Jacques Richard

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has produced some of the greatest hockey talent ever produced. Gilbert Perreault, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Raymond Bourque and Pat Lafontaine are but a few.

One of the greatest QMJHL phenoms was Quebec Ramparts' Jacques Richard. Blessed with an overabundance of natural talent and incredible skating ability, Richard was a junior teammate of Lafleur. At the time some scouts insisted Richard was the better player. In his final three years of junior Richard totalled 186 goals and 399 points in 168 games. He added 80 goals and and 165 points in 75 playoff games and helped the Ramparts capture the 1971 Memorial Cup

Richard was selected 2nd overall by the Atlanta Flames in the 1972 Amateur Draft. He jumped directly to the NHL but couldn't live up the enormous pressure of being hyped as "hockey's next Richard," a marketing ploy comparing him to the immortal Rocket Richard and Henri Richard.

Richard faltered badly on the ice. He was used sparingly as he was a defensive liability, and 57 goals over three years was just not enough to justify keeping him. To make matters worse, Richard was a headache off the ice, as he was a heavy drinker and gambler, and would soon experiment with cocaine.

The Buffalo Sabres hoped to salvage something out of Richard's career, but were disappointed with him. He scored just 12 goals in the 1975-76 season, and after only 2 goals in 21 games in 1976-77, he was banished to the minor leagues for the next season and a half. He would unceremoniously return with the Sabres in 1978-79, but was released soon after.

Richard returned home in 1979, joining the Quebec Nordiques. He continued to struggle until 1980-81 when he was teamed with brothers Peter and Anton Stastny and exploded for 52 goals and 51 assists.

Richard's success was short-lived. His off-ice habits continued to mess with Richard the hockey player. He quickly fell into decline and by 1983 was out of hockey.

His demons continued to curse him after hockey. In 1989 he returned from a vacation to Colombia with $1.5 million worth of cocaine hidden in a golf bag. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.

On Oct. 8, 2002, when his car struck a culvert near Issoudun, Quebec, killing him instantly. He was just 50 years old.


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