Category Archives: John Ferguson .

Meeting Serge

Savard

Serge Savard was at my workplace yesterday to sign a bunch of stuff, and because he was quite busy I really didn’t want to interrupt him. But I managed to chat with him a bit anyway.

I told him that not only did I follow his career through his many years as a Hab, but also during the 1972 Summit Series when he was a member of Team Canada.

He was friendly and more than happy to talk a bit about the Summit Series, mentioning that he wore number 23 in the series instead of his usual #18 because Jean Ratelle had seniority.

Serge didn’t play game one in Montreal when the Soviets shocked almost everyone with their 7-3 win, but Serge said he wasn’t surprised, he’d played against Russian teams as a junior, and he knew they were good. And he still disagrees about not dressing for that big game one.

“They decided to go with some slower guys like Don Awrey, who was conservative and would be down often from blocking shots, when I think a guy like me who was a bit more offensive should have played. I knew they were fast, and I would’ve been a better fit.”

Serge also brought up a point he seemed pretty darn proud of, and I don’t blame him. “Every game I played we didn’t lose. Four wins and a tie. I didn’t play in game one, had a bad foot for game four in Vancouver, and they rested me in Moscow for game five. But then I played the last three over there.”

I asked him about the magnificent Valeri Kharlamov. “One of the best ever,” said Serge. “I even got him into the Hall of Fame”! (Serge is an inductee selector). He also thinks Alexander Yakushev should be in the Hall.

It was cool to chat with a guy who has his name on eight Stanley Cups as a player and twice as Habs GM in ’86 and ’93, and who also won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1969, was GM of the Habs in the mid-1980s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986, and was awarded the Order of Canada.

He also wears a big honkin’ Stanley Cup ring on his finger.

That was it. A handshake and I was off to give my usual 187% again. I went back down later and he was gone.

I also found out that on my day off last Friday, Serge’s teammate on the Habs and Team Canada, HOFer Guy Lapointe, was in the office.

Plus – A Joke Serge Played on John Ferguson

After game 8 in Moscow in 1972, Fergie, who was Team Canada’s assistant coach, went around the dressing room and had all the players sign a stick that he planned on mounting in his den when he got home.

When the team got back to Canada, Prime Minister Trudeau was there to meet them and Fergie followed Savard through the reception line. Trudeau and Serge shook hands, and then Serge said to Trudeau, “By the way, Mr. Prime Minister, look what John Ferguson has brought you from Moscow – an autographed stick.”

Savard took the stick from Fergie’s hand and gave it to Trudeau.

Fergie never got it back, although Trudeau’s office called him after hearing about the joke and offered it back. But Fergie said Trudeau could keep it.

 

 

 

 

Dumped By Detroit

The Canadiens showed life for five minutes in a sixty-five minute game, fall 2-1 to Detroit in overtime, and they grab a point whether they deserve one or not.

And how important that point might be.

This is the first of nine tough games in a row for the Habs, it’s make or break time, and if they don’t play better in most of the next eight, they just may find themselves outside looking in at a playoff spot.

It’s going to be a tough stretch, points will be tougher than John Ferguson to come by, and although they were flatter than a pancake in this first game after the Olympics, Brian Gionta gave his team a point when he netted one with 29 seconds left in the third and fans got at least a little bit of their money’s worth.

Detroit wasn’t great, but the Canadiens, at least until they woke up after the Gionta goal, were worse.

But it’s a point nonetheless. And now it’s Pittsburgh in a few hours.

We’ll see how this whole thing plays out in the next two weeks. But one thing’s for sure – they have to show more life than they did tonight or the fall won’t be pretty.

The pre-game introduction of Olympians and the crowd singing the anthem was a high. After that, things got very low.

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher, PK, and Alex Galchenyuk had their moments for a few seconds here and there. All in all though, no one did a whole lot of dazzling.

P.K. found himself in the box a couple of times for questionable penalties – one for a little swat, one for was was deemed a dive, and Peter Budaj came up big from time to time as Detroit outshot the Canadiens 30-20.

Not an overly impressive night to say the least.

Pittsburgh coming up.

Habs, Leafs, And Beatles

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

I was there and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

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 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 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. 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.

Fergy, Ted, & Douglas

Douglas Murray stepped up to the plate Wednesday night in Buffalo against big John Scott, and although his face was bloodied, he gave the big tree a good run for his money.

Shouldn’t Scott be elsewhere? Like holding up a circus tent maybe?

I have a whole new level of admiration for the Swede with the English name. Previously I’d only noticed a guy who isn’t a great skater, can be caught out of position, who makes the odd mistake and never contributes to the scoresheet. But he hits hard, and I see now he’s got guts.

I’m proud that he took one for the team and showed that the Canadiens aren’t to be pushed around. Thank you Douglas.

In appreciation of him, I’ve dug out a couple of old photos from two tough Habs, back when they were still in the American Hockey League with the Cleveland Barons.

John Ferguson and Ted Harris, who took no prisoners in the 1960s. Although Harris did have his hands full with a young Bobby Orr, who could scrap with the best of them.

We don’t want John Scott-types on the team, but we’ll take a couple of Fergy and Harris-types any day.

Fergy’s reputation is spread far and wide. Ted Harris’ – not so much.

This is what Canadiens.com’s historical section says about him:

“Game in and game out, Harris’ physical game played an important role in the Canadiens success in the 1960s. He tangled with incoming forwards, kept the Montreal crease free of upright enemy players, applied some of the heaviest checks in the NHL and, on more than a few occasions, inflicted fistic retribution on those foolish enough to take liberties with his more subtly skilled teammates.”

Here they are as Barons – circa 1963, just prior to joining the Canadiens on a regular basis. (I apologize for the less-than-great quality).

JF

TH

Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.

Another Sanderson Moment

Recently I talked about reading Derek Sanderson’s recent book Crossing the Line and how he went on about Ken Dryden being overrated.

I forgot to mention something else.

Sanderson wrote that when he was a kid the Montreal Canadiens walked by him at a rink and when he approached Jean Beliveau for an autograph, Jean told him he was sorry but he had to hurry to catch the bus.

Sanderson said he never forgot that and the first time he played against the Habs as a rookie, he skated over to Beliveau the first chance he got and punched him in the mouth.

He then said he had to get the hell out of there because John Ferguson saw exactly what had happened.

I don’t know what to say. Why Sanderson would want to include that in his book is hard to say. Surely he had other things to write about instead of bragging about popping Le Gros Bill, who certainly has several more layers of class than Turk Sanderson.

Geez I wish Fergy would have………..

Jean 1

Jean 2

 

 

A Letter For Michel Lagace

002

Michel Lagace would report to the Quebec Aces training camp in 1962, as requested by Sam Pollock, and would suit up for five games, collecting one assist along the way.

Previously he had played seven playoff games for the Montreal Royals in ’59-’60 and managed 27 games with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, both of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL).

That would be it for his pro hockey career.

Making it to the American Hockey League has always required serious talent, and even though it was only for five games, I say congratulations to Mr. Lagace for getting a lot further in hockey than most of us.

I would have loved getting a letter like this. I’d show all my friends, report to camp, work harder than everybody else, and eventually get called up to the Habs in a year or two. Then I play right wing with Jean Beliveau at centre and John Ferguson at left wing. I’d be on the cover of Hockey Pictorial, make the all-star team, make more money than my dad, and eventually end up in the Hall of Fame.

But first I needed one of those letters. Like Michel Lagace got.

 

 

Two Habs And A Bruin

Players over the years have sometimes fraternized with fierce rivals, even John Ferguson.

Here, Ferguson and Ralph Backstrom reminisce with an unidentified Boston Bruin player about that time when the Bruins thought they were almost as classy as Montreal. Hilarity ensued for several minutes until Fergy had had enough and punched the Bruin player’s lights out..

Ralph and John

A Night At The Station

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to everyone. On this day you’re an Irishman no matter what your roots are, and that’s a good thing. Except for the hangover you might have tomorrow morning.

I’ve talked many times about the Richard Riot that took place on March 17, 1955, and today, instead of going on about what you already know, I’d like to show a recent comment here from a fellow named Eric Buch.

Here’s what he wrote. It’s just one sentence, but it’s a beauty.

“The first game that my brother ever went to see at the Forum at the age of nine (March, 1955) featured the “Richard Riot” – tear gas, cars turned over and store windows smashed for many blocks down Ste. Catherine Street.”

I felt that was so fantastic. Imagine, the first time you go to an NHL game and you find yourself in the middle of history being made.

Eric also tells us about the time his teacher took the class down to the Westmount station one night to meet the Habs, and lo and behold, they all showed up.

Again, here’s Eric:

“Every year she would take the girls in her class to see the Ice Capades at the Montreal Forum and the boys to a Montreal Canadiens game. Her husband was a conductor for Canadian Pacific Rail and was able to find out which station the Habs would be leaving from to head to their next game. We went to Westmount station just before midnight (we were about the only ones there) and, sure enough, within minutes the entire Canadiens team came into the waiting room. It was Nirvana – seeing our hockey heroes, talking with them and getting their autographs – and a night that I will never forget.”

“By my calculation, it would have been January or February of 1965. Beliveau was the Captain and other players I recall meeting that night included Richard (“Pocket Rocket”), Backstrom, Rousseau, Laperriere, JC Tremblay, Cournoyer, Provost, Ferguson and ‘Gump’ Worsley. They don’t make ‘em like that any more.”