Tag Archives: Jim Roberts

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

 

 

 

Habs Bomb Buffalonians

eight

Eight straight wins in the books as the Canadiens invade Buffalo and proceed to blast the Sabres 7-2, even though the home team outshot Montreal 36-26.

And regardless of being outshot, there were times in this game when the Habs threw the puck around like hockey-playing Harlem Globetrotters. Looking good and rolling along. A plethora of early points banked, to come in handy when times are a tad tougher.

My chest is swelled so much it’s now in line with my stomach.

With Mike Condon making his second start (he beat Ottawa 3-1 in the third game of the season), and Andrei Markov collecting a goal and four assists, the team now sits just two wins away from the NHL record of ten wins to start a season, jointly held by the ’93-94 Leafs (of all people), and the 2006-07 Sabres (of all people).

The Canadiens host the Leafs on Saturday night to try and keep this sensational run intact, with game ten in Vancouver on Tuesday night.

How sweet it is so far, and how sweet it would be. But the boys can never take the Leafs lightly, because no matter how much the Buds suck, they can still be full of shit when it comes to playing the Habs.

The 7-2 slaughter in Buffalo not only saw Markov inflict major damage. Brendan Gallagher and Dale Weise both notched a pair of goals, P.K. and Plekanec each collected three assists, and Max a goal and an assist.

A great night for so many, with Torrey Mitchell also scoring, and Tomas Fleischmann and DD grabbing an assist each. And to add to the merriment, the team went 2/3 on the power play, as Markov and Gallagher made the enemy pay the price for being shipped off to the sinbin.

Random Notes:

Top five Habs point getters in these eight games –
Plekanec – 5 goals, 4 assists
Max – 6 goals, 3 assists
Markov – 1 goal, 8 assists
Gally – 3 goals, 5 assists
P.K. – 8 assists

*****************************

On such an occasion as a 7-2 drubbing and eighth straight win, it saddens me to hear of former Canadien Jim Roberts passing away at age 75. A solid and important player, and a fine and friendly fellow.

I’ll have more about this later.

RIP Jim.

Jim Roberts

Lots To Read (If You Want)

I once phoned Hall of Famer and ex-Hab Bert Olmstead in Calgary (he was in the phone book), hoping to get him to talk about the old days with the Rocket and Stanley Cups etc. He hung up on me.

When I had my sports bar in Powell River, Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour. Frank told me the Montreal organization was so much better than the Leaf organization. We fed them a spaghetti dinner. That night, referee Storey, with a microphone, told the crowd that the spaghetti at Kane’s was the best.

I spoke to the Habs’ Jim Roberts after a game at the old Forum when I was about 13 , several years before it was renovated in 1968. He was nice to me and I decided to start a Jim Roberts fan club. I didn’t because I figured it was too much work and he wasn’t a good enough player.

I met the Rocket when he was refereeing an oldtimers game in Calgary. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was about 8 years old and he said he used to send out lots of cards but didn’t remember much at all about the old days. My sister took a picture of him, then the Rocket said he wanted me to take a picture of him with my sister.

My dad took me to a Montreal-Toronto game back in the 1950s. Somehow he corralled coach Toe Blake in the lobby and asked him to take my hockey book into the dressing room and get Doug Harvey to sign it. Blake did.

My peewee coach in Orillia, Jack Dyte, played 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1943-44 season. He had one goal and 31 penalty minutes.  He played alongside Punch Imlach for the Quebec Aces in the old Quebec Senior League and against the Rocket before Richard joined the Habs.

When I lived in Ottawa, it was well known that a somewhat down-and-out Doug Harvey was living in a railway car (which was once used by Canadian PM John Diefenbaker) at the race track across the river in Hull. And what did I do? Nothing. Didn’t go there. Didn’t bring him any smokes or a bottle. Didn’t invite him home for a turkey dinner. Nothing. It’s a big regret.

I had breakfast with HOF goalie Glenn Hall when he came to Powell River for the Allan Cup back in the late-1990s. After breakfast I drove him around the area in my Hyundai Excel.

Butch Bouchard didn’t own a pair of skates until he was 16, and just four years later he’d made the NHL.

I grew up just down the street from Rick Ley, who was a solid defenceman for the Leafs in the late 1960’s and into the ’70s. He also played for the New England Whalers in the WHA and has his sweater retired in Hartford. He then went on to a coaching career in Vancouver and Toronto. He and I would sometimes skate on an outdoor rink before school, and in the summer, during a pickup baseball game, with him pitching and me catching without a mask, the batter tipped one of Ley’s pitches and the ball knocked my front tooth out. I’ve had plastic in my mouth ever since.

In the late 1960s, Rick Ley’s older brother Ron and his buddies threatened to take me behind the pool hall and cut my long hair.

Bep Guidolin played his first NHL game in 1942 with Boston. He’s the youngest player ever to play in the league, at 16 years old.

Floyd Curry attended his first Montreal Canadiens training camp in 1940 at just 15. He didn’t make the team but it’s still quite a feat.

Bobby Orr played for the Jr. A Oshawa Generals when he was just 14.

Hall Of Fame goalie Johnny Bower didn’t play his first NHL game until he was 30 when he was called up from the minors to the NY Rangers. He played one season, then three more in the minors. After that he was traded to Toronto when he was 34 years old (maybe older). Amazingly enough, Bower played goal all those years with poor eyesight and rheumatoid arthritis.

Claire Alexander, who played defence for the Leafs in the mid 1970s, came into the league when he was 29. Before that, he was a milkman in Orillia, Ontario (my hometown).

In the early 1960s, when I was about 12, my parish priest, Monsignor Lee, was somehow connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think it had to do with St. Michael’s College. At one point he took my buddy Ron Clarke and I to Peterborough to see an exhibition game between the Leafs and Chicago, and the afternoon before the game, we had dinner at the hotel with the Leafs’ brass. The players were in an adjoining room. Ron and I had dinner with the Monsignor, King Clancy, and Jim Gregory, who is now in the builder’s category of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In the 1950s, New York tough guy Lou Fontinato (who later was traded to Montreal), got into a scrap with Rocket Richard. Fontinato got Richard’s sweater off and proceeded to rip it to shreds with his skates. A few weeks later, Fontinato received a bill from the Canadiens for $38.50.

I was a milkman in Calgary for awhile and Doug Risebrough was one of my customers. His wife, who looked after the milk situation, gave me a small tip at Christmas. Risebrough played 13 years in the NHL, with both Montreal and Calgary. When he was eating his Cheerios with the milk I had faithfully delivered, he was coaching the Flames. I remember years before, in Ottawa, when the Habs played a pre-season exhibition game at the old Civic Centre, the buzz in the papers was the new promising rookie who would be playing that night in his first NHL game. That player was Doug Risebrough.

I played on the same Midget team as Dan Maloney for one game in Barrie after our Orillia team got eliminated and three of us were loaned to Barrie. I remember he was big, and a real leader even then. We were about 16. I also spent an afternoon with him hanging out and playing pool. Dan Maloney played for four teams (Chicago, LA, Detroit, and Toronto) over 11 seasons, and eventually went on to coach. He was truly a great guy and a tough bastard.

Toe Blake’s real first name was Hector. He got the name ‘Toe’ from his younger sister who pronounced the last part of Hector as toe, as in “Hectoe.”

Turk Broda, who was the Toronto Maple Leaf goalie from 1936 to 1952, had the nickname “Turk” because as a child, his neck would turn red like a turkey when he got angry. His real name is Walter.

During the time I owned my restaurant in Powell River, the Hanson Brothers (from Slapshot) came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, two of them, the Carlson brothers, came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

When I was 12, my peewee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers, in his early-20s at the time, was the umpire.

When I was about 11 and at the opening of the Hockey Hall of Fame at the CNE in Toronto with my dad and sister, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, but because he was in a deep discussion with someone, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my sister had to get it for me.

Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

In the early ’60s when I was about 13 or so, my previously mentioned buddy Ron Clarke and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave Ron and I sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester, although I only know this from the lineup sheet I still have.

Toe Blake said “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

1950s Habs grinder Marcel Bonin would at times eat glass (probably after several pops), and also wrestled a bear or two. And once, while at training camp in Victoria, BC, Bonin broke his thumb during some horseplay off the ice. He kept it a secret from Toe Blake, then during the next practice, pretended to hurt his hand on the ice and kept himself from getting into hot water with Blake. It worked.

Two NHL players who were notorious for treating rookies on their own teams badly were Steve Shutt and Dave Keon. Shutt’s reasoning was, “Hey, it happened to me so it’s gonna happen to them too.”

Jim Pappin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1967, lost his Cup ring years ago. But it was found several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico when a diver using an underwater metal detector came up with it.

I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time. The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a little, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.

Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away several years ago, introduced me to goaltender Richard Brodeur, who was in town on an oldtimers tour. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh. I don’t want to talk to you.” (He was joking. I think.)

I was also introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager when the Hansons came to town. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.

A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970s and extremely difficult to crack the Habs line up, so French signed with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.

The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum in the late-1970s, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge.

The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at either end.

Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.

The first two artificial rinks built in Canada were in Victoria and Vancouver.

From a documentary I learned that Russian Czar Peter the Great would often go incognito to Europe, with a shaved mustache and old hat, and from a painting of him shown in the doc wearing these,  he looks a dead ringer for deceased Russian hockey star Valeri Kharlamov.

When the Rocket was playing for the Verdun juniors in 1939, he took boxing lessons in the off-season. He became so good at it that he was entered into a Golden Gloves competition, but a damaging punch in the nose by his coach prevented him from participating.

Leaf star Darryl Sittler and his wife Wendy were staying at Paul Henderson’s house and looking after their three daughters when Henderson scored those big goals during the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series.

Team Canada had a six-hour stopover in Paris on the way to Stockholm. Goalie Ed Johnston said this about Paris: “What’s wrong is the same thing you find with all these European cities. Too many old buildings.”

While in Stockholm, a Swedish fellow at the press conference mentioned that maybe Bobby Orr, who was injured and didn’t play in the series, wasn’t as good as Russian Valeri Kharlamov. “He’s good in the NHL,” said the guy, “but in Europe he’d be only average.” A Canadian who overheard this said, “Put this down. Bobby Orr-healthy-would eat any Czech or Russian alive. And he’d spit out any Swede.”

In Moscow, the Canadians were seen coming back to their hotel at all hours of the night. While some of the boys were sitting around the lobby of the Grand Hotel, someone mentioned hearing that the Russians had put street crews with jackhammers outside the Canadian team’s windows in the early morning. “No problem,” said one player. “We won’t be in anyway.”

Coach Harry Sinden celebrated his 40th birthday while overseas. “Ten days ago I was 29,” he said.

Some Canadian fans who arrived in Moscow found out there were no tickets available for them. These included Maurice Richard, Punch Imlach, former referee-in-chief Carl Voss, and legendary wrestler Whipper Billy Watson. Those left out were given three options: they could take an all-expenses paid 10-day tour of Copenhagen; they could fly home and be refunded; or they could stay and take their chances on finding tickets. Most chose the third option.

Dennis Hull, after a tour of Moscow, gushed, “I really like the place. It reminds me of Buffalo.”

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Extra, Extra, Read All About It (Parts Two And Three)

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

Part one was just a few days ago. This is part two and three -1976 and 1977

It was their 17th Stanley Cup, a beautiful, delicious four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. How sweet is that? Sweeping the Broad St. Bullies, the goons who had slashed and punched their way to the two previous championships. But this time, real hockey prevailed over thuggery.

All in all, it was the Canadiens plumbers who made things happen. At least for the most part. Bob Gainey, Jim Roberts, Doug Jarvis, and Doug Risebrough proved just how important blue-collar guys can be. The team had Lafleur and Shutt and the boys, but the lesser-lights shone. “Really, the plumbers did the job for us in this series,” said Steve Shutt. “But when we needed the goals, the two big guys (Lafleur and Perter Mahovlich) came through.”

Lafleur and Mahovlich weren’t having a sensational series up until the final game and the plumbers stepped up. But both Lafleur and Mahovlich scored goals in the third period to ice the thing and to prove that singer Kate Smith, the Flyers’ lucky charm, wasn’t such a lucky charm after all.

Kate was there in person that night to sing the anthem, usually it was a recording, but even her live and in colour wasn’t enought for the thugs from Philly. And in the dressing room, the Habs sung God Bless America in a good-natured jibe to the singer.

It had only taken Montreal 13 games from start to finish in these 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs, sweeping Chicago, taking out the Islanders in five games, and then the four-game dismissing of the Flyers.

Some Flyers fans thought it might have been different if their team had been healthy. Rick MacLeish didn’t suit up, and Bobby Clarke and Orest Kindrachuk played but weren’t 100%. And Wayne Stephenson was between the pipes instead of number one, Bernie Parent. But even coach Fred Shero admitted that his team, althought they might have prolonged it slightly, would have lost anyway. “If we’d had everybody healthy, I suppose we might have lasted longer, we might have made it close, at least.” said Shero. “But on the other hand, I imagine that if we had been able to play better, Canadiens might have played better too. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they could.”

And to make all Habs fans giddy, Shero also went on about how good the Habs actually were. “These are guys you can’t ride off the puck. They’re immune to normal forechecking. You put pressure on most defences and they fall apart. They cough up the puck or throw it away. These fellows never panic. They just won’t give up the puck. They’re always in control.”

And Shero wasn’t finished being nice. “And my God, they’re all like forwards besides. That’s what you’ve got to have on your defence in the NHL today. You can put Robinson, Savard or Lapointe up front and they don’t look out of place at all.”

The last word goes to Bobby Clarke. “We were beaten by one great hockey team, the best in many years.”

And now, 1977

In the spring of 1977, as I was on the verge of getting married for the first time, Jacques Lemaire scored the overtime goal to give his team their second straight Stanley Cup in this late 1970’s run, and it was done with a lovely four-game sweep against Don Cherry and his Boston Bruins. Is this one of the reasons you hate the Habs, Don?

It had been quite a year for this dominating bunch. Montreal only lost eight times in 80 games and racked up a record 132 points. Nobody was going to beat them in the playoffs. You didn’t have to be Kreskin to figure it out. In fact, the team swept the Blues, took out the Islanders 4 games to 2, and then swept the Bruins. Fourteen games in total, and very similar to the 13 it had taken them the year before.

Guy Lafleur won the Conn  Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and managed nine goals and 17 assists throughout. But he had this to say: “It’s my third Cup and it’s always nice, but it’s not the same excitement. I don’t think I’m the best player. It’s just that everything went well for me.”

Jacques Lemaire was the quiet hero on this ride. His teammates had told him to shoot more, and on this night, he delivered with the overtime marker. “Why shouldn’t I be happy,” said Lemaire. “I’m on a holiday. I’m on a holiday starting now. It’s about time. It still is Lafleur and Shutt, except tonight. Tonight was a mistake. They said, shoot the puck, you look good.”

Coach Scotty Bowman had this to say about Lafleur and Shutt. “They play more like Europeans. I’m not knocking the NHL style of play, but the Europeans make more plays on the move. That’s what Lafleur and Shutt do.”

And last word to Don Cherry. “It’s hard to believe we kept outshooting them and still can’t win a game. I still say the whole thing boiled down to those three defensemen.”

Rebounding From L’Affaire Carl Wetzel

Recently, out of the blue, most of the right side of my site disappeared. This included the picture of me as a kid, the twitter link, CBC links, quote of the day, map, the whole enchilada. There was no reason for it to happen. I’ve tried to be good. I’m kind to animals and I love babies. But it happened anyway.

So I phoned HostGator in Texas and the technicians there worked on it and finally got everything restored, but only up to that particular Sunday, which meant my posts from the few days after that were gone forever. And which also means my little story about Carl Wetzel, a guy who was the backup goalie for Charlie Hodge on a night I was at the Forum, vanished into thin air and is now probably twirling and swirling in cyberspace.

But I’m not taking this sitting down. In that particular story, I included a photo of the lineup from the program that night that showed Wetzel’s name, and then I went on to talk about how many minor league cities he had played in over his career (about 15).

Now I’m coming back with a vengeance, and not only am I including the lineup page again, but I’m showing the whole trip, which includes the program signed by Jim Roberts that evening after the game when I walked down to ice level to see the big CH’s at centre ice, plus the lineup page again, along with my ticket stub and photos I took of the Forum and Toe Blake’s Tavern.

Take that, computer gremlin bastards.

 

Mathieu Darche Stays Employed

Habs’ utility forward Mathieu Darche has signed a one-year $700,000 contract with Montreal, which is only $2,550,000 less than what Andrei Kostitsyn signed for yesterday, but nevertheless, it’s still great money for a great job.

Darche is a no-frills, hard-working player, and every team has guys like him, those in the trenches getting it done, and whose hockey card is worth three cents and will always be worth three cents. And from time to time he pots a big goal and the crowd goes wild.

And being a no-frills type doesn’t take away from the importance. Because for every Guy Lafleur you need a Murray Wilson or Jim Roberts. Or to fill up space with other examples, the Rolling Stones had Bill Wyman in the shadows behind the Jagger/Richards act, Led Zeppelin had the unheralded John Paul Jones helping Robert Plant and Jimmy Page look good, and Archie and Jughead had Pop Tate keeping them from going hungry.

Darche tries to make the most of the few minutes he’s given each game, and he seems like he’s an absolute class act. He also had twelve goals last season compared to Scott Gomez’s pathetic seven, but I digress.

Welcome back, Mathieu.

Historical footnote:

The abovementioned former Stone Bill Wyman started having a serious relationship with his girlfriend Mandy Smith when he was 47 and she was 14.  

Waking Up To A Wonderful Email

This very special email arrived this morning;

“Your recent interview with Terry Harper was excellent. You are an exceptional writer. It was such a pleasure to read his comments and his thoughts on his fellow players of his era. He always was a down-to-earth, good guy. It is very nostalgic to revisit the 6 team era with memories being shared by the former players of that time. In the early to mid 1960’s I was a student at McGIll and saw many of the Leaf’s-Canadiens games as I was friends with Jim Roberts and many of the Leafs. I was the late Carl Brewer’s life partner.”

Susan Foster

I was really touched by this and so I wrote her back and asked if I could put this on my site. She replied;

Hi Dennis:

Yes, you certainly may publish my note to you.

You have excellent taste being such a ‘Habs’ fan all these years!  There hasn’t been a finer franchise in the history of the league and they certainly treat their former players with respect and dignity as well. I hope you never change elegance.

Best regards,

Susan

And about her life partner, Carl Brewer? He was a steady defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the days of the Original Six, with a solid career beginning in 1957 and lasting until 1980. He locked horns with coach Punch Imlach many times during the 1960’s simply because he wasn’t a slave to any master. He was his own man, and stood up for himself and others often during these days when players had almost no say whatsoever with management. Brewer also spent time in Detroit and St. Louis, was a member of the Canadian National team for a year, and even became player-coach of the Finnish National team. He was eventually inducted into the Finnish Hall of Fame, although he was Canadian through and through.

Carl Brewer was also one of hockey’s most intelligent hockey players. He was a learned man, scholarly like Ken Dryden, and when he was interviewed between periods on Hockey Night In Canada, you’d think you were listening to a university professor, not a hockey player. He was so well-spoken, so insightful, so original.

Brewer also spearheaded the fight against his former agent Alan Eagleson, which resulted in jail time for the disgraced agent who had defrauded millions of dollars from his clients like Brewer and Bobby Orr. Many players from that era can thank Carl Brewer for fighting the good fight for them.

A short biography of this great man can be seen here.

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Me and the boys are almost like brothers: Fascinating Facts

Fascinating Fact #1.   I once phoned old Hall of Famer and ex-Hab Bert Olmstead (1948-1961) in Calgary just to talk about the old days with the Rocket and Stanley Cups etc. He hung up on me.

Fascinating Fact #2. I once sat in an old beer parlour in Ottawa and drank beer with ancient ex-Hab Aurel Joliet (1922-1938). I asked him what he thought about the Rocket and he poo pooed the question. He said his old buddy Howie Morenz (1923-1937) was way better, then his eyes got misty. He signed the cast on my arm and I drove him home.

Fascinating Fact #3. I met the Rocket (1942-1960) when he was refereeing an old-timers game in Calgary. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was about 8 years old. He said he didn’t remember. My sister took a picture of him, then the Rocket said he wanted a picture of him with my sister.

Fascinating Fact #4. My dad took me to a Montreal-Toronto game back in the 1950’s. Somehow he corralled coach Toe Blake in the lobby and asked him to take my hockey book into the dressing room and get Doug Harvey (1947-1969) to sign it. He did.

Fascinating Fact #4. When I had my restaurant, Frank Mahovlich (1956-1974) came in. He told me the Montreal organization was first class and way better than the Leaf organization. We fed him a spaghetti dinner. He didn’t pay for it. After that we called him Frank MaCheapovich.

Fascinating Fact #5. I once had breakfast with old Chicago and various other teams goalie Glenn Hall. (1952-1971.) He told me Gordie Howe (1946-1980) was better than the Rocket. Even so, I still paid for his breakfast.

Fascinating Fact #6. I once talked to the Habs Jim Roberts (1963-1978) when I was about 13 and at a game at the Old Forum (not the new Forum, which the Old became after it was renovated in 1969.) He was nice to me and I decided to start a Jim Roberts fan club. I didn’t because I decided it was too much work and he wasn’t a good enough player.

Fascinating Fact #7. My friend Leo Brosseau said old Hab goalie Bill Durnan (1944-1950) used to come in to his father’s bar in the Ottawa Valley in the early 1950’s. Leo said the guy was an asshole when he got drunk and kept getting thrown out.