Andre Lacroix, a native of Lauzon, Quebec, was a masterful offensive professional hockey player whose points getting efforts earned him the nickname "The Magician". Andre played six years in the National Hockey League (NHL) in addition to a playing in the Canadian Junior Hockey leagues and World Hockey Association (WHA)*, where he set several scoring records. Andre is following up his prolific hockey career as a successful businessman, coach and community benefactor.
Andre, the youngest of fourteen children and the only hockey player in his family, demonstrated his passion for the game at an early age. In the winter, he would walk through the snow from home with this skates on to play on an outdoor rink before school, where he would often have to help shovel snow before he could skate. He would promptly hit the rink after school for an afternoon session before returning home. Andre's work ethic came from his father who kept multiple jobs to support his large family. Andre's dad would often be at work when Andre left for school and would still be at work when Andre got home. Andre recalls taking the bus in the evening to deliver his dad a hot meal on the job. One of Andre's fondest memories is that his dad always found time off from work to come and watch Andre's games.
Lacroix played the 1963-64 season with the Montreal Junior Canadiens before joining the Peterborough Petes. He led the league in assists twice, won the scoring title with 120 points in 1965-66 and was twice voted MVP. Lacroix began his pro career with the Quebec Aces and later joined the Philadelphia Flyers expansion team in May 1967.
Lacroix produced for the Flyers scoring 14 points in 18 games during the 1967-68 season. He scored 24 goals the following year playing with Dick Sarrazin and Jean-Guy Gendron, two other hockey greats. He went on to achieve a string of three straight 20 goal per season performances. Early in the 1971-72 season, Lacroix was traded to the Chicago Black Hawks. Before the start of the 1972-73 season, Lacroix joined the Philadelphia Blazers in WHA league. He led the league in scoring in both 1972 and 1974.
1974 proved to be a big year for "The Magician" when he was named to Team Canada and took part in the 1974 Summit Series versus the USSR. He was also named Professional Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1974. He was selected to the WHA first all-star team in 1974 and again in 1975. While playing for the San Diego Mariners he recorded a WHA record 106 assists, a record that was never broken. Lacroix became the all-time leading scorer in the WHA with 251 goals and 547 assists in seven years.
Lacroix topped the 100-point mark six times during the WHA's seven year existence. He retired in 1980 after returning to the NHL for 29 games as a member of the Hartford Whalers following the NHL/WHA merger.
Andre Lacroix - The Businessman
Following his retirement from professional hockey in 1980, Lacroix launched a career as an entrepreneur, including working as a consultant to several rink facility projects. In 1993 Andre took his industry expertise to Oakland, CA where he worked for 11 years as a consultant and Director of Hockey Programs for the Oakland Ice Center (OIC). As a representative for the OIC, he successfully lobbied the city government to promote the development of hockey programs in the area. He also built thriving adult and youth hockey programs. Most notably, he grew the youth program to over 200 players and grew the adult league from 12 teams to 62 teams with over 900 players. He also demonstrated his exceptional coaching abilities while running in-house hockey leagues and conducting beginner hockey classes for both adults and kids.
Andre Lacroix - In the Community
Andre's contributions to the community are as impressive as his hockey career. He is the founder of the Andre Lacroix Foundation for Giving which helps raise money for children with disabilities. He has served on local boards and as chair for many charitable organizations including, Easter Seals, the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Sports, Skate-a-thon for American Diabetes and "A Better Way, Inc." in Berkeley CA. Andre is planning to continue his charity work in the Cleveland area. Andre is currently the General Manager and Director of Hockey Programs for The Pond Ice Rink in Auburn Township (www.SkateAtThePond.com).
Andre enjoys life in Chagrin Falls, OH where he spends much of his free time with his children and two grandchildren.
*The WHA was a professional ice hockey league that operated in North America from 1972 to 1979 that offered stiff competition to the NHL.
See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Hockey_Association for more on the WHA.