Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Born on this date in 1955, Pierre Larouche began his junior hockey career with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL in 1972. There, he scored 13 points in 20 games before moving over to the Sorel Black Hawks, where he announced his presence with 47 goals, plus 54 assists, for 101 points in just 43 games.
The next season he buried the accelerator and won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the league's leading scorer when he scored 251 points from 94 goals and 157 assists in 67 games, an average of 3.75 points and 1.4 goals per game. His 251 points were a league record which stood for ten years until surpassed by Mario Lemieux's 282 in 70 games.
Despite his record setting point totals in juniors, Larouche was not picked until the eighth selection of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, the fifth forward taken.
He adjusted to the NHL game quickly, and after scoring 31 goals and 68 points as a rookie, Larouche became only the 16th player in league history to score 50 goals in a season, which he accomplished in just his second year of professional hockey, with 53 goals in 1975-76. Additionally, he had even more assists, 58, for 111 points for fifth place in that year's scoring race. His 50 goals and 100 points made him the youngest player to ever accomplish both feats.
Limited to 65 games the following season, his point totals dropped to 63, and following the Penguins quick exit from the playoffs, Larouche was a member of Team Canada at the 1977 World Championships, Canada's first world championship following their boycott due to the rules on professionalism.
After 20 games of the 1977-78 season, the French-Canadian Larouche was acquired by the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Peter Mahovlich and Peter Lee. Larouche was an odd fit under the guidance of head coach Scotty Bowman, who was not the greatest fan of Larouche's frankly offense only style of play. Still, it was a good time to join the Canadiens and after 49 points in 44 games, Larouche won a Stanley Cup ring as a member of the champions.
The following season was more of the same, limited playing time and another championship, as Larouche only saw action in 36 games. Things changed however, when Bowman left the Canadiens and was replaced by "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, who knew a thing or two about goal scoring himself.
Freed of Bowman's control, Larouche was again free to play his style of game and responded with the second 50 goal season of his career, the first player to ever score 50 goals for two different teams. After one more season in Montreal, Larouche was traded to the Hartford Whalers after playing 22 games for the Canadiens in 1981-82.
Larouche would play 83 games for Hartford over the course of the next two seasons and then sign with the New York Rangers as a free agent in time for the 1983-84 season. His new surroundings energized Larouche after playing with the cellar dwelling Whalers, and he scored 48 goals and 81 points in 77 games, yet he was a -15 in plus/minus. The next year followed the same pattern, with 60 points in 65 games and a -17 rating.
The Rangers sent Larouche to the minors for the start of the 1985-86 season. While with the Hershey Bears of the AHL, he scored 20 goals in 32 games before being recalled by the Rangers, where he scored 28 goals and 63 points in 73 games, one of the few players to score 20 goals in two leagues in the same season. His career wrapped up with 12 points in 10 games of the 1987-88 season before Larouche retired.
Today's featured jersey is a 1978-79 Montreal Canadiens Pierre Larouche jersey worn during the season when Larouche won his second Stanley Cup as a member of the Canadiens dynasty of the 1970's.
While not as famous as the Canadiens iconic red jerseys, the white Montreal jersey first appeared in 1935 and gained it's red shoulders in 1941. Aside from a brief three year run in the mid 1940's where the Canadiens jerseys had white shoulders and a blue band around the chest, a style now often worn by Montreal as a throwback or alternate style, the white jersey with red shoulders has remained in use for nearly 70 years.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1982-83 Hartford Whalers Pierre Larouche jersey. This style of jersey was used from their entry into the NHL in 1979 through 1985 and is infamous for having been one of only two NHL jerseys to have been worn with the controversial Cooperalls, the full-length pants that proved to be too radical for the tradition-leaden NHL. The pants were eventually banned in the name of safety, as the slick, slippery fabric they were constructed from regularly sent players skidding into the boards, but in our opinion made the players look taller, sleeker and faster.
Why players would ever wear short pants for a winter sport, we will never quite understand...
In today's video segment, a profile of Larouche while a member of the Hartford Whalers. Be sure to note the size of his wife's hair and a glimpse of the Cooperalls in action.