Jacques Richard

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Jacques Richard
Jacques Richard 1977.jpg
Richard in 1977
Born (1952-10-07)October 7, 1952
Quebec City, QC, CAN
Died October 8, 2002(2002-10-08) (aged 50)
Quebec City, QC, CAN
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Atlanta Flames
Buffalo Sabres
Quebec Nordiques
Rochester Americans (AHL)
Hershey Bears (AHL)
Fredericton Express (AHL)
NHL Draft 2nd overall, 1972
Atlanta Flames
Playing career 1972–1983

Jacques A. G. Richard (October 7, 1952 – October 8, 2002) was a professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Atlanta Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and Quebec Nordiques.[1][2] After an impressive junior career, Richard was considered a potential NHL superstar, but, except for a single season late in his career, he failed to live up to the promise. He led a troubled life both in hockey and after. Six years after retiring, in 1989, he was arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine and then in 2002, Richard died in a car accident driving back from a party celebrating his 50th birthday.

Career[edit]

Richard was drafted 2nd overall in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft.[1][3] Richard was slated to be the marqee player by the expansion Atlanta Flames.[4] However, he was to have a mostly indifferent pro career. Troubled at times by serious injuries, facial fractures in 1974-75 and a knee injury 1979-80,[5] he also indulged in alcohol, gambling and eventually cocaine.[4]

Junior[edit]

Richard had a spectacular junior career with the Quebec Remparts, scoring 186 goals and 213 assists for 399 points in only 169 games.[3] Playing with Guy Chouinard and Andre Savard he was a significant component of a devastating trio.[6] At the time Richard was considered by some hockey experts to have equal, if not more, pro potential than teammate Guy Lafleur.[4][7] At one time, Rampart management was negotiating to trade Richard to the Rosemont Nationals, a team in the same Quebec Junior A league for 3 players and $6,000 in return. However, the deal became public and the reaction by fans, for whom Richard had become an idol, was so violent that the deal was annulled.[8] Indicative of the level of success Richard had achieved in junior hockey, in 1999, he was named to All-time QMJHL All-Star team by the Canadian Hockey League.

Pro[edit]

For the 1972–73 season the NHL added two teams, the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders, with a coin toss in June 1972 deciding which team would get the first choice in the draft. Concerned that the new WHA might sign the two top prospects, Billy Harris and Jacques Richard, the two expansion teams held their own "clandestine" coin toss in advance. New York won that toss and chose Harris. This allowed the teams to begin immediate negotiations with the players.[9]

His rookie year in Atlanta was a disappointment. Richard rarely spoke to anyone that first year, perhaps a clue to problems adapting to the NHL.[10] In February, after a game in Toronto which the coach had sat him out, Richard left the team to return to his home in Quebec City. He missed a couple practices apparently without the permission of the coach. Richard's uncle and agent said Richard "just reacted like a mixed-up kid. He got a little mad in Toronto, a little upset. Now he's realized he was wrong. He has decided he wants to play hockey again."[11] Richard returned but finished the season scoring only 13 goals.

Teamed in his second season with Tom Lysiak his prospects seems brighter as he scored 27 goals.[10] Next season, in October 1974, Richard suffered facial fractures, fracture of the right orbital bone and nose, in a game against Detroit.[12] As his career in Atlanta progressed, his play would eventually prove inadequate and he would begin to find himself shuffled between the NHL and the minors. After three years with Atlanta, he was traded to Buffalo.

At the time, some hockey people thought the presence of several fellow French Canadian players on the Buffalo team might help Richard. However, in his first season with Buffalo, Richard scored only 12 goals. Early in his second season, a team-mate accused Richard of not giving a good effort during practices. In November, Richard was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Although Sabre management said the two were not connected, Richard was then sent to minors in Hershey.[13] Buffalo Sabre General Manager Punch Imlach in his book Heaven and Hell in the NHL recalled his travails dealing with Richard's drinking. On one occasion, Richard was forced to miss a game due to a sprained wrist which had been hurt in a bar fight. On another, he barely missed being shot in a Quebec bar. The bullet went through his pant leg.[14] Imlach describes Richard as "a nice kid, good hockey player" but he was "wasting his talent".[15] Richard spent the next five seasons alternating between the NHL and playing full seasons in the minors. In February 1980, Buffalo terminated Richard's contract, which left him free to sign with any team.[5][16]

Immediately after being released by Buffalo, Richard signed with the Quebec Nordiques.[16] Then in his eighth year as a pro and back in the city of his junior triumphs, the promise shown as a junior appeared to finally be realized. In the 1980–81 season playing on a line with the Stastny brothers,[5] Richard tallied 52 goals and 51 assists for 103 points,[1][3][17] to finish 10th in the league in points and 7th in goals.[2] However, this was to be the only time he was to show this potential. The next season he was moved off the line with the Stastnys and his mediocre play returned.[4][7]

Jacques Richard retired in 1983.[3] He would be remembered in hockey's history as a superb junior player who ultimately finished as one of the NHL's "One-Season-Wonders."[18]

Retirement and death[edit]

Richard's misfortunes seemed to follow him into retirement. In 1989 he was arrested for attempting to smuggle cocaine, with an estimated street value of $1.5 million, into Canada. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.[17] Then, on October 8, 2002, driving home from his 50th birthday party, Richard was killed in a single-vehicle accident when he drove his car into a culvert.[5][7]

Awards and honours[edit]

QMJHL All-Star First Team: 1970-71, 1971-72[3]
QMJHL Beliveau Trophy: 1971-72 (points leader)[3]
Named to QMJHL all-time All-Star team by the Canadian Hockey League in 1999.[5]

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1967–68 Quebec Jr. Aces QJAHL 50 18 18 36 ?
1968–69 Quebec Jr. Aces QJAHL 50 23 40 63 78
1969–70 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 52 62 64 126 170 15 11 14 25 30
1970–71 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 55 53 60 113 125 14 18 17 35 42
1971–72 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 61 71 89 160 100 15 11 26 37 23
1972–73 Atlanta Flames NHL 74 13 18 31 32
1973–74 Atlanta Flames NHL 78 27 16 43 45 4 0 0 0 2
1974–75 Atlanta Flames NHL 63 17 12 29 31
1975–76 Buffalo Sabres NHL 73 12 23 35 31 9 1 1 2 7
1976–77 Hershey Bears AHL 44 20 25 45 42 6 3 0 3 2
1976–77 Buffalo Sabres NHL 21 2 0 2 16
1977–78 Hershey Bears AHL 54 25 23 48 29
1978–79 Buffalo Sabres NHL 61 10 15 25 26 3 1 0 1 0
1979–80 Rochester Americans AHL 37 13 23 36 37
1979–80 Quebec Nordiques NHL 14 3 12 15 4
1980–81 Quebec Nordiques NHL 78 52 51 103 39 5 2 4 6 14
1981–82 Quebec Nordiques NHL 59 15 26 41 77 10 1 0 1 9
1982–83 Fredericton Express AHL 19 16 15 31 16
1982–83 Quebec Nordiques NHL 35 9 14 23 6 4 0 0 0 2
NHL totals 556 160 187 347 307 35 5 5 10 34

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Jacques Richard's profile at hockeydb.com". hockeyDB.com. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b "Detailed statistics for Richard's amateur and pro career". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Diamond, Dan (1998). Total Hockey: the Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Total Sports. p. 1419. ISBN 0-8362-7114-9. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Jacques Richard bio at Legends of Hockey". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved Sep 19, 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Details of Richard's career at Hockeydraftcentral.com". hockeydraftcentral.com. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Linemates in junior". Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  7. ^ a b c O'Donnell, Chuck (2003). "bnet article on Richard's death and career". Hockey Digest. Retrieved 2009-08-02. [dead link]
  8. ^ Louis J. Fusk (June 16, 1970). "What Gives: Richard Deal Stirs Up Talk". Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph. p. 8. 
  9. ^ Proudfoot, Jim (May 31, 1972). "New NHL teams broke the rules". Toronto Daily Star. p. 22. 
  10. ^ a b Fischler, Stan,Shirley (2003). Who's Who in Hockey. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 352. ISBN 0-7407-1904-1. 
  11. ^ AP (Feb 24, 1973). "Jacques Richard home briefly decides to go back to Flames". The Gazette (Montreal). p. 27. 
  12. ^ AP (October 18, 1974). "Richard out of Flames lineup". Rome News-Tribune (Rome, Georgia). p. 6. 
  13. ^ UPI (Nov 15, 1976). "Jacques Richard off to the minors". The Gazette (Montreal). p. 19. 
  14. ^ CP (June 2, 1976). "Five people wounded in tavern shooting". The Citizen (Ottawa, Canada). p. 1. 
  15. ^ Imlach, Punch (1982). Heaven and Hell in the NHL. McClelland and Stewart Limited. p. 96. ISBN 0-88780-141-2. 
  16. ^ a b CP (Feb 14, 1980). "Richard with Nordiques". The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan). p. 23. 
  17. ^ a b "New York Times on Richard's death and earlier arrest". nytimes.com. October 14, 2002. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  18. ^ Chuck O'Donnell (March 1, 2003). Hockey Digest http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-97058308.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
Preceded by
None
Atlanta Flames first round draft pick
1972
Succeeded by
Tom Lysiak