Monday 19 February 2024

Louis Riel Day

In several provinces across Canada, people have the day off today thanks to a holiday. Some call it "Family Day" while others call it "Heritage Day", but the people in Manitoba celebrate "Louis Riel Day" on November 19. While the other days have significance, Louis Riel Day is important to Manitobans thanks to Louis Riel's impact on the province when it comes to him being the founder of the province of Manitoba and a political leader of the Métis people. While history had painted him as political rebel and a troublemaker, Riel's history has been shown to be one who fought for Métis people's rights when the Canadian government treated them as if they didn't exist.

This isn't History Blog In Canada, though, so I'm going to leave Mr. Riel's history to others who know more than I do. Instead, I want to talk a little about Louis Riel, the defender who played for the QMJHL's Laval National during the 1971-72 season. The only problem that we'll have is that the defenceman played just four games for the National during that season, and he recorded no points in those four games. Most sites don't even list a birthplace or birthdate, so it seems this Louis Riel didn't have quite the same history as the more prolific Riel did in Manitoba.

It should be noted that the Laval National were terrible in '71-72 as they went 9-53-0, used three head coaches during the season, scored a QMJHL-low 224 goals while surrendering a QMJHL-high 430 goals. Normand Lapointe was the goalie who survived the season as the best netminder Laval could boast as he recorded six wins and 22 losses to go along with a 6.19 GAA and an .868 save percentage.

Leading goal-scorer Michel Boudreau would have a cup of coffee with the WHA's Philadelphia Blazers over two seasons as he played 36 games for them, scoring 8 goals and 7 assists. Bob Sirois, who led the National in assists in '71-72, spent 286 games with the Flyers and Capitals where he scored 92 goals and 120 assists over six seasons. The above-mentioned Normand Lapointe suited up for 77 WHA games with the Cincinnati Stingers, going 30-37-3 with a 4.07 GAA and an .870 save percentage. The goaltender who played the least for the National, Pierre Hamel, would play 69 games in the NHL with the Maple Leafs and the Jets, posting a 13-41-7 record, a 4.41 GAA, and an .887 save percentage. No other National player from that season would play in the two highest professional leagues.

What about Louis Riel, you ask? Well, it seems he was never seen or heard from again in terms of a hockey career after spending those four games with the National. Where Monsieur Riel went or ended up isn't recorded anywhere online, so here's hoping he's living a full life. And if he's living in Quebec still, he doesn't have the day off unless he's retired or out of work - hopefully the former, not the latter!

I'm going back to the various chores and errands I was doing today with this free day to get stuff done, so we'll be back with more hockey chatter tomorrow. Enjoy your day whether you're at work, at home, or at some event celebrating your province's chosen day!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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