TORONTO – “My father did not like to be in the center of attention. But I look at his smile on the banner hanging there—in one of the large windows that surround the main hall of the Hockey Hall of Fame—and I can’t help but believe that he would at least accept the honor if “we’re what he’s doing with this induction,” Éric says. Lacroix, talking about his father Pierre who will be immortalized on Monday as the great builder of hockey.
“He would be embarrassed in front of the press, he would still make sure to share a large part of the responsibility for what happens to him at the end of the week with everyone who surrounded him during his career, but he would be really happy,” adds the son of the newlywed proudly.
“His dream has come true and I’m sure he’ll be celebrating with us this weekend,” adds his wife Colombe, who lost “the man of my life” in December 2020 when Pierre Lacroix died of complications from Covid.
Married to Pierre Lacroix in 1968, when they were just 20 years old, Colombe Prénoveau was a privileged witness to all the great moments of her career. In fact, she experienced those great career moments during which Pierre Lacroix shone as a businessman, a player’s agent or the general manager of the Quebec Nordiques who became Colorado Avalanche. Not forgetting the role of the father of the family.
“A sweet dad who was also capable of being strict to get what he wanted,” she claims.
And this way of being both strict and “easy” Pierre Lacroix did not only apply to his own children.
“And Pierre was like that with his clients. It must be said that they were quite young when he took them under his wing. He guided them in their careers and their lives. Every April, he summoned them to what they called the “electric chair” because they had to review all the expenses incurred during the year. Pierre made sure they didn’t overdo it. Let them plan for the future. Pierre had his own way of dealing with his clients. But I think the best way to describe him is that he treated his clients in his office the same way he treated his children at home. He took care of everyone with the same care. He named his company Jandec because he took care of his clients from January to December. But I can also assure you that he took care of them seven days a week and 24 hours a day between the months of January and December,” Colombe Prénoveau added Friday afternoon in the Hall of Fame’s great hall.
Later that evening, she took over from her husband and followed the other inductees – Pierre Turgeon, Caroline Ouellette, Tom Barrasso, Henrick Lundqvist, Mike Vernon and Ken Hitchcock – to center ice at Scotiabank Arena for the opening ceremonies. protocol game preceding the game between the Maple Leafs and the Calgary Flames.
Pierre Lacroix was an adviser – a title he valued more than that of agent – to several of the greatest players from Quebec to reach the NHL. From Mike Bossy and Robert Sauvé, who became his main partner at the end of his career, to Michel Goulet and Denis Savard, including Patrick Roy, Vincent Damphousse, Pierre Turgeon and Alexandre Daigle, Lacroix built a veritable empire. An empire that, thanks to him, dictated the financial trends that characterized the NHL and that allowed many players to secure their financial future, their children and their grandchildren.
The Empire, which also led to a lockout as an owner and the NHL, imposed a salary cap on rookies after Lacroix secured a five-year, $12.5 million entry-level contract from Alexandre Daigle, the day before he was selected with the first pick in the 1993 draft that was held in Quebec.
Pierre Turgeon also paid a colorful tribute to the man who helped get him to the Hall of Fame.
“Pierre was already the agent of my brother Sylvain, who was 4 years older than me. He started taking care of me when I was 14, I think. I left Abitibi in the summer to spend a month or two with him to go to hockey schools. He had a great influence on me. He taught me to structure my life as well as my career. “I may have waited a long time before being invited here, but this allows me to come in at the same time as him and it’s a great honor,” commented Pierre Turgeon.
Invited from all over, Patrick Roy made it known that he would only make his comments on the induction of the man who was much more than an agent to him on Monday during the ceremony.
More transactions, more discretion
Speaking of Patrick Roy, the goalkeeper signed in 2006 was at the center of one of the most important transactions made by Pierre Lacroix. A transaction that, together with Mike Keane, took him from the Canadian toColorado Avalanche in exchange for Jocelyn Thibeault, Martin Rucinski and Andreï Kovalenko.
It will take years for the Canadian to recover from the December 5, 1995 trade that propelled the Avalanche to their first two Stanley Cups.
In fact, it would have been much better to execute, at the start of the 1994-95 season, the trade that allowed the Habs to acquire Stéphane Fiset and Owen Nolan in exchange for Roy. A transaction that never materialized since Serge Savard, the Canadiens’ general manager at the time, was fired just hours before he was able to finalize it with his Nordiques counterpart.
Éric Lacroix learned this transaction, as well as the other big shots multiplied by his father, at the same time as everyone else.
“Dad was gambler. Maybe that’s why he moved to Las Vegas after becoming president of the Avalanche. But he was very discreet. He never announced his moves in advance. I never knew anything about what he was up to. When the Kings traded me – in June 1996 – my general manager at the time called me to tell me I’d been traded and added that I should already know. I answered: but what are you talking about? Then he told me that Avalanche had just won me over. Even my mother had no idea I was coming to join them in Denver,” says Éric Lacroix with a laugh.
Éric Lacroix (center), son of Pierre Lacroix.
Although his father never backed down from decisions that improved his team, Éric Lacroix assures that his father was often tormented by the idea of shaking up the personal lives of affected players.
He also struggled to deal with the fallout from the brilliant transaction that saw him buy the brilliant defender Rob Blake from Los Angeles Kings in September 2001 in exchange for Adam Deadmarsh.
“Dad was very close to his world. He loved players. He created connections with them. He was interested in their life off the ice. I remember he was very affected by his decision to replace Adam Deadmarsh because he really liked Adam, but also because he and his wife had just had a premature baby. The exchange added to their personal problems and dad didn’t like that. I know that Adam was angry with her for a while, but a few years later they became close again,” recalls Éric Lacroix.
This anecdote clearly illustrates the true nature of his father who guided him as a man, but also as a hockey player.
“Dad was a family man. That’s why he decided to quit. I always thought he stopped too soon. I always thought he missed work. But he wanted to make up for lost time with his men. Now that he’s here, we don’t have to ask any more questions. He would be proud and that’s all that matters,” concludes Éric Lacroix.