Players often come and go so fast in the NHL that it's difficult to keep track. Mighty Duck goaltender Dominic Roussel was afraid he would be one of them, just another face vanishing quickly from memory.
It could have happened.
In fact, it almost did.
Roussel had five solid seasons and then it was au revoir NHL. Last season, he played for the Canadian national team. The season before that, he was stuck in the minors.
Injury didn't threaten his future. Neither did wine, women or song.
Instead, Roussel blames his father, Andre, for derailing his career while acting as his agent more than five years ago.
At one point, it was difficult for Roussel to talk about the subject. Now, his story pours from him with very little prompting.
Andre Roussel, through Montreal attorney Mario Proulx, refused comment.
Dominic Roussel says his father owes him about $250,000 and has filed suit in a Canadian court to recover the money. Andre Roussel has counter-sued for about $1.7 million in damages, which includes loss of income after quitting his job with Hydro Quebec to serve as his son's agent.
The cases are expected to be heard separately in the spring.
Dominic already has won one suit against his father. According to Dominic, Andre obtained power of attorney and used his son's cash to buy three homes for himself-- two in Hull and one in Montreal. The court awarded ownership of the homes to Dominic.
"Money changed him," said Dominic Roussel, who hasn't spoken to his father in more than two years. "He went from being a great father to being somebody who only cares about money. I was like his winning lottery ticket."
Roussel once was a capable goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers, a youngster with a promising future. He had effectively replaced veteran Ron Hextall in 1992-93. Hextall was part of the multiplayer package the Flyers sent to the Quebec Nordiques to obtain Eric Lindros in June 1992.
But when he turned over his financial affairs to his father in 1993, Roussel says he almost lost everything.
Andre Roussel quit his job to become his son's agent full time. And, before the 1994-95 season, he successfully negotiated a one-year deal with the Flyers worth $400,000. The next season, Dominic Roussel said his father pushed Flyer General Manager Bob Clarke too hard for a deal worth more than $1 million.
He received only $600,000.
But that was the last contract Andre Roussel would complete for his son. Soon after, Dominic retained the services of a new agent.
Meanwhile, the Flyers acquired Garth Snow from the Colorado Avalanche on July 12, 1995, and then traded Roussel to Winnipeg on Feb. 27, 1996.
The Flyers would re-sign Roussel as a free agent in July 1996, but he never played for them again. Roussel spent 1996-97 in the Flyers' minor league system and last season he was with the Canadian national team.
In December 1997, Dominic sued his father and won. He sued again early last month, hoping to recover the $250,000 he says his father still owes him.
"I have to go after it," Roussel said. "It's for the future. It's for my wife and our kids."
"You could probably write a book about this," he said. "It's unbelievable what people will do when money is involved. I'm hoping one day he'll change and say, 'I'm sorry I did these things.'
"It was a nightmare for about a year and a half. I remember waking up after dreaming about my father. At first, I couldn't admit it to myself. I didn't want to believe it that he did this. It's taken me about a year and a half to feel normal again."
In hindsight, Roussel said he realized something was troubling him while playing for Winnipeg. He grew angry easily, smashing sticks over the crossbar and tossing the remains into the stands if something went wrong in practice.
"That's not my personality," he said.
Pete Peeters, the goaltending coach in Winnipeg, wondered if something was bothering Roussel. Peeters said he was always available to talk. Roussel never took Peeters up on the offer, but now says he wished he had.
A year in the minors helped Roussel regain some of his lost confidence.
But he came to another crossroads in the summer of 1997. He could have returned to play for the Flyers' minor league affiliate, but decided it might be better to join the Calgary-based Canadian national team.
The national team shouldn't be confused with the Olympic team. It's merely a squad of young players who represent Canada at tournaments such as the Spengler Cup, held last month in Switzerland.
Paul Kariya joined the national team to work himself into shape near the end of his 32-game contract dispute in December 1997.
The hard work demanded of the national team members did a world of good for Roussel. He fine-tuned his game and had a 25-12-1 record and 2.24 goals-against average in 41 games.
Best of all, Roussel gained the attention of Nashville Predator General Manager David Poile, who acquired him from the Flyers last summer.