Category Archives: Jean Beliveau

For Mike, The TV Won’t Be On That Channel On Patrick Roy’s Big Night

There’s a brand new and highly-anticipated book about Patrick Roy, written by his father Michel, on the market now, with all the details at Joe Pelletier’s site, but I know one person who probably doesn’t feel like reading it right now.

 

And when Patrick Roy has his sweater raised to the rafters at the Bell Centre on November 22nd, this person’s television in Pickering, Ontario won’t be tuned in either.

 

Mike, who has bled Canadiens colours for five decades, says he won’t watch the game that night. He doesn’t agree with what will happen, and he’s angry. Because for him, wearing the Montreal Canadiens sweater comes with a clause. A clause that says it’s an honour to wear it.

 

For Mike, it’s all about that infamous night on Dec. 2, 1995 when Roy allowed nine goals against Detroit, and when he wasn’t yanked by coach Mario Tremblay, skated to the Montreal bench, walked over to president Ronald Corey, and declared that he’d never play another game with the Habs.

 

This didn’t sit well with Mike. He’s a fan who believes wearing the sweater is so much more than about bad games, or embarrassment, or even big personal numbers. It’s about wearing the sweater, and that’s it.

 

And so he said recently on this site that he won’t be watching that night when Roy has the sweater go up, and I asked him why, exactly.

 

All he said was just go back to recent comments from him, and so I did.

 

“To walk out on a team as he did precludes him from any honours,” he explained. “Roy thought he was bigger than the team, even dictating when he would practice or not. Mario Tremblay had the CH tattooed on his behind, and came from an era that cherished the right and honour to be a Canadien.

 

“The previous players who’ve been honoured were true Montreal Canadiens, not this self-serving ego tripper.”

 

For me personally, it’s also hard to understand how a player can simply quit like Roy did. And maybe Mario Tremblay was completely wrong to leave him in that night like he did. But I believe Roy should’ve just sucked it up, played harder in future games, and taught Tremblay through his actions on the ice that you don’t embarrass the star goalie like that.

 

Roy shouldn’t have quit on his teammates and Tremblay shouldn’t have done what he did. He and Tremblay had had a volatile relationship from the beginning, with both making jokes about the other’s ability to speak English, and Roy disagreeing often on how Tremblay handled other players.

 

So there was a personality conflict, and I suppose fireworks were bound to happen.

 

The younger generation supports Roy completely through all of this. I’ve seen this by comments on this site in previous Roy stories. They believe Roy almost single handedly won both Stanley Cups for the team in 1986 and 1993. They believe his numbers outweigh everything else. They get very upset and angry. And that’s good.

 

They’ll be watching, and they’ll be buying the book.

 

But every side has their story, and Mike’s stance is clear and has its own validity.

 

This is a guy who watches his Habs faithfully and loyally, in every game throughout the season, and has for years. He wears his Montreal sweater, cheers loudly, drinks his beer from his Canadiens beer mug, still worships Jean Beliveau, and lives and dies with each win and loss.

 

But that night he won’t be watching. Or reading the book either.

 

   

Jean Beliveau Walked Softly But Carried A Big Stick

Please note: Originally there were photos here and for some reason they’ve disappeared. I have no idea why.

I have a Jean Beliveau game-used stick from the early to mid-1960’s. Originally it was in a Leland’s auction in New York but I didn’t buy it. I’m not rich like you. I simply traded a bunch of stuff with the guy who did.

I’d like to get Big Jean to sign this but strangely enough, I haven’t run into him on the streets of Powell River yet. I don’t know why. Maybe I’ve just missed him.

 

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 Golden Age Of Hockey Is Never Now, Always Before

Isn’t it funny how no matter what decade we’re in, many retired players and older fans always insist that the game isn’t as good as it used to be, when they played or watched.

 It’s only natural that they feel this way. The present game, of any decade, just doesn’t have the romance it did for them. And hockey always changes, whether it’s the way players shoot, or pass, or even their size.

 Ken Dryden, when asked when he thought the golden age of hockey was, answered that it’s whenever we were young.  It is for me. The 1950’s and 1960’s were my golden hockey years. They were magic years, with road hockey, collecting cards, digging pucks out of snowbanks, outdoor rinks and frozen toes,  and a six team NHL. And I had the Rocket, Beliveau, Howe, Hull, Plante, and Sawchuk to watch.

 But for men who played in the 1930’s and ’40’s, those 1950’s and ’60’s sucked. And for the ones’s who played in the 1910’s and ’20’s, the next few decades after them simply didn’t cut it.

It’ll always be like this. Ken Dryden was right. It all depends on when you were born.

 Here’s some examples.

 Cyclone Taylor, one of hockey earliest stars, talking about the game in 1968:

“I don’t think I’d like to play the game now. I was used to going on at the start of the game and playing to the finish. I think any man between the ages of 18 and 35 who can’t play 60 minutes of hockey – well, he just doesn’t want to play, that’s all.”

 Newsy Lalonde, who signed with the Montreal Canadiens in 1910, talking hockey in 1970.

 “Never did I use the slapshot the way you see it used in the NHL now, with the curved sticks and all. With us there was no other shot to use but the wrist shot. When a man makes a slapshot today it’s more powerful than a wrist shot, but you can’t place it in the same way. The modern player just shoots the puck in the general direction of the net and that’s it. We knew where the puck was going and didn’t have to look twice.

And if you think hockey is a tough game nowadays, you have no idea what toughness is all about.”

 Bill Durnan, star goalie for the Habs from 1943 to 1950, talking about the NHL in 1969.

 “It’s a changed game, no doubt about it. Now it’s congested and half the time you don’t know how the puck went into the net. Thy just don’t have the plays we had; they simply shove the puck in the corner, then there’s a wild scramble, with three or four guys behind the bloody net. The puck comes out and somebody bangs it in. At that point, even the announcers who are supposed to know what happened start guessing.

And the players have changed, especially their attitudes, though at least until recently there were a few honest skaters left. John Ferguson, who played for the Canadiens, is an example. I was at a party with him a few years ago and somebody asked him why he was such a stinker on the ice and a nice guy off it. Ferguson replied. “When I’m on the ice, I’m at work!”

Now that’s the kind of answer we oldtimers would give.”

 Cooper Smeaton, NHL referee before and after World War 1, interviewed in the 1970’s.

 “Those were the golden days of hockey when you had fellows like Howie Morenz, Nels Stewart, and Georges Vezina. They talk about Bobby Hull’s speed, but Morenz would whip around his net like a flash and be up the ice before you could blink your eyes.

Take a goal scorer like Stewart. In today’s game he’d score 100 goals. And in the old days if a team was a man short it would stickhandle the puck until time expired. Now they just heave it down the ice. You don’t have to pay a guy $400,000 to do that.

We had a more appealing game game with lots of stickhandling and nice passing. Now it’s all speed.

But one thing remains the same though – the referees never seem to please the coaches or managers or owners. To this day, nobody is perfect.”

Montreal Canadiens 2027 First Round Draft Pick Is Born!

 Next week I’ll be in Calgary to scout and assess the brand new 2027 Montreal Canadiens draft pick.

My daughter just had a little baby boy, named Cameron Ryan, and he joined the world at a nice nine pounds (almost), and is also quite long.

So he could be a big boy, which means he may either play defence for the Habs, or become a valued power forward.

I’m going to teach him about the Rocket and Beliveau and the Flower and all those Stanley Cups and the Forum and how I wanted to play for the Habs but became only a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers Bantam team instead.

I think I’m going to call him Rocket when my daughter and son-in-law aren’t around.

If you need an autograph of this future power forward/defenceman Montreal Canadien, I’ll be able to do this for you next week.

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.

A Brief Bee Hive Moment: Hal Laycoe’s Big Night With The Rocket

 From 1934 to 1967, if you mailed in a Bee Hive Corn Syrup coupon, they would send you a free photo of most any player you requested. They were divided into three groups over the years, and this photo of Hal Laycoe comes from Group 2, which covered the years between 1944 to 1964.  Bee Hive photos were fun to collect and because everyone asked for the Rocket or Beliveau or Horton  or Armstrong etc, the lesser players like the Habs’ Tod Campeau and Vern Kaiser and others are extremely rare and valuable.

Hal Laycoe had been a friend of Rocket Richard’s when both played for Montreal, but after Laycoe was traded to Boston, he and the Rocket took centre stage one night in what led to a big-time piece of hockey history.

It happened like this. Laycoe had highsticked Richard one night in Boston, but play continued with no penalty called. This upset the Rocket very much. He skated up to Laycoe, smashed him in the face and upper body with his stick, and was soon subdued by the officials. But this didn’t stop Richard. He kept breaking away from the linesmen to get at this former friend, Laycoe, and he even broke his stick over the Bruin player’s back.

Linesman Cliff Thompson got hold of Richard again, but the Rocket broke loose and punched Thompson twice, which wasn’t the greatest idea. It simply wasn’t a good situation all round.

All of this led to Richard’s suspension of the remaining games in the season, plus the entire playoffs, and you know the rest of the story.

Of course it was the 1955 Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Night In Montreal.

 

 

 

The Best Jobs In The World. Yes – Better Than Your Job.

1. Retired Famous Race Horse. You were Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and you were the toast of the town. You retired on top of the world and were given a fancy stable and told to get out into the field and make love to the finest fillies out there. Whenever you feel like it. Every day.

2. Guy Who Crashes Cymbals In A Symphony Orchestra. You’re in Carnegie Hall, and the horns and violins are working their way up to big crescendo. The crowd is enthralled, and then, at the precise moment, you crash your cymbals.
That’s it! And for this you get to wear an expensive tuxedo, make lots of money, and probably even sign a few programs!

3. Red Fisher. Play poker with the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion on trains to Chicago, Boston, and the rest. Go for a cold one after the game with Lafleur, Savard, and Robinson, and talk shop. Cover the Montreal Canadiens and become just one of the boys for nearly fifty years. HE MAKES ME SICK.

4. George Martin. He’d put on his cardigan sweater, jump into a limo to take him to studios like Abbey Road, and help the Beatles weave their magic on their recordings. He was there almost from the start, and he also made zillions doing it.

5. Playboy photographer. Do I really need to explain this one?

6. Phil Pritchard. Phil’s job is to babysit the Stanley Cup, 12 months a year. He takes it all over North America and Europe so players from the winning team can show it off where they live. He brings it out onto the ice with his white gloves on when a team wins it in the final game. He’s practically married to it, and it never talks back.

It’s A Big Year For The Habs And Their Fans. And I’m Counting Down. How Many Days To Go?

Only 62 days until the Montreal Canadiens, chomping at the bit, suit up in Buffalo for their opening game of the 2008-2009 season. They’ll look splendid, these men in their red, white, and blue uniforms, the same kind as worn before by Howie and Maurice and Jean and Guy. They’ll be fast. Their passes will be perfect. Their shots will find the back of the Sabres’ net. It’ll be their first win in a long line of wins in the season.

The second win will come the next night when they take the short hop into Toronto, where a third of the crowd will cheer for them, and where again, they’ll be fast, their passes will be perfect, and their shots will find the back of the net.

62 days to go. We’ll go through the Beijing Oympics. The mosquito bites will heal. The evenings will become shorter. Kids will have new lunchpails and school clothes. A few more weeks and cottages will be boarded up for another year. Baseball will wind down. Football will be in full swing. There’ll be a chill in the early morning.

The boys are golfing now. They’re barbequing. They’re sitting in their back yards and having the neighbours over. Ryan O’Byrne is behaving like a saint.

Every day they work out. They practice on ice and on floors. They lift heavy things, and they run. They do all the things players of yesteryear rarely did.

They’ll be ready when they go to Buffalo.

This is the year they can win the Stanley Cup. They know it, I know, and most Habs fans know it.

And Buffalo fans will know it when the game is over, 62 days from now.

Free Stuff For A Guy Who Doesn’t Need Free Stuff

Business people in Vancouver have decided to sweeten the pot for Mats Sundin, as if twenty million just might not be enough for this aging star.

 

People who make in a year what Sundin tips at his favourite restaurant are offering, among other things, free luxury cars from two different dealers, and a lifetime of free dental work, including all the fancy stuff like bridgework and dental surgery. Another has offered a lifetime of cosmetic work for His Worship’s girlfriend, like facials, nails, and whatever else it is that women get done. Then there’s the usual free meals, free drinks, free clothes, free this, free that.

 

In fact, it looks like an absolute free ride for Sundin if he chooses the Canucks.

 

Montreal, on the other hand, has offered seven million dollars a year, but their extra enticements seem a little more tempting. There’s that chance for Sundin to finally win a Stanley Cup. There’s the opportunity to wear the fabled Montreal Canadiens sweater. He can hang around with Jean Beliveau and Dickie Moore. If he did excel, he’d join the list of great Habs like Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Moore, Lafleur, and Mahovlich, instead of a list that includes Smyl, Linden, Rota, and Kurtenbach. He’d play in the most exciting rink in the best hockey city in the world. And he’s three thousand miles closer to Sweden than Vancouver is.

 

Surely that should be more than enough.

 

But if he decides to play, wherever he goes, he’d better be good. It’s getting a little silly.