November 21, 2012

Back Up Bunny: Bunny Larocque

The back up goaltending position may be the most unheralded job in all of hockey. The back up often rarely plays, usually has to put in extra time at practice, and always has to be a good teammate. You have to remain incredibly positive. And when you do finally get that call to play, or god forbid take over because of injury, you have to play to best of your ability even if you haven't played in a month. And you almost never get a big game or a playoff contest.

Because it is such a tough position to excel in, back up goalies rarely last long. Some graduate to starting roles, while most are easily replaceable. To find a long term back up is rare.

The Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s had one of the greatest goaltenders of all time in Ken Dryden. But unlike goalies of previous eras, Dryden could not play every game. More games on the schedule and cross-continent travel ensured that. The Canadiens were lucky to have a regular back up goalie named Michel Larocque to spot the great Dryden for 25-30 games a year.

A native of Hull, Quebec, Larocque will always be remembered for being Dryden's backup and for his nickname "Bunny." In fact most people know him only as "Bunny" Larocque. His mother gave him the nickname as an infant, and it stuck ever since.

Larocque was not supposed to be a career back up. He was a highly touted prospect out of Ottawa where he starred with the '67s. The Habs thought so highly of him they drafted him 6th overall in the 1972 amateur draft.


Full Bunny Larocque Biography

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