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02-05-2012, 05:47 PM
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Didier Pitre

Nickname: Cannonball, Old Folks, Pit, Bullet Shot
Height: 5'11''
Weight: 185 lbs
Position: Right Wing / Defenceman
Shoots: Right
Date of Birth: September 1st, 1883
Place of Birth: Valleyfield , Quebec, Canada OR Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Date of Death: July 29, 1934 (Age:50)

Stanley Cup Champion (1916)
Stanley Cup Finalist (1909, 1918, 1919)
IHL First All Star Team (1906, 1907)
NHA First All-Star Team (1917)
Art Ross (1906 *IHL*, 1915 *NHA*)
Maurice Richard Trophy (1906 *IHL*, 1915 *NHA*, 1916 *NHA*)
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (1963)

- #29 on the book 'Habs Heroes' list of Top-100 Best Montreal Canadiens players of All-Time
- Named the best shot of the 1910's by Ultimate Hockey Didier Pitre was the early hockey's Bobby Hull. In 1914, chicken wire was installed in Victoria's arena to protect fans from his shot.
- Named the fastest player of the 1910's by Ultimate Hockey Didier Pitre turned speed into a drawing-card feature. Today's practice of splitting up the ice before stopping is said to have been started by Pitre!

International Hockey League: [1904-1907]

No Data:
Assists: 1904-1906

Top-10 Scoring (1st, 5th)
Top-10 Goalscoring (1st, 9th)
Top-10 Assist (4th)
Top-10 Penalty minutes (9th)

Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association: [1907-1908]


National Hockey Association: [1909-1913; 1914-1917]


Top-10 Scoring (1st, 1st, 3rd, 5th, 5th, 9th)
Top-10 Goalscoring (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 6th)
Top-10 Assist (1st, 7th, 8th, 10th)
Top-10 Penalty minutes (3rd, 3rd)

(Montreal Canadiens vs. Ottawa Senators)
1st in Scoring
T-1st in Goalscoring
T-1st in Assist
1st in Penalty Minute

Stanley Cup Dual:
(Montreal Canadiens vs. Portland Rosebuds)
T-2nd in Scoring
T-1st in Goals
T-3rd in Assists
5th in Penalty Minutes
(Montreal Canadiens vs. Seattle Matropolitans)
T-3rd in Scoring
3rd in Goalscoring

Pacific Coast Hockey Association: [1913-1914]

(*Didier Pitre played as a rover in 1913-14*)

Top-10 Scoring (11th)
Top-10 Goalscoring (9th)

National Hockey League: [1917-1923]

(*Didier Pitre played as a defenceman from 1921 up until his retirement in 1923*)

Top-10 Scoring (5th, 7th, 7th)
Top-10 Goalscoring (5th, 6th, 10th)
Top-10 Assist (3rd, 9th)

(*Didier Pitre played as a defenceman during the 1919 and 1923 Playoffs & Stanley Cup Dual*)
Top-5 Playoff Scoring (T-4th)
Top-5 Playoff Assist (T-1st, T-3rd)
Top-5 Playoff Penalty minutes (3rd)

Stanley Cup Dual:
(Montreal Canadiens vs. Seattle Metropolitans)
T-4th in Scoring
T-1st in Assists

Seventieslord Studies:
NameTop-2 Top-5Top-10Top-15Top-20
Didier Pitre23799
Name Top-2Top-5Top-10Top-15Top-20
Didier Pitre 12334

1903-04FAHLMontreal NationalsD
1904-05IHLMichigan Soo Indians?
1905-06IHLMichigan Soo IndiansRW
1906-07IHLMichigan Soo IndiansRW
1907-08ECAHAMontreal Shamrocks?
1908-09FAHLRenfrew Creamery Kings D
1909-10NHAMontreal CanadiensD
1910-11NHAMontreal CanadiensD
1911-12NHAMontreal CanadiensRW
1912-13NHAMontreal CanadiensRW
1913-14PCHAVancouver MillionairesRover
1914-15NHAMontreal CanadiensRW
1915-16NHAMontreal CanadiensRW
1916-17NHAMontreal CanadiensRW
1917-18NHLMontreal CanadiensRW
1918-19NHLMontreal CanadiensRW/D
1919-20NHLMontreal CanadiensRW
1920-21NHLMontreal CanadiensRW
1921-22NHLMontreal CanadiensD
1922-23NHLMontreal CanadiensD

Professional Career:

Originally Posted by Legends of Hockey
Didier "Cannonball" Pitre was generally credited with having the hardest shot of his day and there were more than a few times when his goals were contested because they had gone right through the net. He was a big man, as far as hockey players go, but was never a rough player in an era marked by rugged play. He was also noted as one of the fastest skaters of his time and it has been said that he could skate backward as fast as he could skate forward.
Originally Posted by Greatest Hockey Legends
French Canadiens have a long storied history of producing great hockey talent. The long list begins with Didier Pitre.

Pitre was nicknamed "Cannonball" because of his dynamic wrist shot. His perfected shot and superior skating made Pitre a hot commodity in hockey's early days when pioneers routinely joined teams for even just one game. That was just how it was done in early frontier hockey.

Pitre, the man reported to skate as fast backwards as he could forwards, was coming to Montreal. Pitre's classy play graced Montreal until 1923. He played 13 seasons with the Canadiens, with a single season in Vancouver with the Pacific Coast League. Pitre was a large man at over 200lbs, and he learned to use his size to his advantage, especially when shooting. When he put every pound of muscle into his shot, players tried to get out of the way. He once had a goal contested because the puck went right through the net. Despite his size advantage, however, he was never a noted physical player.
Originally Posted by Trail of the Stanley Cup, vol.1
There were many players over the years who were rated as possesing a hard and accurate shot. It is doubtful if any player was better qualified than Didier Pitre in this regard. The goalkeepers of his day had bruises to attest this and fans were impressed by the resounding thump of his shots that might hit the boards. In consequence, he earned the nickname 'Cannonball'. He drilled the puck hard and accurately with a long sweep of the arms and twist of the wrists. There was no golfing of slap shot technique in his day.

Laviolette was moved up from defence to play left wing and the two speed merchants centred by Lalonde brought the Canadiens their first championship and Stanley Cup in 1916. Pitre was a star in the Cup series with Portland. They did so well that most of them were holdouts the next year and Kennedy had quite a job signing Pitre, Lalonde and Laviolette.

Pitre was having trouble keeping his way down and the fans would tease him when he began to puff. [...] In the unfinished Cup series with Seattle, he had Lalonde were the stars. In the fifth game when Joe Hall was taken sick and had to retire, this pair moved back to defence and held off the Mets as the Canadiens went on to win in overtime.

He had two more years on a line with Lalonde and Berlinquette but his weight then got the better off him and he was relegated to the bench as a substitute. The veteran had now compiled well over 200 goals and he is second only to newsy Lalonde in the number scored in the uniform of Canadiens.

His final bow came in the 1923 playoffs against Ottawa. In the first game at Montreal, Ottawa established a two-goal lead and Sprague Cleghorn and Couture the regular Canadiens defence men had been suspended for attacking Ottawa players. The situation looked hopeless for Canadiens in the return match at Ottawa. Didier and Odie Cleghorn were pressed into service to fill the vacant defence posts and the veteran Joe Malone took over Odie's regular position at centre. They played their hearts out and won the game 2-1 but lost on the round. It was a great finish for the veteran of nineteen years and he got a big hand from the fans.

1917 playoffs: The Canadiens scored a big surprise when they defeated Seattle 8-4 in the series opener played under western rules. Didier Pitre was the star, scoring four goals with his bullet shot on which Hap Holmes looked very weak.

1919 playoffs: - The first game was played under the western rules which the Canadiens found baffling and they made little use of their extra forward. Lalonde and Pitre were skating fast and showed some great stickhandling.
- During the overtime Lalonde and Pitre moved back on defence and proved impregnable.

1923 playoffs:With their regular defence men suspended it seemed that Canadiens would hardly make much of a showing in the final game at Ottawa. However, the veterans Didier Pitre and Joe Malone put on astonishing display. [...] Pitre was playing his last game and the veteran of nineteen years in hockey did a great job on defence.
Didier Pitre had a long and colorful career commencing with Nationals and Shamrocks andthen with the exception on one year in Vancouver, the balance of his time was with Canadiens. Didier was a right wing with a very hard shot that earned him the nickname Cannonball. Inclined to run overweight he had to be occasionally disciplined to get him in shape but when in form he was a star. A great scorer he was very popular with the fans and closed his career with an outstanding performance in the 1923 playoffs.
Originally Posted by Habs Heroes
Pitre, though, is known better as an elite player, part of a small group of players who made up the first superstars ofthe game. Pitre was nicknamed 'Cannonball' and 'Bullet Shot' becasue of his devastating shot. And even though he battled a weight problem through much of his career, he was one of the fastest skaters the early pro game had seen.

It took some time for that first team to find his stride, but there is little doubt Pitre and Lalonde combined to give the Canadiens an offensive presence other teams simply could not match.

Pitre won just one Stanley Cup with the Canadiens, but his offensive panache was always on full display.
Originally Posted by Montreal Canadiens CD-ROM from 1995
A great defenceman when he got his start with the Canadiens in 1909, Didier Pitre showed so much speed that Canadiens coach George Kennedy decided to move him up to a winger slot the following season. Born in Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario in 1884, Pitre possessed such a fearsome shot that it was known to leave welts and bruises on opposing goalies. The shot became known around town and round the league as the ''Cannonball''.

In 1915-16, Pitre, then 32, played a key role in winning the Canadiens first Stanley Cup, leading all Canadiens scorers during the series. The Canadiens won their first Stanley Cup. Didier Pitre was the star of the series, with four goals in five games.

[...] Didier Pitre sounded the charge on then lead the way for his Canadiens teammates in Game 3, with a hat-trick in a 6-3 shoot-out, putting the Canadiens ahead in the series.
Originally Posted by Our History: Montreal Canadiens

“Cannonball” Pitre was an awesome offensive machine who could score almost at will.

One of hockey’s early speed merchants, legend has it that Pitre skated as fast backwards as he did forwards. He also had the hardest shot in the game. At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Pitre generally avoided the rough stuff, although when trouble crossed his path he met it head-on.

A charter member of the Habs, Pitre could usually be found at or near the top of the heap in the scoring department. In his prime, the dominating right-winger scored better than a goal per game, registering five 20-goal campaigns with the Canadiens during the team’s NHA years.

Pitre’s 27 goals in 1911-12 put him in second place among all NHA skaters. The following season, he got 24 and, declaring himself a free agent, decided that the pastures were greener west of the Rockies. Pitre spent the 1913-14 season with the Vancouver Millionaires.

Rejoining the Canadiens in 1914-15, he proved that he hadn’t left his scoring touch on the West Coast, netting a career-high 30 goals. The following year, he continued his offensive productivity, notching 24 tallies during the regular season. He also became adept at feeding his teammates, picking up 15 assists in a time when assists were almost as rare as helmets.

The NHA folded after the 1916-17 season and a new league rose from the debris to fill the demand for high-level hockey. The 34-year-old Pitre had slowed down somewhat but he was still a potent offensive force, scoring 61 times in the NHL’s first four years of play.
Originally Posted by Ultimate Hockey
Didier Pitre was the ''bullet shot'' of pre-modern hockey and one of the very first French-Canadian hockey heroes. Weighing upwards of 200 pounds, he had huge legs able to support a thick, strong frame. Those legs drove him along at a smashing clip, giving him the momentum he needed to drive the pucks with violence force. He could also stop on a dime, scraping a huge cloud of ice into the air as he dug his blade into the ice.

Ironically, Pitre shelled out most of his salary that year in fines for breaking training. Indeed, he was noted for deplorable training habits and missing practices. It has been said the burly Frenchman ''trained on champagne,'' and that was not just hyperbole: Pitre would indeed reinforce himself between periods with a pint of ice-cold bubbly.

Pitre was a rugged individualist on whom team play was often lost, but whom was highly valuable nonetheless. Picture the flame-red Canadiens uniform and his hair flying in the breeze ... a man moving with a grace uncommon in a man of his size.
Originally Posted by BleacherReport
The 5’11” 190lb, muscular winger/blueliner was exceptionally fast for a man of his stature. The story goes that he could even skate just as fast backwards as he could going forwards.

His combination of speed and size, along with blistering shot that terrorized goalies, had earned him the nickname “Cannonball”.
Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Pitre's French-Canadian heritage helped give his line-mates the nickname the Flying Frenchmen, brought upon by his exceptional speed.

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.


- ''He didn't take any bullshi't'' - Ernie Fitzsimmons (With record from that era incomplete and sketchy, there is also some dispute over whether Pitre was a tough player)

- ''Didier was sensational on defence. One expected him to be exhausted after a few minutes, but he was like a wall against the Ottawa attack.'' - Journal La Presse (The Canadiens lost the series by one goal. Despite the losing effort, being overweight and used as a substitute during most of his final season, the 39 year-old saved his best defensive effort for his last game)

- ''Pitre was a very loyal player with a generous heart. The fans liked his lively character, his engaging repartee, his extraordinary drive and the unbelievable speed of his rushes'' - Unnamed journalist

- ''When you think of it, you could say that Didier Pitre and Newsy Lalonde were responsible for pro hockey as we know it today. If they hadn't stayed and the NHA had jumped around from place to place, I don't know what would have happened'' - Ernie Fitzsimmons

- ''Many played brutally, but Pitre was not one of them. It is doubtful if the big, good-natured Frenchman ever did a mean, or unsportsmanlike thing in his whole career.'' - Elmer Ferguson

- ''One of the fastest skaters of all time.'' - Cy Denneny

- ''He was kind of the Bobby Hull of his era, just really fast with an amazing, hard shot'' - Bob Duff

Signing, Trades & Injuries:

- On January 5th 1905, he signed with Michigan Soo (IHL)
- On December 15th 1907, he signed with Montraal (ECAHA)
- On December 3rd 1908, he signed with Edmonton (FAHL)
- On January 3rd 1909, he signed with Renfrew (FAHL) for 2000$
- On December 15th 1909, he signed with Montreal (NHA)
- On November 24th 1913, traded to Vancouver (PCHA) by Montreal (NHA) for Newsy Lalonde
- On November 18th 1914, signed with Montreal (NHA)

Fun & Interesting Facts:

- Pitre was a teammate of Laviolette’s with the Soo Indians of hockey’s first professional loop, the IHL
- In 1909, Pitre played defence with Lester Patrick with the Edmonton Cup Challengers
- Didier Pitre was the first player Jack Laviolette signed with the newly founded Montreal Canadiens
- Pitre was one of hockey's first high-priced stars, a man not averse to holding out ever-higher pay. One year, he signed for a whooping 3,000$, at a time the average salary was about 500$.
- In a January 16th, 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
- On November 30th 1923, he announced his retirement as a player and was added to the NHL officiating staff
- Pitre was a Coach and referee in Michigan Soo area after his retirement
- He was the uncle of Vic Desjardins, a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame
- Pitre played alongside 22 Hall-of-Fame players during his career


- Montreal boss George Kennedy told a story of a game against the Montreal Wanderers, in which the star winger was being checked by Gordie Roberts. Roberts was tripping and butt-ending Pitre, sending him falling to the ice.
Kennedy screamed at Pitre, ''Are you afraid of Roberts?''
''No, sure not,'' was Pitre's surprised response.
''Well, why don't you hit him back?'' Kennedy snapped.
''How can I hit back?'' Pitre asked. ''Roberts, he is very polite, very nice. Each time I fall, he helps me get up and apologizes and says it is an accident ... can I hit a man who is apologizing to me? No, never, it is not done.''
- Laviolette sent for Pitre, who had been working the off-season in Sault-Ste. Marie via telegram. The key phrases of that telegram read: ''New League formed. New Canadien team formed. Big Money available. Come to Montreal.'' Pitre immediately quit his job and hopped a the first train available to unite with his longtime friend. Unbeknownst to Pitre, the Montreal Nationals of the CHA were also in the midst of recruiting him for their team. Pitre met up with a Nationals representative on the train ride to Ottawa. Thinking this was the team Laviolette spoke of, he signed on with them en route. Realizing his error on meeting Laviolette, Pitre signed with the Canadiens. His case went to court where, in a precedent setting decision, the judge ruled that under Quebec law no man could be forced to act against his will.
- It is even said that he was once criticized by his coach for apologetically helping an opponent up after he had knocked him to the ice.


ECAHA: Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association
FAHL: Federal Amateur Hockey League
IHL: International Hockey League
NHA: National Hockey Association
PCHA: Pacific Coast Hockey Association

Internet Sites:

Last edited by EagleBelfour: 02-05-2012 at 06:07 PM.
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