Goaltender Gerry Desjardins had a successful seven-year NHL career, which most would agree could have been much longer had a serious eye injury not prematurely ended his career.
As a 20-year-old, Desjardins played major junior hockey with the Toronto Marlboros, playing in 53 games. He posted an impressive 32-4-7 record with a 3.81 goals against average.
The following year, Desjardins was tending goal for the Houston Apollos of the CPHL in 1965-66, playing in 19 games. He shared the netminding duties with veteran Marv Edwards. Both were outstanding goaltenders, but in a six-team NHL, there were not many jobs for goaltenders. He played one more year in Houston, getting the start in 36 games.
For the 1967-68 season, Desjardins had hoped of landing an NHL job as the league immediately doubled in size to 12 teams with expansion. However, he was overlooked once again. So, Desjardins played with the Cleveland Barons of the AHL, and was clearly one of the major stars of the league. He played in 66 games, proving his workhorse abilities.
In 1968-69, he landed the starting job with the Los Angeles Kings, one of the expansion teams from the previous year. Desjardins was thrown right into the fire, getting the start in 60 games. On one of the worst NHL clubs that year, Desjardins again proved to be a bright spot, keeping the Kings competitive in many games; in fact, he recorded four shutouts.
Desjardins followed up his rookie season with a 43-game performance in 1969-70 and once again was the reason the Kings managed any semblance of respectability. At 26, just as things seemed to be moving along nicely in his career, the Kings obtained Rogatien Vachon in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens. Vachon immediately took over the role as starting goalie, relegating Desjardins to backup. Late in the season the Kings traded Desjardins to the Chicago Blackhawks, but his playing time would not increase appreciably there either, with the presence of all-star goalie Tony Esposito. Nonetheless, Desjardins played in 22 games during the 1970-71 season, going 12-6-3 with a 2.41 goals against average.
In 1972-73, he was picked up by the expansion New York Islanders in the dispersal draft. That year he backstopped 44 games for Long Island, but as one would imagine with an expansion team, he lost more often than he won. The following year was also tough on the fledgling team, although their defensive game was aided tremendously with the drafting of a young defenseman named Denis Potvin. Desjardins started 36 games, going 9-17-6.
Although the club was making strides at improvement, it was difficult for a veteran netminder like Desjardins, so he opted to try his hand in the WHA, signing with the Michigan Stags for the 1974-75 season. But, the WHA turned out to be every bit as difficult as the NHL. In 41 WHA games, Desjardins was 9-28-1 with a 4.26 goals against average. Late that same year, he returned to the NHL, joining the Buffalo Sabres. Sabres' GM Punch Implach took advantage of a clause in Desjardins' contract with the Stags, which said he could leave the team if they moved - which they did - to Baltimore. In nine regular-season games with Buffalo that season, Desjardins went 6-2-1, with a 2.78 goals against average before leading them all the way to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Over the next two seasons, Desjardins was the number-one backstop in Buffalo, playing in 55 and 49 games, respectively. Early in the 1976-77 season, Desjardins' hockey career came to an abrupt end, when a puck struck him the eye in a game against the Boston Bruins