Monday, February 15, 2010

Absurd Goalie Monday: Vincent Riendeau

There are plenty of goalie who have had a crazy way into the NHL.....and this inductee is no exception. While he bounced around before getting into the NHL, he also bounced around the NHL and then Europe to end out his career. This is the story of a guy who couldn't stay in one place for a while, but always had a spot open for him from other teams. This is the tale of Vincent Riendeau.

The start Riendeau had was very interesting to say the least. The St. Hyacinthe, Quebec native started out his career with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL in the US juniors for 15 games. However, it didn't take long before the goalie was brought up to the QMJHL by the Verdun Juniors in the middle of the 1983-84 season. In 41 games with Verdun, Riendeau went 22-13-2 in that half-season. In the 1984-85 season, Riendeau left junior hockey and went on to play with Sherbrooke College, which was part of the College of General and Vocational Education in Quebec; akin to the community college system in the United States. Riendeau came back to the QMJHL in the 1985-86 season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. With Drummondville, Riendeau had a splendid season, going 33-20-3, which was able to garner him the second All-Star award in the QMJHL.

After not being drafted, Riendeau went to go on to be signed by the Montreal Canadiens before the 1986-87 season and sent down to the AHL with the Sherbrooke Canadiens. His first pro season, Riendeau was amazing going 26-14-0 in 41 games with a .902 save percentage and 2.89 GAA. His GAA was low enough to get the Hap Holmes Memorial Trophy for fewest goals-against. It was another year in the AHL in the 1987-88 campaign, with Riendeau going 27-13-3 with a .901 save percentage and 2.67 GAA, which was enough to get him another Hap Holmes Trophy (shared with Jocelyn Perreault) and second All-Star honors. Riendeau was able to get some time in the NHL with Montreal, giving up five goals in a no-decision in relief for Patrick Roy in December of 1987.

It wasn't enough to stick with the Canadiens, as they traded Riendeau in the summer of 1988 with Sergio Momesso to the St. Louis Blues for Jocelyn Lemieux, Darrell May, and a second-round pick in the 1989 Draft. Riendeau was able to go right into back-up duty behind Greg Millen in St. Louis, playing 32 games in the 1988-89 season, going 11-15-5 in his 32 games played for the season. It started to get better in the 1989-90 season with Riendeau, as he took control of the starter's role, as Greg Millen was traded to Quebec. With more time, Riendeau got slightly better with a 17-19-5 record. However, that season also brought about a young hot-shot by the name of Curtis Joseph, which pushed Riendeau. That competition wasn't more obvious than in the 1990-91 campaign, with Riendeau going 29-9-6 in 44 games for the Blues; yet it didn't seem to be enough.

The 1991-92 season became a holding pattern for Riendeau, as the Blues overlooked him for Joseph, Guy Hebert, and former AGM Pat Jablonski. Riendeau played three games with St. Louis going 1-2-0 before being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings for Rick Zombo. With the Red Wings, Riendeau didn't get off to a stellar start, as he injured his knee in his first game with the Wings and was out most of the season. In the end, Riendeau went 2-0-0 with the Wings that season and 2-1-0 in conditioning stints with the Adirondack Red Wings of the AHL. A much better year in the 1992-93 stint, as he backed-up another former AGM Tim Cheveldae. Riendeau got 22 games in and went 13-4-2 in his role as a back-up, but again-- it wasn't enough.

The 1993-94 season saw Riendeau being pushed aside for younger talent, as Chris Osgood came into the fold as the Red Wings back-up. Riendeau played eight games with Detroit (2-4-0) and 10 games with Adirondack (6-3-0) before Detroit shipped him off to Boston for a fourth round pick. Riendeau played 18 games with Boston behind Jon Casey going 7-6-1 for the season. The shortened 1994-95 season saw Riendeau back-up yet another AGM honoree Blaine Lacher, getting 11 games only going 3-6-1. Riendeau won his only game he played in for the Providence Bruins of the AHL during the playoffs.

The 1995-96 season saw Riendeau heading over to Germany to play for SC Riessersee Garmisch-Partenkirchen and playing 47 games before coming back to North America to play in the IHL for the Manitoba Moose in the 1996-97 season. Riendeau struggled in the IHL, going 10-18-5 in 41 games, which made Riendeau go back overseas.

The 1997-98 saw Riendeau split his season between Revier Lowen Oberhausen of the German League, but left for HC Lugano in the Swiss League after Revier had financial issues. The 1998-99 season had Riendeau go to Scotland to play for the Ayr Scottish Eagles in the British League and played 32 games for the Eagles. Yet, there was a small caveat in Riendeau's contract that allowed him to renegotiate his contract in the middle of the season with Ayr. After playing in tournaments with Ayr and seeing the Russians play against him, he admired their teams. With that, Riendeau got out of his contract with Ayr to sign with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Super League. Riendeau became the first Canadian to sign a contract with a Russian Super League team.

Riendeau played in five regular season games and seven playoff games for Lada Togliatti in that season. In those five games, Riendeau had a 1.53 GAA. The next season for the 1999-2000, Riendeau played in 16 games for Lada again, posting a 2.16 GAA for the season. Riendeau went back to North America to end out his career with the Anchorage Aces of the WCHL going 8-10-2 in his 21 games played before calling it a career. After his career was done, Riendeau went onto the goalie coaching field in various leagues frm the NHL all the way back to Europe with stops in the AHL and QMJHL. He is now the goaltending consultant and associate coach at the North American Hockey Academy in Vermont, where he also hold a summer camp.

It always seemed that Riendeau was getting good just as teams thought he was expendable. Thanks to being pushed out, his career never really grew to what it could have been, as has been said for most of our AGMs. If nothing else, Riendeau had interaction with many former AGMs and could hold the record for most cross-promotions of AGMs.

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