When Yvon Labre strapped on his hockey gear, he became a pure foot soldier who fought his battles in the toughest trenches of any arena in which he played.
He launched his advent to the big leagues with the Toronto Marlboros as a defensive defenseman who played tough, engaged in scraps, and inspired his teammates with his big heart.
He made his NHL debut with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1970 before being dispatched to the minors where he played in Baltimore, Amarillo, and Hershey. He won a return engagement with the Pens in 1973-74 and was then returned to the minors until the Washington Capitals selected him in the 1974 Expansion Draft.
His transition to the Caps marked his arrival as a full-fledged NHLer. He survived by throwing every ounce of his heart into clearing creases and engaging in fights that, more often than not, he lost because his arms were too short, as he once joked.
By 1980-81, Labre's knee gave out, forcing his early retirement. As a tribute to his career, he was invited out to centre ice where the Caps acknowledged his contribution to the club. In the process, he was stunned to learn that his #7 was to be retired to the rafters of the MCI Center.
Labre has since stayed on with the Caps' organization as a director of special programs.
*Bio courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame