Jean Potvin played his junior hockey for the Hull Volants and the Ottawa 67's from 1966 to 1969. And although solid on the blueline, he was passed over in the NHL draft. But not being one to wait around, he knocked on doors and eventually signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings.
Potvin didn't last long in LA, however, before he was swept into a seven-player swap that landed him in Philadelphia with the Flyers. But somehow, his destiny was not coloured in orange and black. He moved on to the New York Islanders in 1973 where he found himself a home for life?at least off the ice.
There has been speculation that the Islanders, having seen the phenomenal play of Potvin's kid brother, Denis, figured they should acquire the older Potvin to increase the odds of signing his younger sibling. The plan worked as the two brothers, who were very close, skated on the Islanders' blueline in contented fashion.
As a result of such harmony, Jean Potvin's offensive production skyrocketed as he sprang for 72 points in 1975-76?an exceptional number for a defenseman. But by 1978, the Islanders found themselves in need of a centreman and Potvin ended up as part of the necessary collateral to bring Wayne Merrick over from the Cleveland Barons. The trade?a move that caused his play to suffer, shook Potvin. He struggled through 40 games with the Barons and then made the transfer to the Minnesota North Stars the following year before he was sent to the minors in Oklahoma City.
But 1979-80 brought good news as he was traded back to the Islanders where he rejoined his brother and a club on the verge of NHL dominance. Potvin's NHL days, however, were nearing an end. By 1980, he joined broadcaster Jiggs McDonald as a colour analyst on any evening that the club didn't require his services. He'd sometimes skate in the team's warm-up only to discover he was scratched from the lineup. He'd then race to the dressing room, slip on his suit and scurry up to the broadcast booth.