By Marc-André Breault – Éric Houde went through Montreal when he was drafted in the ninth round by the Habs. He did, however, play more often in the AHL and in Europe. We saw him on the program “Entre 2 Matches” on RDS and we can also hear him on 91.9 Sports radio.
Meet Eric Houde!
Moreover, for those who do not know it yet, I come from St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu. I had the chance to see some QMJHL hockey with the late St-Jean Lynx.
You played 1 season and 40 games in St-Jean. What are your memories of those years?
I loved my experience with the Lynx. It was close to my house, because I was staying in St-Hubert at the time. So my friends and relatives came to see me regularly. The Lynx gave me a chance to play in the QMJHL. I liked the fans and the organization of St-Jean. I am very grateful for that.
During your time in the major junior, which players impressed you the most? Which players were you prepared to say would definitely play in the NHL?
On the Lynx side, Jose Theodore was an exceptional goaltender. We stayed together at boarding school. I was sure he would play in the NHL. We played together with the Montreal Canadiens later and we reminisced about our times with the Lynx. Georges Laraque also marked me with his physical strength. He was definitely stronger than all the others our age. It was a matter of time before he became a strongman in the NHL.
You were drafted in 1995 in the 9th round by the Montreal Canadiens. How was your draft and what was your reaction when you heard your name?
My draft was a little ironic. I was really happy to get drafted first and foremost by the Canadiens. But, it was a long stressful day. I thought I’d be drafted in the 4th or 5th round. So waiting a few more rounds was getting stressful, but it all ended well.
You’ve played 281 AHL games averaging almost a point per game and 30 NHL games. What is the big difference between the American League and the NHL?
The big difference, I believe, was in the details. You must not have too much weakness to play NHL. You have to be good offensively, good defensively, good without the puck and make as few mistakes as possible. Games were noticeably faster and players were bigger too.
Are there players who have impressed you as much in the AHL as the NHL?
I had the chance to play against Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. So, I can tell you that I was quite impressed. On the physical side, Eric Lindros was quite imposing while being an excellent hockey player.
Who was better between Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux?
Wow good question! The greatest player of all time must go to Wayne thanks to all his records, but Mario was more complete and was not as lucky as Wayne team-wise and injured!
You played in Europe for a few seasons, including 3 in Germany, with 166 pts in 154 games. What are the differences between North American and European hockey?
European hockey is much less physical. More focused on speed and individual talent. There is a lot of space on the ice, so a little more reaction time with the puck.
Did you enjoy your years in Europe?
I loved Europe. I had the chance to play in Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France. I had the chance to travel and see a lot about Europe. It was really a nice experience.
You ended your career playing forty games in the LNAH. How was the LNAH?
The LNAH offers good caliber. The dynamic is a little different, because there are young people, players at the end of their career, students and workers. On my side, the motivation was starting to run out. But, it is a beautiful and good league. Good players and lots of action.
Again, are there any LNAH players that caught your attention?
I played with one of my very good friends, Éric Doucet, and he was still excellent. He is a player who really impressed me in the LNAH.
In all these years as players, what is the best moment of your career?
It is certain that the day that you make a cross on the NHL, it is quite sad. After a few NHL and AHL seasons, I made the decision to turn the page and go to Europe. It was not so easy and obvious, but I have no regrets.
For some time, we could see you on RDS in the program Entre 2 Matches. You also participate in 91.9 with Georges Laraque. Was it something you thought you would do later or did it happen by chance?
It happened a bit by chance. On the RDS side, I had participated in the Antichambre and, afterwards, I was asked if I wanted to try to do some shows. It started this way. On the radio side, my friend Georges Laraque asked me, a few years ago, to do a column on his show. It’s been going for 4 years.
You are now a youth coach for the Montreal Canadiens and an assistant coach in the Midget AAA for Collège Charles-Lemoyne. Is this something you would like to continue?
I love working with young people. I see myself doing this for a long time. I enjoy teaching both 4-5 year olds and Midget AAA teens 15-16 years old.
Do you have the ambition to be an NHL coach one day?
I have no ambition to be an NHL coach. I have a family and I’m not ready to make the family sacrifices to get on as a coach. I’m good at what I’m doing right now.
To finish with hockey, do you have a special anecdote? An anecdote on the road with a teammate or meeting a special idol.
I remember my only game against Mario Lemieux. I was truly amazed. He is very tall and strong on skates. Jaromir Jagr was there too. I really wanted to play a good game. In the end, we lost and I hadn’t played too much, but Mario Lemieux had scored 4 goals. He had put on quite a show, let’s say. Lol!
Thank you very much Mr Houde! We wish you every success in your future endeavours.
Marc-André Breault (@MaBreault)
Hockey Herald (@lehockeyherald)
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