Category Archives: Bernard Geoffrion

Lovely Mid-’50s Habs Wives

I’m guessing the Habs wives are watching their hubbies on TV, and the mirror behind them, reflecting a framed image of the Rocket, makes it a definite that the party is at Maurice and Lucille’s home.

Lucille is the one in the white blouse, and Ken Mosdell’s wife Lorraine is on the far right. The others I’m not sure about.

(Thanks to Wayne Mosdell for pointing out his mom to me)

Ken and Lorraine Mosdell, Bernard and Marlene Geoffrion, and Maurice and Lucille Richard.

I’m betting it’s a Christmas party!

Habs and wives

Papa Got A Brand New Team

I’m a Habs fan, born and raised in Orillia, Ont, which is Leafs country I suppose, considering it’s only an hour and a half north of Toronto. I’m a fan and my old man had a lot to do with it.

My dad, who served in the Canadian army overseas in WWll, was a hockey fan most of his life, although his enthusiasm waned as he aged, which I understand more and more. He followed the Leafs when he was young, and once wrote a letter in the 1930s to Ace Bailey, who lay in a hospital after Boston’s Eddie Shore clubbed him over the head, ending his career, and nearly killing him.

Bailey’s wife wrote back and thanked him.

Later though, my dad began to change his mind about his team. The Toronto Star and Telegram both plastered their papers with Leafs stories and my dad would complain. It was always “Leafs, Leafs, Leafs” he used to say. Broadcaster Foster Hewitt was the definitive homer, and this rubbed dad the wrong way. And pops was a quiet fellow and wasn’t crazy about the brash, loud, and arrogant Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

In the 1950s, with television entering households, it was usually only Leafs game shown, and when the Montreal Canadiens played in Toronto, my dad liked what he saw on his TV. There was the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Plante. Magical names. Stanley Cups began to be won by the Habs on a regular basis, and the Leafs just kept plodding along. The Canadiens had something the Leafs didn’t.

When I was a boy he started a big Montreal Canadiens scrapbook for me. He helped me write fan letters to the Rocket, and at one point, Rocket sent me a Christmas card. He took me to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of times, and once, when we were really early and stood at the gate, the Canadiens players walked right by us.

He bought me a hockey book for Christmas which he mailed to Montreal asking for autographs, and it was mailed back signed by the entire 1957-58 Habs – Richard, Plante, coach Toe Blake, Beliveau, Geoffrion etc, with Doug Harvey’s as the only signature missing. Later when we went to a game at the Gardens, he brought the book with him, took it down to the Montreal dressing room corridor, saw Toe Blake standing there, and asked Blake if he would take the book into the dressing room and get Harvey to sign it.

Believe it not, Blake did just that.

Thanks dad.

Ralph Backstrom Was The Guy

He was all the things I knew were good in life – he skated like the wind, had a great brush cut and a pretty wife, and he wore the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens.

What’s better than that?

This was Ralph Backstrom, and I wanted to be just like him. I knew I wasn’t going to be another Rocket or Beliveau or Geoffrion, but I thought maybe I could be like Backstrom. And I wasn’t even on drugs when I thought this.

It meant getting a brush cut and trying to look like him when I watched him on TV taking faceoffs and darting up the ice with the puck. I could do that and I did. I got the brush cut.

Ralph came out of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, a little town in northern Ontario that churned out NHL players in abnormal fashion, having produced him and Ted Lindsay, Mike Walton, Dick Duff, Mickey and Dick Redmond, Wayne and Larry Hillman, the Plagers, and many others.

About 30 in all. That’s a lot of players.

Ralph was a phenom in Kirkland Lake minor hockey, and became captain and the best of the powerhouse Hull-Ottawa Canadiens juniors before he joined the big club. He had it all, I thought. I gotta practice more, I thought.

I admired the way Ralph Backstrom played, the way he skated and was so solid both as a playmaker and a checker. And I loved the way he and rival Dave Keon of the enemy Leafs went head to head on glorious nights when the Habs and Leafs were what life was all about for Canadian kids from coast to coast.

This guy isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and when he played he sometimes got into coach Toe Blake’s bad books. But he was a great hockey player. Underrated maybe, but absolutely great.

And I wanted to be just like him and I was. I had the brush cut.

DK

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Those Were The Days

What, you say I never played for the Habs?

Then who’s that in the middle of the back row?

59-60 Habs

Yes, I remember it well. Me and Rocket and Doug sticking lit firecrackers in Boom Boom’s pajamas as he slept. Stealing Toe’s fedora and blaming it on Hicke. Putting Ex-Lax in Plante’s hot chocolate. Finding Backstrom’s paycheque and giving it to the Conservative Party.

But for all the hilarious hi-jinks, we still won plenty of games and were on top of the world. And I like to think that as a smallish-yet-shifty right winger, I did my part.

Those were the days, my friends.

Thanks to a great guy, Ed Wolk in Ottawa, for sending me this big surprise – the only known photo of me with the Habs. (I tried to stay out of the limelight).

 

R.I.P. Dollard

A little late getting to this but I’ve been tied up, and not in that good way.

Winner of four Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, including three during that magnificent late-’50s run by the team, defenceman Dollard St. Laurent has passed away at age 85.

St. Laurent, who wore the CH from 1951-52 until 1957-58 before moving to the Chicago Black Hawks, leaves us just after our Canadiens family said goodbye to Elmer Lach, Claude Ruel, Jean Beliveau, Gilles Tremblay, and Carol Vadnais.

Not a good time as far losing great Habs go. But I’m thinking a Stanley Cup this year in their name will help with the healing.

Below, a picture from an old Hockey Pictorial magazine, showing a fine intersection in Hull, Quebec, back in the late ’50s.

And below that, Dollard on the far right, and to his right Boom Boom Geoffrion, Cardinal Leger, Maurice Richard, Butch Bouchard, and what appears to be John McCormack.

 

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Rocket’s Apology

Maurice Richard, in a 1954 ghostwritten column for a Montreal weekly, had called NHL president Clarence Campbell a dictator for the way he had penalized his brother Henri and Boom Boom Geoffrion for fights they hadn’t started.

Campbell was pissed, and Canadiens general manager Frank Selke had to persuade Richard to make a public apology and post a thousand-dollar bond. The French media was pissed as well, claiming that the NHL had forced Rocket to clam up.

A year after this particular kerfuffle, Campbell would suspend Rocket for slugging a linesman, which set off the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot.

Rocket never liked Campbell, even after his playing days were long over. Campbell probably wasn’t crazy about Rocket either.

Here’s the letter of apology, which I found in an old scrapbook when I worked at Classic Auctions.

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Well Whaddya Know

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I’ve been looking around my house for this Star Weekly picture for several years, and I found it.

Tucked between the pages of The Hockey News that I wrote about yesterday.

There’s a crease running across but I don’t care.

Look at the hardware parked in front – from let to right, the Norris Trophy (won by Tom Johnson), the Vezina (Jacques Plante), the Stanley Cup, the Prince of Wales (NHL regular season championship), and the Art Ross (Dickie Moore, NHL scoring champ).

Missing is the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year, won by Ralph Backstrom (third row, left, next to trainer Hector Dubois, who’s wearing a jacket similar to one I have. Very proud of my jacket).

Scattered throughout, of course, are the Richard brothers, Beliveau, Moore, Geoffrion, Talbot, Provost, coach Toe Blake, and on and on. And the second greatest defenceman ever, Doug Harvey, is top row, third from left.

It was the club’s fourth consecutive Stanley Cup, with one more to follow. A beautiful team. One of the best ever.

It’s nice that I can now stop looking for this.

 

Bergevin Jersey Update

On Monday I mentioned that Marc Bergevin’s 1994 Team Canada jersey was on the block at Classic Auctions and at that point had reached $324.00 US.

The hammer came down late Tuesday night, with a winning bid of $1797.00 US (17 bids).

A decent price, but not as decent as the one below this photo.

Bergevin

Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion’s Habs gamer from circa 1954 sold for $26,784 US (15 bids).

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Habs Cancel Canucks

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After the incredibly emotional pregame ceremony that focused often on Elise Beliveau in the stands, I didn’t really care what happened during the game that followed.

That’s not true. I did care. And the Canadiens came through by pulling off a fine 3-1 win, led by the new and impressive Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Pacioretty line.

Although it was Tomas Plekanec converting a nice feed from Sven Andrighetto which won the thing.

Maybe once Jean gets settled in his new digs he can help sort out a few things about his beloved team below. Grab Toe and have a serious sit-down. Chat about the power play.

Again tonight, a now normal 0 for 5 with the man advantage.Eleven goals in 81 attempts if I’m reading it right. And they also gave up a shorthanded marker during one of their so-called power plays.

It might take more than Jean and Toe to figure it out. Might have to call in the Big Fellow for that one. Or at least Rocket, Doug, and Boom Boom.

But tonight is not a night to quibble. The boys halted a three-game losing streak. New lines were in place and it seemed like possible new chemistry could be in the works.

The Subbinator subbinated. Carey Price came up with a sparkling save in the first minute of play to keep his team from falling behind once again in the opening frame. Gally snapped one home in the second to give his team a rare 1-0 lead. And Max found the empty net with half a second left in the game.

They did it on a night in honor of Le Gros Bill, with his women there to see. It was good.

All they have to do now is beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Maybe by then Jean and Toe and the others will have had that little chat.

Jean Soiree

Missed Habs/Sens Game

Couldn’t see the game, I’ve been incapacitated. I know that the Canadiens lost 4-3 in overtime but Lucy and I are in Kingston with my brother and his wife Kelly, painting the town red.

Maybe not painting the town red. But as red as you can get it when you’re an old bastard like me, dragging the other three down.

Also went to the OHL Major Junior A game between the hometown Frontenacs and visiting Belleville Bulls which saw Jordan Subban and the Bulls skate off with a convincing 4-2 win.

We sat right behind the Bulls bench, which was a fascinating experience for sure, and after Subban took a late-game penalty, his coach sent him to the dressing room like a kid to his room..

So I’ve been incapacitated. What a word. Sounds a bit like decapitated and constipated. Whatever way – incapacitated, decapitated, constipated – it’s tough to watch a game when you’re one of them.

In the meantime, because I’m incapacitated, here’s what I think is a cool photo.

It came up on eBay awhile back and I bid on it but didn’t win. Originally from the Richard family, it’s a picture of Maurice Richard at a Christmas party, looking like he’s having a fine time.

Boom Boom Geoffrion is on the far right, and although I don’t recognize the fellow in the middle, you can be assured that if he actually went through with the pouring of his drink on Rocket’s head, somebody in the house would be quickly calling for an ambulance.

Rocket and Boomer