Tag Archives: Emile Bouchard

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.

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Butch Gone At 92

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The Canadiens and their wives party at Butch Bouchard’s club in Montreal. That’s Butch on the left, in glasses. Others present include Elmer Lach, Gerry McNeil, Ken Mosdell, the Rocket, and Doug Harvey.

Emile “Butch” Bouchard, old number 3 on the Canadiens blueline, has passed away at 92. He was a leader among men, a great Montreal Canadien, and it’s a sad day.

I’m not able to write a proper story now as I’m about to start up the car and head for L.A. from Las Vegas, but here’s something I posted in 2009.

How many hockey players played the game since they could walk, practiced like crazy, went through minor hockey over many years, and ended up playing beer league or not playing at all? Most of us, right?

Not this guy.

Emile “Butch” Bouchard, the big defenceman who skated for the Habs from 1941 until 1956, pulled off something amazing, something I’ve thought about since I first read him tell it in Dick Irvin’s great book, “The Habs, An Oral History of the Montreal Canadiens, 1940-1980.”

I know it was the war years and many players were overseas, but still………

Here’s Butch:

“I started skating in high school. I never had a pair of skates until I was sixteen. I always borrowed skates or rented skates. In those days you could rent a pair of skates for a night for five cents and play a game of hockey. Otherwise I would play in the park and I would be the goalie, without skates.

I went to a school called Le Plateau and I borrowed thirty-five dollars from my brother, Marcel. He was older than me and he was working. For the thirty-five dollars I bought skates, a pair of pads, a pair of pants, shoulder pads, and gloves. All that for thirty-five dollars in those days.

I played for our team at Le Plateau and the second year I was there Arthur Therrien came to me and asked if I could play junior for him with the Verdun team. So I played one year junior and two years senior.

After my second year in senior hockey I was with the Canadiens. So I made the NHL just four years after I had my first pair of skates.”

If The Gloves Fit, It Must Be It

Derry has probably solved the question of who the little tin goalie is because of the identical gloves on each hand. Bill Durnan was ambidextrous and would at times switch hands.

I had compared Durnan’s photos to the tin man yesterday and decided it wasn’t him. But I was going by the face, not the gloves. The gloves were the key. I had actually decided, from my Bee Hives, that the tin man’s face resembled Emile Bouchard’s more than anyone in my Been Hive collection. Especially the hair.

Way to go, Derry. You %$#&*^.

Now I suppose I have to buy him a beer when he shows up in Powell River next year.

This is the Beehive that made me think it wasn’t Durnan.

And this is the Beehive that made me decide that maybe it was Butch. Although it might have been even closer if he wasn’t smiling.

 

The Old Scrapbook Choo Choo Train Chugs Along

A few things to mention as we continue down the old scrapbook trail. Included in this post is an old letter I’d written asking if a crest I saw on one of the Rocket’s sports jackets was available to the public but Frank Selke Jr. wrote back and said it wasn’t.

The huge face of the Rocket you see is from an old Vitalis sign that was in the barbershop window in Orillia that the barber gave to me. It’s made of thick cardboard and because of its thickness, it was the beginning of the pages starting to come apart.

Also in this edition is a picture of Jacques Plante and it appears to be autographed, which I didn’t know about until now. I researched this picture and could only find the same thing minus the signature. I suppose it’s possible that when the Canadiens sent me these pictures, they included the signed Plante, which I never noticed.

Retired New Brunswick Columnist Shares Some Great Habs Stories

Eddie St. Pierre, retired columnist for the Moncton Times and Transcript, started writing sports in 1950 and over the years had many connections with the Montreal Canadiens. He shares some great stories here;

“During my long reporting career with this newspaper (I’ve just begun my 60th year of affiliation with the paper, having joined on Dec. 4, 1950) I had the honour of interviewing or meeting many of the team’s top stars who played on one or more of the team’s 24 Stanley Cups, including the “big three” of Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, as well as Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard, Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, Bobby Rousseau, Danny Grant, John Ferguson, Yvan Cournoyer, 91-year-old Elmer Lach, Doug Harvey, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and others along with coaches Hector (Toe) Blake, Scotty Bowman, Jean Perron, Jacques Demers, Guy Carbonneau and current coach Jacques Martin plus front-office personnel such as Sam Pollock, Floyd Curry and others.

* The Rocket, who passed away May 27, 2000 in his 79th year, made the biggest impact on me. I saw him play for the first time at Canadiens’ intrasquad games at the old Stadium in 1954. (Note: Some Montreal players complained to police that they were overcharged by a cab driver. A story in the Moncton Times said that bruising defenceman Emile (Butch) Bouchard told police that he, along with four teammates, took a cab from the Brunswick Hotel to the Stadium and the taxi driver demanded $2.50. Before game time, a policeman was summoned to the Canadiens’ dressing room where Ken Mosdell told the same story. Both players said they told the cab driver to collect his fare from club officials.)

During the Canadiens’ stay here, former senior hockey player Charlie Poirier was working as the stickboy when someone broke a window in the dressing room at the Stadium during a game. The thief or thieves reached in from the outside and stole Jean Beliveau’s street pants and belongings.

Meanwhile, The Rocket and I crossed paths on many occasions afterwards, especially at charity hockey and softball games in the city. What an extraordinary individual. When he died, former NHLer Danny Grant — who, like The Rocket, had a 50-goal season (he turned the trick with the Detroit Red Wings in 1974-75) — pointed to the other, seldom-seen side of The Rocket.

“What stood out is the fact that he was such a nice person,” said Grant, who was a member of the Montreal organization at the time. “He was just a wonderful person. He was very quiet, very reserved and I don’t think he said ‘I did this’ once in his whole life. He was more interested in other people than promoting himself.”

During his career, the Hockey Hall of Famer and member of the Order of Canada set many records. Several have been broken, but many remain. In March 1944, The Rocket scored all five Montreal goals in a 5-1 playoff win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The three stars, chosen by veteran sportswriter/columnist Elmer Ferguson, who once worked for the Moncton Transcript, were announced as “Maurice Richard, Maurice Richard and Maurice Richard.” This was the one and only time that one player has been named all three stars.

He ended his career with 544 goals (82 in the playoffs) and won the Stanley Cup eight times.

Richard, whose top salary was $25,000 (equivalent to $200,000 in 2008), was suspended for the balance of the season (only three or four games remained) and the playoffs in 1955 after striking linesman Cliff Thompson during a stick battle with the Bruins’ Hal Laycoe in a game at Boston. The decision by league president Clarence Campbell led to a riot. The game was forfeited to the Detroit Red Wings. The riot outside caused $500,000 in damage.

* Hall of Famer Gordie Drillon of Moncton scored 28 goals and added 22 assists (50 points) during the 1942-43 season. He was 4-2–6 in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the late defenceman, Charlie Phillips, played 17 games early in the season after being called up from the American Hockey League’s Washington Lions. Both Drillon and Phillips are deceased.

* Bill Durnan, one of the Canadiens’ top goaltenders who passed away Oct. 31, 1972 at age 56, was in town for a function several years back. A fellow co-worker, the late Paul Arsenault, was the city’s No. 1 Montreal and Rocket fan. He was in an alcohol rehab facility in the city at the time and Durnham was only too happy to pay him a visit. When Arsenault saw who I was with, emotions got the best of him. He started to cry with joy.

I’ll never forget the time the Canadiens lost to the Red Wings in the Stanley Cup playoffs and the winning goal was scored by Tony Leswick, a pesky forward who usually shadowed the Rocket. While driving him home early one morning, we stopped at a restaurant in Parkton. A Don Messer tune was playing on the jukebox. Sitting down on the floor, Paul banged his fist on the wood. “Anybody but that little (Lewsick),” he repeated over and over.

* The Canadiens always took care of their former players. For years, Harvey (he died on Dec. 26, 1989 at 65) battled alcoholism while suffering from bipolar disorder. The Hockey Hall of Famer who was ranked No. 6 on The Hockey News list of 100 Greatest Hockey Players in 1998, ended up homeless, sleeping in a old railway car.

When his plight became public knowledge, in 1985 he was offered a job with the Canadiens as a scout. I got a call one afternoon from then-Gazette columnist Tim Burke asking me to call him if I saw Harvey around the city. Team president Ronald Corey was very concerned. Coincidentally, I meet Bill Lee later at the Beausejour Club. He had run into Harvey in Sussex. Doug was just on a visit to the Maritimes.

* Goaltender Lorne (Gump) Worsley, one of the last netminders to play without a mask, and I became good friends. (Note: Worsley, who helped the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup four times, died Jan. 16, 2007. He was 77).

Worsley was doing promotional work for Imperial Oil Ltd. and their Esso stations in the off-season during the 1960s. The two of us journeyed to Bathurst once. After returning to Moncton, we stopped at the “famous” Blue Circle around 2 a.m. and Gump got a real charge out of the rough characters, who had been drinking all night at the Union Club or Carpenter’s Club. He felt right at home, cracking jokes and spinning hockey stories for an hour.

In 1965, after a Moncton Minor Football Association dinner, I went fishing around Doaktown on the Miramichi with Gump and other sports personalities. A guide and a case of beer (although Gump preferred Johnny Walker Red) sat between us. The only thing we caught was a few salmon parr, which were tossed back in. CKCW’s Earle Ross slipped off the bank into the water and needed some help. “The biggest fish caught had to be Earle,” quipped Worsley.

On another occasion, I accompanied the Dieppe Bantam Voyageurs, coached by Ray (Toughie) Steeves, to an NHL game at the Montreal Forum. I was in the dressing room chatting with Gump, who was taking short, quick drags off a cigarette in a small area in the dressing room before the game. “Eddie”! Where the hell is Toe,” he asked, referring to Hector (Toe) Blake, the no-nonsense coach who was at the other end of the room. “Let me know if he comes this way. I don’t want to pay any more $100 fines.”

* Former colleague Howie Trainor recalls a fundraising Summer Classic hockey game — East All-Stars vs. West All-Stars — at the Levesque Arena in the 1960s. We would get college, senior, junior and professionals, mostly from the Moncton area, and attempt to secure the services of National Hockey League players who were instructing at hockey schools in the province.

One year, we approached rightwinger Bobby Rousseau, then with the Habs and who was at the Université de Moncton hockey school, to play in the fundraiser for the Lewisville Minor Hockey Association. He gently turned us down, citing the newly formed NHL Players Association, which, he said, barred players from exhibition games without compensation, but he did it with a small smile playing on his lips. Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, we thought, and asked him how much he needed. “A package of gum and a Coke would do it,” he replied as the smile broadened.

Then we realized he had been pulling our leg all along. Needless to say, he played and his presence bolstered attendance greatly.

* A column on the historic Canadiens wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the late Danny Gallivan, the best play-by-play announcer the Montreal team ever had. He died in February 1993 at 81.

Danny was the voice of the Canadiens, with all the hucksterism than can imply, but he was also their severest critic when individual and team performances weren’t what he felt they should be. The Canadiens teams he covered from 1952 to 1984 were among the best hockey has known, but what he saw was what his audience got. There were no “free passes” for players taking a night off.

He was the best at what he did and he loved what he did — all the more so because his colourful language was devoted almost exclusively to hockey’s best team. It was Geoffrion who had “the cannonading shot.” It was Savard who mastered “the spinerama.” Other teams tried to hire him by offering considerably more money than he was earning in Montreal, but Danny was content to stay put. Danny and I became good friends. He always had time for his follow Maritimers and would go out of his way to obtain tickets for a game at the Forum.”


Emile And Pierre Bouchard – A Proud Night

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The son wheeled his dad across the ice, and they watched together as the dad’s number 3 rose to the rafters. And they were proud.

And from Dick Irvin’s book “The Habs,” the words of Pierre Bouchard:

” If you look in the book you’ll see that Bouchard scored seventy-nine goals for the Montreal Canadiens. That’s both of us. And it took us twenty-seven years to do it. I stuck right beside Ken Dryden and I guess my father stuck right beside Bill Durnan. We were what you would call “defensive defencemen.” Very defensive.
I was born in 1948 so I saw very little when it came to watching my father play hockey. I remember going to a few games and I used to blackmail my mother. If she wouldn’t buy me ice cream or peanuts, I would cheer for the other team. But even though I don’t remember how he played, as far as I’m concerned my father was the best.”


I Have An Idea To Help The Habs!

With news that pitcher Dennis ‘Oil Can’ Boyd wants to come out of retirement at age 49, and the fact that Gordie Howe played a full season with Hartford when he was 51, not to mention a host of other athletes like Michael Jordan and Willie Mays who un-retired in their middle-aged years, my suggestion to help the Habs out of their funk would be to look into seeing if Elmer Lach, 91, and Emile “Butch” Bouchard, 88, might be interested in re-joining their old club.

Hey, it can’t hurt. With Robert Lang out for the season and the defence sucking lemons, we could use an experienced forward and defenceman. You got any better ideas?

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.

The Boston Bruins And Some Lousy Boards Almost Ruin A Great Party.

If it wasn’t for Carey Price, the Boston Bruins would’ve fought back from more than a 3-0 deficit. They almost overcame a bunch of Hab greats in the building, an anxious dropping-of-the-puck by Elmer Lach and Emile ‘Butch’ Bouchard that had me a little worried for Butch, a fired-up crowd, and the rest of us in TV land who only had eyes on the Canadiens.

 

And the Montreal Canadiens got no help at all from the supposedly state-of-the-art Bell Centre.

 

It began like a Disney movie. The interviews with Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, the old players introduced – Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and many others, the vintage photos and films, the lavish praise from hockey analysts, and most importantly, three big goals in the first period by Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Maxim Lapierre.

 

It was a perfect script. Better start drawing up the parade route plans.

 

But then, disturbingly, the Canadiens adrenaline, for whatever reason, dried up half-way through, and little by little, only Price was there to keep it close. So much for the classic third-period team I talked about yesterday. Montreal proved that first-period hockey absolutely isn’t good enough.

 

Shamefully, it was a construction flaw that almost turned a great night into a complete disaster. An innocent shoot-in that hit an obvious seam in the boards that fooled Price, banged in by the Bruins’ Marc Savard, and with only 47 seconds to go, the game was tied.

 

It’s unacceptable for the boards to have this flaw. Montreal brass better have a good long talk with the maintenance foreman.

 

In the end, Alex Tanguay scored the shootout winner and the night was salvaged. But it’s not good. Montreal has to play a full sixty minutes. Thankfully it’s early in the season and they can learn a big lesson from this.

 

This is how the Canadiens almost lost the opening round series to Boston in last year’s playoff, by not keeping the pedal to the metal.

 

So there’s still some fine-tuning to be done.

 

But it’s two points. And for now, that’s good enough.

 

GAME NOTE:

 

Georges Laraque, in his first game in a Habs uniform, in the first two and a half minutes of the game, had a good scrap with Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. And although it was fairly even, Laraque made his presence felt, which I’m sure is what he wanted to do.

 

The crowd started to boo Guillaume Latendresse a little tonight. He has to pick it up a little.

 

Next up – The Phoenix Coyotes visit the Bell Centre Saturday. You can bet the boards will be fixed by then.

 

 

Todd Bertuzzi, Elmer Lach, And Some Guy From England

Now that pretty well every free agent has been signed by teams not named Montreal, including Todd Bertuzzi who is now a Calgary Flame, I guess the only players left for Bob Gainey are Teemu Selanne, Emile Bouchard, and Elmer Lach. Everyone else is gone.

 I suppose Bertuzzi, if he’s in the right frame of mind which remains to be seen, can be a real asset to a team because he’s huge and mean, with good hands. But when I heard he’d signed with Calgary, I admit I breathed a small sigh of relief that he didn’t end up a Hab.

 Bertuzzi, even before the Steve Moore incident, was known far and wide as a miserable type to the media and even to many of his own teammates. His best friend on the Canucks was Markus Naslund, and Naslund may have been his only friend. Yes, the grapevine extends to Powell River.

 I’m just not convinced he would’ve been a good Montreal Canadien. And not only on the ice. If he didn’t like interviews elsewhere, how would he have put up with the onslaught of reporters in Montreal?

 Not only that, a lot of women around Powell River thought he was a hot stud, which I never understood. I always thought of him as someone out of an Edgar Allan Poe novel.

 In other news:

 Philip Delves Broughton, writing for London’s Daily Mail newspaper, says British workers considering invitations to come to Canada to escape the UK rat race should think again.

Broughton says that while Britain’s national symbol is the lion and America’s is the eagle, Canada’s is the flat-tailed, slow-witted beaver.

And he also says that Britons shouldn’t think for one moment that watching Canadian hockey will distract them from our lousy climate.

“If you thought British sport was becoming crude and violent, try watching two teams of toothless brutes sliding around on ice and pausing every few minutes to beat the daylights out of each other,” he says.