Then and Now: Denis Gauthier

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The 2013 Eastern Conference Finals will put the Boston Bruins against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Wade Redden will try and help Boston’s blue line slow down Pittsburgh’s offensive crew, which includes former Calgary Flame Jarome Iginla. Both Redden and Iginla were picked in the first round of the 1995 NHL Draft, as Redden went second overall behind Bryan Berard and Iginla went 11th overall to the Dallas Stars. Nine picks after Iginla the Calgary Flames picked Denis Gauthier.

After being named to the QMJHL All-Star team and winning the Emile “Butch” Bouchard Trophy for QMJHL’s best defenseman in 1995-1996, Gauthier went on to play for the Saint John Flames in 1996-1997 and for the majority of 1997-1998.

Gauthier made his NHL debut in the 1997-1998 season, as he took part in the Flames’ 1-1 tie with the New York Rangers on October 9th, 1997. He had two PIMs in 31:22 TOI. The blue liner didn’t produce a point in his first 10 games in the NHL that year, but he had 16 PIMs and a minus-5 rating.

The defenseman did help the Saint John Flames reach the 1998 Calder Cup Finals, where they lost in six games to the Philadelphia Phantoms. The Flames beat the St. John’s Maple Leafs, Portland Pirates, and Hartford Wolf Pack before falling to the Flyers’ AHL affiliate. Gauthier was plus-1 with four assists and 83 PIMs.

This was the last time Gauthier tasted the postseason before he helped the Flames in their run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004.

In his time with Calgary from 1998-1999 to the 2003-2004 regular season, Gauthier had 13 goals and 45 assists in 374 games. He was also minus-5 with 499 PIMs, as he dropped the gloves 19 times in regular season games over that time.

The Flames came up one win short of winning it all in 2004, as they lost Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning by the score of 2-1.

Gauthier took part in six games for the Flames, who played in 26 contests during their trip to the end of the championship series. The blue liner took part in the first six games of the run, as the Flames went 3-3 against the three-seed of the Western Conference in the Vancouver Canucks. Gauthier had an assist and was plus-2, as his helper came on the Chris Clark’s tally in Calgary’s 4-0 Game 4 win.

In August of 2004, Gauthier was dealt to the Phoenix Coyotes with Oleg Saprykin in exchange for Daymond Langkow.

Gauthier spent all of 45 games for the Coyotes during the 2005-2006 campaign, as he posted two goals and nine assists. He went minus-4 with Phoenix and produced 61 PIMs, as he dropped the gloves four times in the desert. One of his scraps came against Brenden Morrow.

The defenseman joined the Flyers’ organization at the trade deadline of the 2005-2006 season, as the Coyotes received Josh Gratton and two second-round picks in the 2006 NHL Draft in the deal. The Coyotes went on to trade the two second-round picks to the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a first-round pick and a fifth-round pick. Phoenix drafted Chris Summers and Jordan Bendfeld, while the Wings picked Cory Emmerton and Shawn Matthias.

Gauthier failed to produce a point in 17 games during the 2005-2006 regular season with the Flyers, but that doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. In addition to fighting a few times, with majors for dropping the gloves with Vincent Lecavalier and Chris Neil, Gauthier also had a thunderous hit on Martin Straka in Philly’s 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on April 4th, 2006.

Thanks to Jason Aversano

The d-man also suited up for all six of the Flyers’ games in the 2006 postseason, as Philly fell to the Buffalo Sabres in a six-game ECQF. Gauthier had 19 PIMs and a minus-5 rating in the series, as well as the primary assist on Mike Knuble’s goal in Game 1.

Gauthier spent the entire 2006-2007 campaign with the Flyers, as the defenseman had four assists, 45 PIMs, and a minus-11 rating. His first assist came on Peter Forsberg’s opening goal in Philly’s 4-2 victory over the Rangers on October 10th. Gauthier also was involved in an altercation with Andreas Lilja and a fight with Krys Barch during the Flyers’ horrible year.

The left-handed rearguard spent the entire 2007-2008 season with the Philadelphia Phantoms, as he had three goals and 15 helpers in 78 contests. Gauthier also had 80 PIMs and an impressive plus-23 rating. He registered two fighting majors with the Phantoms, one of which came in a scrap with Deryk Engelland.

This marked the end of Gauthier’s time with the Flyers’ organization, as he was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings in the summer of 2008. Along with a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Gauthier was shipped to Los Angeles in exchange for Patrik Hersley and Ned Lukacevic. The pick ended up in the hands of the Minnesota Wild, who selected Jason Zucker 59th overall in 2010.

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The 2008-2009 season saw produce two goals, two assists, and a minus-11 rating in 65 games for a club that featured Wayne Simmonds, Sean O’Donnell, Kyle Calder, Michal Handzus, and Justin Williams.

The Blue liner produced 90 PIMs in his time with the Kings as well. He recorded three fighting majors during 2008-2009, as he dropped the gloves with Ryan Getzlaf, Gregory Campbell, and Devin Setoguchi. Gauthier also sucker punched the well-deserving-of-it Patrick Kaleta to earn a double minor against the Buffalo Sabres on December 19th, 2008.

Thanks to maguire19

Gauthier wasn’t suspended for his punch on Kaleta, but he was suspended for two different occasions in February of 2009, as he sat five games for an elbow to the head of Josh Gorges and two games for boarding Patrick Marleau on an icing call.

The 2008-2009 season was the last time Gauthier would put on the skates, but the defenseman did move on to coaching. After 2009-2010, Gauthier became an assistant coach for the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL starting in the 2010-2011 campaign. In his first season behind the bench he coached Sean Couturier, as well as Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat.

He remained with the team for the 2011-2012 campaign and this past season.