Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Louis Levasseur: The Real Life Denis Lemieux

louis levasseur
He’s the inspiration for the character of Denis Lemieux in the 1977 movie Slap Shot and the goalie that led the Johnstown Jets to a Lockhart Cup championship in 1974-75. Louis Levasseur played his first full pro season in the NAHL and went on to appear in the World Hockey Association. Levasseur even played one game in the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars.

Louis Levasseur – NAHL

Louis played goal for the Johnstown Jets for two seasons, 1974-75 and 1975-76. In his first year, he played in 26 regular season games, posting a 3.15 goals against average and one shutout. He also appeared in one game with the Springfield Indians in the American Hockey League.

The Dick Roberge coached Jets has a roster populated by the three Carlson brothers, Dave Hanson and Ned Dowd. Along with Levasseur, it was the basis for the story behind the Slap Shot movie. Johnstown placed fourth out of eight teams during the NAHL regular season. In the Lockhart Cup playoffs, the Jets swept the Binghamton Dusters in the finals for the championship. Levasseur played 12 games in the playoffs for Johnstown.

In 1975-76, Louis played 30 games for the Jets, posting a 3.04 GAA and one shutout. He also accumulated a whopping 41 penalty minutes over his 30 games. Levasseur was a callup to the Minnesota Fighting Saints of the WHA and appeared in four games. The Jets were not as successful as the year before despite having players like Bruce Boudreau, Galen Head and Paul Holmgren on the roster.
Like many of his teammates, Levasseur is credited for the 1977 Slap Shot movie. The Jets players played as 'doubles' for the hockey action scenes.

Louis Levasseur – Pro Career

Levasseur saw his first pro action way back in 1968-69, appearing in two games for the Nashville Dixie Flyers of the EHL. Over those two games, he allowed seven goals for a 3.50 GAA. He wouldn’t play pro again until 1972-73 when he played in four games for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League.

1974-75 was his first full pro season. Louis played in the WHA between 1975-76 and 1978-79 with the Fighting Saints, Edmonton Oilers, New England Whalers and Quebec Nordiques. In 1977-78, he played 12 playoff games for the Whalers with the team losing in the Avco World Trophy finals to the Winnipeg Jets. He had backed up veteran Al Smith most of the season.

As mentioned, Levasseur played in one NHL games, with the Minnesota North Stars in 1979-80. That one game was less than stellar with Louis allowing seven goals. His pro career ended after playing for the Oklahoma City Stars of the CHL in 1980-81.

Levasseur was involved in some interesting trades during his WHA career. In January, 1977, Louis, along with Mike Antonovich, Bill Butters, Dave Keon, Jack Carlson, Steve Carlson and John McKenzie were traded to the Edmonton Oilers for cash after the Fightning Saints ceased operations. In September of the same year, Louis was traded to New England from Edmonton for Brett Callighen and Dave Dryden.

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