Former Quebec Nordiques general manager Maurice Filion dies at 85

Former Quebec Nordiques general manager Maurice Filion dies at 85

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Maurice Filion, the former coach and general manager of the Quebec Nordiques in the World Hockey Association and the National Hockey League, has died.

Filion, who was 85, died on Friday but the cause of death was not made public.

“He was a fairly private man who took his work very seriously,” said former Nordiques player Dave Pichette. “He was a big part of Nordiques history.”

“He was the one who built the Avco Cup (WHA championship) team. He made the transition to the NHL. He was there when the Stastny brothers arrived and he drafted guys like Dale Hunter and Michel Goulet.”

A Montreal native, Filion’s connection with Quebec City started in 1969 when he was named coach of the junior Quebec Remparts. He was behind the bench when the Remparts, led by superstar Guy Lafleur, went 54-7-1 in the 1970-71 season and when on to win the Memorial Cup.

He joined the WHA Nordiques in 1972 as director of scouting, but took over as coach when Maurice (Rocket) Richard resigned after only two games because of health concerns.

Filion was named GM in 1974, building a championship team in 1977 that included Réal Cloutier, Marc Tardif and Christian Bordeleau.

He was kept on when the Nordiques joined the NHL in 1979 and returned briefly behind the bench in 1980-81 before stepping aside and naming his assistant Michel Bergeron as coach.

Maurice Filion, who was named general manager of the Quebec Nordiques on an interim basis, rubs his neck during a news conference announcing the change, in Quebec City on February 2, 1990. (Clément Allard/The Canadian Press)

Under his watch, the club drafted star forward Michel Goulet and were boosted by the arrival of defectors Peter, Anton and Marian Stastny from the former Czechoslovakia. The Nordiques under Filion and Bergeron were a force through the early and mid-1980s, but never managed to win a Stanley Cup.

The team went into a slide starting in 1987, when Bergeron was replaced by André Savard.

Filion was “promoted” the following year to vice president of hockey operations and replaced as GM by Martin Madden. He returned as GM when Madden was fired in 1990, just in time to trade Goulet and Peter Stastny before leaving the Nordiques that summer.

He stayed active in Quebec City sports, helping set up what would become a powerhouse football program at Laval University. He also served as disciplinarian for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The QMJHL’s award for GM of the year is called the Maurice Filion Trophy.

He retired for good in 2005.

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