He Likes Fast Cars, Too
Indianapolis Racers' right wing Renald Leclerc has a problem that a lot of his athletic counterparts wouldn't mind sharing.
No matter how much spaghetti, potatoes or other fattening foods Rene piles onto his place he still cannot gain weight. Not quite 6 feet tall, the slender Leclerc weighs only 160.
“There are many heavier guys in this league and I really have to skate,” he explains. “I work at it, too. If you are skating well you have more chances to score.”
Leclerc's inability to gain weight also poses some problems for the 28-year-old, former Quebec Nordique who joined the Racers back in January in a trade for Bill Prentice.
“If we play two or three games in a row I find myself getting tired and I don't feel as strong,” he says. “I can't afford to lose any weight. After a game I try to eat and gain back the poundage I might have lost.”
Rene's Canadian friends suggested that he try the age-old formula for restoring lost body liquid -- a few post-game beers. But Leclerc has found that all brew does for him is make him ill.
Loss of weight to the contrary, Leclerc ranks among the most prolific point producers in the WHA. His input to the Racers' attack has been a vital force in the club's drive for a playoff berth, particularly since the arrival of former Quebec teammate Michel Parizeau.
Leclerc considers his wrist shot his most effective scoring weapon.
“A wrist shot is very good maybe 15 or 20 feet out from the goal,” he stresses. “You can get it off quickly, where with a slapshot the goalie has time to see what you are going to do.
“I haven't been using my wrist shot lately and I think that's a mistake. But I'm working on it.”
Leclerc is a soft-spoken man with a thick French accent. He likes to assume a contemplative attitude before a game and usually sits quietly in the dressing room.
“I get as much rest as I can the day of a game,” he explains, “but it is not so easy to sleep then. It's not that I'm nervous . . . it's just that I get bugs in my stomach. Of course those bugs usually mean I'm going to play good, that I'm really up for it.”
A native of Ville de Vanier in Quebec province, Leclerc - like many Canadian youngsters - began skating at age 4, and by 15 was playing junior hockey for the Hamilton Red Wings, at that time an affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.
Leclerc, having been raised in French Canada, knew no English when he reported to Hamilton. But, by his own admission, he learned quickly - out of necessity.
The parent Red Wings turned him professional in 1967 with Fort Worth in the Central League, ultimately bringing him up for a total of 87 games.
With the berth of the WHA, Leclerc seized on the opportunity to return to Quebec where he played three plus seasons before his acquisition by the Racers for Bill Prentice.
Along with his regular uniform Rene always wears a turtleneck sweater.
“I didn't know if I would wear it here or not,” he recalled. “I was afraid they would call me Flashy Leclerc.
“But I don't wear it to show off,” he protests. “I don't like my shoulder pads rubbing my neck and the turtleneck protects me from getting scratched. I do think, however, that everyone should wear one. It looks a lot cleaner, a lot nicer than just the front where you see the underwear and the padding.”
Leclerc is somewhat of an expert on fashion outside of hockey. He and his wife, Therese, own two boutiques in Quebec, one for women and one for children.
“I don't know what other hockey players do with their money but we thought we should get into some business,” he says. “Since both of us like clothes a boutique seemed good.”
Therese Leclerc does all the buying from Paris. Rene brings in the customers.
Leclerc is looking for a home for next season in Indianapolis. It has to be one that will not only accommodate his wife and young son but two extra members of the family -- an Old English Sheepdog and a St. Bernard.
If Rene does not find a house this spring he'll have plenty of time to look for one this summer when he comes to Indianapolis for the “500” and the National Drag Racing Championships.
Rene used to own a Chevelle Supersport and is a devoted racing fan.
“When I come back for the races I'll be bringing my wife and good friend Pierre Guite,” he says with a grin.
Guite, as Racers fans know, is a member of the Cincinnati Stingers and has been the other half of many celebrated fights with Racer Kim Clackson, whom Rene also likes.
“The problem is what to do when Kim and Pierre get into a fight,” asks Rene. “Well, I play for the Racers and I must be on Kim's side. And if Pierre gets beat up by Clackson, then too bad for Pierre.”