Pascal Leclaire was known for his quick reflexes and for making spectacular saves. His talent was undeniable. And had he been healthy he had a chance to be the most dynamic showman of his goaltending generation.
But first and foremost he will be remembered as a goalie who never really reached his potential due to serious injuries. Leclaire played seven seasons in the NHL before being forced out of the game due to injury.
He announced his decision during the NHL lockout of 2012. Sadly his retirement may have gone unnoticed due to the labour dispute. In some ways that was a fitting ending to an unceremonious career.
Leclaire was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets with the eighth pick in the 2001 NHL Draft. He was the first goaltender taken in a draft that also featured Martin Gerber, Ray Emery, Dan Blackburn and Peter Budaj.
Leclaire’s best season came in 2007-08 with the Jackets, when he played in a career high 54 games. He posted a 24-17-6 record and was second in the league with nine shutouts. But an ankle injury derailed him the following season and all the promise he showed was lost. He never played more than 35 games in any other year. Leclaire suffered from a variety of ailments through his career, including injuries to his groin, ankle, knee, hip and face
After spending the first six seasons with Columbus, Leclaire was traded to the Ottawa Senators. Instead of a finding a fresh start in the nation's capital, he found more injuries. In one game he suffered a fractured cheekbone when a puck struck him in the face while he sitting on the bench. Serious hip problems ultimately required three unsuccessful surgeries and ended his career.
In 173 NHL games, Leclaire went 61-76-15 with a 2.89 goals-against average, a .904 save percentage and 10 shutouts.