One of the shrewdest and most successful executives in NHL history, Sam Pollock turned the Montreal Canadiens into one of the league's greatest dynasties in the 1970s. His astute judge of talent and thorough understanding of all the mechanisms that could be used to acquire players made him stand out ahead of his contemporaries.
The Montreal native became involved in hockey at a young age. He managed a softball team whose key players were Canadiens players trying to stay in shape during the off-season. He also coached for six years, running a midget team that was the prime feeder to the Junior Canadiens.
Pollock officially joined the Montreal Canadiens in 1947 and within three years was appointed the director of player personnel. He scouted and evaluated talent from this office for fourteen years. He oversaw the Canadiens junior and minor pro affiliates, winning the Memorial Cup with the Montreal Junior Canadiens (1950) and the Ottawa-Hull Junior Canadiens (1958). He also led the Ottawa-Hull Canadiens to the Eastern Professional League crown in 1962 and the Omaha Knights to the Central Hockey League (CHL) championship. After winning the CHL title he earned the chance to be Montreal's general manager and vice-president.
During his 14 years at the helm, the Habs won nine Stanley Cups and eight regular season titles. Pollock's speciality was trading aging players to lesser teams needing immediate experience in exchange for draft choices. He used this method to acquire the picks used to take such stars as Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Larry Robinson. One of his first moves was exchanging two prospects with the Boston Bruins for a young college goalie by the name of Ken Dryden. Pollock was also in charge of Team Canada the year it won the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976 and later took on an executive roll with the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978.