Several times I’ve talked about John French, who was an old hockey and baseball teammate of mine while growing up in Orillia, our little town also known as Mariposa from Stephen Leacock’s “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town,” and seeing the fellow on a program cover recently finds me going on about him again.
John and his family moved to Toronto when he was in his mid-teens, and I remember when he came back with his new big city team for an important tournament in Orillia. In a sensational moment in time, the slick forward scored five goals in the championship game and was voted tourney MVP.
He had come through in a huge way in his first appearance back in his home town, and myself and his other old teammates sitting in the stands were truly impressed.
French was an excellent hockey player, much better than the rest of us, and he would eventually play Junior A for the Toronto Marlies before being picked by the Habs 52nd overall in the 1970 draft. John would play for the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL, with Ken Dryden and Wayne Thomas as his goalies, and not long after it was onward to the World Hockey Association.
Years ago I bought a used desk at an Ottawa second-hand shop, opened the drawer, and found a John French hockey card inside. And recently I noticed an old New England Whalers program, and there he was on the cover.