French hockey saw Jaromir Jagr retire a few weeks ago. At 50, former QMJHL player Richard Aimonetto completed his last lap with the top-flight Mont Blanc team.
He can put his name alongside those of Gordie Howe and Jaromir Jagr, who both played in a professional league at the same age. Longevity as we rarely see it today.
“I wanted to finish with a round number. I wanted to leave with my head held high,” Richard Imonito said of his 30-year career. “I never thought about playing until I was 50.”
“I have often been told to enjoy every moment because it goes by so quickly. At the age of 32, as many players have retired, I felt good and decided to continue.
“I never gave myself a rule of knowing when my career would end. It mostly happens in the head. When you play for fun, it comes naturally.
“There wasn’t a morning I woke up that saw coaching or the game as a job.”
As a professional, he played 20 seasons in the Magnus League, including 12 seasons with Chamonix. After that, he spent his last 10 seasons with Mont Blanc in the first division. In his final season, the star quarterback accumulated 12 points in 26 games.
The name Aimonetto probably means something to fans in Quebec. normal.
It all started with his participation in the Tournoi pee-wee de Québec. It made him want to return to La Belle County after a few years.
“I was fascinated by the NHL. When I was 16, I contacted Hockey Quebec to get an invitation to Midget AAA camp. I did this behind my parents’ backs.
“I got a trial with Montreal club Borassa. I camped and succeeded.”
In 1989, it was rare to see a European land in Quebec. The reception was kinda cold from the other players.
“Misunderstand me. They called me the damn Frenchman. I had the right to all names because I was taking the place of a Quebecer. After I got my place, everyone was nice to me.”
Accustomed to the big rinks, Aimonetto needed a few weeks to adjust to the North American game.
“I struggled at first. The physical game, it just didn’t exist in France. We were more technical. I had no choice but to grow by doing bodybuilding.”
“I was happy to be in the birthplace of hockey.”
When he looks back on his career, Aimonetto believes he has lived his best memories on Quebec soil.
My best moment is being drafted by the Victoriaville Tigres (seventh round, 83H In total), the new retiree explained. It was brand new. It was the stress of getting drafted.
“When I put on the tiger shirt for the first time, I was happy as Papa! It was awesome!”
After one season and a few games, he was traded to the Saint-Jean Lynx. In his second season with this team, he suffered a serious knee injury.
“I broke my sprint and couldn’t find my level. At 20, I’m in France to start my career.
Richard Imonito did not achieve his goal of making his career in North America. However, he managed to go a long way and finish it with his head held high.
emonito log popcorn
Upon arriving at the Montreal-Bourassa AAA midget camp, Richard Emoneto befriends Joel Bouchard.
“They were two Frenchmen, one of whom was Richard, in our camp,” Bouchard said. “They were a little bit on their desert island.”
“Since I am an all-rounder, I decided to go see them. We became friends. Richard was a good person with good values. I asked a lot of questions about France.”
Bouchard found Emmonito brave enough to cross the Atlantic to try his luck in North American hockey.
“I found it exciting to take such a step. It was a process of passion. He thought the best way for him was from here.
“He was a great player with a lot of talent. He came to learn the physical side. He was not afraid.”
Imonito did not have any friends within the French Ice Hockey Federation at the time. Because of his bold decision, he was unable to participate in the World Junior Hockey Championship. His union had removed him from the list.
“It wasn’t normal. It was a bit of a cowboy at the time. The national leagues were furious to see their players try their luck elsewhere.”
Different playing style
Without a particular anecdote, Bouchard remembers Aymonito’s first matches well in midget AAA.
“He had a different style of play than the others. It was obvious, but we also saw the talent,” Bouchard recalled. We could see he played somewhere else, of another caliber.
He did not give up in every case. He has proven he can make the team with his performance on the ice.
“He got his ice time and was selected by Victoriaville in the replay.”
QMJHL Initiatives: The Warriors left him alone
The starting coil of the QMJHL continues to cause too much ink to flow. For Richard Imonito, boundaries are never crossed.
When he arrived at the Montreal-AAA midget camp with his compatriot, the other players yelled at the quarterback.
Seeing Europeans was not common in those days. He was seen as a post thief. However, he did not go any further in his case.
After being recruited by the Victoriaville Tigres, the Frenchman tasted his first camp in the QMJHL. He does not remember any particular incident with the recruits.
“I just remember that I had to fight three times,” said Aimonetto. Fortunately, I didn’t fall. For me, it was the first. I’ve never fought before.”
Respected by veterans
Aimonetto had impressed the Bois-Francs coaches enough to secure a place. At that time, Gilbert Perrault was in charge of the team.
Despite this good news, the attacker had peace of mind about training.
“I was always so sheltered,” Aimonetto said. I didn’t drink so it didn’t bother me.”
He also played with the Saint-Jean Lynx and Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL. He does not remember seeing any ugly events.
These athletes who have pushed the boundaries of retirement
- Geordie Howe (52)
- Jaromir Jager (51 years old)
- Beige Satchel Bag (59)
- Minnie Minoso (56 years old)
- Jim O’Rourke (54)
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