The 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be celebrated in a number of ways this season. One of which is a countdown of the league’s 50 greatest players based solely on their QMJHL accomplishments. They stand out among 9511 players who played in the QMJHL over the past 50 years. Yours truly was part of the committee entrusted with the difficult task of making these selections.
The player ranked at No. 9 in the QMJHL’s 50-year history is Denis Savard.
Centerman Denis Savard brought fans of the Montreal Junior out of their seats from 1977 to 1980 while the team called the Montreal Forum and the Centre Paul-Sauvé home. For just over one season, he played on a very special line: “The Three Denis.” comprised of Denis Savard, Denis Cyr and Denis Tremblay. The line featured three players who shared not only a first name, but also remarkably a date of birth: February 4, 1961.
Savard spent three seasons in the QMJHL, racking up 455 points in 214 games. Despite standing only 5-foot-10 and weighing just 160 pounds, “Savvy” missed only two games over his three-year junior career. Overall, he participated in 38% of his team’s goals. The Verdun native won Rookie of the Year honours in 1977-78 and the Michel-Brière Trophy following the 1979-80 season.
In the history of the QMJHL, only 28 players have ever posted three straight 100-point seasons and Savard is in that special group. He is also one of only 12 players to have reached the century mark as a 16-year-old. His record of 79 assists as a 16-year-old that year stood until being broken by Sidney Crosby in 2003-04. In 1978-79, Savard had not one but two eight-point games.
Savard then went on to be the third overall pick in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft when he was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks. He would win the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 and was inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame on March 21, 2000. Savard is also part of a select group of 12 QMJHL players to also be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.