Category Archives: Bernard Geoffrion

Finally Lapointe

The news that Guy Lapointe’s number 5 will join Bernie Geoffrion’s in the rafters is terrific and overdue.

Guy Lapointe was one of the greatest defencemen to ever wear the CH. He was part of the “The Big Three” with Serge Savard and Larry Robinson in those 1970s glory years when no other team came close to having such a trio, combining skill and muscle to help win games and take no nonsense from the Broad St. Bullies or anyone else who might have tried.

Add the smart, great skating, hard shooting Lapointe to the mix of big farmboy Robinson, who could skate, dominate and was physically intimidating, and Savard, who swooped, swirled, and made the right play like poetry in motion, and you’ve got “The Big Three”, a threesome other teams knew they were in deep against.

Serge Savard was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 and his number 18 was retired in 2006.

Larry Robinson was inducted into the Hall in 1995 and his number 19 sent to the rafters in 2007.

Guy Lapointe was inducted in 1993 and his sweater will soon join his fellow blueliners. So deserved.

0075The Globe and Mail called Ken Dryden’s The Game, “the sports book of the year, or maybe the decade, or maybe the century.” Dryden took us into the inner circle of the late 1970’s Montreal Canadiens, when they were the best team in hockey, poised to win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. It’s a great book, written with humility and intelligence, and I know many of you have already read it. I just wanted to share a few things that I really like.

I’m sure Ken Dryden had a little smile on his face as he wrote about Lapointe, affectionately know as “Pointu”, who Dryden says in the early to mid-1970’s, except for Bobby Orr, was the best defenceman in the NHL.

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Here’s some excerpts from “The Game” regarding Guy Lapointe”

“In the shower, (Yvon) Lambert is singing. Lapointe grabs a bucket and tiptoes to the bathroom sink like a cartoon spy. He fills the bucket with cold water, and peers around the corner of the shower. Lambert is still singing. Lapointe winds up; we hear a scream. Lapointe dashes back into the room and quickly out again, dropping his bucket. Lambert, still lathered up, races after him, screaming threats. Losing his trail, Lambert stops to pick up the bucket, fills it, and resumes his search. Finally he finds Lapointe hiding in a toilet stall; he backs him into the room. Naked, sobbing, pleading pathetically, Lapointe falls to his knees, his hands clutched in front of him. Lambert winds up to throw the water, then stops: in Lapointe’s hands are Lambert’s clothes.”

“The laces to my skates have been shredded into macaroni-size pieces too small for knots to hold together. I look up at a roomful of blank faces. Before I can say his name, Lapointe, who cuts my laces twenty or twenty-five times a year, though I have never seen him do it, gives me an injured look. “Hey, get the right guy,” he shouts.”

“Hey Reggie (Houle),” he shouts, “That was a helluva play ya made last night.” Houle goes silent; we begin to laugh. “Yup,” Robinson continues slowly, drawing out each word, “not often ya see a guy on a breakaway put it in the crowd.” Lapointe snaps down his newspaper. “Don’t let it bother ya, Reggie,” he says sympathetically. “No harm done.” Surprised, we all look up. “The goalie just woulda stopped ya anyway,” he says, and we all laugh harder.

“Ah, I’m full,” Lapointe announces, wiping his face with napkin. “Anybody want my ice cream?” Shaking their heads, murmuring, everyone says no. Finally, after looking around, certain that no one else wants it, “Um, yeah sure,” I say tentatively, ya sure ya don’t want it?” Lapointe shakes his head, and hands it to me. I take a bite. Before I can taste what I’ve eaten, the room explodes with laughter – sour cream with chocolate sauce.

“Calisse, now I done it,” he groans. “Kenny, who’s a good lawyer? I need some help.” He looks genuinely worried this time.
“Call a guy named Ackerman,” I tell him earnestly.
“What?” he says. “Ackerman,” I repeat louder, and suddenly I know what’s coming next. “I’m not deaf,” he says indignantly, and walks away laughing.

The Sunday Book

Happy Father’s Day to fathers. Hope your kids phone you today. Or at least email you. Anything really.

Also hope you don’t mind if I make this my Sunday post. More pages from my old scrapbook. I’m in Port Hope at the moment.

The huge face of the Rocket you see 5 pictures down is from an old Vitalis advertising sign in the barbershop window in Orillia which the barber gave to me. It’s made of thick cardboard and because of its thickness, it was the beginning of the pages starting to come apart.

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.

It’s Big And Beautiful

My dad and I started the scrapbook together when I was little and he gradually bowed out and let me carry on.

It’s old now, many of the pages are loose, and it’s battered and beat up. But it’s my treasure. I used to invite friends from the old neighbourhood over – “Hey, you wanna come over and see my scrapbook?” and they would and then we’d play road hockey and pose like the players we had just seen in the book.

Here’s the first few pages. The cover was done by my dad, who was a sign painter.

The photos enlarge when clicked on.

A Christmas card Maurice Richard sent me when I was seven sits on the inside cover at the beginning.
Inside the Christmas card
The action photo at the top shows the Rocket just seconds before his Achilles tendon was sliced, which kept him out for months. And on the right, a nice family photo of the Richard clan. Also on this page, Rocket shows sons Normand and Andre his massive scrapbook.
An autographed picture sent to me from the Rocket, Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens ticket stubs, and a photo of Rocket looking at his goals tally are part of this page.

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

A Happy Bunch

Circa 1954 Canadiens’ players, wives and girlfriends get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

Bouchard (in glasses), Maurice and Lucille Richard, Ken Mosdell, Doug Harvey, Elmer Lach and the rest of this happy bunch let off some steam during those glorious days when the Habs were close to embarking on five straight Stanley Cups.

Harvey’s in the forefront at the head of the table, and just behind Bouchard and to Elmer Lach’s left is Gerry McNeil with wife Theresa.

At the back, being served by the waiter, appears to be Bernie Geoffrion (with Marlene), and Ken Mosdell is directly across from Boomer.

12-bouch-rest-group

We’ll Take Fifty Please

Richer

I was reading Le Journal de Montreal the other day, or trying to read it. It helps me learn a bit of French. I find the cartoons work well.

In Saturday’s paper was this drawing which I like, and which happens to have a Stephane Richer poster on the wall.

Stephane Richer scored fifty goals for the Canadiens twice – 50 in ’87-88, and then 51 in ’89-90.

It’s been twenty-four years since Montreal had a fifty-goal scorer. Twenty-four years since we had someone who knew how to light the lamp on a regular basis.

We’re not even close to having a guy who puts terror in the hearts, eyes, and groins of opposing defencemen and goalies.

The opposition isn’t the least bit uptight now from our guys who jump over the boards, except for P.K. Subban who sends missiles from the blueline. The team is small, is 29th of 30 teams when it comes to regular-strength goals, and our leading point-getter, P.K. isn’t even a forward and is 64th in the league with 36 points.

Our top goal-scorer, Max Pacioretty, has 21 which isn’t bad, but he won’t come close to fifty. Tomas Plekanec, next in line, has 16 and may or may not reach 25.

We have two superstars in our midst – Subban and Carey Price, who’s a goalie. Although Price has two assists, which ties him with Douglas Murray and Ryan White.

I want a guy at the top, or near the top, in scoring. A guy fans in other rinks buy tickets to see.

He’d be so good, even CBC announcers would say nice things about him.

Fans in the seats would point him out to their sons and daughters. Look, they’d say, there’s Gaston LeBois. He’s the best.

Instead, we have guys who go games without a shot on net. They can’t find the back of the net but they always manage to find their pay cheques.

This isn’t THE Montreal Canadiens. Not even close. The is the Montreal Journal de Montrealers. Featuring the women from the fashion and society pages.

We need a big scorer, and I know it’s easier said than done. But I could care less. We need one. End of story.

Could it be Alex Galchenyuk? Maybe. He’s just turned 20 years old, and we won’t really know what we have in him for a few more years.

And if it’s not him, how many more years before one comes along? Twenty? Forty?

Here’s the Habs who managed to light the lamp 50 or more times:

Stephane Richer – 51 – 1989-90
– 50 – 1987-88
Guy Lafleur – 50 – 1979-80
– 52 – 1978-79
– 60 – 1977-78
– 56 – 1976-77
– 56 -1975 76
-53 – 1974-75
Pierre Larouche – 50 -1979-80
Steve Shutt – 60 – 1976-77
Bernard Geoffrion – 50 – 1960-61
Maurice Richard – 50 – 1944-45

Gaston LeBois – 61 – 2029-30

Canada Loses In Shootout

Another one of those fun to watch World Junior games. Unfortunately, at least for those of us cheering for Team Canada in today’s game against the Czech Republic, the good guys would lose 5-4 in the shootout.

They kept falling behind and tying it, but in the end it wasn’t to be.

So much skill and passion from these kids. It never gets old watching them. And the Canadians had their chances but it just wasn’t to be.

There’s going to be some criticism I guess. Maybe the goaltending could’ve been sharper. Maybe Anthony Mantha shouldn’t have touched the puck when going off the ice which led to a too many men penalty and a Czech goal.

Regardless, all these kids in this tournament are brilliant and I’m full of admiration for the whole bunch of them.

Some Habs connections:

Alma, QC’s Charles Hudon drafted 122nd in 2012, tied the score at four apiece.

Zachary Fucale could be between the pipes on Monday when the boys clash with Slovakia (11:30 ET). Fucale, from Rosemere, QC, was taken 36th by the Canadiens in the 2013 draft.

Anthony Mantha’s grandfather is Andre Pronovost, a solid defensive forward with the Canadiens from 1956 to 1961, who would collect four straight Stanley Cups as a member of those late ’50s juggernauts.

The book my dad got signed for me in the late-50s includes Pronovost’s autograph, halfway down, just below Boom Boom Geoffrion’s. (My son has the book now. Otherwise I’d take the picture again and make it bigger).

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Happy Habby Wives

Of course Carey Price is playing much better. He’s married now. That’s what often happens.

Josh Gorges scored a goal in Vancouver. He got married this summer too.

Women are amazing and mysterious creatures. They turn four walls into a home just by adding a couple of flowers and a table. They help struggling hockey-playing husbands find their game. They open up the fridge door, pull out a carrot and a jar of relish, and half an hour later there’s a gourmet meal sitting there.

Unless your wife’s a lousy cook of course. In that case, disregard the last sentence.

Habs wives need to be happy and comfortable. If the Canadiens have the happiest wives and girlfriends, the team wins the Stanley Cup. That’s how it works and in my next life when I’m smart I’ll go to university and do a thesis on this very subject.

Look at the picture below. That’s Ken Mosdell, Boom Boom Geoffrion, and the Rocket, happy as can be with their really happy wives. Except for maybe Boomer. What’s wrong, Boomer? (Maybe they told him to stop singing).

Habs and wives