Tag Archives: Claude Provost

Habs, Leafs, And Beatles

On August 17th in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

I was 15 years old and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle, and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had the kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23. Jacques Laperriere 24. And Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.

Four Things

Congratulations to Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Women’s player Geraldine Heaney, and coach of the ’70s Broad St. Bullies, Fred Shero.

I remember reading the headline in the Montreal Gazette when Chelios was first called up to the Canadiens. “The Coming of Chris” it heralded, which I thought was a fun headline. Several years later when I was in Leningrad I mentioned that headline to a couple of Russians and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Good for the inductees. It’s a good crop, even though Shero was at the helm of those Broad St. maniacs.

I’m also one of those guys waiting for Paul Henderson to get the call.

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I’ve made it through a total of six days so far at Classic Auctions, which I think is a substantial number for a new guy. Today, among other things, I wrote about Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Claude Provost, and Ted Harris 1960s game-used sticks. And a rhinestone brooch given to players and executives’ wives after the Habs won the Cup in 1946.

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Georges Laraque talks too much, and I think him saying George Parros isn’t intimidating enough in a competitive division isn’t very nice. George should stick to what he’s good at – smiling and wearing tight t-shirts.

Georges told La Presse, “I’m sure that when the Canadiens signed Parros, the Bruins and Shawn Thornton were relieved. In Ottawa and Toronto, they were relieved.”

Yes Georges. And you weren’t exactly Attila the Hun when you were playing. Especially when you were a Hab. You were a peacenik, even though you weren’t supposed to be. You hated beating up people so you stopped doing it. But you were being paid to beat up people.

Stop criticizing the new sheriff. It’ll be tough enough trying to live up to the expectations of Habs fans without being trashed by peers..

“He’s a good guy, but in the NHL you have to intimidate,” Laraque continued. “He has a good technique, but he’s more like a wrestler than a finisher…Florida wouldn’t let Parros go if he was doing the job.

Georges wouldn’t stop.

“Knowing the Montreal market, people will begin to wonder why they got this guy after two or three beatings. I know the guy – I know them all. But those who don’t believe me will see for themselves.”

Georges, you’re not being nice. Be quiet and run for politics.

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I’m going to say this anyway. I hate cell phones. Bring back the phone booth.

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..

When The All-Star Game Was A Serious Affair

The defending Stanley Cup champions used to line up against the best of the best of the league, and it was a serious event. The All-Stars were biting at the bit to beat the Cup champions, while it was a feather in the cap of the champs to best the all-stars.

This is much of the first two periods of 1963 All-Star game held in Toronto, and features Habs Jean Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Henri Richard, and Claude Provost. Beliveau wears number 19, although it shows him standing at the blueline, prior to the opening faceoff, wearing number 4.

It’s quite something to see Beliveau, Gordie Howe, and Bobby Hull together as a line from time to time.

Foster’s Hewitt’s son Bill does the play-by-play.

Habbing Hot Fun In The Summer

Early 1960′s article in Hockey Pictorial, asking members of the Montreal Canadiens how they planned on spending their summer.

Terry Harper was going on a western tour for Molsons and the Canadiens, and bringing along the wife and kids. Terry was born and raised in Regina, so a western tour would have been right up his alley. Kind of a way of getting home and having Molsons pay the shot, I suppose.

John Ferguson was going to work in a Boys’ Detention Home in Nanaimo, BC, and if I was one of those boys in the home, I’d be very polite around the Mr. Ferguson. The last thing I’d want to do was make him upset. Fergie also plannned on playing some lacrosse while on Vancouver Island, and by all accounts, he was a great lacrosse player.

Ralph Backstrom was going to hang out at the resort he bought near Buckingham, Quebec, a nice little town not far from Ottawa and full of Irish, English, and French townsfolk, and Dave Balon thought he’d sell a little real estate and play golf. The way salaries are today, I’m pretty sure Balon wouldn’t have to worry about selling real estate if he was lacing them up now.

JC Tremblay and his wife were expecting a baby, as were the Claude Provosts. What, these guys had sex with their wives? If they played in Toronto, Punch Imlach would’ve been pissed because they weren’t concentrating on hockey.

A Bruins Fan Saying Nice Things About The Habs. Seriously

What you are about to read may shock you and cause you to shake your head and say no, it can’t be true.

But it’s true. I was there.

I met a good guy, a friendly guy, a happy and polite guy. And he’s a hardcore Boston Bruins fan.

Now before you say it can’t be, that I must be drunk, all I can say is, I have witnesses.

Roger, decked out in his Bruins jacket, Bruins shirt, and Bobby Orr hat, told me he’s nervous at the thought of the Bruins meeting the Habs in the playoffs. “I respect Montreal,” he said. “Always have. And we have way too much trouble with them in the playoffs.”

This, of course, made my heart soar like an eagle. And he continued. “They’re fast and they scare me. You never know what to expect from them in a series. We just don’t beat them very often.”

This is a guy who goes way back, with some Habs history in his back pocket.

“I used to caddy for Scotty Bowman back in St. Andrews-By-The-Sea, and lots of ex-Habs would show up; Bobby Rousseau, Claude Provost, Donny Marshall. They were all great people.”

By this time I could only just shake my head. A Bruins fan being nice like this. And I hadn’t even bought him beer!

“I’m one of the good Bruins fans,” he said. “I give credit where credit is due. And Chara should have been suspended for at least a couple of games and all the bullshit would’ve been avoided.”

There you go. An inside scoop. Yes Virginia, there is a good Bruins fan.

 So that makes two – Roger and Diane. Probably that’s it.

Hey, You’ve Got Our Expos. What More Do You Want?

I hope you didn’t shave today. It’s playoff time. If you did, what were you thinking?

The goalies are set – Halak and Theodore - and the hockey world waits for the Washington slaughter of the Habs to begin. It’s not going to be the least bit fair, no it’s not. The Caps are too big, too slick, too many points in the regular season. Barack Obama cheers for them. They’re perfect. They’re not human. What a team.

Why don’t they just give the Stanley Cup to the Washington Capitals and be done with it?

But the Montreal Canadiens and fans have other plans. Like winning the series, for instance. It’s just going to take some firsts.

They need to win the first faceoff of the game and get the puck into the Caps end and start the momentum. They need the first big hit and the first goal. They need to win the first period, the first fight, and all the races to the puck in corners. And a win in the first game would be lovely although a win in game two would be almost as good. Maybe as good.

They also need to send a 90 mile-an-hour puck into Alex Ovechkin’s teeth.

And about the fights? Be careful with Alexander Semin. He plays the bongos.

Habs can win.  Montreal has the aura, the CH, and the best-looking women in North America. Washington enjoys our Expos and had George Bush living there. 

And yes, I know what you’re saying. The game is played on the ice so forget about the women and George Bush. But the Canadiens are not the worst team in the history of the world, and the Capitals are not the best. It’s closer than what many think. The Habs have good scorers who haven’t scored lately. That’s the biggest problem. If the scorers can get it together, things become much different.

And about Alex Ovechkin. One man has never made a hockey team. Please refer to the 2010 Russian Olympic hockey team.

Detroit didn’t win every year because they had Gordie Howe. Or Boston with Orr, Hull with Chicago, Gretzky in LA, Newman with the Charlestown Chiefs. A lot is made about Ovechkin, but it’s a team sport. He’s a guy who has to be watched carefully, checked hard, trash-talked to, get him off his game. Toe Blake told Claude Provost to shadow Bobby Hull, so whenever Hull jumped on the ice, so did Provost. If Hull was out of the play, Provost stayed with him. When Hull went back to the bench, Provost escorted him. If he would’ve been allowed, Provost probably would have followed him down the hall when the period ended.

Just don’t let Ovechkin get wound up, and fire a few 90 mile an hour pucks near his gap-toothed grin.

If Montreal can gain even a split in Washington, everything changes. The Habs will have new-found confidence, the Caps will see some of their’s disappear, and TV analysts will begin to sing a different tune. The odds in Vegas will change slightly, and Habs fans will believe even more.

It’s game day. I’m ready. Gaston’s going to watch it with me. Dishonest John will have his lucky shirt, I’m sure. Danno will have the Victory shirt ready to go. And I didn’t shave today.

I’m ready, you’re ready. We’re all ready. GO HABS!

For those of you who haven't been introduced, this is Gaston. We go back a long way. He'll be watching the game tonight.

Old Habs Pose With The Man Responsible For Their Wives Getting Pregnant

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Hab greats Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost and Jean Beliveau show their hipness as they pose with legendary crooner Perry Como.

For those of you who are too young or just not up on your music history, Perry Como went from being a barber to an international singing sensation in the 1950′s. He was as relaxing as they come. In fact, so relaxing, I’m falling asleep just talking about him.

SCTV did a really funny bit on Como where he sings his hits in bed and laying on the couch etc.

My mother and father really liked him. I preferred a bit more up-tempo stuff. Heck, almost anything was more up-tempo than Perry Como’s music. Elevator music is heavy metal compared to him.

But the Habs liked him. I’ll even go as far as saying that the Pocket, Moore, Provost and Beliveau probably even made out with their wives to Perry Como’s music.

Those TSN Guys Sure Can Be Kidders Sometimes.

This came out in the Edmonton Journal, written by John MacKinnon, and it’s quite amazing. Somehow, some place, the TSN gang must have got together and dropped some acid. MacKinnon’s story is entitled…

“Habs’ Dream Team Falls Flat With Imagination Shackled”  

So, in honour of the Montreal Canadiens centenary, TSN has assembled the “Ultimate Canadiens Team,” and it’s pretty much a laugh riot.

The TV folks put Jean Beliveau at centre between Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard on the first line. Fair enough. Then things got weird.

Saku Koivu between John Ferguson and Bobby Rousseau on the second line was an odd decision, and Brian Skrudland between Andre Pronovost and Jim Roberts on the ‘energy’ line, was a stretch, no offence to those splendid gentlemen, Cup-winners all.

The checking line of Guy Carbonneau between Bob Gainey and Claude Provost is OK, if you really need a checking line on a fantasy team. But the sublime Doug Harvey partnered with Mike Komisarek as the top defensive pairing? Ted Harris and Craig Ludwig as the third duo?

Michel (Bunny) Larocque backing up the incomparable Jacques Plante in goal?

Obviously, TSN was using some sort of ghost roster format to sort through 100 years of excellence. The network tried to inject a dash of realism — a questionable measure when the point is to indulge in fantasy — by limiting the number of Hockey Hall of Famers on the team to eight.

Still, an all-time assemblage of Les Glorieux with none of Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard, Joe Malone, Yvan Cournoyer, Newsy Lalonde, Guy Lapointe, Chris Chelios, Jacques Laperriere, Emile (Butch) Bouchard, Tom Johnson, Sprague Cleghorn, Lorne (Gump) Worsley, Frank Mahovlich, Pete Mahovlich, Georges Vezina, Bert Olmstead, Dickie Duff, George Hainsworth, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Steve Shutt, J.C. Tremblay, Rod Langway, Mats Naslund and Boom-Boom Geoffrion suiting up is mighty light on glory.

So how do you get to the right answer? That’s not so easy.

In this company, 50-goal scorers Pierre Larouche and Stephane Richer, or two-time 40-goal man Mark Napier, sit far down the list.

Others who wouldn’t make the cut:

Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, Bobby Smith, Hall of Famer Buddy O’Connor, who centred the Razzle Dazzle Line, on and on.

To simplify, you could go with an all-native Montrealer team and start with the Richard brothers, Geoffrion, Lemaire and Moore up front with Harvey, Savard, Bouchard and Cleghorn on the back end, and the Gumper and Jose Theodore (Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2002) in goal.

How about the entire ’59-60 team, which capped off the five-in-a-row dynasty, or the ’76-77 edition, the best of the four-straight gang of the 1970s. You wouldn’t be wrong, either way.

Selecting Fergie, Skrudland, Harris and Ludwig ahead of a busload of Hall of Famers might be a bizarre conversation starter, but sifting through the Canadiens greats is quite a discussion, no matter how you attack it. With no right answer, finally.