Tag Archives: Jim Neilson

Remembering Jim Roberts

Forum program

I’d just turned 15 and was at the Montreal Forum for a game between the Habs and New York Rangers. My first visit to the shrine a handful of years before it was renovated, after seeing so many games from my living room and on those old Molson films we’d see at banquets or at the Hall of Fame down at the CNE.

I’ve mentioned before about this trip, about how I was a bit drunk when my dad picked me up at the bus station when I came back to Orillia. But the bus was full of older guys, all with bottles, and I had no choice.

When the siren sounded to end this game in Montreal, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CHs at centre ice. This is what I’d wanted to do as much as see the game. Go down to ice level and be close to the logos that I had only seen on grainy television.

We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment bags on carts from the corridor near the dressing room. I can picture this like it was yesterday, and at the time it was very cool. A couple of trainers and a bunch of duffle bags lives on in my memory.

Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to someone, so I went up and asked him to sign my program, which he did and which you can barely see in the photo of the program above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson.

Roberts was extremely nice and chatted with me, asking where I was from and such. He had no idea how much this impressed me. So much so that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sakes. Inside the Habs inner circle. What a fantastic idea this was.

The next step was writing Red Fisher, and I told him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back, (I had this letter for years but don’t anymore), and he said he’d mention this to Roberts the first chance he got.

I never heard back. Maybe Jim Roberts was waiting for me. Maybe he waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, soon enough I realized I couldn’t start a Jim Roberts Fan club. I had school and hockey and the British Invasion bands were invading. I didn’t have time for this.

Where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?

Jim Roberts passed away on Friday from cancer at age 75. He was a key member of five Stanley Cup teams in Montreal – 1965, ’66, ”73, ’76, and ’77, and a smart and hard worker whose true value came from shutting down big guns on other teams, much like Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis, two guys who probably learned plenty from playing alongside Jim in the 1970s, would.

He was never a huge star. But his star shone brightly for me, not only for what he did while wearing the CH, but because he was so nice to me when I was young. I’m very much saddened by his passing.

Jimmyroberts

 

 

 

Signing Bonus

What a nice group of important signatures on this sheet that I managed to get my grubby hands on recently, had them authenticated, and now are mine.

A page consisting of:

Danny

The one and only Danny Gallivan. (Until now I’d never seen a Danny Gallivan autograph although there must be some floating around considering he did a lot of banquets and charity events, especially in the Maritimes.

Balon
Dave Balon, who passed away in 2007 after a 30-year battle with MS.

Bentley
Max Bentley, The “Dipsy Doodle Dandy from Delisle”, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

GordieVic Howe
Gordie Howe and his brother Vic. Vic played 33 games with the New York Rangers in the early-1950s.

Fergie
John Ferguson, who needs no introduction.

Campbell
Clarence Campbell, former league prez, inducted into the HOF in 1966.

Hicke
Bill Hicke, former Hab who died of cancer in 2005.

Garry Peters
Garry Peters, a Canadien for 17 games in the mid-1960s.

Plus these cool dudes –

John Bucyk – inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981
Pierre Pilote – inducted 1975
Johnny Bower – inducted 1976
Alex Delvecchio – inducted 1977

And two great defencemen-
Jim Neilson
Doug Barkley

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A Belated Thank You To Red Fisher

As we savour our two-game win streak, (or three wins in five games), and as we wait for those dastardly Philadelphia Flyers to arrive on the scene, I thought I’d tell you my Red Fisher/Jim Roberts story. It’s mildly interesting I hope.

I’d just turned 15 and was on a bus charter to the Montreal Forum for a game between the Habs and New York Rangers. I’ve mentioned before about this trip, and about how I was a bit drunk when my dad picked me up at the bus station when I came back to Orillia.

When the siren sounded to end this game in Montreal, my friend and I wandered down to rinkside to look at the big CH’s at centre ice. This is what I wanted to do as much as see the game. Go close to the ice and see the CH’s that I had only seen on grainy television. It was magical to me, and I can still feel that exact moment to this day. Funny what a couple of painted logos on the ice can do.

We also saw trainers wheel out the players’ equipment, stacked in bags on carts, bags belonging to Big Jean and Pocket Rocket and the rest, from the corridor near the dressing room. I can feel this moment too.

Nearby I spotted Jim Roberts, the all-important defensive forward who sometimes played defence, talking to some guy in a suit, so I sauntered up and asked him to sign my program, which you can barely see in the picture above, just below Jean Beliveau and Jim Neilson. Best of all, Roberts was extremely nice to me and asked me where I was from and such, and he had no idea how much this impressed me.

He impressed me so much that I decided to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. It would be almost like being on the team for goodness sakes. Inside the Habs inner circle. What a fantastic idea this was.

The next step was writing Red Fisher, who needs no introduction because he’s Red Fisher, and I informed him of my plan to start a Jim Roberts Fan Club. Red wrote back, (I had this letter for years but don’t anymore), and he told me that he would mention this to Roberts first chance he got.

I never heard any more. Maybe Jim Roberts was waiting for me to begin. Maybe he waited all season for his fan club to begin. Maybe Red forgot to tell him. Regardless, it probably wasn’t more than a day or two later that I realized I didn’t want to start a Jim Roberts Fan club. Way too much work. I had school and hockey and public skating to go to on Sunday afternoons. I didn’t have time for this. Where was I going to get stuff to send to members? How could I afford stamps? What would I write about, other than the fact that Jim Roberts was a good player and was nice to me when I asked for his autograph?

I don’t know what I’d do if Jim had contacted me and told me he was excited to have a fan club. Then I’d be stuck.

What the heck was I thinking?

So if Red Fisher forgot to mention it to him, I just want to say thank you.