Where Are They Now? - Rene Corbet

Kent Wilson
November 06 2012 12:25PM

 

 

Not a lot of Flames fans remember Rene Corbet these days. For good reason too; he was a wholly middling player and only haunted the Flames with his mediocrity for a brief period in the late '90's. Corbet was the first guy to sully the name "Rene" in Calgary before Rene Bourque finished the job this past season.

Corbet wasn't memorable as a player for any particular reason, but his name has stuck in my head like a bad pop song over the years because of what he represented to me as a Flames fan at the time: Calgary's fall from grace.

You see, Rene was one of the players the Flames received from Colorado in return for Theoren Fleury in 1999. Ten years removed from the organization's one and only championship, Fleury was the lone reminder of the glory days remaining before ultimately being traded for Renes on the dollar (rimshot!). 

The Fleury trade was the club's final, bitter capitulation to inevitabilty. After approximately a decade of reigning as a perpetual favorite, a persistent contender in the late '80s and early '90s, the Flames fortunes had ultimately crested and rolled back, their prior crown now burnished. The franchise, once a juggernaut, bowed by years of shabby trades and undermined by a failing Canadian dollar, accepted its fate, swapped its lone star for magic beans and plunged headlong into the dark age known as "The Young Guns" era.

For my friends and I at the time, Rene Corbet was the manifestation of the club's unseemly debasement. His name was a perpetual, cynical punchline forever after - the symbol of mediocrity accepted humbly in the wake of past but fading grandeur. Eventually, the true value fo the swap would be delivered with the ascension of Robyn Regehr as a premier shut-down defender, but at the time the only thing the faithful could think was "we traded Theoren Fleury for Rene Corbet.

Where Did he Come From?

Of course, none of this is at all fair to Corbet. He certainly didn't ask to be traded for Theoren Fleury, nor, for that matter, to be the living embodiment of Calgary's Icarus-like plunge from the heavens. Wrong place, wrong time and all that.

The funny thing is, despite an NHL career that spanned just 362 games and peaked with a 31-point effort in 1998-99, Corbet was a pretty damn good junior and AHL player. Drafted by Quebec 24th overall in 1991, Corbet would go on to score 96 points in just 46 games in 1992 and then 79 goals and 148 points in 63 games the year after. It was a bit easier to score in junior back then (Ian Laperierre managed 140 points that same season), but the numbers are pretty good nonetheless.

Corbet spent a couple of seasons in the AHL before managing the leap to the big league and he was fairly prolific there as well. As a rookie for the Cornwall Aces, for instance, Corbet managed 37 goals and 77 points to lead the team in scoring.

By the time Corbet was able to stick to the parent club for good, the Nordiques had moved to Colorado and were stacked with talent: Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Valeri Kamensky, Adam Deadmarsh, Mike Ricci, Claude Lemieux, Stephane Yelle, etc. As a result, Corbet was cast in the role as checker and pugilist in the NHL as a youngster, in part because he wasn't shy about wracking up the PIMs in the lower leagues (although he wasn't the biggest dude at 6'0" and 198 pounds).

The problem for Corbet was the Avalanche kept getting better, stocking the roster with more and more stars at the top of the rotation. Before he was dealt to the Flames in 1999, the Avalanche had promoted also 22 year old Chris Drury and MIlan Hejduk to the front of the class.

When he arrived in Calgary, Rene was a full-on NHL grinder: the year prior, he managed 28 points and 133 penalty minutes. Hockeyfights even has a page dedicated to Corbet, a six foot guy who was a near 150-point player in junior. The NHL is a dream for all who make it, no doubt, but the price can be pretty high for some.

Rene would last about half a season with Calgary. He was eventually dealt to the Penguins for Brad Werenka in 2000. His final year in the NHL with Pittsburgh was beset by injuries, which provved to be the death knell of his pro career in North America.

Where'd He Go?

Corbet's days in the show were over and he was no longer a totem of failure in Calgary. He didn't throw in the towel, however. In 2001, he moved to Germany and started playing for the Manheim Eagles in the DEL. Unlike most failed, North American NHL players who jump overseas to flirt with various leagues, Corbet was in Germany to stay. He persisted in Mannheim for eight seasons, captained the club to several championships and ultimately retired as the franchises all-time leading goal getter. Not even Fleury did that after his NHL career was over.

According to wikipedia, Corbet finally retired from hockey in 2011 after playing a couple of seasons with the Frisk Tigers of, uh, some Norwegian league. He would have been about 38 at the time.

Like Todd Simpson, Valeri Bure and Rob Niedermayer, Rene Corbet will always be somewhat stained in my mind because of his lingering association to one of the darkest times in Flames history. Still, outside of that unfortunate circumstance, Corbet was a great Canadian Junior player, a capable AHLer, a competent (if unlucky) NHLer and a hero of near Hasselhoffian heights in Germany.

Kudos Rene. And damn you.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 Håkan Loob
November 06 2012, 01:44PM
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Any one know where Graham James is these days?

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#2 suba steve
November 06 2012, 02:01PM
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I wasn't as down on Corbet (or Belak), at least not until Regehr's car accident that summer after the trade. But with RR's amazing recovery and his rise to NHL regular status, all was good again and all pressure was off Corbet (and Belak), as far as I was concerned. This trade was one where the Flames did well in the long term, given their tough circumstances at the time. Plus, Theo turned into a total #%^*@ shortly after he left. Alright, he was always a total #%^*@, but we all loved him anyway.

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#3 Vintage Flame
November 06 2012, 02:01PM
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@ Håkan Loob

Jail...

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#4 bookofloob
November 06 2012, 02:42PM
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Bonus Brad Werenka reference.

Hey how come no one ever makes fun of Chris Dingman anymore?

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#6 Trent Yawney
November 06 2012, 03:31PM
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I heard Theoren Fleury is pouring concrete in the city these days...

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#7 negrilcowboy
November 06 2012, 06:04PM
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fluery is akin to herpes, both irritate you for years and niether fully goes away.

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#8 RexLibris
November 06 2012, 09:29PM
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Corbet for Werenka? I'm thinking that was a trade up.

I remember Werenka's time in Edmonton.

*sigh*

Thank heaven the 90s are over.

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#10 RexLibris
November 06 2012, 10:17PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

You seem to forget the Oilers are terrible NOW.

Nuh-uh, they are tied for 1st in the league.

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#11 Steve
November 06 2012, 11:02PM
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RexLibris wrote:

Nuh-uh, they are tied for 1st in the league.

Nuh-uh, last!

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#12 bookofloob
November 07 2012, 10:01AM
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I don't have any hatred left in me surrounding guys like Corbet. Not anymore. Enough time has passed that the Young Guns have this intrinsic charm about them. It's like they were puppies.

Though I have a hard time believing that I'll have similar feelings about this current incarnation of the Flames once enough time has passed to heal the wounds

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#13 Oil Fan
November 07 2012, 10:15AM
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I think the Flamers will get a lot worse before they get better

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#14 44stampede
November 07 2012, 06:33PM
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Great update Kent. Appreciate this series (if it becomes one). I am always curious about the players of the "old days".

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#15 Brent
November 07 2012, 08:54PM
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Funny, I remember that trade as a Coates special, akin to the Iginla trade (a middling roster player now, prospect for later). It admittedly provoked similar outrage, a "we traded (Fleury/Nieuwendyk) for who???" But he was a UFA who seemed likely to bolt. The Avalanche were awash in hot prospects and Flames were allowed to choose from several of the four first round guys the Avs picked that year (including Martin Skoula and Alex Tanguay) -- I think the Avs disallowed Tanguay, however. Coates vigorously defended the Regehr part of the deal.

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#16 the-wolf
November 08 2012, 08:39AM
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@Brent - yup, it was the "something for now" part of the YG era that doomed it.

A spot or 2 lower in the standings would've yielded better than Tkazhcuk or Fata a couple more picks, a couple more prospects and full attention to drafting and development and things could've been a heck of a lot different.

The organization has never really changed. Even when faced with those dire circumstances it was always 'win now.'

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