Tag Archives: Denis Potvin

Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

The 1980-81 Gang That Didn’t Quite Shoot Straight

Below, the 1980 Habs baseball team. Even though he’s not in the photo, Maurice Richard also played on the team.

The Canadiens just couldn’t get it done in 1981, being swept by the upstart Edmonton Oilers with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup. And shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by Bob Berry. (11 different coaches have followed since). It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days of the New York Islanders dynasty, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning four straight. They were good, I give the bastards that. But if you think I’m going to rave about the New York Islanders, you’ve got another thing coming.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four-straight as they did in the late 1970’s was only a pipe dream. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over. The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50 goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending had cracks. And Patrick Roy was still several years away.  

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points. The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player Montreal thought they were getting. He had been a star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But Wickenheiser never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis. And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, Denis Savard had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

It would be five more years before the Canadiens would become champs, and at the time, a handful of years was unacceptable. Nowadays, my calculator can’t count how long it’s been. It’s just ridiculous. But the slump may end soon.

 

 

Islanders Outmatched In Habs 7-2 Shootout

Fans at Le Colisee in Quebec City voiced their approval in the Habs 7-2 trouncing of the New York Islanders, and these obviously must not be the same fans who threw cups and swore loudly at the Canadiens when the Nordiques were around a couple of decades ago.

They loved the Habs tonight, though, but only because they don’t have their beloved Nords.

And maybe for the Canadiens it’s not the best thing that could happen, this 7-2 romp over the New York Islanders. Maybe the Habs will forget that they played a young and inexperienced team, minus John Tavaras, and now think they’re the 1976 Canadiens, who had their way, like tonight, on most nights back then. 

This was not Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, and Brian Trottier wearing the Islanders jersey on this night that the Canadiens zipped around with abandon. Not even close. But I think it’s okay because it happens, these bad habit-forming games. It’s not automatic that the winning team will pick up bad things in a trouncing. Years ago, team would barmstom throughout the country in pre-season, playing amateur clubs and it didn’t seem to effect them then, so why should a good old-fashion blow out for the good guys be such a bad thing now? Nothing wrong with a fun night.

At least it got a few guys scoring. Benoit Pouliot finally found the twine. Lars Eller, who we expect big things from, had two. PK Subban blasted one home. Mike Cammalleri notched one. And Tomas Plekanec, who appears to be ready to set the league on fire, had two more.

It was a one-side romp, and Carey Price, although not overworked by any stretch, was solid and allowed two goals he had little chance with.

Random Notes:

That’s it for pre-season with the boys going four wins, three losses. Now it’s time to focus on October 7 when they travel to Toronto to obiterate the Leafs.

Jaroslav Spacek, in his late-game fight with some guy wearing the other jersey, looked like he bailed out before it got too serious. Or maybe he just stumbled. Regardless, Spacek looked less-than-a warrior than he should have.

Bryan Fogarty Could’ve Been

bryan_forgartyFourteen years ago, Montreal defenceman Bryan Fogarty was in the doghouse of coach Jacques Demers for failing to notify team officials until the morning of a game in Hartford that he had the flu, leaving the Canadiens with only five defencemen. Then, during a team meeting, he was caught reading a newspaper.

Something like this could be considered funny if the player involved wasn’t Bryan Fogarty. Because Bryan Fogarty was a hard-core alcoholic. Had been since his teen years. 

Fogarty was one of those players in junior who only come along once every blue moon. A big-time, record-breaking star who broke defencemen marks by eclipsing Bobby Orr’s goal scoring record of 38  with 47, and Denis Potvin’s point total with 155.  He won all the hardware  in his final season in junior, 1988-99, taking home CHL Player of the Year, CHL Defenceman of the Year, and first team all-star.

Naturally scouts drooled, and Fogarty was drafted ninth overall by the Quebec Nordiques. But things didn’t quite work out the way everyone thought. In Quebec, he played parts of only three seasons before being dealt to Pittsburgh and was promptly sent to the minors. Then it was on to Montreal, where he played 34 games over two seasons with the Habs. From there it was again the minors, different teams in Europe, and various minor leagues throughout North America. All the while, his hockey career could be labelled surprising and mediocre. This was not the star from junior people were now seeing.

All in all, the guy everyone thought was going to tear it up on NHL ice played for 21 different pro hockey teams (mostly minors) between 1989 and 2001. Newspaper reports from the time say 17 teams, but I count 21. It was too many teams, too little time, too few points, and not much impact at all. He was just another ordinary player, only with a big problem. Other things had got in the way.

Bryan Fogarty died in Myrtle Beach in 2002 from cardiac arrest. He was only 32. It’s all very sad, very tragic.

(From stardom in junior to life in a suitcase, Bryan Fogarty played for these professional teams after ripping it up in junior: Quebec Nordiques, Halifax Citadels, New Haven Nighthawks, Muskegon Lumberjacks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Cleveland Lumberjacks, Atlanta Knights, Las Vegas Thunder, Kansas City Blades, Montreal Canadiens, Minnesota Moose, Detroit Vipers, HC Davos, HC Milano, Hannover Scorpions, Indianapolis Ice, Baton Rouge Kingfish, St. John’s Maple Leafs, Knoxville Speed, Huntsville Tornato, and Elmira Jackals.)

Fogarty’s NHL numbers: 156 games, 22 goals, 52 assists, 119 penalty minutes.

Montreal Needs This Islanders Game…..Plus…..Grade Two Was A Long Time Ago

There are thirty teams in the NHL and it’s the law of the universe that says one of those thirty teams must be in last place.

And that would be the New York Islanders, whom the Habs play Saturday night, with a record of five points in nine games. (2-6-1)

 

So Montreal absolutely needs to win this game. And hopefully they’ll look good while doing it, and Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec will be a force to be reckoned with. These two need a big, breakout game.

 

The Islanders will be wearing throwback jerseys from the 1970’s, similar to the Potvin, Bossy, and Trottier era.

So they’ll be looking good when they lose.

 

Meanwhile, I found my old grade two workbook with some serious pieces of my art in it. I think I was a better artist then than I am now.

 

     

Islanders’ Fans Have To Find Better Reasons To Hate The Habs Than These

      The silliest thing came to my attention the other day. A nice Habs’ fan commented on this site that she’d been reading “Islanders Beat” and some Islanders’ fan was saying that the big reasons Islanders’ fans don’t like the Montreal Canadiens is because Habs’ fans think Bobby Orr was a better defenceman than Denis Potvin, and that we also hold a grudge because the Islanders won four straight Stanley Cups in the early 1980’s.

 

Other teams’ fans might come up with a lot of reasons to dislike the Habs, but these two reasons are just plain silly. Do you dislike the Islanders because they were great in the early ’80’s? Or did you even think about this?

 

And about Orr and Potvin. Orr is considered possibly the greatest player ever. Potvin was listed 19th out of 100th best in the Hockey News.

 

Orr dominated. Potvin didn’t nearly as much.

 

Orr was popular with his teammates. Potvin’s teammates thought he was arrogant and somewhat phony, which I admit is neither here nor there. I just thought I’d throw it in.

 

Potvin played 1060 games, racking up 310 goals and 742 assists for 1052 points. He won the Norris trophy for league’s best defenceman three times.

 

Orr won the Norris eight time and collected 270 goals and 645 assists for 915 points in 657 games. And half of these games he played with bad knees that ended his career prematurely.

 

What silliness from some Islanders’ fans.

 

Maybe they’re just mad because Montreal has a better team than them.