Don Cherry was almost a Montreal Canadien.
Don suited up with Montreal’s minor league affiliate Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL (Eastern Professional Hockey League) before the start of the 1962-63 season, with the program here showing him in the lineup for an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins.
His tryout with Hull-Ottawa didn’t last more than a few games. Sam Pollock took him aside one day and asked him to lay off the beer. Cherry said he wouldn’t, and was promptly shipped out.
Maybe it’s why he’s never been much of a Habs fan.
Michel Lagace would report to the Quebec Aces training camp in 1962, as requested by Sam Pollock, and would suit up for five games, collecting one assist along the way.
Previously he had played seven playoff games for the Montreal Royals in ’59-’60 and managed 27 games with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, both of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL).
That would be it for his pro hockey career.
Making it to the American Hockey League has always required serious talent, and even though it was only for five games, I say congratulations to Mr. Lagace for getting a lot further in hockey than most of us.
I would have loved getting a letter like this. I’d show all my friends, report to camp, work harder than everybody else, and eventually get called up to the Habs in a year or two. Then I play right wing with Jean Beliveau at centre and John Ferguson at left wing. I’d be on the cover of Hockey Pictorial, make the all-star team, make more money than my dad, and eventually end up in the Hall of Fame.
But first I needed one of those letters. Like Michel Lagace got.
Below is an original letter I bought on ebay for eighteen bucks.
It’s an invitation from Sam Pollock to Michel Lagace to attend the Quebec Aces training camp in 1962 and signed by Pollock’s secretary. I guess Sam was busy being Sam.
Lagace made the team that year, played five games and recorded one assist. That’s all I know about the guy.
Under the letter is Lagace’s stats where you’ll see he had a cup of coffee in the EPHL (Eastern Professional Hockey League) with both the Montreal Royals and Hull-Ottawa Canadiens. And although he didn’t exactly have a stellar hockey career, he accomplished more than most of us and should be proud. Don’t forget, the Canadiens and their farm system were stacked at this time.
I would have loved to have gotten a letter like this. All I’d get were phone calls from my Byer’s Bulldozers Orillia Midgets coach telling me to show up and could my dad drive some players to the game in Collingwood or Huntsville.