Category Archives: Jacques Lemaire

Hey Jacques Lemaire, C’mon Home

Good old Jacques Lemaire’s name has been tossed about, most recently I think by TV guys on Hockey Central, as the one fellow who should come in and be the bilingual coach in Montreal that so many are screaming for. These men in makeup also say it could even happen, but I also realize they like to hear themselves talk quite often.

It’s not that he’s too old. Lemaire is 66 and albeit no spring chicken, but neither am I and I’m quite confident, thank you very much, that I can be just as swift and efficient a stick boy as any other stick boy. He’s a Montrealer who used to bleed Habs colours, maybe still does a little, and he came out of retirement last year at Christmas and did, as the TV guys gushed, an outstanding job with the New Jersey Devils.

Habs owner Geoff Molson has already thrown Randy Cunneyworth under the bus, saying there will be a bilingual coach sometime soon, so I’ve decided I want Lemaire as the new coach if Mr. C can’t learn French in a hurry. However, Lemaire said last year that the only connection he feels with Montreal now is when he comes back to visit his niece. But maybe he’s an old jokester and is just pulling our leg.

For me it’s a nice thought. Old-school Hab, once a great player with the bleu, blance, et rouge, respected and experienced as a big-league coach, coming in and turning this club around and making Habs fans happy again. Politicians would sit quiet, players would come alive, and the team would begin a steady climb up the standings, this year and for years to come. All because a 66 year old came back home.

Nice to dream sometimes.

 

 

Toe Blake Mistake

Over the years, card companies like O-Pee-Chee and Topps have slipped up in various ways, putting the wrong name on someone’s card or incorrect information listed and such, which hasn’t really affected the collecting aspect, but simply became conversation pieces more than anything else.

Both Bob Gainey and Serge Savard in different years had Doug Risebrough’s name listed below the photos. On Guy Lafleur’s rookie card, his name is spelled “La Fleur” and in another year Guy was listed as a defenceman. And in one of the most notorious examples of card error, Jacques Lemaire somehow managed to have a Buffalo Sabres uniform on when he never once played for the Sabres.

But the practice of screwing up dates way back, as you can see on this 1940’s gumball card. Toe Blake as a Chicago Black Hawk? Hah!

These weren’t normal gum cards. I believe they were dispensed from gumball machines, hence the name “gumball card.”

Here’s the other side of it.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It – Part Seven -1973

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part seven – 1973

Why was 1973 the longest season ever for Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard ? And the same for the other Cup finalists of that year – Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill White, Pat Stapleton, and Tony Esposito?

Because the 1972 season began for these guys (This Vancouver Sun said ten players but I count eleven) on the morning of August 23th, 1972 when they showed up for the first day of camp for the historic 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, and ended when Montreal hoisted the Cup in Chicago in game six on May 10th, 1973. 

And what series was bigger to Ken Dryden, the Summit or the Cup? “Each is the most important series at the time you win it,” answered the thoughtful Dryden.

It was Montreal’s 18th Stanley Cup, and each player pocketed a record $19,000 for the five weeks of playoff work, and Chicago players didn’t do so badly either, taking home $14,000 each.

Yvan Cournoyer won the Conn Smythe trophy in these playoffs, and  it was record-breaking series with 56 goals being scored, an average of more than nine a game. Jacques Lemaire also found himself in the record book by recording nine assists in the final. It was also Henri Richard’s 11th time he’d sipped from the Cup, whcih is unbelievable. Jean Beliveau had previously been on ten Cup teams.

Scotty Bowman, in his post-game comments, said, “Sure we knew we were the better team. After all, we’d only lost ten games during the season. But look at the pressure it put on us. We came into every game the overwhelming favourite. It’s tough to live up to your press clippings.”

Montreal’s playoff run began by taking out the Buffalo Sabres in six games, then Philadelphia in five, before besting the Hawks in six. Henri Richard considered retiring after this season but ended playing another one and a half seasons beyond. 1972-73 was also the year the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames joined the league.

One side note from this Vancouver Sun writeup. The Vancouver Canucks hired Hal Laycoe to be their new general manager, replacing Bud Poile. Laycoe of course was the villian in 1955 who got Rocket Richard all fired up, which led to the infamous Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Day of 1955. Laycoe, playing for Boston, high-sticked Rocket and of course number nine went after the bespeckled Laycoe, only to find himself held by linesman Cliff Thompson. So in order to protect himself from being hit by Laycoe while being held by the official, Rocket punched Thompson in the face twice, knocking him out cold, and the rest, as they say, is history.  

 

Part Five of “Extra, Extra, Read All About It”

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part five  – 1979

Scotty Bowman felt he deserved the Canadiens general manager’s position in the late 1970’s and it never came – Irving Grundman, a bowling alley mogul, found himself in the job instead. So soon after the big night of May 21, 1979, when Bowman and his team took out the NY Rangers in five games to win it all, he would prepare to embark on a coaching path that would lead him out of Montreal and into Buffalo for seven years, then two in Pittsburgh and nine more in Detroit.

But for now, another championship in Montreal would be savoured.

The Canadiens won their fourth straight Stanley Cup in this 1979, and although it was the beginning of the end, it was still a formidable team. The same star players remained, the ones who had steamrolled over opponents the several year before – Lafleur, Shutt, Robinson, Lapointe, Savard, Dryden etc., but they were getting older, and the shine didn’t glisten quite as much as it had. But it was still enough to get it done, at least this once more before other teams like the Islanders and Oilers, waiting in the wings, would take over.

Winner of the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 1979? None other than Bob Gainey. And coach Bowman had this to say about the quiet and unassuming key forward. “He just drives himself….past what you expect from any player. And he plays every game of the season like that, but people only notice in the playoffs. He has been given all the tough assignments…always. And still he has really improved his offence.”

Eddie MacCabe, in the Ottawa Citizen, wrote about Gainey and his play in this Cup run. “He scored last night with Anders Hedberg riding him like a bronco-buster. He scored in New York in the last game. He got six goals and 10 assists in the playoffs this spring and yet he was almost apologetic about being named MVP.”

Gainey said later about his Conn Smythe award, “It’s hard to believe that my name will be on that trophy with some of the names on there….like Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur….Jean Beliveau.”

He also took home a whopping $1500 and a new car from Sports Illustrated for winning this Conn Smythe award.

This was Montreal’s sixth Cup in ten years, and everybody hated the Habs. Everybody except Habs fans, of course. And we didn’t mind that people felt this way. We were used to it. 

Montreal reached the pot of gold by sweeping the Leafs in four, edging the Bruins in seven, and then disposing of the Rangers. But Larry Robinson had noticed some cracks. The team had lost the final game of the season, a game they need to finish first, and Robinson felt the loss showed that they had failed under pressure, and he admitted he was worried. He also said his team had played mediocre hockey against Boston and could have easily lost that series.

Change was in the air. And it wasn’t just Bowman who would leave soon after. Because when all was said and done, Jacques Lemaire, Yvan Cournoyer, and Ken Dryden would retire, and the Habs wouldn’t win another Stanley Cup until 1986.

Extra, Extra, Read All About It! (Part Four)

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part four – 1971.

It had been two long years since the Canadiens had last won a Stanley Cup, and so in 1971 they did us all a favour by winning again. The natives had been getting restless.

As you can see by the headline, Toe Blake declared 1971 as the Habs greatest victory. And why did he say that?

Here’s Toe. “This is the greatest victory since I have been round Canadiens. These fellows won every series (three) on the other team’s ice. That’s an incredible feat and they came from behind in several games, snatched victory from teams who thought they had won. I said it was better than my last Stanley Cup winner. No team has ever shown more heart under pressure.”

The 1971 playoffs was quite a time for Habs, beginning with a brand new goalie. Law student Ken Dryden, who had at one time been an All-American backstopper at Cornell, had played just six games in the regular season, then replaced the more experienced Rogie Vachon and proceeded to stand on his head as his team took out favoured Boston, then Minnesota, and finally the Chicago Black Hawks.

The legend of Ken Dryden was born in the spring of 1971. And Jean Beliveau called it a day after his brilliant 20 year career with his Montreal Canadiens.

A not quite-so Disneyesque event occurred that spring, unfortunately. After Montreal had lost a game to Chicago, Henri Richard called out coach Al McNeil as incompetent. Headlines blared. The French-English thing came up. For other teams, this might have been a death blow. Instead, Montreal overcame a two-goal deficit to win in game six, and then proceeded to win it all in game seven.

Milt Dunnell, in his Toronto Star column, mentioned that not only were there accusations of McNeil favouring English-speaking players, but also that the coach couldn’t seem to make up his mind where he wanted his players to play. There were no set lines, which sort of reminds me of Jacques Martin. Regardless, it burned the Pocket’s ass.

The other thing that stands out from this series is the legendary goal Jacques Lemaire scored, and one that many still talk about. Lemaire’s long slapshot stunned the Hawks and the crowd, set in motion the overcoming of his team’s second two-goal deficit in two nights, and I have a friend in Calgary, a lifelong Hawks fan, who likes to say that Jacques Lemaire ruined his childhood. It warms my heart when he whines about that.

Legend has it that Lemaire let go a blistering slapshot from centre ice that beat Hawks’ goaltender Tony Esposito, but it was a slight exaggeration. If you’ve ever seen footage of the moment, Lemaire’s shot came from closer to the blueline. But the goal did one huge thing. It was a fortuitous jolt that helped create a Cup celebration. “It might have been the haze in the rink,” said Chicago coach Billy Reay. “I don’t think Tony even saw the shot.”

Footnote. Al McNeil would no longer coach the Habs, even though he had ended with a Stanley Cup. There had been just too much commotion with the Henri Richard disagreement. McNeil was sent to coach the Habs minor-league affiliate Nova Scotia Voyageurs, where he stayed for six years, winning three championships, and finally re-joined the the big club in the front office for a couple more years after that.

And one last quote to end the story, from Bobby Hull who was on the losing end. “Hockey in May is a drag when you’re a loser.”

 

 

 

 

Extra, Extra, Read All About It (Parts Two And Three)

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

Part one was just a few days ago. This is part two and three -1976 and 1977

It was their 17th Stanley Cup, a beautiful, delicious four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. How sweet is that? Sweeping the Broad St. Bullies, the goons who had slashed and punched their way to the two previous championships. But this time, real hockey prevailed over thuggery.

All in all, it was the Canadiens plumbers who made things happen. At least for the most part. Bob Gainey, Jim Roberts, Doug Jarvis, and Doug Risebrough proved just how important blue-collar guys can be. The team had Lafleur and Shutt and the boys, but the lesser-lights shone. “Really, the plumbers did the job for us in this series,” said Steve Shutt. “But when we needed the goals, the two big guys (Lafleur and Perter Mahovlich) came through.”

Lafleur and Mahovlich weren’t having a sensational series up until the final game and the plumbers stepped up. But both Lafleur and Mahovlich scored goals in the third period to ice the thing and to prove that singer Kate Smith, the Flyers’ lucky charm, wasn’t such a lucky charm after all.

Kate was there in person that night to sing the anthem, usually it was a recording, but even her live and in colour wasn’t enought for the thugs from Philly. And in the dressing room, the Habs sung God Bless America in a good-natured jibe to the singer.

It had only taken Montreal 13 games from start to finish in these 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs, sweeping Chicago, taking out the Islanders in five games, and then the four-game dismissing of the Flyers.

Some Flyers fans thought it might have been different if their team had been healthy. Rick MacLeish didn’t suit up, and Bobby Clarke and Orest Kindrachuk played but weren’t 100%. And Wayne Stephenson was between the pipes instead of number one, Bernie Parent. But even coach Fred Shero admitted that his team, althought they might have prolonged it slightly, would have lost anyway. “If we’d had everybody healthy, I suppose we might have lasted longer, we might have made it close, at least.” said Shero. “But on the other hand, I imagine that if we had been able to play better, Canadiens might have played better too. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they could.”

And to make all Habs fans giddy, Shero also went on about how good the Habs actually were. “These are guys you can’t ride off the puck. They’re immune to normal forechecking. You put pressure on most defences and they fall apart. They cough up the puck or throw it away. These fellows never panic. They just won’t give up the puck. They’re always in control.”

And Shero wasn’t finished being nice. “And my God, they’re all like forwards besides. That’s what you’ve got to have on your defence in the NHL today. You can put Robinson, Savard or Lapointe up front and they don’t look out of place at all.”

The last word goes to Bobby Clarke. “We were beaten by one great hockey team, the best in many years.”

And now, 1977

In the spring of 1977, as I was on the verge of getting married for the first time, Jacques Lemaire scored the overtime goal to give his team their second straight Stanley Cup in this late 1970’s run, and it was done with a lovely four-game sweep against Don Cherry and his Boston Bruins. Is this one of the reasons you hate the Habs, Don?

It had been quite a year for this dominating bunch. Montreal only lost eight times in 80 games and racked up a record 132 points. Nobody was going to beat them in the playoffs. You didn’t have to be Kreskin to figure it out. In fact, the team swept the Blues, took out the Islanders 4 games to 2, and then swept the Bruins. Fourteen games in total, and very similar to the 13 it had taken them the year before.

Guy Lafleur won the Conn  Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and managed nine goals and 17 assists throughout. But he had this to say: “It’s my third Cup and it’s always nice, but it’s not the same excitement. I don’t think I’m the best player. It’s just that everything went well for me.”

Jacques Lemaire was the quiet hero on this ride. His teammates had told him to shoot more, and on this night, he delivered with the overtime marker. “Why shouldn’t I be happy,” said Lemaire. “I’m on a holiday. I’m on a holiday starting now. It’s about time. It still is Lafleur and Shutt, except tonight. Tonight was a mistake. They said, shoot the puck, you look good.”

Coach Scotty Bowman had this to say about Lafleur and Shutt. “They play more like Europeans. I’m not knocking the NHL style of play, but the Europeans make more plays on the move. That’s what Lafleur and Shutt do.”

And last word to Don Cherry. “It’s hard to believe we kept outshooting them and still can’t win a game. I still say the whole thing boiled down to those three defensemen.”

Huge Honkin’ Win In New Jersey

What do you expect when the Canadiens play the New Jersey Devils in New Jersey? You expect a tight, low-scoring game. And if you’re a Habs fan, you expect a win of course.

Which is what happened on this Saturday night in early April as the Montreal boys, led by Mathieu Darche with two goals, beat the Devils 3-1 in as important a game as can be for the Canadiens this year.

The Habs came through tonight, as they should, especially after giving off such a putrid smell in the past several games, and although they were far from setting the world on fire, allowed the Devils only 21 shots on Carey Price and made the most of their chances to get the job done.

Montreal managed just 29 shots themselves, but absolutely, this can be expected when playing the smothering Devils.

Darche’s two and one by PK Subban was all it took, along with Carey Price being solid throughout, and it was only after I seriously began to think shutout without saying it out loud that Ilya Kovalchuk bulged the twine with Price caught out of position.

I not only have to not say shutout, but I suppose I can’t even think it too.

All in all, three goals on Martin Brodeur and 29 shots overall is like a bombardment against this Newarkian squad, and fans of the bleu, blanc et rouge should be mighty happy about this. I know I am.

Random Notes:

Always nice to see Jacques Lemaire, even though he’s been on the opposite bench for years, and forever since he belonged to the Montreal organization. But I still don’t understand him saying in an interview a few months ago that coming back to Montreal means absolutely nothing to him except that he gets to see his granddaughter.

Lemaire was a Junior Hab for three years, and won eight Stanley Cups as a player with the big team from 1967 to 1979. He was also behind the Canadiens bench for a couple of years in the 1980’s.

I suppose, because he’s been away for a long time, the memories have faded, but what great memories they must have been. How could they completely fade? I don’t understand at all why it wouldn’t be at least a little special for him to come home.

But whatever. He lost and isn’t in the playoffs, and we won and will be.

Next up – Chicago visits the Bell Centre on Tuesday. The Hawks are fighting off the Flames for the final playoff spot in the west and wouldn’t it be fun if Montreal clobbered Chicago and contributed to them golfing early this year?

As it stands now, Montreal still holds down sixth place and would meet Boston in round one, but those bastard Buffalonians, New Yorkers, and Carolinians remain sniffing at their heels.

Jerry Talks Habs (And More) From Silicon Valley

Lately I’ve been receiving some emails from a great Habs fan named Jerry who is originally from Montreal but has been living near San Jose for many years and working for a GPS development company there. Imagine, he works for a GPS company that maybe makes the same as the one I have, with the lovely British lady telling me to go left and right while we were on a recent California road trip, and she was a voice which I have great affection for.

For the first time in my life, I enjoyed a lady telling me where to go.

I thought Jerry’s emails were so interesting, I asked and received permission from him to post some of what he said.

Here goes:

“One thing I don’t see mentioned much is about the 1980 draft when the Habs drafted Doug Wickenheiser.  I thought Sam Pollock (man, was he ever a genius) was trading to get the 1st pick in 1980 because that was the year Gretzky would have drafted if the WHA didn’t exist.  Can you have imagined 99 playing for the Habs?  The only huge mistake Pollock made was not giving his job to Scotty Bowman.

During the 1972-1973 season, there was a contest on the Habs Montreal radio broadcast.  The question was “how many goals did Jacques Lemaire and Yvan Cournoyer scored during the 1971-1972 season?” I looked at my hockey cards of Cournoyer and Lemaire and sent in the answer.  I ended up winning and the prize was 1 week at a hockey school owned by Lemaire and Cournoyer.  It was one of the best weeks of my life. 

Four years later, I saw an ad in the Montreal newspaper that the hockey school was looking for counselors.  I applied and got to work the whole summer at the school and also worked there the next summer. The camp was an overnight camp in which the students came for a week.  I worked about 5.5 days a week and got paid $50 a week the 1st summer ($75 a week the next summer). 

I still remember the 1st week I worked there and there was a 6 or 7 year kid from Michigan who was in my group.  The kid was Jimmy Carson (main guy Edmonton got in the Gretzky trade).  One of the benefits of working there was getting some sticks.  Cournoyer’s stick is the strangest stick you will ever see.  He played with a straight blade but the blade was joined to the shaft at about a 20 degree angle.  Do still remember him flying down the right wing and switching to a right hand shot? 

The most disappointing thing about working at the school was that the brochure would show almost ever member of the Habs but most would show up for only 1 day the whole summer. 

I remember Rick Chartraw showing up one day and he went straight to a bar (he also asked us to join him) after he got paid.  I remembered walking in the rink one day and seeing Guy Lafleur holding his baby in his arm.  He was by himself and I didn’t bother him.  I read in yesterday’s paper that his son (one previously in trouble) got arrested again (how sad).

“You recently wrote about Viktor Tikhonov, the coach.  Tikhonov was previously an assistant coach with the Sharks so his son (1st rd pick of the Coyoes in 2008 and plays in the KHL) spent some years in CA.  I play in an adult hockey league in San Jose and Tikhonov Jr. comes here in the summer and plays in the adult league.  Others known to play in the adult league are Owen Nolan and Jamie Baker (ex-NHLer).

Another thing I forgot to tell you is that David Maley, who played for a few years for the Habs in the 1980s, and has his name on the Stanley Cup for the 1986 win, lives in the San Jose area.  About 3 years ago I went to a hockey practice and Maley ran the practice.  I was going to talk to him about his time with the Habs but he was too busy.  He will sometimes work the Sharks radio broadcast.

I remember you writing about the Expos a couple of times.  About 4 years ago, one of my teammates (Roxy Bernstein) in an adult hockey league was the radio broadcast partner of Dave Van Horne on the Florida Marlin games.  Van Horne should make it to the Hall of Fame.  I remember going to Jarry Park as a kid and sitting in the bleachers for $1. 

I am seeing the comments from Quebec politicians criticizing the Habs for lack of French Canadians.  Two French Canadian players that the Habs should have gone after are Daniel Biere (after he was put on waivers by the Coyotes) and Marc Savard (after he was a free agent from Atlanta).   There is something wrong with the Quebec development system and Quebec Major Junior League.  I read there were more kids that were raised in California drafted in the 1st round of the 2010 NHL draft than raised in Quebec.

I wasn’t totally sure when I wrote that Sam Pollock was targeting Gretzky in the 1980 draft so I did a little research.  Gretzky’s birthdate is Jan.26, 1961.  I looked at the birthdates of players drafted that year and Moe Mantha’s  (23rd pick in the draft) birth date is Jan.21, 1961 (pretty close to Wayne’s) so I guess if the WHA didn’t exist that Habs would have drafted the Great One.  Hab fans always mention the 3rd pick in the draft, Denis Savard,  but I didn’t realize that Paul Coffey was the 6th pick in the draft.  Can you have imagined the Big 3 with Coffey? 

An interesting thing you may not know about Denis Savard was that he played on a line in junior with 2 guys also named Denis (Cyr and Tremblay) and they were all born on the same date. 

Below is what I found David Maley is doing these days.  I read previously that his sister lives in California and that may be one of the reasons he moved here.  I didn’t realize he won a NCAA championship.  If he had won an Olympic gold, he would have been one of the few players to win NCAA, Stanley Cup and Olympic Gold.  I believe that Ken Morrow and some other player are the only ones to win all 3.”

David Maley – President, Silver Creek Sportsplex

David Maley is currently the President of Silver Creek Sportsplex in San Jose. The Sportsplex is a multi-faceted sports, fitness and entertainment destination featuring 240,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities and professional expertise. In 1996 Maley founded Rollin’ Ice, the Bay Area’s premier inline hockey facility, which recently moved into the Silver Creek Sportsplex.

In his 12-year NHL career, Maley played for five teams including the San Jose Sharks, and won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens. Early in his hockey life, he captained his high school team to the Minnesota State Championship and also won an NCAA Championship at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

He has been President of the San Jose Sharks Alumni since 2003, playing an integral part in raising funds for the San Jose Sharks Foundation. Maley serves on the board of the Police Activities League (PAL), and recently founded the Dream On Foundation, both of which give youth a chance to participate in sports that they could otherwise not afford.
David has lived in San Jose since 1992. He and his wife Karin have three children, Michaela, Ryan, and Shae.

Hawks Put Flyers In Deep Doo-Doo

Chicago takes a 2-0 series lead after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1, and it’s said that their chances are 94% now that they’ll win it all after grabbing the first two games of the series.

That’s all fine and dandy, but the last thing hockey needs is a four-game sweep in the Stanley Cup finals. It’s the worst thing that can happen. A final needs a sexy, dramatic, tight, seven games with overtime often and especially, extra minutes played in the last game.

Not a sweep. Sweeps suck. Unless it’s the Habs doing the sweeping.

“Lemaire skates gingerly through centre and takes a peek over at Lafleur. Lemaire brilliantly banks it off the boards and Lafleur picks it and crosses the line. The defence backs up in nervous trepidation as Lafleur finds a streaking Kane and sends him in alone. Kane pulls his classic Kaneranian capitalizer, shoots, he scores! Dennis Kane has won it for the Montreal Canadiens midway through the first overtime period of this game seven with a herculean effort!”

“What do think about that, Dick?”

“Well, Danny, all I know is, I’ve only seen one other guy who was as dangerous as Dennis Kane from the blueline in, and he wore number 9. “

Jacques Lemaire Was Several Steps Ahead Of Me

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Last year, in a moment of hard reflection and sad regret, I wrote about how I should have at least tried to get a job at the Montreal Forum when I was a teenager, doing odd jobs, cleaning gum off seats, taking out the garbage, and thereby working my way up from there to become zamboni driver or ticket manager or the guy who picks up hats after a hattrick. A job at the Montreal Forum.

All of which in turn would eventually lead to team president or owner.

It had hit me one day when I was watching on television as they were announcing the players from Team Canada and the Soviets in game one of the 1972 Summit Series, and I’d noticed Forum workers in their Forum sweaters standing on the ice by the boards, like they were part of the festivities.

I thought, you lucky bastards.

And now I find out that when Jacques Lemaire, who we all know and love as the fine centreman with the nasty shot of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1960’s and ’70’s, and presently assistant coach of the Canadian Olympic team when he isn’t coaching the New Jersey Devils, had done just what I lay awake at night regretting I didn’t do.

When Lemaire was 17, he had a job washing the steps in the Forum.

I could’ve done that. I would’ve been a good step washer. Maybe the best step washer the Forum had ever had.

That’s one small step for man, one giant leap into the team front office. And yes, as the Sinatra tune goes, “Regrets, I’ve had a few.”