|Senators netminder Pascal Leclaire says the example set by Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur has inspired many young goalies in Quebec (Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images).
There is something about being a goaltender from Quebec, a special pride in being part of a seemingly endless pipeline to the National Hockey League.
Let’s just say Pascal Leclaire knows full well he is representing more than his team whenever he settles in between the pipes for the Ottawa Senators. He is following in a lineage most recently highlighted by two of the game’s all-time greats, Patrick Roy – who backstopped the Montreal Canadiens to their last two Stanley Cups (in 1986 and 1993) – and Martin Brodeur, a three-time Cup champ with the New Jersey Devils.
“It was great for us, the Quebec guys,” said Leclaire, a 26-year-old native of the Montreal suburb of Repentigny. “Those guys are huge examples for us.”
Leclaire grew up idolizing Roy and wears the same No. 33 with the Senators, just as he has since his minor hockey days. Without question, it was his biggest influence in deciding to be a goaltender as a youngster.
“I grew up in Montreal when Patrick Roy was there,” said Leclaire. “He was such a big deal in the city. He was the Wayne Gretzky of goalies.
“He was a superstar and you just followed him, I guess like guys like Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson
) and Spezz (Jason Spezza
) are for us here (in Ottawa).”
But truth be told, it was the tools of the trade that did the most to capture a young Leclaire’s attention.
“When you’re a kid, you try a bit of everything,” he said. “It seemed, though, that right from the get-go, I always liked the gear. I remember being really obsessed when I was a kid with the goalie equipment. The first set of equipment my parents bought me, I slept with it. It was a big, big thing.”
"I grew up in Montreal when Patrick Roy was there,” said Leclaire. “He was such a big deal in the city. He was the Wayne Gretzky of goalies. He was a superstar and you just followed him, I guess like guys like Alfie (Daniel Alfredsson) and Spezz (Jason Spezza) are for us here (in Ottawa)." - Pascal Leclaire
But soon enough, Leclaire began to notice there was a certain cachet attached to the position for a francophone from Quebec. Their names kept showing up with greater prominence in NHL drafts and on the rosters of Canada’s teams at the world junior hockey championship, a tournament Leclaire would go on to play in himself for a silver-medal winning Canadian entry in 2002.
“It seemed like there was a Quebec goalie coming out every year in the draft,” he said. “And the world junior (team) always seemed to have a francophone goalie.”
Always, there was Roy, the iconic goaltender who would offer his congratulations to an 18-year-old Leclaire when the Columbus Blue Jackets drafted him into the NHL in 2001. Leclaire looks at the numbers produced by Roy and Brodeur over the years and is proud to follow in the path they blazed for so many other Quebec netminders.
“For me, I’m just having fun and it’s a dream to play in the NHL. I’ll just try to play as long as I can,” said Leclaire. “When they mention goalies, they start with those two and then down the line, you get your name (on that list) and it’s fun to be a part of that. But those guys are legends and if I could do half of what they’ve done, I’d be happy.”