Category Archives: Dick Irvin

Dick And Danny Do The Game

It’s the magical combination of Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin as the Habs and Flyers battle on May 16, 1976. Montreal would win 5-3 on this night, sweeping the Flyers to win their 19th Stanley Cup.

Period one (30 min.) and period three (42 min) are included here, and we see the Cup awarded. Just wonderful, and thanks to my old buddy Rugger for sending it along.

Period One:

Period Three:

Big Canadian Day, Eh!

For those of you in other countries, today, Sunday, is a big day in Canada. Grey Cup Day. The 100th Grey Cup. When Canadians from coast to coast gather to eat meatballs, dips and chili. They also drink a lot of beer on this day, which is never a good idea because most have to work the next day, and if they haven’t learned in 100 years, they probably never will. But Canadians are Canadians. Just a wild and crazy bunch.

This Grey Cup will feature the Toronto Argonauts hosting the Calgary Stampeders, and I don’t really have a favourite. Maybe the team with the best-looking cheerleaders. Maybe I’ll root for the Argos because Torontonians have the Leafs and I feel sorry for them.

This was a trophy donated by Earl Grey in 1909. He originally had wanted to give away silverware that represented the best amateur hockey team in the country, but that rascal Sir Montagu Allan beat him to it, so Earl had to make it football because all the good hockey trophies had already been taken. I’ll bet he was pissed when he found out Monty got there first.

Habs great Doug Harvey was a huge fan, and once played against the Argos as a member of the Quebec Rugby Football Union, which in the 1940s was part of the CFL. He said that if he had to choose between hockey and football, he’d choose football. The Canadiens would often find themselves playing in Toronto on Grey Cup night, and coach Dick Irvin warned the guys not to go to the big game in the afternoon because he didn’t want any of them getting colds and sore throats and all that. The fine was $500, and every year Doug would go to the game and then pay the fine.

Cure for the hangover? Okay.

This is a sure thing, and it’s taken most of my life to figure it out. Put your coat on and walk about nine kilometers (5.5 miles), or more. I don’t know why this works. Maybe it’s something about getting the blood flowing. Or crisp air getting into your lungs. But it’s the best hangover cure I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot.

Random Note:

If your math doesn’t add up, that this is the 100th Grey Cup even though the trophy was donated in 1909, it’s because the game wasn’t played during the First World War years. At least I think that’s how it works.

 

 

 

 

Dick And Gomez

Long before he was a legendary coach of the Canadiens, Leafs, and Blackhawks, and long before he got frisky with the missus and made little Dick Jr., Dick Irvin Sr. was one of the world’s greatest players, which you can read all about right here - Dick’s Biography, and which also includes how he became coach of the Habs.

But enough about that. I want to mention one particular event.

While playing for Regina in the Western Canada Hockey League, Dick was deliberately hooked under his chin by a fellow with the great name of Spunk Sparrow. (In my next life, I want to be called Spunk Sparrow). And because Dick had a habit of playing with his tongue between his teeth, Sparrow’s stick caused Dick to bite right through this crucial part of the mouth which helped him eat, talk, and whistle.

Dick refused to have doctors look after him, stayed on the ice, won the faceoff, skated past the penalty box where Sparrow was serving his time, and belted Sparrow so hard that Sparrow needed sixteen stitches to fix the wound. It was only after that that Dick would let doctors sew up his tongue, which was hanging out of his mouth.

You see, this is what we need from Scott Gomez. If he’s not going to help his team by getting points, at least he can smack a guy sitting in the penalty box, or whack a guy over the head with his stick from time to time. If only to show he means business.

Is it too much to ask? We’d just really appreciate the intensity.

One small footnote about Dick’s biography link above. It fails to mention that Dick had a falling out with Montreal GM Frank Selke about the way he was handling Maurice Richard. Selke felt that Dick was encouraging the Rocket to display, far too often, his sometimes over-the-top fiery bad temper, and Selke replaced Dick with Toe Blake. (Rocket punched out and whacked a few people over the head with his stick too).

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Roger Leger Was All Choked Up

Another little ditty from my Bee Hive collection as we wait for the Habs to destroy Chicago on Tuesday.

Roger Leger was not only in the running to replace Dick Irvin as coach of the Canadiens, a job Toe Blake was eventually given, but also managed to get his bridgework stuck in his throat one night against Detroit in 1948 which caused the team to lose the game.

The Canadiens were winning by one goal late in the game and as the puck came back to Leger on the blueline from a faceoff, Ted Lindsay rammed his elbow into Leger’s mouth, forcing the guy’s bridgework down his throat. Leger left the puck sitting there as he choked and panicked and skated for the bench and a Detroit player grabbed the puck and tied the score. Soon after, the Wings popped the winner.

However, in Leger’s defence, I would’ve done the same thing. The hell with the puck.

Who’s The Best Coach Ever?

From Scott Morrison’s book “Hockey Night In Canada’s Best of the Best”, these are the choices for all-time best coach. I just go directly to Toe Blake, but who is your pick? And what the heck is Don Cherry doing on this list? And Pat Quinn?

  1. Roger Neilson – If there’s a word to describe Neilson, it has to be innovator. Every step of the way he did things differently, whether it was using video, headset communication with coaches, or finding loopholes in the rules. He changed the face of coaching.
  2. Billy Reay – He played in the NHL for 10 seasons and then took his spot behind the bench with the Leafs. He was better known for his 14 years with the Chicago Blackhawks where he took the team to the Cup finals three times
  3. Jack Adams – He’s the only person to have his name on the Stanley Cup as a player, coach and general manager.  His career as a coach began with back-to-back Cup wins in 1936 and ’37.
  4. Pat Quinn – His last year with the Oilers was unlike the rest of his career.  He’s always been a winner. His teams made it to the playoffs 15 times and twice he was in the Cup finals.
  5. Fred Shero – Was hired by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1971. In five of the seven seasons he was with the Flyers, the team finished with more that 100 points and in four of those seasons had a win percentage over .700.
  6. Pat Burns – Won the Jack Adams award three times. He got the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup final, Toronto twice to the conference championship and he won the big prize with the New Jersey Devils in 2003.
  7. Dick Irvin – Started as a coach with the Blackhawks in 1928, but in the following season was with the Maple Leafs and led them to a Stanley Cup win. He took them to the final six more times and then moved on to Montreal where he led the Canadiens to three Stanley Cup victories.
  8. Al Arbour – Went directly from player to coach. He started with the St. Louis Blues and then went to the New York Islanders where he won four consecutive Stanley Cups. He finished with 781 career wins in 1,606 games.
  9. Scotty Bowman – The winningest coach in NHL history – most games won, most Stanley Cups won. Over his 30 years of coaching, Bowman never had a losing record when he coached a full season. He finished with 1,244 regular-season wins and 223 more in the playoffs.
  10. Mike Babcock – This career is still in progress. It started in 2002 with the Anaheim Ducks where he took the team to the finals in 2003. He then jumped to the Red Wings where he has never missed the playoffs. He’s won one Stanley Cup and a gold medal with Team Canada at the Vancouver Olympics.
  11. Hector “Toe” Blake – Was a good hockey player as well as a great coach. He played on the legendary Punch Line with Rocket Richard and Elmer Lach. Then as a coach he won the Stanley Cup eight times in 13 seasons, including five in a row.
  12. Glen Sather – A journeyman hockey player who made his mark as a coach and general manager. He was behind the bench when the Edmonton powerhouse was at its best, winning five Stanley Cup championships. 
  13. George “Punch” Imlach – He joined the Leafs as an assistant general manager. One month into his job Billy Reay was fired as coach and Imlach took over. In 1962, the Leafs won the first of three consecutive Cups and was behind the bench in 1967, the last title in franchise history.
  14. Tommy Ivan – While with the Detroit Red Wings from 1947 to 1954, he won three Stanley Cups and earned the reputation for taking talent and making it better. While in Detroit he led his Wings to first place seven years in a row.
  15. Don Cherry – Best known as a commentator on Hockey Night in Canada.  He was also a colourful coach for the Boston Bruins who made it to the Stanley Cup finals twice, both times against the Montreal Canadiens. He won the Jack Adams Award in 1976.   

Me And Methuselah

I became 60 years old today. I know, it’s ridiculous. It’s way too old.

If this keeps up, I’ll catch Methuselah, who apparently lived until he was 969.

When I was born, on Oct. 4th, 1950, the Rocket had only played eight seasons with the Canadiens. He’d go on for another ten years after that. Dick Irvin was coaching the Habs when my mom gave birth to me, Gerry McNeil was the goaltender having replaced Bill Durnan, and it was three long years before Jean Beliveau put the sweater on.

I was born five years before the Richard Riot and nine years before Jacques Plante decided to wear a mask for the first time. I’ve been alive for 18 of the 24 Stanley Cups Montreal has won.

I’m really freaking old. But I’ve been told a few times that I have the passion of someone half my age.

World War ll had ended only five years before my birth. Hockey telecasts wouldn’t start until I was a two-year old, in 1952. I’m the same age as Tom Petty and Jay Leno, a year older than Guy Lafleur, and three years older than Bob Gainey.

But I want to confess something. I’m glad I’m this age and wouldn’t trade it for anything younger. I mean this. I grew up in the 1950′s and 60′s, in great and exciting times, and among other things, watching the Original Six teams get it on. The first expansion didn’t happen until I was 17, and so my youth was seeing what many of you only read about. 

I ate dinner with the Leafs (I know, the Leafs) at their training camp in Peterborough when I was 13. I saw the Rocket play live, as well as Jacques Plante and Doug Harvey and the rest. At one game in Toronto, my dad corralled Toe Blake and had him go into the dressing and get Doug Harvey’s autograph for me.

I saw Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Tim Horton, Stan Mikita, Bernie Geoffrion, Phil Esposito, Terry Sawchuk, Dickie Moore and all those old greats play, either live or on TV, and I was a 21 year bartender working in Sudbury when the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series was held.  And while in my 30′s I spent an evening drinking beer with an old man named Aurele Joliat.

When I was 13, the Beatles came to America for the first time and played the Ed Sullivan Show. And in the summer of 1966 when I was 15, I saw the Beatles live in Toronto.

I was a teenager when all that classic rock you know the words to was fresh and new. I went to the Atlantic City Pop Festival held two weeks before Woodstock and saw a very similiar lineup as in Woodstock, and I was a 22 year old in the crowd at Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum in 1973 enjoying Led Zeppelin.

You’re doing your own thing now, seeing your own players you’ll tell your grandkids about, and singing along to your own music. I say savour everything, because believe me, from the bottom of my heart, you’ll be 60 before you know it.

But don’t despair. Getting older isn’t a bad thing at all. You’ll just have to trust me on this.