Hockey careers can be all summed up by the numbers. And a quick look at Eric Godard's career statistics sums up his NHL career pretty quickly.
Three teams and three hundred and thirty-five games. Six goals. Eighteen points. One hundred and nineteen fights.
Throw in another estimated 192 fights in junior hockey and in the minor leagues, and you know what Godard's job was.
And he did it well.
Godard loved playing in Pittsburgh and for coach Dan Bylsma.
“Bylsma came in and he just put the challenge to the guys,: he told the Vernon Morning Star. "The guys wanna play and the guys wanna work and he’s positive. Everybody wants the same results, to win, and he just challenges the guys and guys are gonna respond to that.”
Godard's response to what it was like to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin was, initially, shocking.
“Deflating. It’s fun to watch them. They’re so good. Just to see the guys at that level, especially those two guys because they do work. You see what they do, even coming back from injuries, at practice. The game comes at them in a different way. Hockey to them is different than hockey to me. They want you (role players) around. They’re team guys and that makes them even much better.”
And Godard was a nice part of those Pittsburgh teams, in his own way. Though he never played in the playoffs, he still was a big part of the championship team in 2009, and is very proud of his Stanley Cup ring.
“I went to work every day, went to practice every day. That’s what teams need to win. Everyone’s going to feel part of it and I felt part of it. I felt I was doing my part, whether that was practising hard or talking to guys, encouraging them, patting them on the back. I wanna win it too so I gotta help.”
The Vernon Morning Star asked the hometown boy some more questions up his retirement in 2012.
“Going to the rink every day. Obviously, Pittsburgh was such a good team and the city was awesome. I remember my first games with the Islanders and Calgary, being close, and the friends I made over the years. Right now, guys are kind of playing right now. I’m just trying to figure out what to do next. I wanna do something. I’m excited. Going to the rink every day and playing hockey is fun. It’s a just a privilege to do. To not do it anymore is gonna be different.”
“(Georges) Laraque....I did pretty good against him. Brashear and I had some good ones. Laraque, they weren’t the best fights. He was so strong though. He’d just throw you down. I tried going toe to toe once. It was pretty good, but he then he just pulled me down. I remember him pulling me down. I was trying to do a full squat just to push out and he was just all arms.”
First NHL Goal?
“My first goal was against Ed Belfour. I don’t know if I wanna tell ya. It was off my skate. They had to review it.”
While he was one of the most feared tough guys of his era in NHL history, Eric Godard's toughest fight came off the ice. Godard suffered from epilepsy from the age of 17. He has controlled the disease through medication from the age of 23.