Tag Archives: Frank Mahovlich

1974 Team Cyrillic

The picture below was sent to me from a friend in Leningrad in the mid-1980s.

Team Canada 1974, stars from the rival WHA, taking on Kharlamov, Mikhailov, and Tretiak two years after the big one. (results at the bottom).

Rick Ley, second in the top row, was a boyhood friend growing up in Orillia, who knocked my front tooth out by accident when throwing a baseball. And he borrowed my hockey gloves and never gave them back.

Five players suited up at one time or another with the Habs – JC Tremblay, Rejean Houle, Ralph Backstrom, Marc Tardif, and Frank Mahovlich.

Three players on this Team Canada ’74 squad also played in the historic 1972 Summit Series before bolting to the WHA  – Paul Henderson, Mahovlich, and Pat Stapleton.


Down the left side are coaches Billy Harris, Bobby Hull, and Pat Stapleton.

Top row left to right – Don McLeod, Rick Ley, J.C. Tremblay, Mike Walton, Rejean Houle

2nd row – Brad Selwood, Andre Lacroix, Tom Webster, Gordie Howe, Marty Howe

3rd row – Mark Howe, Ralph Backstrom, Tom Harrison, Rick Smith, Paul Shmyr

4th row – Paul Henderson, Serge Bernier, Bruce MacGregor, Marc Tardiff, John McKenzie

5th row – Al Hamilton, Frank Mahovlich, Gerry Cheevers

USSR Wins Series 4-1-3

Training Camp

Training camp for the boys. The Brossard barn will be buzzing.

I sure hope the Habs are in better shape than the guys in the article. But somehow I think they work out a bit more now than those guys did.

I’m also thinking we shouldn’t make jokes about those particular Leafs because that was the year they won the Stanley Cup.


training camp

Punch Played

It’s hard to picture Punch Imlach as anything but a hard-assed coach. But the guy who coached first the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, then the Springfield Indians in the AHL, and then became the notorious and egotistical taskmaster with the Leafs and Sabres, began as a really good player, the “best centre in the loop”, they said.

But it’s still hard not to think of him as the guy in the fedora behind the Leafs bench, playing cat and mouse with the Habs’ Toe Blake, and being so hard on Frank Mahovlich that the Big M was once hospitalized because of Punch’s daily pressure.

Although it doesn’t look like it in this picture. But things would deteriorate.

Big M

This is when he was playing for Cornwall in 1941-42.

Imlach best



Habs Restaurant In Russia

In the winter of 2000/2001 I was in St. Petersburg, Russia, and while there Luci and I heard about a restaurant in the inner core off Nevsky Prospekt called the Montreal Canadiens Restaurant, of all things. So one day we went for a long walk and found the thing. We went in, looked around, made reservations, and came back later.

A good time was had by all, the food was good, singers on stage sang Russian songs, dancers danced up a storm, pictures of players like Frank Mahovlich and Guy Lafleur  hung from the walls, and the vodka didn’t burn at all going down. The place was slightly expensive, but when you find a place called Montreal Canadiens Restaurant in the middle of Russia, it has to be done, right?

Not long before we were there, a group of NHL greats, while on tour in Russia, had booked the place and partied there, and the manager was as proud as punch to show us the autographed stick he got from the old pros. He handled it like it might shatter at any minute.

I have to give it them, they tried hard, but I think it’s been long closed. I seem to recall we were the only ones there, and all this cabaret stuff going on which must have really added to the overhead. The servers wore hockey jerseys, as you can see, and really didn’t look all that enthusiastic about having their picture taken with me. Frank looked pleased though.




More From Kouli

Kouli in Vancouver always has such great photos for sale on his site at Kouli the Greek and I very much appreciate him letting me show some of his stuff, which I do from time to time.

Below, Mr. Beliveau; the 1912 edition of the Habs; Charlie Hodge; Pete and Frank Mahovlich with Pocket Rocket; a scene from the 1970′s movie Million Dollar Hockey Puck; Rocket; Toe Blake; a great ad; Ken Dryden; and a very young Rocket. Hope you enjoy.


Summit ’72 – Cournoyer

There was a strong contingent of Montreal Canadiens on Team Canada ’72 - Ken Dryden, Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe, Frank and Pete Mahovlich, and Yvan Cournoyer, and all, in their own way, contributed mightily to the cause, including Dryden who struggled at times but showed enough to coaches Harry Sinden and John Ferguson to be called upon for game eight duty.

Serge Savard played in five games, never in a losing cause, and he went about his business with poise and steadiness, which must have rubbed off on his somewhat frazzled teammates in a big way. Pete Mahovlich killed penalties and scored a classic shorthanded beauty in game two in Toronto. Brother Frank only had one goal and one assist, but was a strong, experienced leader and great puck carrier with that long stride of his. Guy Lapointe played in seven games and did for Team Canada what he did for as a Hab – skate and carry the puck better than most, and equally important, was the definitive team guy who kept teammates loose. And being loose was crucial in a series like this, where stress was the order of the day.

But maybe it was Cournoyer who had the greatest impact of all.

Cournoyer played in all eight games of the series, one of only seven players who did, and managed three goals and two assists, which placed him behind only Phil Esposito, Paul Henderson, and Bobby Clarke in team points. And most importantly, it was he who provided plenty of fodder in the final game.

At 12:56 of the third period, Cournoyer tied the score at 5-5, but the red light didn’t go on. It was an obvious goal, everyone saw it, and eventually, after Alan Eagleson almost set the Cold War back ten years with his angry antics, the goal stood, and Canada had clawed their way back after being down 5-3 going into the third. So what a huge, historic goal it was from Yvan Cournoyer.

Then with the score tied and less than a minute to go, Cournoyer intercepted the puck at the far boards, near the Soviet blueline, and sent it across the ice to Henderson, who initially lost it until it came back out to him in front of the net from Phil Esposito. Henderson beat Tretiak with 34 seconds left on the clock, and the first into the arms of the jubilant Henderson was Yvan Cournoyer, with the two immortalized forever in an iconic photograph.

The most famous goal in Canadian hockey history, and our great Roadrunner was in on it in a big way.

Summit ’72 Game 6 – A Night To Win

And win they did, 3-2, with no help from German officials Franz Baader and Josef Kompalla , who seemed to love the idea of sending a parade of Canadians to the sin bin and were living proof that when it came to refereeing hockey games, Germany made great cars.

No matter. Team Canada allowed a Soviet goal, then scored three in a minute and a half to take control in all aspects. Even Ken Dryden played well and finally beat his nemesis Soviets for the first time since facing them years before as an amateur.

This game had finally given us a glimmer of hope. The team played with poise and passion, they came together and played like they knew they could, and Paul Henderson, in the series of his life, scored the winner on a long slap shot that surprised everyone from Vladivostok to Victoria.

One particular incident on this night must be mentioned. It was time to stop Valeri Kharlamov, and John Ferguson provided an ugly-yet-brutally effective solution. “I think he needs a tap on the ankle,” Fergy told Bobby Clarke, and Clarke proceeded to chop and crack the Soviet star’s ankle, rendering the Soviet star useless and out of the series until game eight, where he looked absolutely non-Kharlamovian. Not one of Team Canada’s finest moments, but at this point, it was win-at-all-costs, which I understand. Although this tactic underlined what many at home and abroad had screamed loud and hard about – that the Canadians were thugs and weren’t playing the game the way it should be played.

Of course, no one mentioned the Swedes’ stick work and diving in Stockholm, or the Soviets’ exaggerated theatrics and their own particular brand of whining. And critics made no heed of the off-ice nonsense regarding Canada’s steaks and cokes going missing, and phone calls in the middle of the night to their hotel rooms with no one on the other end. Frank Mahovlich became so unnerved by the fact that his room might be bugged that he checked under the carpet and discovered what he thought was a KGB bug. The Big M then unscrewed it and promptly heard a loud crash as he realized he’d unscrewed a ceiling light from the room below.

The series had transformed into a bizarre, stressful, and unreal game of cat and mouse, but most importantly for Team Canada and the nation behind them, the Soviets were beginning to show some important cracks. Team Canada felt this thing was far from over, and Phil Esposito, as focused now as any man could be, was leading the charge like no other could. Years later, Espo would even say that he wasn’t a violent man but he would have killed to win if it had come down to that.

Below, Bobby Clarke, Bill White, and Tony Esposito see the sights of Moscow with their wives, while John Ferguson inspects some Red Army soldiers.

Summit ’72 – Vancouver: “Can It Get Any Worse?”

I think it was after this game that my father began cheering for the Russians, which pissed me off to no end. But I can see why, I guess. He also can’t stomach Alan Eagleson, whom he thinks is equal parts son-of-a-bitch, P.T.Barnum, and arrogant bullshit. He’s probably right.

Team Canada not only lost the final game in Canada by a score of 5-3, but they lost in boorish and undisciplined fashion, and many people, including my dad, are fed up with what is transpiring. Bill Goldsworthy, who seemed to have lost his mind, sat in the penalty box while the Russians scored twice. Frank  Mahovlich sat on Tretiak and wouldn’t let him up for about 30 seconds. It was frustration bursting at the seams, from both the Canadian players and the fans, and the Vancouverites showed no patience whatsoever.

So much for that laid-back West Coast.

The Vancouver crowd booed and jeered lustily, showing in angry, deafening fashion that they weren’t one bit crazy about the roughhousing of such a beautifully disciplined Soviet team that just wanted to play hockey. The crowd was frustrated at their team’s inability to display much of anything, although there was one moment to cheer about when Gilbert Perreault danced in in classic style and banked one off a Soviet player and in behind Tretiak. But overall, Vancouver was such a low point, to say the least. That damn Tretiak is sensational and simply killing us, and possibly our guys are now psyched out so much they may never recover in time to make at least a half-decent showing in the remaining four games.

Canadian hockey has just taken another major hit, maybe even more so than game one.

It was a nasty night. Canada’s record at home stands at one win, two losses, and a tie. Life sucks. And then Phil Esposito came out after the game and reminded everyone it wasn’t all that great for him and the boys either, which you can see in the video below. Later on, Frank Mahovlich, in Ken Dryden’s book Face-Off At The Summit, would mention that “after the seeing what the Russians did to to us at our game in Canada, I’m afraid nothing in sports is sacred anymore. If someone gives them a football they’ll beat the Dallas Cowboys and win the Super Bowl in two years.”

Now it’s on to Moscow for four games starting September 22nd. It’ll be good for the team to get out of Dodge. Especially after realizing that many Canadian fans aren’t admiring them so much right now. It’s going to take some kind of serious miracle to pull this one out, even to look somewhat respectable.

Below, cuff links and tie clip, presented to Canadian players from C.C.M., one of the many sponsors of the tournament.

Talkin’ Bout A Few Of The Guys

Yes, indeed, P.K.Subban picked up the puck in glorious fashion in his end, whirled and dashed to the oohs and awes of me and many others, and promptly lost it to the enemy, who then took off and scored on Carey Price. It was a young man’s mistake, learned from years ago when he most certainly had his way with other teams in small buildings.

It’s a tough thing. Do you harness his energy, or do you let him be P.K? This is a young fellow still learning his craft, and with this free-wheeler, this sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time. You just hope the goalie is there to back him up.

You can be sure there were times when even Bobby Orr and Flower and Howie Morenz all lost the puck on a big exciting rush. P.K. may even do it again and I’m fine with it.  I just don’t want to see him play tentative and with less enthusiasm. He wouldn’t be P.K. if he did that. 

Carey Price was quite mediocre at best in this Avalanche game, but he’ll get his game together very soon. He’s showed many signs so far, but still hasn’t played like the Carey Price we know and love. The consistently great Carey Price. A lot of blame, though, goes to the players in front of him. Lots of opposing players are getting way too many good chances.

Price ‘ll be fine though. Look at Ken Dryden. He was far from great in the 1972 Summit Series but he was a great goalie. It’s the same with Carey. We see some brutal nights.

Erik Cole says he and Jacques Martin don’t talk and I don’t care if they do or not. Cole’s a big boy making millions, and coaches can be difficult and complex creatures. Toe Blake’s favourite whipping boy was Ralph Backstrom, who was a sensational third-line centre for the Habs. And he was only third-line because Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard were the centres on the first and second lines. Toe was hard on him, and Ralph got so mad at his coach one day he threw a skate and it stuck in the door. Ask Frank Mahovlich about Punch Imlach. And Scotty Bowman was miserable and didn’t talk to anybody.

C’mon Cole, don’t let it get to you. And one assist in four games doesn’t cut it.

Scott Gomez – ditto. One assist in four games doesn’t cut it either. I know we’ve accepted that you’re not a goal scorer, you’re a playmaker, but you’re on track for another lousy season. You’d shown so much in preseason. What happened?

Sadly, I’ve just heard that Ottawa columnist Earl McCrae has passed away. I loved reading his stuff when I lived back east, and after I had moved to the west coast, and before the internet came along, a friend would send me ten or twenty of Earl’s columns at a time because I missed him. Earl could be outrageous, funny, deadly serious, really smart, and simply a wonderful writer who entertained me and countless others. He was also a member of the Elvis Presley Society in which he swore, tongue-in-cheek, that Elvis was alive and well in Tweed, Ontario.  

So long, Earl. Thanks.


Extra, Extra, Read All About It – Part Seven -1973

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part seven – 1973

Why was 1973 the longest season ever for Frank and Peter Mahovlich, Ken Dryden, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lapointe, and Serge Savard ? And the same for the other Cup finalists of that year – Dennis Hull, Stan Mikita, Bill White, Pat Stapleton, and Tony Esposito?

Because the 1972 season began for these guys (This Vancouver Sun said ten players but I count eleven) on the morning of August 23th, 1972 when they showed up for the first day of camp for the historic 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, and ended when Montreal hoisted the Cup in Chicago in game six on May 10th, 1973. 

And what series was bigger to Ken Dryden, the Summit or the Cup? “Each is the most important series at the time you win it,” answered the thoughtful Dryden.

It was Montreal’s 18th Stanley Cup, and each player pocketed a record $19,000 for the five weeks of playoff work, and Chicago players didn’t do so badly either, taking home $14,000 each.

Yvan Cournoyer won the Conn Smythe trophy in these playoffs, and  it was record-breaking series with 56 goals being scored, an average of more than nine a game. Jacques Lemaire also found himself in the record book by recording nine assists in the final. It was also Henri Richard’s 11th time he’d sipped from the Cup, whcih is unbelievable. Jean Beliveau had previously been on ten Cup teams.

Scotty Bowman, in his post-game comments, said, “Sure we knew we were the better team. After all, we’d only lost ten games during the season. But look at the pressure it put on us. We came into every game the overwhelming favourite. It’s tough to live up to your press clippings.”

Montreal’s playoff run began by taking out the Buffalo Sabres in six games, then Philadelphia in five, before besting the Hawks in six. Henri Richard considered retiring after this season but ended playing another one and a half seasons beyond. 1972-73 was also the year the New York Islanders and Atlanta Flames joined the league.

One side note from this Vancouver Sun writeup. The Vancouver Canucks hired Hal Laycoe to be their new general manager, replacing Bud Poile. Laycoe of course was the villian in 1955 who got Rocket Richard all fired up, which led to the infamous Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Day of 1955. Laycoe, playing for Boston, high-sticked Rocket and of course number nine went after the bespeckled Laycoe, only to find himself held by linesman Cliff Thompson. So in order to protect himself from being hit by Laycoe while being held by the official, Rocket punched Thompson in the face twice, knocking him out cold, and the rest, as they say, is history.