Scotland, Sergei, And The Man Who Would Be Coach

Is it just me or did the Hamilton Bulldogs just leave for Scotland and now they’re back again? Was that the fastest return trip overseas in the history of overseas trips? Or is time going so fast I’ll be dead soon?

Did anyone think to bring back a souvenir from Scotland for new teammate Sergei Kostitysn? Maybe a tartan kilt, or a jar of Haggis?

Will Sergei finally wake up, mature overnight and return to the big club a changed man and ready to go? A small part of me says no.

Is Jacques Martin more of a hard-ass than we thought?

Now that Vesa Toskala has let in eight goals in Toronto’s final pre-season game, will they start Jonas ‘Monster’ Gustavsson against the Habs Thursday night, even though his total NHL experience is three pre-season periods?

Thursday’s coming fast and I want to slide this important little ditty in before things get down and dirty:

Roger Leger showed up at my door the other day. No, not the person – he’s dead and has been for 44 years; the Bee Hive photo, a hard-to-get Beehive. All it took was tremendously hard work, diligence, superior sleuthing, and 22 bucks, to secure this little ducat.

And like most of these unheralded Habs players in the Bee Hive photos, there’s a story to go along with it, because surprising enough, this guy could’ve been coach of the Habs instead of Toe Blake!

When it came time to find a replacement for Habs coach Dick Irvin in 1955, Toe Blake wasn’t everyone’s first choice. GM Frank Selke wasn’t crazy about Blake because Blake, while coaching Valleyfield in the minors, rubbed Selke the wrong way many times. For example, Blake thought the Montreal Royals always got the best home dates at the Forum. “Tell the Forum to go fuck themselves,” Blake once said, and it was this kind of attitude that Selke didn’t appreciate.

To replace Irvin, who was basically asked to step down, Selke preferred Joe Primeau, once a member of the famed Kid Line in Toronto along with Busher Jackson and Charlie Conacher. Habs owner Donat Raymond wanted ex-Hab Billy Reay. Ken Reardon, who worked in the front office, wanted Blake.

And the French press pushed for Roger Leger.

Leger was a defenceman for the Canadiens from 1946 to 1950, and a very ordinary one at that. But he had leadership skills and that’s why he was in the running to coach the Habs instead of Toe Blake.

In the end, Blake got the job of course, and won five Stanley Cups in a row. What would Leger have done? Maybe the same. After all, half the team in those days ended up in the Hall of Fame. But the dynamics certainly would have been different, and maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t have been the same team at all.

Something to think about. Roger Leger as coach of the Montreal Canadiens instead of Toe Blake.

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One thought on “Scotland, Sergei, And The Man Who Would Be Coach”

  1. I was seriously hoping Sergei would stay. But he’s been pretty upsetting, I hope he bounces back, but, like you, i highly doubt it.

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