Richard Brodeur was probably one of the most talented goaltenders to play in the North American Hockey League. Because of that talent, he spent played just 15 games in the NAHL before moving on to bigger, better things.
Brodeur played his 15 games for the Maine Nordiques during 1973-74, the inaugural season for the NAHL. He had played with the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association during that league’s inaugural season in 1972-73. He would also return to Quebec in 1973-74 to play 30 games.
The Maine Nordiques finished second in the seven team NAHL and were in total isolation. Maine finished 19 points behind the first place Syracuse Blazers and 20 points ahead of the third place Long Island Cougars. Without Brodeur in the playoffs, the Nordiques won just one of eight games in the opening round round-robin and did not advance.
Richard Brodeur was nothing short of a superstar in his junior career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He played two years in the league, 1970-71 and 1971-72, with the Cornwall Royals and filled a spot vacated by Hockey Hall of Fame goalie Billy Smith.
In one of the great turnarounds in hockey, the Royals went from dead last in the ten team QMJHL in 1970-71 to first overall in 1971-72. In his rookie season, Richard played 35 of Cornwall’s 62 regular season games with obviously no post season action. In 1971-72, he played in all but four of the team’s regular season games and appeared in each of Cornwall’s playoff games.
Cornwall finished first overall, ten points ahead of the second place Drummondville Rangers, earning the team the Jean Rougeau Trophy. The Royals reached the QMJHL finals and came out victorious with a 4-2 victory over the Quebec Remparts.
At the Memorial Cup, held in Ottawa, Ontario, the Royals met the Peterborough Petes in the final game and won the holy grail of Canadian Major Junior hockey with a 2-1 win. The Edmonton Oil Kings also competed in the tournament and represented the WHL.
The accolades were plenty for Brodeur in 1971-72. He was named the First Team All-Star goalie. He won the Jacques Plante Trophy as the goalie in the QMHL with the lowest goals against average (2.93). He was named the recipient of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the Memorial Cup tournament’s most valuable player.
After his performance with the Cornwall Royals in 1971-72, Brodeur was taken by the expansion New York Islanders in the seventh round of the 1972 NHL Amateur Draft, 97th overall. Richard chose to go to the upstart WHA instead and play his first pro hockey with Quebec. He would return to the Islanders after the WHA ceased to exist but appeared in just two games with the club in 1979-80.
Brodeur played in the WHA from 1972-73 to 1978-79, the entire lifetime of the league. He played exclusively with the Nordiques. In 1976-77, he played 53 games for the team during the regular season and all 17 of Quebec’s playoff games. The team finished first in the Eastern Division and second overall behind just the Houston Aeros.
Quebec met the Winnipeg Jets in the Avco Cup finals in 1976-77 and it was an odd series. The overview makes the series look close with Quebec winning in seven games, while outscoring their opponents by just three goals, 31-28. However, five of the games were decided by a differential of five or more goals. Game six was a blowout with Winnipeg winning 12-3. Game seven was an 8-2 victory for Quebec.
In 1979-80, while playing just two games with the powerhouse Islanders in the NHL, Brodeur spent the rest of the year in the Central Hockey League with the Indianapolis Checkers. Richard played the majority of games for the club and shared the Terry Sawchuk Trophy with teammate Jim Park as the goaltending duo with the lowest goals against average in the league.
While playing in the National Hockey League between 1979-80 and 1987-88, Richard saw most of his action with the Vancouver Canucks. Along with his two games on Long Island, he also played six with the Hartford Whalers at the end of his NHL career.
In 1981-82, Brodeur played the bulk of the regular season games for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite a losing record during the regular season, the Canucks managed to make it through to the Stanley Cup finals with Richard playing all the team’s post season games. The Canucks came up against the New York Islanders and lost the series in a four game sweep.