A very mobile defenseman, Jean-Jacques Daigneault is a symbol of perseverance and discipline. He adapted his style of play over the years, enjoying a long career in the National Hockey League.
In September of 1981, at 15 years of age, Daigneault played his first game in the QMJHL after having been a 2ndround pick of the Laval Voisins. Undaunted by the level of junior play, after 14 games, he had already scored 12 of his 29 points in his rookie season.
The following season, he found himself with the Longueuil Chevaliers, an expansion team led by an exceptional rookie coach: Jacques Lemaire. Daigneault became the leader with 21 games of 2 points or more, inheriting the title of Defenseman of the Year in the QMJHL, while his team surprised all the experts and played in the League final against the Verdun Junior.
At age 18, he joined the Canadian national team for the Olympic Games in Sarajevo while also playing for the junior national team before returning to complete the 1983-84 season with Longueuil. For a second consecutive season, he helped his team reach the President’ Cup final, which the Chevaliers eventually lost to the Laval Voisins and his childhood friend, Mario Lemieux.
On October 11, 1984 right after being a first-round pick in the NHL, Daigneault began his professional career with Vancouver. In 67 games in his rookie season, he was credited with 27 points.
At 23 years-old, after 4 years in the National Hockey League with the Canucks and then the Flyers, he learned nothing could be taken for granted. In 1988, he experienced true adversity as he was demoted for a full season to the American Hockey League.
In 1989-90, after being acquired in a trade, he found himself at the Montreal Forum, not to attend the Canadiens game as he did during his teenage years, but rather to wear the “Red-White-Blue” uniform. He became a reliable and important defenseman. He helped the Canadiens hoist the Stanley Cup in 1993. In 7 seasons with Montreal, he played 352 of his 899 regular season games, amassing 90 points, and above all registering a strong “Plus / Minus” differential of +68.
On January 5, 2001 with the Minnesota Wild – his last stop in the NHL – he became the second player in League history to have played for 10 different teams.
After 18 years as a professional, including 16 in the NHL, he had played 998 games and earned 281 points (including playoffs). After a few seasons coaching in minor hockey, he was hired as an assistant coach for the Montreal Canadiens from 2012 to 2018.
Jean-Jacques Daigneault will be inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame on April 3, 2019, in the Players category.