Tag Archives: Roger Leger

Don’s Premature Obituary

Recently I wrote about John “Chick” Webster, who played 14 games for the Rangers in ’49-50 and which can be seen here – Chick Webster.

Today it’s about his brother Don.

Don Webster, although a minor leaguer for most of his career, suited up for 27 regular season and 5 playoff games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1943-44, and as far as I know, he came out unscathed.

It was the following year, while with the Hershey Bears, when he almost died after being checked by the Buffalo Bisons’ Roger Leger, whose stick fractured and went up into Don’s abdomen. (Leger played for the Habs from 1946 to 1950).

As doctors worked on Don, reporters scrambled and wrote two stories – one if he lived and one if he died. Thankfully he lived, although sixteen pieces of stick were removed from his innards.

After Don recovered, he was given a copy of his obituary, which must have been a strange sensation to say the least.

Doctors got all but one piece, which was eventually found and taken out more than twenty years later in California where Don had retired to, and where he would eventually pass away in 1978.

Thanks to Don’s nephew Rob Webster for the pics and info.

Below, Don second from left.

Don Webster

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Brothers John and Don in 1975

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Roger Leger Was All Choked Up

Another little ditty from my Bee Hive collection as we wait for the Habs to destroy Chicago on Tuesday.

Roger Leger was not only in the running to replace Dick Irvin as coach of the Canadiens, a job Toe Blake was eventually given, but also managed to get his bridgework stuck in his throat one night against Detroit in 1948 which caused the team to lose the game.

The Canadiens were winning by one goal late in the game and as the puck came back to Leger on the blueline from a faceoff, Ted Lindsay rammed his elbow into Leger’s mouth, forcing the guy’s bridgework down his throat. Leger left the puck sitting there as he choked and panicked and skated for the bench and a Detroit player grabbed the puck and tied the score. Soon after, the Wings popped the winner.

However, in Leger’s defence, I would’ve done the same thing. The hell with the puck.

Scotland, Sergei, And The Man Who Would Be Coach

Is it just me or did the Hamilton Bulldogs just leave for Scotland and now they’re back again? Was that the fastest return trip overseas in the history of overseas trips? Or is time going so fast I’ll be dead soon?

Did anyone think to bring back a souvenir from Scotland for new teammate Sergei Kostitysn? Maybe a tartan kilt, or a jar of Haggis?

Will Sergei finally wake up, mature overnight and return to the big club a changed man and ready to go? A small part of me says no.

Is Jacques Martin more of a hard-ass than we thought?

Now that Vesa Toskala has let in eight goals in Toronto’s final pre-season game, will they start Jonas ‘Monster’ Gustavsson against the Habs Thursday night, even though his total NHL experience is three pre-season periods?

Thursday’s coming fast and I want to slide this important little ditty in before things get down and dirty:

Roger Leger showed up at my door the other day. No, not the person – he’s dead and has been for 44 years; the Bee Hive photo, a hard-to-get Beehive. All it took was tremendously hard work, diligence, superior sleuthing, and 22 bucks, to secure this little ducat.

And like most of these unheralded Habs players in the Bee Hive photos, there’s a story to go along with it, because surprising enough, this guy could’ve been coach of the Habs instead of Toe Blake!

When it came time to find a replacement for Habs coach Dick Irvin in 1955, Toe Blake wasn’t everyone’s first choice. GM Frank Selke wasn’t crazy about Blake because Blake, while coaching Valleyfield in the minors, rubbed Selke the wrong way many times. For example, Blake thought the Montreal Royals always got the best home dates at the Forum. “Tell the Forum to go fuck themselves,” Blake once said, and it was this kind of attitude that Selke didn’t appreciate.

To replace Irvin, who was basically asked to step down, Selke preferred Joe Primeau, once a member of the famed Kid Line in Toronto along with Busher Jackson and Charlie Conacher. Habs owner Donat Raymond wanted ex-Hab Billy Reay. Ken Reardon, who worked in the front office, wanted Blake.

And the French press pushed for Roger Leger.

Leger was a defenceman for the Canadiens from 1946 to 1950, and a very ordinary one at that. But he had leadership skills and that’s why he was in the running to coach the Habs instead of Toe Blake.

In the end, Blake got the job of course, and won five Stanley Cups in a row. What would Leger have done? Maybe the same. After all, half the team in those days ended up in the Hall of Fame. But the dynamics certainly would have been different, and maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t have been the same team at all.

Something to think about. Roger Leger as coach of the Montreal Canadiens instead of Toe Blake.

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