Sam Pollock

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This article is about the hockey manager. For the American labor leader, see Sam Pollock (labor leader).
Sam Pollock
Born Samuel Patterson Smyth Pollock
(1925-12-25)December 25, 1925
Montreal, Quebec
Died August 15, 2007(2007-08-15) (aged 81)
Toronto, Ontario
Occupation former NHL general manager

Samuel Patterson Smyth "Sam" Pollock, OC, CQ (December 25, 1925 – August 15, 2007) was a general manager in the National Hockey League.

Born in Montreal, Quebec, Sam was a keen evaluator of talent. In 1950, with the Montreal Junior Canadiens and in 1958, with the Ottawa Junior Canadiens, he won the Memorial Cup. The Montreal Canadiens saw potential in Pollock and quickly hired him to be the successor to Frank J. Selke, serving as Personnel Director from 1959 to 1963, In 1963, Selke retired and Sam took over his job as general manager of the Habs.

He spent 14 years with the club as general manager giving up the job in summer of 1978. He spent one last season with Montreal on their board of directors, before retiring in summer of 1979. Pollock's name was included on the Stanley Cup 12 times, including an NHL record nine as a manager. Pollock and head coach Scotty Bowman not only presided over a Canadiens dynasty, but many of their players went on to having successful coaching and managing roles with their own teams.

Pollock died on August 15, 2007, at the age of 81 in Toronto, Ontario.[1] Pollock is survived by his wife Mimi, son Sam Jr., and daughters Rachel and Mary. Pollock was buried at Reedsville Cemetery in North Hatley, Quebec.

Key trades[edit]

Pollock believed drafting good young prospects was the key to long term success in the NHL. To this end he was always scheming, sometimes years in advance, in order to be in position to pick up the "cream of the crop" in any annual entry level draft.

Among one of his shrewdest moves, was a series of trades in which the Canadiens obtained the first overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, the year in which Guy Lafleur would be eligible. It appeared as if the first overall selection would be held by the California Golden Seals so he persuaded Seals owner Charlie Finley to trade the Seals' pick and François Lacombe in return for Montreal's first round pick and a 23-year-old rookie,[2] Ernie Hicke. However, during the 1970-71 season, the Los Angeles Kings were playing even more poorly than the hapless California Seals. The Kings were in danger of "beating" the Seals out for last place, and if this happened Pollock would lose his first overall pick. Pollock cleverly traded the aging but still valuable Ralph Backstrom to the Kings for two insignificant players. Backstrom's presence lifted the Kings out of last place, the Seals finished at the bottom, granting the Habs the first pick. Pollock hesitated between Lafleur and Marcel Dionne, but chose Lafleur with his overall no.1 pick.[3]

On another occasion he traded two college prospects to Boston for a young goalie named Ken Dryden. He was also instrumental in acquiring Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Yvan Cournoyer, all of whom would become superstars for the Canadiens.

In another deal, one which was never consummated, New York Islanders GM Bill Torrey drafted defenceman Denis Potvin first overall in the 1973 entry draft, Pollock approached Torrey, hoping to trade for Potvin. Pollock's strategy was to offer a "quick-fix" package of mature players in exchange for the top draft pick. Although it was tempting, as the Islanders would immediately benefit from the trade, Torrey ultimately turned down the offer. Potvin went on to be a long-term asset to the Islanders, leading them to 4 consecutive Stanley Cups.

Accolades[edit]

  • In 1976, he was the general manager for Team Canada which won the inaugural Canada Cup.
  • In 1978, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder and later into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. In the 1990s, when the Hockey Hall of Fame relocated to downtown Toronto, the public square adjacent to the new building was named "Sam Pollock Square."
  • He was also Chairman and CEO of Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays from 1995–2000. The Blue Jays honoured him by wearing a patch bearing his initials on the sleeve of their jerseys.

Baseball[edit]

Pollock served as CEO and Chair of the Toronto Blue Jays from 1995 to 2000.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Frank J. Selke
General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens
196478
Succeeded by
Irving Grundman
Preceded by
Paul Beeston (President and CEO) and Peter N.E. Hardy (Chairman)
Toronto Blue Jays Chairman and CEO
1995–99
Succeeded by
Paul V. Godfrey