Then and Now: Eric Meloche

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One of the most unfortunate trades for the Philadelphia Flyers in recent years was there decision to ship Patrick Sharp off to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Matt Ellison.

As part of the deal the Orange and Black received the Hawks’ third-round pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, which Philly gave to the Montreal Canadiens and saw the Habs select center Ryan White, while the Flyers also gave Chicago forward Eric Meloche.

Everybody knows what happened to Sharp and Ellison, but the career of Meloche isn’t as noteworthy. In the 2012-2013 season, Meloche is set to join his fourth different team in his second different league since his time with the Flyers’ organization.

Meloche was picked 186th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh round of the 1996 NHL Draft, as he was selected seven picks after Pavel Kubina. After four seasons at Ohio State University, Meloche spent four seasons with the Pens’ organization, as he played in 249 AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and 61 games for Pittsburgh.

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A few months before the lockout for the 2004-2005 season started, Meloche signed a contract with the Flyers. Due to the cancelled NHL season, Meloche spent the entire year helping the Philadelphia Phantoms win the 2005 Calder Cup. The forward took part in 63 regular season games and posted six goals along with 11 assists before he participated in 17 of the Phantoms’ 21 playoff games. He registered three goals, two assists, and 18 penalty minutes in the 2005 postseason.

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Meloche started the following season with the Phantoms before being traded to the Blackhawks. After he recorded one goal and two assists in 10 games for the Phantoms, Meloche posted seven goals and 14 assists in 47 contests for the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL, a club where James Wisniewski led the defense in scoring and Corey Crawford was the starting goaltender.

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The 2006 AHL postseason was the last time Meloche participated in the postseason at any level, as the Admirals were swept by the Hershey Bears in the Division Semifinals. Meloche had 11 PIMs and a minus-4 rating.

In the August of 2006, the Blackhawks and Flyers engaged in another trade. This time Meloche went from Chicago to Philadelphia in exchange for left winger Vaclav Pletka, who only played one game in the NHL during his career.

The 2006-2007 campaign was Meloche’s final season in the NHL and AHL. He played in 13 games for the Flyers, the only set of games he suited up for Philly, as he scored his only goal for the Orange and Black in the team’s 3-2 loss to the New York Rangers on January 4th, 2007 (go to 1:09). Meloche’s final game in the NHL was three days later, as he posted a shot on net and went minus-1 in a Flyers’ 6-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

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As for his time with the Phantoms, Meloche had 11 goals and 13 assists in 49 contests for a club that finished 12th in the 14-team Eastern Conference.

Meloche left the NHL and AHL after the 2006-2007 season to join the Straubing Tigers of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, the club that goaltender Jason Bacashihua will play for in 2012-2013. He spent four years with the DEL club before he returned to play professional hockey in North America.

In his first season with the Tigers, Meloche suited up with former Flyers Eric Chouinard and Wade Skolney, as the club struggled to finish 14th in the 15-team league finding 12 wins in 56 games. Meloche finished first on the team with 23 assists and second on the team with 40 points, while Chouinard led the squad with 52. This turned out to be his highest point total for any season with the club and the team’s worst record while Meloche was with Straubing.

During the 2008-2009 season, the Tigers finished 13th in the DEL, as the league expanded to 16 teams. Meloche finished tied with Chouinard for third on the team with 33 points, as the right winger had 13 goals and 20 helpers out of the 144 tallies Straubing produced.

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The 2009-2010 campaign was the Tigers’ best year with Meloche on the roster, as they had 18 wins and 70 points to finish 13th in the league again. For a third straight season, Meloche was a leader in points for Straubing, as he finished third with 22 goals and 16 assists. The only players to beat out Meloche in points for the Tigers were former AHLer Ryan Ramsay and former New York Islander Justin Mapletoft.

His final season with the Tigers turned out to be Meloche’s least productive, as he posted his lowest point total since his first season with the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization back in 2004-2005. With seven goals and 14 assists in 49 contests Meloche finished ninth on the team in points, as the squad finished 13th in the league for yet another season with 67 points. This marked the end of Meloche’s time in the DEL, as he left the league and returned to Canada for the 2010-2011 campaign.

After his time with Straubing, Meloche joined his seventh different team as a professional in his fourth different league, as he became a member of the Sorel-Tracy Carvena HC of the Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey.

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In his first season with the club, Meloche was a teammate to former Philadelphia Phantom Francis Belanger. The winger had eight goals and 12 assists in 24 games before he was dealt to the Saint-Georges COOL FM 103.5 in exchange for defenseman Guillaume Tougas and forward David Lizotte. Both clubs received future considerations in the deal, as Meloche became teammates with former Philadelphia Flyer Jeremy Duchesne.

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Although he only suited up for 20 games with COOL FM 103.5, Meloche finished in the top ten for the team in scoring with 21 points. Both Sorel-Tracy Carvena HC and Saint-Georges COOL FM 103.5 failed to win the Futura Cup. Ironically, the Straubing Tigers made the made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history in the 2011-2012 season.

This past summer Meloche was dealt to the Cornwall River Kings in a six-player deal. Along with former Reading Royal Ryan James Hand, Meloche was shipped to Cornwall in exchange for forward Samuel Grenache, center Philippe Bolduc, Los Angeles Kings’ 2006 NHL Draft choice Martin Nolet, and former Philadelphia Phantom Brandon Christian.

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Meloche will be one of two former NHLers to play for Cornwall in 2012-2013, as former Colorado Avalanche skater and Philadelphia Phantom Yves Sarault is also expected to play for the River Kings next season.