Tag Archives: Rejean Houle

Patrick Had It Planned?

A different angle to the Patrick Roy saga has come to light, thanks to a new CBC interview with former goaltender Mike Vernon.

I first listened to this after Robert Lefebvre has put it up on Facebook, and it really puts a new slant on the night of Dec. 2, 1995 when Patrick let in nine goals against the visiting Red Wings.

Patrick was eventually pulled, he skated to the bench, stormed by coach Mario Tremblay, and told Habs prez Ronald Corey that he’d never play another game for the Canadiens. He was traded to Colorado shortly after.

Everyone blamed Tremblay (and GM Rejean Houle) for sabotaging the goalie, for humiliating him by leaving him in net for far too long. Saint Patrick had been humiliated and not treated with the proper respect. It just wasn’t right.

And then we have the Mike Vernon interview.

For the first time, this has come out. Vernon, who was playing goal for Detroit, says he was sitting in a coffee shop earlier in the day when Patrick, whom he didn’t really know, walked in, sat beside him, and began complaining about the pressure and stress of playing in Montreal. He explained how difficult it was because of the media, fans, and such, and Vernon’s reply was to to tell Patrick that he needed to get out of there. He needed to get traded.

That night, Patrick went out, allowed nine goals, and forced the trade.

It looks like it was his own doing. It seems he may have very well let shots go in that he normally would have stopped. All part of the master plan to get out of Montreal.

The radio interview with Vernon can be heard here Mike Vernon talks about Patrick with the Patrick part somewhere around the eight minute mark.

This is huge news. Patrick tanked to force a trade.



Habs And Leafs

Just like the old days. Habs and Leafs on a Wednesday night. I grew up with this type of thing. But back then, the Leafs were almost good.

Toronto’s in 7th place in the East with 24 points, which is ridiculous. It’s almost March and they’re sort of still in it. Must have something to do with the short season.

Starting tonight, the Leafs begin their annual spring collapse. It’s the way of the world.

Random Notes;

Michael Ryder’s number will be 73, which means Brendan Gallagher, because he’s a snot-nosed rookie, forfeits it and takes on number 11. Previous Habs number 11 guys include, of course, the legendary Scott Gomez, along with Saku Koivu, Kirk Muller, Ryan Walter, Yvon Lambert, Marc Tardif, Rejean Houle and so on, all the way down to Clayton Frechette during the 1912-13 season.

Approximately 73 Habs in all have owned number 11, which is more than any other.

Number 11’s a nice low number and I feel Gally’s lucky to have it. Same with Brandon Prust with number 8. Considering numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 are all hanging from the rafters.



24CH Shows Wonderful Moments

I was fascinated by the first episode of 24CH, and I need more. And more are coming, I just don’t know when yet.

To hear the speeches from Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien to the boys. To give Dr. Mulder a mulligan by Therrien for walking on the crest on the floor, but told to never do it again; to see an incredibly serious Alex Galchenyuk told by Bergevin and Therrien that he’d made the team.

To see 17,000 Habs fans, who stood in the bitter cold before the free scrimmage at the Bell Centre, and as many came in a certain entrance, there was the entire team was standing in a line to greet them, along with Guy Lafleur, Rejean Houle, and Henri Richard, plus, I’m sure, many others I didn’t see.

To hear Geoff Molson tell us he’d had a lot of time to think about and talk to others about what went wrong last year, and to hear the coach and the general manager say that this year will not be like last year, that there will be no more excuses, that in a shortened season there will be surprises, and it’s the team’s job to be one of those surprises.

I’m all choked up. I could watch about four hours of this stuff.

Can’t wait for the next one.

Pocket Just Happened To Be There

I finally was able to see last weeks’s episode of Canadian Pickers that Tammy, the server/bartender at TC’s pub, told me about as she put down a nice cold Labatts and stayed and chatted for a bit. (I’m through with Molson’s until things change with the hockey team).

And with Tammy describing this television show she’d seen earlier in the day, I found myself much more than curious, especially when Tammy couldn’t remember the player’s name. Just some old guy, she said. Some old hockey player’s tables.

Who could it be, I wondered. Toe Blake? Butch Bouchard? Maurice Richard? Henri Richard? Yvan Cournoyer? All guys who had pubs, and there are others too. So I decided to look for this episode of Canadian Pickers, and lo and behold, they showed it again later in the week.

Pickers are people who roam around the countryside looking for stuff to sell to antique stores and the like. They’re the ones who find all those old gasoline signs and vintage bicycles and milk cans you come across at stores and flea markets. If you were ever wondering how antique stores stock their shelves, it’s the work of pickers, a job I wouldn’t mind doing, although my problem would be that I wouldn’t want to part with anything, therefore negating the whole idea of being a picker.

The two bubbly and slightly over-the-top pickers on the show happened to find themselves in Montreal, Hudson, Hawkesbury, Lachute, and surrounding territories, and not only did they come across a nice hoard of old La Presse hockey photos from the thirties, and several other old goodies, but were digging through piles of junk in a turn-of-the-century hotel when they discovered nine old tavern tables. The owner said they came out of Henri Richard’s tavern (closed in 1986), and although there was no proof they were the Pocket’s, the pickers scooped them up for a few hundred bucks for the lot of them.

It gets a bit scripted, though. The pickers, back in Montreal, decided to try and find out if the tables were actually from Henri’s place or not, because if not, they’d just bought themselves some old tables they might be lucky to get $50 for, and eventually they found themselves in a little pub on a sidestreet in Montreal, of which the name escapes me. In talking to the owner, the guys told him they had these tables and wanted to know his opinion on if they were the real thing or not, and the owner simply told them to ask Henri Richard himself, WHO JUST HAPPENED to be sitting at a table enjoying a Molsons with Rejean Houle. JUST HAPPENED. Right.

Henri looked at the tables, said they were indeed from his pub, and he and Houle signed the top of them and invited the guys to sit down and have a beer with them. Eleven Stanley Cups, they gushed at Henri, and the fine gentleman said, for probably about the eight thousandth time over the years, that he was just in the right place at the right time.

I wish I would have been there. I would’ve liked to have heard their thoughts on the poor excuse for a team we have this year.

I also found an auction site that is selling two of these tables, with the autographed tops, for $600 each.

My wife and I, along with Mike Williamson and Diana, had dinner at Henri Richard’s tavern in the late 1970’s, and for the life of me I don’t remember tavern tables. It was more of a restaurant I thought, although maybe a beverage room was located in another part of the building. Or maybe I’d had a few too many Molson’s.



Please, No Repeat Of The Patrick Roy Trade

Off-season Habs news hasn’t been earthshaking so far, but do you get the feeling the juicy stuff is just around the corner?

Since the Canadiens gave it the good old college try but were disposed of at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers, the news we’ve been given so far has been the firing of six scouts within the organization; Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher first having talks with the Columbus Blue Jackets and later signing on as coach in Tampa; the announcement of the Canadiens playing the Calgary Flames at McMahon Stadium in Calgary in the February 20th Heritage Classic; Kyle Klubertanz signing with the club; and the team buying out the remaining year of Georges Laraque’s contract.

Certainly the best is yet to come. Restricted and unrestricted free agents will raise their heads, and as we all know, Pierre Gauthier will soon make the call on the Kostitsyn brothers, Tomas Plekanec, and last but not least, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak.

We don’t know Gauthier’s intentions, and I think several million words have already been written speculating on who’s going and who’s staying. If Plekanec resigns with the club, which I’m sure he will, he’d better have a much-improved playoff next year. He was way too quiet against the Flyers, we needed him, and he didn’t deliver.

And the goalie thing is a dilemna – keep one, keep both, keep who?

If the team decides to let one of the goalies go elsewhere, could we please have a really good player in return? The suspense is already killing us with this Price/Halak thing, and if one of these go and we get a bum or two in return, we’re gonna be pissed.

Remember when Patrick Roy was sent to Colorado after the “Roygate Affair?” We knew he was gone, heck, he said he was gone, we were expecting a big name, maybe a package that included Adam Foote or Adam Deadmarsh or the likes. Instead, for Patrick Roy and captain Mike Keane, we got Jocelyn Thibault to tend nets for us, along with Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko.

Montreal GM Rejean Houle was an extremely generous and giving fellow in his dealings with the Avs. I was very upset with Reggie for not holding out for more. Maybe I still am. 

We lost Patrick Roy and a born leader in Mike Keane for a bunch of hacks. Avalanche management must have thought they won the lottery.

Such a terrible trade. Thibault came to us with a resume of 10 games in Colorado and two partial seasons before that with the Quebec Nordiques. We got a journeyman goaltender to replace future Hall of Famer Roy. Kovalenko lasted just one year in Montreal before he was gone, but Rucinsky salvaged it somewhat, playing seven seasons with the Habs and had several 20-plus goal seasons there.

To make matters worse, Roy and Keane helped lead the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup that first year, and Roy drank from the Cup again in 2001.

But this year, Pierre Gauthier’s gonna put together a winner for us, however he decides to do it. I have faith. THERE WILL BE NO BUMS COMING TO MONTREAL.

Presently, though, it’s the calm before the storm. Quiet times.

From Montreal Mystique; A Fireside Chat With Rejean Houle

Montreal Mystique brings us a fascinating and lively audio interview with ex-Hab Rejean Houle. Houle talks about his first coach in the WHA – Jacques Plante, the WHA in general, Marc Tardif (“the best player in the league next to Bobby Hull”), the great Habs teams of the 1970’s, Patrick Roy, today’s team, and lots of other delicious little morsels.

You can listen to this delightful piece right here.

Pointu Was Great (And Creative) On And Off The Ice

0075The Globe and Mail called Ken Dryden’s book, 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 Guy Lapointe, affectionately know as “Pointu”.  Dryden says in the early to mid-1970’s, except for Bobby Orr, Lapointe was the best defenceman in the NHL.


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.

Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised

A guest writer delves into the ‘Patrick Roy’s sweater being retired’ saga. 


Take it away, Jim.


“Pro sports are sexy for a variety of reasons, but perhaps their most attractive quality is that they are so readily apprehended. Things are pretty straightforward, excluding the usual geeky obsession with stats – God bless The Schwab, a brilliant trivia geek, but frankly I have to agree with Noam Chomsky here when he says in effect that the brains of such people could be put to much better use.


A simple concept that I’m interested in touching on here is that of the relationship between team and player and championships. In all team sports, WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure not only of the team but of the individual player. Aguably, winning the Stanley Cup is the most demanding, most arduous, most difficult championship to capture, and being a member of a Stanley Cup championship team is the crown glory of any player. This simple fact is born out by the players themselves who to a man agree that they would trade any number of individual achievements, any amount of accolades just to win one cup – to my knowledge, no player has yet declared they preferred being a star to winning a cup.


In this respect, Lanny McDonald and Dave Andreychuk spring immediately to mind.


Are individual stats relevant?


Of course they are. For example, Marcel Dionne and Mike Gartner were great players and derserved to be in the Hall of Fame even though they did not win any cups. Conversely, many players such as Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle, who won several cups with the Habs, do not, in my mind, belong in the Hall.


In other words, membership in the Hall is very much a function of individual accomplishments in the game, although inductees who have won cups are, I believe, a cut above those who did not – the single most significant yardstick for measuring the greatness of a player is how many cups he has won. Period.


However, being inducted into the Hall is not the same as having one’s sweater retired by le Canadien. The Habs are not only the greatest team of all time, they are one of the greatest sports teams of all time. What this means is quite simply that the standards and expectations that apply to other teams and their players are not applicable to the Habs.


My point re Roy? Winning a mere two cups hardly qualifies Patrick Roy to be placed in the company of greats such as Beliveau, the Richards, Cournoyer, Plante, Lafleur, – who each has great stats as well as multiple cups. Note that they are all Hall Of Famers, unlike Houle and Tremblay. And the argument that Roy single-handedly won the two cups and therefore merits special treatment not only flies in the face of the win-as-a-team/lose-as-a-team maxim but it is insulting to the great players on those cup teams – look ’em up!


It’s a cliche, which doesn’t mean it isn’t so, to say that teams only go as deep into the playoffs as their goalies take them. Of course goalies are crucial components on any cup-winning team, but this sure doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all cup-winning goalies should have their sweaters retired. But if we assume that Roy did literally win the cup by himself, then, applying the same logic, it’s reasonable to to assume that he therefore lost many more cups than he won. Hey, isn’t Price getting heat for ‘losing’ to the Flyers? Never mind the goalposts and poor shooting of the rest of the team. Hmmm, makes Roy a big choker rather than a big hero, n’est-ce pas?


Put him in the Hall, sure. Roy was a good goalie and he did have an impact on the game. But he definitely did NOT accomplish enough as a Canadien to warrant having his sweater retired. It’s a cynical marketing play that diverts attention from the fact that we have not won a cup in 15 years! And please, spare me the bs about the modern game and parity.  The Wings have won 3 in 11 years and could easily have won more and we’re supposed to be happy to make the playoffs. What a shameful betrayal of all the great Hab players and builders who triumphed regardless of the era in which they played. Hell, mug shots of Sammy Pollock and Scotty Bowman belong up there, not Roy’s sweater.


In Habland, cups first and persoanl stats a distant second – gotta luv Gainey and Harvey and Robinson and Savard, eh? And yes, the criteria that qualify a player of Hall of Fame induction do apply. As well, intangible considerations other than cup wins are also relevant.: leadership (suck it up, dig down, and play even better), charisma (Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur), grit and determination (not a quitter among the sweaters up there now), loyalty (Roy? hmm..), et al.


Re Morenz, okay, I’ll be arbitrary here and say 3 cups is the minimum necessary to qualify to even be considered for having one’s sweater retired. I’ll also point out that Morenz, aka the Statford Streak, was called the Babe Ruth of hockey and as such he transcended the sport in much the same way Ruth did baseball, something that Patrick can not lay claim to. Morenz was a star whose brilliance far exceeded that of Roy. Also, unlike Roy, Morenz did not quit the Habs in the throes of a hissy fit over a chilish spat with a patently hostile and incompetent coach who would have clearly been turfed in favour of Roy. Morenz was a true Hab who died well before his time from an injury sustained while wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge.


PS  No player will ever publicy say that other players do not deserve whatever honours team and league choose to bestow on them.