Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Johnny Gagnon
Seldom has there been a more colourful character gracing the ice lanes of NHL arenas than this 5'5" speedster. Born on August 6, 1905, Gagnon was one of eleven children brought up in conditions bordering on poverty. Neither of his parents was enthused about his passion for hockey, least of all his father, who used to break his sticks whenever he caught him playing. So, when he was 18, he left home, traveled to Three Rivers on the train, and tried out for the Eastern League's Renards. He was placed on a Bank League squad to improve his game. He so impressed the team's management in an exhibition game that he was promoted to the Senior "A" club the next campaign. There he pulled down the huge salary of $10 a week, $8 of which went for room and board.

Following his second season at Trois-Rivieres, he was home to attend the funeral of another Chicoutimi native, Georges Vezina. Leo Dandurand, President of les Canadiens was in attendance and approached Gagnon about hockey. He acknowledged his obvious abilities but reckoned that he was too small for the NHL. The "Black Cat" challenged him to weigh him and judge for himself. Filling his pockets with rocks, he tipped the scales at 150 lbs., at least 10 lbs. more than his actual weight. He was invited to Montreal's training camp but was farmed out to Quebec City where he spent two seasons. When his team was eliminated from the post season, he was invited to play an exhibition match in Providence for the tidy sum of $100. Because of his performance that night, the Rhode Island team arranged for the fleet-footed right winger to be loaned to the Reds for the next three years. But, when the 1930-31 season got under way, he was sporting the livery of the Flying Frenchmen.

Gagnon was fortunate enough to have the equally petit, but elusive, Aurel Joliat, and the great Howie Morenz, as his linemates. During the Stanley Cup finals of that initial campaign his father passed away. Nevertheless, after the internment he went directly to Montreal to play against Chicago in the best-of-five affair. He was extremely tired but tallied two markers and assisted on a third to win the game and tie the series at two games each. He was the hero in the deciding match, notching both markers in a 2-0 championship victory. Apart from half a season with the Bruins, and an equal amount of time with the New York Americans in his final year, the little pepper-pot stuck with the Canadiens.

He would not have been exiled to Beantown in 1935 had he been able to get along with his coach, Newsy Lalonde. Johnny always felt the former superstar picked on him, and they constantly clashed, with Gagnon losing his temper and refusing to cooperate. But when Montreal fired Lalonde, the kid from Chicoutimi was back where he belonged in the Canadiens' fold.

He concluded his career in the world's premier circuit even before the season ended in 1939-40. Because he hadn't been with the Americans the full season, Red Dutton assured him he was not going to get a full share of playoff loot. He played one game of the post season against Detroit, packed his bags, went home to Montreal, and never wore an NHL sweater again. He finished his career with Providence Reds, the team for which he had played before reaching the top. He coached one year, then scouted 13 years for the same organization, before giving the Rangers 14 years in the same capacity.


REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1922-23 Chicoutimi Bluets QPHL 7 0 0 0 1 0 0 0
1922-23 Quebec Bulldogs Big-4 3 0 0 0
1923-24 Trois-Rivieres Renards ECHL 9 2 0 2
1924-25 Trois-Rivieres Renards ECHL 16 18 0 18 2 5 0 5
1925-26 Quebec Sons of Ireland QAHA 10 5 0 5 6 4 0 4
1926-27 Quebec Castors Can-Am 32 27 6 33 54 2 0 0 0 5
1927-28 Providence Reds Can-Am 39 20 4 24 80
1928-29 Providence Reds Can-Am 39 7 3 10 50 6 4 0 4 10
1929-30 Providence Reds Can-Am 39 21 17 38 72 3 2 4 6 6
1930-31 Montreal Canadiens NHL 41 18 7 25 43 10 6 2 8 8
1931-32 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 19 18 37 40 4 1 1 2 4
1932-33 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 12 23 35 64 2 0 2 2 0
1933-34 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 9 15 24 25 2 1 0 1 2
1934-35 Boston Bruins NHL 24 1 1 2 9
1934-35 Montreal Canadiens NHL 23 1 5 6 2 2 0 1 1 2
1935-36 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 7 9 16 42
1936-37 Montreal Canadiens NHL 48 20 16 36 38 5 2 1 3 9
1937-38 Montreal Canadiens NHL 47 13 17 30 9 3 1 3 4 2
1938-39 Montreal Canadiens NHL 45 12 22 34 23 3 0 2 2 10
1939-40 Montreal Canadiens NHL 10 4 5 9 0
1939-40 New York Americans NHL 24 4 3 7 0 1 1 0 1 0
1940-41 Shawinigan Cataracts QSHL 33 15 26 41 58 10 3 8 11 12
1941-42 North Sydney Victorias CBSHL 23 5 11 16 6 6 2 4 6 4
1942-43
1943-44 Providence Reds AHL 50 9 10 19 12
1944-45 Providence Reds AHL 9 0 5 5 0
NHL Totals 454 120 141 261 295 32 12 12 24 37


Played in NHL All-Star Game (1937, 1939) Traded to Montreal by Providence (Can-Am) for Gerry Carson, the loan of Jean Pusie and cash, October 21, 1930. Traded to Boston by Montreal for Joe Lamb, October 2, 1934. Traded to Montreal by Boston for cash, January 9, 1935. Traded to NY Americans by Montreal for cash, January 3, 1940. Signed as a free agent by North Sydney (CBSHL), December 18, 1941.
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