Skip to main content

Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre



As a physical defenseman he took his fair share of penalties over his long career. But there is no truth to the rumor that Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre once got a two minute minor for too many names on the ice.

Jean-Luc was born in Montreal on February 2nd, 1977. He would have a much different than his parents had as children, as his family had emigrated to Canada before his birth. Both his mother and father came to Montreal from their native Haiti to study health care. His mom became a nurse and his father became a radiologist.

But their son would study the great Canadian game of hockey. And languages.

"There's a really big Haitian community in Montreal and everybody speaks French and Creole there," Grand-Pierre told author Cecil Harris in his book Breaking The Ice: The Black Experience In Professional Hockey. "I spoke French first, then Creole. I picked up English when I was nineteen. I knew I'd be coming to the States to play hockey and I thought I'd make the NHL, so I started taking English lessons."

Grand-Pierre was a quick study. Despite an interest in academics he decided to bypass the NCAA college route and give the NHL his best shot by playing three seasons with the Val-d"or Foreurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Grand-Pierre, who grew up idolizing Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios, played defense with a physical exuberance that got him noticed by NHL scouts. The St. Louis Blues drafted him 179th overall in the 1995 NHL draft.

The Blues would trade him to Buffalo before Grand-Pierre even turned pro. He would play two seasons with the Sabres organization, primarily in the minor leagues, before joining the expansion Columbus Blue Jackets in 2000.

Jean-Luc became a fan favorite in Columbus because of his physical play. He hit anything that moved, and also answered the bell whenever a teammate was in trouble.

If he stayed within his limitations Grand-Pierre could play defense at the NHL level. He skated well for a big man. He had a long and powerful stride which allowed for a surprising burst of acceleration. He pivoted well and showed nice lateral quickness.

Without the puck he was a solid player. He used his long reach well to pick off passes and block shots. It made him a solid penalty killer.

Where Grand-Pierre got into trouble was when he handled the puck too long. He became prone to turnovers. He learned to make quick, safe plays to clear the puck from the zone. And, with seven career goals, he offered little in terms of offense.

Grand-Pierre would play parts of four seasons in Columbus. He would have brief stints in Atlanta and Washington in 2003-04 - his final NHL season.

Grand-Pierre sort of disappeared from the NHL. He ended up playing nearly another decade in Europe - primarily Sweden and Germany but also in Finland and Norway.

Everywhere he played he was popular, and he was cognizant of the opportunity he had to impact youth. Grand-Pierre told Harris he appreciates being a role model for other aspiring hockey-playing black youth.

"It means a lot to me now when a black kid or the parent of a black kid comes up to me and tells me that I'm an inspiration. I thought about being somebody that kids could look up to when I was coming up in the sport. That's what kept me working so hard at it."

Grand-Pierre, who left the ice in 2013, has become a realtor in the Columbus area.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M