Category Archives: Maurice Richard

Habs Cancel Canucks

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After the incredibly emotional pregame ceremony that focused often on Elise Beliveau in the stands, I didn’t really care what happened during the game that followed.

That’s not true. I did care. And the Canadiens came through by pulling off a fine 3-1 win, led by the new and impressive Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Pacioretty line.

Although it was Tomas Plekanec converting a nice feed from Sven Andrighetto which won the thing.

Maybe once Jean gets settled in his new digs he can help sort out a few things about his beloved team below. Grab Toe and have a serious sit-down. Chat about the power play.

Again tonight, a now normal 0 for 5 with the man advantage.Eleven goals in 81 attempts if I’m reading it right. And they also gave up a shorthanded marker during one of their so-called power plays.

It might take more than Jean and Toe to figure it out. Might have to call in the Big Fellow for that one. Or at least Rocket, Doug, and Boom Boom.

But tonight is not a night to quibble. The boys halted a three-game losing streak. New lines were in place and it seemed like possible new chemistry could be in the works.

The Subbinator subbinated. Carey Price came up with a sparkling save in the first minute of play to keep his team from falling behind once again in the opening frame. Gally snapped one home in the second to give his team a rare 1-0 lead. And Max found the empty net with half a second left in the game.

They did it on a night in honor of Le Gros Bill, with his women there to see. It was good.

All they have to do now is beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Maybe by then Jean and Toe and the others will have had that little chat.

Jean Soiree

Our Jean

Jean

It was the mid-’80s and I was at the Forum offices to pick up a team-signed Bob Gainey stick that was waiting for me, and after getting it, I went down some stairs leading out but stopped at the bottom to wrap the stick in my coat to protect the autographs.

As I was wrapping it, the door above opened, and it was Jean Beliveau of all people. He saw what I was doing and he looked startled and he hesitated, because I’m sure he thought at first glance that it could’ve been a gun.

I picked up on his reaction, explained what I was doing, and he came down and took his pen out, ready to add his name to the stick. But I was so surprised, so brain-dead, that I just kept wrapping, and he put his pen back in his pocket and walked out the door and across the street into a restaurant.

I remember watching him as he walked across the street, and thinking that I’d just had an encounter with the great Jean Beliveau. But I had startled him, didn’t want his autograph, and blew a chance to have a beautiful and possibly lengthy chat.

Regrets, I’ve had a bunch. And this one’s right up there.

Born in Trois Rivieres and raised in Victoriaville, both relatively small cities fittingly midway between Montreal and Quebec where Jean gave his heart, soul, and staggering talent to both, first with the Citadelles and Aces in the provincial capital, and then as a beloved Montreal Canadien.

And in return, whether it was Quebec for an older generation, or the Canadiens for the rest of us, we cheered, admired, and embraced him.

We were proud of our Jean Beliveau, from his playing days through to the end. So lucky to have him.  Classy, friendly, polite, and dignified. One of the greatest ever, on and off the ice, and he was a Montreal Canadien. He was ours.

When the Rocket passed away in 2000, dark clouds hung over my head for weeks and probably months. And now it’s Jean. He was 83 years old and everyone has to go at some point, but of course it’s not easy.

I grew up watching him, beginning years before it became his turn to wear the captain’s ‘C’. I saw him play in the late-1950s at Maple Leaf Gardens with my dad, and throughout the 1960s at both the Gardens and Forum. I’m proud to be able to say that. He was a hero among heroes. A king of kings.

Jean, may you continue to lead and inspire in your new home, heaven. We’ll miss you so much.

 

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

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Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.

 

Bridge Over Toronto Waters

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I guess it’s been decided that the future Champlain Bridge in Montreal won’t be named after Maurice Richard after all, which I respect but am disappointed about.

He was my hero when I was a young kid and he remains my hero now. No athlete has ever come close to the impact the Rocket had on me.

My friend Paul sent me a National Post article about how Toronto should name one of their bridges after the Rocket instead. Imagine.

It’s a fun piece and can be seen right here – A Rocket bridge in Toronto

The Perfect Bridge Name

To have a bridge named after Maurice Richard would be such a tremendous way of honoring the great man who died in 2000, and I sure hope it happens. What a thing it would be for his family.

I’d be proud to drive over the Maurice Richard Bridge.

This, from CTV News:

“Meanwhile there is no guarantee that the new bridge will keep the Champlain name.

“Federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel said that in conversations the name that keeps coming up is Maurice Richard, the famous Montreal Canadiens’ hockey player, however Lebel would not commit to any name.”

Suitable For Framing

I was going to wait until the Canadiens and Leafs squared off before posting this great picture but I see that they don’t play each other again until Valentine’s Day which is a long way away. So I decided to put it up today instead.

A great old Habs/Leafs illustration on the cover of a 1949 MacLean’s magazine, created by Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle and sent to me by Ed, a fellow who was at John Lennon’s Montreal press conference in 1969 and who handed John a Canadiens sweater and toque to wear, which you can see here – Lennon’s Habs sweater.

From Ed’s pile of old magazines – back in the days when players from opposing teams sat together in the penalty box.

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Rare And Snazzy Habs Rags

The 7-1 Canadiens, in a dogfight with Anaheim for first overall, are in Edmonton for a Monday night tilt with the 3-4-1 Oilers, who sit 26th overall. We could feel confident about this, but you know how that works out sometimes.

And the Oilers have won their last three games, so they’re feeling better and probably playing better than they have lately.

Game time is 9:30 eastern, which means a lot of beauty sleeps, including mine, will come into play at some point.

In the meantime, as we work our way towards this game in Alberta, I’ll throw this out……..

You might have already seen some of these pictures in different posts here. But I”m very proud of all this. Vintage Habs stuff from my childhood is a huge passion of mine.

So without further ado:

Toe Blake, trainer Hector Dubois, and the whole gang had nice team jackets.

Toe

Dubois

And so do I. Except this isn’t me. I have a face. Sort of.

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Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and the whole gang had nice team sports jackets.

Jean's jacket

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And so do I.

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And I have a bag to put it all in.

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Normand Richard wore a sweater while with his dad.

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I’ve got a bunch of them from that era, only different.

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white sweater

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Phyllis’ Lousy Date

Clarence Campbell sure was a lousy date. He takes his secretary/fiancee Phyllis King to a game at the Forum just after he suspends the Rocket for the remaining 15 games of the 1954-55 regular season plus the entire playoffs for slugging a linesman, and all hell breaks loose.

Folks in Montreal weren’t happy, and it certainly wasn’t a good time for Clarence to be impressing his squeeze. Phyllis ended up with eggs and tomatoes on her coat, tear gas smoke in her eyes and  nostrils, and a couple of rubber boots and programs bouncing off her head.

Bad romance call by Clarence.

But all’s well that ends well. Phyllis and Clarence were married in November of 1955, eight months after the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot, so obviously she forgave him for his lack of judgement.

Not the Richard judgement, the going-out-on-a-date judgement.

The following, from my collection of letters, is a rare and original Phyllis King letter from the office of her boyfriend, four years before the lousy date.

Phyllis

Here they are on their romantic date.

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