Garry Monahan

A first overall draft pick should be, in theory anyways, the best player available in that year's draft. At the very least, you should be guaranteed of a NHL player for some time to come.

There have been some true greats drafted first overall - Guy Lafleur in 1971, Denis Potvin in 1973, Dale Hawerchuk in 1981, Mario Lemieux in 1984, Joe Thornton in 1997, Vincent Lecavalier in 1998, Alexander Ovechkin in 2004 and Sidney Crosby in 2005.

So who was the first first overall selection?

The NHL Amateur Draft was created in 1963 as a means of phasing out the sponsorship of amateur teams by NHL clubs. Previously NHL teams would sign pre-junior players to C-Forms on a first come, first served basis. This committed the player to that particular organization from their mid-teens. The NHL wanted to abolish this program in order to level the playing field.

Because most of hockey's top junior players were already assigned to NHL teams, there were only a handful of top prospects available from 1963 through 1968. It wasn't until 1969 that all C-Form signed junior players were phased out. Drafts until 1969 proved to be very thin and often very dry.

The Montreal Canadiens had the 1st overall selection back in the first draft of 1963. They were eyeing one of two forwards from the famed St. Michael's junior program in Toronto: LW Peter Mahovlich and C Garry Monahan.

While Mahovlich would go on to star in Montreal for several seasons, the Habs actually passed on the hulking center in that draft, allowing Detroit to pick him up. The Canadiens took Garry Monahan first overall.

Graduating to the Peterborough Petes of the OHA, Monahan was a scoring sensation, once finishing 4th in the entire league in scoring. He would go onto join the Montreal Canadiens farm system, but he would only play in 14 NHL games in a Montreal uniform. The Montreal team was too stacked even after thinning due to NHL expansion.

Ironically, In June 1969, Montreal traded Monahan and Doug Piper to Detroit in exchange for Bart Crashley and none other than Pete Mahovlich.

Monahan may have played in the NHL in 1969-70, but had a terrible year. In 51 games with the Wings he scored just 3 goals and 7 points. He would finish the season in Los Angeles after a trade took him to the Kings. Things wouldn't get any better for the Barrie Ontario native there, going goalless in 21 contests.

Monahan finally got his career on track after being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 1970-71 he found a home one a line with Dave Keon and Billy MacMillan. Once a junior and minor league scoring star, Monahan reinvented himself as a hard working defensive forward who would chip in with 12-15 goals and 30-plus points for the next 4 seasons.

1974 saw Monahan move to Canada's west coast, performing his workmanlike duties for the Vancouver Canucks until 1978. In 1978-79 he returned to Toronto for one final season in the NHL. He would finish his career with a very respectable 748 contests competed in. He scored 116 times while setting up 169 others for 285 points.

"Mondo's" career was hardly that of legend. But his post NHL playing days are quite interesting. From 1979 through 1982 Monahan took his family to Tokyo. He played hockey for the Saibu Corporation team, while his wife taught at an English school.

Monahan also had an inkling to become a teacher. He had done his first year of university while in Peterborough, and finished his degree through correspondence courses and summer classes while playing with the Leafs. He began his teaching certification in Tokyo at Sofia University, later finishing his requirements at the University of Toronto.

Monahan would never find himself in the classroom setting though. He returned his family to Vancouver where he fell into a job as the popular radio and television colour analyst for the Canucks broadcasts.

Monahan would curtail his broadcasting duties as he tried his hands in the world of finance as a stockbroker, and later in the world of real estate as real estate agent in the always red-hot Vancouver marketplace.


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