Thirty-three years ago today, newspapers announced that Boston and Detroit had swapped goaltenders. Gilles Gilbert, who had been both brilliant on occasion and maddeningly injury-prone for Boston, was sent to the Motor City in exchange for 35-year-old Rogie Vachon. The diminutive Vachon welcomed the deal, leaving moribund Detroit after two disappointing seasons to join a perennial contender in Boston.
The trade came just 16 days after Bruins legend Gerry Cheevers announced his retirement, leaving Boston with an unfamiliar bout of goaltending uncertainty heightened by the signing of Olympic hero Jim Craig one month earlier.
Acquired from Atlanta in exchange for Boston’s second-round pick in 1980 and a third-round pick in 1981, Craig was to be given an opportunity to compete for playing time with Vachon. Boston general manager Harry Sinden said all the right things, expressing confidence in both heading into training camp.
Ultimately, Craig’s time in the spoked-B would be brief. Vachon, however, enjoyed a renaissance of sorts, bridging the Cheevers/Gilbert Era and the Pete Peeters Era in Boston.
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