Tag Archives: Maurice Richard

A Few Good Jobs

1. Retired Famous Race Horse. You were Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and the toast of the town. You retired on top of the world and were given a fancy stable and told to get out into the field and make love to the finest fillies out there. Whenever you felt like it. Every day.

2. Guy Who Crashes Cymbals in a Symphony Orchestra. You’re in Carnegie Hall, and the horns and violins are working their way up to big crescendo. The crowd is enthralled, and then, at the precise moment, you crash your cymbals.
That’s it I think. Your timing has to be on. And for this you get to wear an expensive tuxedo, make lots of money, and probably even sign a few programs! Or maybe there’s more to it than I know.

3. Red Fisher. Play poker with the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion on trains to Chicago, Boston, and the rest. Go for a cold one after the game with Lafleur, Savard, and Robinson, and talk shop. Cover the Montreal Canadiens and become just one of the boys for nearly fifty years.

4. George Martin. He’d put on his cardigan sweater, jump into a limo to take him to studios like Abbey Road, and help the Beatles weave their magic. He was there almost from the start, and he also made zillions doing it.

5. Playboy photographer.

6. Phil Pritchard. Phil’s job is to babysit the Stanley Cup, 12 months a year. He takes it all over North America and Europe so players from the winning team can show it off where they live. He brings it out on to the ice with his white gloves on when a team wins it in the final game. He’s practically married to it, and it never talks back.

7. Habs stick boy (maybe not now but whatever).

A Dow Wouldn’t Go Good Now

Actually, after a 6-0 loss to the Leafs,  maybe a Dow laced with cobalt sulfate might go good now.

The Rocket wasn’t just a hockey player, as he once said of himself. He was also a beer rep, doing public relations work for Dow Breweries, which was owned by Carling-O’Keefe when Rocket was involved. I wonder how Molson felt about that.

Dow would eventually become owned by Molson in the mid-sixties, but closed shop after several dozen people who had been drinking at least 24 Dows a day suddenly died from heart failure. It was found that Dow contained cobalt sulfate, which apparently isn’t good for your health.

You’d think that anyone who drinks 24 beers a day, regardless of the brand, might suffer heart failure at some point. But I’m no doctor so I can’t be sure.

 

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.

 

12-bouch-rest-group

Thanks Rocket

On March 11, 1996, following a game between Dallas and Montreal, the Canadiens and fans said goodbye to the Montreal Forum. The lights were dimmed, and Montreal Canadien captains from over the years – Emile Bouchard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Pierre Turgeon, and of course, number nine, Maurice Richard – all walked onto the Forum ice.

A torch was lit and passed to Butch Bouchard, who then passed it to the Rocket, and the emotional fans in the beautiful old building, the wondrous Forum, erupted in an explosion of cheers, tears, and memories to the greatest Hab ever.

Fans weren’t only saying goodbye to the old building, they were also saying thank you to the Rocket, who had done so much to create the mystique that is the Montreal Canadiens, a man whose deeds, fire, passion, and humility continues to make all Montreal fans, young and old, proud of the team, and a man the emotional Quebec Habs fans embraced and clung to through rocky political and cultural times in the province.

The Rocket was my boyhood hero and remains my hero today. I met him once, but that’s a story for another day.

The 1996 standing ovation left most in tears. And Rocket wasn’t even sure why there such an outpouring of emotion. Because, as he said, “I’m just a hockey player.”

 

Rocket’s Banquet Speech

You can’t go wrong with a good Rocket Richard story.

After the Rocket retired in 1960, he went on the banquet circuit and was in Boston one night for a B’nai B’rith dinner. When it was his turn to speak he got up and said, “I’m happy to be back in Boston. I came here regularly in my 18 years as a player. We beat the Bruins eight or nine times in the playoffs.  We always won. Guess that’s why I like it here so much.”

Then he sat down.

Fiery Reardon – Player and Exec

Two short stories about Ken Reardon – one good, one bad.

Ken Reardon was  a rough, tough, and often fiery defenceman for the Canadiens in the 1940s, who, after retirement, became a high- level executive for the Habs.

From the time Reardon joined Montreal in 1940, his life could be told in three chapters. His rugged, all-star play on the ice; his enlisting in the Canadian Army during World War 11 after only two years with the Habs, and being a main cog on the army hockey team; and his tenure as executive with the Habs, where he worked as assistant to Frank Selke. All in all, he’d been a teammate, friend, and ultimately the boss of Maurice Richard and Toe Blake.

A story I like about Reardon occurred when Reardon was still a young player with Montreal, and he had this thing about looking good. One day he was getting a haircut prior to a practice, and was late getting to the Forum. He told the barber to be quick so the barber charged him only thirty-five cents instead of the regular fifty cents because it was a quick job. At the Forum, the door to the dressing room was locked so he had to knock, and coach Dick Irvin answered.  The young defenceman knew he was busted so he tried to make light of it. “I just got a haircut for thirty-five cents,” said Reardon. “No you didn’t,” replied Irvin. “You just got a haircut for twenty-five dollars and thirty-five cents.”

A story I don’t like involves Reardon and Ralph Backstrom.

The following was told by Backstrom to Susan Foster, and was included in her fascinating book, The Power of Two. Here, I’m paraphrasing.

 

When Ralph was a 17-year old hockey phenom in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, the Canadiens sent Reardon to the Backstrom home in Northern Ontario in the hopes of signing the kid. At the Backstrom kitchen table, Reardon sat with Ralph and Ralph’s parents and he placed five $100 bills on the table which would be the Backstrom’s to keep if Ralph signed on the dotted line.

Ralph told Susan that at that time, neither he or his parents had never seen even one $100 bill, let alone five, and Ralph signed the paper, making him part of the Canadiens family.

As Reardon was leaving, he reached into his pocket and pulled out another five $100 bills, waved them in Ralph’s face, and told him he’d been authorized to pay twice as much for Ralph’s signature if need be. Then he put the 500 bucks back in his pocket.

Bob’s Rocket Record. Just Got One!

A couple of years ago I wrote about a 1955 recording (on 78 RPM) by Bob Hill and his Canadian Country Boys called ‘Saga of Rocket Richard’, which was about the infamous Richard Riot on St. Patrick’s Day of that year.

My story is here if you want – Bob Hill’s Rocket Riot Tune

It’s hard to find, this old disc, but I got one just the other day! First an old pedal car, and then the record, all within a week. I’m on a roll.

Here’s my new/old record!

 

 

Canadiens Say Goodbye

That’s it for the Habs after falling to the Rangers 3-1 in game six, and I’d say I’ll now start getting excited about the Blue Jays’ season, except they’re 4 and 12 and about to lose another as I write.

I wish the Expos would come back.

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

Still no Stanley Cup since 1993. Will it happen again soon? Will it happen in my lifetime or yours?

I don’t have favourite players on my team. That time is long gone. When I was a kid, the Rocket was my hero. And Beliveau and Harvey and I guess, every player on the team. As a guy in my twenties, I was happy about Lafleur and Dryden and Robinson.

But it’s only about the crest now. I liked Subban for example, but it didn’t bother me one bit when he was traded because  I thought Shea Weber was an upgrade in many ways. I still do.

It’s about the team only. Players can come and go and I won’t bat an eyelash.

A few days ago I saw a film clip of Andrei Markov coming out of a NY hotel (or maybe Madison Square Garden) and a kid, the only person in site, approached him for an autograph. Markov shook his head and casually walked across the street.

Players can say no all they want to adults, I understand and accept that. But there’s no excuse to say no to a kid.

No excuse. It would’ve taken all of about four seconds to sign the kid’s piece of paper.

And so, I finish off a season of game reports complaining about Andrei Markov.

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

Thanks to everyone who read my posts this season. I hope you liked some of them.  And I also truly appreciate anyone who took the time to sometimes comment.

We thought the team had a decent chance this year to make a serious dent.

But without naming names, they let us down.

 

 

 

 

Canadiens Nail Leafs

A sweet pass from Tomas Plekanec to Andrew Shaw in overtime, and the Habs skate off with a 3-2 win in Toronto, thus ending Leaf fans and the HNIC crew’s dream of their beloved team crawling within two points of the boys from Quebec.

If only they could’ve won, sighed Leaf fans as they left bars or turned off the lights at home and tried to sleep, and the HNIC crew wrapped things up at the rink and sadly shook their heads and looked broken.

It was a back and forth game, one that had extra purpose considering the standings and the built-in rivalry, and for a change, one that probably kept many fans on the edge of their chairs and couches throughout.

Of course I don’t know for sure about the edge of chairs and couches. I’m only guessing.

A fast-paced affair which could’ve gone either way, and I could say that folks got their money’s worth at the ACC, except a bunch of lower seats probably went for a grand or so, so maybe the people sitting there didn’t exactly.

Depends on what a grand means to them I guess.

But it went Montreal’s way for a change, they keep their distance from a bunch of pretenders, including the Torontonians, after two sharpshooters and one Shaw raked the Leafs into the ditch.

A struggling team gets it done against a good young Toronto team that gets TV announcers’ libidos doing the watusi.

The Leafs would open the scoring in the first period when Habs rearguard Nikita Nesterov not only had the puck go in off him, but played his man in front so softly it was like he was up against Betty White.

Greg Pateryn sat while Nesterov dressed. Next game, in New Jersey on Monday, maybe that’ll change. Softness isn’t cool, unless it’s toilet paper and a few other things, like women.

In the second frame, with the man advantage, Max would bury a beauty pass from Alex Galchenyuk, and nine minutes later, Galchenyuk would bulge the twine with a great shot that gave the boys a 2-1 lead.

In the third, again with poor defensive coverage (this time by Alexei Emelin), Leafs super-rookie Auston Mathews would tie things and send it into overtime.

And that’s where Pleks and Shaw worked their magic.

This final photo shows the Rocket scoring his final goal, his 626th, on April 12, 1960 during the Stanley Cup Finals against the Leafs. I wrote to a Toronto paper after it happened, asking if they’d send me a photo, and they did.

Licked In Beantown


Done years back, when I didn’t know how to photoshop. I still don’t. It took a lot of clipping heads from gossip magazines, and not that it fits in this case, but I don’t have one like it for the Habs. I should.

So many great things to see in Montreal’s 4-0 loss to the Bruins in Boston.

There was a fine fight in the opening minute that saw Andrew Shaw deck Torey Krug with a solid right. This coming after Krug clocked Shaw on Dec. 12th, which resulted in our often brain-dead penalty taker being concussed for 15 games.

And I enjoyed referee Wes McCauley’s dramatic announcement of the fighting penalties with his mic on.

That’s about it. Everything else sucked, including this recap.

It also sucked to see happy Bruins fans. It’s just so much more heartwarming when these people look like they’re ready to jump off the John Hancock Tower.

Below, pretend it’s Shaw and Krug.

If you’re keeping track, that’s six losses in seven February games for the Canadiens. Points are slip slidin’ away. On far too many nights the gang has less than mediocre, and they’re causing me to rethink my list of passions.

My passions? Making my nose hairs look nice has jumped ahead. Teeth flossing is closing in fast. Sophia Loren and Sofia Vergara were already up there.

Carey Price allowed another four goals. It’s always either three or four goals a night now for our star goalie. Al Montoya is no worse, and he’s terrible.

Now the boys have five days off.

Michel Therrien? Maybe much more than that.

Random Notes:

After the boys’ five-day holiday where they’ll sleep in the basement and called names when they go out, they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, which is a 2:00 puck drop (or 11 where I live).

Nathan Beaulieu, who seems to be regressing instead of progressing, was called for slashing Zdeno Chara, which was a polite way of saying he rammed his stick up into Chara’s family jewels.

Chara scored a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 in the second period, and if you see the replay, enjoy watching Beaulieu take a nice lazy skate behind as the big fellow closed in.

The Bruins made it 3-0 on the power play, and Beaulieu should’ve been benched for the final frame.