Pointu Was Great (And Creative) On And Off The Ice

0075The Globe and Mail called Ken Dryden’s book, The Game, “the sports book of the year, or maybe the decade, or maybe the century.”  Dryden took us into the inner circle of the late 1970′s Montreal Canadiens, when they were the best team in hockey, poised to win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. It’s a great book, written with humility and intelligence, and I know many of you have already read it. I just wanted to share a few things that I really like.

I’m sure Ken Dryden had a little smile on his face as he wrote about Guy Lapointe, affectionately know as “Pointu”.  Dryden says in the early to mid-1970′s, except for Bobby Orr, Lapointe was the best defenceman in the NHL.

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In the shower, (Yvon) Lambert is singing. Lapointe grabs a bucket and tiptoes to the bathroom sink like a cartoon spy. He fills the bucket with cold water, and peers around the corner of the shower. Lambert is still singing. Lapointe winds up; we hear a scream. Lapointe dashes back into the room and quickly out again, dropping his bucket. Lambert, still lathered up, races after him, screaming threats.  Losing his trail, Lambert stops to pick up the bucket, fills it, and resumes his search. Finally he finds Lapointe hiding in a toilet stall; he backs him into the room. Naked, sobbing, pleading pathetically, Lapointe falls to his knees, his hands clutched in front of him. Lambert winds up to throw the water, then stops: in Lapointe’s hands are Lambert’s clothes.

The laces to my skates have been shredded into macaroni-size pieces too small for knots to hold together. I look up at a roomful of blank faces. Before I can say his name, Lapointe, who cuts my laces twenty or twenty-five times a year, though I have never seen him do it, gives me an injured look. “Hey, get the right guy,” he shouts.

“Hey Reggie (Houle),” he shouts, “That was a helluva play ya made last night.” Houle goes silent; we begin to laugh. “Yup,” Robinson continues slowly, drawing out each word, “not often ya see a guy on a breakaway put it in the crowd.” Lapointe snaps down his newspaper. “Don’t let it bother ya, Reggie,” he says sympathetically. “No harm done.” Surprised, we all look up. “The goalie just woulda stopped ya anyway,” he says, and we all laugh harder.

“Ah, I’m full,” Lapointe announces, wiping his face with napkin. “Anybody want my ice cream?” Shaking their heads, murmuring, everyone says no. Finally, after looking around, certain that no one else wants it, “Um, yeah sure,” I say tentatively, ya sure ya don’t want it?” Lapointe shakes his head, and hands it to me. I take a bite. Before I can taste what I’ve eaten, the room explodes with laughter – sour cream with chocolate sauce.

“Calisse, now I done it,” he groans. “Kenny, who’s a good lawyer? I need some help.” He looks genuinely worried this time.                                                          
“Call a guy named Ackerman,” I tell him earnestly.                                        
“What?” he says. “Ackerman,” I repeat louder, and suddenly I know what’s coming next. “I’m not deaf,” he says indignantly, and walks away laughing.

7 thoughts on “Pointu Was Great (And Creative) On And Off The Ice”

  1. One time, flying to or from an NHL city, Pete Mahovlich walking past Ken Dryden grabbed some papers out of Dryden’s hand and tore them up. They were part of an essay for one of Dryden’s university courses.
    Sitting in the dressing room Tremblay was snickering around pulling a prank on someone. When he left his stall Steve Shutt picked up Tremblay’s cola and peed into the cup then replaced it on the bench.

  2. Shutt seemed like he was quite hilarious, although I’ve heard that he was one of these guys who was hard on rookies. Dave Keon in Toronto was apparently like that too.
    The paper thing, with Mahovlich – I’d be quite pissed.

  3. Ha! I just bought the book…..what a coincidence that you bring it up. I haven’t started it yet, I’m saving it for summer vacation. (Chez backyard).

  4. Headig into Prince George in a couple of days,will pick it up as I’ve never read it ,sounds like it could be good

  5. from all I’ve heard, pointu was, first and foremost, a harmless prankster and a genuinely fun guy to be around; Mahovlich and shutt could be rather nasty guys to those below them on the organizational totem pole.

    and, yeah, I heard that Keon was an a-hole to play with – espec. if you were a raw rookie. Fascinatingly, Dave Williams said as much, arguing that Keon made life very difficult for him when the latter was at his first training camp in toronto. Given Williams’ own crudeness and bullying nature, if that isn’t the kettle calling the pot black, I don’t know what is……….. Still, Keon could be an odious guy

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