Chris Levesque

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Chris Levesque
Born (1980-08-06) August 6, 1980 (age 33)
Port Coquitlam, BC, CAN
Height 5 ft 10 in (178 cm)
Weight 175 lb (79 kg; 12 st 7 lb)
Position Goaltender
NHL Draft Undrafted
Playing career 2003–2003

Chris Levesque (born August 6, 1980) is a retired ice hockey goaltender for the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds from 2001 to 2005. On December 9, 2003, under bizarre circumstances, he was called up to serve for one game as a backup goaltender for the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He came very close to playing when starting goaltender Johan Hedberg collided with a player from the Pittsburgh Penguins. However, Hedberg recovered, and Levesque ultimately did not play in the game. Levesque has since worked as a sous chef in Vancouver.

Call-up to Vancouver[edit]

On December 9, 2003, the Canucks were hosts to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That morning, their starting goalie Dan Cloutier injured his groin. The Canucks planned to start Johan Hedberg in Cloutier's place, but they still needed a backup. Under normal circumstances, they would have recalled Alex Auld from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Manitoba Moose.[1][2] However, the Moose were on the East Coast, several time zones away, and Auld could not arrive in Vancouver on time.[1] Under NHL rules, the Canucks needed to find an undrafted player who had never played in the NHL.

Milan Drajicevic, the coach of the UBC Thunderbirds, happened to be at the practice when Cloutier was injured, and he suggested the Canucks use Levesque, UBC's second backup.[3] Because of amateur call-up rules, the Canucks could not recruit the T-Birds' top two goaltenders, Kevin Swanson and Robert Filc.[2] At the time Levesque was in one of the many UBC libraries studying for a geography exam he had the next morning. His friends and teammates scoured the campus, and when they found him, he assumed he was the victim of a prank.[1] He was not convinced otherwise until he received a phone call from Jon Wall, Manager of Scouting and Player Information for the Canucks.[2] Once he realized the situation was real, he quickly received a one-time exemption from Canadian Interuniversity Sport rules to play in the NHL, and drove to General Motors Place to take a spot on the bench.

When Cloutier failed to take the warm-up skate, Levesque officially took the position of backup goaltender for the game. There was an extremely low chance that Levesque would have to play. However, a late first-period collision between Hedberg and Konstantin Koltsov nearly forced Levesque to play.[1] Luckily, Hedberg was not hurt. Levesque finished the game as a backup; the closest he came to any game action was taking warm-up shots before the game.[1] The Canucks won 4-3 in overtime, and Levesque was not paid for his performance,[3] although he kept his #40 jersey.[1] He did not expect to return to play for the Canucks, but described his experience as "surreal" and "a great time," particularly highlighting being scored on by Todd Bertuzzi during practice.[4]

Life after the game[edit]

The thing I held on to for a while was, What if I did go in and finish the game? Or made a couple of big saves and people saw me? I just had to let it go, have fun with the story, focus on where I am now. Otherwise it would have been too frustrating, always coming back to 'what if?'

—Levesque, interviewed by The Province[5]

In May 2008, The Province interviewed Levesque to reflect on his life since his experience with the Canucks. For a few days after the game, he enjoyed brief celebrity. He said that he treasured the experience, and refuses to watch the only video tape he owns of the game, for fear of his VCR destroying it. Levesque never got to play in a major-junior hockey league, and when he finally earned the starting position at UBC, he suffered two concussions. He later tried out for the ECHL's Augusta Lynx, but was cut.[5]

Levesque is currently the Head Chef of Joey on Burrard and Robson in downtown Vancouver, and is now married to Masters of Psychology student Jillian Levesque(Schmidt).

Career statistics[edit]

All statistics are from the regular season.

Season Team League GP W L T MIN GA SA SO GAA SV%
2001–02[6] University of British Columbia CIS 12 1 5 2 571 36 359 1 3.78 0.900
2002–03[7] University of British Columbia CIS 13 3 6 0 547 45 319 0 4.94 0.859
2003–04[8] University of British Columbia CIS 14 1 7 1 599 43 358 0 4.31 0.880
2004–05[9] University of British Columbia CIS 8 0 6 2 351 30 190 0 5.13 0.842
CIS Totals 47 5 24 5 2068 154 1226 1 4.47 0.874

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Kuzma, Ben (2003-12-10). "Backup back to books; Stand-in goalie tracked down in UBC library". The Province. Retrieved 2008-03-12. [dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "How Chris Levesque became a Canuck". The Province. 2008-05-15. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  3. ^ a b "Levesque's studies can wait for one game". ESPN. 2003-12-10. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  4. ^ "Canucks dress UBC goalie as backup". Canadian Press. 2003-12-10. Retrieved 2008-03-12. 
  5. ^ a b Weber, Marc (2008-05-15). "What if Hedberg hadn't stood up?". The Province. Retrieved 2008-11-21. 
  6. ^ "hockeydb.com". hockeydb.com. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  7. ^ "CanadaWest Stats 2002-03". canadawest.org. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  8. ^ "CanadaWest Stats 2003-04". canadawest.org. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 
  9. ^ "CanadaWest Stats 2004-05". canadawest.org. Retrieved 2010-12-18. 

External links[edit]