I interviewed him for a local television station on Sunday.
He is by far the nicest person I have ever met in my life.
Doing research for the interview I noticed that he maybe one of the most under-rated d-men EVER!!
Three straight Norris trophies...only Orr, Harvey and Lidstrom have done that along with Pilote.
Plus he was a pretty tough blueliner as well. 165 pims in one season.
Any older posters have memories of Pilote.
You've never met my Mom, I'd bet she's much nicer. I remember Pilote. Chicago was the hot team in the 60's, like Pittsburgh or Edmonton in their eras. They were probably the team that had the most fans in visiting rinks for a while because they were the show then. Pilote was the QB of a great PP and a steady d man. He was sort of sandwiched between the Harvey and the Orr eras.
I can't say I remember specifics of his game, just the whole Chicago team, with Pilote,Glenn Hall, Hull and Mikita. They sort of disintegrated when they dealt Hull's centre, Esposito along with Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston for a goalie named Jack Norris,Pit Martin and Gilles Marotte. They were still a good team but things went downhill from there. You're right though, his name doesn't come up often on the all time lists, a bit like Brad Park.
In the 90's, The Hockey News published a very well researched book book listing the top 100 NHL players of all time. I don't have the book handy, but I believe that Pilote was listed somewhere in the 50s or 60s.
In Bobby Hull's book Hockey is My Game, his description of Pilote is extraordinary. Hull goes into great detail (as detailed as I've ever seen) about the things Pilote would do that were outstanding. He apparently was a great hitter, using shoulder or hip, but was very careful not to live too dangerously.
His coach Billy Reay (Reay took over in about 1963 I think) stated in many interviews I have seen that he loved Pilote for his outlet pass and calm feet.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about him is that when he was at the very end of his career, no less a judge of hockey talent than Punch Imlach gave up a fine hockey player (Jimmy Pappin) straight up for him.
In his book Hockey is a Battle, Imlach wrote that he felt Pilote had a lot of hockey left in him. He moved Pilote to center as he had done several years previously with Red Kelly.