Category Archives: Larry Robinson

Fight Thoughts

I’ve wondered off and on over the years about how I really feel about fighting, and I’m asking myself again with all the buzz about the George Parros incident. It seems I’ve always leaned towards fighting.

But I can’t stand the goon stuff. The guy who can only fight and not much more. And I’m not smart enough to figure out the staged stuff.

I just think that many who are now clamoring for a total ban on fighting didn’t mind at all seeing someone like Wendel Clark and Marty McSorley getting into a beauty. Or Larry Robinson teaching Dave Schultz a big lesson.

The Broad Street Bullies won two Stanley Cups through thuggery and scrapping with a serious amount of talent thrown in for good measure. But it was the Canadiens, who played the non-mugging kind of game, who put a stop to the nonsense in Philadelphia. Great hockey trumped fighting. And a good Larry Robinson fist to Dave Schultz’s face.

That was some serious goon stuff the Bullies were dishing out back then. And it went on every night in the WHA too. I think both have played a major role in the evolution of goonery.

Remember those sensational games in the 1987 Canada Cup when Canada and Russia met in the finals and Wayne Gretzky set up Mario Lemieux for the winner in game three with less than two minutes to go? There was no heavyweight goon on either team. No staged fights. But that wasn’t real life. It was a much anticipated Canada-Russia match up when the rivalry had meat on its bones.

But if the rules would’ve allowed, maybe a good tussle between Rick Tocchet and Sergei Svetlov would have added to the lore. And many who now say they want fighting out of the game might have whooped and hollered back then if some nastiness really had cropped up.

I don’t think fighting will ever end, even if someone dies from it. But somehow it has to be curbed and the only good solution I’ve heard so far is from Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports who suggested the NHL make it so goons must be paid the league maximum, which is about $12 million or so a year. How many teams would carry one then?

The sight of George Parros trying to sit up with that concussed look on his face was disturbing to say the least. But George was hired to be the muscle, to add an element the Canadiens haven’t had and were going nowhere without, and it’s a tough job that can have some dark moments. I can’t imagine doing this job. I have a really sensitive nose.

I was happy to see George signed, and I just got finished saying we need goons out of the league. But if he could be a preventive measure, dropping them in only the truest of situations, without the staged stuff, and throwing in some hard work that results in a scoring chance now and again, then what’s wrong with that?

So is it fighting or no fighting that I want? I want the Wendel Clark, Larry Robinson, Clark Gillies kind of fights. No staged stuff. Just an honest disagreement now and again that helps our team win.

Turk Says Dryden’s Overrated

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In Derek Sanderson’s 2012 book “Crossing The Line” that I got at the St. Hubert Library, he says Ken Dryden was overrated, which we’ve all heard from time to time. At least I have.

Sanderson talked about how the Bruins were the better team against Montreal in 1971, but they shot themselves in the foot. Boston didn’t take the Canadiens seriously. He didn’t really talk about Dryden’s accomplishments, he only mentioned that the young goalie had arrived on the scene, had only six games under his belt before the playoffs began, and proceeded to somehow get his body in the way.

He sort of mentioned that the Habs eliminated Boston, but he didn’t go near the Habs winning the Cup after beating Chicago in the finals, and Dryden being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. We wouldn’t expect him to. The book’s not about the Habs.

When you put it all together though, it’s a magical piece of hockey lore. Maybe not so much for Bruins fans I guess. They probably hate the story.

Turk Sanderson says this: “Dryden was highly overrated, in my opinion, but he was the first big goaltender. He covered the top of the net so well, and when he dropped and spread, he covered a lot of ground in the bottom part. You’d turn to shoot, and he would have that area covered because of his size. It took us a while to get used to that. It created problems we had never seen before.”

Sanderson goes on to say, “Dryden didn’t provide the stellar goaltending everybody continues to talk about. You could score on Dryden. He wasn’t that good; he was just different.”

Sanderson is saying that Dryden wasn’t a good goalie, he was just a big goalie. But Sanderson was a Bruin for many of the years when they played against each, and he might still have Habs/Bruins issues.

Dryden was in goal for game 8 when it was for all the marbles so Harry Sinden must not have thought he was overrated. And Sinden coached Sanderson. Dryden also collected 6 Stanley Cups during those days, but maybe a much lesser goalie might have too considering the team up front with Lafleur, Robinson, Lemaire et al.

Like I said, I’ve heard various people say over the years that Dryden was overrated but I tend to not think much about it. I just wonder if there are many other players who played against him, like Sanderson did, who also feel he was overrated. And if lots do, does that mean he was?

As an aside, Sanderson also says Cam Neely was the greatest right winger to ever play the game.

 

Dryden’s always had a bit of a reputation for not being overly-enthusiastic about signing autographs, and here’s a great exampleWindsor Star.

The Habs Let Orr Slip Away

Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, and Guy Lapointe were the Canadiens’ Big Three defencemen in the 1970s. Three of the best, all on one team.

Then imagine having Bobby Orr in the mix. The Big Four.

With those four taking care of the blueline, with Ken Dryden in goal, and with Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Steve Shutt, Bob Gainey, Yvan Cournoyer and the gang up front, it just wouldn’t have been fair.

Orr as part of the powerhouse Habs of the ’70s. It boggles the mind. And it could have happened.

Stephen Brunt, in his 2006 book “Searching for Bobby Orr” writes about that historic first sighting of Orr, when Wren Blair and other Bruins brain trust went to a bantam tournament in Gananoque, Ontario in 1961 to have a look at a couple of players, and soon forgot about the two they’d come to see because a little 12-year old blond-haired kid from Parry Sound was skating rings around everybody.

It’s magical hockey lore, one of the game’s great stories, forever to be told. Until global warming melts the rinks permanently.

But Blair and his gang weren’t the only NHL people in the Gananoque rink that day. Scotty Bowman, the Montreal Canadiens young head scout for eastern North America, was sent by Sam Pollock to Gananoque to have a look at not only the two players everyone else was watching, Doug Higgins and Rick Eaton, but to also check out a kid named Orr that the Canadiens had gotten wind of through an old friend of Frank J. Selke.

Bowman watched the little kid, wearing number 2 for Parry Sound, and was impressed. “He was dominating,” Bowman says in Brunt’s book. “But he was very small – much smaller than all of the other guys. He could really skate and fly around. I’d never seen a guy that good at that young age.”

Soon after, Bowman visited the Orr home in Parry Sound, but it was mostly just a social call. The Habs had nothing to offer, they weren’t in the practice of handing out signing bonuses then, and they wouldn’t commit to a kid still in grade school. And as soon as Scotty learned that Doug and Arva Orr had no intentions of Bobby leaving home, Scotty left it at that.

When Bobby got a little older and was more prepared to join the Junior Canadiens in Montreal, then maybe they could continue their chat. Just not at that time. He was too young.

Wren Blair of the Bruins didn’t give up, though. He diligently courted the Orr’s and finally got the papers signed. Orr joined the Oshawa Generals and not the Junior Canadiens, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Just think how it might have turned out. He might not have damaged his knees. Put him in a Canadiens uniform, and Montreal certainly wouldn’t have missed the playoffs in ’69-’70, which they did because although they were tied with New York for the fourth and final playoff spot, they had scored two less goals.

With Orr wearing the CH they would’ve been off to the races and might not have stopped until the 1980s were in full swing. But he wouldn’t have worn number 4. A big fellow named Beliveau owned it when Orr was breaking in.

Is it crazy to think that maybe it could’ve been ten straight Stanley Cups for the Habs in the 1970s with a healthy Bobby Orr in the lineup? Maybe it’s not so farfetched. But instead, those bastard Bruins got him and that was that. And anyway, the last thing I want to do is sound greedy.

But if only Scotty Bowman had made more trips to Parry Sound. Like Wren Blair did.

And thanks to Don in Texas for sending me Stephen Brunt’s book as a gift. It was a great read for sure.

Bobby Orr

 

 

 

 

Lineups Announced

The rosters for Saturday’s Habs-Leafs tilt have been announced, and as you can see, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is suiting up. It can’t hurt.

What a team the Habs had, eh?

This is from the 1977-78 season, a season that saw the Canadiens finish with 129 points, take home the Prince of Wales for finishing first, and end with their third straight Stanley Cup.

The Vezina went to Ken Dryden and Michel Larocque; the Hart, the Art Ross, and the Lester B. Pearson trophies were collected by Guy Lafleur; the Conn Smythe was awarded to Larry Robinson; and Bob Gainey won the Selke.

Peter Mahovlich would be sent to Pittsburgh after 17 games, in exchange for Pierre Larouche.

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Dick And Danny Do The Game

It’s the magical combination of Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin as the Habs and Flyers battle on May 16, 1976. Montreal would win 5-3 on this night, sweeping the Flyers to win their 19th Stanley Cup.

Period one (30 min.) and period three (42 min) are included here, and we see the Cup awarded. Just wonderful, and thanks to my old buddy Rugger for sending it along.

Period One:

Period Three:

Devils Still Breathing

The New Jersey Devils edged Los Angeles 2-1 in a feisty and puck-bouncing game five, with pucks rattling off goal posts, sticks slicing people’s faces, and Martin Brodeur being great and also lucky. So the series continues, with L.A. now holding a slight 3-2 game advantage, and feeling not quite as good about themselves as they were a couple of games ago.

The Stanley Cup remains packed away, until Monday at least. I’m hoping it goes seven. (please see previous post Drama-Hoping for more on this).

It’s a bad/good situation for Kings’ owners Philip Anschutz and Ed Roski Jr. Bad because their team can’t close it off, and good because it means another home game with a whole bunch of extra big-time dollars to be stuffed into their pockets from ticket and beer sales. Sometimes losing pays off in a big way.

L.A. players have to be nervous, and the Devils now find themselves with some serious hope. This is much better than a sweep or a five-game series. And from this Hab fan’s perspective, it’s always nice to see camera shots of Larry Robinson behind the bench. Kind of chokes me up.

Have you noticed that with all the beards out there, everybody looks the same? It’s like two teams full of Smith Brothers. I’m starting to dislike the beard thing. I’ll bet the wives are too. Maybe players need something new for playoff tradition, something that doesn’t make them all look alike. How about not showering for the playoffs? At least they wouldn’t have to worry about fans and media bothering them.

It’s also worth noting that if New Jersey really wants to climb all the way back, the Devils trainers might want to give Ilya Kovalchuk some smelling salts. Or at the very least, a good swift kick in the ass.

Roy, Robinson, Gretzky, Messier – In Ottawa

On Friday, September 19, 1986, the Montreal Canadiens played an exhibition game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Ottawa Civic Centre.  I lived in Ottawa at the time but sometimes, as was the case here, real life gets in the way and I had to work and couldn’t go. Just like the time I had a couple of front row seats for Roy Orbison at the National Arts Centre and was out on a truck run, got back late, and missed that too.

But my buddy Frank and his son Robin went to this Habs-Oilers clash, and brought me back a program.

This was a charity event for the Canadian Cystric Fibrosis Foundation, and two beauty teams went at it that night. Montreal had won the Stanley Cup that previous spring, and boasted Patrick Roy in nets, along with guys like Bobby Smith, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Stephane Richer.

The Oilers were pretty well in a class by themselves. They had won the two previous Cups, in 1984 and 1985, and the two after, in 1987 and `88, with a lineup of Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri etc.

Edmonton won the game that night 8-3, so maybe it was good that I missed it.

Joe And Big Bird Ball

I’ve learned to not get too excited about rumours until they edge closer to fact, but I sure like the idea of Larry Robinson coming back to Montreal as coach or assistant coach. Apparently he’s just waiting to be asked. So Mr. Bergevin, ask him please.

I also like the “Evander Kane coming to Montreal” rumour, not only because he was a 30-goal scorer this year in Winnipeg, but also because I could finally see “Kane” on the back of a Habs’ sweater.

And speaking of Robinson:

In Ottawa in the 1970’s, there was a tremendous fastball team called Turpin Pontiac who were one of the best ball teams in Canada. I used to love going to games involving Turpin and other teams from the great Ottawa Valley Fastball League. It was really fine ball, played by guys who executed like poetry in motion.

Turpin had a glasses-wearing pitcher named Joe Belisle who looked like Dennis the Menace’s father. He seemed to weigh about 140 pounds, with his pitching arm much bigger than his other arm. This was a guy who threw mostly 1 or 2 hitters, with many no-hitters added for good measure. And the other teams such as Hull Volant were certainly no slouches so Joe always had his work cut out for him, and more often than not got the job done in classic fashion..

Joe was well-known in the Ottawa area, but not quite as well-known as one of his teammates. There was an outfielder, a big, strapping long-ball hitting red-headed farm boy named Larry Robinson, who, after ball season had ended and the air grew chilly, played defence for the Montreal Canadiens.

Into The Drink


Darth sent this picture quite awhile ago but I couldn’t bring myself to put it up. Until now that is. I hope there’s enough lifeboats.

A 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals. What, the Habs didn’t win? Seriously?

Question: Who would you consider the better defenceman – Tomas Kaberle or Bobby Orr?

Isn’t Kaberle fantastic! Except for that time in the first period when he was so mesmerized by a slow-moving puck that he forgot to reach his stick out to clear the little black thing, and presto, into the net it went. And his long shots are the kind goalies prefer in practice. The ones they can see and stop and not get hurt by. But otherwise, him or Orr?

Wait a minute, that’s ridiculous. You can’t compare Kaberle to Orr. Orr was the best ever. I don’t know what I was thinking.

What about Kaberle and Larry Robinson?

I’m re-reading Jack Kerouac’s On The Road, and there’s a passage in there where Kerouac and Neal Cassady are in a bar and a guy named Gomez is wandering around trying to pick up chicks. I don’t know how their Gomez made out, but I sure hope he scored more than our Gomez.

The Canadiens played with blood, sweat and tears. Okay, there was no blood. And so what that it only looked like sweat and tears and their faces were wet because they’d poured water on them. And exciting! Whew! I’m only now just recovering.

Hey, I’ve only got so many decades left and if I die before they become a great team again, I’m going to be pissed.

Rene Bourque notched a shorthanded goal, which was the Canadiens’ first goal against Washington in 260 minutes, or about the length of time it takes Brad Marchand to read a comic book.

Random Notes;

Those shots of Dale Hunter behind the Caps bench gave me a queasy feeling in my gut. The Habs and Quebec Nordiques enjoyed the most vicious rivalry in hockey, and Hunter was front and centre of it all. He was a nasty piece of business. Actually, a dirty, miserable prick.

Sunday, the boys are in Sunrise, Florida to take on the Panthers. Are you excited?