Monday, June 29, 2009

Alexandre Daigle

Alexandre Daigle was a highly touted 1st overall draft pick that would become a much celebrated bust.

Daigle was selected by the Ottawa Senators in their second stab at the draft table. The Victoriaville Tigres center combined blazing speed with soft hands and spectacular point totals to quickly be dubbed as not only the future of the Ottawa Senators, but of the NHL. He was even compared to the incomparable Mario Lemieux.

Daigle took great pride in being drafted first overall, surpassing the likes of Chris Pronger and Paul Kariya. "Nobody remembers number 2" was his famous quote at the time. How wrong he proved that to be!

On top of all this perhaps unrealistic pressure being thrust upon the youngster was a much discussed five-year, $12.25- million deal he signed after being drafted. It was a ridiculously high contract that would become the driving force behind a rookie salary cap agreed to shortly afterwards by the NHL and the Players Association.

Daigle showed brief glimpses of brilliance in his first three years, but they were few and far between. As the Senators struggled as perhaps the worst team in NHL history, the pressure never let up on the young Daigle. To make matters worse many were starting to question Daigle's heart.

"The guy has just never lived up to his potential. He refuses to use his biggest asset, which is his speed. I just don't think anybody in the league is going to want a guy who really isn't interested in playing hockey." said one NHL official.

Daigle was traded to Philadelphia early in 1998 in exchange for Vinnie Prospal and another first round bust in Pat Falloon. He lasted about a year in Philly after showing up for training camp out of shape. He was traded to Tampa Bay via Edmonton for the remainder of the 98-99 season. In 1999-2000 he played with the New York Rangers after accepting a $1 million pay cut. However Daigle's play continued to be lethargic as he ended up playing out the season in the minor leagues.

No contract offers were coming in for Daigle's services in the year 2000. There was some rumors about interest coming out of both Edmonton and Montreal, but neither team made a move.

Daigle is one of hockey's pretty boys, and he likes to hang out in the bright lights of Hollywood. In fact he was briefly linked as both Sheryl Crow's and Pamela Anderson's love interest. Daigle said he'd take the 2000-01 season off from hockey in order to pursue another passion in his life - acting.

"I know the guy wants to pursue an acting career, but he's a pretty bad actor on the ice. It's hard to hide that. He's got good speed, but he lacks the skills necessary to be a superstar. It's a tough fall to watch." said the same unnamed executive.

There was an article during the 2000-2001 season that showed Daigle still played the game - as a defenseman in a Los Angeles beer league.

Daigle did make a NHL come back. After showing little in 2002-03 with Pittsburgh, Daigle actually turned in a commendable season with Minnesota in 2003-04. With Wild coach Jacques Lemaire simplifying Daigle's game, he seemed re-invigorated and passionate about the game again. He scored 21 goals and 51 points, and even was showing signs of transforming himself into an effective support player, using his speed to forecheck and backcheck.

The success of that season did not carry over into the following season. He struggled, scoring just 5 goals in 46 games. He would finish the season in the minor leagues, forever ending his NHL days.

Daigle headed to Europe, playing in Switzerland with the legendary Davos team.

"A lot of teams wanted nothing to do with me for good or bad reasons," Daigle said. "It was tough, but that's the way it was."

Nobody questions his talent," John Muckler, his coach in New York, said. "You can question other things, but you can't question his talent."


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