There was a moment in time, just a month after I was born, when, according to a story I’d read somewhere a few years back, we almost lost the Montreal Canadiens after a train carrying the boys almost plunged into an icy river. We’re talking the Rocket and Doug and Butch and Elmer and the whole gang.
The Canadiens had fallen to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 in Toronto (which was bad enough) on December 20, 1950 , and hours later were heading back to Montreal.
Just 35 miles or so from the city, the train began to cross the Dorion bridge high above the St. Lawrence River, but a cracked wheel bearing caused the baggage car to hop the rails. Quickly the next four cars also left the track, and members of the Canadiens apparently moved to one side of their car to try and keep it from tipping.
Finally, after a few harrowing moments, the train managed to hug the rails and make it across. Barely.
Several passengers were injured although all of the Canadiens players were fine, and everyone was brought back to Montreal by another train and some buses.
But it was as close as can be to losing the entire Montreal Canadiens when their train came within a whisker of hurtling into the cold St. Lawrence below.