Larry Carriere

Larry Carriere took an unconventional route to the National Hockey League. While most NHLers in the 1970s came from the Canadian junior leagues, Larry starred as a defenseman at a little known Montreal college called Loyola. At the same time he was majoring in Business Administration.

Despite playing in what many experts called a lesser league, Larry impressed NHL scouts with his collegiate performances enough to be drafted 25th overall in the 1972 amateur draft. He would begin the 1972-73 season in Buffalo where he was one of two very impressive rookie rearguards that year in Buffalo, as the bruising Jim Schoenfeld also debuted. Ultimately Larry was sent down to the minor leagues for seasoning after a mid-season injury in order to get some more playing time. He played really well in 30 AHL games and finished the year in Buffalo, including participating in Buffalo's very first NHL playoff appearance. Unfortunately the Sabres lost to the heavily favoured Montreal Canadiens in 6 games.

Larry, known to his teammates as "Hawk," would go on to become an unheralded but very effective defenseman for the Sabres over the next two seasons. He played in 78 games in 1973-74, and scored a career high 6 goals and 30 points. He played in every Buffalo game in the magical 1974-75 season, including all 17 playoff games as the Sabres challenged the Philadelphia Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals. He had just 1 goal and 12 points in the regular season and just 2 assists in the playoffs, but was getting solid recognition for his hard work and fine defensive play. Although he was strictly a defensive rearguard, he was very versatile. He could play either defense position equally well and was regular on the penalty kill, occasionally even taking a shift as a penalty killing forward.

In 1975 the steady defenseman was traded to the Atlanta Flames in a package with a 1st round draft selection (which was later moved to Washington and used to select Greg Carroll) plus cash for the highly skilled but often enigmatic Jacques Richard. The trade was deemed to be necessary after Rick Dudley, who emerged as a key player in 1974-75, defected to the World Hockey Association.

Richard never panned out in Buffalo, and Carriere had his troubles in stops outside of Buffalo as well. He bounced around with some weaker teams, spending parts of 2 seasons in Atlanta and in Vancouver before briefly appearing with the Los Angeles Kings in 1977-78.

The Kings eventually released the defenseman after burying him in the minor leagues. That's when the Sabres resigned their former stalwart. He finished off the 1977-78 season by playing 9 more games with Buffalo before retiring.

Carriere made a surprise comeback late in the 1979-80 season. Carriere was a good friend with Punch
Imlach, who by this time had left Buffalo and returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Desperate for defensive depth as the 1980 playoffs dawned, Imlach signed Larry to a 5 game contract. He would play in Toronto's final 2 games of the season and in 2 out of 3 playoff contests.

At the end of that little stint Larry would retire for good with a total of 367 games played, 16 goals, 74 assists and 90 points. He added 462 minutes in penalties.

Larry returned to his native Montreal after retiring, and was again employed by the Sabres by 1985. He would spend 8 years as a scout in the province of Quebec before being promoted to Director of Player Evaluation in 1993. Two years later he would become the assistant general manager to GM John Muckler, and when Muckler was fired in 1997 Larry took over the general manager's duties on an interim basis. He remains as the assistant general manager today.


Graham Clayton 10:44 PM  

Larry's nicknake of "Hawk" was due to his large nose.

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