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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

RENE LECAVALIER

Inducted in 1994

Member Details

Date of Birth: July 5, 1918
Place of Birth: Montreal, Quebec
Date of Passing: September 6, 1999
Sport: Sport Broadcaster
Member Category: Builder

Career Highlights

1970

Officer, Order of Canada

1973

Ordre de la Fidélité française

Honoured Member RENE LECAVALIER
Inspire

Story

Like Foster Hewitt did with the Toronto Maple Leafs in English-Canada, René Lecavalier was the voice that brought the long and storied history of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team into the homes of many Quebeckers. But to reduce Lecavalier to "the francophone Hewitt" is to diminish his importance and to underestimate the revolutionary impact he had on sports broadcasting in this country. Lecavalier joined Radio-Canada, the CBC's French-language division, in 1937 as a war correspondent based in North Africa. From 1941 to 1952, he hosted cultural radio programs for Radio-Canada. And, in 1952, Lecavalier took on the job of doing the French play-by-play commentary for Montreal Canadiens hockey games for Radio-Canada on both radio and television, the latter a new medium. It was a job he would keep until his retirement in 1986 and through which he would make his most important contributions to broadcasting. Lecavalier broadcast other sports besides hockey. He began Olympic coverage in 1960 from Rome and also broadcast the 1964, 1968, 1976, and 1984 Games for Radio-Canada, as well as supplying frequent Commonwealth and Pan-American Games commentary. He regarded the opportunity to broadcast the Olympic Games from his hometown of Montreal in 1976 as a career highlight. In addition, Lecavalier also provided the French-language commentary for the famous 1972 Summit Series between hockey teams representing Canada and the Soviet Union. While many Canadians are familiar with Hewitt's now-famous call of Paul Henderson's Series-winning goal, Lecavalier provided francophone listeners with their own memory: "Cournoyer qui s'avance. Oh, Henderson a perdu la passe! Il a fait une chute. Et devant le but. ET LE BUT DE HENDERSON! Avec 34 secondes encore!" And it was for establishing a French-Canadian hockey vernacular, rather than using anglicized words, that Lecavalier is best-remembered. He would not observe of a Canadiens player "he shoots, he scores," instead opting for the more genuine "il lance … et compte!" Lecavalier was regularly honoured for his contributions. In 1970, he was invested as an officer of the Order of Canada and three years later was awarded the Ordre de la Fidélité française. In 1984, the Hockey Hall of Fame honoured Lecavalier with the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.


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