TORONTO -- Guy Carbonneau remembers the call from his father more than 20 years later. A reserved man who virtually never phoned his son to talk about hockey, Charles-Aime Carbonneau was unexpectedly on the line with a bit of advice.
It was May 5, 1999, the eve of Game 1 of the Dallas Stars' second-round series against the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The then-39-year-old was sidelined with a knee injury sustained during the first round against the Edmonton Oilers but was working to return against the Blues.
"My dad called and told me, 'You'd better win the Stanley Cup this year,'" Carbonneau said. "I said, 'What's wrong? Is there a problem? Are you OK?'"
With the 1998-99 Stars, Carbonneau was in the second-to-last season of his 19-year NHL career, one that now brings him to Hockey Hall of Fame induction in the Class of 2019. After winning two Stanley Cup championships with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and 1993, he had been acquired from the Blues by Stars GM Bob Gainey, his mentor as a teammate with the Canadiens, in an October 1995 trade.
From left: Guy Carbonneau with his wife, Line; brothers Marcel and Denis; his mother, Mary; and father, Charles-Aime, following the Montreal Canadiens' 1993 Stanley Cup championship.
On Friday afternoon, Carbonneau and his fellow Class of 2019 inductees will be in the shrine's Great Hall to receive their Hall of Fame rings from Hall chairman Lanny McDonald. With him will be fellow players Vaclav Nedomansky, Hayley Wickenheiser and Sergei Zubov, and builders Jim Rutherford and Jerry York.
"My dad never put pressure on me or pushed me with my hockey," Carbonneau said. "He wasn't sure about my leaving home at age 16 when I was drafted by (major-junior) Chicoutimi. Now he was calling me during the (1999) playoffs. He told me, 'I just wanted to make sure that you'll win the Stanley Cup. You don't get a chance to win it every year.'"
The next morning, Carbonneau took another call from Sept-Iles, Quebec, this one to tell him that his father had just died of a heart attack at age 68. He attended the funeral back home, then worked his way back into the Stars lineup. On June 19, described by then-teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Brett Hull as being the Stars' heart and soul, the center won his third and final Stanley Cup title when Dallas defeated the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 in triple overtime of Game 6.
Carbonneau remembers his late father as a solid businessman and steady provider who had a good sense of humor, the patriarch of a family living in Sept-Iles, a small port city 600 miles up the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. But it was Mary, mother of the five Carbonneau children, who shuttled the kids to their sports and appointments.
During his father's lifetime, Carbonneau was voted winner of the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward in 1988, 1989 and 1992, with Charles-Aime usually a quiet witness from afar.
"My dad was never in good health," Carbonneau said. "We had a house in town and a summer place 5 miles away on the St. Lawrence. He came back from work that day, told my mom, 'I think I'm going to go to the cottage,' and she got a call from him an hour later, Dad on the phone telling her that he didn't feel good. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was gone."
Carbonneau has lost track of the swollen guest list for his Hall of Fame induction. He will be joined Monday by Mary; his wife, Line Boivin; the couple's two daughters, Anne-Marie and Kristina; siblings Marcel, Denis, Anne and Robert; and grandchildren Bryelle, Mallory and Brody.
There will be extended family, too, including Anne-Marie's husband, Brenden Morrow, the former captain of the Stars, and Line's sister, Diane, with countless friends who Carbonneau expects will appear out of thin air.
Surrounded this weekend by family, friends and well-wishers, Carbonneau will give thought to a phone call that was the last time father and son would speak.
"I think my dad would be proud of this," he said of his Hall of Fame induction. "I think that, on the inside, everybody is proud of their kids."