Extra, Extra, Read All About It (Parts Two And Three)

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).

Part one was just a few days ago. This is part two and three -1976 and 1977

It was their 17th Stanley Cup, a beautiful, delicious four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. How sweet is that? Sweeping the Broad St. Bullies, the goons who had slashed and punched their way to the two previous championships. But this time, real hockey prevailed over thuggery.

All in all, it was the Canadiens plumbers who made things happen. At least for the most part. Bob Gainey, Jim Roberts, Doug Jarvis, and Doug Risebrough proved just how important blue-collar guys can be. The team had Lafleur and Shutt and the boys, but the lesser-lights shone. “Really, the plumbers did the job for us in this series,” said Steve Shutt. “But when we needed the goals, the two big guys (Lafleur and Perter Mahovlich) came through.”

Lafleur and Mahovlich weren’t having a sensational series up until the final game and the plumbers stepped up. But both Lafleur and Mahovlich scored goals in the third period to ice the thing and to prove that singer Kate Smith, the Flyers’ lucky charm, wasn’t such a lucky charm after all.

Kate was there in person that night to sing the anthem, usually it was a recording, but even her live and in colour wasn’t enought for the thugs from Philly. And in the dressing room, the Habs sung God Bless America in a good-natured jibe to the singer.

It had only taken Montreal 13 games from start to finish in these 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs, sweeping Chicago, taking out the Islanders in five games, and then the four-game dismissing of the Flyers.

Some Flyers fans thought it might have been different if their team had been healthy. Rick MacLeish didn’t suit up, and Bobby Clarke and Orest Kindrachuk played but weren’t 100%. And Wayne Stephenson was between the pipes instead of number one, Bernie Parent. But even coach Fred Shero admitted that his team, althought they might have prolonged it slightly, would have lost anyway. “If we’d had everybody healthy, I suppose we might have lasted longer, we might have made it close, at least.” said Shero. “But on the other hand, I imagine that if we had been able to play better, Canadiens might have played better too. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they could.”

And to make all Habs fans giddy, Shero also went on about how good the Habs actually were. “These are guys you can’t ride off the puck. They’re immune to normal forechecking. You put pressure on most defences and they fall apart. They cough up the puck or throw it away. These fellows never panic. They just won’t give up the puck. They’re always in control.”

And Shero wasn’t finished being nice. “And my God, they’re all like forwards besides. That’s what you’ve got to have on your defence in the NHL today. You can put Robinson, Savard or Lapointe up front and they don’t look out of place at all.”

The last word goes to Bobby Clarke. “We were beaten by one great hockey team, the best in many years.”

And now, 1977

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 hate 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 had this to say 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.”

10 thoughts on “Extra, Extra, Read All About It (Parts Two And Three)”

  1. Best years to be a Habs fan. The most recent cup wins were really nice but back then we were a dynasty.

  2. They sure were great years, Don. It can be argued that those later 70’s teams were the greatest Habs teams of all. I like to think the late 1950’s years were, but those Lafleur, Shutt, Dryden years were right up there.

  3. That 77 crew…incredible. Imagine our current roster was like that and played like that. Wow.

    I wish we could do another 4 year run. Just for the fact it would drive all Hab-haters insane.

  4. And Darth, I admit I got a little too comfortable with us winning all the time. It just became the natural way of things, and it’s been an ongoing withdrawal ever since. I’m with you. I want one Stanley Cup and then three or four more right after. Maybe two or three. And regardless of what anybody says, we have every reason to gloat just a little when it happens.

  5. Memories of our plumbers outplaying the Broad Street Goons warms my heart.

    I was barely 10 years old and was around for 8 Stanley Cups, I want to go back to that level of dominance. That’s what I learned to expect. (I’m cheating a bit for the first one, and don’t remember the next three, but I’m still counting them) We have to win it in 2012, I can’t imagine hitting 20 years without it and we’re getting very close.

  6. It’s sad but the days of dynasties in the NHL are over. Winning two in a row is very, very tough never mind four.

  7. Danno, it’s almost impossible because of player movement and salary caps and all that, but I feel a good stick boy could be the difference.

  8. It would be so nice to able to feel super-confident that naturally they’ll win and that naturally they’ll probably win the Cup…again. 🙁

    I’ve never had the luxury but it’s one I’d like back. Usually now it’s “oh god, please be better this year, please be better, actually make the the playoffs, please make it past the first round this time…”

    (Except for this year though. This year I actually feel confident.)

  9. That was gold Dennis just gold. What a trip down memory lane. I didn’t realize Shero had said those things, he was a lot smarter than I ever gave him credit for!

  10. Thanks a lot DJ. I appreciate it a lot that you liked it. Fred Shero was a smart dude, I think. A little off the wall but a real hockey guy.Those Bullies always talk about him with a smile on thier faces, as opposed to the way old Habs talk ablout Scotty Bowman, who wasn’t all that liked by most. Two different personalities.

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