As an Ottawa native, Rick Vaive grew up with two stellar visions etched in his mind: play for the Leafs or Canadiens and win a Stanley Cup. Anything less would be great, but not the cigar he hoped to smoke.
Vaive launched his junior career as an offensive leviathan with the Sherbrooke Beavers of the QMJHL. After a stint with the Canadian National Junior team, he headed to the Southern U.S. to play for the Birmingham Bulls of the WHA. In his lone season as an 18-year-old "Baby Bull," he showed strong signs of becoming a power forward who corralled plenty of points and penalty minutes.
The Vancouver Canucks like what they saw and selected Vaive 5th overall in the Entry Draft. Then, after 47 games they decided that they didn't like him so much after all, sending him to the Leafs along with Bill Derlago in 1980.
Wearing the Blue and White, Vaive teamed up with his set-up man, Derlago, to give frustrated Leaf fans a little something to cheer about. Although his team was, for the most part, inept, Vaive used his booming slapshot to become the first Leaf in franchise history to score 50 goals in one season. He got 54 in 1981-82 followed by seasons of 51 and then 52. But for all of the personal adulation he received as a scoring ace, he admitted that his team's inability to win with consistency skimmed some of the magic off the top of his success. He once confided that he'd trade his 50-goal campaigns for a chance to hold Lord Stanley.
Vaive was rewarded for his strong play with the Leafs' captaincy, a post he held until his team launched another of its cyclical house cleanings, sending him along with Steve Thomas and Bob McGill to Chicago in 1987. There, Vaive continued his solid offensive production for a season and a half before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres where he completed his NHL service in 1992.
Since leaving the ice, he has worked as a minor-league coach in such diverse settings as Hamilton, Charleston, St. John, and Mississauga.