“Canucks legend stays in the game — on canvas”
by Daniel Girard,
TORONTO STAR, Monday June 27, 2011,
Richard Brodeur made his first set of hockey memories nearly 30 years ago.
It was 1982 and the diminutive goalie from Quebec led the Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup final for the first time. They were swept by the New York Islanders but his exploits that spring are a key reason “King Richard” remains one of the top-10 Canucks in the club’s 40-year history.
Brodeur’s nine-year NHL career ended after the 1987-88 season.
But for the past decade and a half, the native of Longueil has been producing a new series of hockey showpieces — this time on canvas.
Brodeur has turned the secret he kept from teammates during his playing days into a successful career as a painter in the B.C. Lower Mainland, where he holds regular shows and does commissioned work.
While he does abstracts and snapshots of iconic Canadian landscapes, it’s the hockey paintings of the 58-year-old grandfather which are his hottest sellers. Brodeur’s 20-piece “My Childhood Hockey Memories” began with a request from his son to illustrate the stories he told them when they were young. He followed that up with another 14-piece hockey series this year, which includes current Canucks.
“It not only brings me back to where I grew up,” said Brodeur, who shows his work through the Birthplace of B.C. Gallery in the Vancouver suburb of Fort Langley. “But wherever I go in Canada, people say it reminds them of where they come from.”
Brodeur always sketched, a gift he inherited from his father, a machinist who would draw with the kids when he got home from work. But it was when he left Quebec for Cornwall to play junior hockey that he met a high school teacher who introduced him to painting. It stayed with him throughout his NHL career.
“It was my getaway from the game,” Brodeur said. “After a game, I’d paint until two or three in the morning.
“It relaxed me. Instead of staring at the wall and thinking of the game, I stared at a canvas.”
Brodeur, who runs an event management company that’s “the real money maker,” said when he played in the NHL he always had a sketch book with him on road trips. But in that “macho era” it wasn’t something he openly let his teammates know about himself.
“I didn’t tell them I was an artist because I didn’t think I was an artist. I just did it because I liked it.”