John LeClair

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John LeClair
Born (1969-07-05) July 5, 1969 (age 44)
St. Albans, VT, USA
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Montreal Canadiens
Philadelphia Flyers
Pittsburgh Penguins
National team  United States
NHL Draft 33rd overall, 1987
Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 1991–2006

John Clark LeClair (born July 5, 1969) is a retired American professional ice hockey player who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins. With the Flyers, LeClair became the first American-born player to score 50 goals in three consecutive NHL seasons while playing on the Legion of Doom line with Eric Lindros. LeClair was a member of the Montreal Canadiens' Stanley Cup winning team in 1993.

Early life[edit]

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. LeClair has three older sisters, Mary Kay, Nancy and Susan, and a younger brother named Joe.[1]

While familiar with the game of hockey, LeClair's father Butch had never actually played the sport himself. Until the 1960s, there was no organized hockey in the Saint Albans area. Despite this, LeClair 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."[1]

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.[1]

High school and college years[edit]

When LeClair was a freshmen at Bellows Free Academy, he continued to play in community leagues. In his sophomore year, John made the team and earned attention. "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.[1]

Soon, the young LeClair was attracting attention. College scouts began to take notice when he participated as a junior in Hockey Night in Boston, a showcase for young talent. LeClair decided pursue college, and he was accepted at the University of Vermont (UVM).[1] At UVM, LeClair's college career was hampered by injuries. Over the course of his sophomore and junior years, he 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.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Montreal Canadiens[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

LeClair playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2006–07 season.

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.

Other information[edit]

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[edit]

College[edit]

Award Year
All-ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team 1987–88
All-ECAC Hockey Second Team 1990–91

International[edit]

Award Year
World Cup All-Star Team 1996
Olympic Tournament All-Star Team 2002

Professional[edit]

Award Year
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

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
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
1990–91 Montreal Canadiens NHL 10 2 5 7 2 3 0 0 0 0
1991–92 Montreal Canadiens NHL 59 8 11 19 14 8 1 1 2 4
1991–92 Fredericton Canadiens AHL 8 7 7 14 10 2 0 0 0 4
1992–93 Montreal Canadiens NHL 72 19 25 44 33 20 4 6 10 14
1993–94 Montreal Canadiens NHL 74 19 24 43 32 7 2 1 3 8
1994–95 Montreal Canadiens NHL 9 1 4 5 10
1994–95 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 37 25 24 49 20 15 5 7 12 4
1995–96 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 82 51 46 97 64 11 6 5 11 6
1996–97 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 82 50 47 97 58 19 9 12 21 10
1997–98 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 82 51 36 87 32 5 1 1 2 8
1998–99 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 76 43 47 90 30 6 3 0 3 12
1999–00 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 82 40 37 77 36 18 6 7 13 6
2000–01 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 16 7 5 12 0 6 1 2 3 2
2001–02 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 82 25 26 51 30 5 0 0 0 2
2002–03 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 35 18 10 28 16 13 2 3 5 10
2003–04 Philadelphia Flyers NHL 75 23 32 55 51 18 2 2 4 8
2005–06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 73 22 29 51 61
2006–07 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 21 2 5 7 12
NHL totals 967 406 413 819 501 154 42 47 89 94

International[edit]

Olympic medal record
Men's ice hockey
Silver 2002 Salt Lake City Ice hockey
Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1988 United States WJC 7 4 2 6 12
1989 United States WJC 7 6 4 10 12
1996 United States WCH 7 6 4 10 6
1998 United States OG 4 0 1 1 0
2002 United States OG 6 6 1 7 2
Junior int'l totals 14 10 6 16 24
Senior int'l totals 17 12 6 18 8

All-Star Games[edit]

Year Location   G A P
1996 Boston 0 1 1
1997 San Jose 2 1 3
1998 Vancouver 1 0 1
1999 Tampa Bay 0 0 0
2000 Toronto 0 0 0
All-Star totals 3 2 5

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f 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. 
  2. ^ "Flyers buy out LeClair, Amonte". cbc.ca. 2005-07-23. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  3. ^ "Penguins sign free agent left wing John LeClair". penguins.nhl.com. 2005-08-15. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Vladimir Konstantinov
Chris Pronger
Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
1997
1999
Succeeded by
Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger
Preceded by
Eric Lindros
Winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy
1997, 1998
Succeeded by
Eric Lindros