Category Archives: Maurice Richard

Glass Breaker

glass

This old photo, which is in my scrapbook, shows the Rocket in the late-1940s breaking the plexiglass at Maple Leaf Gardens as Vic Lynn looks on in disbelief.

A couple of neat stories that go with this photo that I learned from reading Brian McFarlane’s book “True Hockey Stories: The Habs”.

The photo has been credited to Nat Turofsky, one of two brothers, both of whom shot reams of legendary pictures in Toronto, (You can see their Alexandra Studios name on the left of the photo).

But this one was taken by a kid apprenticing for the Turofskys, who was lucky enough to have been sent to the other end of the ice from where Nat was, and where the glass-breaking happened.

Best of all, sitting just behind the glass when it broke and having pieces of it falling on them were the two salesmen who had sold the plexiglass to the Gardens in the first place, and who had claimed that it couldn’t be broken!

Here’s the picture in my scrapbook.

scrapbook

A Happy Bunch

Circa 1954 Canadiens’ players, wives and girlfriends get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

Bouchard (in glasses), Maurice and Lucille Richard, Ken Mosdell, Doug Harvey, Elmer Lach and the rest of this happy bunch let off some steam during those glorious days when the Habs were close to embarking on five straight Stanley Cups.

Harvey’s in the forefront at the head of the table, and just behind Bouchard and to Elmer Lach’s left is Gerry McNeil with wife Theresa.

At the back, being served by the waiter, appears to be Bernie Geoffrion (with Marlene), and Ken Mosdell is directly across from Boomer.

12-bouch-rest-group

Cream Of The Crop

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Howe

Gretzky

The best ever? It’s been written and talked about forever.

I don’t care. I want to talk about it too. It’s cold and I don’t want to go out.

There’s no real definitive answer I think, but it can be broken down in stages.

Howie Morenz in the 20s and 30s. Maurice Richard’s name was added in the 40s. Gordie Howe and the Rocket in the 50s.

It was all Howe in the 1960s, although Bobby Hull’s name was tossed around by some, and Bobby Orr showed up in the latter part of the 1960s and into the 70s.

Then Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky came along and ruled the 80s and 90s.

Gretzky’s name comes up much more than Mario’s, but Mario, before he got sick, would take a back seat to no one and ended with 1723 points in 915 regular season games, including an 85-goal season in ’88-89.

Maybe Mario is underrated when it comes time to talk about the best ever. He was big and smart with hands of gold.

Sidney Crosby is great of course, but he’s not in this stratosphere. Not yet at least. I wonder if some would disagree about that.

Usually, it boils down to three guys when this topic comes up – Howe, Orr, and Gretzky.

My choice is Bobby Orr.

Although I would see Gordie Howe play a number of times over the years on television (once live at Maple Leaf Gardens in the mid-’60s), he never seemed to completely control the flow of the game the way Orr did, although I know Howe was in a league of his own in almost every department.

Orr’s two years older than me and comes from the same area of Ontario. We were worlds apart as players of course, but at least I can say I  played in many of the same barns as him, maybe against some of the same guys he played against in town like Midland and Huntsville and Gravenhurst. I feel some sort of Central/Northern Ontario connection in a way.

Bobby Orr was a minor league phenom and we were talking about him with envy when we were kids. We knew about him. We heard about his exploits. Parry Sound kids my age came down to Orillia to play and I think our teams played there too. And we watched his brother Ron when his Junior C Parry Sound team played in Orillia.

I saw Orr a few times in Orillia over the years, including a night at the Atherley Arms Hotel when he was at a table with friends and a guy with a few too many drinks in his belly came up to Bobby and was rude and vulgar, which wasn’t cool.

I also by chance walked by him and his wife Peggy in the Orillia park one day and said hi, and they both smiled and said hi back.

I saw him play when he was 16 in an exhibition game in Bracebridge. He was with the Oshawa Generals at the time, but on this night he suited up with the Orillia Terriors senior team against a Muskoka all-star senior team. Orr had the puck all night, and we could see other players – talented, grown men – laughing and shaking their heads at how good this teenager was.

Orr skated like no other defenceman, he had different bursts of speed, he charged the net and racked up points like no other defenceman, and he controlled the play like no other player on the ice. He was also strong and smart, and when it came time to drop the gloves, he could be nasty.

That’s a complete player to me. He did it all and cruelly it didn’t last long because of his bad knees (10 seasons in Boston and a short stint in Chicago). But what a player he was before his knees did him in.

Orr himself says Gordie Howe was the best ever. He played against Howe and watched Gretzky throughout 99′s career. But it’s Howe he chooses, as do many.

Howe wasn’t flashy like the Rocket, Orr and Gretzky, but every pass from him was on the tape, his shot was as hard or harder than any player in the league, he was as good or better a goal scorer as there was, and he was a mean hombre, the toughest player in the league. Punches that crushed noses.

No one dared fight him. He struck fear into the hearts of others, but they respected him. To go into the corners with him was never a good thing. His elbows were legendary.

And of course Wayne Gretzky. You need a fancy calculator and about an hour to tally his records. There’s a legion of players and fans who insist he’s the greatest ever. It’s been said often that in the heat of battle, he thought two or three plays ahead. It was ridiculous how he could rack up the points.

But I go with Bobby Orr. Orr had it figured out ahead of time like Gretzky did. It’s some sort of miraculous instinct. He was a better skater than Gretzky, there’s no comparison in toughness, and he collected reams of points even though he was a defenceman.

He also comes from my neck of the woods and from the same era, which is important to me.

The only Boston Bruin I was ever a fan of.

 

 

Up For Grabs

The new catalogue is out, and our Winter 2014 auction at Classic Auctions goes online Tuesday, January 27.

Below is a small sampling of the nearly 1400 pieces up for bids, including game-worn jerseys from Butch Bouchard, Bert Olmstead, Henri Richard, Terry Sawchuk, Vladislav Tretiak, the Hanson brothers, and Sidney Crosby.

This is the kind of stuff I handle and write about every day.

Classic 1

Classic 2

classic 3

classic 11

classic 13

Classic 18

classic 4

classic 5

Classic 20

Classic 19

classic 6

classic 8

classic 9

Classic 21

Classic 12

classic 10

Classic 22

Classic 23

classic 14

classic 15

We’ll Take Fifty Please

Richer

I was reading Le Journal de Montreal the other day, or trying to read it. It helps me learn a bit of French. I find the cartoons work well.

In Saturday’s paper was this drawing which I like, and which happens to have a Stephane Richer poster on the wall.

Stephane Richer scored fifty goals for the Canadiens twice – 50 in ’87-88, and then 51 in ’89-90.

It’s been twenty-four years since Montreal had a fifty-goal scorer. Twenty-four years since we had someone who knew how to light the lamp on a regular basis.

We’re not even close to having a guy who puts terror in the hearts, eyes, and groins of opposing defencemen and goalies.

The opposition isn’t the least bit uptight now from our guys who jump over the boards, except for P.K. Subban who sends missiles from the blueline. The team is small, is 29th of 30 teams when it comes to regular-strength goals, and our leading point-getter, P.K. isn’t even a forward and is 64th in the league with 36 points.

Our top goal-scorer, Max Pacioretty, has 21 which isn’t bad, but he won’t come close to fifty. Tomas Plekanec, next in line, has 16 and may or may not reach 25.

We have two superstars in our midst – Subban and Carey Price, who’s a goalie. Although Price has two assists, which ties him with Douglas Murray and Ryan White.

I want a guy at the top, or near the top, in scoring. A guy fans in other rinks buy tickets to see.

He’d be so good, even CBC announcers would say nice things about him.

Fans in the seats would point him out to their sons and daughters. Look, they’d say, there’s Gaston LeBois. He’s the best.

Instead, we have guys who go games without a shot on net. They can’t find the back of the net but they always manage to find their pay cheques.

This isn’t THE Montreal Canadiens. Not even close. The is the Montreal Journal de Montrealers. Featuring the women from the fashion and society pages.

We need a big scorer, and I know it’s easier said than done. But I could care less. We need one. End of story.

Could it be Alex Galchenyuk? Maybe. He’s just turned 20 years old, and we won’t really know what we have in him for a few more years.

And if it’s not him, how many more years before one comes along? Twenty? Forty?

Here’s the Habs who managed to light the lamp 50 or more times:

Stephane Richer – 51 – 1989-90
- 50 – 1987-88
Guy Lafleur – 50 – 1979-80
- 52 – 1978-79
- 60 – 1977-78
- 56 – 1976-77
- 56 -1975 76
-53 – 1974-75
Pierre Larouche – 50 -1979-80
Steve Shutt – 60 – 1976-77
Bernard Geoffrion – 50 – 1960-61
Maurice Richard – 50 – 1944-45

Gaston LeBois – 61 – 2029-30

Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.

 

 

 

 

The White Sweater

I know it’s hard to tell, but my white kids’ Habs sweater, from the late-50s, early-60s, is quite similar to the one Rocket’s son Normand, who is my age, is wearing in the picture below it. Although his isn’t a turtleneck.

I have a lot of vintage kids’ Habs sweaters, and this white one is my favourite. Probably because when I was a kid, to see the white version in any store was very rare.

white sweater

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