Why were they so bad? I don't think I can remember a team which was so much less than the sum of their parts. Missing the playoffs is one thing, but only 12 wins?
On paper at least, they had Joe Sakic, Michel Goulet, Peter Stasny, Guy Lafleur (yes, he was old but he 34 points in 39 games), Tony McKegney, Jeff Brown, Bryan Fogerty and Curtis Leschyshyn. Michel Bergeron was the coach.
On paper the team looked alright. Not as if they'd get a measely 31 points. Stastny was there for part of the season, as was Goulet. Both were around a PPG. Both were getting longer in the tooth though. Lafleur was almost 40 but still had close to a PPG in a partial season.
However, Sakic had 102 points and was -40. Something is wrong with your team right there if your top scorer has that poor of a plus minus. I would describe their players as "serviceable" at best. There were lots of guys you would see plugging around on what would normally be a team's 4th line. And defensemen that you would see on a normal team logging 10 minutes. Well, these were some of Quebec's best players.
And the goaltending. Wow. 7 goalies used all season. A combined 4.95 GAA between them. Basically Quebec had to average over 5 goals a game to win. Here's the kicker, the goalies between them played 86 games. That means that there was only 6 times when a goalie was pulled. Why that is significant is because it shows you that despite all the goals the goalies would allow the coach rarely pulled them knowing that the next one was no better. Here are the names of the luminaries who played goal: Ron Tugnutt, Greg Millen, Sergei Mylnikov, John Tanner, Stephane Fiset, Mario Brunetta, Scott Gordon. Only Tugnutt, Millen and Fiset had any moderate success.
This was a team that allowed 407 goals. Here are the teams with the highest GA for a season:
1975 Washington - 446
1986 Red Wings - 415
1993 Sharks - 414
1990 Nordiques - 407
They were just downright woeful. Funny thing, Claude Loiselle was on the 1986 Wings and 1990 Nords.
Team played well below their talent level. Michel Bergeron was in over his head as coach, never adapting to the changes in the NHL - shorter shifts, four lines, etc. Team discipline did not exist. Goaltending was bad. Ron Tugnutt was the default #1 but not NHL ready. Cumulative SC% was .856.
Did you expected Sakic to be a Selke-like player on a 31 points team?
No of course not but some people tend to call their favorite players from their peak attributes and forget that Sakic was quite different from start to finish than say a guy like Forsberg for instance.
Heck Sakic's transformation was one of the best I have seen from start to finish, up there along with Modano.
Where to start.... Their best D-Men (defensive D-Men...) were possibly Joe Cirella and Curtis Lechsychin... who was 20 years old. Had quite a few offense specialists (Petit, Brown and Fogarty), over-the-hill players who were never that great at defense (Marois, Picard) and spare parts. Steven Finn was a decent 6th D-Men pushed on 2nd pairing duties and the reminder were not bona fide NHL'ers.
So they basically had 4 players (Petit, Brown, Fogarty and Picard) who should really only have take one spot in the lineup (Brown was traded afterwards, but whatever).
I mean, just :
Cirella - Marois
Wolanin - Petit
Finn - Smyth/Gronstrand/Picard (possibly one of them as a 7th D-men)
Would have made more sense. It's not good, and Joe Cirella as a 1st D-Men is downright horrible, but it's still somewhat functionnal. Michel Bergeron never really believed in the usefulness of defensive play, though.
An oft-forgotten point, though : Adams division was really good at that point.