Tag Archives: Gerard Pelletier

Letters On My Shelf

Many of these letters were written to me, while some I collected along the way. If you find these boring, please don’t tell me.

Beginning with –

Red Fisher (1965) (after I complained to him that Stan Mikita swore at me when I asked him for his autograph at a Hawks-Leafs exhibition game in Peterborough during the Leafs training camp).

Red

Phyllis King (1951) – Clarence Campbell’s secretary and future wife.

Phyllis

Here’s Clarence and Phyllis on their romantic date at the Forum, which helped spark the 1955 St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot.

coverofTHN

Legendary sports editor Elmer Ferguson (1929). The Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is presented to outstanding hockey journalists and includes the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, Roy MacGregor and others.

Elmer

Sam Pollock (1964). By far my favourite letter.

Claude Mouton (1985)

Irving Grundman (1983)

Almost three months to the day after General Manager Grundman wrote this letter, he was fired by the Canadiens and Serge Savard would take his place.

Forum secretary Manon Bruneau (1984)

Letter from Sam Pollock to Habs prospect Michel Lagace (1962). This is the kind of letter I would have liked to receive.

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Looking for tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens (1965 & 1966)

Two replies from Claude Mouton (1983) about my request for a stick. He gave me a Bob Gainey stick, signed by the entire team, which I picked up at the Forum after driving from Ottawa after graveyard shift.

Jean Beliveau (1984)

I decided I needed an 8X10 glossy of the Rocket shaking hands with Sugar Jim Henry, so I went right to the top. I wrote a letter to La Presse and it ended up on the desk of editor-in chief Gerard Pelletier (1964)

Pelletier would later serve in the Pierre Trudeau government, and was eventually awarded the Order of Canada.

Frank Selke Jr. (1961)

The Rocket Photo Lives On

Shown often on Facebook, other websites, and on TV before and during game one of the Habs-Bruins series was the iconic photo  of Rocket Richard and Sugar Jim Henry shaking hands after one of the greatest playoff goals ever scored.

It even hangs on the wall of the TD Garden in Boston.

I have some slight connections regarding that famous photo that was taken by La Presse photographer Roger St. Jean, but first, a brief look back at the story behind it.

It was the second period of the seventh game of the 1952 Cup semi-finals between Montreal and Boston, on April 8th at the Forum, when the Rocket collided with rugged Bruins d-man Leo Labine, followed by a headfirst plunge into Bill Quackenbush’s knee.

Richard lay motionless on the ice, folks in the building thought his neck may have been broken, and blood flowed from his forehead.

Richard was taken to the infirmary in the Forum where he was applied stitches and probably smelling salts. Slowly he came around, and in the third period he got up from the table against the doctors’ wishes and made his way back to the bench.

On the bench, Elmer Lach told him the score was tied 1-1 with four minutes to go, Rocket told coach Dick Irvin that he was okay, and Irvin sent him out.

Rocket then proceeded to take the puck in his own end, ducked by the first forechecker, eluded the two other Bruins’ forwards, held off Quackenbush with his left arm as he swooped in, fooled the other defenceman Bob Armstrong, and came in on Sugar Jim Henry, who himself had suffered a broken nose and two black eyes earlier in the game.

Henry dove, Rocket pulled the puck aside and blasted it home, which won the series for the Canadiens.

It was just after, when players were shaking hands, that the photo was taken.

Back in the dressing room, Rocket sat unsmiling and quiet, and suddenly broke down. The doctor put a needle in his arm, and it was two hours before he was in shape to get up and finally leave.

Rocket had scored that series-winning goal while being semi-conscious.

I decided, when I was 13, that I needed an 8 x 10 glossy of the Rocket and Sugar Jim Henry so I went right to the top. I wrote a letter to La Presse and it ended up on the desk of editor-in chief Gerard Pelletier.

And who is Gerard Pelletier, you might ask? Well, aside from being editor at the Montreal French-language daily, and according to Wikipedia, he, his buddy Pierre Trudeau, and Jean Marchand were recruited by Prime Minister Lester Pearson to help derail the rising Quebec separatist movement.

Later on, Pelletier would become a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government, and would eventually take the role of ambassador to France, and then ambassador to the United Nations. He was also awarded the Order of Canada.

So as you can see, he was quite a big shot.

I think it was mighty nice of him to write to me, considering his paper had been on strike. And yes, he did pass my letter on to the sports department, because at some point, my 8 x 10 glossy showed up at my house.

Indirectly related to the goal –

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One of my 75 Group two, 1944-64 Montreal Canadiens Bee Hives, Paul Masnick, who played a part, sort of, in that picture.

Paul Masnick was a journeyman centre who was with the Canadiens from 1950 to 1954 before going to Chicago and then Toronto.

In total, he played 161 games with Montreal. And it was because of him, indirectly, that there is the famous photograph.

In game six of the 1952 semi finals, it was Masnick who scored the winner on Sugar Jim Henry off a Doug Harvey rebound. This led to game seven, when the Rocket, coming back on the ice after being bloodied and knocked unconscious, scored the big goal which eliminated Boston and got Montreal into the finals against Detroit.

And it was after this Boston series that Masnick helped win, that the famous photo was taken.

henry

And today –

Have a look at that huge framed picture behind Rocket and a couple of fellows at his appliances shop, the one of Rocket and Sugar Jim Henry.

Rock

That very picture, which measures 34″ x 44″, now hangs on a wall in my office!

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Two Letters From Claude Mouton

As some of you know, I came across a pile of my old letters recently, a pile I thought was long gone, and lately I’ve shown those from Red Fisher, Gerard Pelletier, and Jean Beliveau. (If you click on “Letters” over in the Category list, they’re stored there).

Today it’s two from Claude Mouton.

I wrote a letter to Mouton, who was the Canadiens publicity director along with being the Forum PA announcer, (he also did a stint as Montreal Expos PA announcer), and I asked him about my chances of getting a Guy Lafleur game-used stick. Mouton wrote back that it was impossible for them to send sticks by mail, but of course this didn’t sway me. I wrote back and said I’d drive to Montreal from Ottawa and pick up the stick myself.

Claude must have been sick of me by that time, but being the good guy he was, he wrote again and said to give them some notice and they’d have a stick waiting for me. So I drove down after working a graveyard shift as a semi driver, went up to the Forum offices, and they gave me an unused Bob Gainey stick signed by the entire team.

As a side note, I was down at the bottom of the stairs wrapping this stick up in my jacket so I wouldn’t smudge the autographs, when Jean Beliveau opened the doors at the top and saw me fiddling with something, and he froze. I think he thought I had a rifle.

Anyway, here’s the two letters. The first is Mouton’s reply saying they didn’t mail sticks, and the second telling me to come down to Montreal and they’d give me one.

Sure, I’ll Just Ask Jean Beliveau!

Okay, I’m a bit embarrassed by this. I mean, who asks Jean Beliveau for tickets?

I guess I did, although until I found this letter the other day, I had no idea I’d even done this. In fact, I still don’t remember, and when I looked at it, all I could do was scratch my head.

As mentioned the other day, I came across some letters I’d thought were long gone, and this Beliveau one is the third I’ve posted in the past week or so. It joins Red Fisher and Gerard Pelletier from the recently-found batch, along with  Asking Sam Pollock to be stick boy and  Frank Selke Jr. that I’d posted several years ago and which sit quietly in my scrapbook.

I’ll be showing more letters in the near future if you need your attention diverted, if just for a few minutes, from this pathetic season.

You Need A Picture, You Go To The Top

I decided, when I was 13, that I needed an 8×10 glossy of the Rocket shaking hands with Sugar Jim Henry, so I went right to the top. I wrote a letter to La Presse and it ended up on the desk of editor-in chief Gerard Pelletier.

And who is Gerard Pelletier, you ask? Well, aside from being editor at the Montreal French-language daily, and according to Wikipedia, he, his buddy Pierre Trudeau, and Jean Marchand were recruited by Prime Minister Lester Pearson to help derail the rising Quebec separatist movement. Later on, Pelletier would become a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government, and would eventually take the role of ambassador to France, and then ambassador to the United Nations. He was also awarded the Order of Canada.

So as you can see, he was quite a big shot.

I think it was mighty nice of him to write to me, considering his paper was on strike at the time. And yes, he did pass my letter on to the sports department, because at some point, my 8×10 glossy showed up at my house.