Friday

Dominic Roussel

The story of Dominic Roussel is a tremendously interesting one. Unfortunately its not for his on ice accomplishments, but rather a weird turn of events involving his family.

On the ice, Roussel has had a rather forgettable career. Aside from the 1993-94 season where Dominic played in 60 games - winning 29 of them while losing 20, with 5 ties - Roussel was a backup goalie at best, often spending time in the minor leagues

One who watched Roussel in 1993-94 wonders what happened to the guy. Okay, maybe he wasn't good enough to be a NHL starting netminder, but he played well that year and looked capable of being one of the better backups at the very least. Yet his career went downhill so very fast.

Part of it had to do with the return of Ron Hextall to Philadelphia. The goalie who had so spectacularly wowed the NHL in the late 1980s was traded to Quebec - and later New York Islanders - as part of the big Eric Lindros deal. The Flyers felt they needed better goaltending than what Roussel could offer at that time, and weren't willing to wait for Roussel to develop further. They jumped at the chance to get the more experienced Hextall back in their nets.

But at the same time Roussel seemingly disappeared from the face of the hockey planet. After playing 19 games in 1994-95, he inexplicably played just 16 games over the next 3 years. He was briefly spotted in a couple of minor league stops, as well as Europe and the Canadian national team.

It turns out Roussel's personal life was going badly awry, as his own father was screwing him out of his financial security.

The trouble began unknowingly in 1993 when Andre Roussel took control of his son's career, replacing Gilles Lupien as his agent and financial representative.

"I spent a year talking to people trying to find a new agent, but I couldn't find anyone I was comfortable with," said Roussel.

If you couldn't be comfortable with your own father, who could you be comfortable with?

"My dad said he would do it. He had experience negotiating contracts in his job at Hydro Quebec so I thought it would be OK. I figured he would be fine as far as honesty was concerned."

Andre Roussel quickly quit his job with the intention of supporting himself, wife Pauline and other son Stephane, with the fees he would receive as Dominic's agent. However Dominic was certainly no superstar who commanded a 7-figure contract. It would be awfully hard for the three of them to support themselves on the 3-4% agents fee on Roussel's $400,000 contract.

For the 1994-95 season Dominic wanted a long term contract, but his father only got him another 1 year contract again at $400,000. The following year son followed father's advice, and held out for a million dollar contract. The Flyers were "only" paying starting goalie Ron Hextall $900,000 that year, so such a contract demand was ludicrous.

"My dad wanted too much," said Dominic. "He went too high"

The Roussel's finally settled for $600,000 for the season, but in the meantime the Flyers acquired Garth Snow to do their backup work. Dominic spent most of the year watching the Flyers play in the stands.

That's when Dominic fired his own father and hired professional agent Ron Weiss.

"I wanted my dad to do something to get me playing or get me traded, but he could do nothing" reasoned Dominic.

A week after hiring Weiss, Roussel was sent to the minors so he could play, and then was traded to the Winnipeg Jets. However trying to reestablish himself as a bonafide NHL goalkeeper again quickly became the least of Dominic's worries, as Weiss uncovered Andre Roussel's dirty secret.

While acting as an agent, Andre formed a company and obtained power of attorney and bought three pieces of property, two in Hull Quebec, and 1 in Montreal. Dominic was also shocked to learn that his parent were the beneficiaries of his life insurance policy, not his wife and kids.

Dominic filed a lawsuit against his father and in late 1997 recovered the properties that were purchased with his money. Another suit was filed in 1999 to recover $250,000 which was was owed to the goaltender. In a weird turn of events, Andre launched a counter suit against his own son for $1.7 million in damages. This included $55 000 a year for 15 years for lost wages for quitting his job at Hydro Quebec; $250,000 for loss of family life caused by Dominic's suit, $100,000 in legal fees and other such damages.

Needless to say, relations between Dominic and his dad are now strained.

"I didn't want to sue my dad, but I had to," a saddened Dominic explained. "I really love my parents. The tough thing for me was realizing (the love) was one sided. I trusted my dad like I would trust no one else."

David Poile, of the expansion Nashville Predators, heard about the story, and offered Roussel a try out.

"I had heard about his story and figured he could come to Nashville and write a happy ending to it." said Poile. "He had a great training camp and as it turned out was not only good enough for us to consider keeping him as one of our two goalies, another team was interested too."

That team was the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, whom Roussel played with for 3 seasons before finishing his NHL career with 8 games in Edmonton. He extended his hockey career by playing in Germany until 2003.

So how has Roussel gotten through all this?

"What got me through all this was my faith in God. That and the support I have received from my wife."

An eternal optimist, Dominic hopes to patch up his relationship with his parents.

"I hope one day they will come to me and say, 'We did this, we're sorry, let's move on.' I could forget everything if they would do that."

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