Stéphane Richer won two Stanley Cups — one in Montreal and another in New Jersey — and remains the last Canadien to score 50 goals in a season, reaching that plateau during the 1987-88 season and again in 1989-90.
He played in 1,054 National Hockey League games, scored 421 goals and accumulated 819 points, and he did it all while battling depression.
Richer and Michael Landsberg, the host of TSN’s Off the Record who has also battled depression, will be in Montreal Sunday night as speakers at an AMI-Québec (Action on Mental Illness) anti-stigma and fundraising event.
“I think it’s really important for me to be there,” Richer said. “It’s a great honour for me to be there … this doesn’t have anything to do with my name and being a hockey player in the past … we’re talking about serious stuff. I’m just hoping I might be able to help someone by being there.”
Richer added: “I wish when I was 20 or 21 I could have had someone from hockey or baseball or football talking about this … maybe it could have helped. But at the time that wasn’t big, right? … talking about depression. But like I said, if I can help someone … maybe save somebody’s life … I’m doing my job.”
Richer said he realized how serious his situation was in 1995, after winning the Stanley Cup with the Devils.
“I was old enough to realize that I had not problems at the time … but some issues,” he recalled. “Problems is a big word. But when I won a Cup in New Jersey in ’95, I had a great playoff, finished second overall in the stats, and I wasn’t happy. I’m driving back home and everybody is waiting for me … my family … and I know something is wrong with me. It was pretty scary …”
Richer, who now keeps busy as owner of the Montpellier Golf Club, has one regret about his NHL career.
“Like I said last time I spoke with Michael, I would have loved to have been able to play just a few games with no doubt in my mind I could be a good hockey player,” he said. “I always had that doubt … that thing about every game, telling yourself today I’m still good. I would have loved to see just one year, or six months … whatever it is … no problems, don’t think about anything, just play the game. How good could I have been?
“But I can’t do anything about it now. I have to move forward.”
(Gazette file photo)