By: Andrew Johnson | Follow Me On Twitter @justyouknowwhyyy
Normand Léveillé was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. On January 10th, 1963. Léveillé was a cannot miss star right from the start. Playing two seasons for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Léveillé was a pure sniper, scoring 79 goals over two seasons, including 55 goals in his draft year. Boston noticed his potential to be part of the next wave of great Bruins, drafting him in the first round of the NHL draft, 14th overall in 1981, a year that saw Léveillé make the Bruins right out of training camp at just 18 years old.
Léveillé’s rookie season was promising, seeing him score 33 points in 66 games; Léveillé appeared to be earmarked for stardom for the Bruins, starting his next season with nine points in his first eight games seemed to clinch it, but game number nine was when tragedy struck.
On October 23rd, 1982, after the first period in a game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, Léveillé, sitting on the bench, began feeling dizzy and having shoulder pains. As the trainers attended to him, Léveillé lost consciousness then quickly rushed to a local hospital where doctors discovered a brain aneurysm. That resulted in seven-hour emergency surgery to save his life. Léveillé was put in a medically induced coma for three weeks with an additional three weeks in the hospital for monitoring. Just like that, a promising career cut short in its prime. Léveillé suffered paralysis on the right side of his body.
Léveillé’s condition was an arteriovenous malformation, a congenital disability that caused heavy cranial bleeding. An unfortunate medical anomaly that was not caused by an undetected, pre-existing condition. A lightning strike of a condition that could only be explained by awful luck. Fortunately, Léveillé was able to live a mostly normal life despite difficulties. Léveillé can walk and care for himself, an extraordinary fact when considering how close to death he was on the October night.
It was not the last time he was on the ice either.
On September 26th, 1995, known as the “last hurrah” for the Boston Garden, flanked by Adam Oates and Captain Ray Bourque, Léveillé was able to don the skates and the old home whites one last time and take a skate around the Garden ice to a thunderous ovation from the crowd. Warning: This clip is challenging to get through without a dry eye, showing Bruins’ fan passion and Léveillé’s strength. A hell of a moment in time, immortalized.
Today Léveillé lives a quiet life in Montreal with his wife, Denise, where he runs the Normand Léveillé Centre in Drummondville, Quebec. A summer camp specializing in providing respite and independence opportunities for children with disabilities. Despite the sport he loved being taken from Léveillé at a very young age, he has dedicated his platform to help children around the world cope, a fact that makes Mr. Léveillé worth celebrating.
Joyeux anniversaire, Normand!