Tag Archives: Pierre Larouche

We’ll Take Fifty Please

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I was reading Le Journal de Montreal the other day, or trying to read it. It helps me learn a bit of French. I find the cartoons work well.

In Saturday’s paper was this drawing which I like, and which happens to have a Stephane Richer poster on the wall.

Stephane Richer scored fifty goals for the Canadiens twice – 50 in ’87-88, and then 51 in ’89-90.

It’s been twenty-four years since Montreal had a fifty-goal scorer. Twenty-four years since we had someone who knew how to light the lamp on a regular basis.

We’re not even close to having a guy who puts terror in the hearts, eyes, and groins of opposing defencemen and goalies.

The opposition isn’t the least bit uptight now from our guys who jump over the boards, except for P.K. Subban who sends missiles from the blueline. The team is small, is 29th of 30 teams when it comes to regular-strength goals, and our leading point-getter, P.K. isn’t even a forward and is 64th in the league with 36 points.

Our top goal-scorer, Max Pacioretty, has 21 which isn’t bad, but he won’t come close to fifty. Tomas Plekanec, next in line, has 16 and may or may not reach 25.

We have two superstars in our midst – Subban and Carey Price, who’s a goalie. Although Price has two assists, which ties him with Douglas Murray and Ryan White.

I want a guy at the top, or near the top, in scoring. A guy fans in other rinks buy tickets to see.

He’d be so good, even CBC announcers would say nice things about him.

Fans in the seats would point him out to their sons and daughters. Look, they’d say, there’s Gaston LeBois. He’s the best.

Instead, we have guys who go games without a shot on net. They can’t find the back of the net but they always manage to find their pay cheques.

This isn’t THE Montreal Canadiens. Not even close. The is the Montreal Journal de Montrealers. Featuring the women from the fashion and society pages.

We need a big scorer, and I know it’s easier said than done. But I could care less. We need one. End of story.

Could it be Alex Galchenyuk? Maybe. He’s just turned 20 years old, and we won’t really know what we have in him for a few more years.

And if it’s not him, how many more years before one comes along? Twenty? Forty?

Here’s the Habs who managed to light the lamp 50 or more times:

Stephane Richer – 51 – 1989-90
– 50 – 1987-88
Guy Lafleur – 50 – 1979-80
– 52 – 1978-79
– 60 – 1977-78
– 56 – 1976-77
– 56 -1975 76
-53 – 1974-75
Pierre Larouche – 50 -1979-80
Steve Shutt – 60 – 1976-77
Bernard Geoffrion – 50 – 1960-61
Maurice Richard – 50 – 1944-45

Gaston LeBois – 61 – 2029-30

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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Another From The Old Trunk

I was going through an old program I have, from an Ottawa ’67s game I was at back in 1976, and I found my ticket stub inside! Such a bonus!

Here you’ll see Doug Wilson, general manager of the San Jose Sharks, when he looked like a white Jimi Hendrix. You can see Bruce Boudreau, now coaching the Anaheim Ducks, who had won the scoring championship the previous year, along with a bunch of guys who would also make the NHL, including Habs Doug Jarvis and Mark Napier.

And no, the picture of six Ottawa players isn’t a “Wanted” poster at the cop shop.

Peter Lee, on the cover and also in that one particular photo, would score 81 goals in this ’75-’76 season and was chosen by the Habs 12th overall. He’d go on to play for the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, but before he would ever wear the CH, he and Canadiens Peter Mahovlich were traded to Pittsburgh for Pierre Larouche.

Also included – Boudreau accepting the Memorial Cup, and Bobby Orr telling us about Yardley Black Label.

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Boudreau

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One Last Extra, Extra – A Great Year -1978

I’ll bet you’re tired of this. Well, don’t fret, this is the final installment of “Extra, Extra, Read All About It.”

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This final chapter looks at the great Habs Cup win in 1978, which was a lovely time indeed if you were a fan of the bleu, blanc, et rouge.

Serge Savard, after his team had had sailed to their third straight championship in 1978, lit a big cigar and reflected. “It’s something pretty special to be a Montreal Canadien, you know. We want to keep that role and the good things that go with it. But we have to work to do it because of those kids.”

And what kids were Savard talking about? Kids who played a large role in the winning of this Cup, youngsters like Pierre Mondou, 22, who assisted on two big goals in the final game a 4-1 win over Boston. It would be Mario Tremblay, 21, who didn’t play in the final until the fourth game, and scored twice. And it would be other young fellows like Brian Engblom, Gilles Lupien, Rick Chartraw, Rod Schutt, Mike Polich, Pat Hughes, and Pierre Larouche. 

And seeing these young guys play their hearts out was the motivation for the team to not rest on their laurels, not stand still, and not pat themselves on the back. There was no complacency on this team.

Scotty Bowman spoke about it afterwards during the celebration. “Having the extra guys who could play for just about any NHL club really helps in the motivation department,” said the coach. “We only have one player (Larouche, obtained in a trade with Pittsburgh) who ever played for another team.”

“Our farm system produces kids who want to play for the big club – and the guys with the big-league jobs know it. The kids are hungry, they have their agents pushing them and it makes a healthy situation.”

Larry Robinson won the Conn Smythe in this 1978 playoff year, his second in three years, (the other being in 1976), and he was awarded a brand new Ford Thunderbird from Sport Magazine for his efforts. “It’s an honour, of course,” said Robinson, “but the key to this team’s success is that it’s a real team and what one guy does is no more important than the contribution of another player.”

Montreal in these playoffs first met the Detroit Red Wings, eliminating the Wings four games to one. The Habs then swept the Leafs four straight before taking out the Bruins in the final, four games to two.

They would win one more Cup the following year before things eventually began to unravel.

Some final few words about Larry Robinson winning the Conn Smythe goes to Don Cherry (coach of the Bruins). “He deserves it,” said Cherry. “There’s nothing he can’t do. There were many four skaters on four situations in this series and at those times there was no stopping him.” 

Thanks for reading this series. Now I can hardly wait to write about our next Stanley Cup, happening next spring.

 

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

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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.

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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.