Doug Gilmour initially had difficulty reaching a contract with the Blues, who remained concerned that he was too small for the NHL game of the 1980s. Two weeks before the 1983â€"84 NHL season began, Gilmour and the Blues agreed on a contract and he joined the team in time for the start of the season.
A rash of injuries and the trust of Blues coach Jaques Demers provided Gilmour with the opportunity to play as the team's fourth line center, and he quickly became a defensive specialist. Teammate Brian Sutter nicknamed Gilmour "Killer" in part due to his on-ice intensity, but also because of Gilmour's resemblance to convicted serial killer Charles Manson.
During his first three seasons with the Blues, Gilmour was a consistent defensive presence, averaging a solid 50 points a season. During the 1986 playoffs, Gilmour broke out and scored 21 points in 19 games (tied with Bernie Federko's 21 points in 19 games), as the Blues lost in the Campbell Conference finals. Gilmour's dynamic two-way play lead him to becoming one of the only players in history to lead in post-season scoring without making it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Prior to the 1988â€"89 season, Gilmour was traded to the Calgary Flames along with Mark Hunter, Steve Bozek, and Michael Dark for Mike Bullard, Craig Coxe and Tim Cokery. The Blues traded Gilmour after he was named in a civil suit alleging sexual improprieties with a minor. Gilmour denied that the incident occurred, and a grand jury did not find enough evidence to indict him. The Blues failed to admit publicly that the trade was a result of the pending lawsuit against Gilmour, but Gilmour was convinced it was the reason: "I didn't want to leave St. Louis but from what has happened the past week, on our part and on the St. Louis Blues' part, it was our best solution."
On the same day the Blues announced the trade of point-producing center Doug Gilmour, they stressed the point that a $ 1 million civil lawsuit filed against him a week earlier had nothing to do with the deal. However, even Gilmour, who was shipped to Calgary in a seven-player trade, acknowledged that the move was necessary because he faced sexual allegations from a 13-year-old girl who was the babysitter for his 3-year-old daughter. "Although I did not request the trade, I know it was done in my best interest," said Gilmour, who was 25 and married to wife Robyne at the time. "I would love to stay in St. Louis and prove that these allegations are false, but that would not be fair to my family or my teammates."
The affair allegedly occurred in the summer and fall of 1987. The girl, who was not identified, never revealed the relationship, but her parents learned of it after discovering their daughter's diary under her mattress while she was out of town. "We laid in bed that night 'til 4:00 AM trying to figure out what to do," her mother said in an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There was one page in the diary," her father said in the same interview, "where she asked for help. I thought about the celebrities involved. I felt safe confiding in an attorney. I just wanted advice."
The couple waited two weeks before confronting their daughter about the descriptions in the diary, which she acknowledged were true. They contacted St. Louis attorney Richard Schwartz, who advised them not to go through the criminal court system and "expose their daughter to all the publicity." Instead, Schwartz contacted Blues owner Mike Shanahan and indicated they would be willing to settle if the club agreed to a struc-ture of compensation for psychiatric expenses for the girl and her parents.
At that point, the estimated costs were $1,500 to $2,000. "We did not necessarily want to see the player's head cut off," Schwartz said. "I felt it was better for the team, better for St. Louis." According to media reports, Shanahan contacted St. Louis County prosecuting attorney George "Buzz" Westfall, who believed the Blues were the target of an extortion case. The family filed a $1 million civil suit on August 30, 1988, bringing the case to light in the St. Louis community. "Doug has consistently denied any involvement with the girl," said Gordon Ankney, Gilmour's attorney. "I understand why Mr. Schwartz wants to fight this in the press. He does not have enough of a case to go to a jury or grand jury."
Schwartz demanded that Westfall withdraw from the case and a special prosecutor be appointed, claiming that Westfall's personal ties to the Blues' Shanahan would show bias. Meanwhile, the Blues moved quickly in trading Gilmour to Calgary on September 6, 1988. A seventh-round draft pick who netted 42 goals and 105 points in 1986-87, he was sent along with Mark Hunter, Steve Bozek, and Michael Dark to the Flames for Mike Bullard, Craig Coxe, and prospect Tim Corkery. "It just so happens a deal was made," said Blues rookie coach Brian Sutler, who had been roommates with Gilmour for five seasons. "It had nothing to do with the suit."
Calgary was glad to be on the receiving end of the deal. "I know we weren't the first team the Blues were talking to about a trade [involving Gilmour]," Flames GM Cliff Fletcher said. "The Blues were very strong in their feelings that there was no substance to the suit. We did some checking on our own over the last 72 hours, and we feel there was no reason not to make the trade."
Gilmour was gone, but the case was not. In December 1988, a St. Louis County grand jury heard testimony from the girl and Gilmour and discussed the issues for more than an hour. Gilmour missed two games with his new team in order to meet with the grand jurors. "Any time you go in front of a grand jury, you don't know what to expect," Gilmour said. "Everything went well. I just want to go on with my hockey and go on with my life."
On December 27, the grand jury declined to indict the ex-Blue. "It's like Christmas and New Year's Day all wrapped up in one," Gilmour told the Calgary Herald. "The civil suit is still there, which is why I'm not making too many comments, but this is the thing we wanted to get through and it all worked out well." His Blues' teammates were thrilled, as well. "All the guys felt he was innocent," goaltender Greg Millen said. "Everybody supported Doug all through this. I'm happy for Doug and his family that it's resolved at the criminal level."
On March 10, 1989, a St. Louis County circuit judge dismissed the civil suit against the Blues and president Jack Quinn. Unfortunately, the Blues could not rewrite history. Bullard played only 20 games for the club before he was dealt to Philadelphia for Peter Zezel. Coxe dressed in 41 games but was sent to Chicago as compensation for the Blues signing Rik Wilson. Corkery never played in the NHL.
As far as Gilmour, he spent four seasons in Calgary and, including time with five other clubs, lasted in the league until 2003. He recorded 1,414 points in 1,474 games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011. Douglas Robert Gilmour was born June 25, 1963 in Kingston, Ontario, and through a heralded career of twenty NHL seasons, proved to be a determined and productive forward worthy of induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
When Doug joined the Cornwall Royals of the Ontario Hockey League, he was a solid defensive forward who could also score, although his size was considered a major stumbling block in the eyes of most NHL scouts. In 1980-81, his first year with the Royals, Gilmour was 5'9" and 150 pounds. Although he would gain a couple of inches in his three years in Cornwall, he didn't add many extra pounds. What did add up in the OHL were his offensive numbers. After an early injury curtailed his effectiveness in Cornwall's 1981 Memorial Cup championship, he returned to score 46 goals and 119 points in 1981-82.
Cornwall repeated as Memorial Cup champions and Gilmour, who had been passed over in his first year of draft eligibility, was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the seventh round, 134th overall. He was returned to junior hockey by the Blues for the 1982-83 season and set the OHL on fire with 70 goals and 177 points, capturing the Eddie Powers Trophy as the OHL's leading scorer. He set a record with a 55 consecutive games scoring streak and was named the league's most valuable player.
Still, Gilmour's size worried management in St. Louis and he almost began his professional career in Germany when he couldn't reach a deal with the Blues. St. Louis finally signed him and he joined the team two weeks before the 1983-84 season. Gilmour found himself near the bottom of the team's depth chart at centre, but a depleted roster allowed him to play on the fourth line as a defensive specialist and he returned to his checking ways. The Blues' captain at the time, Brian Sutter, nicknamed Gilmour 'Killer' for his intensity.
After three full seasons hovering around 50 points, Gilmour began to play a more open game and during the 1986 playoffs, he had 21 points in 19 games when the Blues came within a game of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final. The next season, 1986-87, he finished the regular schedule with a career-high 42 goals and 105 points and was selected to represent Team Canada at the 1987 Canada Cup. He scored two important goals in the series against the Soviet Union and was instrumental in Canada's victory at the tournament.
After another solid season in St. Louis, Gilmour was traded to the Calgary Flames at the beginning of the 1988-89 campaign. In Calgary, Gilmour continued his strong play in the playoffs, adding 22 points in 22 games as the Flames won the Stanley Cup in 1989. Gilmour scored the series-winning goal in Game Six of the Final against Montreal. Halfway through the 1991-92 season, Gilmour became increasingly disenchanted with his salary with the Flames and an arbitrator's decision that saw his salary increase less than he expected. He decided to leave the team, but only a few hours later he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a blockbuster deal involving 10 players; the largest trade in league history.
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