Monday, February 22, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Dominic Roussel

While we all know these AGMs are tales of goalies who names are kept in the back of our mind for one reason or another, and this one is no different. That said, there's much more to this story than meets-the-eye, as it is a tale of family mistrust and could be listed as the start of the troubles with the Flyers' goaltending. This is the tale of Dominic Roussel.

Roussel didn't have a great beginning in Midget AAA, going 7-12-3 with the Lac St-Louis Lions in the 1986-87 season. Even with that, he moved into the QMJHL with the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in the 1987-88 season, in a starting role, no less. With Trois-Rivieres, Roussel went 18-25-4 for his first season, which was good enough for him to get picked in the 3rd round of the 1988 Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. Roussel would start with Trois-Rivieres for the 1988-89 season. Roussel got traded to Shawinigan where he would go 24-15-2 with the Cataractes, in which Roussel also had a 6-4 record in the playoffs, as well. His next season with the Cataractes in 1989-90 saw Roussel's time dwindle for his younger counterpart Andre Boulianne. Roussel only got 37 games in, going 20-14-1 for the year.

Roussel would then turn pro, which is where some of his off-ice problems would come, unbeknownst to him; but more on that later. Roussel went to the Hershey Bears in the AHL to start off his pro career, where he was thrown into starting duties in the 1990-91 season. Roussel performed admirably with a 20-14-7 record in Hershey. For the 1991-92 season, Roussel split time between Hershey (15-11-6) and Philadelphia (7-8-2), paving the way for his eventual leap to the NHL. The 1992-93 season saw Roussel get a big role while in Philadelphia, as they had traded former starter Ron Hextall in the big Eric Lindros trade; but he has set-backs, injuring his groin twice during the season-- missing 14 games total. Roussel actually did get 34 games in playing with Philly, going 13-11-5, while he went 0-3-3 in his games down in Hershey to rehab his injury.

The 1993-94 season saw Roussel overtake former AGM Tommy Soderstrom for the starting position, which could be the cause of much bedlam when it comes to the Flyers' goaltending issues, switching year-in and year-out. Roussel got 60 games in that season and went 29-20-5 in his first test as starter for the Flyers. That derailed a little bit with the shortened 1994-95 season, which saw Ron Hextall come back and overtake Roussel's starting role, limiting Roussel to only 19 games; which he went 11-7-0.

However, after the season, Roussel's agent-- his father Andre-- got into his son's head and on the Flyers' nerves. Roussel's father was holding his son out of training camp in order to get a seven-figure deal; which was impossible, as they were paying starter Hextall $900k for the year. Rather than copy and paste the whole thing, the great Joe Pelletier has a great piece on the turmoil, but I'll leave an excerpt here:
Andre Roussel quickly quit his job with the intention of supporting himself, wife Pauline and other son Stephane, with the fees he would receive as Dominic's agent. However Dominic was certainly no superstar who commanded a 7-figure contract. It would be awfully hard for the three of them to support themselves on the 3-4% agents fee on Roussel's $400,000 contract.

While acting as an agent, Andre formed a company and obtained power of attorney and bought three pieces of property, two in Hull Quebec, and 1 in Montreal. Dominic was also shocked to learn that his parent were the beneficiaries of his life insurance policy, not his wife and kids.
I don't know what it was with the family issues in the mid-to-late 90s, but it seems like fantastic times for all involved, mostly involving the Flyers-- what with the two Lindros incidents and then this Roussel incident. This made the Flyers get Garth Snow via a trade, while Roussel was limited to press box duty. Once Roussel got rid of his father as an agent, he got some playing time in Philadelphia (2-3-2), Hershey (4-4-3), before eventually getting traded to the Winnipeg Jets (2-2-0) for former AGM Tim Cheveldae.

That following summer, Roussel signed back with the Flyers, but he would be with Philadelphia's other team-- the AHL's Phantoms-- for the 1996-97 season. With the Phantoms, Roussel went 18-9-3 backing up Neil Little for the year. Roussel would go international for the 1997-98 season, playing two games for the Rosenheim Star Bulls (0-2-0) of the German League before playing with the Canadian National Team. With the national team, Roussel got in 41 games going 25-12-1 in an attempt to regain his confidence and his good name with NHL teams.

Roussel would get a new life with his rights and Jeff Staples being traded from Philly to the Nashville Predators for a seventh round pick in the summer of 1998. Roussel had a good training camp with the Predators, but would never play a game-- as he was traded to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for Marc Moro and Chris Mason. With Guy Hebert being the man in Anaheim, Roussel was relegated to back-up duty in a scarce role, only getting 18 games in for that 1998-99 season, going 4-5-4. He got more time in 1999-2000, with 20 games under his belt and a slightly better record of 6-5-4, while his 2000-01 season was his worse campaign, going 2-5-2 in 13 games in Anaheim before being put on waivers and claimed by the Edmonton Oilers. Roussel would play eight games with Edmonton, going 1-4-0.

With a less than stellar NHL results, Roussel wasn't offered a NHL contract for the 2001-02 season, so he ventured the Quebec Semi Pro League with the Lasalle Rapides, playing in five games and going 5-5-1. After that season, Roussel went to Germany to play for the Frankfurt Lions in 2002-03. Roussel played 38 games, while posting a .907 save percentage, even with an inflated 3.01 GAA for the Lions. Roussel retired after the 2002-03 season and currently runs his own private goaltending school.

While he does have his financial well-being under control and his creditability back in tact, it shows how having too much trust is something that could be detrimental, even if it is your family. Roussel could never get much of a showing in the NHL, aside from those couple of seasons in the early 90s; and even then he couldn't make a big appeal for the Flyers or any team. With his coaching, maybe he can push along the next wave of goalies and maybe not have them end up on this AGM list.

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