Back in 2010 a classic Canes Country article here coined that term in this article's title, alluding to the lack of success players from the QMJHL had when they spent time here. A few more years down the road and a major anniversary upon us, I wanted to see if that had changed at all.
Spoiler Alert: Not yet, but hopefully soon?
How slim were my pickings? Two things:
1. I seriously considered Jerome Samson.
2. I even more seriously considered Phillipe Paradis. He never actually played in Raleigh, but we did get Jiri Tlusty out of him. But again: he NEVER MADE IT THIS FAR.
So here's my picks for the 20th Anniversary Carolina Hurricanes/QMJHL Team!
Center/Centre: Eric Belanger, Beauport Harfangs
(Aside: how cool is that for a team name?)
The fact that he's best remembered here for two things (being our return for trading Josef Vasicek--RIP--and being a role player in the melodrama between Peter Laviolette and Upper Management that eventually led to the former getting fired) that didn't actually happen during a Hurricanes game tells you all you need to know about his 56 games here.
Winger: Radim Vrbata, Hull Olympiques and Shawninigan Cataractes
(Be honest, you're as surprised as I am he played in the Q aren't you?)
Our bounty from Colorado for trading them Bates Battaglia at the '03 trade deadline, Vrbata was supposed to add some much-needed skill to the tope lines. Radim actually managed to play just over a hundred games here and even managed a cameo in our Cup-winning season before being traded to Chicago, who later traded him to Arizona/Phoenix for Kevyn Adams of all people.
While his stints in Arizona and Vancouver were fairly successful ones, he rarely lived to his billing as a sniper here. I dimly recall a sweet goal he scored over Patrick Lalime's shoulder in a game against Ottawa that was pretty sweet, but 19 goals in 106 games does not a sniper make. Sadly his 12 goals in the '03-'04 season practically DOES make him something vaguely resembling a threat on such an offensively offensive squad.
Winger: Martin Gelinas, Hull Olympiques
The first Hurricanes player I ever met, he walked into the Borders I used to work at the spring of '01. He seemed annoyed that I had to ask after his Canadian papers and I was wondering why the dude hadn't shaved in at least a week. I wish I could dish and tell you what he bought, but I don't.
Oh well, we'll always have Game 6 against the Leafs.
Defenseman/Defenceman: Alexandre Picard, Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
The inspiration for the original post seven-and-a-half years ago, I remember my sister-in-law being really excited for the Star Trek: The Next Generation puns she could make on her signs for him. Assuming that any such sign made it onto the jumbortron during his nine games here, I'd argue that was his big contribution here.
Defenseman/Defenceman: Bruno St. Jacques, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Another young piece we traded for at the '03 trade deadline (from Philadelphia for Sami Kapenen), he averaged almost exactly one PIM per game and exactly one goal preseason. The French Canadian Brett Bellemore, everybody!
Goalie: Eric Fachaud, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Also referenced in the earlier article, he's still our pseudo-team goalie. The only remotely relevant thing I can say about him: he had a bit part in my wife and I's honeymoon.
To explain further: we went to Denver back in 2012 (I remember seeing on the ESPN scroll at some point that week that we'd signed Alex Semin, happy anniversary!) and we would up in a sports bar in the parking lot for the Pepsi Center for lunch. We were going to take a tour of the place and grabbing a bite beforehand, saw the place was predictably covered with Denver sports pictures, murals, etc.
There was a gigantic picture of the Avalanche trying to score a goal on us, but we didn't recognize the goalie. It took way too long on the internet to figure out it was this guy.
Defensemen/Defencemen: Marc-Andre Gragnani, P.E.I. Rocket and Marc-Andre Bergeron, Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Shawninigan Cataractes
Admit it, you weren't 100% sure they WEREN'T the same person until you read this. Maybe you're still not. I can't be mad if you're still maybe 3% unsure I didn't make up at least one of them.
Player most likely to make the Quarter-Century Team:
Centre/Center Nicolas Roy, Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Another of our many diamonds in the rough, I'd like to think five years from now he'll have worked out for us better than Eric Belanger. I'm not saying that's exactly a huge #LifeGoal to accomplish, but we all gotta start somewhere.
C'est la Vie