Gordie Poirier was one of the earliest members of the Hall. When he was inducted by the weekly newspaper Ice Hockey World the citation described him as ‘the most clever player in British puck history’, adding that while he was ‘a good forward pre war, he turned into a brilliant defenceman after the war, playing a big part in Brighton’s two successive title wins’.
The French-Canadian centreman, who stood 5ft 10in and tipped the scales at 158 lbs (71.6 kg), progressed through the ranks in Canada before crossing the Atlantic in 1935 as player-coach of top Italian league side Diavoli Rosso-Neri (Red-Black Devils) of Milan. Poirier scored five goals to help the Diavoli win the respected Spengler Cup tournament in Davos, Switzerland and also trained the Italian national side in preparation for the 1936 Winter Olympics.
His career in this country began the following year with the Tigers in the English National League. No sooner had he put on his gold and black jersey, however, than he suffered a serious chin injury, which quickly turned so septic that the medics gave him only five hours to live.
Luckily, the prognosis was wrong and Poirier survived to play 40 games that season, scoring 25 goals and 34 points. His skills and his dark, dashing good looks hugely impressed Brighton’s rabid fans and the club brought him back for two more high-scoring campaigns.
Poirier had an eventful time during World War Two, which opened spectacularly with him lacing up in the NHL for ten games with the Montreal Canadiens. He played most of his hockey, however, in the Quebec Senior League, being voted onto the second All-Star team in 1941-42. Later a captain in the Canadian Army, he was among the soldiers who landed in France on D-Day plus 17.
On returning to West Street, aged 32, he decided to conserve his energy by dropping back to the blueline but this did little to reduce his offensive power. He finished season 1946 47 as the team’s third highest scorer with 75 points (39 goals) and was a shoo-in for the All-Star ‘A’ team as the Tigers scooped the Grand Slam of league, National Tournament and Autumn Cup.
He and his team-mates repeated their league triumph a year later with Gordie again the third top scorer, this time with 62 points (31 goals). While the Tigers failed to win silverware in the third post-war season, Poirer’s last with them, he was runner-up in the scoring behind the Tigers’ superstar Bobby Lee with 71 points (30 goals).
That was expected to be his swan-song, but he turned up in London two years later and played 40 times for Harringay Racers, though his 14-point output was modest.
Gordie was an all-round athlete: as well as playing ice hockey he was also a scratch golfer and a champion canoeist. An electrical worker by trade, after retiring from hockey he owned a restaurant and an import/export business in Montreal.
Gordon Arthur Poirer was born on 27 October 1914 in Maple Creek, Saskatchewan and died on 25 May 1972 in Beaconsfield, a suburb of Montreal, Quebec. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1948.