Pascal Leclaire may have played seven seasons in the glamorous NHL, unfortunately his career was anything but that. Leclaire, his body riddled by injury, announced his retirement from the game of hockey on Tuesday.
On a day in which the rest of the league is honoring some of its greatest players with Hall of Fame inductions, Leclaires’ career quietly and unceremoniously faded to black. The 30-year-old Leclaire never lived up to his full potential because of a multitude of injuries throughout his career that robbed him of his best years.
He was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the eighth pick in the 2001 NHL Draft, having had the distinction of being the first goalie taken in the draft that year. He was chosen before Martin Gerber, Ray Emery, Dan Blackburn and Peter Budaj. Leclaire suffered from a variety of ailments through his career, including injuries to his groin, ankle, knee, hip and face. Interestingly enough, Blackburn suffered a similar fate and was forced to retire after playing only 63 games in the NHL.
Leclaire’s best season came in 2007-08 with the Jackets, when he played in a career high 54 games and posted a 24-17-6 record and was second in the league with nine shutouts, also career bests. Any hopes of building off a solid season were quickly dashed when an ankle injured derailed him for the the year. He never played more than 35 games in any other year. In 173 NHL games, Leclaire went 61-76-15 with a 2.89 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and 10 shutouts.
After spending the first six seasons with Columbus, Leclaire was traded to the Ottawa Senators where his career all but ended prematurely. Th trade was supposed to be a fresh start for Leclaire. One again, the injury bug would strike, starting with a fractured cheekbone he suffered when a puck struck him in the face while he sat on the bench during a game. He spent his final two seasons with the Sens, but played only 48 games, missing all of last season due to the hip problems and had three surgeries on his hip last season alone. He never came close to recovering enough to resume his career.
Leclaire was know for his quickness and instinctual reactions to shots and just like his glove hand, his career was over in a flash.
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