Saturday

Richard Sevigny

The Montreal Canadiens must have known Ken Dryden was never planning to stick around a long time.

The goaltending great retired in 1979 after just 7 full seasons in the NHL. In that short time frame he guaranteed his place in the hockey hall of fame, posting a 258-57-74 career record with 6 Stanley Cups and 5 Vezina trophies.

Replacing Dryden was going to be a monumentally impossible task. But the Habs started preparing in 1977, drafting a total of 7 goaltenders in that summer's entry draft.

Nothing much ever came from Robert Holland (64th overall pick), Barry Borrett (152nd), Mark Holden (160th), Carey Walker (174th), Jean Belisle (179th and Bob Daly (180th). But with the 124th overall pick the Canadiens landed a goalie who one day would be summoned to replace the great Dryden.

Richard Sevigny was drafted out of Sherbrooke, where he led the Castors to the Memorial Cup finals. He was also part of Canada's entry at the World Junior Championships. He would apprentice in the minor leagues for two years before he was handed jersey #33 in Montreal.

After a strong showing in training camp, Sevigny joined Dryden's perennial back up Bunny Laracque after Dryden's departure. But crowding the crease was Denis Herron, who the Habs brought in from Pittsburgh late in the summer. Montreal would go with three goaltenders in 1979-80, never an enviable situation.

Ultimately none of the three would emerge as a true star netminder like the Habs had hoped. Herron played the best, getting the playoff assignments, with Laraque once again assigned the back up role. The rookie Sevigny would only get into 11 games, and would finish the year in the minor leagues where at least he could get some playing time.

Before he was sent down Sevigny had a chance to show his stuff. On Dec. 31st, 1970 the Montreal Canadiens played an exhibition game against the Soviet Red Army squad, three years to the day of their epic New Year's Eve battle. Montreal won the 1979 showdown 4-2, making Sevigny the first Montreal goalie to defeat the Soviets.

The three goalie rotation returned in 1980-81, with better success. The three goalies captured the Vezina Trophy. 1981 was the last year the trophy was awarded to the goalies (who played 25 games or more) of the team that allowed the fewest goals against. Sevigny probably emerged as the top goalie, with a 20-4-3 record with 2 shutouts. He was chosen as the Habs goalie for the playoffs, but was 0-3 with a bloated 4.33 GAA as the Habs were ousted uncerimoniously.

The Canadiens continued in their three goalie rotation in 1981-82, returning with failed playoff goalies Herron and Sevigny, and replacing Laraque with minor league call-up Rick Wamsley. The Canadiens all but handed the number one role to Wamsley, perhaps a little too early. Despite posting some strong numbers behind a good defense (23-7-7, 2.75 GAA), Wamsley could not get the job done in the playoffs either. The Canadiens were out in the first round yet again.

The Canadiens ended their three year infatuation with using three goalies by the 1982-83 season, keeping Wamsley and Sevigny. The two were share the workload in the regular season, but neither could get the job done when it mattered most, in the playoffs. In fact, in 1984 a surprise call up from the minor leagues delivered Montreal's first lengthy playoff run since the 1970s. Steve Penney, who played just 4 NHL regular season games in his career to that point, provided Montreal with the strongest playoff goaltending since the days of Ken Dryden.

Penney's arrival marked the end of Sevigny's bittersweet road in Montreal. He was born and raised in the city, and it was always his childhood dream to play for the Habs. He tried his best, but he could not carry on the Canadiens long tradition of playoff excellence.

Sevigny was not offered a contract and was declared a free agent. He had interest from several teams, but ultimately he chose to sign, not without some controversy, with the Habs' fiercest rival, the Quebec Nordiques!

A funny thing happened to Sevigny in Quebec City though. Once again he found himself in a three goalie rotation. In his three seasons in Quebec he was the least-used goalie, battling for time with Mario Gosselin and, firstly, Dan Bouchard, and, secondly, Clint Malarchuk.

Sevigny's career in Quebec was derailed by injuries. But he never lost his love for goaltending. After retiring in 1988, he turned to coaching in France. He would later return to Montreal, coaching a RHI roller hockey team while working as a special education teacher. He also finally found his starting goalie gig, becoming the regular goalie for the Oldtimers Hockey Challenge, a group of former NHL stars who barnstorm for local charities.

9 comments:

james99daniel 3:47 PM  

Great new post. Richard Sevigny is a great guy to meet have you met him.

So long for now,

castors 8:38 AM  

I am so jealous if you have met him :-)

refrigerated vans 2:56 AM  

I was lucky enough to meet him too, such a nice guy

safety inspections 10:25 AM  

Mario was my favorite stopper :-)

tyre changers 9:56 PM  

Great blog!I never know that story.It's nice to stop by here and learn something new from you.

Castors 1:50 AM  

really great blog here and we can proud on rechard sevigny

Plumbing 4:23 AM  

Richard Sevigny is indeed a legend in Ice Hockey alongside with the other players who excel in the said sport. I personally have no idea who he is but now i surely know him now.

Castors 4:51 AM  

Nice man. Extremely informative post. I'll be sure to pass this along to my guys.

Anonymous,  9:34 AM  

Richard est le premier gardien de but que j'ai aimé plus jeune en 1981, et qui m'a fait aimé les gardiens de but et en devenir un. Je voulais que l'action se déroule le plus possible en zone du Canadien pour observer Richard Sévigny. Son masque bleu d'un côté et rouge de l'autre ést peut-être le plus beau masque jamais porté par un gardien du canadien à mon avis.
- SM

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