Léandre Normand has extensive experience in the field of communications. He was a journalist at theAbitibi echo and at Northwest Journal. He was part of the press relations team at the Confédération des sports du Québec. He did freelance journalism before becoming an author and organizer of sporting events. He is the father of the Abitibi Cycling Tour, which he created in 1969.
Léandre grew up admiring the great teams of the Canadian. In his youth, he lived in row 4 in Palmarolle, native village of Rogatien Vachon, of which he is the little cousin. He has written 11 books, including seven on the Habs.
You can find everything you want to know about the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge in the Glorious History of the Canadiens, a 960-page brick that he wrote with the collaboration of his researcher Pierre Bruneau.
Léandre was also the man behind the Salon des collectneurs, which was held for a long time at the Center Pierre-Charbonneau.
One day, he stops in front of a kiosk where his idol Henri Richard signs autographs. He asks her: “Mr. Richard, a biography of you, what do you think?” “
The response was curt and direct.
“No, cr ….! “
Léandre did not insist. When a Richard says no, it’s no. There is no possible interpretation.
Léandre let him run, but he has not forgotten. It was inconceivable that his hero who sweated blood and water for the Canadian for 20 years, a record of longevity in the 111 years of existence of the organization, not have his biography.
And what about his 11 Stanley Cup victories, an achievement that will never be beaten.
Léandre has returned to the charge in recent years. But Henri was no longer in a position to answer him. Alzheimer’s was cutting him off from the rest of the world.
His wife Lise watched over him. For her, too, it was no. She refused twice. Until the day when she accompanied her son Denis, one of her five children, to a meeting with Léandre and the people of Éditions de l’homme.
It was by seeing the lady that Léandre knew that the project would go ahead. The idea of an unauthorized biography being published weighed in the balance.
Denis Richard and Léandre worked together to produce a 234-page book entitled: The legend of the 11 Stanley Cups.
Discoveries for the son
Léandre was inspired by the formula of Steve Bégin’s biography, written by journalist Luc Gélinas. Léandre relates the historical facts. Denis then comments on them in his words.
It’s nice to read.
“I did it to leave a legacy for my four grandchildren,” explains Denis.
“Looks like I realized who my dad was when he got sick. People told me more about him. “
Born in 1958, Denis was 17 when his father played his last game with the Canadiens, in 1975. If he knew the main lines of his career, he found out what was going on behind the scenes.
“Ronald Corey, Jean-Guy Talbot and his childhood friend François Huit told me lots of anecdotes,” he says.
Henri and Jean-Guy formed a happy trio with Claude Provost. They were nicknamed the Three Musketeers. Talbot was the teaser. He liked to tease Henri.
He was perhaps the only one, moreover, who could play tricks on his brother Maurice. Because the Rocket who could blow the pipe! It was around the time when players were doing hanging tricks. The initiation sessions were appalling.
“But once that was done, we were linked like brothers,” Gilles Tremblay used to say.
Rare discussions about hockey
Henri was recognized as a man of few words.
“We rarely talked about hockey at home,” writes Denis in the book.
“When we [son père] asked about the Canadiens, he answered briefly, preferring to keep it to himself. It was as if he didn’t want to take his problems home from the office.
“It wasn’t until recently that I wanted him to tell me lots of anecdotes about his past, but it’s impossible now. “
His research has allowed him to learn things he did not know about his father.
Her mother is happy with the final product. If she was, Henri would probably be too. It is in his image, without frills.
It is the story of a man who realized his dream of playing for the Canadiens and who saw himself as a simple hockey player and equal to everyone.
The 16e chapter…
Like any athlete, Henri Richard has had ups and downs in his career. He went through difficult episodes with his coaches Toe Blake, Al MacNeil and Scotty Bowman.
The most moving chapter of his biography is the last, the 16e like the number he wore with distinction with the Canadiens.
It’s about the end of his life and the only fight he fought that he couldn’t win. People who have seen loved ones with Alzheimer’s slowly waste away will recognize themselves.
“This is the heaviest chapter I have had to write,” says Léandre Normand.
“His last hours with Lise by his side. “
78 years together
Henri and Lise had known each other since the age of six. 78 years of their life were coming to an end. They had been married for almost 64 years.
The different stages of the cruel disease are explained in detail.
In the preface, Ronald Corey says he knew he was seeing his friend Henri for the last time when he visited him a few weeks before his death. Henri will probably say where he is that there is no point in crying.
For his family, friends and many supporters, his memory will never die out. His wife pays him a nice tribute.
“Henri was a generous man. For me and the kids he wasn’t a star; playing hockey was his livelihood and always I’ll be proud of him. “
For the people he was and always will be a hero.