It was not a difficult dilemma for the parents of Noel Picard to name their newly born son, who arrived on the morning of December 25, 1938. Being francophones, they named their new arrival using the French word for Christmas--Noel.
Picard eventually grew into a warm, affable young man who liked to joke and laughed easily. He also developed a strong team spirit that he readily applied to his budding career in hockey.
He turned pro at age 21 with the Jersey Larks of the EHL in 1960-61. The move marked the beginning of a seven-year run of minor-league stints accentuated by one 16-game slice of glory with the Montreal Canadiens in 1964-65. Otherwise, Picard spent his time sharpening his game in the service of such teams as the Montreal Olympics, Sherbrooke Castors, Omaha Knights, Houston Apollos, Seattle Totems, and Providence Reds.
In the summer of 1967, Picard's hockey fortunes underwent a dramatic shift. His rights were secured by the St. Louis Blues in the Expansion Draft of that year. The burly blueliner was just the right kind of stay-at-home, seasoned veteran that his fledgling team needed.
The Blues solidified themselves quickly, becoming playoff finalists in each of their first three seasons. During the third outing, the Blue Notes squared off against the mighty Boston Bruins who were equipped with the unstoppable Bobby Orr. In what was voted as the most famous photo in hockey history, Orr is seen floating through the air in celebration of his Cup winning marker against the Blues' backstopper, Glenn Hall. A closer examination of that picture will reveal Noel Picard's stick latched around Orr's ankle, providing a catalyst for his flight.
In all, Picard lasted just over five seasons in St. Louis. During that time, he became one of his club's most popular players with the fans. All appeared to be unfolding like a well laid plan until he went on a hunting trip in Novemeber of 1971. While his mates were relaxing in the cabin, he hopped aboard an old horse for a trot around the area. But a second horse got tangled with the first causing Picard's transport to fall to the ground with his foot caught squarely under the old mare's rump. By the time the horse got up, Picard's foot was crushed so severely that three bones were seen protruding through his boot. Hours passed before he was finally admitted to a St. Louis hospital. The doctors were seriously contemplating an amputation, but decided to at least attempt to save some aspects of the original foot. Picard was delighted with the prospects of rehabilitating his limb. He swore in the face of medical doomsayers that he would eventually return to the NHL.
His stayed true to his word and did recover sufficiently to resume his career with the Blues in 1972-73. But the deeper price paid was a noticeable loss of mobility that limited his effectiveness in defensive coverage. He was soon put on waivers and claimed by the Atlanta Flames. In Georgia, he lasted only until the end of the season at which time he hung up his blades for good.