Friday, November 4, 2011
Born on this date in 1975, Eric Fichaud played his junior hockey with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League beginning in the 1992-93 season. After posting a record of 18-15-1, he took the undisputed number one role in 1993-94, and in 63 starts, went 37-21-3. He backstopped the Sags to the QMJHL championship after winning 16 of 26 playoff games to earn the club a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Following the season Fichaud was drafted 16th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs before returning to Chicoutimi for one final season during which he recorded his third consecutive winning season with a 21-19-4 mark.
The Maple Leafs traded Fichaud to the New York Islanders at the 1995 draft and he spilt the 1995-96 season between the Worcester Ice Cats of the AHL and the Islanders, who were in a decidedly down period at the time. Fichaud's rookie season ended with a 7-12-2 record, but a respectable 3.31 goals against average.
His second season on Long Island saw his games played increase from 24 to 34 as he complied a 9-14-4 record while lowering his goals against average to 3.10. Following the season he was selected to join Team Canada for the 1997 World Championships, but did not see any action.
Fichaud saw limited playing time in 1997-98 thanks to a shoulder injury, playing 17 games with the Islanders, finishing with a 3-8-3 mark but lowering his GAA once more, down to 2.97, and a single game with the Utah Grizzlies of the IHL.
During the off season, he was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in June, only to have the Oilers deal him to the Nashville Predators in early October. He once again saw little ice time, playing 8 games with Milwaukee (5-2-1) and a forgettable 9 games with the Predators, going 0-6-0 while competing for playing time with Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun.
His next stop was with the Carolina Hurricanes, where once more ice time was at a premium. 9 games with Carolina ended with his release and he was claimed by the Montreal Canadiens who assigned him to the Quebec Citadelles of the AHL, where he performed well with a 4-1-1 mark.
He finally got his first regular ice time in four seasons in 2000-01 with the Citadelles, seeing action in 42 games and finishing with a 19-19-2 record.
For the 2001-02 season, Fichaud started the year with the Manitoba Moose, but was granted his release by the Moose after just 5 games in three months. He signed with the Krefeld Penguins of the German DEL and played in 9 regular season games as well as 3 playoff contests.
Back in North America for the 2002-03 season, Fichaud played with the Hamilton Bulldogs, the top affiliate of the Oilers. He had a good season with a strong Bulldogs club, splitting time with Mathieu Garon and Ty Conklin on his way to 27 appearances and a 14-7-3 mark with 4 shutouts, his highest total since juniors. He also played in 8 playoff games with a 5-3 record as Hamilton made it to the Calder Cup Finals.
He was back for a second season with the Bulldogs, only now part of the Canadiens organization, and in 31 games went 16-11-3.
Beginning with the 2004-05 season, Fichaud started a three year run with Quebec RadioX (named after a radio station owned by the team's owners) of he lower level Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey after it elevated itself from being an amateur league. The 2004-05 season was the missed NHL season due to the lockout, and with hundreds of pros looking for work in Europe and many younger NHLers keeping busy in the AHL, work was hard to come by for many, who saw the LNAH as an alternative. It paid off, as RadioX won the league championship in 2005 thanks in part to Fichaud's 8-0 record during the playoffs.
After two more seasons with Quebec, Fichaud played one final season in 2007-08 with the St. Georges CRS Express.
Today's featured jersey is a 1999-00 Quebec Citadelles Eric Fichaud jersey as worn during his first season with the Canadiens AHL affiliate.
This attractive jersey features the unusual choice of a goat head for the team's logo, which was the mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment, which was stationed in the Citadel of Quebec. The team played in Quebec for just three seasons before relocating to Hamilton where they were renamed the Bulldogs.
A well travelled franchise, it began in 1969 in Montreal as the Voyageurs before moving to Nova Scotia, then Sherbrooke, Quebec and then Frederiction before relocating for the fourth time to Quebec.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1997-98 New York Islanders Eric Fichaud jersey. The Islanders new ownership, in an effort to attract new, younger fans to the downtrodden Islanders scrapped their traditional sweaters, which only happened to have been worn not only since the club's inception in 1972, but also for the length of their Stanley Cup dynasty, and introduced their new jerseys for the 1995-96 season.
As the team wallowed in the depths of the NHL standings and traded away fan favorite Pierre Turgeon for the disgruntled Kirk Muller, the fan base immediately made the new jerseys, and specifically their new fisherman logo, the focus of their growing unhappiness. The fate of the jersey was not made any better when the rival New York Rangers fans began to mock the new jerseys with chants of "We want fishsticks! We want fish sticks!" in reference to the new logo's resemblance to the Gorton's Fisherman logo.
The Islanders adopted a hybrid jersey for 1996-97 with the original Islanders logo placed on the "wave" style jersey as an alternate style. For 1997-98, the fisherman was gone and the hybrid jersey was used full time. In 1998-99, a modern version of the Islanders jersey debuted as the wave style was scrapped permanently.
Today's video selection is a slideshow of images from Fichaud's career, which documents many of the jerseys he wore during his career.