March 03, 2015

Leo Bourgault - a.k.a. Leo Bourgeault

Leo Bourgault was a 5'6" defenseman way back in the 1920s, when a defenseman could get away with being 5'6". The Sturgeon Falls, Ontario native was a steady defender who spent 10 years bouncing around the NHL, most notably with the New York Rangers (with whom he won the Stanley Cup in 1928) but also with the Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Much of recorded hockey history has Leo's last name as Bourgeault, though, as confirmed by his son, the family name is actually spelled Bourgault.

Bourgault is part of the answer to one of the great trivia questions in hockey. He, Desse Roche and Joe Lamb, both teammates of Bourgault in Montreal, Rick Dudley and Wilf Paiement are the only players in NHL history to wear number 99 aside from Wayne Gretzky.

Nobody quite knows the story, but Montreal carried several extra sweaters that season with "football numbers" in the 1934-35 season. They were very unusual at that time. Roger Jenkins wore 88. Several players shared #48 and #75. And, at various points in the season, Roche, Lamb and Bourgeault wore 99. Lamb is believed to be the first player in NHL history to wear 99.

Bourgault retired near Quebec City and he became very involved in the minor hockey scene, helping kids learn the game. One of his pupils was a fellow named Michel Roy. He never made it to the big leagues but the two families stayed connected for many years. Michel Roy's son did make it to the NHL. His name is Patrick Roy.

Leo Bourgault played in 307 NHL games, scoring 24 goals and 44 points. He passed away in 1978.

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