The wind is blowing, it’s cold, the weather conditions aren’t ideal, but you recognize Richard Sevigny as he exits his vehicle.
He hasn’t changed much: short stature, sympathetic air, clear smile. On this quiet afternoon east of the city, he blends into the landscape, and those passing by probably do not suspect that he once brilliantly laid a Canada net at the harvesting point of the Vezina Trophy.
But that is what he is: humble, reserved, not inclined to claim a past that is nonetheless brilliant.
“I never used it,” he explains straight away. I never told anyone I was a former NHL goalkeeper just to try to get something. ,
We tell him that not long ago, not so long ago, a friend and colleague told us about a target school in the Camillian-Houde amphitheater in the Kendra-Sud district on a Saturday morning. A certain Richard Sevigny was responsible for this, and our response was this: Richard Sevigny, former goalkeeper for the Canadiens and Nordics? Is this Richard Sevigny out there?
Yes, same. He also comes from the humble Montreal Minor hockey circle, having hit his first pad at the age of 8 at the Pere-Marquet Arena in Rosemont.
I was never enrolled in hockey school… My first training, I didn’t even know how to skate, so I wanted to be a goalkeeper.
“I fell on the ice and my brother, who was following me, was hit in the eye with a stick. His career was over that day…”
From the old Pere-Marquet rink to the Montreal Forum, there’s a giant step forward, which he made in the only way possible: with determination. He’s always been a long way off anyway, and the Canadiens took a risk with him in 1977 at the cost of a seventh-round draft pick. “The 124”I in totality ! “, he does not remember without pride.
Then he showed up at the big club camp in the middle of a dynasty.
Imagine this: At my first camp with the Canadians, they gave me a place in the Forum locker room, with Ken Dryden to my right and Guy Lafleur to my left. I looked at it and I said to myself: It’s not working, I have no business there…
As far as he recalls, there were 12 goalkeepers present at the Camp des Glorieux that day, and apparently a seventh-round pick was not a priority. “But there was a scout who saw me, and he asked me if I wanted to go to Kalamazoo, where the Detroit Red Wings school club was playing. I went there, because you never know. Once there, I was bitten , and I thought it was over for me, but soon, he changed coaches and called me back. I used to play with him, and in the summer I got a call from an agent, because I didn’t have an agent myself The man told me that the Canadian wanted to offer me a contract … ”
He still remembers the numbers on the check: $6,000 to Kalamazoo, $14,000 to play in the American League in Nova Scotia, where the Canadiens School Club was then domiciled. “I more than doubled my salary in one go! He received $60,000 in his first season at Forum in 1979-1980.
“I never thought about going to the NHL,” he says. My dream was to do a year in Semi-Pro to experience bus travel, trips to the United States. In the end, I played 11 years in the professional ranks. You have to appreciate the life you have…”
After hitting the “jackpot” with the Nordic in 1984–1985 (“$140,000, my biggest salary in the league”), he retired, then went on to manage hockey teams in France. Upon his return to Quebec, he decided to return to base and more modest arenas.
“I came back from Briançon, and a friend who worked at a Montreal college told me about a job… I asked him to give me his name. A few days later I had a meeting and started out in the same environment . It was in September 1992.”
This desire to give back to the youth and to lend a helping hand has not faded. He later contributed to the creation of a hockey program at the Collge de l’Assomption, an adventure that lasted nearly 20 years.
“It wasn’t elite. It was especially for young people who didn’t get a chance to play civilians.”
I took care of six teams in a single year! For the most part, the young people had never played civilian, and this allowed them to wear hockey jerseys, with their equipment on the school bus to make a short trip to Saint-Jerome…!
During our discussion, he will proudly quote the names of some of his young men who have risen to the ranks, including Marie-Pierre Jalbert, who has become an international hockey referee. “I worked about 52 weeks out of 52, and I never complained. Just one smile was enough for these youths and for me. Also, I have a hard time saying no! ,
These days, in addition to games with the former Canadiens, which he hopes to resume soon, he remains involved in the world of minor hockey, and we can see him with a referee’s jersey on the rink in the Sorel area. Huh. He does it because he likes it… and also because he feels like he has to.
“The big problem is that in a few years, there won’t be any more hockey volunteers to look after the kids… there won’t be anyone operating these kids’ games. Of course, at $15 or $20 per game, that’s a lot to pay for. There are games that have been canceled because there are no referees anymore, and if the youngsters don’t play, they will gradually drop hockey to move on to another game.”
At 64, Richard Sevigny is what he’s always been: a man of openness and a man of passion. Alas, he doesn’t have any, and the word “luck” is sprinkled around during our conversation. Destined to live it, luck to live it…
Lucky to be able to be Richard Sevigny.
“I’m sometimes asked if I’m jealous of today’s big pay in the NHL… the answer is no, because today, I, at 5’8″, I can’t even play; All goalkeepers are 6’4″ guys! But I don’t think about it. I know people who played in the NHL and it was a disaster back then, they didn’t know what to do with their lives. As far as I am concerned, hockey has introduced me to people. And it was a privilege … ”
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