Sam Pollock

Samuel Patterson Smyth Pollock, OC, CQ (December 25, 1925 – August 15, 2007) was a sports executive who was general manager of the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens for 14 years where they won 9 Stanley Cups.[1] Pollock also served as chairman and CEO of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club.

Sam Pollock

Samuel Patterson Smyth Pollock

(1925-12-25)December 25, 1925
DiedAugust 15, 2007(2007-08-15) (aged 81)
Occupationformer NHL general manager


Born in Montreal, Quebec, Sam was a keen evaluator of talent. In 1950, with the Montreal Junior Canadiens and in 1958, with the Ottawa Junior Canadiens, he won the Memorial Cup. The Montreal Canadiens saw potential in Pollock and quickly hired him to be the successor to Frank J. Selke, serving as Personnel Director from 1959 to 1964. In 1964, Selke retired and Sam took over his job as general manager of the Habs.

He spent 14 years with the club as general manager giving up the job in summer of 1978. He spent one last season with Montreal on their board of directors, before retiring in summer of 1979. Pollock's name was included on the Stanley Cup 12 times, including an NHL record nine as a manager. Pollock and head coach Scotty Bowman not only presided over a Canadiens dynasty, but many of their players went on to have successful coaching and managing roles with other own teams.

Pollock died on August 15, 2007, at the age of 81 in Toronto, Ontario.[2] Pollock is survived by his wife Mimi, son Sam Jr., and daughters Rachel and Mary. Pollock was buried at Ste Elisabeth Roman Catholic Cemetery in North Hatley, Quebec.

Key trades

Pollock believed drafting good young prospects was the key to long term success in the NHL. To this end he was always planning, sometimes years in advance, in order to be in position to pick up the "cream of the crop" in any annual entry level draft.

Among one of his shrewdest moves, was a series of trades in which the Canadiens obtained the first overall pick in the 1971 NHL Entry Draft, the year in which Guy Lafleur would be eligible. It appeared as if the first overall selection would be held by the California Golden Seals so he persuaded Seals owner Charlie Finley to trade the Seals' pick and François Lacombe in return for Montreal's first round pick and a 23-year-old rookie,[3] Ernie Hicke. Pollock then made one of his worst deals: Ralph Backstrom refused to play for the Habs until they agreed to trade him to one the three teams of his choice, Pollock finally dealt him to the Kings but received virtually nothing in return: two players who never played one game for the Habs and a draft pick who bolted to the WHA. Hab fans started a myth that this was a great deal that kept the Kings out of the basement that year but the Kings never trailed the Seals that year and finished ahead of several other clubs. The standings from before the trade show the Kings ahead of 3 clubs and tied with the 4th with a game in hand.[4] Pollock hesitated between Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne, but chose Lafleur with his overall no.1 pick.[5]

On another occasion he traded two college prospects to Boston for a young goalie named Ken Dryden. He was also instrumental in acquiring Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Yvan Cournoyer, all of whom would become superstars for the Canadiens.

In another deal, one which was never consummated, New York Islanders GM Bill Torrey drafted defenceman Denis Potvin first overall in the 1973 entry draft, Pollock approached Torrey, hoping to trade for Potvin. Pollock's strategy was to offer a "quick-fix" package of mature players in exchange for the top draft pick. Although it was tempting, as the Islanders would immediately benefit from the trade, Torrey ultimately turned down the offer. Potvin went on to be a long-term asset to the Islanders, leading them to 4 consecutive Stanley Cups.



Pollock served as CEO and chair of the Toronto Blue Jays from 1995 to 2000.


Preceded by
Frank J. Selke
General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens
Succeeded by
Irving Grundman
Preceded by
Paul Beeston (President and CEO) and Peter N. E. Hardy (Chairman)
Toronto Blue Jays Chairman and CEO
Succeeded by
Paul V. Godfrey
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