Tag Archives: Georges Vezina

Denis S. On The Ceiling

When I was at the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame at the Bell Centre the other day, I had a good look at all the honored members’ images on the ceiling in the lobby. They’re all in circles, so it’s kind of dizzying.

It took me a couple of days to figure out why Denis Savard is part of this. And make no mistake, I though Savard was a great player, a stickhandling demon. A guy with all kinds of slick moves. He’s a Hall of Famer because he was a great player with 17 years under his belt.

But he only played three years in Montreal, one where he scored just 16 goals. His glory years were in Chicago. It was unusual to see him lumped in with Vezina, Morenz, Richard, Harvey, Beliveau, Lafleur and the boys up there on the ceiling.

Ralph Backstrom, on the other hand, played 13 seasons in Montreal and won six Stanley Cups. But he’s not up there.

But after a couple of days, I figured it out. The Canadiens are honoring those who wore the CH and are in the Hockey Hall of Fame. So that was that.

Tony Esposito seems to be the only HOFer not on the ceiling. But he only played 13 games for the Canadiens and it’s not enough I guess. Whatever the minimum number is.

 

Moving To Montreal

Very soon it’ll be throw everything into storage, close up shop, hop into the car with Luci, Gaston, and maybe Teesha the cat, and drive 2300 miles to Montreal, where I’ll be working at Classic Auctions, which many of you know is the biggest and best historical hockey auction house on the planet.

This gig could last just a month, or many years. It’s been in the works for months, but it was difficult for both sides because of the distance. But in the end, they decided to give me a chance, and I’m honoured and excited.

Classic Auctions has been around for 19 years, and is legendary for the rare, high-end items it deals with in their auctions. They sold Paul Henderson’s ’72 Summit Series game eight jersey for 1.2 million, and their lots have always blown my mind – stuff from the Rocket, Bobby Orr, Lord Stanley, Howie Morenz, the 1972 Summit Series, Georges Vezina, Jean Beliveau, and on and on and on.

It’s always amazed me, the things that end up at this Montreal-based company.

I still didn’t know if I had this job when I sent my letter to my company saying I was retiring, and Luci and I had already planned to drive across Canada, even if the job didn’t come about.

But it did come about. A new adventure. Holy smokes.

If you want to check out some of their auctions, past and present, and see some of the most amazing hockey memorabilia, just click here – Classic Auctions and have a look around.

 

Selke Pays The Program Writers

From my collection, this original accounts payable sheet is from Frank J. Selke, signed at the bottom, to various writers who had contributed stories to the Maple Leafs Gardens program in 1938.

Frank Selke, before he became the iconic GM of the Montreal Canadiens from 1946 to 1964, was an assistant and right-hand man to Conn Smythe in Toronto, from 1929 until ’46, when he moved to Montreal.

The names on this sheet are extraordinary, and when you see a payment of $40 for example, according to the Consumer Price Index, $40 in 1938 is equivalent to $642.23 today. And $25 equals $457.42.

Here they are:

Bobby Hewitson, an NHL referee from 1920 to 1934, was the very first curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and was sports editor of the now-defunct Toronto Telegram, a newspaper I delivered when I was 11 or 12. I had the final edition copy for years until my ex-wife threw it out.

Bill Grimes, legendary Boston sportswriter.

Elmer Ferguson, legendary sportswriter for the Montreal Herald and Montreal Star, which spanned 39 years. Elmer was also a radio commentator for the Montreal Maroons (1933-38) and the Canadiens (1938-67). He remains one of the greatest hockey writers of all time.

Tommy Munns, assistant sports editor of the Globe and Mail.

Victor O. Jones, sportswriter for the Boston Globe.

Ted Reeves, a true legend. Played on two Grey Cup Argos teams, and became a beloved sports writer with the Toronto Telegram and Toronto Sun. There’s even an arena named after him in Toronto. He used to write these rambling sports poems, one of which I have in an old program, and his nickname was “The Moaner.”

Fred Jackson, succeed Lou Marsh as sports editor of the Toronto Star.

Hal Straight, sports editor of the Toronto Sun, a man who taught Pierre Berton the ins-and-outs of the newpaper business.

Marc McNeil, sportswriter for the Montreal Gazette.

Bill Roche, sportswriter in Sarnia and Toronto, and hockey author.

Jim Hurley, sportswriter for the New York Daily Mirror.

Harry Scott, sports editor of the Calgary Albertan, who played two seasons for the Montreal Canadiens (1913-14, 1914-15), with Georges Vezina and Newsy Lalonde as teammates.

Please note: I couldn’t find any information about Boaxil O’Meara and John Buss. If anyone can fill me in I would appreciate it very much.

George Hainsworth – Great Hab (And Leaf)

George Hainsworth, who replaced an ailing Georges Vezina in the Montreal nets in 1926, carried the torch in fine fashion until 1933. He won the Vezina trophy in 1927, 1928, and 1929, and hoisted the Stanley Cup in 1930 and 1931.

He was also goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1933 to 1937, after being traded by Montreal for Lorne Chabot, and took the Leafs to the Cup finals in 1935. Eventually he would be replaced in the Leafs net by a young up-and-coming Turk Broda.

George ended his Hall of Fame career (inducted in 1961) by returning to the Habs late in the 1937 season for four games.

This must have been some kind of goalie. In the 1930 playoffs, he went 270 minutes and 8 seconds without allowing a goal. That’s four and a half games.

George Hainsworth was killed in a car crash in Gravenhurst, Ont., on Oct. 9, 1950. I didn’t know it at time. I couldn’t read the newspapers because I was only five days old.

Gravenhurst is 20 miles north of my home town, Orillia.

 

Must Have Been Tough To Be Both A Habs Fan And Revolutionist

Vladimir Lenin was not only a Russian revolutionist and often ruthless tyrant, but he was also a huge Habs fan as discovered recently when workers found artifacts hidden behind the walls of Lenin’s Tomb in Moscow’s Red Square.

Lenin lived until 1924, so would have picked up his Pravda newspaper on the steps outside his three-storey flat in downtown Petrograd and opened it to the sports page to catch up on the heroics of Morenz, Joliat, Cleghorn, and Vezina in the capitalistic and decadent west. He would have got the news late, so when Montreal beat the Calgary Tigers on March 25th, 1924 to win the Stanley Cup, Lenin wouldn’t hear about it for several weeks, well into April.

But I suppose it wouldn’t mattered a whole lot anyway because Vlad had been dead since January of that year. But you get the idea.

(Please note: I know you’re asking yourself right now just how I created this magic. Here’s all you do – take one of your Vladimir Lenin busts or statues that I’m sure you have laying around the house, then remove one Habs folded napkin from package, cut a hole where the neck is, and put on the Lenin bust. It’s that easy).

Georges Vezina Could Really……..

Legendary Habs goaltender Georges Vezina was really good at two things in particular, it seems.

Stopping pucks, mostly with his stick because that’s how goalies did it back then, and he did it better than everyone else,

And making babies – he had twenty-two kids for goodness sakes. Wait a minute, no he didn’t. It was a rumour started by Leo Dandurand. He only had two.

So there goes my punchline where I say “Absolutely, Georges was good with his stick and he was also good with his stick.”

Canadiens Leave Their Game Back At The Hotel

There was a bright side to the dismal display in Dallas Tuesday evening. The cameras at the American Airlines Center in Dallas seem to be lower than in most rinks, the players were closer, and the view reminded me of telecasts out of the Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens instead of the eight miles high sightline we get on most nights now.

I even wrote a letter to the Canadiens after the new Molson (Bell) Centre opened, complaining about the cameras being too high, but I guess the letter somehow got misplaced.

Forget that Montreal outshot the Dallas Stars 29-17. They lost big, a 5-2 spanking, and have now racked up five losses in six tries. Stop the madness. They never dominated, were sloppy, Carey Price wasn’t Georges Vezina, and if there was ever a time for Jacques Martin to swear like Bruce Boudreau, it’s now.

The team was simply out of sorts for the most part. Passes were off, pucks were bouncing, Dallas seemed bigger and stronger, and Brian Gionta once again missed the net a bunch of times and I’m getting tired of listening to myself go on about the guy doing this. Hit the net for goodness sake.

I think if he was a little more accurate he’d have about twenty goals right now.

I’m also not a fan of sloppy passing, giveaways, and shorthanded goals, and you’re not either. What discriminating Habs fan would be happy with the bleu,blanc et rouge on this night and many nights lately. In fact, one of the more satisfying displays by the team was in Detroit, where they also happened to lose, but at least they looked good losing it. 

But looking good wasn’t the case with the Stars and Avalanche and a host of other teams, including the sad sack Leafs who appeared to be world-beaters ten days ago, thanks to Montreal. Leaf fans shouldn’t hate the Habs, they should love them for what they do for their team.

On a more upbeat note, it’s good to get a lousy, stinking slump out of the way before Christmas so they can buckle down for the big ride toward the playoffs. That’s the theory anyway. The power of positive thinking once again giving 110%.

Random Notes:

Mathieu Darche and Brian Gionta were the Canadiens goal scorers. Josh Gorges also scored on a beautiful deflection. Unfortunately, it was into his own net.

Stars coach Marc Crawford had this petrified look on his face whenever the camera zeroed in on him. I don’t recall him looking like he’d just seen a ghost when he coached in Vancouver but he does now. Maybe the job’s getting to him.

Maybe the job’s getting to Jacque Martin too.

On to Carolina where it’s time to sort this mess out.

Introducing The Coin Collection

I ‘ve carried around a certain amount of pride for much of my life – that I was one of the youngest paperboys in Orillia with one of the biggest paper routes.

Religiously, after school, I would push and ride my bike up and down hills, putting first the Toronto Telegram and later the Toronto Star and Orillia Packet and Times, between doors. I’d collect weekly payments from the stay-at-home moms and I also enjoyed that the older women took a liking to me and gave me big tips and chocolates at Christmas as a thank you.

I also developed a habit when I was a paperboy. I began to look closely at the change, and ended up with a nice little coin collection.

In 1920, as a result of people having sex in 1919, many babies were born, including Mickey Rooney and the great saxophonist Charlie Parker. Prohibition raised its ugly head that year,and it’s a sad thing indeed when we see old clips of the feds in their fedoras pouring illegal booze down drains.

My father was also born in 1920. He’ll be 90 in October.

In the news that year, Babe Ruth was sold by the Boston Red Sox to the New York Yankees for $125,000 which must have sucked in a big way for Red Sox fans, and Canada introduced a 1% Federal sales tax.

In hockey, the Ottawa Senators beat the Seattle Metropolitans in 1919-20 to win the Stanley Cup, and in 1920-21, those same Senators won the Cup again by beating the Vancouver Millionaires.

The 1920 Montreal Canadiens iced a fairly respectable team with Newsy Lalonde, Georges Vezina, and Didier Pitre in the lineup, but they ended up third overall behind the Ottawa Senators and Toronto St. Pats and didn’t make the playoffs.

Curiously, I could only find three Montreal Canadien players born in 1920 – Jack Adams, who played just one year in the NHL in 1940-41, Marcel Dheere, a left winger who managed 16 games for the Habs in 1942-43, and the great Emile “Butch” Bouchard. (Although there seems to be some confusion with both Dheere and Bouchard, who may have been born in 1918 and 1919 respectively. My dates come from Claude Mouton’s book, The Montreal Canadiens.)

100 Years Of Heroes And Dreams

001A hundred years of heroes and dreams. A hundred years of men donning the sweater and taking to the ice.  A hundred years of kids watching and reading about, dreaming and becoming. From the time Didier Pitre took a pass from Jack Laviolette and slid it over to Newsy Lalonde, little boys donned the sweater, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, and they became Pitre and Lalonde and all those who came later. kids-sweater1-150x150

From the time Georges Vezina began stopping pucks for Les Canadiens, little kids wanted to stop pucks too, on lakes and ponds and old rinks throughout, and when they wore the sweater, they made the saves with people cheering them, and for all those winter nights near their homes, they were Georges Vezina.

Like magic they became Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat, Toe Blake and George Hainsworth. They wore the sweater on nights so cold it should be illegal, slapping old rubber balls into snowbanks, stopping cow pies on slews, deking friends and sisters and little kids on the pond. wearing the red or white sweater with the simple and beautiful CH crest sewn on front.004

They became the Rocket, and Lach, Bouchard and Harvey, and they saw the game in their dreams. Behind the skaters they were Durnan and Plante crouched by the net, and when the time came, they were the Boomer and Big Jean scoring on the power play. It unfolded at the Forum and the Olympia and Conn Smythe’s old barn and the outdoor rink frozen in winter at the baseball field. And kids heard them on the radio and saw them in black and white and shuffled their bubblegum cards, wearing the sweater and becoming anyone they wanted to be, just when they wanted to be. 003

The wore the sweater when the Pocket Rocket wouldn’t give up the puck, when the Boomer boomed, and when the Gumper kicked out his pads. They opened boxes at Christmas and there was one to put on right away, and they were Ken Dryden and Lafleur and the Big Bird. And their kids and kid brothers wore the sweater when Patrick Roy and the Little Viking, and then Kovalev and Koivu, graced the ice. Now new guard takes their place, and kids are becoming them too.

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They said goodbye to the Forum and to the Rocket and all those others who went when it was time and when it wasn’t time, and they wiped little drops of tears from their sweater. And they smiled and clapped and looked above as they watched the sweaters of their heroes raised triumphantly to the rafters.

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Now, every night, the Bell Centre is packed with young and old, still wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a dream for a hundred years. We are Georges, Howie, the Rocket and Guy. We’re Patrick and Saku and Price and Gionta and Markov.

We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we celebrate. 002

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I Won’t Be Eating My Cornflakes With This Spoon

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Because this spoon (and I have another) is from the very early years of the Montreal Canadiens, probably within their first ten years or so of existance. You see somewhat similar crests on Habs sweaters from 1910-11 with the old English script, but this has a very slight variation to it.

Maybe Georges Vezina ate his cornflakes with one of these spoons.  But I won’t be. And I won’t be playing the spoons with these either, or heating up some hard-core drug with them. These spoons are living a very boring life.

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