Friday, March 24, 2017

Éric Fichaud Autograph Card

Sometimes, a player's career is one of opportunities and a string of luck - both good and bad.

Case in point: Éric Fichaud. A classic butterfly goalie in Québec's Patrick Roy era (1986-2001), LHJMQ scouts were high on him because of his perfect technique; he had moderate success in Midget AAA, but it was believed that increasing his reflex speed by upping his competition would mold him into an ideal starter - which he became, leading the Chicoutimi Saguenéens to a league championship and a Memorial Cup berth, which it lost to the Kamloops Blazers, but enabled Fichaud to nab top goalie honors.

The Toronto Maple Leafs jumped on the opportunity to draft him, despite having Félix Potvin in the fold, possibly thinking that having two Sags alumni in the crease would make for better teamwork. However, they couldn't pass up the opportunity to trade his rights to the New York Islanders the following season, for Benoît Hogue and a fifth-round pick; the trade shook Fichaud, however, and his play suffered, enabling Chicoutimi teammate Marc Denis to make his own mark and earn his time in the spotlight.

He had respectable numbers of an awful Islanders team, one so bad that Tommy Soderstrom just left the team in 1996-97, enabling Fichaud to back up Tommy Salo full-time and appear in 34 games himself.

Everything changed in 1997-98, when Fichaud suffered a shoulder injury that would first sideline him for six games, then hurt enough to warrant an operation, forcing him out for the remainder of the season. He would never again have a save percentage above .900 in the NHL and it, essentially, relegated him to "good AHL goalie" status, though his nine-game stint in Germany in 2001-02 with the Krefeld Penguins was particularly spectacular (1.64 GAA and .944 save percentage).

For the two years prior and the two after that season - which he split with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, who at the time were the Vancouver Canucks' top affiliate - he was on the Montréal Canadiens' depth chart, first with the Québec Citadelles, then the Hamilton Bulldogs.

From the 2004-05 season until 2007-08, he played in the semi-professional LNAH, first with the Québec RadioX team, then a single season with the St. Georges CRS Express.

Today, I look back at the 1998-99 season, which he split between the Nashville Predators (9 games, 3.22 GAA and .895 save percentage) and their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals (8 games, 3.13 GAA and .90 save percentage) with the signed (silver) version of card #227 from In The Game's 1998-99 Be A Player set, signed in thin black sharpie:
I wasn't a fan of Koho equipment growing up, which I found to be too stiff and bulky. You may recall from earlier posts that despite my idol Patrick Roy making the switch to Koho from 1992-93 onward, I was mostly a Brian's guy myself.

Nowadays, Fichaud is a hockey analyst on TV. After a stint at Radio-Canada, he can now be seen and heard on TVA Sports.

No comments:

Post a Comment