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.