Tag Archives: Marlene Geoffrion

Marlene Geoffrion

Marlene Geoffrion, wife of the late, great Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion, is the daughter of Howie Morenz, and she was just three when her famous father died. But after Morenz passed away in hospital from something related to a broken leg or broken heart, his wife Mary, Marlene’s mom, quickly blew through the insurance money she received and eventually the Canadiens had to hold a benefit night for her at the Forum just so she could buy groceries and pay the rent.

Marlene, still a very young girl, was placed in an orphanage with her brothers Howie Jr and Donald, for three long years.

Eventually, Mary married a millionaire, George Pratte (or Pratt), just nine days after six-year old Donald died of pleurisy, and Marlene and Howie Jr came home. But Mary died at forty-one of alcoholism as she continued to suffer from the death of her beloved Howie.


I avoided joggers and bike riders along the trails at Mount Royal Cemetery, and visited the grave of Howie Morenz and his son Donald a few years back when I was living in Montreal.

It took a while, but I found the site.

Howie and little Donald are buried with Mary Morenz’s mom and dad, Herbert McKay and Wilhelmina Stewart.


I’m not sure where Howie’s wife Mary is buried. She doesn’t seem to be there with the rest of the gang.


More Lovely Habs Wives

Photos from my old scrapbook, which I still open from time time.

Bernie ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion with his wife Marlene and kids. That little gaffer is Danny, who went on to play for the Habs in the late ’70s, early ’80s. Marlene is the daughter of Howie Morenz, so she’s a hockey gal through and through. She looks beautiful, especially in that white blouse.


Big Jean Beliveau doing the dishes with wife Elise. Elise said she had to do most of the driving when they were dating because Jean was a lousy driver.


Jacques Plante, with wife Jacqueline and boys Michel and Richard, singing and forgetting about flying pucks that hurt when they hit the face. Plante also liked to knit, and made his own socks and toques.


Dickie Moore and his lovely wife playing with their little baby. Such a fine looking couple. One of Moore’s daughters, and it could be the one in this photo, eventually dated one of Doug Harvey’s son. (I never heard how that worked out).


Bert Olmstead showing his beautiful family his scrapbook. Scrapbooks were all the rage back then, and probably very cool when the scrapbook was about yourself. Years ago I looked up Olmstead in the Calgary phone book, phoned him and asked him if he’d mind talking about the old days with the Habs. He hung up on me.


This is Maurice Richard, of course, just sitting around with his wife Lucille and the family. The kids are Maurice Jr., Hugette, Normand, Andre, and Suzanne. In the top photo, the Rocket shows his Rocket scrapbook to Normand and Andre. Most kids don’t have dads with a personal scrapbook. However, my dad was probably a much better sign painter than the Rocket.


Henri Richard and his lovely wife Lise, being happy and healthy at home in Montreal. We would see Lise often over the years in camera shots at games with the Pocket, and she always looked great, that’s for sure.

Henri was just a little kid when his older brother was becoming a star with the Canadiens.


One of the most important players on the Habs in the early 1960s, and a third and fourth line grinder at that – Dave Balon and his beautiful wife of whose name I don’t know. I wish I did.

Sadly, Balon passed away in 2007 from MS, and of course it was way too early because he was only 68.

Balon was one of those guys who was never a star, but was a hard worker, a checker, and he shone in playoff situations, scoring key goals, and was put out often in key situations against the other teams’ stars. For every Jean Beliveau, a team needs a Dave Balon. He wore number 20, and as far as I’m concerned, he’s never gotten enough credit for what he did for the Montreal Canadiens.

Look how happy they look, especially his wife.


Ralph Backstrom and his wife Frances and kids.

After Backstrom’s playing days were over, he ended up coaching the University of Denver team, founded a roller hockey league in the late ’90s, and in 2003, the Colorado Eagles of the Central Hockey League.

Backstrom was always one of my favourite players. I even got a brush cut like his once. The guy personified the Montreal Canadien teams he played on – speedy, classy, and a beautiful skater. Like me except for most of that.


Canadiens goaltender Charlie Hodge and lovely wife Sheila. Charlie had the unfortunate luck of being on the same team as Jacques Plante, so he was often a backup goalie with the Habs early on. But he would win the Vezina outright in 1963-64 and shared the Vezina with Gump Worsley in ’65-66. He eventually went to Oakland when expansion came into being in 1967, as each team had to surrender a goalie for the new upstarts (the original six teams were allowed to protect only 11 skaters and one goalie).


John Ferguson with wife Jean and daughter in this really nice family photo. As much as Fergie was a bruiser on the ice, he was known as a gentle pushover at home.

Fergie and family would go back to Nanaimo BC in the off-season where he played professional lacrosse, and he also had a long-time love affair with harness racing.


Lovely Mid-’50s Habs Wives

I’m guessing the Habs wives are watching their hubbies on TV, and the mirror behind them, reflecting a framed image of the Rocket, makes it a definite that the party is at Maurice and Lucille’s home.

Lucille is the one in the white blouse, and Ken Mosdell’s wife Lorraine is on the far right. The others I’m not sure about.

(Thanks to Wayne Mosdell for pointing out his mom to me)

Ken and Lorraine Mosdell, Bernard and Marlene Geoffrion, and Maurice and Lucille Richard.

I’m betting it’s a Christmas party!

Habs and wives

Partying at Butch’s

Circa 1954 Canadiens players and their ladies get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret in Montreal to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

I love this photo. It took some digging to find the names of some of the wives, and I’m not sure who some of the couples are.

Otherwise, around the table are Doug and Ursula Harvey in foreground, Bouchard (in glasses with wife Marie-Claire), Elmer Lach, Gerry and Theresa McNeil, Bernie and Marlene Geoffrion (being served by the waiter), Ken and Lorraine Mosdell across from the Geoffrions, and Maurice and Lucille Richard up by the Harveys.

A happy bunch letting off steam.



A Happy Bunch

Circa 1954 Canadiens’ players, wives and girlfriends get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

Bouchard (in glasses), Maurice and Lucille Richard, Ken Mosdell, Doug Harvey, Elmer Lach and the rest of this happy bunch let off some steam during those glorious days when the Habs were close to embarking on five straight Stanley Cups.

Harvey’s in the forefront at the head of the table, and just behind Bouchard and to Elmer Lach’s left is Gerry McNeil with wife Theresa.

At the back, being served by the waiter, appears to be Bernie Geoffrion (with Marlene), and Ken Mosdell is directly across from Boomer.


Blake’s Dad In Diapers

That’s Blake Geoffrion’s dad Danny, in white, being shown stuff by Blake’s future grandpa Boom Boom. Danny is just two years old here, so Blake was still a ways off from being made.

Blake’s future uncle Robert is just 5 in this picture, while future aunt Linda is 7.

Blake’s future grandma Marlene, looking gorgeous, is, as you probably know, Blake’s future great-grandpa Howie Morenz’ daughter. Marlene was only three when her famous dad died.

Knowlton Quebec Sculptor Immortalizes Hockey

Marc Andre Fortier Works On Howie Morenz
Marc Andre Fortier Works On Howie Morenz

This story appears courtesy of The Township Outlet and was written by Terry Scott with the photo provided by Marc-André Fortier

It’s the next best thing to being called up to play for the indomitable Montreal Canadiens. Knowlton sculptor Marc André J Fortier was chosen to sculpt four bronze statues of Canadiens as part of the team’s 100th anniversary celebrations. Now millions of hockey fans will admire the incredible work of Knowlton sculptor Marc André J Fortier!

One day last spring Marc André J Fortier received a message on his answering machine to call the Montreal Canadiens’ organization. It wasn’t an invitation to suit up and help the Habs in their playoff run, but for Fortier, it was the equivalent of winning the Stanley Cup.

The most fabled organization in hockey history had selected the Knowlton artist to sculpt four bronze statues of Canadiens’ immortals Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau and Guy Lafleur. The statues, commissioned to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the hockey club, were to be put on permanent display on Centennial Plaza, a concourse adjacent to the team’s Bell Centre home indow ntown Montreal.

Fortier was one of several sculptors whose name had been submitted to the Canadiens after marketing executives of the hockey club asked L’Atélier de Bronze, the prominent foundry and casting company in Inverness, Quebec, to recommend six top artists for the work.

Over the years, the 47-year-old Fortier, a Town of Mount Royal native who moved to and set up his studio in Knowlton five years ago, has established some impressive credentials. He won the distinguished Bronze Palm Medal in Paris, earned top honours in Toronto for his “The Art of the Automobile” sculpture, and his works have graced exhibitions, homes and other places, nationally and worldwide.

But now, Fortier, who played five years of minor hockey as a youth and avidly followed the Canadiens’ dynasty in the mid-to-late 1970s, was being asked to sculpt four legendary figures of an organization that is more of a sacred trust than a mere hockey team.

“Basically, it was hard work, but it was such a fantastic contract,” Fortier said last week from the Knowlton studio – a high-ceilinged space that was previously a car-and-van wash – he moved into last year. “It was 1,750 hours in a five and a half-month span. Some days, I would do it for 24 hours straight. Sometimes I would be in the studio at 4 o’clock in the morning wondering how I was going to do certain things on the maquettes. I lost several pounds in the process, because you’re constantly moving about as you make tweaks and changes to your work.”

Fortier was in his early 20s and living in Vancouver when his grandfather handed him $1,000 to encourage him to become an artist. The painting career evolved into bronze sculpturing, a craft that Fortier plies with the determination of Morenz, the passion of the Rocket, the élan of Beliveau and the flair of Lafleur.

Ever the perfectionist, he is meticulous in carrying out his work. While doing the four sculptures, Fortier took a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, conducting hours of research on the equipment worn in the different eras of the Canadiens’ legends and looking at archival photos and other material.

He studied the players’ styles, their features – small nostrils on Richard and Beliveau, for instance, led to sculpting them with open mouths. He even measured the size of the stick each player used, and this information enabled Fortier to accurately depict the action pose on the sculpture. The Rocket has his elbows up in a “get out of the way, I’m coming through,” pose, while Morenz bears an intense demeanor, Béliveau is stately and Lafleur has his trademark flowing mane. Each of the players has a puck on the end of the stick, which, Fortier says, “is to show they are in control.”

Fortier completed his ambitious project in mid-October,and after the sculptures were cast at L’Atélier de Bronze,the finished products, weighing between 1,600 and 1,800 pounds, were unveiled on Centennial Plaza on Dec. 4. Throughout the sculpting process, Fortier said the Canadiens’organization afforded him full professional freedom. One day last summer, he received some favorable feedback from a surprise visitor – former Habs’ defensive standout Guy Lapointe, who stopped in at the studio as he was passing through Knowlton.

“When I was at the unveiling ceremony, Marlene Geoffrion, who is the daughter of Howie Morenz, told me I had captured her father just the way she remembered him,” remarks Fortier. After taking a look at the sculpture of his illustrious father, Maurice Richard Jr. told reporters he loved the work, especially because it showed another side of The Rocket’s game. Beliveau and Lafleur were effusive in their
praise, as were Canadiens’ owner George Gillett and president Pierre Boivin, who has a home in the Townships and wants to drop by Fortier’s studio.

“I’m so lucky,” Fortier humbly declares. “Some artists will put so much time into a solo exhibition, and even though it could be magnificent work, people might not come to the exhibition. In this case, it’s four sculptures and at least a million people a year are going to see it.” Marc André J Fortier may never have donned the bleublanc-rouge but in at least one respect he can lay claim to being part of the legacy of the Club de Hockey Canadien.

Bernie Geoffrion Was Born To Play, Sing, And Laugh. But Not To Coach


Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion is well-remembered for many things – His slaphot he worked on when he was nine years old at a time when slapshots weren’t invented yet; His nickname “Boom Boom”, which came about when a Montreal Star sportswriter named Charlie Boire asked Geoffrion if he could call him that after hearing the puck leave his stick and then boom against the boards; His boisterous and good-natured singing on trains and in dressing rooms which led to a few television appearances; His marriage to Marlene, daughter of Howie Morenz; His terrific Hall of Fame career playing right wing on the Canadiens, and teaming up with Doug Harvey at the point to create terror on the power play. With these two firing cannons, no wonder goalies like Chicago’s Glenn Hall would vomit before games;

And of course, the heart-wrenching retiring of his sweater, number five, on March 11, 2006, only hours after he had passed away from stomach cancer. His family stood on the ice, watching the sweater being raised to the rafters, and their tears weren’t the only tears. The Bell Centre was swept away with emotion, and so was I 3000 miles away in my living room.

Geoffrion was one of the greatest Habs ever. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t a great Habs coach.


Geoffrion had been promised the Canadiens coaching job after he retired by owner David Molson. Molson asked him to consider coaching Montreal’s farm team in Quebec for two seasons, then move up to the the Habs. It was all untrue. Molson simply wanted Geoffrion to move aside to make room for a youngster named Yvon Cournoyer. Geoffrion said later the coaching offer sounded good, but if he had known what was really going on, he would’ve stayed and made Cournoyer beat him out of a job fair and square. 0062

Geoffrion went up to Quebec and led the Aces to two first-place finishes, and was promptly fired. And Molson told him there was no room with the big club because Toe Blake wasn’t going anywhere. So he unretired himself and found himself playing for the New York Rangers and eventually coached there for half a season before calling it quits because of an ulcer acting up. Later on, he joined the Atlanta Flames and coached there for slightly more than two years.

And this is where the story of Geoffrion coaching the Habs begins.

When Scotty Bowman left Montreal to begin a new life in Buffalo, Montreal’s GM Irving Grundman picked up the phone and called Geoffrion. It was the offer Geoffrion had been waiting for for 15 years. But after only 30 games behind the bench, he called it quits. “I had three guys telling me what moves to make,” he explained. “Toe Blake, Claude Ruel and Irving Grundman. How can you coach like that?”

Geoffrion had other things to say too: “I’m sick and tired of them. Guys coming in at two or three in the morning, laughing and joking around. They’re not acting like professional athletes. I’m not going to stick around and let everyone in Montreal blame me for what’s happening.”

“(Pierre) Larouche walking through the airport, smoking a cigar, acting like we won the Stanley Cup when we’d lost a game. And I thought Savard would help me. But he’s more interested in his horses.”

But the players had their own thoughts: “He flunked out in New York,” replied Steve Shutt. “he flunked out in Atlanta. Why would he come here, where the fans are so demanding?” Another player said, “You’ve got 17,000 assistant coaches, and the fans are right behind you, win or tie.”

Larry Robinson admitted they came to came to camp out of condition and they knew, with Bowman gone, they wouldn’t be reprimanded for it because Geoffrion, as the new guy, was just trying to fit in. “Geoffrion didn’t want to push us,” said Bob Gainey, “but we needed it.”

“He was a lot more friendly than Scotty,” said Pierre Larouche, “and we took advantage. He just wasn’t made for the job.”

Geoffrion went back to Atlanta, a city he loved, to be with his kids and grandkids, make some funny Miller beer commercials, and to enjoy life. Claude Ruel replaced him behind the bench in Montreal, and the planet continued to spin on its axis as usual. 

 Bernie Geoffrion just wasn’t meant to coach. But he sure was meant to play. He was one of the greatest Habs ever. Number five with the big shot. The guy who loved to sing and laugh and keep his teammates loose. To coach in the NHL one probably has to be a bit of a rotten son of a bitch, and Geoffrion wasn’t that at all. He was simply just a great player. And fans said thank you for that when his sweater went up to the rafters.