Tag Archives: Rogie Vachon

Really Big Advice Show

Friday at the big collectables show at the Pierre Charbonneau Centre in east-end Montreal, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Brendan Gallagher, and Brandon Prust will be signing autographs from 6:30 to 7:30 .

And because the signings are arranged by Classic Authentics, which is an arm of Classic Auctions, the company I work for, I’ve been asked to sit at the table and make sure these players have enough pens and photos.

Kind of like being a stick boy.

I’ll be more than just a pen and photo guy though. I’m ready to give them big time advice.

I’ll only have an hour but hopefully it’s enough time to offer Max tips on how to improve his skating and shooting. Prust might need fighting tips. I’ll probably be able to advise Plekanec on how to get his shot away quicker. And I’ll try and convince Gally to endorse a better hamburger.

I’ll give them female relationship advice too if they ask.

Boxers Antonin Decarie and Sciller Hyppolite will also be there, from 8 to 9, and if I’m still around, I’ll give them a few fighting tips like I give Prust.

The following evening, an old favourite of mine, Claude Larose, along with Bobby Hull, Rogie Vachon and former MLB pitcher Claude Raymond will be there but I probably won’t. I can only give out so much advice. And they don’t need it. They’re retired.

Sunday, it’s the Canadian Olympic ladies France St. Louis, Nancy Drolet, and Kim St. Pierre. Maybe, because Max, Tomas, Brandon and Brendan won’t be listening, the ladies could give ME shot, skating, and hitting tips.

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My Friend The World Junior

I can’t wait for tonight’s Canada-Russia battle. It’s payback time for the Canadians and they have the team to do it.

I was going through some old photos and found my friend Gary Lupul (below), who passed away in 2007 at just 48 years old, and who played in the 1979 World Juniors, when it was still club teams participating. Gary was playing in the Western Hockey League for the Victoria Cougars and was recruited by the New Westminster Bruins for the tournament, held in Sweden.

He showed me his jersey from the tourney one night when we were downstairs at his parents’ house playing pool. It was blue, with white lettering.

Gary would go on to play for the Canucks, but sadly his lifestyle derailed his career. But he made some serious noise as a player. He was a crowd favourite, and the Pacific Coliseum faithful used to chant ‘Loop, Loop, Loop’ thoughout the game. They loved him. He scored on his first NHL shot, against Rogie Vachon, and one night in Montreal, Gary beat Bunny Larocque twice in a game against the Habs.

He was a star from the beginning. In minor all-star, he once notched 70 points in 16 games. At 16 he was rookie of the year with the BC Hockey League Nanaimo Clippers. And he racked up 300 points in three years with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

As a Canuck he was a force to be reckoned with in the 1981-82 Stanley Cup finals against the Islanders.

He played a total of 300 games, with 70 goals and 75 assists, and if he would’ve buckled down, it would have been so much more.

Mario Lemieux’s first fight in the NHL was against Gary.

Here’s Gary and myself and some friends, taken about 15 years ago. It looked like we were having a good day. He was a tremendously fun-loving guy, made us all laugh and kept things lively and upbeat, and was a great guy. (Gary’s in black shirt and sunglasses, I’m in white with the goatee.)

Boomer And The Boys Sing Da Doo Ron Ron

At the bottom of this story, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Marcel Dionne, and Rogie Vachon sing up a storm on the Rene Simard Show. Simard was sort of Canada’s answer to Donny Osmond.

I have no other words to describe this. Except to offer my sympathies to the Crystals and Phil Spector.

Boomer was a bit of a singer in his day, entertaining his teammates whether they wanted him to or not, and he appeared at least once on The Juliette Show, which came on CBC after the hockey game on Saturday night. I remember Juliette. She seemed like somebody’s hot mother, which she probably was.

Boom Boom was a fun-loving guy, loved to laugh, and I’ll bet he had a blast doing this with Dionne and Vachon, although it’s tremendously cheesy. I’m sure he was the leader of the pack, and I’m willing to go out on a limb and say he had the most talent of the three.

Boomer was a great guy by all accounts, and as a kid growing up he was a huge Habs fan. He said many times over the years how much he loved the Rocket, not only as a kid, but also when he finally played alongside his boyhood hero.

Imagine, he ended up playing on the team he worshipped, with the player he had idolized.

Dreams do come true.

When Richard was suspended in 1955 for having a slight disagreement with a linesman, which led to the St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot, Boom Boom sailed past Rocket in the last few games of the season to win the scoring championship and the Art Ross Trophy. The poor guy was booed by Canadiens fans for denying Rocket the title number 9 had never won, and not only booed, but also received threatening phone calls and his kids were hassled at school. I think it’s ridiculous that fans would want Geoffrion to tank so the Rocket would win. Asking a bit much, I’d say.

Geoffrion wasn’t exactly sure in the beginning about the whole idea of beating the Rocket. He was uneasy about it. But Doug Harvey saw it was bothering him, took him aside, and told him he’d better score when he got the chances or he’d have to answer to him.

The fans got over it.

Here’s the video. You probably know but if you don’t, it’s Marcel Dionne on the left, Boom Boom in the middle, and Rogie Vachon on the right.

The Year I Paid Absolutely No Attention To My Team

003 This is my passport photo taken when I was 17. If you look closely you can see pimples.

I was getting ready to go on a big trip, which ultimately would cause me to miss almost the entire Montreal Canadiens 1968-69 season including playoffs. I’m unable to talk about Rogie Vachon and Gump Worsley in goal and rookie coach Claude Ruel winning the Stanley Cup in his rookie coaching season and most of the other details in that year, mainly because I wasn’t around.

When this picture was taken I was working in a factory, having quit school, and was saving my money. I worked for a year in this dirty, stinking old place, but on November 22, 1968, a month after I turned 18, myself and a friend took a train to Montreal, boarded the Empress of England, and sailed for seven days and seven nights until we reached Liverpool, England. My thoughts weren’t on the Habs at all. They were filled with swinging London, the Beatles, long-legged lovelies in mini-skirts, Carnaby Street, and of course the great British bands like the Stones, the Who and the Kinks. The sounds that had come out of there while I was stuck in Orillia, and all the photos which described to me a special place where kids were cooler than cool, drove me crazy until I knew I needed to go and see for myself.

From Liverpool we took a train to London because that was ground zero of all that was good and cool about England, and we took a room at the YMCA. (A few years later I also stayed at another YMCA in Sudbury,Ontario, and I don’t know about now, but I can tell you, YMCA’s aren’t the Ritz.)

I had no idea what was happening with my Habs and I’m ashamed to say it, but I suppose I didn’t really care at this time. We were in England and that was all that mattered. While Beliveau and the Pocket Rocket zigged and zagged and the team geared up for the playoff run, I ate fish and chips, looked at double decker buses, and wondered how my hair looked. And at one point we went to the Beatles’ office on Saville Row, knocked on the door, and asked a lovely young secretary lady if the boys were in. She said no, and to this day, I’ve wondered what I would’ve done if she’d said yes.

We traveled up through the Midlands in the dead of winter, into Derby and Nottingham, hitchhiking from the other side of the road of course, and I recall sleeping standing up in a phone booth one freezing night. We also got beds at a Salvation Army shelter for the down-and-out, and it was the two of us with heavy woolen blankets over top of us, listening all night to old, homeless men snoring and burping and farting and talking drunken gibberish. But the thought of these wine-soaked, tobacco-stained creatures quickly vanished from my mind when we went to a movie house somewhere to see a young Brigitte Bardot in “And God Created Women.”

We were in Swinging England! My friend bought a Victorian top hat at a flea market which he wore around when it wasn’t wet and windy. And we saw John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers at a jam-packed Railway Tavern, a place that only months later would become the nightly home of a new-formed band named Led Zeppelin.  

STC1969Back home, I didn’t know it at the time but the Canadiens were rolling along to a first place finish, with big Jean Beliveau ending up second to Phil Esposito for the Hart trophy as league MVP. Yvan Cournoyer finished with 87 points, just five ahead of Beliveau, and Tony Esposito, who of course became a huge star in Chicago, was a Hab this year and replaced Gump Worsley in goal when Worsley had some sort of nervous breakdown. At least, this is what I’ve read. I don’t know because I was over there, doing my best to be cool.

And in the playoffs, the Canadiens first swept the Rangers, beat Boston in six games, and took out St. Louis in four games to win their 16th Stanley Cup.

There’s just not a lot I can tell you about this season. I was busy.

001 003


Who WAS That Masked Man?

dryden

In May of 1971, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in Chicago, beating the Hawks 3-2 in a tough seven games. And they did it with the most improbable guy in nets – Ken Dryden.

Dryden wasn’t a cup-winning goaltender, he was a McGill law student who also played for the minor-league Montreal Voyageurs. At least up until late winter of that year, that is. But like a Disney movie, he’s called up for the last six games of the season, and at the start of the playoffs, replaces Rogie Vachon, then goes on to help Montreal beat the Boston Bruins, Minnesota North Stars and Chicago, providing thrills and spills and blocking shots that shouldn’t be blocked.

It’s the stuff of fairy tales and dreams. It almost makes no sense. But that was the beginning of Dryden’s Hall of Fame career, and fairy tales and dreams or not, he must have been awfully good to do what he did as a raw rookie with only six games behind him.

And to make things even more magical, this raw rookie even won the Conn Smythe trophy that spring for most valuable player in the playoffs and took home $1500 and a car for being the hero. Forget Disney, I think we’re going to need Steven Spielberg to do this one justice.

This feat was so long ago, so far removed from the politician/public speaker and the man who does what he wants, when he wants; that he even spoke for half an hour after the game to reporters, missing much of the celebration in the dressing room. Finally, the shy goalie asked, “Sir. Would you mind if we went to the dressing room? I’d like to join the other fellows.”

He also admitted that fate had lent a hand. Hawks’ players Eric Nesterenko and Jim Pappin had both hit posts, and Bobby Hull rang one off the crossbar in that seventh game. And about his team in front of him? “There’s no mystique about the Canadiens team,” he said. “The players never believe they are beaten. And as a result, seldom are defeated.”

And who believed in Dryden in the beginning, when he was a law student and the goalie for the Voyageurs? That would be Floyd Curry, who coached Dryden with the Voyageurs and in March recommended him to Habs GM Sam Pollock. “I told Sam, “Take Dryden and you’ll win the Stanley Cup,’ ” said Curry. “He’s the greatest. And don’t forget, this was his first year of pro. He played very little last year with Canada’s national team. He’ll be as good as Bill Durnam and that’s the highest praise I can give a goalie.” 

I can’t find anywhere if Curry held a second job as fortune teller.

And the final word went to Chicago’s Bobby Hull, who said after the game, “Hockey in May is a drag when you’re a loser.”

We Lost Gary Lupul A Year Ago

  

A year ago today, July 17, 2007, Gary Lupul passed away. He was 48 years old.

Gary Lupul was an ex-Vancouver Canuck, a proud Powell Riverite, a friend to people from all walks of live, and a great friend of mine. He was a scout for the Canucks when he died, and his beat was Ontario and the northern US, and he would phone me from Kitchener or Ottawa or even while driving through my old birthplace, Orillia, just to check in, to ask how I’m doing, and to say all was well with him.

Gary had lived several lives. Along with being a great athlete, he also had personal demons which ended his career prematurely. He told me once that there were times when he’d get a couple of hours sleep after a big party at his house in Vancouver, get up, walk over a bunch of people sleeping on the floor, and go to his Canucks practices.

He was such a colourful character, and it seems like he was just here a few days ago, and now he’s gone forever.

When I heard the news that Gary had died, for a minute or so I thought it had to be another Gary Lupul. It was shocking. It’s still hard to sort out.

He was the friendliness guy I think I’ve ever met. He only wanted to talk about you, never himself. And he was always genuinely interested. And he could be best friends to the most down and out folks, all the way up to the movers and shakers. Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone.

I would just like you to know that Gary was a real hockey player, not just a fringe player. Drugs and alcohol hurt his career and he never really had a chance to show what he could do.

Here’s some examples;

He was a crowd favourite, and the Pacific Coliseum faithful used to chant ‘Loop, Loop, Loop’ thoughout the game. They loved him.

He was a star from the beginning. In minor all-star, he once notched 70 points in 16 games. At 16 he was rookie of the year with the BC Hockey League Nanaimo Clippers. And he racked up 300 points in three years with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

He was a force to be reckoned with in the 1981-82 Stanley Cup finals against the Islanders.

He played a total of 300 games, with 70 goals and 75 assists. All while he did too much partying.

Mario Lemieux’s first fight in the NHL was against Gary.

Gary played for Canada in the 1979 World Juniors in Sweden.

Twice he was picked as a three star selection in an NHL game. And twice he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada.

In a game against the Montreal Canadiens during his first season, he scored twice against Bunny Larocque.

And he scored on his first shot in the NHL against Rogie Vachon.

Gary is missed by many people. He was a friend to all.