Alumni Q&A: Pierre Larouche
Though he was often referred to by the nickname "Lucky Pierre", there was nothing lucky about the magic created on the ice by the high-scoring Pierre Larouche over the course of his 14-year NHL career. In that span Larouche---who oozed personality both on and off the ice---scored 395 goals and totaled 822 points in 812 games, and won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. A two-time 50-goal scorer, Larouche played the final five seasons of his NHL career in New York with the Rangers, where he scored 48 goals in his first season on Broadway in 1983-84.
Recently BlueshirtsUnited.com's Jim Cerny sat down with Pierre Larouche to discuss his time in New York and his days as a Ranger.
See what the popular Pierre Larouche had to say on a variety of topics, then share your comments and memories of Pierre's career with the Blueshirts below.
BSU: When the words "New York" and "Rangers" are mentioned, what do they make you think?
PL: It was just unbelievable, both the city and my time with the Rangers organization. I remember even when I played with Montreal and me and Guy Lafleur would talk about how great it would be to play in New York because the vibe and the feeling you got playing in The Garden was just unbelievable. It was just really exciting playing there and it will always hold a special place in my heart.
BSU: What was it like coming into MSG as the opposition? Was it still so exciting?
PL: Oh definitely! The crowd at The Garden could appreciate great play, even if you were on the opposition. It was a very similar to Montreal in that respect. If you did something that they appreciated, they'd let you know. And that energy was amazing.
BSU: You had a great relationship with The Garden Faithful when you played for the Rangers. Why do you think that was the case?
PL: I guess they liked the way I played. People like to be entertained. They put in a hard day at work, it's a tough town and people work really hard, and people want to be entertained. And I guess that's what I did. I scored quite a few goals, we had some nice playoff runs. I remember in 1986 when we went to the semifinals after beating Philly and Washington, even though we lost to (Patrick) Roy and the Canadiens there was some fan up in Westchester who came up to me and said "Thank you so much". I said, "Thank you for what?". And he said, "For going to the semifinals. We appreciate what you did so much." For me that was amazing because the goal was to win the Stanley Cup, but fans were still so appreciative of the ride we took them on and the effort we gave. It's something I will never forget.
BSU: What was going through your head and your heart when a different group of Rangers finally won that elusive Stanley Cup in 1994?
PL: To me it was about the fans. I couldn't believe that all that time, since 1940 without a Cup, they keep coming out, keep packing the place. It's amazing it took that long (to win the Stanley Cup again), but it was great and I was so happy for the fans. They really deserved it. That's why it was such a great place to play, why there's nothing like Madison Square Garden: the fans are just amazing.
BSU: You made quite the first impression in New York, scoring 48 goals and racking up 81 points in 1983-84 (the third highest point total of Larouche's career). Tell us about that special first season as a Ranger.
PL: Playing that year for Herb Brooks---he was pretty special. We had a real good team, but ran into the Islanders (in the playoffs), played them five games and then lost in overtime. They were a great team, but we should have beaten them that year. I still shake my head because we outplayed them, but we couldn't get over that hump and they went on to win the Cup. I still see some of those guys from that Islanders team---like Clark Gillies---from time to time and tell them there's no way we should have lost that series. That (Ken) Morrow goal (in overtime of the deciding Game 5)...Glen Hanlon never saw it. I still think about it.
BSU: You mentioned Herb Brooks. During your time in New York you played for four different coaches---Brooks, Craig Patrick, Ted Sator, and Phil Esposito. Even though the Rangers continued to make the playoffs, how difficult was that for you and the team?
PL: It was really hard because a team needs a certain continuity so the players know what to expect. Each new coach brings a different style, has a different way he looks at things. We had some good coaches, and you want a good coach to stay around
BSU: The 1985-86 season was a trying one for you as Ted Sator came in and, at first, demoted you to the minor leagues. What was that experience like and how did it affect the rest of your career, if at all?
PL: Life does some crazy things to you, and this guy (Sator) just didn't want me. I thought I was going to get traded actually. He didn't think I could do my job anymore. I didn't agree with that, but I wasn't going to quit. But the crazy thing is it was good for me, going down to Hershey. It really revived me to be with those kids. I had never played in the minors, but I loved it. John Paddock was the coach, and what a great guy and great coach he was. He could have treated me shady, but he treated me so well. And it was a joy to see how hard these kids were working. It revived me.
BSU: After scoring 22 goals in 32 games with Hershey, you get recalled by the Rangers and notch 20 goals in 28 games! Then you score 17 points in 16 post-season games as the Rangers make a run to the semis in the playoffs. Tell us about that.
PL: I never thought I'd go back to New York. I had made my peace with it. I was going to finish out the season in Hershey and then move on at the end of the year. Then one day we are on the bus and it stops, pulls to the side of road and John (Paddock) comes up to me and says, "You've been called up". Crazy. Just like that I am getting a ride to Westchester, next day am at practice, and I told Ted, "If I am here, then let me just play." And he did. I played on a line with Wilf Paiment---just a great player---and on the left side was Don Maloney. And we were like, "Let's just do our gig and have fun!" We really clicked, then Beezer (John Vanbiesbrouck) played great, and we went on a run (in the playoffs). Winning feels really good and it goes through the whole team and you don't want it to stop. But we ran into (Patrick) Roy in the semis and that was that. But it was a great run for us.
BSU: In your time as Ranger, who were your best friends on the team?
PL: We had a great time together on those teams. My first year (in New York) it was me, Barry (Beck), Gresch (Ron Greschner) and Tommy Laidlaw. Those were my guys. And through the years there were so many great friends---those guys, plus Glen Hanlon, Kelly Kisio, Robbie McClanahan, just so many. We had a great time, and some good teams.