Tag Archives: Larry Robinson

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.

Series Has Only Just Begun

Okay, a few dark clouds have drifted in. When haven’t they?

A 7-2 throttling in game one. A possible Carey Price injury. A situation where a two-game series lead for the Rangers would suck much more than a 7-2 series opener.

But if Price is injured, if we find ourselves suddenly in a wretched hole, keep in mind it’s still not over. Our dream of seeing the Habs competing for the Stanley Cup isn’t done until the mature and the gentlemanly handshakes have begun.

What I’m saying is, except for the truly dominant teams over the years, which we all know Montreal isn’t quite yet but regardless, the road to the Stanley Cup has always been lined with more potholes than Montreal streets, which, if you’ve driven Montreal streets, is a lot.

Guys get injured, unknown factors and horrible surprises crop up. But championship teams, teams that scraped and clawed and came out bruised, battered and bloodied, somehow found a way to reach the promised land, and if Carey Price is hurt and Peter Budaj is forced to come in, everyone deals with it, plays even that much harder, blocks even that many more shots, chemistry and bonding boils over the top, and their names ultimately become inscribed on the Stanley Cup through blood, sweat, and tears.

Man that was a long sentence.

Teams don’t usually coast to the Stanley Cup. Some of the 1970s Habs teams might have, but not in general. Sometimes they coast to the first place in their division, and maybe through the first few rounds of the playoffs, but not all the way to the Cup. If it was like that, it wouldn’t be the most meaningful trophy in all the land.

If Price is hurt, which we still don’t know yet, the scenario we hope for is this: Budaj is forced to come in, he stands on his head, the team carries on and wins it all, and Budaj is forever after talked about by fans and historians as the the guy who, as a backup goalie, joined the fray and helped his team win it all.

How great would that be? We’ve seen Budaj perform in unreal situations this year, so why not again? It’s the best and only thing we can ask, aside from Price being okay and is good to go.

As far as the Chris Kreider’s crash into Price controversy goes, I’ve looked at the play below several times, and although you might disagree, I have this to say about it.

All season long I’ve harped about the fact that not enough Canadiens are willing to crash the net. Aside from Brendan Gallagher, it’s just not what we’ve seen from most guys on most nights. Chris Kreider was skating hard, as he should be, and in a nano second, his skate may have done some damage, which I hope wasn’t the case.

Did he have time to react differently? Not by what I saw on the video.

I know Michel Therrien isn’t happy about it, and I know Brandon Prust said it was “accidentally on purpose”. But this was a split-second situation during the world’s fastest game and I’m giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.

I’m not about to become a Chris Kreider fan. Are you kidding? I hope Alexei Emelin leaves a dent in the boards with Krieder’s body the way Larry Robinson did with Gary Dornhoefer. I hope we never have to mention his name again. I hope a slapshot removes all his teeth. I hope he turns out to be a bum and ends up selling vacuum cleaners door to door.

I’m just saying I want more from the Habs like what Kreider did. Skate like the wind, blow by guys, don’t let up when you reach the crease.

It would also be just fine if Henrik Lundqvist tasted some of the medicine that was given to Price. Let the Rangers be forced to use to their backup goaltender.

All’s fair in love and war.

 

 

Flyers And Parties And Such

This, from 119 years ago –

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This from much later –

party

Not many more days until Christmas, which means there’s a good chance you’ve either been or will be going to a Christmas party.

A time to put on your best sweatshirt because it’s important to look nice while heading across the room to where the booze is.

I myself like Christmas parties much better than Halloween parties. Ever since I showed up at a Halloween party and was the only one with a costume. With Christmas parties, there’s no costume. Except for the lampshape on the head after drinking DKRFSB.

I’m almost comfortable at Christmas parties. In fact, all I ever worry about are small things like foreign objects hanging from my nose, holes in my socks, and saying something I’ll regret for the next fourteen years.

Other than that, pretty darn comfortable.

Habs in Philly Thursday night.

And speaking of Philly – This, from Feb. 11, 2010:

PK Called Up

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PK Subban has been called up to play in Philadephia Friday night. This is terrific news because the young buck is considered a keeper and part of the future of the Habs blueline, but it also reminds us that it’s a little bit like pre-season in Montreal right now, with guys being called up and sent down and others called up etc.

It’s never boring with the Montreal Canadiens.

And this, from Feb. 17, 1974

 

Fight Thoughts

I’ve wondered off and on over the years about how I really feel about fighting, and I’m asking myself again with all the buzz about the George Parros incident. It seems I’ve always leaned towards fighting.

But I can’t stand the goon stuff. The guy who can only fight and not much more. And I’m not smart enough to figure out the staged stuff.

I just think that many who are now clamoring for a total ban on fighting didn’t mind at all seeing someone like Wendel Clark and Marty McSorley getting into a beauty. Or Larry Robinson teaching Dave Schultz a big lesson.

The Broad Street Bullies won two Stanley Cups through thuggery and scrapping with a serious amount of talent thrown in for good measure. But it was the Canadiens, who played the non-mugging kind of game, who put a stop to the nonsense in Philadelphia. Great hockey trumped fighting. And a good Larry Robinson fist to Dave Schultz’s face.

That was some serious goon stuff the Bullies were dishing out back then. And it went on every night in the WHA too. I think both have played a major role in the evolution of goonery.

Remember those sensational games in the 1987 Canada Cup when Canada and Russia met in the finals and Wayne Gretzky set up Mario Lemieux for the winner in game three with less than two minutes to go? There was no heavyweight goon on either team. No staged fights. But that wasn’t real life. It was a much anticipated Canada-Russia match up when the rivalry had meat on its bones.

But if the rules would’ve allowed, maybe a good tussle between Rick Tocchet and Sergei Svetlov would have added to the lore. And many who now say they want fighting out of the game might have whooped and hollered back then if some nastiness really had cropped up.

I don’t think fighting will ever end, even if someone dies from it. But somehow it has to be curbed and the only good solution I’ve heard so far is from Bob McCown on Prime Time Sports who suggested the NHL make it so goons must be paid the league maximum, which is about $12 million or so a year. How many teams would carry one then?

The sight of George Parros trying to sit up with that concussed look on his face was disturbing to say the least. But George was hired to be the muscle, to add an element the Canadiens haven’t had and were going nowhere without, and it’s a tough job that can have some dark moments. I can’t imagine doing this job. I have a really sensitive nose.

I was happy to see George signed, and I just got finished saying we need goons out of the league. But if he could be a preventive measure, dropping them in only the truest of situations, without the staged stuff, and throwing in some hard work that results in a scoring chance now and again, then what’s wrong with that?

So is it fighting or no fighting that I want? I want the Wendel Clark, Larry Robinson, Clark Gillies kind of fights. No staged stuff. Just an honest disagreement now and again that helps our team win.

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.

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:

Devils Still Breathing

The New Jersey Devils edged Los Angeles 2-1 in a feisty and puck-bouncing game five, with pucks rattling off goal posts, sticks slicing people’s faces, and Martin Brodeur being great and also lucky. So the series continues, with L.A. now holding a slight 3-2 game advantage, and feeling not quite as good about themselves as they were a couple of games ago.

The Stanley Cup remains packed away, until Monday at least. I’m hoping it goes seven. (please see previous post Drama-Hoping for more on this).

It’s a bad/good situation for Kings’ owners Philip Anschutz and Ed Roski Jr. Bad because their team can’t close it off, and good because it means another home game with a whole bunch of extra big-time dollars to be stuffed into their pockets from ticket and beer sales. Sometimes losing pays off in a big way.

L.A. players have to be nervous, and the Devils now find themselves with some serious hope. This is much better than a sweep or a five-game series. And from this Hab fan’s perspective, it’s always nice to see camera shots of Larry Robinson behind the bench. Kind of chokes me up.

Have you noticed that with all the beards out there, everybody looks the same? It’s like two teams full of Smith Brothers. I’m starting to dislike the beard thing. I’ll bet the wives are too. Maybe players need something new for playoff tradition, something that doesn’t make them all look alike. How about not showering for the playoffs? At least they wouldn’t have to worry about fans and media bothering them.

It’s also worth noting that if New Jersey really wants to climb all the way back, the Devils trainers might want to give Ilya Kovalchuk some smelling salts. Or at the very least, a good swift kick in the ass.

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.

Joe And Big Bird Ball

I’ve learned to not get too excited about rumours until they edge closer to fact, but I sure like the idea of Larry Robinson coming back to Montreal as coach or assistant coach. Apparently he’s just waiting to be asked. So Mr. Bergevin, ask him please.

I also like the “Evander Kane coming to Montreal” rumour, not only because he was a 30-goal scorer this year in Winnipeg, but also because I could finally see “Kane” on the back of a Habs’ sweater.

And speaking of Robinson:

In Ottawa in the 1970’s, there was a tremendous fastball team called Turpin Pontiac who were one of the best ball teams in Canada. I used to love going to games involving Turpin and other teams from the great Ottawa Valley Fastball League. It was really fine ball, played by guys who executed like poetry in motion.

Turpin had a glasses-wearing pitcher named Joe Belisle who looked like Dennis the Menace’s father. He seemed to weigh about 140 pounds, with his pitching arm much bigger than his other arm. This was a guy who threw mostly 1 or 2 hitters, with many no-hitters added for good measure. And the other teams such as Hull Volant were certainly no slouches so Joe always had his work cut out for him, and more often than not got the job done in classic fashion..

Joe was well-known in the Ottawa area, but not quite as well-known as one of his teammates. There was an outfielder, a big, strapping long-ball hitting red-headed farm boy named Larry Robinson, who, after ball season had ended and the air grew chilly, played defence for the Montreal Canadiens.