Bunny Larocque Played When Ken Dryden Didn’t

I remember clearly being at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto for a Habs game in the 1970’s, and as I settled into my seat, the announcer came on and gave us the lineup. He said Michel Larocque would be in goal tonight, and I was disappointed and thought, just my luck, Larocque’s playing, not Ken Dryden. 

That’s the kind of pro career Bunny Larocque had with the Habs. An understudy. A guy who didn’t get the respect or recognition he deserved. A guy who never became a number one goalie in his prime because he played behind Dryden. Regardless, he did his job, did it well, and won four Stanley Cups.

Bunny was a big leaguer. Without even looking at his numbers, you have to realize he was part of some of the greatest Montreal teams in history – in the 1970’s, when they won four straight and were the class of the league. He played about 30 games a year, averaging just over two goals a game, which is very respectable goaltending by any measure. The team didn’t miss a beat when Bunny was in nets.

If Ken Dryden had suffered a long-term injury, Bunny was ready, and the Habs organization knew that. They wouldn’t have settled for less. To keep the team a powerhouse, it must have two world-class goaltenders. And that would be Dryden and Larocque.

Bunny Larocque died way too soon, at the age of 40 from brain cancer. He was a goalie who did a nice job when called upon, and was a valuable part of some very solid teams, to say the least. His numbers, which are impressive, can be seen here.

Below is basically a Wayne Gretzky commercial, but Bunny’s there, and he lifts his mask and gives us a big smile and tells us he’s feeling up!

Three cheers for Michel ‘Bunny’ Larocque.

10 thoughts on “Bunny Larocque Played When Ken Dryden Didn’t”

  1. Good ol’ Bunny. Did he have a first name? I seem to remember a game around Easter when he hopped out to his crease with a rabbit tail on his butt. Or at least I think he did. Did not know that he had died, that’s too bad. What I really seem to remember was how shaky Montreal’s goal tending was after Dryden retired. I know Steve Penny showed up not too long after but who was sharing duties with Bunny in the early eighties?

  2. And when the fans today complain about the Price vs Halak “injustice” I say with great joy that there is always a Bunny for every Dryden and the team wouldn’t work without them!

  3. I didn’t know that Bunny had died. So young too. That’s a real shame.

    He was a great backup and replacement goalie but unfortunately he fizzled when he became the goto guy. Montreal went through a lot of goalies in the few years between Dryden and Roy.

  4. I remember Bunny Laroque playing for the Habs in the 70’s&80’s.He was a good goaltender with a great glove hand ,if I’m not confusing him with someone else.I think he was a standup goalie,not a “flopper” ,but I loved his name.Dennis do you know how he got the name Bunny?I’m trying to flip through my mental archives but nothing is popping out early this morning,maybe I will remember later on.I enjoyed watching Bunny play goal for the Habs,and yes he died way to young.

  5. I remember Bunny Laroque playing for the Habs in the 70’s&80’s.He was a good goaltender with a great glove hand ,if I’m not confusing him with someone else.I think he was a standup goalie,not a “flopper” ,but I loved his name.Dennis do you know how he got the name Bunny?I’m trying to flip through my mental archives but nothing is popping out early this morning,maybe I will remember later on.I enjoyed watching Bunny play goal for the Habs,and yes he died way to young.Wasn’t Doug Soetart playing for the Habs after Dryden retired?I think he came from Winnipeg Jets in the Savard deal,could be wrong on that one though.

  6. Denis Herron and Richard Sevigny were the next in a string of goalies who came after Bunny. And he was given the name ‘Bunny’ by his mom when he was young and it just stuck.

  7. That’s right, 31. You need two solid guys between the pipes to be a winner, and Price and Halak are both capable of pulling this off.

  8. Doug Soetaert was the backup before and at the start of Roy’s career. Also before them were Steve Penney and Rick Wamsley. The team had a hard time finding their main starting goalie. To borrow a baseball term, “goalie by committee”. Overall this system did a good job, but since no Cup, it was a failure.

    Until the 1990’s the primary goalie would play just over half the season, barely more than the backup. Only in the playoffs would there be a difference. Nowadays starting goalies are paid $6+M per year, not leaving much for a good backup. Starter is expected to play almost everyday leading to stress & fatigue and then under performing in the playoffs.

    Here’s to Price & Halak winning the Cup as a tandem before salary demands force the team to let one go.

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