Part Five of “Extra, Extra, Read All About It”

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).

This is part five  – 1979

Scotty Bowman felt he deserved the Canadiens general manager’s position in the late 1970’s and it never came – Irving Grundman, a bowling alley mogul, found himself in the job instead. So soon after the big night of May 21, 1979, when Bowman and his team took out the NY Rangers in five games to win it all, he would prepare to embark on a coaching path that would lead him out of Montreal and into Buffalo for seven years, then two in Pittsburgh and nine more in Detroit.

But for now, another championship in Montreal would be savoured.

The Canadiens won their fourth straight Stanley Cup in this 1979, and although it was the beginning of the end, it was still a formidable team. The same star players remained, the ones who had steamrolled over opponents the several year before – Lafleur, Shutt, Robinson, Lapointe, Savard, Dryden etc., but they were getting older, and the shine didn’t glisten quite as much as it had. But it was still enough to get it done, at least this once more before other teams like the Islanders and Oilers, waiting in the wings, would take over.

Winner of the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP in 1979? None other than Bob Gainey. And coach Bowman had this to say about the quiet and unassuming key forward. “He just drives himself….past what you expect from any player. And he plays every game of the season like that, but people only notice in the playoffs. He has been given all the tough assignments…always. And still he has really improved his offence.”

Eddie MacCabe, in the Ottawa Citizen, wrote about Gainey and his play in this Cup run. “He scored last night with Anders Hedberg riding him like a bronco-buster. He scored in New York in the last game. He got six goals and 10 assists in the playoffs this spring and yet he was almost apologetic about being named MVP.”

Gainey said later about his Conn Smythe award, “It’s hard to believe that my name will be on that trophy with some of the names on there….like Bobby Orr and Guy Lafleur….Jean Beliveau.”

He also took home a whopping $1500 and a new car from Sports Illustrated for winning this Conn Smythe award.

This was Montreal’s sixth Cup in ten years, and everybody hated the Habs. Everybody except Habs fans, of course. And we didn’t mind that people felt this way. We were used to it. 

Montreal reached the pot of gold by sweeping the Leafs in four, edging the Bruins in seven, and then disposing of the Rangers. But Larry Robinson had noticed some cracks. The team had lost the final game of the season, a game they need to finish first, and Robinson felt the loss showed that they had failed under pressure, and he admitted he was worried. He also said his team had played mediocre hockey against Boston and could have easily lost that series.

Change was in the air. And it wasn’t just Bowman who would leave soon after. Because when all was said and done, Jacques Lemaire, Yvan Cournoyer, and Ken Dryden would retire, and the Habs wouldn’t win another Stanley Cup until 1986.

22 thoughts on “Part Five of “Extra, Extra, Read All About It””

  1. Hi HDS,
    No I don’t have a basement for this stuff. I used to, in other houses, but not this one. Most of it is in a spare bedroom and a great deal of it remains in boxes. I guess I take after my grandmother. She liked to keep odds and ends such as political stuff etc., and I’ve been searching down things for years. I even sold quite a lot on eBay for several years but I still have way too much. Hopefully my grandkids will appreciate some of it.. I’m lucky that I’ve had two very understanding wives over the years. And I’ve always tried to collect only the very special. I’m not interested in new things. Thanks for reading and hope all’s well.

  2. Wouldn’t it be nice if the 2011-12 Habs could return the team to the winning ways of the dynasties? A time when winning was so commonplace it almost became boring.
    I like our chances this year. It could be the start of something big.
    Stay tuned…

  3. I think it’s going to be great this year too, Danno. I think there’s more optimism this year from us fans than there has been in awhile. This Yemelin fellow could be an impact guy on defence. I like guys who play with an edge and he does. I’m a little sad Wiz is gone but Yemelin may even be better. Let’s hope. I just wish it would hurry up and begin.

  4. Dennis, send me all your stuff. I’ll keep it safe alright. 🙂

    I think we’ve gotten so used to losing that if we did turn it around we probably would be so nervous that we’d be waiting for the other shoe to drop and have it all come crashing to a halt. I want to be able to take winning for granted and not look at it as if it was some kind of miracle. I think this year that will finally happen.

    I also wish the season would start. I feel like time has actually slowed down just to mess with us.

  5. Darth, that’s right, not just a one-time thing but a real powerhouse that makes other teams and their fans nervous on a regular basis. It begins this year. And I’m hoping time speeds up just a little when you come to this site.

  6. It helps a lot Dennis, it really does. I need to check out everything but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I do know that I got a great idea from here (the bench).

    Man, I think when training camp begins we’ll all be dancing and cheering like a bunch of little children. We’re too obsessed. Oh well, what a nice obsession to have!

  7. Darth, it’s a nice obsession I think. I’ve never been able to shake it either, not that I want to. I have friends in Ottawa who were big Habs fans but became Sens fans when Ottawa got a team in 1993. I’ve just never been able to understand how one can drop their team like that. It’s impossible for me. I lived in Toronto, Ottawa, and Calgary and there was never a chance in hell any of these would become my team. It’s Habs forever.

  8. It’s Habs forever for me as well. They weren’t true Habs fans. Hockey fans sure, but to jump ship like that doesn’t look good for them. I could live to 1,000 and end up somewhere deep in space on the other side of the galaxy and I’d still be obsessed with them and wondering how their season is going.

  9. Cournoyer retiring was to be expected, but Lemaire should have been good for at least one more year and Dryden was still in his prime. If those two had returned with Bowman, I firmly believe we would have had #5 in 1980.

    Oh and it was our 6th cup in only 9 years, or 8th cup in 12 years. We can even cheat a bit and claim 6 cups in 8 years and 10 days or 8 cups in 11 years and 3 days.

    That’s what I grew up expecting, and to which I want to return.

  10. Darth, if you read some of the older stuff you’ll notice that some of the paragraphs are spaced too far apart. I changed the look of the site (the theme) and it spaced these automatically. I fixed a few and then said the heck with it. It’s not that bad.

  11. We’re starting this year Chris. I’m hoping Yemelin is a key factor. And Cole of course. And now there’s been the odd rumour of Gomez going to Winnipeg but we all know about rumours.

  12. I think we’ll hold on to Gomez for one more year. If he tanks terribly then he may go during the year. I had heard a lot of talk about him going before July 1st but I think in order to ship him he had to be part of a package so it would have had to be him with PK and draft choices or Pacioretty and choices, etc.

    Thank god we didn’t go for it. With Pacioretty back on the line his stats may go up. I just hope he does actually try to redeem himself like he claims he will.

  13. Darth, so far Gomez hasn’t been a Montreal Canadien to me. I can’t explain it exactly, but I just think he’d fit another team’s jersey better. Henri Richard he’s not.

  14. You’ll get no argument from me Dennis. I couldn’t stand him his first year here. The fact he went downhill last season didn’t surprise me at all. I will hope he changes but I doubt he will. I find it very hard to take that HE is the highest paid Habs player of all time.

  15. Hopefully Gomez will improve this year, he really can’t get much worse than last year (I write tempting fate). I think we’re stuck with him until close to the trade deadline. Then a young team on the play-off bubble close to the cap minimum may want to pick him up. Next year he provides almost $2M savings in salary relative to his cap hit, and almost $3M the next. For the cheapos of the league, that’s money in the bank.

  16. Chris, wouldn’t it be funny if Gomez was an all-star this year and surprised us all? The bottom line is, he has to help the team in a big way or we’re going to be mad at him.

  17. Dennis, we’re already mad at him, but all will be forgiven if he becomes an all-star. Or even a plumber as long as helps bring the Cup where it belongs. See we’re easy to please.

  18. Here’s a question for our hockey-missing minds to ponder:

    Say Gomez has a terrible year again but we make it to the playoffs anyways and we manage to get to the Stanley Cup Final and it’s game seven. Gomez gets the game-winning goal and we win the Cup.

    Would you then say picking up Gomez was a great idea or would everyone still hate the guy?

    I honestly don’t know what I’d think. Here’s been here three years (or would be by the end of next season) and he’s earned about 15 million give or take at the point. Would that 15 million be worth a Cup victory?

    We’d probably all be so deluded with joy we wouldn’t even care at that point.

  19. Darth, about your Gomez question. If he indeed had a terrible year and it was just this goal that people cheered him for, I’d still get rid of him. Almost anyone could score the game-winning goal from time to time, even Hal Gill, so it’s up to Gomez to help the team for 82 games and then a boatload of playoff games. One isn’t enough. C’mon Scott, help in a bigh way.

  20. Darth you ask a very good question. By the end of this upcoming year Gomez will have earned $23.5M from the Habs. If he were to score the Stanley Cup winning goal I wouldn’t care how much of a giant waste of money he has been. We have the Cup, I’m deluded with joy, what’s done is done.
    But like Dennis wrote, I’d still want to get rid of him for the next year. After all, not only do I want the Cup in 2012, I want to repeat again in 2013 and 2014. Wasting a lot of our cap space on an under-performer does not help.

  21. That’s right, Chris. One goal does not make a favourite player. But if he did score the Cup-winning goal, he’s my favourite player for several days.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *