The Complete World Hockey Association
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Marc Tardif Joseph Gerard Marquis Tardif

Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Shoot: L
Born: 12 Jun 1949, Granby PQ

 

 

Regular Season & Playoff Scoring Record (key)

year team
gp
g
a
pts
pim
gp
g
a
pts
pim
1973-74 Los Angeles
75
40
30
70
47
1974-75 Michigan
23
12
5
17
9
Quebec
53
38
34
72
70
15
10
11
21
10
Totals (2 teams)
76
50
38
88
79
1975-76 Quebec
81
71
77
148
79
2
1
0
1
2
1976-77 Quebec
62
49
60
109
65
12
4
10
14
8
1977-78 Quebec
78
65
89
154
50
11
6
9
15
11
1978-79 Quebec
74
41
55
96
98
4
6
2
8
4
Totals:
446
316
350
666
418
44
27
32
59
35

• Winner, Gordie Howe Trophy (Most Valuable Player), 1975-76.
• Winner, Gordie Howe Trophy (Most Valuable Player), 1977-78.

 

Excerpts from Pro Hockey, WHA 1975-76 (by Dan Proudfoot)

There's a definite contrast between Marc Tardif and his good friend, Rejean Houle. Tardif is almost silent, while Houle delights in joking and talking non-stop, but the two of them make a solid combination.

There was considerable debate, then, when the buddies went separate directions in 1973. Tardif went to the Los Angeles Sharks, while Houle chose the Nordiques, and there was no doubt that Tardif had chosen the more difficult route.

Sharks, struggling for attention amid Los Angeles' apathy to hockey, wanted a superstar.

Tardif scored 40 goals for Sharks in 1973-74 but failed to generate the kind of publicity the team had hoped for. There wasn't enough interest in the Sharks to justify keeping the team going. The franchise was moved to Detroit for 1974-75, where it was known as the Michigan Stags, and its problems continued to grow.

Tardif was able to return home to Quebec when the Stags decided they could no longer afford his super salary. Reunited with Houle, and playing in front of the enthusiastic Nordique fans instead of Detroit's empty Cobo Hall, Tardif's mood changed abruptly. He scored 72 points in 53 joyous games with Nordiques, compared to 17 points in 23 games as an unhappy Stag. Only one left wing, Bobby Hull, ended up with more WHA points.

Sharks were probably right in the first place. Tardif can be a truly outstanding player — but he needed the right surroundings to help him along.

 

Excerpts from Zander Hollander Complete Hockey Handbook, 1975-76 (by Reyn Davis)

One of the happiest days in Tardif's young life occurred in December, when a long-talked-about trade was consummated, sending Tardif and Steve Sutherland from Michigan to Quebec for Pierre Guite, Alain Caron and Michel Rouleau ... As far as Tardif was concerned, it meant returning to an exciting environment ... ticket sales soared in Quebec ... deal suited everyone ... Buddies Rejean Houle and Tardif were reunited ... Responded with 38 goals and 34 assists in 53 games for the Nordiques ... Skates in erect fashion ... Member of Team Canada 1974 ... wears a stern look, seldom smiling ... Montreal Canadiens would dearly love to have him back.

 

Excerpts from Pro Hockey, WHA 1976-77 (by Dan Proudfoot)

Marc Tardif must wonder if luck will ever go his way completely, without some reversal or another. Tardif finally showed the hockey world what he could do, leading the WHA with 71 goals and 77 assists in 1975-76. He had 100 points after only 55 games and he scarcely slowed down. But then the hockey world showed what it could do to him.

First, in the second game of Quebec's playoff series against Calgary Cowboys, he was attacked, without provocation by surprise, and he ended up in hospital, his career in jeopardy. Then, Nordiques gave up on Rejean Houle, Tardif's great friend and teammate for many years stretching back to junior hockey, letting him go to Montreal Canadiens. The Quebec management argued that Canadiens had offered Houle an incredible contract that they couldn't match, just to embarrass the WHA team, but Tardif couldn't be consoled.

"The Nordiques' management can use all the great arguments they want, but they'll never convince me that they can replace a player of Rejean's ability easily. If the Nordiques aren't able to meet the demands of Rejean Houle, a player in the prime of his career, how can they convince calibre players to come into our league? How are they going to sign juniors?

Ironically, Tardif had tried to include Houle in his own contract, as a package deal, when he signed a new 10-year pact with the Nordiques in December, 1975. Nordiques would have nothing of it, but they were sure they wanted Tardif wrapped up. He's only 26, but he's established as a superstar and a favorite in the Quebec line of hockey royalty that goes back to Jean Beliveau, continued with Guy Lafleur and continues now with Tardif. All that's in doubt is his ability to come back after his severe head injury.

 

Excerpts from Zander Hollander's Guide to Pro Hockey, 1978-79 (by Reyn Davis)

Broke his own WHA record for points last season, capturing his second league scoring championship ... League MVP for second time ... This brilliant left-winger led the league in goals (65), score-tying goals (14) and shots on goal (375) ... Nordiques team captain ... Has his own radio show in Quebec City ... Somber fellow and very intelligent ... President of the WHA Players Association ... Someday wants to be the president of a hockey club ... Narrowly escaped permanent disability when he was brutally checked by Calgary's Rick Jodzio in 1976 playoffs ... Head injuries impaired his play for a year ... Still suffers from dizzy spells ... Consistently makes the big play for Quebec

 

Quebec Fans Ecstatic Over Terrific Tardif • by Reyn Davis • The Sporting News • February 18, 1978

The baritone voice of Jean Gravel crackles with mounting excitement as he begins his impassioned pronouncement of a goal by the Quebec Nordiques.

The tongue is French and the mood is festive, for as Gravel reaches his most fevered pitch, he proclaims as the scorer the local saint "Marc Tardeee!"

Happiness grips the crowd in the confines of the 29-year-old Le Colisee, the house that Jean Beliveau built and Guy Lafleur paid for.

But it is Marc Tardif who, they say, will lead them to the promised land of the National Hockey League in a new and bigger facility.

Tardif, 28, the solemn son of a school janitor, intends to be a Nordique for as long as he plays the game for a living.

He made that decision 2 1/2 years ago when the Nordiques signed him to a contract that extends through 1985. He is paid $185,000 a season before bonuses. And at the price, he is considered a bargain.

Tardif is a blossoming super star. Swift and strong, he moves across the ice like a lithe crane waiting for its prey to budge, so he can strike.

"He's the best one-on-one player in hockey," said his teammate, Paul Baxter, a young and talented defenseman. "And he's the best offensive player in our league."

Baxter said there is a mystique about Tardif's style that torments his opponents.

"He can take a seemingly nothing opportunity and the next thing you know he's in alone on goal," said Baxter.

This is Tardif's fifth season in the six-year-old World Hockey Association, and from all appearances it will be his finest.

He has led the league in scoring since October, averaging a goal and an assist a game despite an abundance of injuries to Nordique teammates and a mid-season trip to Russia for the Izvestia Cup.

"I've been tired ever since the tournament," said Tardif. "It seems we've been on the road forever."

His father became sick, but Marc couldn't be of much comfort being away most of the time. Then his 18-year-old brother, Yves, playing junior hockey in Montreal, suffered a skull fracture in January and required a delicate operation.

Marc's regular center, Chris Bordeleau, had to face reality in November. For 15 years his shoulder had been allowed to deteriorate. When doctors performed surgery, they quoted odds of one in five that he will ever play again.

The line's right winger, Real (Buddy) Cloutier, a sensational 21-year-old, seemed to lose his spark in the dog days of January. Nordique doctors worried that he might be suffering from mononucleosis.

But there was good news, too. In an unprecedented move, the Nordiques bought center Matti Hagman from the Boston Bruins before he cleared NHL waivers.

Hagman's European-honed style of finesse and speed may have been less than ideal in Boston, but he fit like a glove between Tardif and Cloutier.

Hagman just seems to know where Tardif and Cloutier are going. They celebrated their union as a line by collecting 76 points in their first 10 games.

"I would like to see what this line could do in the NHL," said Hagman, a Finn. "I'm sure these great players beside me would be just as effective there as they are here."

Glen Sonmor, coach of the Birmingham Bulls, considers the Tardif-Hagman-Cloutier unit among the top five in pro hockey.

He ranks them among Montreal's line of Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire, the Islanders' Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Clark Gillies, Winnipeg's Bobby Hull, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, and Buffalo's Gil Perreault, Richard Martin and Rene Robert.

"Cloutier's a sniper and Hagman's an excellent playmaker," said Sonmor. "But that Tardif, well, he scares me more than anybody. He is an overpowering hockey player who just bowls by people. He must be one of the outstanding half-dozen players in the world today."

Tardif is a quiet person. "He's the team's deep thinker," said Claude Bedard, sports editor of the French-language Journal de Quebec. "He is very interested in politics. And his favorite reading is Reader's Digest."

He aspires to be a team president some day.

When he was 15 years old, he left his home in Granby, Que., to live and play hockey in Montreal, 60 miles away. Already the Canadiens had his future programmed.

He had spent three full seasons with Montreal and was part of the Canadiens' Stanley Cup championship in 1972-73. Then the Los Angeles Sharks offered Marc a pile of money, a beautiful climate and a huge challenge.

So, he left the organization that virtually had raised him to go to a strange city in a new league to play for owners whose sincerity was great if their wealth wasn't.

Marc Tardif, the Shark, was like a fish out of water. Hardly a soul spoke French. In Montreal, his teammates were Henri Richard, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer and Serge Savard ... veritable household words. In Los Angeles, he had Gerry Odrowski, George Gardner, Tom Gilmore and Alton White ... all good people but less than great hockey players.

Tardif played with a great deal of disinterest at times. Teams ran at him, realizing that to occupy Marc occupied the Sharks.

Still, he managed 40 goals and 35 assists with Los Angeles, a city whose social life didn't exactly revolve around the Sharks.

The following year (1974) they left for Detroit and new ownership under the name of Michigan Stags.

Tardif had had enough. He wanted to go back to Montreal and the Canadiens wanted him. But the WHA's chief executive officer, Ben Hatskin, snarled a "no" and Tardif went to Michigan.

But the Stags lasted only 23 games. If they moved, Tardif would have become a free agent.

Only hours before the Stags did move to Baltimore, they traded Tardif to Quebec with Steve Sutherland and Pierre Guite, Alain Caron and Michel Rouleau.

That same day, the Nordiques acquired the unhappy center, Chris Bordeleau, from Winnipeg for Alain Beaule, a slow defenseman.

A near capacity crowd of more than 10,000 — compared to 5,200 for the previous game — turned out to see the new Nordiques. Tardif might have been the happiest person on earth.

"I really enjoyed L.A. but the worst part was moving to Michigan," said Tardif. "But I would do it all over again. I was treated well. I never missed a paycheck, and I really matured fast."

In his first full season with the Nordiqu├ęs — 1975-76 — he scored 71 goals, earned 77 assists and won the WHA scoring title with 148 points.

But the Nordiques never survived the first round of the playoffs. And Tardif very nearly lost his life.

Goon hockey was fashionable in Quebec. The Nordiques, sick of being beaten up, hired Gordie Galiant and Curt Brackenbury to complement Sutherland, and to protect the Nordiques' talented players.

The Calgary Cowboys didn't have the talent to match the Nordiques, but they certainly had the brawn.

Assigned to shadow Tardif was Rick Jodzio, and he did more than that. Following a violent collision, he left Tardif in an unconscious heap on the ice.

The Nordiques lost their will, and Calgary won the series while Tardif struggled to overcome head injuries that threatened to finish his career if not his life.

"I told my wife and my family that if I ever started to play again and there was a problem, I would quit right away, said Tardif. "I also told them that it would mean tearing up the new contract I had just signed."

Throughout the summer, he could barely walk around the house without becoming dizzy and weak. He missed 28 games and several practices.

But the season was most rewarding when the Nordiques, peaking late, marched to their first WHA championship by defeating the Winnipeg Jets in the seventh game of the best-of-seven final series.

Today, Tardif guards his health closely. His consumption of alcohol is limited and he is reminded to rest.

No one, however, enjoys a practice more.

"I'm lucky, indeed," said his coach, Marc Boileau. "I have the good fortune of being able to see Marc Tardif play and practice, too."

He is always the first Nordique on the ice and the last to leave.

His project this summer is to learn more about the science of hockey.

"I think we have people in Canada who could improve our hockey," he said. "People who haven't been taken seriously enough. We have to listen to the coaches who teach new techniques."

The quality of hockey played by Europeans at the Izvestia Cup greatly impressed Tardif.

As for his league, Tardif hopes the WHA will begin to sign more quality juniors to keep a stream of new blood flowing in the league.

And he would hate to see the league lose two of its better players, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, recipients of $500,000 offers from the New York Rangers.

"I don't think two players make the league," Tardif said. "But you have to keep the best players. They're so tough to find. I don't think they'll go. At least I hope not."

Tardif, besides being the league's leading scorer and the captain of the defending WHA champions, is secretary of the WHA Players' Association.

He is also the conscience of the league for what happened to him in the playoffs in 1976.

When sticks are high and tempers rage and someone's role is to subdue or suppress more talented players, they think of Marc Tardif ... the guy who never thought he would ever be a hockey player, whose father never wore a pair of skates, but managed to say "yes" when the Montreal Canadiens came asking for his 15-year-old son.

He's done well, dad.

 

 

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