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To many people, Andre Lacroix is one of the most overlooked players when it comes to a Hockey Hall of Fame selection. “The Magician” as he was known is all the all-time leading scorer in the World Hockey Association, and is the only person not named Orr, Gretzky or Lemieux to rack up 100 assists in a season. With the publication of his autobiography, Lacroix has added one more feather in his cap.
Just don't expect him to be a braggart.
Instead of calling the book The Magician, the self-published product is titled After the Second Snowfall: My life on and off the ice.
“The book is not about hockey, this is about my life, on and off the ice. I negotiated my own contracts when I played, and I mention all my contracts in my book. I mention what I made when I played junior, what I made when I played with every team I played for,” Lacroix explained over the phone from his home in Ohio, where he managed a rink for years. “I talk about the negotiations I had with the general managers. I talk about my coaches. I talked changes that I feel could be made in the National Hockey League.”
The title is a tribute to his youth in Lauzon, Quebec, just across the river from Quebec City. He was the youngest of 14 children, seven boys and seven girls, and Andre was the only Lacroix kid that skated—unusual for the time. “In Quebec, in November, the first snow that came always disappeared. The second snow that came really came heavy. Then I knew we could start playing hockey,” he recalled. “We never had indoor rinks. I never played indoor indoor hockey until I was 13 years old.”
At 13, Lacroix took to midget hockey, and promptly won three championships. In junior hockey, he was a star centre for the Peteboro TPTs. “I won the Red Tilson Trophy two years in a row as the most valuable player in junior hockey. Not too many people have done that,” he said modestly, referring to the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons. His timing was right; there was this young kid who was pretty good coming to his own with the Oshawa Generals; you might have heard of him—Bobby Orr. “If Bobby was my age, Bobby would have won for sure, but he was younger. So, I won the scoring title in the OHA.”
From there, it's a bit of a blur of leagues, cities and towns. He was playing with the Quebec Aces when the Philadelphia Flyers, new to the NHL, bought the team and acquired his rights in 1967. He lead the Flyers in scoring in 1969 and 1970, and then was traded to Chicago at the start of the 1971-72 season. Then the WHA came along, and he was selected by the Quebec Nordiques, who then traded his rights to the on-the-move Miami-Philadelphia franchise. Vancouver ended up with him in May 1973, and traded him to the New York Raiders a month later after he refused to move. San Diego was his next WHA stop, as the New York/Jersey squad moved west. This being the WHA, San Diego folded, so he ended up in Houston as a free agent and then the next season signed with Winnipeg. His final WHA stop was with the New England Whalers, which translated to a short return to the NHL with the Hartford Whalers when four WHA teams joined the senior league.
See why a book is useful?
“I remember things that happened 50 years ago, 40 years ago, 20 years ago, more than what happened last week,” Lacroix confessed. “So, when I was writing my book, it's almost like I was there, it's almost like I was 13 again.”
An autobiography has been on his mind since his career ended in 1980.
“When I retired from hockey, I wrote about 100 pages. Then I talked to two or three people that wanted to do it for me,” he recalled. But it took a long time, and he didn't always agree on what other authors wanted. For the self-published project, he hired a local writer to come by his home once a week to help shape the narrative. “People that will read my book that know me, they'll know it's me that wrote the book.”
Don't expect gossip and wild stories. “I didn't want to write a Jim Bouton book,” he said, referring to the groundbreaking baseball book, Ball Four. “I didn't want to write a dirty book, I didn't want to do that, because that's not me.”
Lacroix didn't go far hunting for a publisher (though he is hunting for a French translation of it). “The book sells for $14.95. By the time you pay Amazon, by the time you pay the publisher, you end up with nothing, basically. And the other reason is, a publisher would find places for me to go sign the book and that kind of stuff—I can do that myself, because I know I can go places I played. I have enough connections.”
In short, he made a lot of friends along the way.
“I've always stayed in touch, all the cities I've played in—except New York, because we never lived in New York really—but I stay in touch with people in San Diego, Houston, every place I played, Hartford obviously, I was there the longest.”
He's comfortable with the hustle that goes into a self-published project, and has been doing a whirlwind of appearances on radio shows and podcasts, remotely, of course, in a time of COVID-19 lockdown. Within hours of posting the book in early April 2020, he had plenty of sales. “The reason that the timing for me is perfect, because there's nothing going on. People at home need to do something.”
Down the road, Lacroix does plan to go to signings and shows to promote After the Second Snowfall.
While it's unlikely a signing will be at the Hockey Hall of Fame's store in Toronto, that doesn't mean that Andre Lacroix does not belong in the hallowed hall.
It's a question that's been asked before.
“Here's the problem I have with the Hockey Hall of Fame. ... They put people from Russia in the Hockey Hall of Fame that never played the game in the United States or Canada, and they don't want anybody that played in the WHA. That doesn't make sense to me,” he began. “I'm not the type that would go sell myself on that, to be honest with you. I could sell a book.”
“The Magician” can go on. “With the Flyers, I led the team in scoring. Then, I'm only one of four players that ever had 100 assists in one season—Bobby Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux and I. Then I'm the all-time leading scorer in the WHA. So, my point is, how can they put someone like Tretiak, from Russia, in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and they don't even think about someone like me that has accomplished a lot in hockey?”
Will After the Second Snowfall bolster his argument?
“I think so.”
Barry Beck, the famed defenceman of the 1970s and 1980s, announced on Facebook that he is working on a book that deals with mental health and hockey, based upon the recent issues faced by Mark Pavelich. “It will be raw but filtered to a point,” said Beck. It will also detail Beck's life. No further details are available at this point.
Sami Jo Small, the long-time goaltender of the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team, has a book coming out on September 29th published by ECW Press. It is titled The Role I Played.
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