Retro Carbonneau

  Season 19: 1994-95  



A lifetime in Quebec, a dozen years with the Canadiens, it was abruptly over, and the Carbonneaus relocated to St. Louis. They left behind the house they had built in Montreal. The man with the CH in his autograph put on the blue note. His wife and children had to swiftly work on their English. Certainly Guy wasn’t the first pro athlete to be traded, but that doesn’t diminish the personal upheaval that afflicted him and his family.

Interestingly, the cyclone of upheaval that spun around Carbo was mirrored by a larger one—the NHL lockout.

Blues AwayCarbonneau reported to his new team, but as for playing before his new fans, that would wait awhile. NHL owners and the NHLPA locked horns in endless negotiations, trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement. Until an agreement was complete, the owners refused to allow the season to begin. As the weeks and months wore on, many feared the entire season would be lost.

While players all over the league sought ways to keep in shape, Carbo had plenty to keep him busy: he was a player representative for the Blues as well as a union negotiator.

Guy had become a player rep for the Canadiens in 1991 when Ryan Walter left the team for the Canucks, but he never aimed for a life of politics. His intimate involvement with negotiations simply evolved, more from circumstance than any ambition on Guy’s part, and certainly not based upon any training or experience he had. (Training or no, Carbo must have had a knack; in 1998 he would become a vice president of the NHLPA.)

"I went to a few meetings, got named to a committee, and it all kind of rolled from there," Carbonneau told The Hockey News. "It was really hard at the start. There are so many things you have to remember and I’m not an English person, so there was a lot of vocabulary that I never head of before. I got out of a few meetings with a headache." As much of an effort as it was, Guy was still glad to be involved. "It’s long hours and it’s a lot of lost time. But it’s a great experience. There’s no place I’d rather be than in the room. I don’t mind it. I’d rather be in the middle of things and know what’s going on than be in the dark."

Blues HomeAt the eleventh hour, agreement was reached, with 48 games to spare, and the season commenced January 20. At last Carbonneau put on his Blues sweater with the assistant captain’s A, and resumed his life as a player. But it wasn’t at all the same. St. Louis was so different than Montreal, especially in terms of the expectations of fans and media. As Line Carbonneau later told a reporter in Dallas, "Montreal was home. We didn’t really get settled in St. Louis. He was different. He realized the media was not as present and there was not as much pressure. But he’s always said the pressure from fans and media in Montreal was good for him and the players."

Playing for Mike Keenan and the Blues was not the same either. Said Guy, "I never really fit in with St. Louis. For me it was hard, especially with the short season. I expected to play the same role I had in Montreal and that didn’t happen. I didn’t enjoy myself. I was still enjoying playing the game, but overall…"

Overall, Guy wondered more than ever whether it was time to hang up the skates. He was 35 and no longer playing what he felt was a significant enough role. But once again, Guy’s future held the unpredictable…

…in this case, a phone call and five more years of hockey.

Resources:

"Carbonneau learns on job," by Dave Luecking, The Hockey News, December 23, 1994.
1995-96 Official Game Program, The Dallas Stars.

Year's Stats:
 Events:
Regular Season
GP G A Pts PIM
42 5 11 16 16
Playoffs
GP G A Pts PIM
7 1 2 3 6

 

  • Assistant Captain of the Blues.
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