As told to: Liam CorcoranJoé Juneau earned a degree in aeronautical engineering while playing hockey at the prestigious Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He was drafted by the Boston Bruins, 81st overall in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Seeking a one-way contract, Joe held out from signing with the Bruins after college and instead joined the Canadian Olympic team en route to the Albertville Games.
“In August of ’91, a few months after college had ended, we met up in Calgary. Calgary was the training center, but we only spent maybe 75 days there over the next seven months. That Olympic experience is a highlight. Building a team from scratch over that one year, traveling all over the world as a young guy and getting to play in Finland, Germany, Switzerland, France. I felt it was important to get better and better and not peak too early; to keep on developing as we got to the games.
We ended up playing in the Globen Cup in Sweden, where I badly injured my shoulder. As a centreman, this was very bad and affected my faceoffs. For the Olympics, I was able to put a harness on, and I managed to make plays and shoot. Everything clicked at the right moment.”
The Canadians won silver in Albertville, losing to the Russians in the final. Joé was the tournament’s leading scorer.
During college I had good marks, I was an All-American, I was the Hobey Baker finalist for two years, and I felt I had earned a one-way contract in the NHL.
“During college I had good marks, I was an All-American, I was the Hobey Baker finalist for two years, and I felt I had earned a one-way contract in the NHL. I saw what had happened to other college players entering the league with two-way contracts ending up in the minors. Maybe they have one bad game, and the coach decides to ‘send a message’ and send them down to the AHL. I said ‘I don’t need this’.
After the Olympic celebrations, I was at home in Quebec negotiating with the Bruins through my agent. I decided I needed a rest. Some friends and I took off on snowmobiles and went to stay in a cabin that I had built with one of my brothers. We were out there for three of four days, having a good time, relaxing. One night when we were out on the lake, we could see a light approaching from very far away. It came closer and closer until we saw that it was coming to our camp. It turned out to be one of my uncles on a snowmobile. He said that my mom had asked him to come out and get me because my agent needed to talk to me right away.
So me and my friends got on our machines and drove one hour and thirty minutes in the middle of the night to the nearest town which was La Tuque, Quebec. I found a public phone in the town and used it to call my agent. My agent said, “Where are you!?!” He couldn’t believe I was out with my friends during the negotiation, but it was important for me to get away and relax at that time. The offer I wanted from Boston was on the table, he said. I said ‘OK, I’ll be back in town in a day and a half’.
I got to Boston just after Craig Janney had been traded for Adam Oates. They originally gave me Janney’s number 23 but after maybe three games I asked for a new number. I didn’t want to be seen as the young guy coming in to be the new Craig Janney – he had done well there.
For the first few games, I was used as a third line guy, getting matched with different people. I didn’t play that much. In the fourth game in Buffalo, that was the first time Rick Bowness put me with Oates. I ended up making a play and getting an assist on Oates’ 500th NHL point, or some milestone like that. From then on, Bowness kept us together.”
In his first full season with the Bruins in ‘92-’93, playing on a line with Adam Oates and Dmitri Kvartalnov, Joé scored 32 goals and collected 70 assists for a career-high 102 points. He was traded to Washington late in the ’93-’94 season.
LIAM CORCORAN is a musician and wannabe-writer who lives in Charlottetown, PEI.
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