Tag Archives: Maurice Richard

Habs, Petes, And Eaton’s

A day after the 1956-57 Canadiens played in Detroit, and two days before they would suit up in Toronto, they played an exhibition game against the Junior A  Petes at Peterborough’s brand new Memorial Centre.

Imagine an NHL team nowadays playing an exhibition game against a junior squad, and during the regular season to boot!

And if you scroll down, there’s a fine Eaton’s ad on the inside cover of the program.

cover

eatons

Habs Cancel Canucks

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After the incredibly emotional pregame ceremony that focused often on Elise Beliveau in the stands, I didn’t really care what happened during the game that followed.

That’s not true. I did care. And the Canadiens came through by pulling off a fine 3-1 win, led by the new and impressive Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Pacioretty line.

Although it was Tomas Plekanec converting a nice feed from Sven Andrighetto which won the thing.

Maybe once Jean gets settled in his new digs he can help sort out a few things about his beloved team below. Grab Toe and have a serious sit-down. Chat about the power play.

Again tonight, a now normal 0 for 5 with the man advantage.Eleven goals in 81 attempts if I’m reading it right. And they also gave up a shorthanded marker during one of their so-called power plays.

It might take more than Jean and Toe to figure it out. Might have to call in the Big Fellow for that one. Or at least Rocket, Doug, and Boom Boom.

But tonight is not a night to quibble. The boys halted a three-game losing streak. New lines were in place and it seemed like possible new chemistry could be in the works.

The Subbinator subbinated. Carey Price came up with a sparkling save in the first minute of play to keep his team from falling behind once again in the opening frame. Gally snapped one home in the second to give his team a rare 1-0 lead. And Max found the empty net with half a second left in the game.

They did it on a night in honor of Le Gros Bill, with his women there to see. It was good.

All they have to do now is beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Maybe by then Jean and Toe and the others will have had that little chat.

Jean Soiree

Our Jean

Jean

It was the mid-’80s and I was at the Forum offices to pick up a team-signed Bob Gainey stick that was waiting for me, and after getting it, I went down some stairs leading out but stopped at the bottom to wrap the stick in my coat to protect the autographs.

As I was wrapping it, the door above opened, and it was Jean Beliveau of all people. He saw what I was doing and he looked startled and he hesitated, because I’m sure he thought at first glance that it could’ve been a gun.

I picked up on his reaction, explained what I was doing, and he came down and took his pen out, ready to add his name to the stick. But I was so surprised, so brain-dead, that I just kept wrapping, and he put his pen back in his pocket and walked out the door and across the street into a restaurant.

I remember watching him as he walked across the street, and thinking that I’d just had an encounter with the great Jean Beliveau. But I had startled him, didn’t want his autograph, and blew a chance to have a beautiful and possibly lengthy chat.

Regrets, I’ve had a bunch. And this one’s right up there.

Born in Trois Rivieres and raised in Victoriaville, both relatively small cities fittingly midway between Montreal and Quebec where Jean gave his heart, soul, and staggering talent to both, first with the Citadelles and Aces in the provincial capital, and then as a beloved Montreal Canadien.

And in return, whether it was Quebec for an older generation, or the Canadiens for the rest of us, we cheered, admired, and embraced him.

We were proud of our Jean Beliveau, from his playing days through to the end. So lucky to have him.  Classy, friendly, polite, and dignified. One of the greatest ever, on and off the ice, and he was a Montreal Canadien. He was ours.

When the Rocket passed away in 2000, dark clouds hung over my head for weeks and probably months. And now it’s Jean. He was 83 years old and everyone has to go at some point, but of course it’s not easy.

I grew up watching him, beginning years before it became his turn to wear the captain’s ‘C’. I saw him play in the late-1950s at Maple Leaf Gardens with my dad, and throughout the 1960s at both the Gardens and Forum. I’m proud to be able to say that. He was a hero among heroes. A king of kings.

Jean, may you continue to lead and inspire in your new home, heaven. We’ll miss you so much.

 

Bridge Over Toronto Waters

Rocket

I guess it’s been decided that the future Champlain Bridge in Montreal won’t be named after Maurice Richard after all, which I respect but am disappointed about.

He was my hero when I was a young kid and he remains my hero now. No athlete has ever come close to the impact the Rocket had on me.

My friend Paul sent me a National Post article about how Toronto should name one of their bridges after the Rocket instead. Imagine.

It’s a fun piece and can be seen right here – A Rocket bridge in Toronto

The Perfect Bridge Name

To have a bridge named after Maurice Richard would be such a tremendous way of honoring the great man who died in 2000, and I sure hope it happens. What a thing it would be for his family.

I’d be proud to drive over the Maurice Richard Bridge.

This, from CTV News:

“Meanwhile there is no guarantee that the new bridge will keep the Champlain name.

“Federal Transportation Minister Denis Lebel said that in conversations the name that keeps coming up is Maurice Richard, the famous Montreal Canadiens’ hockey player, however Lebel would not commit to any name.”

Flattened Rink

Orillia

The old Orillia rink, where I put on my first team sweater when I was about six years old, is suddenly an empty lot. So is my old high school but I’m not missing that.

I always looked for number 9 because it was the Rocket’s. Often in those first few years I’d get it. Survival of the quickest to the sweater heap. And maybe number 9 was more important to me than to the others.

A rink where Ricky Ley, who became a star defenceman in the NHL and WHA, started life as a goalie and was rarely scored upon because he simply laid down across the goal and no one could raise the puck over him.

Where much of  my childhood and adolescent was centered around, and where the old guy who pulled the barrel of water on wheels around to flood it always had a cigarette in his mouth.

When I was a kid having my dad tie my laces, the rink was actually quite new, the same age as me, but it seemed old, with smells I smell to this day. Great smells. Cigars, sweaty sweaters. Distinct smells. It had only been a handful of years but it wasn’t new, not by a long shot.

The demolition company charged $97,000 to level the old barn, which I thought was cheap. It had become unsafe, the roof was the problem, and I guess it’s never good to sit in an arena watching a game and hoping the roof doesn’t fall on your head.

Developers had stayed away from $649,000 asking price because of the added cost of demolishing. But it was smack dab in the heart of Orillia where $96,000 tacked onto the land price shouldn’t be all that outlandish. I don’t know. Is it?

They turned the Montreal Forum into a cinema, coffee shop, liquor store and bank mall. Now I lose my second rink and it only cost $97,000.

It’s where my winters were spent. Where I went public skating. Where I took a puck in the mouth which broke two teeth, when I was sitting in the stands.

Where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget all-star teams, and where it was a badge of honor to get lots of concussions, long before we knew what a bummer a concussion could actually be.

Hey! I’m going to blame all my teenage and adult poor decisions on my concussions suffered at the old rink when I was kid! This is the best excuse I’ve ever come up with!

Other Orillia and rink stories are in Categories under “Orillia” and include, among others – Psst, Wanna Buy An Arena? and Old Orillia Rink.

 

The Sunday Book

Happy Father’s Day to fathers. Hope your kids phone you today. Or at least email you. Anything really.

Also hope you don’t mind if I make this my Sunday post. More pages from my old scrapbook. I’m in Port Hope at the moment.

The huge face of the Rocket you see 5 pictures down is from an old Vitalis advertising sign in the barbershop window in Orillia which the barber gave to me. It’s made of thick cardboard and because of its thickness, it was the beginning of the pages starting to come apart.

More Of The Book

From time to time lately I’ve been showing pages from my old Habs scrapbook. Here’s more.

And at the risk of sounding like a broken record MP3, just click on the photos to make ‘em bigger.

Guy Should Have A Blog

Guy Lafleur should have a blog. Imagine the insights we’d get!

Guy could tell us all about his troubles with Jacques Lemaire, about why the team hasn’t won the Cup since 1993, why Rejean Houle didn’t get enough in return for Patrick Roy, why Steve Shutt was hard on rookies, what he thinks Michel Therrien is doing wrong, why sometimes there’s not enough foam on the Bell Centre beer. All kinds of stuff.

Imagine the readership he’d get. We’d rush to open his blog to see what he says. It might be the most fascinating blog in the history of blogs.

“You can’t keep guys like Vanek and Pacioretty on the team,” Lafleur now says. “They should stay home if they’re not willing to pay the price. Your team won’t win with players like that who disappear under adversity.”

Guy would get a million hits for that story alone. Advertisers would flock to him. He’d be the king of bloggers.

Lafleur was basically talking about game six of the Rangers series that ended the Habs year. New York threw a blanket over the Canadiens and that was that.

The problem, I think, is that some of the true greats like Lafleur sometimes expect others to step it up in superstar fashion, and I guess lately he’s been stewing about the team, Max and Vanek in particular, not pulling out all the stops in that final game.

Max, however, had scored the winning goal in both the Tampa and Boston series which eliminated those teams, so it wasn’t like he was going through the motions. He’s enjoyed some fine moments. But Guy was focused mostly on game six of the Rangers series when all the boys, not just Max, were stuck in mud.

Vanek, I still don’t know. Guy might have a point there. The guy had helped kickstart the team into another level when he joined them, but was definitely a disappointment in the postseason, not just game six but throughout.

But he’s probably gone anyway so it doesn’t matter what Guy says about it.

Some guys think out loud like Guy, others don’t. Bobby Orr’s teammates in Boston said that if they weren’t playing well in big games, they’d look over at Orr in the dressing room and he’d be glaring at certain guys. No words, just two eyes. If Orr was glaring at you, it wasn’t good.

Lafleur’s very much like Maurice Richard in some ways. Rocket sometimes couldn’t contain himself either, and after too much criticism in his ghost-written newspaper column, sometimes about other players and teams but particularly about league prez Clarence Campbell, Rocket was told to forget the column or else.

But no one could tell Guy to forget his blog. He could carry about things and Gary Bettman or Geoff Molson couldn’t say a thing.

C’mon Guy, start your blog. Get it all out, right or wrong, and make some serious coin doing it.