Playing goal runs in the family, but a young Olivier Rodrigue didn’t get much help from his father when he started learning his craft. After a pro career that peaked with one playoff game with the AHL’s Hershey Bears in 1997, Sylvain Rodrigue turned to coaching. By the time Olivier was nine, dad was spending his winters working with teams in Europe while the family stayed back in Montreal, keeping in touch via FaceTime.
The Oilers made a surprise trade to choose Rodrigue with the 62nd overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft. And it wasn’t long before he came face to face with his father, who is now Edmonton’s goaltender development coach, at the team’s summer development camp. “The first time I heard my dad say, ‘Hello, my name is Sylvain Rodrigue, I’m the goalie coach,’ yeah, that was weird,” said the 6-foot-1, 160-pound backstopper, who turned 18 in July. “The first day passed, then the second day we were on the ice and it was business time, coaching time.”
Now 45, Sylvain is based in AHL Bakersfield this season, where he’ll oversee the Condors’ goalies and the organization’s younger prospects, including his son. “The good thing is that he’s going to have to go see me,” said Rodrigue, who’s back inthe QMJHL for his third campaign. “He’s going to come to Drummondville.”
The athletic, cat-like Rodrigue’s goaltending idol is modern-day Montreal legend Carey Price. During a busy and successful 2017-18 season with the Voltigeurs – Rodrigue finished second in the league with 31 wins, while his 2.54 goals-against average ranked fourth – he worked to improve his mental focus. He has high hopes for the upcoming campaign. “Our goal is to go for the big run in Drummondville,” Rodrigue said. “We want to play for a championship.”
And looking further down the road? “I’m trying to play my game just to be better than my dad, to have a better career,” Rodrigue said.
Father and son are now working together to turn that goal into reality.
This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.