Gilles Bilodeau

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Joseph Gilles "Bad News" Bilodeau (born July 31, 1955 in Saint-Prime, Quebec; died August 12, 2008 in Birmingham) was a professional hockey player who starred as a member of the Birmingham Bulls in their World Hockey Association and Atlantic Coast Hockey League incarnations.

Bilodeau was the third of nine children and grew up playing hockey with his brothers in Quebec. Early on he earned a reputation as a brawler, and as he grew to 6'-1" and 220 pounds he was given the nicknames "Tarzan" and "Zombie". He played for the Sorel Éperviers (Black Hawks) of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League until he was drafted by the Toronto Toros in 1975. He made his professional debut in 1975 with the Beauce Jaros of the North American Hockey League in Saint-Georges, Quebec.

In his first season, Bilodeau led the NAHL with 451 penalty minutes in 58 games, along with 8 goals and 17 assists. While serving a suspension, he was arrested and charged with assault for his involvement in a fight with another suspended player at War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York. After returning to the ice he cross-checked an opposing goalie from behind, breaking his neck.

Before the end of that season, Bilodeau was promoted to the Toros. In limited play he accumulated 38 minutes of penalty time through the end of the season, along with one assist. Before the 1976-1977 season the Toros relocated to the new BJCC Coliseum as the "Birmingham Bulls".

Bilodeau split that season between the Bulls and the Southern Hockey League's Charlotte Checkers. He played 34 games in Birmingham, scoring two goals, recording 6 assists, and spending 133 minutes in the penalty box. Over his 28 games in Charlotte he added three more goals, six more assists, and another 242 minutes in the box.

During the 1977-1978 season, Bilodeau was a participant in the "Thanksgiving Massacre," which began 24 seconds after face off in an away game against the Cincinnati Stingers. Bilodeau was given a 3-game suspension and $1,000 fine for leaving the penalty box on multiple occasions at Winnipeg later that month. In all, he amassed 258 penalty minutes during the season.

In 1978 Bilodeau was signed as a free agent by the World Hockey Association's Quebec Nordiques. A year later, the team was absorbed into the National Hockey League. In his nine NHL appearances before being released, Bilodeau recorded one assist to accompany his 25 penalty minutes.

Bilodeau next played for the 1980-1981 Richmond Rifles of the Eastern Hockey League, then returned to Birmingham where he appeared in two games for the 1983-1984 Birmingham Bulls.

After retiring, Bilodeau remained in Birmingham with his wife, Debbie and two sons. He worked as a painter and deck-builder for his former teammate Jean-Guy Lagace before going out on his own as a contractor.

Bilodeau died in 2008 from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer.


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