Photo: Chantal Poirier/Journal de Montreal
Over the the course of their 47-year history, the Washington Capitals have had a number of different players don the sweater number, “25”, including names such as Doug Jarvis, Viktor Kozlov, Jason Chimera, and Devante Smith-Pelly. One of the players who donned the number during the first decade of the team’s existence was Bob Sirois, a right winger, who played in the District from 1975 through 1980.
Early Life and Career
Robert “Bob” Sirois was born on February 6, 1954, in Montreal, Quebec. His younger brother, Richard, was a goaltender who played minor league hockey. Sirois started his junior hockey career in 1969-70 by playing three games with Rosemont National in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). He returned to Rosemont National and scored 24 goals and recorded 30 assists for 54 points overall in 59 games. The Rosemont National Team relocated to Laval for the 1970-71 season; that season, he scored 20 goals but improved in assists, with 44, for 64 points overall. He started the 1972-73 season with Laval, scoring five goals and three assists in just six games but was traded to the Montreal Red, White, and Blue, another QMJHL team, early in the season.
With his new team, Sirois’ hot goal-scoring continued. In 58 games with the Red, White, and Blue, he scored 46 goals and recorded 51 assists; his combined totals for the season were 51 goals and 54 assist in 64 games. He scored an additional four goals and recorded two assists in four playoff games. Sirois would put up an even better season in Montreal in 1973-74, scoring 72 goals and recording 81 assists for 153 points overall in 67 games. In the playoffs, he scored six goals with one assist in seven games. For his performance, he was rated as the 29th-best prospect in the draft preview issue for The Hockey News.
The Philadelphia Flyers drafted Sirois in the third-round of the 1974 NHL Entry Draft with the 53rd overall pick while at the same time, the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association (WHA) drafted him in the fifth-round with the 74th overall pick.
Professional Career Prior to the Capitals
During the 1974-75 season, Sirois played in three games for the Flyers and scored one goal but played most of that year with the Richmond Robins, the Flyers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate; in 53 games played for the Robins, he scored 26 goals and had 23 assists, despite missing a portion of the season due to a back injury. The next season (1975-76) he played in just one game for the Flyers and played 26 games for the Robins, with whom he scored 14 goals and had 18 assists in 26 games. On December 15, 1975, the Flyers traded him to the Washington Capitals for future considerations. The Caps eventually sent John Paddock to the Flyers before the 1976-77 season to complete the deal.
Washington Capitals Career
Sirois finished the 1975-76 season with the second-year Capitals, playing in 43 games and scoring 10 goals and adding 19 assists. During the season, he set what was then a team-record for shots in a game (since broken), with eight shots against the Kansas City Scouts on March 23, 1976. During the 1976-77 season, he scored 13 goals and 22 assists in 45 games, a season in which he missed four weeks with a broken left thumb and several games due to torn shoulder ligaments. At that time, it was feared he had broken a collarbone. Sirois was finally healthy during the 1977-78 season and scored 24 goals with 37 assists for 61 points overall. During the season, he was also chosen to represent the Capitals in the All-Star Game.
When informed of his selection for the All-Star Game, he commented, “That’s great, I’m really happy. It’s a great feeling just to be dressed with those guys. I’m really surprised. I never thought I was going to make it. Guy Charron, (the Capitals’ 1977 All-Star) has made a name in the NHL and he has more points than I have. I thought he’d get it.” He had played both left wing and right wing for the Capitals although he felt more comfortable as a right wing.
Sirois had another fine season in 1978-79, scoring 29 goals with 25 assists for 54 points overall in 73 games which turned out to be his career-high in goals. He suffered an injury to his right thigh muscle in the Capitals’ game against Montreal on March 24, 1979. He missed part of the 1979-80 season with a pulled back muscle that he suffered in December 1979 and he played in just 49 games, scoring 15 goals with 17 assists for 32 points overall. He also played two games with the Caps’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears, and scored one goal with one assist. The 1979-80 season proved to be his last year with the Caps and his last in the NHL.
Sirois was known for interests other than hockey. He and teammate Bob Girard shared ownership of a restaurant in Montreal and he was also an accomplished skier, but decided it would be too time consuming.
In total, Sirois played five seasons and 282 games in a Washington Capitals sweater, scoring 91 goals and recording 120 assists for 211 points overall. He played in four additional games with the Flyers prior to joining the Capitals, where he had scored one goal.
After his Capitals and NHL career was over, Sirois signed a contract to play in the Swiss League and was listed on the roster of HC Lausanne for the 1980-81 season, and with HC Lugano in 1981-82, but never played a regular season game with either due to an unfortunate injury to his back which left his left leg paralyzed. He finished his professional career with the Hershey Bears during the 1981-82 season, playing in 13 games and recording two goals and six assists.
After retiring as a player, Sirois held several positions, including working as a player agent. In 2009, he published a book, “Discrimination in the NHL – Quebec Players Sidelined”, in which he had collected the statistics of every French-Canadian player drafted to the NHL and that had played in the NHL in the last 40 years, claiming that French-Canadians were victims of discrimination in the National Hockey League. The final paragraph of his book read, “Recognizing discrimination and highlighting its source are very important steps for us all, because discrimination is very present in the English-Canadian national hockey league.”
Hockey Draft Central Profile
Archdyke: Why Not a Quebec Team
NHL.Com: Ex-NHL Player Bob Sirois Claims Bias Against French Canadian Players in New Book
Editions Homme.com/Bob Sirois Author
Washington Post: Sirois to Play In All Star Game
Baraka Books: Bob Sirois
Washington Post: Sirois Gets Bad Break But Not His Collarbone
Washington Post: Sirois Now Rates as One of Best Players in NHL
Washington Post: Sirois Plays Hard When It Counts
RDS.Canada: Win a Round of Golf with Robert Sirois
By Diane Doyle