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Terry French, former Canadiens' draft pick, dead at 66


One of the finest hockey players to come out of Grand Falls, and Newfoundland, passed away Tuesday. Terry French was only 66 when he died in a Fredericton, N.B. hospital of complications from diabetes and heart-related issues.

One year removed from high school hockey, French joined the Grand Falls Cataracts in 1969 and was the first winner of the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League’s Albert “Peewee” Crane Memorial Award as the league’s rookie of the year.

In 30 games with the Cataracts, French collected four goals and 11 assists.

It was during that season Bill Long, head coach of the Ontario Hockey Association’s Ottawa 67s, travelled to Grand Falls to see Don Howse play.

It was then Long took notice of the Cataracts’ fine young defenceman named French.

Howse and French would play for the 67s the next two years, French joining a blueline anchored by future Hall of Famer Denis Potvin.

Just getting his feet wet, French appeared in 54 games and collected 19 assists and 23 minutes in penalties.

French enjoyed a breakthrough 1970-71 junior campaign with the 67s, scoring seven goals and 36 points in 52 games, to go along with 90 penalty minutes.

Five spots after the Montreal Canadiens selected Larry Robinson 20th overall in the 1971 NHL amateur draft, Canadiens general manager Sam Pollock drafted the 19-year-old Newfoundlander 25th overall.

After attending training camp in Montreal, French stunned the Canadiens by walking into coach Claude Ruel's office and quitting.

French returned home and helped Grand Falls win the 1971-72 Herder. Howse and Tony White, both future NHLers, also played on the team.

Following a year at Memorial University playing for the Beothuks, French, with the help of former Grand Falls coach Marc Pichette, attended the 1973 training camp of the WHA's Quebec Nordiques.

He ended up in the North American Hockey League that year in Maine, finishing the season with 34 points in 62 games.

It would be the last time he would play competitive hockey.

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