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|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1963|
|Born|| (1883-09-01)September 1, 1883
Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada
|Died|| July 29, 1934(1934-07-29) (aged 50)
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)|
|Played for|| Montreal Le National
Michigan Soo Indians
Joseph George Didier "Cannonball" Pitre (September 1, 1883 – July 29, 1934) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. Nicknamed "Cannonball," he was renown for having one of the hardest shots during his playing career. One of the first players to join the Montreal Canadiens, Pitre and his teammates' French-Canadian heritage led to the team being nicknamed the Flying Frenchmen.
Though he spent the latter part of his career almost exclusively with the Canadiens, Pitre played for several other teams in various leagues early on, including the International Professional Hockey League, the first professional hockey league, and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. A prolific scorer, Pitre won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1916, the first for the team. In 1963 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was the uncle of Vic Desjardins, a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Didier Pitre's first major hockey league experience was in the first fully professional league, the IPHL, playing with the Michigan Soo Indians alongside Jack Laviolette. The club was located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He joined the Soo team in 1904. By 1905–06, he was the already the top scorer in the league scoring 41 goals in 22 games played. Pitre was on the IHL First All-Star Team that year in 1906 and again in 1907.
The next season, in 1907–08, Pitre left as a free agent and played with the Montreal Shamrocks in the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association (ECAHA). He lasted only one year before leaving to play with the Edmonton Eskimos. He stayed three games with the Eskimos before jumping contract and coming back to eastern Canada where he played with the Renfrew Creamery Kings for the remainder of 1908.
Pitre joined the Montreal Canadiens in 1910, the clubs first season of existence. He stayed for four years, before leaving for the west again. He spent a year playing with the Vancouver Millionaires in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1913–14. Pitre returned to Montreal the next year. In 1916, Pitre led the National Hockey Association in regular season assists and points. He scored 24 goals, 15 assists (assists in those days were one per goal and only if the official scorer thought it contributed to the goal being scored) for 39 points. He also helped lead the Canadiens to their first ever Stanley Cup, defeating Portland Rosebuds of the PCHA over five games. He led the playoffs in goals as well. In the 1919 Stanley Cup playoffs, which were never completed due to the influenza epidemic, he led the playoffs in points. By 1921, the Canadiens had so much depth at forward, and an opening on defence due to the death of future Hall of Famer Joe Hall in the influenza epidemic, so they decided to try Pitre as a defenceman; not as difficult a transition as one might think, because he had previously been a rover during the days of "seven man" hockey. He remained with Montreal through the formation of the NHL and into 1923.
A forward throughout his career, Pitre played the final two seasons as a defenceman. His nephew, Vic Desjardins, would also play in the NHL and would be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Didier Pitre was also a member of the great line called "The Flying Frenchmen" alongside of Jack Laviolette and Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde. He died July 29, 1934 as a result of acute indigestion. As was customary of the time period, heart attacks were often mistakenly diagnosed as indigestion. Pitre likely died as a result of a mis-diagnosed heart attack. In 1963 he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Regular season and playoffs
|1904||Montreal Le National||FAHL||2||1||0||1||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1905||Montreal Le National||CAHL||2||0||0||0||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1904–05||Michigan Soo Indians||IPHL||13||11||0||11||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1905–06||Michigan Soo Indians||IPHL||22||41||0||41||29||—||—||—||—||—|
|1906–07||Michigan Soo Indians||IPHL||23||25||11||36||28||—||—||—||—||—|
|1909||Renfrew Creamery Kings||FHL||5||5||0||5||16||—||—||—||—||—|
* Stanley Cup Champion.
- All statistics are taken from NHL.com.
- Stanley Cup Annual Record 1916 NHL (nhl.com). Retrieved 2020-10-26.
- Weinreb, Michael (March 18, 2020). "When the Stanley Cup Final Was Canceled Because of a Pandemic". Smithsonian Magazine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved October 20, 2020.
- Canadiens.com. "Didier Pitre Page". Canadiens.com. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
- "Didier Pitre, Canadien Hockey Star From 1910 to '23, Is Dead". The Gazette. Montreal. 1934-07-30. p. 12. Retrieved May 26, 2010.
- Hockey Hall of Fame 2003, p. 57.
- "Didier Pitre's NHL Profile". National Hockey League. 2018. Retrieved January 2, 2018.
- Hockey Hall of Fame (2003). Honoured Members: Hockey Hall of Fame. Bolton, Ontario: Fenn Publishing. ISBN 1-55168-239-7.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
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