Tag Archives: Bernard Geoffrion

A Happy Bunch

Circa 1954 Canadiens’ players, wives and girlfriends get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

Bouchard (in glasses), Maurice and Lucille Richard, Ken Mosdell, Doug Harvey, Elmer Lach and the rest of this happy bunch let off some steam during those glorious days when the Habs were close to embarking on five straight Stanley Cups.

Harvey’s in the forefront at the head of the table, and just behind Bouchard and to Elmer Lach’s left is Gerry McNeil with wife Theresa.

At the back, being served by the waiter, appears to be Bernie Geoffrion (with Marlene), and Ken Mosdell is directly across from Boomer.

12-bouch-rest-group

Canada Loses In Shootout

Another one of those fun to watch World Junior games. Unfortunately, at least for those of us cheering for Team Canada in today’s game against the Czech Republic, the good guys would lose 5-4 in the shootout.

They kept falling behind and tying it, but in the end it wasn’t to be.

So much skill and passion from these kids. It never gets old watching them. And the Canadians had their chances but it just wasn’t to be.

There’s going to be some criticism I guess. Maybe the goaltending could’ve been sharper. Maybe Anthony Mantha shouldn’t have touched the puck when going off the ice which led to a too many men penalty and a Czech goal.

Regardless, all these kids in this tournament are brilliant and I’m full of admiration for the whole bunch of them.

Some Habs connections:

Alma, QC’s Charles Hudon drafted 122nd in 2012, tied the score at four apiece.

Zachary Fucale could be between the pipes on Monday when the boys clash with Slovakia (11:30 ET). Fucale, from Rosemere, QC, was taken 36th by the Canadiens in the 2013 draft.

Anthony Mantha’s grandfather is Andre Pronovost, a solid defensive forward with the Canadiens from 1956 to 1961, who would collect four straight Stanley Cups as a member of those late ’50s juggernauts.

The book my dad got signed for me in the late-50s includes Pronovost’s autograph, halfway down, just below Boom Boom Geoffrion’s. (My son has the book now. Otherwise I’d take the picture again and make it bigger).

011

Five Men And A Cardinal

More proof God loves the Habs.

The boys and Cardinal Leger in 1953.

Butch Bouchard, Maurice Richard, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Dollard St. Laurent, and a fellow on the left whom I don’t recognize – meet with Cardinal Leger, who most certainly was in tight with God, which tells me God is a Habs fan.

002

John And Yoko On The Power Play

My friend Robert Lefevbre sent me these pictures today of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969 for their seven-day Bed-In for peace.

I’d never seen these before. I love them.

Bernie Geoffrion wore number five from 1951 to ’64, and in 1968 Gilles Tremblay donned the sweater for two years, retiring just before these photos were taken.

Lennon, being a huge hockey fan of course, said the following. Or maybe I was on acid and just think he said the following.

“I don’t mind Fergy playing a rough style, but I can’t stand what Ted Green does, especially with his stick,” said John to the room packed with all types of people. “This sort of thing should be taken out of the game. That’s why I’m here for this Bed-In. To end violence in hockey. Give peace a chance.”

John and Yoko then started humming the Imperial Oil Hockey Night in Canada theme, joined by Tommy Smothers and Timothy Leary, two other huge hockey fans.

Boom Boom Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Receiving Gift

50 Or More; And That Curved Stick

003

Up until this December 1964 Hockey Pictorial question was posed, just three players had ever scored 50 goals in a season – Maurice Richard in 1944-45, Bernie Geoffrion in 1960-61, and Bobby Hull during the 1961-62 season.

Who would finally score more than 50 in a season?

As you can see, five of the six players polled thought it would be Bobby Hull, while Jacques Laperriere figured Jean Beliveau would be the man.

The answer would come the following year, when yes indeed, it was Bobby Hull, who scored 54 in 65 games.

Hull would also bulge the twine 52 times in ’66-’67 and 58 in ”68-’69.

And how did the Golden Jet explain his talent for scoring? He mostly credited the introduction of the curved stick, which allowed him to blast howitzers at panic-stricken goaltenders. And although that’s a very credible explanation, it doesn’t do Hull complete justice. He was a beautiful skater, strong as an ox, and one of the greatest ever. The curved stick only added another huge element to Hull’s game.

Not long after Hull’s feats, the numbers would get out of hand. Phil Esposito would light the lamp 76 times in 1970-71, and during the 1980-81 campaign, eight players would score 50 or more, including Mike Bossy with 68 markers.

But it would be the 1981-82 season when goal scoring really blossomed, led by Wayne Gretzky, of course. Ten players cracked the 50-goal mark that year, with Gretzky notching an amazing 92 goals.

And back to the curved stick -

Andy Bathgate says it was he who was the first to use it, but it was Hull’s teammate Stan Mikita who is generally regarded as the inventor, although it came accidentally.

As explained in Bruce Dowbiggin’s book “The Stick,” Mikita’s stick cracked during practice, and he tried to break it and throw it away, but it wouldn’t snap completely. Mikita then jammed the stick into the door at the bench and it ended up looking like a boomerang.

While he waited for his trainer to get him another stick in the dressing room, which was several minutes away down the steps at the old Chicago Stadium, Mikita, out of anger, slapped a puck with the broken stick and the puck took off. He slapped another and it was the same thing. He was amazed, even at the new sound the puck made hitting the boards.

Back in the dressing room, Mikita started bending all his sticks, but they were breaking, until someone suggested making them wet first, which he did. He then left his new, curved sticks overnight, and the next day at practice he started shooting. The first shot was like a knuckler in baseball. It dropped and veered, and the next shot did all sorts of weird things too.

Bobby Hull was watching all this, and began bending his too.

Coach Billy Reay wasn’t impressed. He figured they wouldn’t be able to control their shots, and he was right. In Hull’s first game using this new banana blade, his first shot went right over the glass. In another game, Hull hit Ranger goalie Gump Worsley in the head, and when asked if he feared the curved blade, Worsley replied that he thought fans behind him were in more danger than him.

And about Andy Bathgate saying he was the first.

Bobby Hull said he always remembered Bathgate as having a bit of a curve to his sticks, even in the late ’50s, but it was Mikita who pioneered the whole idea of it. Bathgate has said that when Chicago was playing his Rangers one night, his trainer had lent Mikita one of Bathgate’s sticks (which is unusual to say the least), after the Hawk had run out of his own, and Mikita had liked the curved stick.

Mikita disagrees and talked to Bathgate about this, and in Dowbiggin’s book is quoted as saying, “I told Andy to his face that he’s – well, let’s say I talked to him about it. I might have borrowed some sticks, but I sure don’t remember any curve.”

And one final note: It was a Bathgate shot that smashed into Jacques Plante’s face, causing Plante to come back out wearing his mask for the first time during a game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goodbye Dad

My dad and I went to see our Habs in Toronto when I was little, we got to Maple Leaf Gardens early, and as we stood in the corridor, much of team, maybe all of the team, walked by us – The Rocket, Beliveau, Plante, Geoffrion, Moore – everybody. Shortly after, we went down by the dressing room and dad asked Toe Blake if he would take my book in and get Doug Harvey to sign it, which amazingly, Blake did.

This morning my dad died. He was 92.

Orillia on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Provost, And Three Unrelated Photos

Four photos that have nothing to do with each other. But anyway.

Below all these words, Claude Provost, Terry Sawchuk, and Allan Stanley chase after the puck. After that, a ’67 Ford Fairlane ad from an old Life magazine, then a wrestling poster I took off a telephone pole in Orillia, and finally, an Aqueduct poster I borrowed from a New York subway car.

But first, before you’re dazzled by the photos, a little about Claude Provost.

Claude Provost was an unheralded fellow with the Habs during the late ’50s and throughout the 1960s, but who wouldn’t be unheralded, playing on a team that included the Rocket, Beliveau, Geoffrion, Plante, Harvey, Moore, Pocket Rocket et al? But he was a key guy, a right winger who shadowed the league’s top left wingers, particularly Bobby Hull, who must have had nightmares about this fine player whom I’m hesitant to call a grinder. After all, during the 1964-65 season, Provost scored 27 goals and in the playoffs that year became known near and far for the number he did on the Golden Jet, limiting the flashy balding blond to just one goal and two assists en route to the Habs 13th Cup win.

Hull must have thought that when he went to bed at night, he’d wake up with Provost between him and his wife.

Claude Provost died of a heart attack when he was only 51, which is quite disturbing. He was way too young.

And this – from Dick Irvin’s great book The Habs, a little story by Dr. Doug Kinnear, the Canadiens physician back then:

“I was covering the first game of my hockey career and Claude Provost got cut by a high stick. They signalled to me from the bench so I went to the clinic and saw that he had a deep laceration on his forehead. The cut was about two inches long. It was my job to do the stitching and the first thing I did was ask for the freezing. Bill Head was the therapist in those days and he shook his head to give me the signal that hockey players do not require cuts to be frozen. I swallowed hard, took the needle and the sutures, and proceeded to sew up the laceration. Then I said, “Claude, you’d better go next door, lie down and rest for a while.” He said, “Thanks Doc,” jumped off the table, headed back to the bench, and was on the ice for his next shift. That was a revelation to me.”

And now, the other three photos that have nothing to do with each other or Claude Provost..

Even Further Down The Path

More of my old scrapbook. You can see the entire thing by clicking on “The Old Scrapbook” over in Categories on the lower right-hand side.

I know you’re sick of hearing this but just click on the photos to make ‘em bigger.

 

 

.

Blake’s Dad In Diapers

That’s Blake Geoffrion’s dad Danny, in white, being shown stuff by Blake’s future grandpa Boom Boom. Danny is just two years old here, so Blake was still a ways off from being made.

Blake’s future uncle Robert is just 5 in this picture, while future aunt Linda is 7.

Blake’s future grandma Marlene, looking gorgeous, is, as you probably know, Blake’s future great-grandpa Howie Morenz’ daughter. Marlene was only three when her famous dad died.

Name-Looking

I guess I was a little surprised by a couple of players who received qualifying offers from the Canadiens. You may not agree with me, but that’s great. I didn’t agree with George Costanza when he ate a chocolate bar with a knife and fork.

I was slightly surprised that Blake Geoffrion was given an offer. Blake wasn’t great by a long shot. He worked hard enough I guess, and is a nice skater, but the offence just wasn’t there, managing two goals and no assists in 13 games. Blake’s grandpa was one of my favourite Habs when I was a kid, and I wanted so much more from the grandson.

But if he accepts the offer and stays, maybe he can pick it up a big notch.

Andreas Engqvist is another who hasn’t dazzled. Fifteen games over two season, with points tallying at 0-0-0. But he was given an offer.

Brad Staubitz is a UFA and his name hasn’t seemed to come up much lately, so I’m assuming there’s still a chance he could be Hab next season. I like teams that are tough, you probably do too, and Montreal wasn’t tough until Staubitz came along and gave Ryan White a hand in that honourable department. Staubitz proved more than willing to pound it out. The opposite of Georges Laraque.

With Staubitz and White being feisty, the Canadiens have that extra dimension we’ve been missing, thanks to previous management miscues.

Michael Blunden wasn’t given an offer, and when I think back on how Blunden played, I see a good-sized player who got his nose dirty from time to time, who crashed the net and got involved, but scored only when certain planets aligned. Just twice in 39 games. Blunden is a right winger, as is Staubitz, so is Staubitz sticking?

I’m not trying to be an expert, and maybe I’m missing certain technicalities that I’m not aware of, but what I know is, the Canadiens have to pull up their socks like they’ve never been pulled up before, so the decisons to keep some and let others go are key decisions. Onwards and upwards. The team found themselves in the dumpster last season, and now it’s time for them to climb out, wipe themselves off, and go to work to make sure such disaster never occurs again. At least not in my lifetime.

That sound a little selfish. Not in my lifetime. Yes I care about future Habs fans who will want Cups long after I’m gone. I can see these future fans now, watching on their 100 inch 3-D televisons while robots brings them beer, the sight of grizzled 40-year old Alex Galchenyuk Jr., son of legendary Hall of Famer Alex Galchenyuk, hoisting the Cup for the 7th time in his illustrious career. The tradition continues.