July 5, 1969 |
St. Albans, VT, USA
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Weight||225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)|
|Played for||Montreal Canadiens
|National team||United States|
|NHL Draft||33rd overall, 1987
John Clark LeClair (born July 5, 1969) is an American former professional ice hockey left winger who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins. He won the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1993 but he had his most productive seasons while with Philadelphia on the Legion of Doom line, notably becoming the first American-born player to score 50 goals in three consecutive seasons.
- 1 Early life
- 2 High school and college years
- 3 Playing career
- 4 Other information
- 5 Awards and honors
- 6 Career statistics
- 7 References
- 8 External links
LeClair was born on July 5, 1969, in St. Albans, Vermont, a town close to the Canadian border. He is the son of Butch, a manager of a paint store, and Beverly, a surgical nurse at the Northwest Medical Center in Saint Albans. John has three older sisters, Mary Kay, Nancy and Susan, and a younger brother named Joe.
While familiar with the game of hockey, John's father Butch had never actually played the sport himself. Until the 1960s, there was no organized hockey in the Saint Albans area. The sport had just begun to be recognized in the area when John was born. Despite this, John took notice and asked his father for a pair of hockey skates at the age of six. Butch recalls how the kids in the area first played:
- "At first, they played in an old railroad shed. Then they got a bunch of people who signed a note and built Coote Field Arena. It was just a metal shack with a lunch bar and an old tractor to scrape the ice. It was kind of primitive, but it worked very well. It produced some good hockey."
Skating was a challenge for young LeClair, a skill that took him years to develop and one which would continue to be an issue into the early part of his NHL career. Despite his challenges, John scored goals any way he could; even from his knees.
Hockey was a constant pursuit for young John. He and his friends would play day and night most every week day and on weekends. Richard Benoit, the father of John's friend Jeremy, created a homemade rink for the kids in his backyard by flooding his volleyball court. Benoit even added boards around the edge and installed lights so they could play at night. There was also shack complete with a heater for the kids to go to warm up if needed.
High school and college years
When John was a freshmen at Bellows Free Academy, he was still too weak of a skater to make the school's hockey team. He instead continued to play in community leagues and kept scoring, regardless of his skating issues. In his sophomore year, John made the team and earned attention for his gritty play. "We'd be dumping the puck in (during a line change), and there would be John, in the corner on his knees and hands, five against one, somehow getting the puck out of the corner," recalls Luke Cioffi, a teammate and childhood friend of John's. Continual improvement was a common theme throughout John's professional career, a theme that was present in high school.
Soon, the young LeClair was attracting the attention of many. College scouts began to take notice when he participated as a junior in Hockey Night in Boston, a showcase for young talent. In 1987, during his senior year of high school, John was drafted to play in the minors by the Montreal Canadiens. John decided pursue college first, and he was accepted at the University of Vermont (UVM).
At UVM, LeClair's college career was hampered by injuries. Over the course of his sophomore and junior years, John appeared in only 28 games. After missing the first month of his senior season due to meningitis, he finished the season strong with 25 goals and 20 assists in only 33 games.
LeClair was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens with the 33rd pick in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft after graduating from Bellows Free Academy (B.F.A.) High School in St. Albans, Vermont. One of the most highly recruited hockey players in New England, LeClair put his NHL aspirations on hold to attend the University of Vermont on a full scholarship. His fans didn't have to wait long to see him score in his first collegiate game. After the final game of his senior year he signed with the Canadiens and, less than a week later, played and scored in his first NHL game. As a member of the Canadiens, LeClair was on the Stanley Cup-winning team in 1993, where he scored two overtime game-winning goals during the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals.
Philadelphia Flyers and the Legion of Doom
On February 9, 1995, a Montreal team desperate to salvage a difficult season traded LeClair, along with Éric Desjardins and Gilbert Dionne to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Mark Recchi and Philadelphia's 3rd round choice in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft (Martin Hohenberger). LeClair gelled immediately with new line-mate Eric Lindros and quickly became one of the NHL's most feared goal scorers.
With the Flyers he played left-wing on the famed "Legion of Doom" line, centered by Lindros and Mikael Renberg on right-wing. The trio was not only effective at scoring but they were also a dominant physical presence on the ice. In 1998, LeClair became the first American-born NHL player to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons and the second Flyer to do so, behind Tim Kerr. Following the 1997–98 NHL season, LeClair had two consecutive 40 goal seasons.
LeClair played for the Flyers for 10 seasons and was one of the most productive players in franchise history, scoring 333 goals and an additional 35 in the playoffs, statistics good enough to place him in the top 10 Flyers' career goal scorers.
On July 23, 2005, as a result of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement which finally introduced a salary cap to the NHL, the Flyers were forced to part ways with their longtime alternate captain, and they bought out LeClair's and teammate Tony Amonte's contracts to create cap space. Rumors had LeClair going to the Boston Bruins or perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, LeClair signed a two year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins on August 15, 2005. LeClair had a fairly successful season in Pittsburgh during the 2005–06 NHL season, finishing third on the team in scoring as he passed the 400-goal mark and had his ninth 50+ point season. After struggling early in the 2006–07 season, LeClair was released by the Penguins on December 14, 2006.
LeClair is president of the John LeClair Foundation which awards grants to non-profit Vermont organizations that sponsor programs for children. He currently divides his time between Haverford, Pennsylvania and his hometown of St. Albans, Vermont. LeClair was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009, and the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
Awards and honors
|All-ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team||1987–88|
|All-ECAC Hockey Second Team||1990–91|
|World Cup All-Star Team||1996|
|Olympic Tournament All-Star Team||2002|
|Stanley Cup champion||1993|
|Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy||1995|
|NHL First All-Star Team||1995, 1998|
|NHL Second All-Star Team||1996, 1997, 1999|
|Bobby Clarke Trophy||1997, 1998|
|NHL Plus/Minus Award||1997, 1999|
|NHL All-Star||1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000|
Regular season and playoffs
|1985–86||Bellows Free Academy||HS||22||41||28||69||14||—||—||—||—||—|
|1986–87||Bellows Free Academy||HS||23||44||40||84||14||—||—||—||—||—|
|1987–88||University of Vermont||ECAC||31||12||22||34||62||—||—||—||—||—|
|1988–89||University of Vermont||ECAC||18||9||12||21||40||—||—||—||—||—|
|1989–90||University of Vermont||ECAC||10||10||6||16||38||—||—||—||—||—|
|1990–91||University of Vermont||ECAC||33||25||20||45||58||—||—||—||—||—|
|Olympic medal record|
|Men's ice hockey|
|Silver||2002 Salt Lake City||Ice hockey|
|Junior int'l totals||14||10||6||16||24|
|Senior int'l totals||17||12||6||18||8|
- Powell, Phelan (1999). "Chapter 2: Home, Sweet Home". In Reginald, Stephen. John LeClair. Ice Hockey Legends. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 0-7910-5016-5.
- "Flyers buy out LeClair, Amonte". cbc.ca. 2005-07-23. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- "Penguins sign free agent left wing John LeClair". penguins.nhl.com. 2005-08-15. Retrieved 2009-03-18.
- John LeClair's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database
- John LeClair at Hockey-Reference.com
- John LeClair's biography at Legends of Hockey
- John LeClair's player profile at NHL.com
- Vermont Sports Hall of Fame Bio
|Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
|Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
|Winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy