In Pittsburgh the baby-faced Larouche naturally has been the target of many of his teammates' jokes. One day Battleship Kelly invited Larouche to join him for a postpractice drink at the Jamestown Inn. When the waiter brought them their beers, Kelly warned him not to serve Larouche because he was under age. Another day Paradise complained that Boileau had scheduled a 2 p.m. practice because "Pierre doesn't get out of school until 1:30." However, when the needling gets too personal, Larouche will silence a mate like Hadfield by reminding him, "When I was a little kid, Vic, I used to watch you on television."
Larouche has what the gentlelady who covers hockey for The New York Times calls a "fetching" look, and he quickly captivated the crowds in Pittsburgh with his smooth skating, precise stick handling and quick, hard shots. There is some Jean Beliveau in his erect skating stride, some Stan Mikita in his deft moves with a stick and some Phil Esposito in his quick reactions around the net. Playing regularly between Kelly and Chuck Arnason, Larouche scored 31 goals and had 37 assists for 68 points to lead the NHL rookies. "Like most young kids," he says, "I'm a little cocky. Hey, I believe in myself. Am I the best rookie? Sure I am. Why should I say that someone else is the best rookie?"
Near the end of the season a radio station sponsored a "Date with Pierre" contest in which the winner would indeed get a date with Larouche. There were more than 1,500 entrants, including grandmothers, mothers, daughters and a 4-year-old girl who informed Pierre that her measurements were 24-28-26. Larouche met the winner, 20-year-old Karen Ahearn, a secretary, at center ice. "And what is it," the announcer asked, "that a young Frenchman would say to a girl on their very first date?" Larouche laughed. "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" he said unabashedly. Maybe Pittsburgh's not ready for little Pierre.