Tag Archives: Ken Dryden

Finally Lapointe

The news that Guy Lapointe’s number 5 will join Bernie Geoffrion’s in the rafters is terrific and overdue.

Guy Lapointe was one of the greatest defencemen to ever wear the CH. He was part of the “The Big Three” with Serge Savard and Larry Robinson in those 1970s glory years when no other team came close to having such a trio, combining skill and muscle to help win games and take no nonsense from the Broad St. Bullies or anyone else who might have tried.

Add the smart, great skating, hard shooting Lapointe to the mix of big farmboy Robinson, who could skate, dominate and was physically intimidating, and Savard, who swooped, swirled, and made the right play like poetry in motion, and you’ve got “The Big Three”, a threesome other teams knew they were in deep against.

Serge Savard was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986 and his number 18 was retired in 2006.

Larry Robinson was inducted into the Hall in 1995 and his number 19 sent to the rafters in 2007.

Guy Lapointe was inducted in 1993 and his sweater will soon join his fellow blueliners. So deserved.

0075The Globe and Mail called Ken Dryden’s The Game, “the sports book of the year, or maybe the decade, or maybe the century.” Dryden took us into the inner circle of the late 1970’s Montreal Canadiens, when they were the best team in hockey, poised to win their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup. It’s a great book, written with humility and intelligence, and I know many of you have already read it. I just wanted to share a few things that I really like.

I’m sure Ken Dryden had a little smile on his face as he wrote about Lapointe, affectionately know as “Pointu”, who Dryden says in the early to mid-1970’s, except for Bobby Orr, was the best defenceman in the NHL.

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Here’s some excerpts from “The Game” regarding Guy Lapointe”

“In the shower, (Yvon) Lambert is singing. Lapointe grabs a bucket and tiptoes to the bathroom sink like a cartoon spy. He fills the bucket with cold water, and peers around the corner of the shower. Lambert is still singing. Lapointe winds up; we hear a scream. Lapointe dashes back into the room and quickly out again, dropping his bucket. Lambert, still lathered up, races after him, screaming threats. Losing his trail, Lambert stops to pick up the bucket, fills it, and resumes his search. Finally he finds Lapointe hiding in a toilet stall; he backs him into the room. Naked, sobbing, pleading pathetically, Lapointe falls to his knees, his hands clutched in front of him. Lambert winds up to throw the water, then stops: in Lapointe’s hands are Lambert’s clothes.”

“The laces to my skates have been shredded into macaroni-size pieces too small for knots to hold together. I look up at a roomful of blank faces. Before I can say his name, Lapointe, who cuts my laces twenty or twenty-five times a year, though I have never seen him do it, gives me an injured look. “Hey, get the right guy,” he shouts.”

“Hey Reggie (Houle),” he shouts, “That was a helluva play ya made last night.” Houle goes silent; we begin to laugh. “Yup,” Robinson continues slowly, drawing out each word, “not often ya see a guy on a breakaway put it in the crowd.” Lapointe snaps down his newspaper. “Don’t let it bother ya, Reggie,” he says sympathetically. “No harm done.” Surprised, we all look up. “The goalie just woulda stopped ya anyway,” he says, and we all laugh harder.

“Ah, I’m full,” Lapointe announces, wiping his face with napkin. “Anybody want my ice cream?” Shaking their heads, murmuring, everyone says no. Finally, after looking around, certain that no one else wants it, “Um, yeah sure,” I say tentatively, ya sure ya don’t want it?” Lapointe shakes his head, and hands it to me. I take a bite. Before I can taste what I’ve eaten, the room explodes with laughter – sour cream with chocolate sauce.

“Calisse, now I done it,” he groans. “Kenny, who’s a good lawyer? I need some help.” He looks genuinely worried this time.
“Call a guy named Ackerman,” I tell him earnestly.
“What?” he says. “Ackerman,” I repeat louder, and suddenly I know what’s coming next. “I’m not deaf,” he says indignantly, and walks away laughing.

Hoping It’s An Omen

On Sunday I stopped at a garage sale in St. Hubert and bought this 1970s Sher-Wood goalie stick for five dollars.

A stick with “K. Dryden 29″ stamped on the upper shaft.

It’s not a Dryden game-used stick, no marks are scattered about and it’s never been taped (those are fibreglass strips you see on the blade), but it’s from his era, exactly what he would have used in the first part of the 1970s, and definitely, five bucks is pretty darn good.

And with the Habs’ goalie situation now, I’m also treating it as a good omen for the boys.

Let the magic of the five buck Dryden stick begin.

Dryden 1

Dryden 2

Dryden

Gilles Does It His Way

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Ex-WHA and NHL goalie Gilles Gratton in a mock arm wrestling pose with Bobby Hull.

They did it as a joke because Gilles has always been a slight fellow and Hull is Hull.

I work with Gilles and he’s a great guy who seems to enjoy talking with me about games the night before and ones coming up. The feeling is mutual. I like hearing his thoughts on things.

Gilles was considered one of the best backstoppers in the WHA and was a backup during the WHA 1974 Canada-Russia series. He didn’t play and didn’t mind at all.

Gilles gained a reputation of being somewhat of a flake when he played, sometimes making noises at opposing players, rambling on about reincarnation to teammates and coaches, and he once refused to suit up with his Toronto Toros because the moon was in the wrong part of the sky and not lined up with Jupiter, which was his way of disagreeing with his coach being fired.

Ken Dryden says in his book “The Game” that Gilles once streaked during a practice with whatever team he was on at the time, and I asked him about it. He said that was wrong. It was during a ball hockey game and the coach promised him five new sticks if he did it.

He told us this story recently. When he first arrived in St. Louis to play for the Blues, he was in an elevator and a man riding up with him asked him if he was happy to be joining his new team.

Gilles answered, “I don’t give a f*&%k about the St. Louis Blues”.

When the elevator stopped, they got out and were met by others. It turned out the man in the elevator was his new coach Gary Young.

Gilles lasted 6 games in St. Louis before he walked out. The next year he was with the New York Rangers, then a season in the minors, and that was that.

After he retired he worked as a wire service photographer at a couple of World Championships in Europe, and eventually ended up in India for several years where he learned to meditate.

Gilles’ a Montreal boy, and I once asked him if ever would have liked to play for the Canadiens.

He said he didn’t know, he’d never thought about it.

Turk Says Dryden’s Overrated

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In Derek Sanderson’s 2012 book “Crossing The Line” that I got at the St. Hubert Library, he says Ken Dryden was overrated, which we’ve all heard from time to time. At least I have.

Sanderson talked about how the Bruins were the better team against Montreal in 1971, but they shot themselves in the foot. Boston didn’t take the Canadiens seriously. He didn’t really talk about Dryden’s accomplishments, he only mentioned that the young goalie had arrived on the scene, had only six games under his belt before the playoffs began, and proceeded to somehow get his body in the way.

He sort of mentioned that the Habs eliminated Boston, but he didn’t go near the Habs winning the Cup after beating Chicago in the finals, and Dryden being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy. We wouldn’t expect him to. The book’s not about the Habs.

When you put it all together though, it’s a magical piece of hockey lore. Maybe not so much for Bruins fans I guess. They probably hate the story.

Turk Sanderson says this: “Dryden was highly overrated, in my opinion, but he was the first big goaltender. He covered the top of the net so well, and when he dropped and spread, he covered a lot of ground in the bottom part. You’d turn to shoot, and he would have that area covered because of his size. It took us a while to get used to that. It created problems we had never seen before.”

Sanderson goes on to say, “Dryden didn’t provide the stellar goaltending everybody continues to talk about. You could score on Dryden. He wasn’t that good; he was just different.”

Sanderson is saying that Dryden wasn’t a good goalie, he was just a big goalie. But Sanderson was a Bruin for many of the years when they played against each, and he might still have Habs/Bruins issues.

Dryden was in goal for game 8 when it was for all the marbles so Harry Sinden must not have thought he was overrated. And Sinden coached Sanderson. Dryden also collected 6 Stanley Cups during those days, but maybe a much lesser goalie might have too considering the team up front with Lafleur, Robinson, Lemaire et al.

Like I said, I’ve heard various people say over the years that Dryden was overrated but I tend to not think much about it. I just wonder if there are many other players who played against him, like Sanderson did, who also feel he was overrated. And if lots do, does that mean he was?

As an aside, Sanderson also says Cam Neely was the greatest right winger to ever play the game.

 

Dryden’s always had a bit of a reputation for not being overly-enthusiastic about signing autographs, and here’s a great exampleWindsor Star.

Guy And Tim

Busy day coming up, maybe, so now’s as good a time as any to simply throw in a caricature of Guy Lafleur that I took a picture of in Old Montreal. The guy doing the drawing and selling didn’t seem all that thrilled that I took a picture instead of buying it and I don’t blame him.

It’s not a masterpiece, but I like it anyway. The Flower might not but I do. At least I think I do.

Maybe I don’t.

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I read earlier that Tim Thomas has asked his agent to see if any teams might be interested in him. Thomas took last year off, just a couple of years after telling the hockey world at the NHL Awards how unbelievable it was that he’d spent so many years in the minors and had finally made it to the bigs and how fantastic it was.

The novelty wore off somewhere along the line, he refused to go to the White House with his teammates to meet Barack Obama after the Bruins’ Cup win in 2011, but now I guess he’s got it out of his system and wants to come back. But I guess I can’t say much. Ken Dryden got away from the game for awhile too.

But who cares about Tim Thomas. I’m going with the Guy Lafleur picture.

Lafleur

A Beautiful Area And An Old Habs Draft Pick

We’re sitting in our friends’ amazing house built on fifty acres of bushland near Peterborough, and after working our way through the Toronto area, this is about as serene as it gets.

I read a few years ago that Hwy 401 from Oakville to Whitby is the busiest stretch of highway in North America and I believe it. And this from someone who was stuck in traffic on L.A. freeways.

Central Ontario gets a bad rap from those who’ve never been or once rushed through. It can be stunningly beautiful. Turning off the main highway and making our way along country roads was a sensational experience. I’d almost forgotten how nice central Ontario is after spending so many years near mountains and beside the ocean.

Although I’ve never been to Ireland, I think it probably looks like this. Nice rolling hills, full of green fields and old barns. A few leprechauns now and again.

Maybe I don’t have to go to Ireland now. I’ll just visit the Peterborough area from time to time and bring some Guinness.

I think every part of Canada has its own big-time beauty, and around here is definitely no exception.

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My friend Mike Mohun, who grew up in Orillia the same time as me, sent me a great article from the Orillia Packet and Times about John French, a guy I played hockey and baseball with when I was a kid, and someone I’ve mentioned several times here.

I often played on the same line as John, he was way better than me and everybody else, and he was our catcher when our peewee baseball team rolled over all challengers.

John was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and in training camp played on the same line as Jean Beliveau and Yvan Cournoyer. He also roomed with Ken Dryden.

A really interesting piece, and can be seen here – Little Guy Made It To The Bigs

I just don’t remember him as being little.

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Luci doesn’t know it yet but in awhile, she’s going for her first Harley ride. I can’t wait to see this. My Luci, on the back of a Harley, roaring down the road. Biker chick.

 

Lineups Announced

The rosters for Saturday’s Habs-Leafs tilt have been announced, and as you can see, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is suiting up. It can’t hurt.

What a team the Habs had, eh?

This is from the 1977-78 season, a season that saw the Canadiens finish with 129 points, take home the Prince of Wales for finishing first, and end with their third straight Stanley Cup.

The Vezina went to Ken Dryden and Michel Larocque; the Hart, the Art Ross, and the Lester B. Pearson trophies were collected by Guy Lafleur; the Conn Smythe was awarded to Larry Robinson; and Bob Gainey won the Selke.

Peter Mahovlich would be sent to Pittsburgh after 17 games, in exchange for Pierre Larouche.

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Jim Ralph Found Another Way

I remember Jim Ralph when he was a goalie for the Ottawa 67’s in the 1970’s. He was never a great backstopper, and his career didn’t amount to much, just bouncing around the minors for a decade after junior, and he never made it to the bigs.

But there’s one thing about Jim Ralph – he’s a funny guy, which has led to many, many television gigs and speaking engagements around North America. Ralph settled in nicely, doing what he does best, after his playing days were finished.

Here’s a sampling, with Ken Dryden, Wayne Gretzky, Gary Bettman and others chuckling away and having a grand old time listening to him.

Dick And Danny Do The Game

It’s the magical combination of Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin as the Habs and Flyers battle on May 16, 1976. Montreal would win 5-3 on this night, sweeping the Flyers to win their 19th Stanley Cup.

Period one (30 min.) and period three (42 min) are included here, and we see the Cup awarded. Just wonderful, and thanks to my old buddy Rugger for sending it along.

Period One:

Period Three:

Dryden Quirks

Dryden

Goalies apparently are a different breed. We’ve heard that forever. So why would Ken Dryden be any different?

In Gerry Patterson’s 1978 book “Behind The Superstars,” (which I talked about a few posts back – Anne and Gordie ), Patterson writes about Dryden’s legendary unwillingness to open his wallet. (And to sign autographs).

After five hours of new contract negotiations with Sam Pollock, Patterson finally got Dryden what he was asking for. Dryden then asked to speak to Patterson privately, saying he’d decided he wanted another $10,000.

After Patterson had managed to get him his raise, plus the extra $10,000, Dryden invited Patterson to lunch and bought him a cheeseburger and coke.

Whenever Dryden phoned Patterson, whether it was from Toronto, Los Angeles, or Vienna, he always phoned collect.

One year it was decided that Dryden needed a new winter coat, so he searched second-hand stores in Montreal for a good deal.

Every time Dryden visited Patterson at his office in downtown Montreal, he always seemed anxious to leave. Patterson later learned that the goalie would always park in a no parking area to save paying for parking, and he was worried he’d get a ticket.

Dryden and his wife lived in a nice high-rise, but the apartment was furnished with card tables and folding chairs, “in case I’m traded or we have to move for some reason. It’s really very practical.”

Dryden has always hated signing autographs. “People believe that an athlete should be compelled to sign autographs. Well, I am not compelled to sign. Autographs are a complete waste of time for both parties.”