Just 5'10" and 160lbs, Jude Drouin had to overcome to stereotype of being much too small to play in the National Hockey League. But with brilliant puckhandling abilities, Drouin became an effective playmaking center and power play specialist.
Like many Quebecois youngsters, Drouin dreamed of someday playing with the Montreal Canadiens. Drouin had the chance to actually live his dream. However it was very short - just 12 games. Despite lighting up the minor leagues in his first three seasons as a professional, the natural center only got two stints in Montreal.
With his puck on a string puckhandling abilities, Drouin immediately became a star as a rookie in Minnesota. He noticed 16 goals and a then-NHL-rookie record of 52 assists for 68 points in his first year.
Many fans may best remember Drouin's rookie season for an incident with referee Bruce Hood. In a February game against Pittsburgh Drouin struck Hood on the shoulder with his hockey stick. For his assaulting of the official he received only a $150 fine and a three game suspension.
Over the next 4 years, he became an important, though sometimes streaky, cog of the Minnesota North Stars. His best year came in 1972-73 when he tallied 27 goals and 73 points, third best on the team.
The New York Islanders added Drouin to their lineup in the middle of the 1974-75 season. Looking for a bit more offense, the Isles got three good years out of Drouin, especially in the playoffs where the Islanders were renowned for their struggles. But by 1977-78 Drouin became a bit part on the squad and retired from the league in the off-season, choosing to focus on his chain of seafood restaurants on Long Island.
Drouin ended his retirement one year later when the Winnipeg Jets offered Drouin a contract. Drouin played 78 games in 1979-80, but just 7 more in 1980-81 before retiring for good.