The Montreal Canadiens are celebrating the centennial anniversary of the team this upcoming 2008-09 NHL season. Many ceremonies wll surely take place at the Bell Centre this year, a motion picture detailing there history is scheduled to come out this winter, all the while celebrating all 24 Stanley Cups the team has won, all the great players who have worn the journey, and the fans that have stood behind them since day one.
Well for every Guy Lafleur, Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, on the Stanley Cup there are hundreds of lesser known players who have put there mark on this team. There surely will be dozens of best of all time lists this year from experts and non-experts alike, I just thought I would like to share with you some of the men who have helped shape this greatest of hockey teams.
The unlikeliest hero, in the unlkeliest Stanley Cup winner
Following a junior career that saw him finish with 117 goals in little over 3 seasons, the Montreal Canadiens drafted Dipietro in the 5th round with the 102nd pick in the 1990 Entry Draft.
After a couple of seasons honing his skills in the AHL in Fredericton, and impressing Serge Savard, he got called up to the big team in 1992 for his first taste of the big leagues and chipped in with 4 goals in 33 games to end out the season. Starting the follwoing season in the minors, he once again forced the Habs to call him up with his stellar play, and vastly improved on his rookie year numbers by tallying 17 points in 29 games in the regular season. However it was in the playoffs that he would shine most bright as a Montreal Canadien.
Down to the Nordiques in there first round match-up, Dipietro scored a hat-trick that quickly turned the tide in the series, and began what would become an historical streak by scoring an overtime goal. Ending the playoffs with a 2-goal performance in game 5 against the Kings, he ended with 8 goals and 5 assists in 17 games, having the privilige to getting his named carved on Lord Stanleys Cup.
Where is he now?
The seasons that followed where not as kind to Dipietro as he was traded to Toronto in 1995, and spent the following 4 seasons bouncing from the NHL, AHL, and the IHL, never again achieving the success he had durig that playoff stretch.
In 1999, he embarked on what he believed was the tail end of his career when he joined EV Zug in the Swiss-A league. Little did he know, it is where he would find true happiness and a succesful hockey career. Entering his 12th year in Europe, Dipietro even had a chance to have his name flashed across Canadian newspapers in 2006 when he scored the only two goals against the powerful Canadian Olympic Hockey team, as a member of his new adopted homeland, Switzerland.
For a guy who was always considered to short to play in the Big Leagues, Paul Dipietro has gone on to have a long and distinguished career in his sport, and he will always be remembered as a hero here in Montreal.