Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Ex Habs Prospect Patrick LeBeau: Still in the game at 40

image Patrick LeBeau as a 19-year old prospect with the Canadiens

Patrick LeBeau’s NHL career may not have gone as plan, but his passion for the game has not stopped the left winger at age 40.

LeBeau was a promising star, in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), when he was drafted by Montreal in the eighth round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft.

The following season, he won the Jean Beliveau Trophy when he scored 174 points to lead the QMJHL.

image LeBeau played just two games for the Canadiens

In the 1990-91 season, he signed with the Canadiens and was assigned to their AHL affiliate in Fredericton, where he scored 101 points, earning the league’s Rookie of the Year.

During that season, Lebeau got his first taste of NHL action when Stephane Richer caught the flu bug. He would be united on a line with older brother Stephan and record a goal and an assist in two games with the big club.

The 1991-92 season was split between Fredericton (71 points in 55 games) and the Canadian National Team. Lebeau would score 8 points for the Silver Medal winning team during the 1992 Winter Olympics.

Traded to the Calgary Flames the following season, he played just one game for them. The rest of the year was spent with the Salt Lake City Eagles (IHL), where he scored 100 points.

Signing as a free agent with the Florida Panthers in 1993, he again saw limited time in the NHL (four games) and spent the rest in Cincinnati (IHL).

From there Lebeau made his way to Europe, playing the next four seasons with an assortment of Swiss and German league teams.

During the 1998-99 season, the 28-year-old made another attempt at the NHL, this time with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many, including the NHL, had thought Lebeau retired. Even the NHL’s Official Guide and Record Book from the previous season had him stated as such.

He made the team and scored his second, and so far last, career NHL goal on Colorado’s Patrick Roy. Lebeau, still a rookie in the NHL, played just eight games with the Penguins when a shoulder injury put him on injured reserve and ended his season.

The setback would not end his hockey career as he was back in Europe the following season. He would win back-to-back scoring titles, as well as league MVP awards (2004, 2005), while playing for the Frankfurt Lions in the German Elite League (DEL).


image Patrick LeBeau with the Frankfurt Lions (DEL)

Still eager to make his mark in the NHL, Lebeau left the Lions in the summer of 2007 and joined the Philadelphia Flyers training camp.

"In 37 years, I did not expect to have a tryout with the Flyers or with any team in the NHL. It happened by surprise and I am very happy”, Lebeau said in an interview with RDS. “It is a dream that has long I want to achieve. I have not had the opportunity to do so since 1999 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

image At the Philadelphia Flyers training camp in 2007 –RDS photo

The dream was short-lived as he was released by the Flyers shortly after and would be unable to return to the German League for another season.

After failing to make the DEL’s EV Duisberg squad the next year, he signed with the Vienna Capitals of the Erste Bank Liga (Austria). At the age of 39, he would lead the league in scoring.

image At 40 years of age, LeBeau is one of the top scorers in the EBL (Austria)

As of his 40th birthday, he is tenth in league scoring as the Capitals hold a 3-1 lead in their league semi-final.

Patrick LeBeau’s complete career stats can be found here.

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