The 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be celebrated in a number of ways this season. One of which is a countdown of the league’s 50 greatest players based solely on their QMJHL accomplishments. They stand out among 9511 players who played in the QMJHL over the past 50 years. Yours truly was part of the committee entrusted with the difficult task of making these selections.
The player ranked at No. 5 in the QMJHL’s 50-year history is Pierre Larouche.
The Taschereau, Quebec, native captured the imagination of QMJHL fans in the mid-1970s while centring a line with Michel Déziel and Jacques Cossette which would be known as the most explosive trio in league history. Take a deep breath and try to imagine a line combining for 692 points, including 283 goals, in a 70-game season. Well that’s exactly the type of otherworldly season they enjoyed with the Sorel Éperviers in 1973-74.
Without taking anything away from his skilled linemates, Larouche was the most gifted of the talented trio. He ended his two-season junior career with 365 points in only 130 games. After notching 114 points in 1972-73 with the Quebec Remparts and the Éperviers, Larouche caught fire the following season with 251 points, including 94 goals.
That 251-point season would stand as the League standard until being broken by Mario Lemieux’s 282-point campaign in 1983-84. Larouche had an incredible scoring touch which he brought into the NHL. There, he would go on to become one of only 16 Quebec-born players to score 50 goals in a season. He did it twice before he even turned 20 and then once more with the Canadiens in 1979-80.
Although his QMJHL career dates back 40 years, he still holds a pair of CHL records including most assists in a season (157) and longest goal-scoring streak (27 games), with the latter being accomplished from December 2, 1973, to February 15, 1974. No other player from any of Canada’s junior hockey leagues has even had a 20-game streak.
Larouche is the only player in our Top 10 to have played for more than one team (Remparts and Éperviers). Larouche was traded to Sorel on November 26, 1972 only 20 games into the season with the Remparts. Hockey pundits claim that the trade remains one of the most lopsided in QMJHL history.
A first-round pick of the Penguins in 1974, Larouche went on to play 14 NHL seasons and was inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999 the same year as Mario Lemieux.