British Columbia

Former Canucks goalie Richard Brodeur finds happiness creating art

Now living in the Okanagan, former Vancouver Canucks hockey player Richard Brodeur is showcasing a series of his paintings entitled My Childhood Memories at the Kelowna Art Gallery until the end of January.

The painting process has helped 'King Richard' deal with depression for 30 years

Former Canucks goaltender Richard Brodeur exhibits his painting series 'My Childhood Memories' at the Kelowna Art Gallery. (Dominika Lirette/CBC)

As one of the star goalies in Canadian professional hockey history, Richard Brodeur earned the nickname King Richard guiding the Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup finals in 1982.

But the on-ice monarch's passion for painting wasn't well known — which, he says, didn't really fit the masculine locker room culture of several decades ago.

"They were macho years [in the 1970s and 80s]," he told CBC story producer Dominika Lirette. "It's like you're talking big time, so you [didn't] talk about it." 

Now, the retired hockey player is opening up about his longtime hobby, as he showcases his work at the Kelowna Art Gallery.

A hockey card with Richard Brodeur as goalie with the Quebec Nordiques in the 1970s. (Submitted by Richard Brodeur)

Born in Longueuil, Que., Brodeur has been drawing on canvas since high school. In his exhibited series My Childhood Memories, the 68-year-old expresses the joy and warmth he experienced as a boy playing hockey at home.

"I was four years old, and my dad used to do a backyard rink, and that's where we started playing," he said. 

Brodeur competed in National Hockey League and World Hockey Association games for 17 years, with teams including the Quebec Nordiques, the New York Islanders and the Hartford Whalers.

After his retirement at 37, he worked as a Quebec brewery sales agent and a Vancouver hotel manager, but he felt a strong urge to become a full-time artist.

'Full Moon by the Lake,' created by Richard Brodeur, who says the creative process has made him happier and brought him closer to his family. (Dominika Lirette/CBC)

"When I was fed up with it [the corporate world], I just said, 'OK, that's all I want to do. I want to paint now.' I've been doing it for 20 years now," he said.

While a hockey player, Brodeur was so secretive about his interest in art that he went anonymous while exhibiting his works at several art shows in Quebec. He says his former teammates didn't know he was an artist until eight years ago.

"They're really impressed. They're really proud. Some of them bought a piece of mine."

WATCH: Richard Brodeur speaks about "My Childhood Memories," a series of his paintings:

 

Now, living in Kelowna, Brodeur's history of concussion and struggles with depression is not well known — something he says he struggled with for more than 30 years. 

He says creating art saved him.

"It is something that at one point, I couldn't control, and if it wasn't for my painting, I'd probably be dead by now," he said. "It [painting] …  carried me somewhere else in my life that was happy … and it brought me closer to my family."

Creations of Brodeur and two other artists will be shown at the Storytellers exhibition at the Kelowna Art Gallery until Jan. 31. 

Tap the link below to listen to Richard Brodeur's conversation with Dominika Lirette:

Former Canucks goaltender Richard Brodeur speaks to story producer Dominika Lirette about his exhibition at Kelowna Art Gallery 8:20

With files from Dominika Lirette and Jean-Francois Chabot

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