|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1963|
September 1, 1883|
Valleyfield, QC, CAN
|Died||July 29, 1934
Sault Ste. Marie, ON, CAN
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)|
|Played for||Montreal Le National
Michigan Soo Indians
Joseph George Didier "Cannonball" Pitre (1 September 1883— 29 July 1934) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He was nicknamed "Cannonball". One of the first players to join the Montreal Canadiens, Pitre's French-Canadian heritage helped give his line-mates the nickname the Flying Frenchmen, brought upon by his exceptional speed. As well as playing for the Canadiens, Pitre played for several other teams in various leagues such as the International Professional Hockey League, the first professional hockey league, and the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. A prolific scorer, Pitre helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 1916. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1963. He was the uncle of Vic Desjardins, a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.
Didier Pitre's first major hockey league was in an early IHL playing with the Michigan Soo Indians, who played 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 all-star first team that year in 1906 and again in 1907.
The next season, he left as a free agent and played with the Montreal Shamrocks in the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association. He lasted only one year before leaving to play with the Edmonton Eskimos. He stayed three years 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.
He joined the Montreal Canadiens in 1909. He stayed for four years, before leaving for the west again. He spent a year playing with the Vancouver Millionaires. 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. 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.
Pitre played essentially his entire career as a forward. At age 38, however, Pitre for the first time regularly played as a defenceman. He played defence for his final two seasons before retiring. Pitre was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962. 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 a January 16, 1919 game against the Ottawa Senators, Pitre, with the Montreal Canadiens, and Jack Darragh, of Ottawa, each had natural hat tricks in a 10-6 win for the Canadiens. That feat was not repeated until Jonathan Cheechoo, with the San Jose Sharks, and Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers, each did in a 6-4 Edmonton victory on October 19, 2006.
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||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
- All statistics are taken from NHL.com.
- Hockey Hall of Fame (2003). Honoured Members: Hockey Hall of Fame. Bolton, Ontario: Fenn Publishing. ISBN 1-55168-239-7.
- Hockey Hall of Fame 2003, p. 57.
- The Gazete (1934-07-30). "Didier Pitre, Canadien Hockey Star From 1910 to '23, Is Dead". The Gazette (Montreal). p. 12. Retrieved 2010-05-26.
- McKeon, Robert (October 13, 2006). "Sharks give up 4 in 3rd / Oiler Smyth's hat trick outshines Cheechoo's". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-08-04.
- NHL.com (2009). "Didier Pitre's NHL Profile". NHL.com. Retrieved 2009-06-20.
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