Category Archives: Henri Richard

Those TSN Guys Sure Can Be Kidders Sometimes.

This came out in the Edmonton Journal, written by John MacKinnon, and it’s quite amazing. Somehow, some place, the TSN gang must have got together and dropped some acid. MacKinnon’s story is entitled…

“Habs’ Dream Team Falls Flat With Imagination Shackled”  

So, in honour of the Montreal Canadiens centenary, TSN has assembled the “Ultimate Canadiens Team,” and it’s pretty much a laugh riot.

The TV folks put Jean Beliveau at centre between Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard on the first line. Fair enough. Then things got weird.

Saku Koivu between John Ferguson and Bobby Rousseau on the second line was an odd decision, and Brian Skrudland between Andre Pronovost and Jim Roberts on the ‘energy’ line, was a stretch, no offence to those splendid gentlemen, Cup-winners all.

The checking line of Guy Carbonneau between Bob Gainey and Claude Provost is OK, if you really need a checking line on a fantasy team. But the sublime Doug Harvey partnered with Mike Komisarek as the top defensive pairing? Ted Harris and Craig Ludwig as the third duo?

Michel (Bunny) Larocque backing up the incomparable Jacques Plante in goal?

Obviously, TSN was using some sort of ghost roster format to sort through 100 years of excellence. The network tried to inject a dash of realism — a questionable measure when the point is to indulge in fantasy — by limiting the number of Hockey Hall of Famers on the team to eight.

Still, an all-time assemblage of Les Glorieux with none of Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard, Joe Malone, Yvan Cournoyer, Newsy Lalonde, Guy Lapointe, Chris Chelios, Jacques Laperriere, Emile (Butch) Bouchard, Tom Johnson, Sprague Cleghorn, Lorne (Gump) Worsley, Frank Mahovlich, Pete Mahovlich, Georges Vezina, Bert Olmstead, Dickie Duff, George Hainsworth, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Steve Shutt, J.C. Tremblay, Rod Langway, Mats Naslund and Boom-Boom Geoffrion suiting up is mighty light on glory.

So how do you get to the right answer? That’s not so easy.

In this company, 50-goal scorers Pierre Larouche and Stephane Richer, or two-time 40-goal man Mark Napier, sit far down the list.

Others who wouldn’t make the cut:

Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, Bobby Smith, Hall of Famer Buddy O’Connor, who centred the Razzle Dazzle Line, on and on.

To simplify, you could go with an all-native Montrealer team and start with the Richard brothers, Geoffrion, Lemaire and Moore up front with Harvey, Savard, Bouchard and Cleghorn on the back end, and the Gumper and Jose Theodore (Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2002) in goal.

How about the entire ’59-60 team, which capped off the five-in-a-row dynasty, or the ’76-77 edition, the best of the four-straight gang of the 1970s. You wouldn’t be wrong, either way.

Selecting Fergie, Skrudland, Harris and Ludwig ahead of a busload of Hall of Famers might be a bizarre conversation starter, but sifting through the Canadiens greats is quite a discussion, no matter how you attack it. With no right answer, finally.

Who Was This Woman? And Were The Boys Polite To Her?

 

Who is Miss Lee Dillon? And how did she come to cover the Canadiens during the 1956-57 season?

 

Was she there a few years earlier in March of 1955 when the Richard Riot happened?

 

Did she interview Henri Richard when he broke in with the Habs a year earlier?

 

Did she share knitting tips with Jacques Plante?

 

Did Boom Boom sing to her?

 

Did Toe Blake, known for his salty vocabulary, watch his language around her?

 

Did the Rocket glare at her?

 

Was Jean Beliveau polite to her? Of course he was.

 

Did she sit beside Red Fisher in the press box when he started covering the Canadiens in the spring of 1955?

 

1956-57 was the year the team won their second of five straight Cups. Did she get champagne poured on her. Did she cover her eyes in the dressing room when they came out of the showers?

 

How did she get this great job?

 

Did she marry and change her name?

 

Is she still with us?

 

 

Canadiens Take It to The Rangers And Play A Fine, Fine Game

 

I’d say there’s a lot of things to smile about tonight. This solid 6-2 win over the NY Rangers had to be the Canadiens’ best game of the season. Everyone contributed, and although Alex Kovalev has now gone 15 games without a goal, he was effective and creative, and at least managed an assist.

 

From the beginning, when Bobby Rousseau, Pocket Rocket, Guy Lafleur and others including old Rangers greats like Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell, were introduced, it was an outstanding night. This was the first time I’d seen Rousseau in about 35 years. Lafleur got the chant, and everyone was applauded heartily. And rightfully so, Pocket got a standing ovation. If I could’ve been there, I would have been proud to give this little big man a big thank you.

 

And the team, for a nice, delightful change, was smoking.

 

This is the Montreal Canadiens we’ve been waiting for. Andrei Kostitysn has come alive, coincidently since his brother Sergei was sat down a couple of games ago. The grinders, Maxim Lapierre and Steve Begin, continue to pick it up a notch and this is a huge turn of events. Newcomer Matt D’Agostini scored again for the second night, and added an assist. And Georges Laraque earned his first point of the season with an assist on Lapierre’s second period goal.

 

There were no dumb penalties, no serious turnovers, no blunders whatsoever. It looks like a team coming together, and D’Agostini has produced while underachievers Guillaume Latendresse, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Ryan O’Byrne sit in the press box and think that maybe they should have done a bit better job.

 

The team seems to have tightened up, turned a corner, stepped it up, and maybe, just maybe, are fed up with their lacklustre start to the season and have decided to do something about it.

 

Let’s see a continuation of this Saturday when the New Jersey Devils are in town. I don’t even mind that I have to go to work tonight for a graveyard shift. This game has made my day.   

 

Game Notes:

 

The Canadiens wore the uniform of the 1915-1916 Habs, the team that won the first of 24 Stanley Cups. And Carey Price wore pads and gloves resembling the old leather ones, although these are state of the art, unlike the ones worn by Georges Vezina who was the goalie back then.

 

TSN’s Sportcentre listed their top ten Montreal Canadiens and I have no qualms with these choices.

 

1.  Maurice Richard

2. Jean Beliveau

3. Doug Harvey

4. Guy Lafleur

5. Howie Morenz

6. Jacques Plante

7. Patrick Roy

8. Larry Robinson

9. Henri Richard

10. Ken Dryden

 

 

 

Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised

A guest writer delves into the ‘Patrick Roy’s sweater being retired’ saga. 

 

Take it away, Jim.

 

“Pro sports are sexy for a variety of reasons, but perhaps their most attractive quality is that they are so readily apprehended. Things are pretty straightforward, excluding the usual geeky obsession with stats – God bless The Schwab, a brilliant trivia geek, but frankly I have to agree with Noam Chomsky here when he says in effect that the brains of such people could be put to much better use.

 

A simple concept that I’m interested in touching on here is that of the relationship between team and player and championships. In all team sports, WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure not only of the team but of the individual player. Aguably, winning the Stanley Cup is the most demanding, most arduous, most difficult championship to capture, and being a member of a Stanley Cup championship team is the crown glory of any player. This simple fact is born out by the players themselves who to a man agree that they would trade any number of individual achievements, any amount of accolades just to win one cup – to my knowledge, no player has yet declared they preferred being a star to winning a cup.

 

In this respect, Lanny McDonald and Dave Andreychuk spring immediately to mind.

 

Are individual stats relevant?

 

Of course they are. For example, Marcel Dionne and Mike Gartner were great players and derserved to be in the Hall of Fame even though they did not win any cups. Conversely, many players such as Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle, who won several cups with the Habs, do not, in my mind, belong in the Hall.

 

In other words, membership in the Hall is very much a function of individual accomplishments in the game, although inductees who have won cups are, I believe, a cut above those who did not – the single most significant yardstick for measuring the greatness of a player is how many cups he has won. Period.

 

However, being inducted into the Hall is not the same as having one’s sweater retired by le Canadien. The Habs are not only the greatest team of all time, they are one of the greatest sports teams of all time. What this means is quite simply that the standards and expectations that apply to other teams and their players are not applicable to the Habs.

 

My point re Roy? Winning a mere two cups hardly qualifies Patrick Roy to be placed in the company of greats such as Beliveau, the Richards, Cournoyer, Plante, Lafleur, – who each has great stats as well as multiple cups. Note that they are all Hall Of Famers, unlike Houle and Tremblay. And the argument that Roy single-handedly won the two cups and therefore merits special treatment not only flies in the face of the win-as-a-team/lose-as-a-team maxim but it is insulting to the great players on those cup teams – look ’em up!

 

It’s a cliche, which doesn’t mean it isn’t so, to say that teams only go as deep into the playoffs as their goalies take them. Of course goalies are crucial components on any cup-winning team, but this sure doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all cup-winning goalies should have their sweaters retired. But if we assume that Roy did literally win the cup by himself, then, applying the same logic, it’s reasonable to to assume that he therefore lost many more cups than he won. Hey, isn’t Price getting heat for ‘losing’ to the Flyers? Never mind the goalposts and poor shooting of the rest of the team. Hmmm, makes Roy a big choker rather than a big hero, n’est-ce pas?

 

Put him in the Hall, sure. Roy was a good goalie and he did have an impact on the game. But he definitely did NOT accomplish enough as a Canadien to warrant having his sweater retired. It’s a cynical marketing play that diverts attention from the fact that we have not won a cup in 15 years! And please, spare me the bs about the modern game and parity.  The Wings have won 3 in 11 years and could easily have won more and we’re supposed to be happy to make the playoffs. What a shameful betrayal of all the great Hab players and builders who triumphed regardless of the era in which they played. Hell, mug shots of Sammy Pollock and Scotty Bowman belong up there, not Roy’s sweater.

 

In Habland, cups first and persoanl stats a distant second – gotta luv Gainey and Harvey and Robinson and Savard, eh? And yes, the criteria that qualify a player of Hall of Fame induction do apply. As well, intangible considerations other than cup wins are also relevant.: leadership (suck it up, dig down, and play even better), charisma (Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur), grit and determination (not a quitter among the sweaters up there now), loyalty (Roy? hmm..), et al.

 

Re Morenz, okay, I’ll be arbitrary here and say 3 cups is the minimum necessary to qualify to even be considered for having one’s sweater retired. I’ll also point out that Morenz, aka the Statford Streak, was called the Babe Ruth of hockey and as such he transcended the sport in much the same way Ruth did baseball, something that Patrick can not lay claim to. Morenz was a star whose brilliance far exceeded that of Roy. Also, unlike Roy, Morenz did not quit the Habs in the throes of a hissy fit over a chilish spat with a patently hostile and incompetent coach who would have clearly been turfed in favour of Roy. Morenz was a true Hab who died well before his time from an injury sustained while wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge.

 

PS  No player will ever publicy say that other players do not deserve whatever honours team and league choose to bestow on them.

Gary Bettman Wets The Bed, And Other Hockey Thoughts

Hockey items you could discuss with your friends after five or six beer:

 

The Philadelphia Flyers have sent Steve Downey down to their AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms.

Players around the NHL now stand a much better chance of not having their skulls cracked. AHL players, however, are putting extra padding in their helmets and have told their wives to remarry if anything happens to them.

Steve Downey is Sean Avery on crystal meth.

 

Gary Bettman says everything’s rosy in the the league and so talk of a team in Canada is silly, especially the part about having two franchises in the Toronto area. Bettman may or may not have said this as he overlooked the three franchises around New York from his office window.

 

This is a guy who probably even makes French-Canadian oldtimers long for Clarence Campbell.

And why are teams like Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix etc. so important to the little man, and placing a team in Canada isn’t?

There has to be a reason. I just don’t know what the reason is. Is he getting fat little Christmas bonuses from people?

Was the bully who picked on Bettman in school a transplanted Canadian?

 

Rumours contimue about Wild star Marian Gaborik being traded to Montreal. I’m assuming Gary Bettman is against this because if it makes the Habs even stronger and even more of a Cup contender, the Stanley Cup could end up in the dreaded backwaters of Canada, one of the commissioner’s worst nightmares.

 

And one of my worst nightmares is a major trade involving the Canadiens which disrupts the harmony and chemistry they’ve got going now.  If they landed Gaborik for future draft picks only, then great. But they’d need to clear out some salaries to make room for him, which means moving some existing players.

Is this a good idea?

 

Did the Boomer-Pocket commercial make you smile?

 

Bobby Clarke says Sean Avery is an idiot and someone should punch him out. Of course, when Clarke played, he was an angelic, gentlemanly fellow whom the whole hockey world loved. But aside from that, I completely agree with him.

 

This five-game break in the schedule for the Canadiens may or may not suck. Players can nurse their wounds and certain things can be worked out in practices, but geez, they’ve been on such a roll. And don’t forget about the poor wives who have to put up with them for this long. This isn’t normal for the little ladies.

Hope all this doesn’t affect the big game against Anaheim Saturday night.

 

Is it possible Gary Bettman told the schedule planners to give good Canadian teams big long days off to disrupt their play?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boomer And The Pocket. Two Wild And Crazy Guys

Bernie Geoffrion loved being in front of the camera. He was a born ham, and I remember him singing on The Juliette Show one time.

Henri Richard has always been sort of quiet and shy. Someone once asked Toe Blake if Henri spoke English. Blake said he didn’t even know if he spoke French.

 In this 1985 Miller beer commercial, the Boomer does a great job, and the Pocket looks to be comfortable and having fun, although he didn’t have to do much.

 This commercial might make you smile.

 

 

The Book, The 1958 Team, The Gift, And Toe Blake Helping Out My Dad

When I was seven or eight years old, my father and mother bought me a book for Christmas called “Let’s Play Hockey” by Lynn Patrick. Normally this wouldn’t be news. Normally it would’ve been just another hockey book.

But my father got the bright idea to send it to the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, asking if any of the players would sign it so he could give me something special at Christmas.

The book came back signed by the entire 1958-59 team, and I suppose when I opened it, my eyes must’ve bugged out.

They were all there – Toe Blake, Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Plante, Ralph Backstrom, Bert Olmstead, Marcel Bonin, Tom Johnson, Phil Goyette, Claude Provost, Andre Pronovost, Ian Cushenan, Bob Turner, Jean Guy Talbot, Dollard St. Laurent, Ab McDonald, and Don Marshall.

But darn it, Doug Harvey wasn’t. He must’ve been injured or something when the book was passed around.

But that didn’t stop my father. Later that year he took me to Toronto to see the Habs play the Leafs, and he brought the book with us. And sometime before game time, he took the book down to the corridor outside Montreal’s dressing room, and believe it or not, saw Toe Blake standing there, went up to him and asked him if he would take the book into the room and get Harvey’s autograph for him.

Blake did just that, and that’s Harvey’s signature down at the bottom corner of the opposite page of the other players. Imagine.

Those brown marks are from scotch tape. For awhile, after I got it, I taped a plastic sheet over top to protect them. Because even then I realized the magnitude of this book.

The Beatles And The Habs – A Winning Combination.

 

On August 17th, in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there.

I was 15 years old 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 he was going and asked if I would like to go with him. I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, the show wasn’t sold out and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row of the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, and the Beatles in the finale 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 the kiddies. Yvon 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 have continued on over the years in mostly glorious fashion. The Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

And the Leafs continue to suck.

Lovely Habs Wives In The 1960’s. (Part 5 of 5)

One of the most important players on the Habs of the early 1960’s, and a third and fourth line grinder at that. Dave Balon and his beautiful wife.

Sadly, Balon passed away several years back, and it was way too early.

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. Tom Kostopoulos nowadays is a bit of a throwback in some ways to Balon.

Look how happy they look, especially his wife.

 

 

Ralph Backstrom and his wife Frances and kids. Isn’t she a sweetheart?

After Backstrom’s playing days were over, he ended up coaching the University of Denver team, and in 2003, founded the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League, which is where he’s at now.

Backstrom was always one of my favourite players. I even got a brushcut like his once. The guy personified the Montreal Canadien teams he played on – speedy, classy, and a beautiful skater.

People used to hope that he and Henri Richard would have a race because they were both considered the fastest skaters on the team.

And what a lovely wife he has.

Lovely Habs Wives In The 1950’s (Part 1 of 5)

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 left 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.

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. She’s always looked great. Quite a handsome couple, don’t you think?

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