Richard in 1977
October 7, 1952|
Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
October 8, 2002 (aged 50)|
Issoudun, Quebec, Canada
|Height||5 ft 11 in (180 cm)|
|Weight||180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)|
2nd overall, 1972|
Joseph Alfred Gilles Jacques Richard (October 7, 1952 – October 8, 2002) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Atlanta Flames, Buffalo Sabres, and Quebec Nordiques. 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.
Richard was drafted 2nd overall in the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft. Richard was slated to be the marquee player by the expansion Atlanta Flames. 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 in 1979–80—he also indulged in alcohol, gambling and eventually cocaine.
Richard had a spectacular junior career with the Quebec Remparts, scoring 186 goals and 213 assists for 399 points in only 169 games. Playing with Guy Chouinard and Andre Savard he was a significant component of a devastating trio. At the time Richard was considered by some hockey experts to have equal, if not more, pro potential than teammate Guy Lafleur. At one time, Rempart 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. 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.
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 World Hockey Association might sign the two top prospects, Billy Harris and Richard, the two expansion teams held their own coin toss in advance, won by New York, who elected to select Harris. This allowed the teams to begin immediate negotiations with the players.
Richard's rookie year in Atlanta was a disappointment. He rarely spoke to anyone that first year, perhaps a clue to problems adapting to the NHL. In February, after a game at Toronto in which the coach had sat him out, Richard left the team to return to his home in Quebec City and missed a couple practices without his coach's permission. 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." Richard returned but finished the season scoring only 13 goals.
Teamed in his second season with Tom Lysiak, his prospects seemed brighter as he scored 27 goals. The next season, in October 1974, Richard suffered facial fractures, a fracture of the right orbital bone and nose, in a game against Detroit. After three years with Atlanta, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
At the time, some hockey people[who?] thought the presence of several fellow French Canadian players on Buffalo might help Richard. However, in his first season with Buffalo, Richard scored only 12 goals. Early in his second season, a teammate accused Richard of not giving a good effort during practices. In November, Richard was arrested for driving while intoxicated. Although team management said the two were not connected, Richard was then sent to Buffalo's minor league affiliate, the Hershey Bears. 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. Imlach describes Richard as "a nice kid, good hockey player" but he was "wasting his talent". 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.
Immediately after being released by Buffalo, Richard signed with the Quebec Nordiques. 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, Richard tallied 52 goals and 51 assists for 103 points, to finish tenth in the league in points and seventh in goals. However, this was to be the only time he was to show this potential. The next season, his mediocre play returned.
Retirement and death
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. 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.
Awards and honours
|1967–68||Quebec Jr. Aces||QJHL||50||18||18||36||?||—||—||—||—||—|
|1968–69||Quebec Jr. Aces||QJHL||50||23||40||63||78||—||—||—||—||—|
|1983–84||Lausanne HC||CHE II|
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- "Detailed statistics for Richard's amateur and pro career". hockey-reference.com. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
- Diamond, Dan (1998). Total Hockey: the Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Total Sports. p. 1419. ISBN 0-8362-7114-9.
- "Jacques Richard bio at Legends of Hockey". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved Sep 19, 2009.
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- "Pee-Wee players who have reached NHL or WHA" (PDF). Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 2018. Retrieved 2019-01-04.
- "Linemates in junior". Retrieved 2009-08-02.
- O'Donnell, Chuck (2003). "bnet article on Richard's death and career". Hockey Digest. Archived from the original on 2006-02-24. Retrieved 2009-08-02.
- Louis J. Fusk (June 16, 1970). "What Gives: Richard Deal Stirs Up Talk". Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph. p. 8.
- Proudfoot, Jim (May 31, 1972). "New NHL teams broke the rules". Toronto Daily Star. p. 22.
- Fischler, Stan,Shirley (2003). Who's Who in Hockey. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 352. ISBN 0-7407-1904-1.
- AP (Feb 24, 1973). "Jacques Richard home briefly decides to go back to Flames". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 27.
- AP (October 18, 1974). "Richard out of Flames lineup". Rome News-Tribune. Rome, Georgia. p. 6.
- UPI (Nov 15, 1976). "Jacques Richard off to the minors". The Gazette. Montreal. p. 19.
- CP (June 2, 1976). "Five people wounded in tavern shooting". The Citizen. Ottawa, Canada. p. 1.
- Imlach, Punch (1982). Heaven and Hell in the NHL. McClelland and Stewart Limited. p. 96. ISBN 0-88780-141-2.
- CP (Feb 14, 1980). "Richard with Nordiques". The Leader-Post. Regina, Saskatchewan. p. 23.
- "New York Times on Richard's death and earlier arrest". nytimes.com. October 14, 2002. Retrieved April 27, 2009.
- Chuck O'Donnell (March 1, 2003). Hockey Digest http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-97058308.html. Missing or empty