Category Archives: Yvan Cournoyer

Roadrunner In Action

Photo from my scrapbook of a peach-fuzzed rookie Yvan Cournoyer during the 1964-65 campaign, with Dickie Moore (as a Leaf), Jean Beliveau, Jean Guy Talbot, Bob Pulford, Ted Harris, Ron Stewart, and Charlie Hodge.

And below, although I never scrambled for a foul ball or flying puck, I did manage (very quietly) to get a Cournoyer goal puck through a trade, a goal he scored on Oct. 26, 1972, only a month after the ’72 Summit Series in which Roadrunner played a major role.

Yvan would retire at 35 after 15 seasons, all with the Habs, and 10 Stanley Cups.

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Yvan

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Roadrunner '72

And then there was that time he played on a line with Gaston.

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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.

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.

Budaj Blanks Blueshirts

Inconsequential cleavage shot.

Budaj

Canadiens helped open the newly-refurbished Madison Square Garden by shutting out the home team 2-0 in a game that at times was so boring it made Perry Como look like Little Richard.

I’m willing to bet that many in the seats wished they would have saved their two or three hundred bucks and watched game five of the World Series on TV instead.

It was two big points for the good guys, with Peter Budaj doing a solid job in nets without ever really having to stand on his head. I’ll probably never be able to relax completely when I see Budaj between the pipes, and I thank him for his job tonight.

Thank you Peter.

Of course it’s the Rangers but still.

Tomas Plekanec notched his sixth goal of the season on the power play, with Michael Bournival getting yet another point – his sixth, with Brian Gionta in on it too, and the kids finally came through late in the third when a puck banked in off Alex Galchenyuk’s skate, with both Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher helping out.

Just when I though the kids were becoming mired in a slump they came through.

A fine two points, even though it wasn’t a classic. My eyes are still glazed over.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 27 apiece.

Yvan Cournoyer and Rod Gilbert were there for the ceremonial faceoff. Two great players, looking healthy and not tremendously fat like so many long-retired guys.

PK wasn’t brilliant and a tad on the quiet side, and I suppose anytime now Rene Bourque might look like a power forward. We see a couple of seconds of it almost every game.

I understand that having Douglas Murray is probably good for depth, but other than that, why exactly was he was signed? Maybe he’s only a shell of himself in his first game as a Hab and very soon will explode into the second coming of Scott Stevens!

Maybe not.

Next game – Tuesday at the Bell when the Dallas Stars are in town.

THN Rates ’76-’77 Habs The Best

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page), and I did a little write up about each of those years.

And seeing how The Hockey News has chosen the Habs 1976-77 team as the greatest team ever, I thought I’d re-post that part of my series.

(THN’s other top five in order are the ’83-’84 Oilers, ’82-’82 Islanders, ’55-’56 Habs, and ’51-’52 Red Wings).

In the spring of 1977, as I was on the verge of getting married for the first time, Jacques Lemaire scored the overtime goal to give his team their second straight Stanley Cup in this late 1970′s run, and it was done with a lovely four-game sweep against Don Cherry and his Boston Bruins.

Is this one of the reasons you’re not crazy about the Habs, Don?

It had been quite a year for this dominating bunch. Montreal only lost eight times in 80 games and racked up a record 132 points. Nobody was going to beat them in the playoffs. You didn’t have to be Kreskin to figure it out. In fact, the team swept the Blues, took out the Islanders 4 games to 2, and then swept the Bruins. Fourteen games in total, and very similar to the 13 it had taken them the year before.

Guy Lafleur won the Conn Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and managed nine goals and 17 assists throughout. But he had this to say: “It’s my third Cup and it’s always nice, but it’s not the same excitement. I don’t think I’m the best player. It’s just that everything went well for me.”

Jacques Lemaire was the quiet hero on this ride. His teammates had told him to shoot more, and on this night, he delivered with the overtime marker. “Why shouldn’t I be happy,” said Lemaire. “I’m on a holiday. I’m on a holiday starting now. It’s about time. It still is Lafleur and Shutt, except tonight. Tonight was a mistake. They said, shoot the puck, you look good.”

Coach Scotty Bowman talked about Lafleur and Shutt. “They play more like Europeans. I’m not knocking the NHL style of play, but the Europeans make more plays on the move. That’s what Lafleur and Shutt do.”

And last word to Don Cherry. “It’s hard to believe we kept outshooting them and still can’t win a game. I still say the whole thing boiled down to those three defensemen.”

A Wild Stab At It

41 years ago today.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Foster Hewitt described it. And I’ll never stop remembering and paying tribute to the wonderful series in ’72.

Unless I get Alzheimer’s.

The Original Six In Splendid Quality

I’m out of town for the day and thought I’d just re-post this because it’s so freakin’ unbelievable. Enjoy the Original Six, with Beliveau and the gang, in splendid quality.

I don’t know how often this has ever been in circulation, but it’s one of most greatest ten minutes of hockey clips you’ll ever see.

It’s from 1967, the quality is sensational, like it was filmed today, and we see Jean Beliveau, as smooth as smooth can be, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Jacques Laperriere, Terry Harper, Ralph Backstrom, Terry Sawchuk, and just about everybody else from that time, all from the old Montreal Forum with the pillars in the background.

It’s called Blades and Brass, is set to music of a Mexican brass band, and comes from the National Film Board of Canada. So just sit back and enjoy the Original Six at the old Montreal Forum, in perfect quality.

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

 

 

 

 

Visiting What’s Left Of The Forum

I finally saw what they did to our beautiful Forum. They reduced it to a cinema complex with a scattering of fast food places and Forum seats.

I spoke to a janitor there and he told me he recently saw Yvan Cournoyer sitting in one of the fast food places, pounding his cell phone on the table, trying to get it to work.

The guy sitting beside me isn’t real, if you’re wondering. He’s fake. Lacking soul. Kind of like the rest of the place.

Forum 8

Forum 1

Forum 2

Forum corridor

Forum hall

Forum 4

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Forum 5

 

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A Beautiful Area And An Old Habs Draft Pick

We’re sitting in our friends’ amazing house built on fifty acres of bushland near Peterborough, and after working our way through the Toronto area, this is about as serene as it gets.

I read a few years ago that Hwy 401 from Oakville to Whitby is the busiest stretch of highway in North America and I believe it. And this from someone who was stuck in traffic on L.A. freeways.

Central Ontario gets a bad rap from those who’ve never been or once rushed through. It can be stunningly beautiful. Turning off the main highway and making our way along country roads was a sensational experience. I’d almost forgotten how nice central Ontario is after spending so many years near mountains and beside the ocean.

Although I’ve never been to Ireland, I think it probably looks like this. Nice rolling hills, full of green fields and old barns. A few leprechauns now and again.

Maybe I don’t have to go to Ireland now. I’ll just visit the Peterborough area from time to time and bring some Guinness.

I think every part of Canada has its own big-time beauty, and around here is definitely no exception.

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My friend Mike Mohun, who grew up in Orillia the same time as me, sent me a great article from the Orillia Packet and Times about John French, a guy I played hockey and baseball with when I was a kid, and someone I’ve mentioned several times here.

I often played on the same line as John, he was way better than me and everybody else, and he was our catcher when our peewee baseball team rolled over all challengers.

John was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and in training camp played on the same line as Jean Beliveau and Yvan Cournoyer. He also roomed with Ken Dryden.

A really interesting piece, and can be seen here – Little Guy Made It To The Bigs

I just don’t remember him as being little.

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Luci doesn’t know it yet but in awhile, she’s going for her first Harley ride. I can’t wait to see this. My Luci, on the back of a Harley, roaring down the road. Biker chick.