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01-19-2011, 12:39 PM
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Melville selects Jacques Richard, LW/RW

VI mentioned "personal demons" in the original post and Jacques Richard is the poster child for personal demons wrecking a promising career:

Originally Posted by
As a junior phenomenon with the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL, Jacques Richard was blessed with an overabundance of natural talent and a set of wheels fit for the Indianapolis 500. His teammate with the Ramparts was Guy Lafleur and some observers of the day speculated that Richard might prove to be the brighter light of the two at the NHL level.

But before testing the big-league waters, the two all-stars pooled their resources to bring the Memorial Cup to Quebec City in 1971. By the following season, Richard was labeled a "can't miss" prospect on the strength of netting 71 goals and 89 assists in only 61 games.

He was selected 2nd overall by the Atlanta Flames in the 1972 Amateur Draft. He joined the club straightway and was touted across the state as the next "Richard" as in "The Rocket" or "The Pocket Rocket." Needless to say, when held up against such high standards, Richard proved to be a disappointment.

Once he got a taste of the NHL's high life, he began to consume higher levels of alcohol, gamble to excess and, later, consume cocaine. He had a very likeable personality, but after three less-than-stellar seasons, the Flames unloaded him to the Sabres.

On the ice, he was used very sparingly. As a result, his confidence collapsed as he lived in fear of making mistakes. After 21 games with the Sabres, he was dispatched to play for the Hershey Bears of the AHL. In 1978, he put in one full campaign back in Buffalo. But at season's end the club decided not to offer him a contract.

Instead, Richard signed as a free agent with the Quebec Nordiques, the original domain of his junior triumphs. He took some time to regain his confidence, but when he did, in 1980-81, he exploded for 52 goals and 51 assists.

The real Jacques Richard appeared to have finally arrived in the NHL. But his success was short-lived. His off-ice behaviour continued to take its toll on Richard the athlete. His numbers fell into decline the following season, and by 1983, he was washed up.
Richard's 1981 season, in which he was 11th in the NHL in points with 103, and 6th in goals with 52, is the next-highest scoring season by an unselected player with Rob Brown gone. Considering Richard didn't have Lemieux as a linemate, it could be argued that this was a more impressive season, too.

What a perfect example of a 9-5=4 player. He can feasibly fill in for a scoring line LW or RW in the MLD or AAA draft short-term. He's not the best overall winger remaining, that's for sure, but he arguably has the most upside. If he was a center, I'd say NO WAY, there are too many good guys left even if they don't have that immense potential locked within them. But as a scoring winger, he's an easy choice right now.

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