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17Jan/120

The power of a big game

I've got a bunch of notes on things I want to talk about, from the tiresome topics of the year so far: fighting and concussions, through to social media's effect on the sport and the changing face of the QMJHL when it comes to the draft. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I'll be able to share some of those thoughts, but for right now, I want to tell a little story.

Previously, I talked about Nathan MacKinnon's magical night of five goals. What I neglected to mention was someone else's magical game the night before. On the Friday night prior to Saturday's match which saw MacKinnon torch the Quebec Remparts, the Gatineau Olympiques were in town. Halifax won the game 5-3 in large part due to a natural hat trick by Gabriel Desjardins in the second period.

Now Desjardins will never be mistaken for Nathan MacKinnon. He's a 19-year-old forward in his fourth year in the league. Although given plenty of opportunity during his first few years with extremely weak Mooseheads squads, he never blossomed as a much-needed scoring threat. Instead, he made a name for himself for always keeping his feet moving, even if it resulted in injury. His never-stop engine endeared him to fans during those lean seasons, but I also overheard more than one scout note that one shouldn't confuse effort with ability or that just because he's working hard doesn't mean he's working smart. In any case, he was never drafted by an NHL squad, although he was invited as a tryout to attend the Tampa Bay Lightning's camp. He has also since been traded to Quebec during the winter trade period this year.

But none of that mattered on December 2nd against Gatineau, because Desjardins lit the lamp three times and put on quite a show for both the fans and scouts in attendance. As I mentioned in my MacKinnon post, there were plenty of scouts in the arena during the next night's match between Halifax and Quebec, but it's important to note that most of those scouts also attended the game the night before against Gatineau.

At the game, I happened to find myself sitting beside the director of amateur scouting for an NHL team and we chatted throughout the game. After Desjardins sunk his third into the netting, he made a comment about how the 19-year-old, overlooked in his draft year and perhaps just playing out his junior eligibility now before settling into a career in business or wherever his interest lay, may have changed his own life in a single period.

Allow me to stop for a second and say that conversation was of a purely speculative nature, but as my neighbour in the press box explained to me, all the scouts in attendance had to report back on something and Desjardins' big score might have been enough to make someone take a second look at him, maybe offer him another invite to a training camp or even sign him to a minor-pro contract for next season. After that, who knows?

Now again, there's no promises there. Who knows what the future might hold for Gabriel Desjardins. But it is certainly in the realm of possibility that because of a little luck and a little hard work on an evening in early December, another door or two might be open for him that previously were not. That's not to say he'll soon be cracking an NHL roster, but he could have a new opportunity to play professional hockey and make a living out of the game he loves.

All because of one game.

Hell, all because of one period.

Filed under: hockey, QMJHL No Comments