Flashback to “The Book”

I call it a flashback because I posted this a few years ago when most of you hadn’t yet found me, and I wanted to dig it out and show you because it’s a special story for me.

When I was seven or eight years old, my father and mother bought me a book for Christmas called “Let’s Play Hockey” by Lynn Patrick. Normally this wouldn’t be news. Normally it would’ve been just another hockey book.

But my father got the bright idea to send it to the Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, asking if any of the players would sign it so he could give me something special at Christmas.

The book came back signed by the entire 1958-59 team. A team in the middle of winning five straight Stanley Cups between 1955 and 1960.

They were all there – Toe Blake, Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Bernie Geoffrion, Jacques Plante, Ralph Backstrom, Bert Olmstead, Marcel Bonin, Tom Johnson, Phil Goyette, Claude Provost, Andre Pronovost, Ian Cushenan, Bob Turner, Jean Guy Talbot, Dollard St. Laurent, Ab McDonald, and Don Marshall.

But Doug Harvey wasn’t. Maybe he was injured when the book was passed around.

That didn’t stop my father. Later that year he took me to Toronto to see the Habs play the Leafs, and he brought the book with us. And sometime before game time, he took the book down to the corridor outside Montreal’s dressing room, and believe it or not, saw Toe Blake standing there, went up to him and asked him if he would take the book into the room and get Harvey’s autograph for him.

Blake did just that, and that’s Harvey’s signature down at the bottom corner of the opposite page of the other players. 

Those brown marks are from scotch tape. For awhile after I got it, I taped a plastic sheet over top to protect them. In hindsight I shouldn’t have, but I just wanted to protect it. Because even then I realized the magnitude of this book.

8 thoughts on “Flashback to “The Book””

  1. Dennis, I am pretty sure those Scotch tape marks could be removed if you took your book to a professional art restorer. I think it would be worth it because that book is a magnificent piece of hockey history.

    I was at the drugstore yesterday and a young fellow sees me and says “Nice hat sir!” And I said “Thank you very much.” Then he says “It’s good to be a Habs fan.” I said “Oh yes it is and we’re going all the way.”

    He smiled and waved and gave me the thumbs up.

    I like it when people connect like that.

  2. Right on, Danno. Habs Universe is everywhere, even at the drugstore. And I should lookninto getting the marks on the book removed. There’s no one in Powell River, that’s for sure.

  3. Well Dennis, you could just say the marks are stains from Jean Beliveau’s coffee that he spilled while signing his autograph. That would increase the book’s value tremendously 🙂

  4. Hey Dennis,I think that you should leave the marks on there,it doesnt matter what it is worth,your never going to part with it.Just like my Forum chair,that will be passed onto my daughter when the time comes.I think the only thing that matters is that it has a lot of value to you.
    In 1971 Andre Boudrias and Babe Pratt came to Gold River for a men’s hockey banquet,this being the first summer of the Canucks in the nhl.I asked Andre for his autograph for my Esso powerplayer book,he signed above his picture,I then asked Babe Pratt to sign over top of his son Tracy’s pic ,he was playing for Buffalo at the time. Babe, being half pissed , said that he wouldn’t sign over his son’s pic,his son was an asshole because he played for the Sabres,he did sign on the Canuck page though.The next year Dave Balon and Tracy Pratt came for the banquet and I got both of their signatures on the Canuck page.

  5. That is so awesome! I’m sorry for the lack of a better word but am I ever green with envy.

    I never once saw these guys play but I want to say thanks for keeping the history of the Canadiens alive. Your efforts really help people like me connect to the Habs of yesteryear a bit more.

  6. This is awesome and a great story. I wish I had a dad like that!

    I could see this in the Hall Of Fame easily. What an awesome thing to have.

  7. Darth, I think it’s fantastic that you’re going back and discovering these older posts of mine. Thank you.

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