Retro Rewind: Pierre Larouche

Originally published in Prospects Hockey in 2006

By Lucas Aykroyd

Before Sidney, there was Mario. And before Mario, there was Pierre. The Pittsburgh Penguins have drafted some of the greatest QMJHL forwards of all time, and in the 1970’s, perhaps only Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne outshone Pierre Larouche.

Growing up in the northwestern Quebec town of Amos, Larouche developed his uncanny offensive talent in outdoor hockey games. “As far as I remember, I was always better than everybody else,” Larouche says without immodesty. He was known as a goal-scorer, but normally racked up even more assists.

The Quebec Remparts held Larouche’s junior rights, but his career in the provincial capital lasted just 20 games. “When I went to Quebec at age 16, they had a loaded team with Andre Savard as their captain,” he explains. “I was the fourth-line centre, and Orval Tessier was the coach. I never really got on the ice. One night Tessier caught me smoking at my place, and he traded me.”

With the Sorel Black Hawks, “Lucky Pierre” would light it up in a much more positive sense. He finished that 1972-73 campaign with 114 points. But the following season cemented his reputation as a slick phenom. Centering a line with Michel Deziel and Jacques Cossette, Larouche set new QMJHL and CHL records with 157 assists and 251 points (3.75 points per game).

“Michel was a great shooter, a great scorer,” Larouche says. “Jacques served as our protector. We had a tough team overall, but Jacques was really, really tough, so people stayed away from me. When you don’t get hit, it’s easy to make plays.”

Although Mario Lemieux would later outdo Larouche with a 282-point season, that didn’t bother the former Sorel ace, whose assists record still stands. “I’m sure some kid will break Mario’s QMJHL records, because that’s what they are made for,” he says. “Mine too. They’re just numbers.”

Selected eighth overall by Pittsburgh in 1974, the 5-11, 175-pound pivot jumped straight to the NHL. There, he continued his precedent-setting ways. Larouche became the first Penguin ever to tally 100 points. Not only did he win two Stanley Cups after being traded to Montreal in 1977, but he also remains the only Habs centre ever to score 50 goals. He spent most of the 1980’s with Hartford and the New York Rangers before hip and stomach injuries forced him to retire with 822 points in 1987.

Today, at age 50, Larouche works in corporate sales for the Penguins and enjoys participating in the Celebrity Golf Tour. Digg it Furl iFeedReaders Netscape RawSugar reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo MyWeb YardBarker

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