Hickey on hockey: Hockey lifer Larry Carrière parts ways with Canadiens

After 42 years in the NHL, including 10 with Habs, Montrealer takes a step back. "I'm not calling it quits, I just want to explore my options," he says.

MONTREAL, QUE.: SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 -- Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin, left watches training camp practice with his assistant Larry Carriere at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Friday September 14, 2018. (John Mahoney} / MONTREAL GAZETTE) ORG XMIT: 61367 - 9589

After 42 years in professional hockey, Larry Carrière is taking a break.

Carrière and the Canadiens had what he described as a mutual parting this year and the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic was an opportunity to step back and evaluate what he’s been doing.

“I’ve travelled all my life and now, with eight months off and well rested, I can take a step back with my wife Sue and see what we want to do with our lives,” the 68-year-old Carrière said during phone call from his home in St-Sauveur. “I’m not calling it quits, I just want to explore my options.

“These are unique times and I’ve been 42 years in the NHL, seven as a player, 20 years in Buffalo as a scout and in management, five in Washington and 10 in Montreal. And that makes a long career in something I feel fortunate to realize after dreaming of this while playing as a kid in Parc-Ex and St-Laurent.”

Carrière is one of a handful of players to make the jump from Canadian university hockey to the NHL. He entered Loyola College at 16 and had a commerce degree on his resumé when the Buffalo Sabres drafted him 25th overall in 1972.

“(Coach) Dave Draper was an enormous influence on my development and it helped that I was playing against older guys,” recalled Carrière. “My father drilled into my head how important schooling was and I’m glad I followed his advice and I’ve passed it on to our kids and grandkids. My father said to me: ‘I know you think you’re good but, at the end of the day, get your schooling. If you’re that good, they’ll find you.’ ”

Carrière said he was happy that he had a chance to work in his hometown.

“I was in Washington and (Capitals GM) George McPhee said he got a call from the Canadiens and they wanted to talk to me about being the assistant general manager,” said Carrière. “My wife Sue is also from Montreal and we were both excited about the move.”

“Back in those days, there were no assistant coaches and I remember our video was on a Beta machine,” Carrière said.

The demographics have also changed.

“When I started playing, there were a few Europeans and a few Americans, but most of the players were Canadians,” said Carrière. “Today, it’s a world game.

The one thing that hasn’t changed, said Carrière, is the players’ love for the game.

COVID-19 disrupts college season:Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield is off to a strong start with four goals and four assists in six games with the Wisconsin Badgers, who will get some Canadian TV exposure on RDS (Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m.) and TSN2 (Sunday, 5 p.m.) this weekend when they face Arizona State in a doubleheader.

But the other Canadiens prospects on U.S. college campuses have yet to see action this season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Hockey East is in disarray with two schools, Vermont and Maine, barred from playing home games.

Northeastern, which features defencemen Jordan Harris and Jayden Struble, was supposed to play UMass-Lowell this weekend, but Northeastern has suspended all winter sports until Dec. 18. The ban covers practice, which means Northeastern is not likely to play games before the new year.

Hockey East rival Boston University, with freshman Luke Tuch expected to play a key role, is scheduled to start its season on Dec. 11 against Massachusetts-Amherst.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference will bring its teams together in Omaha to start the season in a bubble Dec. 1-20. That will be the first action for Denver junior Brett Stapley and Minnesota-Duluth freshman Blake Biondi.

Jack Smith delayed his freshman year at Minnesota-Duluth and has a goal and two assists in five games for Sioux Falls in the USHL.

Sean Farrell, who decided to stay with the USHL’s Chicago Steel after Harvard cancelled its season, has four goals and eight points in four games, while Czech goaltender Jakub Dobes is 3-1 with a .939 save percentage and a 1.61 goals-against average with Omaha of the USHL. He’s headed to Ohio State next year.

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