gilles lupien, 1954—2021

Saddened to have learned it, sorry to report it: former lofty defenceman Gilles Lupien died of cancer on Tuesday at the age of 67. Born in Lachute in 1954, he was drafted by Montreal in 1974 and joined the AHL’s Nova Scotia Voyageurs. At 6’6” and 210 pounds, he got into policing, and led the league in penalty minutes for two of the three full-time seasons he spent in the A. “I guess you can say they wanted me to be an enforcer,” Lupien said in 2010. “I think I did a good job.” He played three seasons with the Canadiens, collecting a single regular-season goal and 100+ penalty minutes in each one. His colleagues on defence included Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, and Guy Lapointe, which goes a long way to exaplaining why, at the end of both of the first two seasons in Montreal, in 1978 and again in ’79, Lupien hoisted the Stanley Cup with his teammates. He went on to play parts of two more NHL seasons, lining up with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hartford Whalers before ending his on-ice career with a combative season with the AHL Binghampton Whalers in 1981-82. Gilles Lupien was, in recent years, a popular player agent.   

Montreal’s Cup-winning 1978-79 Canadiens. Back row, left to right: Gilles Lupien, Larry Robinson, Rod Langway, Serge Savard, Brian Engblom, Guy Lapointe, Rick Chartraw. Second tier from the back, that’s Yvon Lamber, Pat Hughes, Mario Tremblay, Bob Gainey, Cam Connor, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Doug Risebrough. Third tier from the back: trainer Eddie Palchak, Doug Jarvis, Pierre Mondou, Mark Napier, Pierre Larouche, Rejean Houle, Jacques Lemaire, trainer Pierre Meilleur. Front: Michel Larocque, director of player development Claude Ruel, coach Scotty Bowman, captain Yvan Cournoyer, president Jacques Courtois, GM Irving Grundman, vice-president Jean Béliveau, Ken Dryden.

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