At 5-foot-6, Mitch Lamoureux (Ojibwe) was usually the smallest player on the ice during his 17-year professional hockey career. Yet the Ottawa native, who now lives in Hershey, Pa., has received a rather large honor. Lamoureux, who is now 48, was inducted into the American Hockey League's Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Hershey on Jan. 31. Lamoureux is best known for his days with the Hershey Bears and helped the club win the Calder Cup, the AHL championship, in 1988. In total he appeared in 802 AHL games and collected 816 points. Lamoureux also played 73 games in the National Hockey League, 70 of those with the Pittsburgh Penguins and three with the Philadelphia Flyers. A Q & A with the AHL legend follows.
Q. Where does this hall of fame induction rank among your hockey accomplishments?
A. It's right up there—probably one of my Top 3 moments. I sure feel very honored and blessed about this.
Q. What were your most memorable hockey accomplishments (before the Hall of Fame induction)?
A. Winning the Calder Cup. And then when I retired (in 1999) the following year they retired my jersey number 16 in Hershey. I was the last guy to ever wear 16 in Hershey.
Q. Did you ever think your height would prevent you from playing pro hockey?
A. No I didn't. It didn't matter to me. Because of my size I didn't look at any player and say he's bigger than me because they were all bigger than me.
Q. How were you able to compensate for your lack of height?
A. With my work ethic and my competitiveness. In my induction speech I used three words: competitiveness, pride and fear. I had respect for all my opponents but I didn't fear anybody. My fear was letting my teammates down, or letting my coaches down or letting the people in the stands down. And I wasn't about to let that happen.
Q. Why did you settle down in Hershey, even after your playing days were over?
A. It is a great community. It's a great place to raise a family. We raised our son here. He's 25 now and still lives here. This is home for me.
Q. Any regrets about the pro career, such as not playing more games in the NHL?
A. I have no regrets at all. I wouldn't change a thing. Maybe it would have been nice to play more in the NHL. But if I did that then maybe I wouldn't have been honored to be selected as an American Hockey League Hall of Famer.
Q. Is there any particular AHL game you remember the most?
A. The AHL game I remember the most was in Fredericton on May 12, 1988. We won the Calder Cup that night. It was Game 4 of that series. We went 12-0 in the playoffs that year. I had a goal and an assist in the final game.
Q. Why didn't you stay involved in the game - via coaching or scouting - after your playing days were over?
A. I did stay in the game. After I retired I was the director of hockey operations for the United Hockey League for four seasons. I was working out of my house. But after four years it got old. You never win any fights on the phone. And I was questioning my integrity on how certain team owners were acting. Also, my wife had followed me around for 17 years. She went back to school and got her degree in teaching. I didn't want to get into coaching and possibly have to keep moving around. To take that away from her would have been hard.
Q. How many AHL or NHL games do you get to a season now?
A. I get to a couple of Penguins games and a couple of Flyers games every year. And I probably go to about 20 Bears' games every season.
Q. What are you going to remember most about your career?
A. I've got so many great memories. Memories of the guys I played with and guys I played against. One thing they can't take away from me is my memories and my Calder Cup ring.
Q. How do you want to be remembered?
A. I want to be remembered for my feistiness, the way I scored and my passion for the game.
Q. Do you still play the game and how often?
A. I still play once a week, on Thursday nights at an outdoor rink here in Hershey. And I probably play about 20 games a year for charities and for the Flyers' alumni. I have fun. I still enjoy it.