20

Top 10 Who Got Away: Vincent Damphousse (2)

Vincent Damphousse might not rate as highly on this list with some fans as I have him because he only played one season — 80 regular season and 16 playoff games — with the Edmonton Oilers. During the post-1990 era, Damphousse was never face of the franchise material like, say, Ryan Smyth, who would certainly be at or near the top of any list of most beloved Oilers, any era, to be sent away. That’s a trade that remains a stain on the franchise.

Unlike Smyth, who enjoyed his best days as an Oiler, a lot of what I’ve been looking at in compiling this list is what players went on to do after they were traded by the Oilers – guys who went on to play their prime years and enjoy the best hockey of their NHL careers after they left Edmonton. In that regard, there’s no doubt at all that letting Damphousse get away, for a lousy return no less, earns him the No. 2 spot in the post-Stanley Cup years.

Vincent Damphousse

Center
Born Dec 17th, 1967 — Montreal, QC
Height 6.01 — Weight 191 [185 cm/87 kg]

Drafted by Toronto Maple Leafs

Round 1 #6 overall 1986 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S%

ATOI

1986-87

19

TOR

80

21

25

46

-8

24

14.8

1987-88

20

TOR

75

12

36

48

2

40

10.8

1988-89

21

TOR

80

26

42

68

-8

75

13.7

1989-90

22

TOR

80

33

61

94

2

56

14.4

1990-91

23

TOR

79

26

47

73

-31

65

10.5

1991-92

24

EDM

80

38

51

89

10

53

15.4

1992-93

25

MTL

84

39

58

97

5

98

13.6

1993-94

26

MTL

84

40

51

91

0

75

14.6

1994-95

27

MTL

48

10

30

40

15

42

8.1

1995-96

28

MTL

80

38

56

94

5

158

15.0

1996-97

29

MTL

82

27

54

81

-6

82

11.1

1997-98

30

MTL

76

18

41

59

14

58

11.0

1998-99

31

TOT

77

19

30

49

-4

50

10.0

20:17

1998-99

31

MTL

65

12

24

36

-7

46

8.2

20:27

1998-99

31

SJS

12

7

6

13

3

4

16.3

19:21

1999-00

32

SJS

82

21

49

70

4

58

10.3

20:26

2000-01

33

SJS

45

9

37

46

17

62

8.9

20:49

2001-02

34

SJS

82

20

38

58

8

60

11.6

19:38

2002-03

35

SJS

82

23

38

61

-13

66

13.1

19:09

2003-04

36

SJS

82

12

29

41

-5

66

7.7

17:09

7 yrs MTL

519

184

314

498

26

559

12.3

20:27

6 yrs SJS

385

92

197

289

14

316

10.8

19:18

5 yrs TOR

394

118

211

329

-43

260

12.8

1 yr EDM

80

38

51

89

10

53

15.4

Career 1378

432

773

1205

7

1188

12.3

19:28

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

1986-87

19

TOR

12

1

5

6

-3

6

18

5.6

1987-88

20

TOR

6

0

1

1

-3

10

4

0.0

1989-90

22

TOR

5

0

2

2

1

2

10

0.0

1991-92

24

EDM

16

6

8

14

5

8

45

13.3

1992-93

25

MTL

20

11

12

23

8

16

52

21.2

1993-94

26

MTL

7

1

2

3

-1

8

14

7.1

1995-96

28

MTL

6

4

4

8

2

0

26

15.4

1996-97

29

MTL

5

0

0

0

-5

2

7

0.0

1997-98

30

MTL

10

3

6

9

-4

22

42

7.1

1998-99

31

SJS

6

3

2

5

1

6

22

13.6

138

1999-00

32

SJS

12

1

7

8

-5

16

28

3.6

267

2000-01

33

SJS

6

2

1

3

-1

14

15

13.3

122

2001-02

34

SJS

12

2

6

8

-1

12

17

11.8

231

2003-04

36

SJS

17

7

7

14

0

20

37

18.9

321

Career

140

41

63

104

-6

142

337

12.2

1079

WITH THE OILERS

The Oilers sent Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Craig Berube to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Damphousse, who was coming off a 73-point season, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton and Peter Ing in September 1991 as GM Glen Sather continued to dismantle what remained of the Boys on the Bus teams that had won Five Stanley Cups. Just 24, Damphousse delivered in a big way with 38-51-89 in the regular season before adding 14 points in 16 playoff games.

Damphousse led the Oilers in goals, assists, points, PP goals (12) and game-winning goals (eight). His 14 post-season points put him third on the team behind Joe Murphy and Bernie Nicholls in a year the Oilers were swept by Chicago in the Campbell Conference final. Simply put, the big, smooth-skating centre was a real find during Peter Pocklington’ 1990s belt-tightening era. Keep him? No. In August 1992, the Oilers sent Damphousse and a fourth-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Shayne Corson, Brent Gilchrist and Vladimir Vujtek. I shudder just to think of it.

DOWN THE ROAD

For my money, Corson went on to become the worst captain in the history of the Oilers. A selfish player, he divided the dressing room. Gilchrist (10-10-20 in 60 games with the Oilers) and Vujtek (5-25-30 in 70 games over two seasons) didn’t have much of an impact. Damphousse, meanwhile, went on to win the 1993 Stanley Cup with the Habs. In his first four seasons with the Canadiens, Damphousse had 97, 91, 40 (48 games) and 94 points. In those same four seasons, the increasingly dysfunctional Oilers missed the playoffs.

All told after leaving the Oilers, Damphousse went on to score 276-511-787 in stops with Montreal and San Jose on the way to career point totals of 432-773-1,205 in 1,378 regular season games. He had another 104 points in 140 playoff games. While those kinds of numbers likely won’t get Damphousse into the HHOF – he was a very, very good, but not great, player for a long time — it does make you wonder if the Oilers might have avoided that black hole of the mid-1990s had they kept him.

This series of various Top 10 lists will focus on the post-1990 Oilers – the players who haven’t played on a Stanley Cup winner in Edmonton.

Previously in this Series:

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Good choice at No. 2, Robin. Maybe the most forgotten Oilers star of all time.

    Vinny was a very subtle player. I remember being a bit underwhelmed by him for the first few weeks of the season, but then he caught fire and developed some chemistry with Murphy and Nichols.

    It’s interesting to think of how the early-to-mid 1990s might have turned out if the Oilers had found a way to keep guys like Damphousse, Murphy, Nichols, Manson, Maciver, etc., for longer than they had. But so many of them ended up being traded away for pennies on the dollar.

  • BingBong

    Great player, but from what I remember he demanded a trade after that year with the Oilers. Not only that, but didn’t he refuse to go anywhere but Montreal, his hometown? Hence why we were forced to take Corson.

    • Vincent read the tea leaves here and made it known he’s prefer to be traded. He was due a new contract, the team was under-paying players, had already cut away those making significant money and was headed in the wrong direction. There was no Montreal-specific request that I recall, but it was his hometown and the Habs were willing to deal.

  • ubermiguel

    You can’t argue with those numbers post-Oilers; we could have built a solid team around Damphousse, but instead we got Corson. That damn Pocklington, he brought NHL hockey to the city but within 15 years of buying the team he was tearing it down.

  • The Immortal

    He wanted out….however it would be nice if more gm’s didn’t indulge these hi priced children and actually make them live up to the contracts they signed. ie Pronger…

          • Towers-of-dub

            I think NHL players resign all the time. Sometimes they’re referred to as trade requests, sometimes the player simply under performs and forces the team to accommodate a trade to a team of his choosing. I wasn’t really talking about Damphousse. I’m pretty sure Ilya Kovalchuk basically resigned from his contract with NJ, and came back to the NHL with a different team after he’d essentially paid the price for that resignation. Obviously we can all skew the semantics to validate any narrative upon which we want to promote our opinion. I’m just saying that NHL players seem to get out of their contractual obligations on a pretty regular basis. It’s just employment. People quit their jobs and move on all the time.

    • Guerin

      If I remember correctly there was a post somewhere in the depts of interweb which aptly described that deal being a three-for-nothing deal. Oilers got Joseph and Mike Grier and on top of that they got rid of Corson.