Tag Archives: Rocket

Your Basic Rocket Contract

Below, the Rocket’s contract for the 1956-57 season, drawn up on a 1954 Northern Electric calendar page, for the sum of $12,000, plus a $2,000 signing bonus.

$12,000 is basically the equivalent of $108,000 in 2017 dollars.

Thanks to Bernie Beland in Sudbury for sending me a photo of this great piece.

Interestingly enough, Rocket’s brother Henri’s rookie contract was drawn up on the very same type of calendar page, but from the year before, 1953, even though Henri’s rookie year was 1955-56.

GM Frank Selke must have held on to his old, out-of-date Northern Electric calendar pages because he was a cheap bastard.

Good Old Bookstore

I’ve had this book about the Rocket since it showed up in stores in 2000 or 2001.

And now I have two, because Sunday morning I walked into a secondhand bookstore in Powell River and bought another for five bucks.

On the inside page, it’s been autographed by the late, great Gump Worsley!

Whoever Gord is, I wonder why he didn’t want it anymore. Or maybe someday he’ll ask, “Hey honey, have you seen my Rocket book signed by Gump Worsley?

Here’s another Gump signature if you want to compare.

Hi Normand, You Don’t Know Me But…

JIM WITHERS: FOR USE WITH STUBBS COLUMN IN EDITIONS OF MONDAY, MARCH 15, 2010: Canadiens legend Maurice (Rocket) Richard tapes a stick in the Canadiens dressing room during the 1959-60 season, the final season for the Habs great, watched by sons Normand (centre) and Maurice Jr. A new bilingual, two-DVD set featuring the Rocket is being released now, shortly before the 10th anniversary of his death, and Maurice Jr. says he's amazed at the enduring popularity of his late father. CREDIT: DAVID BIER STUDIOS, GAZETTE FILES

The Rocket tapes his stick during the 1959-60 season, while sons Normand and Maurice Jr. watch carefully.

Normand is the same age as me, and when I was living in Montreal a couple of years ago, I phoned him. Twice.

The first time I called, I opened with “Hi Normand, your dad was my hero!”, or something like that. The second time was more along the lines of, “Hi, it’s that guy again who called that other time.”

Normand was very nice and seemed just fine with the fact that some stranger was calling. I appreciated that.

Both times I called we talked for about 20 minutes or so, and during the second chat he agreed to meet me for coffee, although he said he was driving a friend’s car to Florida the next day and we’d have to wait until he got back.

I was very excited. I wanted to tell him that when I was a kid, I often wondered what it would be like to be the Rocket’s son. And I wondered if we’d need menus.

I wanted to be Normand’s friend back then, and I wanted to be his friend now.

But it wasn’t to be. Mainly because when he got back from Florida, I was back in Powell River.

They Wanted To Meet Rocket

HN

When the Soviet all-stars, selected from various Moscow clubs, made their historic visit to Canada in November of 1957, their main requests were to see an NHL game and meet Maurice Richard.

They took in a game between Chicago and the Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens, and hoped that the Rocket would visit them in Ottawa on November 6 when the Soviets would play the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, “if the Rocket is fit to travel” they added.

I don’t know why the Rocket wouldn’t be fit to travel on November 6th. He hadn’t been injured and I think he’d played all 14 games to that point. But he sure wasn’t fit just seven days later when he severed his Achilles tendon in a game against Toronto and was gone for three months.

He’d only see action in 28 games that season, mostly because of this serious injury, and¬† that, along with the fact that he was now 36-years old, combined to make for a dismal season. Two years later he would hang ’em up for good.

And as far as I know, the meeting with the Russians in Ottawa didn’t happen, which of course hurt the already delicate Cold War situation (just joking). ūüôā

Here’s a photo from my scrapbook, showing the Rocket just seconds from having his Achilles tendon sliced.

tendon

Bob Hill And His Rocket Richard Tune

From 1955 – Bob Hill and his Canadian Country Boys sing about the Rocket and the events that occurred leading up to and during the Richard Riot in the spring of that year.

This 78 rpm record sells for about $200 now if one could find it, and if you click right here you can listen to it for free on the Museum of Canadian Music site that’s selling it for $3.99 in the Mp3 format. (Just scroll down below the info and you’ll see “tracks.”)

This is a wonderful tune, and I think it’ll make you smile.

I wonder if my neighbours have heard me singing along.

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Saga of Rocket Richard

In this great game of hockey,
To which we do play,
There are heroes near and afar.
But the mightiest name in our national game,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.

When we need a man,
To encourage the fans,
He’ll shatter all records and more.
In fact quite the cream,
Of the Montreal team,
Is Maurice the Rocket Richard.

One evening in Boston, they struck at his head,
And cut him right over the ear.
With his temper so red and the way that he bled,
His thinking could not have been clear.

In the confusion,
Before they subdued him,
He’d struck an official I fear.
In so doing you know,
He’d trod on the toes,
Of Campbell, the man with no fear.

Says Campbell – young man,
That stick in your hand,
Has put you in trouble, by gar.
Though you needed five stitches,
You’re too big for your britches,
Just who do you think that you are.

Now you’ve done this before,
And you’ve made me quite sore,
And although you are a great star.
You’re through for the year,
Do I make myself clear,
Mr. Maurice the Rocket Richard.

In a terrible plight,
Was our Forum that night,
A riot got into high gear,
And when Campbell appeared,
He was slammed and jeered,
And his danger it soon became clear.

A fan tried to drop him,
The cops couldn’t stop him,
And a bomb made ’em all shed a tear.
As the president fled,
They cried “off with his head,”
Of Campbell the man with no fear.

Now our town has lost face,
And our team has disgrace,
But those hot-headed actions can’t mar,
Or cast any shame,
On the heroic name,
Of Maurice the Rocket Richard.

For he will return,
And his legend will burn,
In the annals of sport near and far.
There was never a name,
Of such stature and fame,
As Maurice the Rocket Richard.

My Mom Would Send Five Dollars, And Sometimes Ten

I miss my mother so much.

When I was young she encouraged me as I embraced the Habs, and she helped me write early fan letters to the Rocket and others. She took a genuine interest in the team, and I remember how amazed she was when she learned that Marcel Bonin wrestled bears in the off-season, how she thought it was funny that Henri Richard was a leap year baby, loved that Boom Boom Geoffrion would sometimes sing on TV, and was absolutely delighted that Jacques Plante liked to knit.

As I grew older she’d listen¬†politely¬†when I played¬†my Bob Dylan records for her, even though¬†she must have¬†chuckled later when I wasn’t looking. She’d nod and applaud¬†when I sang the Hollies’¬†“Bus Stop” as I banged drum sticks on a foot stool. She cut up an old fur coat and made me a vest after we’d seen Sonny Bono on TV wearing one. She watched with me as bands would play on the Ed Sullivan Show, and she never criticized or¬†said they looked or sounded ridiculous. She liked my long hair,¬†loved my crazy friends, and¬†seemed happy¬†for me when a buddy and I sailed to England on an ocean liner when I turned 18.

But I know she worried¬†about me when I lived on the edge, and it eats at me now that I put her through all that. She had never stopped loving me, even though I had become someone she couldn’t have been all that proud of.

Along with those letters from the Montreal Canadiens that¬†I found recently and put on these pages, were also letters from my mom when I was hitchhiking around the country,¬†sleeping in ditches, living dirt poor on the coast, and sowing some serious oats. She knew drugs had become a big part of my life, but she never lectured¬†me when I’d see her, or in the letters she’d send. She¬†worried if¬†I was eating enough, if I was safe and happy, and that she’d recently sent money orders for five or ten dollars to help me buy food, which was a lot of money for her,¬†and she hoped that I had gotten them.

I must have disappointed her to no end, and if only I could go back and change¬†some things. I should’ve been a better son, there’s no denying. Another letter I found recently, from my sister, mentions that mom lived for my letters and was worried sick. So I smiled when I read my old Habs letters, and ached and welled up when I read letters from home.

I miss my mom so much, and when I’m in Orillia, I can’t visit her at the cemetery. It’s too hard. I can barely just drive by the place.

Below was my mom’s favourite Habs photo. She’d always laugh and mention how no one was paying any attention to the adults in the background because the Rocket was there. I think she saw a lot of me in those boys.

Below that is a picture of me when I was 19, which I’ve shown¬†here before.¬†Those¬†were the days when¬†my lifestyle¬†must have kept her awake on far too many nights. I was all about a selfish me back then, and she would die a decade later, never knowing my kids or seeing that I didn’t become the bum she thought I might become. (I’m the punk in white, with the stubby beer bottle).

I just want to see her again, and if I could, I’d like to say sorry. Then I’d pull out some drum sticks and a foot stool and sing her another song. I loved my mom so much, and I know she’d smile and applaud.

 

Habs Can’t Get It Done On Patrick’s Night At Woodstock

So it was one thing that I was flatly turned down in my application this summer to be a flag guy before a game at the Bell Centre. I accepted that. But what the heck was wrong with letting me be one of those dozen or so goalies who skated out for the Patrick Roy ceremony? Before you know it, every kid in Montreal will have been on the ice for a Habs game, leaving the rest of us lugs out in the cold.

 

It was a love-in tonight for Patrick. Woodstock. Peace and love. The crowd cheered his presence for ten minutes. They wouldn’t stop. I wanted them to stop. It was starting to be as long as the Rocket’s. His speech, which mentioned that he hadn’t left the Canadiens the way he wanted, was sombre, almost church-like. As was his exit. I liked the Wendel Clark speech in Toronto better. Shorter, clearer, more cheerful, and to the point.

 

Imagine if Mario Temblay had shown up? It would have been as dramatic¬†as almost anything that ever went down at the Forum. But that’s just wishful thinking. Of course Tremblay wouldn’t be there. And forget about the personal nature of this. Tremblay is busy¬†being an¬†assistant coach with the Minnesota Wild.

 

Anyway, it’s all over now. The sweater’s up there. Who’s next to be honoured?¬†Maybe they could¬†do a big night for Danny Gallivan.

  

GAME NOTES:

 

There was also a game tonight. A big game. This was going to be the payback game after the 6-1 job last week, and after¬†a Boston¬†guy with a big nose had injured Mike Komisarek in a fight.¬†Georges Laraque was going to settle that young whippersnapper down. I’m not even going to mention this number 17’s name for Boston. I’m not contributing to his fast-growing cult status.

 

The boys lost¬†3-2 in a shootout to the Bruins. It’s not good. But I see signs now of¬†a semblance¬†of a team. Their game wasn’t that far off tonight,¬†not like it’s been on most nights. They were skating, they outshot the Bruins 35-27. They had chances. Big Georges tried to goad number 17 (Merle Cyrus or Miles Lucy or whatever), into a fight but the youngster wasn’t all that anxious. That was Georges contribution. Still no goals or assists for the guy though, who’s got the easiest paycheque on the team.

 

Alex Kovalev is having obvious problems. He continues to make three quarters of a good play, only to lose the puck somehow at the last second. So I guess you could say he’s almost doing the job.¬†

 

Monday the Islanders visit the Bell Centre. Normally I would make a blatant prediction, but like Toe Blake said, predictions are for gypsies.

 

Wish they’d put the big CH’s back at centre ice in the rink. Surely they could have incorporated the ‘100 years’ logos¬†a little differently and left tradition alone.

 

 

 

  

The 2027 Montreal Canadiens First Rounder, His Two Wingers, And The Crusty Old Coach

This is the very first group shot of upcoming star (in two decades) Cameron and his linemates.¬†The highly touted Calgarian weighs in at nine pounds and is an impressive 22 inches long.¬†He’s a¬†power forward/defenceman who shoots left (maybe right), and when not playing, likes to eat, sleep, and poop.

 

Playing left wing is Jasmyne, at 55 pounds and a lanky four feet tall. The Russians have said that Jasmyne just might be the best all-round player they’ve seen. And at right wing is Delaney, who also shoots left, but just like the Rocket, shoots left but plays on the right side. From the blueline in, nobody’s more dangerous than Delaney.

 

The crusty old coach is me. The grandpa. These three players love me, unlike many players who don’t love their coach. And of course I love them, unlike many coaches who don’t love their players.

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs (How Can I Say It Politely), Will Smell Like Farm Animal Excretement

Hockey fans became completely sick of hearing Mats Sundin’s name about a month ago, and so I apologize for mentioning it now. But His Majesty is on the verge now of announcing whether he will retire or play, so I thought I’d get just a little¬†head start¬†on this.

 

If he plays,¬†there’s always the chance he’ll¬†rejoin his old club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I just had a look at the Leafs’ 2008-2009 roster, and maybe His Majesty should consider retiring. Wow! Harold Ballard and girlfriend Yolanda would’ve made this club.¬†King Clancy would’ve made this¬†team, when he was in his eighties.

Several of the hot dog vendors would make this team.¬†¬†Prince Philip¬†could make this team. Richard Simmons would be on the first line. My daughter’s baby would make this team, and¬†the baby’s¬†not even born yet.

 

The Leafs best player just may be ex-Hab Mikhail Grabovski. And they’ve added Rangers goon Ryan Hollweg, a guy who blows his mind way too often. There was no room for him anymore in New York, but of course there’s lots of room for him in Toronto.

 

Jason Blake will be their leader, like Jean Beliveau, the Rocket, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, and Steve Yzerman were for their teams. You bet!

 

And I could mention the other Leaf players on the roster but you wouldn’t care anyway.

 

Toronto fans will pack the place every night to see one of the most inconsequential teams in Toronto ever.

 

Mats Sundin will¬†make his choice soon. He can join the Leafs. He can join some good teams like the Habs. He can retire. Or he can help old pal Borje Salming with his underwear business. We’ll see shortly.

 

Sorry to mention his name. Also sorry to mention the Leafs.