Denis Potvin Headshot
Report a problem with this profile
[email protected]

Denis Potvin  

Former NHL Defencemen, Team Captain for the New York Islanders, 4-Time Stanely Cup Winner, & Retired TV Commentator

Denis Potvin is a Canadian former professional ice hockey defenceman and team captain for the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League (NHL). He is a four-time Stanley Cup winner as a member of the early 1980s New York Islanders. He is also a three-time James Norris Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL's top defenceman. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and served as a commentator for Ottawa Senators' television broadcasts on Sportsnet. In 2017, he was named one of the "100 Greatest NHL Players" in history.

After a stellar junior career with the Ottawa 67s, Denis Potvin was drafted first overall in the 1973 NHL Entry Draft by the struggling expansion Islanders, which had recorded the worst record in modern NHL history the previous season. Right after General Manager Bill Torrey drafted Potvin, Montreal Canadiens GM Sam Pollock approached Torrey, hoping to trade several established players in return for Potvin. It was Pollock's tactic of using a "quick-fix" package of mature players to exchange for a young superstar but Torrey did not fall into that trap.

Potvin came into the league with extraordinarily high expectations of being the savior of the franchise as well as the next Bobby Orr. While he did not dominate the game as did the great Boston defenseman, Potvin became an immediate star, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year, and upon Orr's decline and retirement, was widely acknowledged, along with Larry Robinson and Brad Park, to be the premier backline in the game.

Potvin was known for being intelligent, articulate, and outspoken off the ice. Throughout the seventies, his Islander teammates often were turned off by these traits, but Potvin, somewhat ironically, would later prove to be the greatest leader the Islanders have ever had because of these same traits his teammates had looked down upon as Potvin was maturing. His best season offensively was 1979, during which he became the first defenseman besides Orr to score thirty goals and 100 points in a single season, marks which even today few defensemen have reached. Potvin was awarded the Norris Trophy for his regular season, but when the Islanders failed to reach the Stanley Cup finals that year, during the off-season the Islanders decided to name the elite defensemen "Team Captain". Potvin would remain captain for eight seasons, and in those campaigns, the Islanders would never fail to reach the playoffs, reach the Cup finals five teams, and won four straight championships.

In retrospect, he was a far more traditional defender than Orr and an extremely physical player. After his peak years, Potvin suffered a series of injuries that impeded optimal performance, especially during the regular season, but remained a star, retiring after the 1988 season.

From 1993 to 2009, Potvin was a color commentator for Florida Panthers television broadcasts on Fox Sports Net, Florida.

His brother, Jean Potvin, also played in the NHL and was a teammate of Denis' for a number of years. He is a cousin of former NHLer, the late Marc Potvin.

Related Speakers View all

More like Denis