Tag Archives: Grant Fuhr

Roy, Robinson, Gretzky, Messier – In Ottawa

On Friday, September 19, 1986, the Montreal Canadiens played an exhibition game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Ottawa Civic Centre.  I lived in Ottawa at the time but sometimes, as was the case here, real life gets in the way and I had to work and couldn’t go. Just like the time I had a couple of front row seats for Roy Orbison at the National Arts Centre and was out on a truck run, got back late, and missed that too.

But my buddy Frank and his son Robin went to this Habs-Oilers clash, and brought me back a program.

This was a charity event for the Canadian Cystric Fibrosis Foundation, and two beauty teams went at it that night. Montreal had won the Stanley Cup that previous spring, and boasted Patrick Roy in nets, along with guys like Bobby Smith, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Stephane Richer.

The Oilers were pretty well in a class by themselves. They had won the two previous Cups, in 1984 and 1985, and the two after, in 1987 and `88, with a lineup of Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri etc.

Edmonton won the game that night 8-3, so maybe it was good that I missed it.

Hoping For A Warm And Fuzzy Habs Dressing Room

Saku Koivu had this to say recently about the difference in closeness between his new team, the Anaheim Ducks, and his old. “It’s more of a tighter feeling than in Montreal.”

And that says a lot. Because if it’s true, that the Canadiens weren’t a close group, then no wonder they lost big and looked dismal while doing it. You can’t win if you’re not a family, even a disfunctional family. The Edmonton Oilers, thanks to the documentary “The Boys on the Bus”, along with testimonials from Gretzky, Messier, Fuhr et al over the years, have described and shown us what a hockey family is. The Habs of the 1950’s were a close group, except for Jacques Plante maybe, but he was a goalie, and goalies can be whatever they want. Ken Dryden told us in “The Game” what a tight group the 1970’s Canadiens were. The Toronto Maple Leafs, the second-most successful franchise of the 1960’s, became a family and banded together because of one common denominator – their distaste of coach and drill sargeant Punch Imlach. Detroit bonded, possibly because of the tragic car accident involving Vlad Konstantinov, and have shown many times to be a close group. Now Pittsburgh, maybe with the help of Mario Lemieux’s mansion/party house, seems the same.

But the Canadiens weren’t?

Were the rumours of a divided dressing room true? Did players go their own way socially, or in small groups only, like we’ve heard? Was there friction in the room, including those who felt Koivu was a taskmaster as captain? Were the Kostitsyn’s moody? Did Kovalev upset players with his inconsistant play and puck-hogging, and what was the true relationship between him and Koivu? Did players roll their eyes when they saw how Georges Laraque was told to go out and stage fights? Did the players drive coach Guy Carbonneau out? Did owner George Gillett stick his nose in places he shouldn’t, and too often? And is the real reason players from other teams have no desire to play for the Habs because attitudes and chemistry are all out of whack?

When Guy Carbonneau was fired, he said that someday the truth would come out. What is the truth? Is it related to a divided room, with some players poisoning the air? And has the team been blown up and rebuilt because of the problems among players that may have been the biggest contibutor to their dismal performance?

We’ll hear soon enough about this group, because no team, probably in any sport, is scrutinized, categorized and analyzed the way the Canadiens are. Bob Gainey knows what harmony in the dressing is. I’m thinking he’s gone out and tried to find it.

Hopefully he has.