Monday, March 15, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Mario Gosselin

While there are many common names in hockey (lest we forget about the two Petr Sykoras in the NHL at the same time), this one name is shared by a NASCAR Truck Series driver and at the head of a Quebec Governmental Position. While that is nothing more than a "factoid," it links up to this AGM as trying to find research on him is rather you see from the intro. Yet, this guy has plenty of history behind him, like playing for two now-defunct teams and having two teams still established. Whether it's a kiss-of-death or not-- another "factoid." This week, we welcome Mario Gosselin to the AGM ranks.

Starting off in the midget ranks, Gosselin played for Montreal East in AAA, going 19-8-6 for them in the 1979-80 season. It was good enough for him to get the nod from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. His style was acrobatic and quick reflexes as an underager, which garnered him 21 games in his first year with a 4-9-0 record and got him bypassed in the 1981 Draft. With more time, Gosselin set his role with the Cataractes playing 60 games in 1981-82 with a 33-25-2 record, while going an even 7-7 in the 14 playoff games. That attention, along with his second-team All-Star nod, finally got Gosselin drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1982 Draft. Gosselin went one more year with Shawinigan, playing 46 games and going a stellar 32-9-1, which was enough to get him on the First-Team QMJHL All-Star squad at season's end.

While the jump to the NHL seemed to be the next step, back in those days; professionals couldn't participate in the Olympics, so teams had national teams specifically for the Games. Gosselin was select to be a part of the Games and was pulling duty alongside of Darren Eliot and Wendell Young, for which Gosselin became the go-to goalie for the National Team. Pre-Olympics, Gosselin played 36 games, but almost didn't get to go to the Olympics because he signed a professional contract. The IOC had a dispute with the Canadian team, but got resolved before the Games. It was something that sparked Gosselin, who was the starter for the Canadians and got the underdog Canadians to win their first four games. Gosselin became the stand-out of the tournament and got him the nickname "Goose" which was coined by coach Dave King. Even though the Canadians lost the three games in the medal round, Gosselin was said to be the story for the Canadians.

After the Olympics, Gosselin went to the Nordiques to the end of the 1983-84 season going 2-0-0 with one shutout in his three appearances. The 1984-85 season brought about Gosselin's first full season, but he had to battle it out in a three way dance with Dan Bouchard and Richard Sevigny for time in the Nords net. Gosselin got the majority of starts in the end with a 19-11-3 record in his 35 games, as well as getting 17 games in the playoff run with the Nords, going 9-8. The 1985-86 season saw Gosselin batting for time with Sevigny and Clint Malarchuk, which also saw Gosselin being sent to the AHL's Fredericton Express for five games (2-2-1), while he got 31 games and getting a 14-14-1 record. That season, Gosselin was picked to play and started in the 1986 All-Star Game and got a no-decision for the Prince of Wales Conference in a 4-3 overtime win and only allowing one goal in his 31 minutes of play. The 1986-87 season saw Gosselin settle into the back-up role behind Malarchuk, playing 30 games goalie 13-11-1, but really shined in the playoffs. When Malarchuk faltered, Gosselin got in to play 11 games and went 7-4 in those games.

At the 1987-88 season, Malarchuk departed to the Caps in a trade which included a draft pick that would turn out to be Joe Sakic, and that gave Gosselin the starting job in Quebec. The Nords, however, didn't have the firepower they once had and Gosselin went 20-28-4 in his 54 games of the season, with the Nords missing the playoffs. The workload took its toll for the 1988-89 season, as Gosselin saw himself take some stints in the AHL with the Halifax Citadels for three games (3-0-0), thanks to the emergence of young Ron Tugnutt and newly acquired Bob Mason. However, Gosselin did play in 39 games, though he only went 11-19-3.

With a logjam in net, Gosselin was deemed expendable and we let go as a free agent. Gosselin was picked up by the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 1989. Gosselin battled with Ron Scott in order to back-up Kelly Hrudey, but Gosselin got the best of Scott in the regular season, with 26 games, even though he went 7-11-1. One of his losses, though, was a peculiar one. You see, on November 30th, 1989; Gosselin replaced Kelly Hrudey when the score was 6-5 against the Edmonton Oilers due to an injury to Hrudey. Gosselin was pulled in favor off an extra-attacker and the Oilers scored into the empty-net. Gosselin got back in and the Kings scored a late-marker making the final 7-6. Gosselin was hung with the loss because he was the goalie of record when the Oilers scored their game-winner, even though he wasn't in net. He was the only goalie to lose a regulation game without giving up a goal.

The 1990-91 season saw Gosselin demoted to the IHL's Phoenix Roadrunners after the Kings got Daniel Berthiaume in the off-season. In his first full non-NHL season, Gosselin went 24-15-4 with the Roadrunners. It was his last season in the Kings organization.

The summer of 1991 saw the Hartford Whalers pick up Gosselin for depth. First, in the 1991-92 season, the Whalers placed Gosselin in the AHL with the Springfield Indians. With the Indians, Gosselin went 28-11-5 in his season. During the training camp before the 1992-93 season, Gosselin suffered a serious back injury, which could have ended his career. Gosselin battles and rehabbed his back in order salvage half of the season. He played for Spingfield for 23 games going 8-7-7, while being called up to the Whalers towards the end of the season for 16 games going 5-9-1. After being extended to another contract, the 1993-94 season would be Gosselin's last. Injuries to his knees forced him out of the game after seven games in Hartford (0-4-0) and two in Springfield (2-0-0) before calling it a career.

Currently, Gosselin resides in Quebec where he spends his time with his family and teaches at the Energie Hockey School in Quebec.

While he played on some really good team and some really bad teams-- Gosselin did what he could to make himself look better and carry his team along with him. Though, it's telling how your career is going when you get collared for a loss and didn't even let up a goal. Gosselin could have gone further if he didn't have the injuries he suffered, which really hampered what he could have done.

Thanks to the Unofficial Mario Gosselin Page for help in researching the career of the Goose.

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