Fergy Left His Steak And Walked Out

To help take your mind off the wacky world of this year’s Habs, at least for a few minutes, I thought I’d mention a couple of tidbits about good old number 22, John Ferguson, that I found while re-reading my book Breakaway by Charles Wilkins.

First, an autograph I got from him in the mid-60’s.

Fergy was sitting in a restaurant with teammate Dick Duff, ready to tackle a steak, when Eddie Shack of the Leafs walked in. Duff, who had played with Shack in Toronto, struck up a conversation with his old friend. Fergy was so disgusted that a teammate would socialize with the enemy that he got up and walked out, leaving his uneaten steak.

Henri Richard was given the captaincy after Jean Beliveau retired, but Pocket Rocket wasn’t the Habs’ first choice to wear the C. It was Fergy. Fergy had decided to retire in 1971 and GM Sam Pollock offered him the honour of being captain if he would stay longer. But Sam was turned down.

John ended up resenting the Canadiens organization. He was in the hospital having surgery on a bone below his eye, a very serious operation, and he said that not once did a member of the team’s ownership, management, or coaching staff come to visit him. And only one them phoned – Toe Blake – but just once.

The Hall of Fame committee had Fergy’s name on the ballot and it went through, but for reasons unknown, they changed their minds and he was never inducted.

Ferguson was asked by Harry Sinden to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series but declined. His reasoning was that there was so much talk about Bobby Hull not being able to play because the Golden Jet had bolted to the new WHA, he felt it would be too much of a distraction to accept the offer, considering he’d been retired for a year. He became assistant coach instead.

Ferguson laid a beating on Chicago’s Eric Nesterenko during the 1965 Stanley Cup finals that changed the momentum of the series, and caused Nesterenko to live with the memory of it for years to come. Nesterenko even became the subject of a novel “The Drubbing of Nesterenko” by Hanford Woods, and although the fight was an absolute disaster for the Black Hawk, it only added to the legend of Fergy.

Here’s the fight:




7 thoughts on “Fergy Left His Steak And Walked Out”

  1. Dennis is this post timed to encourage a certain ghost to make the short trip from the Forum and wipe the smirk off anyone who jokes better than he plays?

    My main memory of Nesterenko is of him playing Rob Lowe’s father in Youngblood, a wannabe Slapshot film, stupidly pretending 30+ year olds were juniors. But it was filmed and set in Hamilton so it gets a pass. Also helps that it plays the Leaf top line players at more appropriate skill level.

  2. God I would love to have someone like Fergy on our team now. Someone who would take Gomez to the side and punch him in the gut for being a clown. He probably would have blasted Cammy a new one as well.

    I probably would have finished the steak though. I love steak. 🙂

    I also wished we had a Sam Pollock as GM again. If we get someone like McGuire, then we may turn around quite a bit.

    Everyone seems convinced we won’t have hockey next year. What are we going to do?

  3. Ferguson and Shack definitely where 2 tough customers. Ferguson to me was definitely the best fighter of his era and maybe of the last 50 years.
    He was more of a quick fist in close fighter. It would be interesting to see how he would have down against the long armed modern fighters especially Bob Probert or the giant power fighters such as George Laraque or Boogaard…

    Shack was an excellant fighter but played the role of pest and motivator with his crazy run around knock anyone down shifts better than anyone.. Sean Avery is a modern day version of Eddie but of course without the class….

    p.s Huge Battle of Ontario game tonight for my Leafs….
    How the hell is Ottawa so good this year …sickening

  4. Leafs Fan, we feel just as sick about Boston right now. It just does not seem right. It makes you question the fairness of this universe doesn’t it?

    That looks like an interesting game though. I think I’ll watch it because it may be a blast. Rivalry games are always usually pretty good.

  5. The battle of Ontario has been sort of dead since the time of one of you guys favourite Leafs Tie (cement head) Domi :):) ..Some pretty nuts playoff games.

    I live in Ottawa of course and core Senator fans probably hate the Leafs more than they do the Habs I would think….

    Wearing a Leaf hat in a Ottawa mall usually results in a good natured rib from an Ottawa Fan sales clerk….

    Freaking Murray has made some very good moves especially with the hiring of Maclean as coach (coach of the year I am thinking)….

  6. Leaf Fan, take it as a compliment that the Leafs are hated here in Ottawa. I think it’s because even in the Sen better years they had a terrible time getting past the lowly Leafs. And the reason many can’t hate the Habs, they grew up loving them, traitors all of them. Their biggest peeve is that when our teams come to town, we out number them in their home arena. They deserve it for putting the Palladium so far out of town.

  7. I agree…putting that arena in a corn field half way up the valley…It should have gone downtown at Lebreton Flats …….

    They just beat my Leafs again tonight…Hey Habs time to steam roll over the Leafs…Not one Leaf came to the aid of Phaneuf when Foligno steam rolled him…To many powder puff boys in the top six Burky …time to make a move…Get some tough character boys..

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