Category Archives: Bill Durnan

Lots In The Lineups

You can look at the Nov. 25, 1950 program lineups for the Habs and Leafs and see a few cool things.

This was Montreal’s 20th game of the season, and they would lose 4-1 to the Leafs in Toronto on this night. (Okay, that wasn’t so cool).

Gerry McNeil is in goal for Montreal in his rookie year after Bill Durnan retired after the previous season.

Number 5 for Toronto is Bill Barilko, who would score the legendary Stanley Cup-winning overtime goal for the Leafs in game 5, against these same Habs, to cap off the season. Barilko would be killed that summer when his plane crashed in Northern Ontario.

Hal Laycoe, number 12 for the Habs, would be traded to Boston later this season and was a major player in the 1955 Richard Riot.

Rocket Richard has ten goals at this point, more than anybody else on the team.

Habs #14 Billy Reay would eventually coach for 16 NHL seasons, two with Toronto and 14 in Chicago. I have a game-used stick of his from two years prior to this, signed by the entire Habs team.

Elmer Lach, number 16, is still playing and would play three more years after this.

Golly gee willikers, that’s Howie Meeker, number 11 for the Torontonians.

And Turk Broda, who was at the opening ceremonies for the brand new Orillia Arena that year, has one more shutout than McNeil at this point.

 

 

 

If The Gloves Fit, It Must Be It

Derry has probably solved the question of who the little tin goalie is because of the identical gloves on each hand. Bill Durnan was ambidextrous and would at times switch hands.

I had compared Durnan’s photos to the tin man yesterday and decided it wasn’t him. But I was going by the face, not the gloves. The gloves were the key. I had actually decided, from my Bee Hives, that the tin man’s face resembled Emile Bouchard’s more than anyone in my Been Hive collection. Especially the hair.

Way to go, Derry. You %$#&*^.

Now I suppose I have to buy him a beer when he shows up in Powell River next year.

This is the Beehive that made me think it wasn’t Durnan.

And this is the Beehive that made me decide that maybe it was Butch. Although it might have been even closer if he wasn’t smiling.

 

A Glimpse Of Gerry McNeil

As we await the Habs’ obliteration of the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, I thought I would give a brief intermission look at a friendly, popular, and important member of the Montreal Canadiens from days gone by. 

The photo above shows early 1950’s Habs’ goaltender Gerry McNeil playing for his St. Fidele bantam team in Limolou, Quebec circa 1939. That’s him in the Canadiens sweater wearing the pads.

Gerry McNeil began his career in the late 1940’s as a backup goaltender behind the legendary Bill Durnan, but when Durnan retired due to nerves in 1950, McNeil became the number one goalie and stayed that way until Jacques Plante took over in 1954.

McNeil was in the nets when Bill Barilko scored his famous overtime goal for the Leafs in 1951, which you can see in the clip below, and is part of one of the most famous hockey photographs of all time, the Barilko goal. But I’m sure the Habs goalie, who passed away in 2004 at age 78, would have preferred his historic photo to be under different circumstances.

(Below the video is the famous Barilko photo which I know most of you have already seen but I feel I’d be remiss in not including it).

The Old Program Sits On A Shelf

The old program sits on a shelf in my spare room (a room I’ll show you very soon), and it’s quite a program if I do say so myself.

It’s from the 1941-42 season in the Quebec Senior Hockey League featuring a game between the Montreal Senior Canadiens and the Montreal Royals, and what’s especially unique is seeing Maurice Richard in the lineup for the Senior Canadiens, a year before he joined the Habs.

You may have heard that when the Rocket joined the Habs he was wearing number 15, but when his first child Huguette was born, weighing in at nine pounds, Rocket asked if he could change to number nine in honour of his baby girl.

But the number nine must have already had a soft spot in his heart, because as you can see, he was wearing it when he was playing senior hockey.

Also playing on this particular night for the Montreal Royals was Bill Durnan, who of course became a legendary goalie for the Canadiens shortly after, from 1943 to 1950, and Glen Harmon, number 12 for the senior Canadiens, who joined the Habs the following season and played for them from 1942-51.