38th overall, by Montreal in 1987, Desjardins suited up for 405 games and registered 179 points over the course of his six seasons with the Canadiens.
While the 37-year-old's resume may speak for itself with such highlights as three All-Star Game appearances and several tours of duty for Canada on the international stage including the 1991 Canada Cup, 1996 World Cup of Hockey and the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Desjardins' legacy will forever be tied to his pivotal role in Montreal's Stanley Cup run in the spring of 1993.
In addition to leading all Canadiens defensemen with 14 points that spring, Desjardins made NHL history with a performance for the ages in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the L.A. Kings at the Montreal Forum on June 3, 1993.
Already behind 1-0 in the series and trailing 2-1 with time winding down in the third period, things looked bleak for the Canadiens until head coach Jacques Demers pulled a rabbit from his hat by calling for the measurement of Kings' defenseman Marty McSorley's stick with under two minutes to play in regulation. Demers' hunch paid off as referee Kerry Fraser confirmed the coach's suspicion, providing the Canadiens with a much-needed power-play.
Kerry Fraser puts the finishing touches on the measurement of Marty McSorley's now infamous illegal curve.
That set the stage for Desjardins, who scored his second goal of the night with only 1:13 left on the clock to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime. But the Habs' defenseman wasn't done just yet as he then completed his hat trick only 51 seconds into the extra frame by blasting a slap shot past Kelly Hrudey to seal a 3-2 win. The dramatic victory sent the Canadiens on their way, as Montreal won the next three straight to polish off the Kings in five games and secure Cup No. 24.
With a recent rash of injuries forcing Desjardins to hang up his skates, the only other active members remaining from the Canadiens' Stanley Cup winning squad in 1993 are Patrice Brisebois, John LeClair, Sean Hill and Mathieu Schneider.
The second chapter of Desjardins' career began in February of 1995, when he was packaged along with LeClair and Gilbert Dionne and sent to the Flyers in exchange for the NHL's fifth leading point-getter, Mark Recchi. Desjardins would spend the next 11 seasons in Philly where he would serve as team captain for two seasons en route to becoming the second highest scoring defenseman in Flyers history, behind only Mark Howe, with 396 points.
With a total of 1,143 games under his belt, the native of Rouyn is now looking forward to kicking back and enjoying his golden years at his home in St. Adolphe D'Howard, Que., with his wife Manon and two children Jakob and Alana. Wherever Desjardins' post-NHL career takes him, it's a safe bet that his 1993 Stanley Cup ring won't be far behind.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com