The Normand Leveille Story

It’s difficult sometimes to put things in perspective with regards to the game of hockey, especially for young players.

Losing a championship game or your last game of the season is extremely difficult to comprehend especially when you leave everything on the ice.

Every player handles losing differently, but in hockey sometimes the word “devastating” is used far too frequently to describe losses.

Unfortunately, the game of hockey has had its share of tragedy and devastation over the years.

Some people would say that when athletes are forced to retire and give up the game they love, it’s tragic.

In this player’s case his life would changed forever on that October night in 1982.

Most of you probably have never heard tell of Normand Leveille. Leveille’s story is one of the saddest I’ve ever heard and one that I only found out about over a decade ago while watching the “Last Hurrah at the Garden” on DVD with my brother.

Leveille’s young promising career came to a tragic end during the 1st intermission in Vancouver.

The young star winger collapsed in the dressing room suffering a brain aneurysm.

Leveille was rushed to hospital where he endured 7 hours of surgery.

The Bruins winger was in a coma for three weeks before pulling through.

Leveille’s subsequent paralysis at the tender age of 19 to this day is incomprehensible.

With limited mobility and speech issues Normand Leveille is still known around Boston as one of the most promising players ever to wear the Black and Gold.

Leveille used to visit Boston frequently and make appearances at Bruin Alumni events.

The Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont wrote a fantastic article on Leveille’s impact on the people of Boston during his 45th birthday celebration in 2008.

As coaches, players, fans, scouts and writers we all need to gain perspective especially when it comes to our great game. Normand Leveille is a true inspiration.

I’ll never forget asking Ray Bourque to sign this picture a few years back while he was touring the Maritimes with the Legends of Hockey Tour.

My brother and I had bought the Leveille signed 8×10 from one of our favourite memorabilia dealers in the Boston area, who has had a plethora of former Bruins in for signings.

As soon as Bourque saw the picture he smiled and signed it right away.

I would love to meet and interview Normand Leveille some day, but for now that duel signed 8×10 is one of the most cherished pieces of memorabilia in my entire collection.

Every autograph has a story, but that signature alone provides amazing perspective in the game and in life.

Normand Leveille is an inspiration.

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