Category Archives: Henri Richard

More Lovely Habs Wives

Photos from my old scrapbook, which I still open from time time.

Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion with his wife Marlene and kids. That little gaffer is Danny, who went on to play for the Habs in the late ’70s, early ’80s. Marlene is the daughter of Howie Morenz, so she’s a hockey gal through and through. She looks beautiful, especially in that white blouse.

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Big Jean Beliveau doing the dishes with wife Elise. Elise said she had to do most of the driving when they were dating because Jean was a lousy driver.

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Jacques Plante, with wife Jacqueline and boys Michel and Richard, singing and forgetting about flying pucks that hurt when they hit the face. Plante also liked to knit, and made his own socks and toques.

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Dickie Moore and his lovely wife playing with their little baby. Such a fine looking couple. One of Moore’s daughters, and it could be the one in this photo, eventually dated one of Doug Harvey’s son. (I never heard how that worked out).

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Bert Olmstead showing his beautiful family his scrapbook. Scrapbooks were all the rage back then, and probably very cool when the scrapbook was about yourself. Years ago I looked up Olmstead in the Calgary phone book, phoned him and asked him if he’d mind talking about the old days with the Habs. He hung up on me.

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This is Maurice Richard, of course, just sitting around with his wife Lucille and the family. The kids are Maurice Jr., Hugette, Normand, Andre, and Suzanne. In the top photo, the Rocket shows his Rocket scrapbook to Normand and Andre. Most kids don’t have dads with a personal scrapbook. However, my dad was probably a much better sign painter than the Rocket.

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Henri Richard and his lovely wife Lise, being happy and healthy at home in Montreal. We would see Lise often over the years in camera shots at games with the Pocket, and she always looked great, that’s for sure.

Henri was just a little kid when his older brother was becoming a star with the Canadiens.

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One of the most important players on the Habs in the early 1960s, and a third and fourth line grinder at that – Dave Balon and his beautiful wife of whose name I don’t know. I wish I did.

Sadly, Balon passed away in 2007 from MS, and of course it was way too early because he was only 68.

Balon was one of those guys who was never a star, but was a hard worker, a checker, and he shone in playoff situations, scoring key goals, and was put out often in key situations against the other teams’ stars. For every Jean Beliveau, a team needs a Dave Balon. He wore number 20, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s never gotten enough credit for what he did for the Montreal Canadiens.

Look how happy they look, especially his wife.

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Ralph Backstrom and his wife Frances and kids.

After Backstrom’s playing days were over, he ended up coaching the University of Denver team, founded a roller hockey league in the late ’90s, and in 2003, the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League.

Backstrom was always one of my favourite players. I even got a brush cut like his once. The guy personified the Montreal Canadien teams he played on – speedy, classy, and a beautiful skater. Like me except for most of that.

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Canadiens goaltender Charlie Hodge and lovely wife Sheila. Charlie had the unfortunate luck of being on the same team as Jacques Plante, so he was often a backup goalie with the Habs early on. But he would win the Vezina outright in 1963-64 and shared the Vezina with Gump Worsley in ’65-66. He eventually went to Oakland when expansion came into being in 1967, as each team had to surrender a goalie for the new upstarts (the original six teams were allowed to protect only 11 skaters and one goalie).

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John Ferguson with wife Jean and daughter in this really nice family photo. As much as Fergie was a bruiser on the ice, he was known as a gentle pushover at home.

Fergie and family would go back to Nanaimo BC in the off-season where he played professional lacrosse, and he also had a long-time love affair with harness racing.

 

House Of Henri

On the TV show Canadian Pickers a few years back, the two stars of the show came across some old beer hall tables while in Montreal..

The two bubbly and slightly over-the-top Alberta pickers happened to find themselves in Montreal, Hudson, Hawkesbury, Lachute and surrounding territories, and not only did they come across a nice hoard of old La Presse hockey photos from the thirties and several other goodies, but while digging through piles of junk somewhere out in the boonies, they discovered nine old tavern tables which the owner said came out of Henri Richard’s tavern in downtown Montreal, and which closed in 1986.

And although there was no proof they were the Pocket’s, the pickers scooped them up for a few hundred bucks for the lot of them.

It gets a bit scripted, though. The pickers decided to try and find out if the tables were actually from Henri’s place or not, because if not, they’d just bought themselves some old tables they might be lucky to get $50 for, and eventually they found themselves in a little pub on a side street in Montreal, of which the name escapes me. In talking to the owner, the guys told him they had these tables and wanted to know his opinion on if they were the real thing or not, and the owner simply told them to ask Henri Richard himself, WHO JUST HAPPENED to be sitting at a table enjoying a Molson with ex-Habs player, coach, and GM Rejean Houle.

JUST HAPPENED. Right.

Henri looked at the tables, said they were indeed from his pub, and he and Houle signed the top of them and invited the guys to sit down and have a beer with them. “Eleven Stanley Cups”, they gushed at Henri, and Henri said, for probably about the eight thousandth time over the years, that he was just in the right place at the right time.

Later on, I found an auction site that was selling two of these tables, with the autographed tops, for $600 each. I wouldn’t have bought one, but that’s just me.

My first wife and I, along with Mike Williamson and Diana, had dinner at Henri Richard’s tavern in the late 1970s, and for the life of me I don’t remember tavern tables. It was more of a restaurant I thought, although maybe a beverage room was in another part of the building. Or maybe I’d just had a few too many Molsons.

Thanks Rocket

On March 11, 1996, following a game between Dallas and Montreal, the Canadiens and fans said goodbye to the Montreal Forum. The lights were dimmed, and Montreal Canadien captains from over the years – Emile Bouchard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Pierre Turgeon, and of course, number nine, Maurice Richard – all walked onto the Forum ice.

A torch was lit and passed to Butch Bouchard, who then passed it to the Rocket, and the emotional fans in the beautiful old building, the wondrous Forum, erupted in an explosion of cheers, tears, and memories to the greatest Hab ever.

Fans weren’t only saying goodbye to the old building, they were also saying thank you to the Rocket, who had done so much to create the mystique that is the Montreal Canadiens, a man whose deeds, fire, passion, and humility continues to make all Montreal fans, young and old, proud of the team, and a man the emotional Quebec Habs fans embraced and clung to through rocky political and cultural times in the province.

The Rocket was my boyhood hero and remains my hero today. I met him once, but that’s a story for another day.

The 1996 standing ovation left most in tears. And Rocket wasn’t even sure why there such an outpouring of emotion. Because, as he said, “I’m just a hockey player.”

 

Your Basic Rocket Contract

Below, the Rocket’s contract for the 1956-57 season, drawn up on a 1954 Northern Electric calendar page, for the sum of $12,000, plus a $2,000 signing bonus.

$12,000 is basically the equivalent of $108,000 in 2017 dollars.

Thanks to Bernie Beland in Sudbury for sending me a photo of this great piece.

Interestingly enough, Rocket’s brother Henri’s rookie contract was drawn up on the very same type of calendar page, but from the year before, 1953, even though Henri’s rookie year was 1955-56.

GM Frank Selke must have held on to his old, out-of-date Northern Electric calendar pages because he was a cheap bastard.

Weber And Gang Win Another

blastA blast from the point from Shea Weber with just 2:57 left in the third period, and the visiting Montreal Canadiens leave town with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

The major roll continues to roll.

Speedy Paul Byron, elevated to the first line with Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk, opened the scoring in the second period, and this middle frame had belonged completely to the Habs, right up until John Tavares evened things on the power play. But it all worked out in the end so it doesn’t matter.

In the third, after Galchenyuk rang one off the crossbar, Phillip Danault banged home a Weber shot after great fourth line forechecking, and the Habs took the lead, but not for long.

Almost three minutes later, ex-Bruin Dennis Seidenberg (which makes him a natural enemy), tied it after serious Islanders pressure, but it was all for naught, because the guy who came over for PK Subban, which caused some to consider jumping off a bridge or slitting their throat, scored the winner, his third of the season and nine points, which leads his team.

He also scares the daylights out of opposing players near the boards, which may or may not be factored into analytics.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Islanders 29-28, and were 1/1 on the power play (Weber).

Al Montoya, playing in his fourth game, was solid as usual and has allowed just 7 goals overall.

Years ago Henri Richard and Ralph Backstrom would be timed doing circles around the Forum, with both skaters fighting to be the fastest. Pretty sure Paul Byron would have given both fellows a run for their money, and I think they’d agree.

Next up –

Thursday night at the Bell when the Tampa Bay Lightning show up to get their arses kicked.

Soft and gentle rant – Alex Galchenyuk still isn’t that superstar we’d hoped for, even though he did score 30 goals last season. I thought by now, after 3 1/2 seasons, we’d see him blossom into one of the league’s elite, but we still wait. Maybe it won’t happen, at least the way I wanted it to.

Just want another Guy Lafleur, that’s all.

 

 

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.

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Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.

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Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.

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And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.

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Beatles, Habs, And Leafs

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On August 17th, 1966, the Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was at the afternoon concert, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

In the summer of ’66 I was 15 and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23, Jacques Laperriere 24, and Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Perry And The Old Boys

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Habs greats Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost and Jean Beliveau show their hipness as they pose with legendary crooner Perry Como.

For those of you who are too young or just not up on your music history, Perry Como went from being a barber to an international singing sensation in the 1940s and ’50s mostly. He was as relaxing as they come. So relaxing that I’m falling asleep just talking about him.

SCTV did a really funny bit on Como where he (played by Eugene Levy), sang while in bed and on the couch and chair, which you can see below.

My mother and father liked him, he was definitely a big talent, but I preferred a bit more up-tempo stuff. Heck, almost anything was livelier than Perry’s music. Elevator music is heavy metal compared to him.

But these Habs legends seemed like they liked him. And I’ll even go as far as saying that the Pocket, Moore, Provost and Beliveau might have even made out with their wives sometimes to Perry Como’s soothing voice.

Habs Blast Jets

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Such a fine way to begin November, with a dominate 5-1 win over the visiting, and sometimes belligerent, Winnipeg Jets.

But Dustin Byfuglien and his pals can take solace in knowing they got hammered by the best team in the league, which should make them feel better when they’re out breaking curfew tonight.

Backup goalie Mike Condon, between the pipes for injured Carey Price, allowed just one goal, which means the big fellow has let in just six goals in his first four starts, all wins, which is impressive to say the least.

Also impressive is the Habs scoring a total of 21 goals during these four Condon games.

Adding to the impressiveness – the David Desharnais, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise line, which tallied seven points in all. This line was flying all game, Fleischmann was on fire, but the team as a whole had their legs moving in fine style.

It’s hard to imagine these guys in another 30 years when they’re fat and can hardly skate.

The Jets, meanwhile, sat quietly on the tarmac, not going anywhere.

And then there was Paul Byron, listed as 5’7″, 153 lbs, playing like the much bigger Henri Richard, listed as 5’7″, 160 lbs.

Byron opened the scoring in the first period when once again, as he had done in Calgary two nights prior, burst in on a shorthanded breakaway to light the lamp. A fine deja vu moment to be sure.

Two goals and an assist for Byron in his three games, while Alex Semin sits in the press box each night now, wondering, drinking coffee, eating hot dogs, and asking Marc Bergevin if he can get him anything.

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first, which is always such a nice thing, when lefthanded shot David Desharnais burst down the right side the way the Rocket once did, and after being stopped, Tomas Fleischmann banged home his first of the night.

In the second period it would be Fleischmann doing the bursting down the right side, with his shot eluding Jets goaltender Michael Hutchison. The starting goalie would soon be replaced by Ondrej Pavelec after allowing a fourth goal, a DD marker when he barreled in with Fleischmann and Nathan Beaulieu on what was basically a 3 on 1.

Lars Eller would direct the puck off his skate on the power play to widen things to 5-1, and in the third, the lone goal past Condon came from Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn, who looks like the Band’s Richard Manuel, who’s been dead for 29 years.

Random Notes:

The 7 points from the DD line included Fleischmann with 2 goals and 1 assist, DD a goal and 2 assists, and Weise 1 assist).

Canadiens outshot Winnipeg 26-19.

The team has now recorded 50 goals in 13 games, an average of 3.84 goals a game. Some serious fire wagon hockey going on with this league-leading team.

Next up – The dastardly Ottawa Senators pay a visit to the Bell on Tuesday.

 

Six Appeal!

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The Canadiens are serving early and serious notice that they’re a team to be reckoned with as they downed the visiting Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at the Bell Centre, thus extending their unbeaten streak to six, and doing so in fine style.

They even went a respectable 2/5 on the power play and outshot the Wings by a formidable 20-5 in the third period. Beauty eh?

It was Detroit who opened the scoring on this night, after the Canadiens had done just that in their five previous games, when 19-year old Dylan Larkin fired the puck off Carey Price and into the net in the second period.

I admire 19-year old pros. In almost every way, the complete opposite of me when I was 19. It’s just not normal for a teenager to be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and being hit on by groupies in big league cities. He should be chugging tequila and smoking reefers and puking in the basement like everybody else.

Soon after the young fellow got things going, Brendan Gallagher would take the puck with him while sliding into the net, and after the officials went upstairs, it was ruled a good goal and things were tied.

When I first saw the goal I thought of Henri Richard, who scored the clincher in the 1966 Cup Finals when he slid into Detroit’s Roger Crozier and over the line, taking the puck with him.  But the puck was under Henri’s arm, unlike Gally’s puck which was forced in with his skate.

Truly sad is the recent news that the Pocket Rocket is in declining health due to Alzheimer’s. We’re with you, Henri, that’s for sure.

In the third fame, the Habs broke things open when Jeff Petry scored with the man advantage, Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp a dozen or so minutes later, and Brian Flynn found the empty net with less than a second remaining.

And the world rejoiced!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Detroit in impressive fashion, 41-22.

Plekanec’s goal, his fifth of the season, gives him the team lead (Max has four). Gallagher, Petry, and Flynn all scored their first of the year.

Next, the St. Louis Blues pay a visit on Tuesday. And of course we need seven.

Excellent night for the boys as they roll along. All four lines once again contributed, David Desharnais enjoyed a big night, the penalty kill was solid, Alexei Emelin thumped, Tomas Fleischmann was good, Alex Galchenyuk had some nice chances, especially when he danced through four Wings during a first period power play, and of course, Price was Price, although he wasn’t exactly overworked.

Price also fed a long pass to Plekanec in the second period, who rang the  puck off the bar. Our goalie even tried once again to send the puck down the ice and into the empty net. It’s gonna happen yet!

As far as Alex Semin goes, we keep hearing about his blistering wrist shot, but we never see him unload it.

The Leafs lost to Pittsburgh.