This is Norm Lacombe. He was the subject of one of the NHL’s biggest trades at the March, 1987 deadline. Edmonton sent two veterans–Mark Napier and Lee Fogolin–to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Lacombe and a minor leaguer, plus future considerations. Looking back on his career and the boxcar numbers, one might ask what all the fuss was about in regard to Lacombe. Why did the Oilers deal two veterans for Lacombe? The answer after the click.
Normand Lacombe was a throwback hockey player. Tenacious, aggressive and a punishing hitter. How punishing?
- Glen Sather, fall 1987: "He’s a shy, quiet kind of guy who doesn’t show a lot of emotion but he’s so strong. One time in Boston he came off the ice and had 5 Bruins yelling at him because he hit one of their guys so hard. I think it’s that he’s so strong that when he hits people he hurts them."
Lacombe combined that asset with solid checking and made himself into a useful NHL player. He made his NHL debut on October 11, 1984 and played for a Stanley Cup winning team (Edmonton) before being forced to retire due to injury in 1992.
Lacombe arrived via the NHL Draft and the Buffalo Sabres. In photo (L-R) are Tom Barrasso, John Tucker, Scotty Bowman, Lacombe and Adam Creighton. Tucker was a 2nd round pick the day of this photo (1983), the other three kids went in the first round.
Lacombe was ranked #7 NA skater by Central Scouting and #9 by the Hockey News (which was the only available ranking fans could follow at the time). He’d already completed two seasons at the University of New Hampshire (he enrolled at age 16) and was destined to become the highest drafted player from an ECAC roster in that league’s history.
Among the known injuries to Norm Lacombe:
- Missed remainder of 1983-84 season with knee injury, suffered during Rochester’s Jan. 14, 1984, game at Binghamton. The injury needed season-ending surgery.
- Missed remainder of 1985-86 season with broken jaw, an injury suffered during Buffalo’s Feb. 21, 1986, game vs. N.Y. Islanders.
- Had postseason surgery to correct chronic exertional compartment syndrome in April 1987.
- Missed part of Edmonton’s 1988 training camp with knee injury, suffered in September 1988.
- Missed parts of 1988-89 season with two broken fingers on right hand, an injury suffered when he tripped and crashed into the boards in Edmonton’s Dec. 14, 1988, game at Toronto, and with sprained right shoulder, an injury suffered in January 1989.
- Missed part of 1989-90 season with chronic shin splints, an injury suffered in March 1990. The injury required postseason surgery on both legs to correct chronic exertional compartment syndrome on April 6, 1990.
During a recent edition of Nation Radio, I had a chance to talk to Norm Lacombe about his NHL career, those wonderful Oiler teams (there’s a great anecdote about Norm and Glenn Anderson) and what he’s doing now.