The Flyers Alumni Association is saddened to learn of the passing on March 15 of Jean Potvin, following a lengthy illness. He was 72. Our condolences go out to the Potvin family and Jean’s many friends within and outside of the hockey community.
The Flyers acquired Jean Potvin from the Los Angeles Kings on Jan. 28, 1972 as part of what, at the time, was the largest multi-player trade in NHL history. The Flyers received Potvin, the late Ross Lonsberry, the late Bill Flett, and Eddie Joyal. In return, the Kings received the late Jim Johnson, Serge Bernier, Bill Lesuk and Larry Brown.
An offensively skilled defenseman, Potvin played the second half of the 1971-72 and the first half of the 1972-73 season with the Flyer. Coach Fred Shero often used Potvin on the power play to take advantage of his heavy right-handed shot.
Following his acquisition from the Kings, Potvin posted 15 points (3g, 12a) in 29 games over the remainder of the 1971-72 season. His most memorable game came on March 4, 1972, when the Flyers earned a 6-2 home win over the St. Louis Blues. Potvin notched three points — all on the power play — as he blasted a shot past St. Louis goalie Ernie Wakely and also assisted on tallies by teammates Simon Nolet and Rick Foley.
The next season, Potvin posted 12 points (3g, 9a) in 35 games. On Feb. 13, 1973, Potvin tallied power play and 5-on-5 goals in an 8-2 rout of the New York Islanders at the Spectrum. A few weeks later, on March 4, the Flyers traded Potvin to the New York Islanders for checking center Terry Crisp.
“That was a good trade for both teams,” Flyers Hall of Fame defenseman Joe Watson recalls. “Crispy helped us win two Stanley Cups and he was one of our leaders who would do anything to win. Jean had some success with the Islanders and got a chance to play with his brother [Denis] for a number of years.”
Jean Potvin spent most of the remainder of his career with the Islanders, playing two stints with the club. From 1977-78 to 1978-79, Potvin played for the Cleveland Barons and Minnesota North Stars (who absorbed the Barons’ franchise in a merger after the 1977-78 season). Potvin returned to the Islanders and served as a depth defenseman until retiring after the 1980-81 season.
Late in playing career on a part-time basis and following his playing career on a full-time basis, he served as a color analyst on Islanders’ radio broadcasts through the late 1980s. Jean subsequently worked on Wall St. for more than two decades, along with serving regional leadership positions with Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens.
Jean Potvin is survived by his wife, Lorraine, children Kim, Leslie, and Justin, and several grandchildren. Younger brother Denis, a Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman for the Islanders, also later followed Jean into the broadcast booth as a longtime Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators color analyst. Jean and Denis’ younger cousin, the late Marc Potvin, played in the NHL in the early to mid-1990s.