Tag Archives: Jacques Plante

Quebec City

We’re in Quebec City and it’s been terrific, with our hotel so perfectly situated we find ourselves only a couple of hundred feet from the Plains of Abraham.

When I was fourteen I spent a month with a French family in St. Hyacinthe on an English-French exchange, and my new friend and I hitchhiked to Quebec City and slept in sleeping bags on the Plains of Abraham. And now I’m back.

It’s Luci’s birthday and she and I celebrated at the greatest restaurant either of us have ever been in, called Parmesan, where joie de vivre reigned supreme, and where the staff was amazing, the food was excellent, and a singer and fellow with an accordion walked around and sang old Italian songs.

It was like being serenaded by Dean Martin and Perry Como.

We never stopped smiling and laughing for the two or three hours we were in Parmesan. Usually being in restaurants is fairly serious business.

We’ve already staked out a nearby Irish pub to watch the Habs-Rangers game tonight, after walking in and an employee showed us around and told us where the best TV viewing is.

And I hope I don’t sound like I’m boasting, but since my teens I’ve been saying exactly what Jacques Plante said in describing the nice time he had in Toronto when he played for the Leafs in the early-1970s:

“Maybe that’s been the trouble in our country; we just don’t get around and meet the neighbours in other provinces.”

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While Waiting

Just a great game the other night in Boston, and of course we need more of the same from the boys on Saturday afternoon when the Lightning come to town.

Meanwhile, cleaning more stuff off my desktop.

A snapshot of Jacques Plante and his wife in the late 1970s; a vintage sweater box I noticed on a shelf at work, a neat cartoon, and a Forum program that the cartoon was in, from a Montreal Maroons/Leafs game.

Hope you don’t mind. You’re at a slightly unconventional site.

And anyway, I could go on and on about how this year’s squad can never take a night off, how they have to skate and drive hard to the net and have the puck more than the other team and give 140% like I do at work.

But I won’t, because it’s Friday. Which means it’s beer time at St. Hubert’s Chicken.

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A Fine Habs Planter

I’ve seen these things from time to time over the years, and someone is selling one on eBay right now, so I thought I’d borrow their photos to show you.

It’s a little ceramic planter from the 1950s, valued around $200 or so, with slightly unusual blue colours. And the guy’s head looks pretty big.

I’d like to have one of these, but it’s either that or food and my wife made me choose food.

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50 Or More; And That Curved Stick

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Up until this December 1964 Hockey Pictorial question was posed, just three players had ever scored 50 goals in a season – Maurice Richard in 1944-45, Bernie Geoffrion in 1960-61, and Bobby Hull during the 1961-62 season.

Who would finally score more than 50 in a season?

As you can see, five of the six players polled thought it would be Bobby Hull, while Jacques Laperriere figured Jean Beliveau would be the man.

The answer would come the following year, when yes indeed, it was Bobby Hull, who scored 54 in 65 games.

Hull would also bulge the twine 52 times in ’66-’67 and 58 in ”68-’69.

And how did the Golden Jet explain his talent for scoring? He mostly credited the introduction of the curved stick, which allowed him to blast howitzers at panic-stricken goaltenders. And although that’s a very credible explanation, it doesn’t do Hull complete justice. He was a beautiful skater, strong as an ox, and one of the greatest ever. The curved stick only added another huge element to Hull’s game.

Not long after Hull’s feats, the numbers would get out of hand. Phil Esposito would light the lamp 76 times in 1970-71, and during the 1980-81 campaign, eight players would score 50 or more, including Mike Bossy with 68 markers.

But it would be the 1981-82 season when goal scoring really blossomed, led by Wayne Gretzky, of course. Ten players cracked the 50-goal mark that year, with Gretzky notching an amazing 92 goals.

And back to the curved stick -

Andy Bathgate says it was he who was the first to use it, but it was Hull’s teammate Stan Mikita who is generally regarded as the inventor, although it came accidentally.

As explained in Bruce Dowbiggin’s book “The Stick,” Mikita’s stick cracked during practice, and he tried to break it and throw it away, but it wouldn’t snap completely. Mikita then jammed the stick into the door at the bench and it ended up looking like a boomerang.

While he waited for his trainer to get him another stick in the dressing room, which was several minutes away down the steps at the old Chicago Stadium, Mikita, out of anger, slapped a puck with the broken stick and the puck took off. He slapped another and it was the same thing. He was amazed, even at the new sound the puck made hitting the boards.

Back in the dressing room, Mikita started bending all his sticks, but they were breaking, until someone suggested making them wet first, which he did. He then left his new, curved sticks overnight, and the next day at practice he started shooting. The first shot was like a knuckler in baseball. It dropped and veered, and the next shot did all sorts of weird things too.

Bobby Hull was watching all this, and began bending his too.

Coach Billy Reay wasn’t impressed. He figured they wouldn’t be able to control their shots, and he was right. In Hull’s first game using this new banana blade, his first shot went right over the glass. In another game, Hull hit Ranger goalie Gump Worsley in the head, and when asked if he feared the curved blade, Worsley replied that he thought fans behind him were in more danger than him.

And about Andy Bathgate saying he was the first.

Bobby Hull said he always remembered Bathgate as having a bit of a curve to his sticks, even in the late ’50s, but it was Mikita who pioneered the whole idea of it. Bathgate has said that when Chicago was playing his Rangers one night, his trainer had lent Mikita one of Bathgate’s sticks (which is unusual to say the least), after the Hawk had run out of his own, and Mikita had liked the curved stick.

Mikita disagrees and talked to Bathgate about this, and in Dowbiggin’s book is quoted as saying, “I told Andy to his face that he’s – well, let’s say I talked to him about it. I might have borrowed some sticks, but I sure don’t remember any curve.”

And one final note: It was a Bathgate shot that smashed into Jacques Plante’s face, causing Plante to come back out wearing his mask for the first time during a game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Scrapbook

Over the years I’ve shown my old Montreal Canadiens scrapbook many times, and can be found under “The Old Scrapbook” in the “Categories’ section. But I haven’t mentioned often that there is another scrapbook, an older one, that my dad and I made just before we started the big one.

And like the bigger scrapbook, the cover was painted by my father who was a sign painter.

It’s falling apart, most of the pictures in it are loose, but here it is, with a few samplings of what was in it.

The first two are of Claude Richard, the Rocket and Henri’s brother who is a year younger than Henri and born sixteen years after Maurice. Claude, also known back then as Vest-Pocket, never made it to the NHL, but he came close, and joined his two brothers in training camp on the same line for a short time.

From the Hockey Hall of Fame website: “In 1958, a third Richard brother came close to cracking the lineup with the Montreal Canadiens. Claude Richard had been a terrific goal scorer with the junior Ottawa-Hull Canadiens team that featured future Canadiens Bobby Rousseau, Ralph Backstrom, Gilles Tremblay and J.C. Tremblay. “Claude had pretty well everything you need to play in the NHL except he wasn’t a good skater. He had a good shot. Then, there were only six teams. If it had been the seventies, he might have made the NHL,” shrugs Henri.

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The Book’s Cover

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I’ve mentioned a few times over the years about the time I got a book for Christmas when I was kid, called Let’s Play Hockey, which my father sent away to Montreal and got signed by pretty well every Montreal Canadien player from the 1958-59 season, with just Doug Harvey’s signature missing.

Not long after, my dad took me to a Habs-Leafs game in Toronto and he brought the book, took it down by the Canadiens dressing room, found Toe Blake, and asked Toe if he would take the book into the room and have Harvey sign it for me, which Blake did. That’s Harvey’s autograph over on the left, on its own.

As you can see, Jacques Plante’s at the bottom, Toe Blake’s at the top, along with Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Jean Guy Talbot, Claude Provost, Tom Johnson, Marcel Bonin, Ralph Backstrom, Phil Goyette, Bob Turner, Ab McDonald, Don Marshall, Andre Pronovost, and Ian Cushenan.

This team, of course, was a Stanley Cup winner.

The brown marks are from scotch tape which I’d used to protect the signatures with plastic back then.

Just recently while going through some old programs, I found an ad for this book, and as you can see, it cost a whopping $1.50 back then, which was probably a couple of hours work for my dad. The dust jacket for my book is long gone, so discovering this ad was cool. I’d forgotten what the cover looked like.

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Keeping Habs Fans Warm

Some people are knitters. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m not, but I used to hold the wool for my mother.

If you need a new Habs sweater but are boycotting NHL products to show your displeasure with the lockout, then this is for you. Don’t fork out the two-hundred bucks, make one yourself. But you have to know how to knit, like Jacques Plante did. Or you could get your mother do make it, which is what I would do if she was still around.

And never mind the “what the hell is this knitting shit on a Habs blog?” I just want you to be warm, that’s all. Cause that’s the kind of guy I am.

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Ulf And Jacques, In The News

I noticed these on the back of a newspaper clipping I have from when I was a smallish-yet-shifty second baseman on my championship-winning Orillia peewee baseball team.

It’s the beginning of the 1963-64 NHL season and it states that Ulf Sterner was set to play his first NHL game, but he actually didn’t suit up until the following season, when he played four games with the Rangers.

In the other article, Jacques Plante, after being traded to N.Y., seems a little upset with his former team.

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Goodbye Dad

My dad and I went to see our Habs in Toronto when I was little, we got to Maple Leaf Gardens early, and as we stood in the corridor, much of team, maybe all of the team, walked by us – The Rocket, Beliveau, Plante, Geoffrion, Moore – everybody. Shortly after, we went down by the dressing room and dad asked Toe Blake if he would take my book in and get Doug Harvey to sign it, which amazingly, Blake did.

This morning my dad died. He was 92.

Orillia on the horizon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art Of Brandy Saturley

Below, examples of the wonderful work of Canadian artist Brandy Saturley.

Canuck Days

Desaturated Cherry

Goalie’s Mask: Red, White, and Dryden. This piece is displayed, along side one of Ken Dryden’s masks, in Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, with prints available at Goalie’s Mask. Proceeds go to The Hall.

Death of a Rookie (Rise of a Hero)

Saint Kanata

Keep On Dreamin’ In The Free World

Poppies For Louise

Plante Rises