Tag Archives: Ted Green

Fan Favourite Fergie

John Ferguson was a lot of things.

He was one of the most popular players to ever wear the Montreal sweater, according to one who would know, Dick Irvin Jr. He was a serious lacrosse player, mostly in Nanaimo, BC. He was assistant coach on Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series. He was deeply involved in horse racing. He was coach and GM of the New York Rangers, and GM of the Winnipeg Jets.

But most of all, he was a great fighter for the Habs in the 1960s, who could also score goals. Twelve seconds into his very first NHL game with the Habs, Fergie got into a fight with Boston tough guy Ted Green and won. He was a coach’s dream.

Fergie was one those guys who would cross the street if members of the opposing team were walking his way. He avoided playing in golf tournaments if players from other teams were participating.  And he would only be involved in hockey schools if all the other instructors were Montreal players.

“We played for the sweater,” John Ferguson once said, and because he said that, he’s one of my all-time favourite Montreal Canadiens. I even saw him and Eddie Shack go at it once when I was at a game at Maple Leaf Gardens, and it brought down the house. It was one of those great, delicious bench-clearing brawls, and Shack and Fergie were the headliners, two rival gladiators with a glorious dislike for each other. They went punch for punch, Leaf fans screamed for his blood, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, right up there with Brigitte Bardot standing by the fence in  And God Created Women.

John Ferguson was one of the best. He died on July 14, 2007, at only 68.

Rookie Orr Signs The Sheet

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A bit difficult to see because they’re in pencil, but this is a set of signatures from 1966-67 when the Bruins and Leafs played at Maple Leaf Gardens. The autographs are mine now, but I wasn’t the one who got them in the first place.

1966-67 was Bobby Orr’s rookie season in the NHL, and this group of signatures includes Orr (on the bottom right corner), and his dad Doug (two above Bobby’s, on the right).

Joining them are Ed Johnston, Wayne Connelly, Ron Schock, Ted Green, Joe Watson, Tom Williams, and J.P. Parise from the Bruins, along with Leafs George Armstrong, Larry Jeffrey, Brian Conacher, and Ron Ellis.

If you’re wondering how I know these are from 1966-67, it’s something I had to put into practice numerous times when I worked at Classic Auctions. Simply a quick look at each player’s career and find the year that’s common ground for all them. In this case, it’s 1966-67.

Fergy, Ted, & Douglas

Douglas Murray stepped up to the plate Wednesday night in Buffalo against big John Scott, and although his face was bloodied, he gave the big tree a good run for his money.

Shouldn’t Scott be elsewhere? Like holding up a circus tent maybe?

I have a whole new level of admiration for the Swede with the English name. Previously I’d only noticed a guy who isn’t a great skater, can be caught out of position, who makes the odd mistake and never contributes to the scoresheet. But he hits hard, and I see now he’s got guts.

I’m proud that he took one for the team and showed that the Canadiens aren’t to be pushed around. Thank you Douglas.

In appreciation of him, I’ve dug out a couple of old photos from two tough Habs, back when they were still in the American Hockey League with the Cleveland Barons.

John Ferguson and Ted Harris, who took no prisoners in the 1960s. Although Harris did have his hands full with a young Bobby Orr, who could scrap with the best of them.

We don’t want John Scott-types on the team, but we’ll take a couple of Fergy and Harris-types any day.

Fergy’s reputation is spread far and wide. Ted Harris’ – not so much.

This is what Canadiens.com’s historical section says about him:

“Game in and game out, Harris’ physical game played an important role in the Canadiens success in the 1960s. He tangled with incoming forwards, kept the Montreal crease free of upright enemy players, applied some of the heaviest checks in the NHL and, on more than a few occasions, inflicted fistic retribution on those foolish enough to take liberties with his more subtly skilled teammates.”

Here they are as Barons – circa 1963, just prior to joining the Canadiens on a regular basis. (I apologize for the less-than-great quality).

JF

TH

John And Yoko On The Power Play

My friend Robert Lefevbre sent me these pictures today of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969 for their seven-day Bed-In for peace.

I’d never seen these before. I love them.

Bernie Geoffrion wore number five from 1951 to ’64, and in 1968 Gilles Tremblay donned the sweater for two years, retiring just before these photos were taken.

Lennon, being a huge hockey fan of course, said the following. Or maybe I was on acid and just think he said the following.

“I don’t mind Fergy playing a rough style, but I can’t stand what Ted Green does, especially with his stick,” said John to the room packed with all types of people. “This sort of thing should be taken out of the game. That’s why I’m here for this Bed-In. To end violence in hockey. Give peace a chance.”

John and Yoko then started humming the Imperial Oil Hockey Night in Canada theme, joined by Tommy Smothers and Timothy Leary, two other huge hockey fans.

Boom Boom Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Receiving Gift

It Would’ve Been A Big Day For Fergy

Inexcusably, I failed to mention the late, great John Ferguson during all the Winnipeg hoopla of the past few days, and I’m bad and I know it. Because John Ferguson, the ex-Hab, ex-ornery on-ice policeman, was extremely vital in the growth of the Winnipeg Jets, and for him to witness the return of his Jets in a game against his Montreal Canadiens would have made his heart soar, I’m sure.

You know who Fergy is. Called up to the Montreal Canadiens in 1963 to more or less make sure other teams left stars like Jean Beliveau alone, and 12 seconds into his very first NHL game, the new Hab beat up on Boston tough guy Ted Green, thus beginning his legend in record time. And although his legacy as a player is mostly of being a world-class enforcer, Fergy could also score goals, hovering around the 20-goal mark most of his 8 seasons when 20 goals then is comparable to 35 or even 40 now.

This is the kind of guy the Canadiens could use in this day and age. One who strikes fear in others, and scores as well.

Fergy was also assistant coach to Harry Sinden during the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series, which shows the respect he had after his playing days were over. I suppose the decision to tell Bobby Clarke to go out and tickle Valeri Kharlamov’a ankle with an axe chop might not have been the classiest move ever made, but it shows the intensity and passion for winning that Ferguson possessed, first as a player, and then as a guy in a sports jacket.

John Ferguson had been both coach and general manager in New York before coming over to the Winnipeg Jets, where he spent ten years as GM and then coach, and although he blundered by choosing tough guy Jimmy Mann as the Jets’ first pick in 1979, he was also responsible for bringing in young guns Thomas Steen, Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk and the great and future Hall member Teemu Selanne, thus creating what would become a very competitive and colourful team on the prairies over the years.

John passed away in 2007, and imagine how proud he would have been to see the Jets back in the fold again. And I know fighting is becoming less and less cool as the years go by, but have a look below at number 22, as he did his job in fine fashion for the Montreal Canadiens.

 

Is That A Hockey Player In My Living Room?

If the Washington Capitals walked unannounced into your living room, would you know they were the Caps or at least recognize anyone besides Alex Ovechkin and Jose Theodore? Maybe Brendan Morrison because he’s been in the league for awhile? Or Mike Green because the camera follows him?

Of course on the other hand, if Kyle Chipchura or Matt’ D’Agostini walked in to a Washington living room, the police would be called. Heck, I wouldn’t know Kyle Chipchura if he walked in to my living room.

That’s one of the problems with 30 teams in the NHL. They’re almost a faceless bunch. Only the chosen few, the ones in the limelight, the ones with the good quotes or big noses and numbers are familiar for the public. Probably 500 of the 600 players or so can walk around in cities and no one will bother them. Few will be asked for autographs, and groupies won’t invite them up to their hotel rooms because for all they know, these are just guys with tiny bankrolls like the rest of us.

You could say the same holds true for football players, but football has the big television contracts and money flowing like Niagara Falls. And we know many NFL players because we get to see their mug shots on police blotters and crime shows.

Before helmets in the NHL, we saw guys with red hair or no hair or Elvis hair. Now, so many have shaved their heads and look like they’ve done hard time at San Quentin so it doesn’t matter that they wear helmets. They all look the same whether it’s on the ice or off. Gone are the days of greasy black locks like Phil Esposito’s, or Bobby Hull’s flowing blond mane as he danced down the left side, and all the great and now extinct individual looks the players had.

But mostly, because of the all-important helmet, we just wouldn’t know a lot of players if they walked in to our living room, and that can’t be good  when they’re trying to make in-roads in the southern states. People down there need something to identify with. And I need to know who’s in my living room before I call 911 or not.

I was in a Keg restaurant in Calgary once and a bunch of Philadelphia Flyers were sitting just across from us and I didn’t know it until an excited waitress told me. It certainly wasn’t Bobby Clarke, Rick Macleish and Moose Dupont sitting there. Them I would’ve known.

If the Habs walked in to my living room, I think I’d figure it out. I’m fairly sure. Although I might have to concentrate a little for some of them. Not like, say, if Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Larry Robinson showed up. That’s a much different story.

And if it’s tough for someone who follows the sport closely, imagine what it’s like for those who don’t? The players are faceless creatures with only names and numbers on their jerseys to tell them. They’re like vanilla ice cream dropped in a snow bank.

Something should be done. What about painting their hair colour on their helmets? Or if they’re bald, just paint some on the sides. Or maybe the players could stand at the exit and thank all 20,000 for showing up? Or the NHL could pay for players’ faces on those little signs on top of New York and Las Vegas taxi cabs.

Alex Ovechkin wore a darkened visor, which is a bad idea. Sure, most hockey fans know this flashy Russian, but this type of visor must be restricted to him and him only. Imagine if the rest of them decided to do this? Then we’d never know what anyone looked like. It’d be like those futuristic space-age images we see of players with jet-propelled skates, playing to the death in headgear that hides the demon inside.. It would be the beginning of the end of hockey in the southern US if players wore darkened visors. These things would do more damage than Gary Bettman.

Of course there has to be helmets. Can’t be having anymore Rocket Richard/Hal Laycoe/Wayne Maki/Ted Green sticks smashed over heads. And there’s already too many head shots and concussions. Helmets and jock straps are vital pieces of equipment. It goes without saying.

But at least the guys could stop shaving their heads. It would be a start. Think of the fans.

Gregory Stewart Has A Chance To Make An Impact. Like Fergie Did.

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With all due-respect to Habs hitman Georges Laraque, the newly-signed Gregory Stewart just may pick up the slack and do the job Georges was brought to Montreal to do – police, enforce, and get nasty on many a night when the game calls for nastiness.

And I say “with all due-respect” because the last thing I want is Georges mad at me. I don’t want him to beat me up. Georges can beat up pretty well everybody in the world, can’t he? Maybe there’s a couple of heavyweight boxers out there, and possibly Gerry Barber if he was still alive. But I think that might be it.

Stewart’s now the unofficial team tough guy. Georges has been hurt too often, has hands of stone, sits on the bench mostly, and smiles a lot as he begs someone to drop their gloves with him. But that’s not what the team needs. They need a John Ferguson. Someone who can skate, score a little, have that look in their eyes, breathe fire, and scare the living daylights out of most. And now Gregory Stewart has been given the opportunity to do this. (Note: Ferguson was basically a 15 to 20 goal scorer most years, even reaching 29 once. We don’t expect this of Stewart. Just the rest of it.)

John Ferguson mauling Toronto's Pete Stemkowski. Now just substitute Fergie with Stewart and Stemkowski with Mike Komisarek.
John Ferguson mauling Toronto's Pete Stemkowski. Now just substitute Fergie with Stewart and Stemkowski with Mike Komisarek.

What a confidence booster this must be for the young guy. He’s brought in and he knows he can make an impact if he does it right. All he has to do is do what’s mentioned above, plus check, work hard, go in the corners, punch the odd guy in the mouth, and protect the smaller, more skilled guys from the rogues who inhabit the league. And if he does all this, and does it well, he could become a star, a crowd favourite, and all without scoring more than a handful of goals.

Laraque’s problem is that most opposing players won’t fight him. He’s also not a great skater or playmaker, and he’s injury-prone. He would have made a huge difference if he’d been healthy and had gotten into some serious scraps, threw some jaw-breaking haymakers, and made people drip blood from their noses. But it wasn’t to be. He’s been a disappointment. But Georges, I didn’t say that. I think others did, but not me. I don’t want you mad at me. I’m sorry. I love animals too.

If Gregory Stewart fits the role perfectly, you watch how the team will play. It’s all very exciting. And wouldn’t if be fun to see the young fellow KO Mike Komisarek in game one of the season?

Fergie and Boston's Ted Green duke it out. This could be Stewart and Milan Lucic!
Fergie and Boston's Ted Green duke it out. This could be Stewart and Milan Lucic!