Sunday, February 10, 2013

Jean Pronovost

Jean Pronovost was the 11th of 12 children. Older brothers Claude and Marcel also played in the National Hockey League.

Claude was a goaltender who only had a cup of coffee in the NHL. But Marcel was a Hall of Fame defenseman with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs dynasties in the 1950s and 1960s. You'd think he'd be young Jean's idol. Well he was, although perhaps for a different reason.

"My idol used to be Gordie Howe," he said. "Because Gordie used to play with my brother Marcel, and he brother Gordie to our home one time. And to meet that man, my eyes were as big as balloons. I idolized that guy."

Jean Pronovost was no slouch either. He played 998 NHL regular season games, scoring 391 goals including 52 in 1975-76 with Pittsburgh.

It was with the Penguins that Pronovost enjoyed his best seasons. He was a nice piece on one of the top lines of the 1970s along side center Syl Apps Jr. and left winger Lowell McDonald.

"All three of us had our own expertise," recalled Pronovost for The Hockey News back in 2007. "Syl was the passer. I was the scorer. Lowell balanced out the line with his defensive expertise."

Despite some personal success in Pittsburgh, the Penguins were going nowhere fast in the 1970s. The losing wore on Pronovost. By 1978 he requested a trade, leaving as the franchise's all time leader in goals and points.

Pronovost was traded to the Atlanta Flames, hardly a contender by any means. Two years later he moved on to Washington, winding down his career with the Capitals.

Pronovost quietly retired in 1981 with 391 goals, 383 assists for 774 career points in 998 NHL games.

Pronovost became a long time coach with McGill University in Montreal, and also spent a few seasons coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He later retired and took a job driving a school bus.

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