October 16, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Patrick Lebeau

Patrick Lebeau was always an offensive force - something Canadian Olympic teams in the pre-NHL era were infamously lacking.

He scored 68 goals and 174 points in his final season of junior and 50 goals as an AHL rookie. in 1991-92 he had 33 in 55 games when he departed the AHL season to joined the Canadian national team to pursue Olympic glory in Albertville. 

Lebeau's reasons for leaving the Montreal Canadiens farm team were not entirely about the Olympic medal. He was upset with Montreal management not giving him more opportunity to prove he could play in the NHL. There were rumors throughout his career in the Habs organization that he had asked for a trade.

Lebeau joined the national team, ironically around the same time the Canadiens ran into a rash of injuries. 

"I don't regret it," he said of missing a chance to be recalled. "I lived a good experience. It was good for my career. I'm a better player from the Olympics."
"I don't know if I'm in the Montreal organization's plans," continued the younger brother of Montreal centre Stephan. "If I do the best possible and they say, `you're not on our team,' I'll have to think about something else."
Ultimately Lebeau was not in the Habs plans. He was sent to Calgary in the off-season, but GM Serge Savard never liked the way the whole Lebeau-to-the-Olympics thing worked out.
Savard was particularly upset that it was Lebeau and his agent who approached Dave King's team without first informing Montreal.
"The Olympic program is a joke," says Canadiens boss Savard. "All kinds of money is being spent to develop a team, and then when the Olympics come along, they're picking up players who can't make their NHL teams."
The Calgary assignment looked promising, at first, as the Flames had just hired Dave King to his first NHL job. 
"Naturally, I know (Flames coach) Dave King and he knows what I can do," Lebeau said. "I was expecting to be traded by the Canadiens and I'm happy to be with the Flames."
But aside from a single game that season, Lebeau did not make King's team. He was demoted to the minor leagues where he was the leading scorer for Salt Lake.
Aside from brief appearances with Florida (4 games) and Pittsburgh (8 games) he never made the NHL. He ended up dominating in German and Austrian leagues for many seasons.

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