Category Archives: Aurele Joliat

Heroes and Dreams

001More than a hundred years of heroes and dreams. Of men donning the sweater and hitting the ice. The years of kids watching and reading about, dreaming and becoming. From the time Didier Pitre took a pass from Jack Laviolette and slid it over to Newsy Lalonde, little boys donned the sweater, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, and they became Pitre and Lalonde and all those who came later. kids-sweater1-150x150

From the days of Georges Vezina stopping pucks for Les Canadiens, little kids wanted to stop pucks too, on lakes and ponds and old rinks throughout, and when they wore the sweater, they made the saves with people cheering them, and for all those winter nights near their homes, they were Georges Vezina.

Like magic they became Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat, Toe Blake and George Hainsworth. They wore the sweater on nights so cold it should’ve been illegal, slapping old rubber balls into snowbanks, stopping cow pies on slews, deking friends and sisters and little kids on the pond. wearing the red or white sweater with the simple and beautiful CH crest sewn on front.004

They became the Rocket, and Lach, Bouchard and Harvey, and they saw the game in their dreams. Behind the skaters they were Durnan and Plante crouched by the net, and when the time came, they were the Boomer and Big Jean scoring on the power play. It unfolded at the Forum and the Olympia and Conn Smythe’s old barn and the outdoor rink frozen in winter at the baseball field. And kids heard them on the radio and saw them in black and white and shuffled their bubblegum cards, wearing the sweater and becoming anyone they wanted to be, just when they wanted to be. 003

The wore the sweater when the Pocket Rocket wouldn’t give up the puck, when the Boomer boomed, and when the Gumper kicked out his pads. They opened boxes at Christmas and there was one to put on right away, and they were Ken Dryden and Lafleur and the Big Bird. And their kids and kid brothers wore the sweater when Patrick Roy and Carbo and then Kovalev and Koivu graced the ice. And now, new guard is in place, and kids are becoming them too.

the-rocket-150x150

They said goodbye to the Forum and to the Rocket and all those others who went when it was time and when it wasn’t time, and they wiped little drops of tears from their sweater. And they smiled and clapped and looked above as they watched the sweaters of their heroes raised triumphantly to the rafters.

005

Every night now, the Bell Centre is packed with young and old, still wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a dream for more than a hundred years. We are Georges, Howie, the Rocket and Guy. We’re Patrick and Saku and Price and Gally.

We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we continue to hope.002

006

007

008

009010


Joliat and Dryden Signed The Books

I drank a beer or two with Aurele Joliat at the old Prescott Hotel in Ottawa, sometime in the mid-1980s, and drove him home afterwards. I knew he’d be there because he showed up each week with his bowling team. We got along splendidly, even though he insisted that the Rocket couldn’t tie Morenz’s skate laces.

I brought my book, ‘The Montreal Canadiens’ by Claude Mouton, and Aurele was more than happy to sign it and mention my broken arm (although it was only a small cast on my wrist).

Ken Dryden signed his book ‘The Game’ for me by writing “I’ve had a lot of fans in my life, and you’re one of them. Happy Birthday, Dennis”.

My sister got him to write that. It was a bit of an inside joke she and I had going at the time. She said he chuckled as he wrote it.

Those Wild And Crazy Early Years

It’s listed as being 1929  and the Chicago Black Hawks on YouTube but I think it’s off by a year or two and it’s more likely 1930 or ’31. And it’s not the Chicago Black Hawks.

Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Ace Bailey, Aurele Joliat, Dit Clapper, Lester Patrick, and so many other all-time greats of the game roamed the ice back then, and 1930 was only a year after Wall Street crashed and women now being considered “Persons” under new Canadian law.

The Habs would win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1930 after taking out the Boston Bruins in two games, with Howie Morenz netting the winner.

The NHL was a ten-team league at this time – Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, the Montreal Maroons, and the NY Americans in the Canadian Division, and Boston, the Rangers, the Detroit Cougars, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the American Division.

This minute and a half home video  features the AHA Chicago Shamrocks and possibly the St. Louis Flyers (or Duluth Hornets) and is a fascinating look at the boys back then.

And the ice cleaners at the end of the clip are something to behold.

Drinking Beer With Aurele Joliat

Ottawa’s Prescott Hotel in the mid-1980s was still a classic old beverage room with a Ladies and Escorts door and a regular entrance. It was like a lot of bars back then, smelling of stale beer and cigarette smoke, and the trays of beer were served by middle-aged guys in white shirts.

It was also the Wednesday night bowling team’s bar, where the members, a bunch of young guys and one really old guy, got together after a big night out at the lanes.

I had just read in the paper about the bowling team and the really old guy, and when the next Wednesday rolled around, I grabbed my brother-in-law and we went down to the Prescott with one thing on my mind. It’s not every day that you get a chance to drink beer with Aurele Joliat, star player of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1920s and ’30s, and good buddy of Howie Morenz.

In the Prescott, I spotted Mr. Joliat right away, mainly because he was about 50 years older than the rest of the bowling team, and I went over and asked him if I could buy him a beer. He grumbled something and he might have cursed a bit, but he joined us.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, our man was fairly miserable. When I asked what he thought of the Rocket, he said the guy couldn’t lace Morenz’s skates. He complained about today’s players, saying they would would never had cut it in the old days (as most oldtimers say). He scowled and dropped a bunch of F-bombs, but truthfully, I don’t think he minded the attention.

Soon after, Joliat started to change, maybe because he could feel that I was genuinely interested in him and the hockey of his day. He became soft-spoken, and I think he came close to tearing up when talking about Morenz.

He happily signed a couple of things I had brought along, including Claude Mouton’s book “The Montreal Canadiens”, and when I was fumbling about with a cast on my wrist and trying to find the page with his picture, he grabbed the book from me, went right to it, and signed “To Dennis and his broken arm, Aurele Joliat”.

The evening had begun with a testy old man, and ended with a nice, friendly old fellow.

We drove him home (which was cool in itself), and he thanked us and said goodbye, and when I think about it, I wish he would’ve asked us in for a cup of tea. I would have liked to have met his wife (I think she was still alive), looked at some of his old photos, and maybe, if he still had it, touched that little cap he wore when he starred for the Montreal Canadiens, all those years ago.

004

 

Stevie L

From that fine part-time Orillia boy Stephen Leacock.

“In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter…we are alive.”

Leacock was, of course, a world-renown humorist who in 1912 upset a bunch of locals after he’d made fun of the barber and undertaker and others in his book about Orillia called Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. My parents used to see his son Stephen Junior walking around town.

His beautiful Oriilia summer home, now a museum, sits on the shores of Lake Couchiching, a nice lake full of sunfish, perch and wee little bass, and where the odd time over the years someone would tell the newspaper they saw a sea serpent.

And although Stephen was originally from England, he seemed to get what hockey meant to many Canadians. He could’ve even been a Habs fan and followed the exploits of Vezina, Lalonde, Joliat, and Morenz and the boys when he was a professor and lecturer at McGill University in Montreal from 1900 to 1936.

Heck, he might have even taken a stroll to the Forum and watched the Montreal Maroons in 1934-35 when a young Toe Blake played eight games for them.

Stephen died in March of 1944,  and if he could’ve held on for another fifteen years or so, he might have seen me and my friends out on Lake Couchiching, whether it was swimming and fishing in summer or skating on the frozen lake in winter.

He might have made fun of us in a book like he did with the barber and undertaker and the rest in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Maybe called it Sunshine Sketches of a Little Team.

leacock-museum

Leacock

 

More Of The Book

From time to time lately I’ve been showing pages from my old Habs scrapbook. Here’s more.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record MP3, just click on the photos to make ’em bigger.

Habs And Rangers Back A Bit

Mike Wyman posted the clip below on his Facebook page yesterday, which is a minute from a 1932 playoff game between the Canadiens and Rangers.

The title reads – The Lightning Game – Canada beats America in Play-Offs for Stanley Trophy. And in the spring of 1932, both Aurele Joliat and Pit Lepine were injured and didn’t play. So we beat the bastards that night even with key injuries.

At about the 41 second mark, you can see Howie Morenz (number 7) making one of his spirited dashes up ice. A quick sampling of the man’s talent, and so great to see. We need some of that flair on Thursday.

George Hainsworth is in goal for the Canadiens, John Roach is the Rangers netminder, and  Ching Johnson is the big, balding Rangers defenceman rushing near centre ice. Ching trips, like a Ranger should.

Roach’s nickname was “The Port Perry Cucumber”. For Henrik Lundqvist, I like “The Swedish Squash”.

Number 12 for the Habs that you see a couple of times is probably Dunc Munro, who was playing his lone season with the Canadiens, but teammate Georges Mantha, who usually wore number 6, also wore 12 at times during this era.

Toronto won the Cup that year but that’s certainly not interesting.

Stars Of The World’s Fastest Game

Maybe if newspapers started doing this again, they might sell more papers.

Peter Hab mentioned the other day about old Star Weekly hockey pictures the newspaper would publish back in the 1960s, great photos usually shot by renown hockey photographer Harold Barkley.

The first four photos below are Star Weekly examples.

The Star, and all the other papers under the same publishing umbrella, weren’t the only ones who showed hockey players. At the same time, the Toronto Telegram, the Montreal Star, and other related papers published different style pictures, like Henri Richard you see below. These pictures were an inch or two longer than the Star’s and always extremely beautiful.

Heck, they were all extremely beautiful.

They weren’t the first either.

Long before these papers were doing it, a five-year period from 1927-28 to 1931-32 saw La Presse in Montreal publish a run of 71 NHL player pictures, mostly of Habs and Maroons, with a sprinkling of Leafs, Bruins etc thrown in. They’re at the bottom.

four

nine

seven

011

five

HM

GV

AJ

GH

PL

 

 

Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.