How it started: Marc Tardif won a pair of Stanley Cup championships with the NHL’s mighty Montreal Canadiens in the early 1970s.
How it ended up: Tardif dominated the WHA as captain and goalgetter-in-chief of the Quebec Nordiques, twice winning league scoring titles along with the Gordie Howe Trophy (a pair of) as WHA MVP. In 1977, he powered Quebec to its lone Avco Cup championship. In the annals of WHA stats, Tardif stands first in goals got, second in points piled up, third in assists accreted.
In between? In the summer of 1973, not long after having helped Canadiens secure another Stanley Cup, Tardif was on the move to the WHA. After three-and-a-half seasons in Montreal, the 23-year-old left winger signed with the Los Angeles Sharks. He may look wistful in the portrait reproduced here, but he had reasons to celebrate his move to California. With Montreal, it was duly reported, Tardif had been making $40,000 a year; in Los Angeles, his annual salary was said to be close to $120,000. (He also got the no-trade clause that Canadiens’ GM Sam Pollock wasn’t willing to offer.)
Canadiens were shedding left wingers at an alarming rate that summer: in July, Réjean Houle would make his break for the WHA Nordiques. Not that the NHL champions didn’t still have options on the port side: for the 1973-74 season ahead, Montreal’s stable still featured a veteran Frank Mahovlich along with up-and-comers Murray Wilson and Yvon Lambert as well as a pair of still-to-be-tested youngsters by the names of Steve Shutt and Bob Gainey.
Marc Tardif led his Sharks in scoring through the ’73-74 season, though that wasn’t enough to buoy the team out of last place in the overall WHA standings. The team moved the following year to Detroit, where they became the Michigan Stags. They only lasted half-a-season there before staggering out of town in January of 1975 to become the Baltimore Blades.
Tardif was gone by then, having joined his old Canadiens’ teammates Houle and J.C. Tremblay in Quebec in December of ’74 in a trade that sent Alain Caron, Pierre Guite, and Michel Rouleau to the Stags.