Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jacques Marcotte, So Close to the Show until Tragedy Struck

A couple years back I wrote about the minor league domination of the IHL's Cincinnati Mohawks and their terrific French Canadian goaltenders. http://nitzyshockeyden.blogspot.ca/2010/04/french-goalies-of-cincinnati.html?showComment=1339716126081

Just this last month I received a comment on that article from the daughter of one of those fine goaltenders, Jacques Marcotte. She mentioned that her father had indeed made it to the NHL, contrasting the information I had found. Well, her father did indeed get the call up to the big time and got just about as close as one could get to playing in the NHL before tragedy struck.

The 1957/58 Toronto Maple Leafs were a poor squad and would finish the season sixth and last place with a record of 21-38-11. By February 23, 1958 in fifth place and six points shy of a playoff spot, the Leafs attempted to change their luck with a change in the nets.  Ed Chadwick had played every game in net for the Leafs when Jacques Marcotte was obtained from New York Rangers that day. The Leafs gave up $5,000, the rights to ex-Toronto Marlboro star Bill Kennedy and a player to be named later. 22 year-old Marcotte had been named Rookie of the Year and 2nd Team All-Star the previous season with the Trois-Rivieres Lions of the QHL.

Coach Billy Reay planned to insert Marcotte on Feb. 27 in Montreal against the Canadiens. During his very first practice with Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens on Feb 25, Jacques Marcotte was hit under the right eye by a puck shot by rookie Frank Mahovlich, and his start was given back to Chadwick who would play as usual, losing to Les Habitants 4-1. Chadwick and the Leafs lost their final 8 games of the schedule to solidify their last place finish.

By the end of April , 1958 it was reported in a Quebec newspaper that Marcotte had regained only 40% of his eyesight and even he admitted his playing career may be over. He was quoted, "Hockey has been my life and everything looked promising until the accident." Indeed, his career had been promising prior to the accident. What would have happened if young Marcotte had played and performed well down the stretch for Toronto? On June 3, 1958, just over three months after aquiring Marcotte, the Leafs would claim Johnny Bower from Cleveland Barons of the AHL, a player 10 years Marcotte's senior.
After two years away from the game, with his eyesight improved enough to play, Marcotte joined coach Fred Shero with the St.Paul Saints of the IHL. He posted a 2.97 goals against average in 69 games and led the Saints to the Turner Cup championship. Marcotte played three additional seasons in the International League before retiring after the 1963/64 season.

Jacques Marcotte would return to Grand-Mere, Quebec with his Minnesota born wife and ran a successful Pepsi-Cola franchise until his death due to a brain tumor in June 1994 at age 59.

1 comment:

frankly said...

As I young kid I attended St. Paul Saints games & Marcotte was my idol. I met him once & he seemed like a good guy but I lost track of him when we moved. Always wondered what his story was, sad to hear both his career and his life week too short. That Life photo of Sawchuck made me think to google Jacques.
Thanks for the info

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