Tag Archives: Ted Harris

Phoning Terry Harper

Unlike the time Bert Olmstead hung up on me, Terry Harper, the lanky, stay-at-home defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens from 1963 to 1971, was more than happy to chat, which happened almost a decade ago.

He’s was a nice, friendly fellow (I’m sure he still is) who at the time of the call was living in northern California with his wife Gladys (the two have been together since high school in Regina). We talked about days gone by and even hockey today, and he even showed interest in my life, asking about places I’ve lived and live now. And he felt bad for me when I told him Sam Pollock turned me down when I asked to be stickboy way back then. “I understand Sam’s reasoning,” he laughed. “Imagine how something like that could get out of control?”

“You caught me at a good time,” he said. And he added, “If someone is still interested in what I have to say after 40 years, then I’m completely fine with it.”

Gordie Howe was the best he’s ever seen, he says. “Howe just dominated the game in every aspect, and he did so for so long. He did everything right.” But what about Bobby Orr? I asked. “Orr was fantastic but he didn’t play long enough,” he explained. “He played a transition game with his skating, which was fantastic, but for me he wasn’t even the best defenceman. Doug Harvey is the best ever. For pure defence, it’s Harvey. No one’s been better.”

Jean Beliveau? “He’s a good friend, a super person. He’s one of those who stayed with the team even today, and is a wonderful man and great for hockey.”

Toe Blake? “I really liked and admired Toe. A really thoughtful man, a deep-thinker. And I think the best coach ever.”

Sam Pollock? “Sam liked me. I was his captain for the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens and we got along well. He was a great hockey mind.”

And the game today compared to then? “Players are certainly bigger now. When I played, Jacques Laperriere, Ted Harris and myself were considered huge because players back then weren’t overly big like most are now. Even my first defence partner, Jean-Guy Talbot wasn’t big. We were a new breed.”

“Guys now don’t have harder shots than many back then. A puck can only go so fast. Bobby Hull could get up to about 105 mph, and I don’t think there’s too many who can shoot harder than that. I also don’t think players are faster now either. It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone quicker than Ralph Backstrom or Dave Keon, for example. And don’t forget, equipment now must be 15 pounds lighter at least. Same with the goalies. More pads and lighter overall.”

“Because it was only a six-team league, everyone knew everyone completely. There were no surprises. It was so tight-checking, teams weren’t allowed to make a mistake or a goal would be scored. It was more like a chess match back then. And I think players now probably have the wrong attitude. It’s mostly just about money but where would they be without the fans? It’s the fans who make them. Like you. There’s seems to be no interaction anymore between fans and players.”

Do you still have any of your old Habs sweaters, Terry? “We weren’t allowed to keep those,” he said. “The trainers were strict about that. We always had to hand them in.” (He was surprised when I told him his old number 19 would fetch several thousand at auction now.)

And one last thing. Does he follow the Habs at all now. “I don’t know the team, but I look at the standings in the paper. We don’t get a lot of hockey news here, especially about the Canadiens. We go down to San Jose from time to time to see the Sharks, and we used to make a point of going when Montreal was in town, but the way it is now, there’s years when they don’t even come. So we just go, usually around February when it’s getting important, and it could be any team visiting.”

After Harper’s days in Montreal came to an end, he joined the LA Kings and also did stints in Detroit, St. Louis, and the Colorado Rockies before calling it quits in 1981. He played a total of 19 seasons in the NHL, which is a big-time career, and at the time of this phone call, was a 69-year old, stay-at-home defenceman in his local beer league.

Terry is 77 now.

Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal
Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal
Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.
Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.

Roadrunner In Action

Photo from my scrapbook of a peach-fuzzed rookie Yvan Cournoyer during the 1964-65 campaign, with Dickie Moore (as a Leaf), Jean Beliveau, Jean Guy Talbot, Bob Pulford, Ted Harris, Ron Stewart, and Charlie Hodge.

And below, although I never scrambled for a foul ball or flying puck, I did manage (very quietly) to get a Cournoyer goal puck through a trade, a goal he scored on Oct. 26, 1972, only a month after the ’72 Summit Series in which Roadrunner played a major role.

Yvan would retire at 35 after 15 seasons, all with the Habs, and 10 Stanley Cups.

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Yvan

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Roadrunner '72

And then there was that time he played on a line with Gaston.

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Habs, Leafs, And Beatles

On August 17th in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

I was 15 years old and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle, and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had the kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23. Jacques Laperriere 24. And Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Four Things

Congratulations to Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Women’s player Geraldine Heaney, and coach of the ’70s Broad St. Bullies, Fred Shero.

I remember reading the headline in the Montreal Gazette when Chelios was first called up to the Canadiens. “The Coming of Chris” it heralded, which I thought was a fun headline. Several years later when I was in Leningrad I mentioned that headline to a couple of Russians and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Good for the inductees. It’s a good crop, even though Shero was at the helm of those Broad St. maniacs.

I’m also one of those guys waiting for Paul Henderson to get the call.

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I’ve made it through a total of six days so far at Classic Auctions, which I think is a substantial number for a new guy. Today, among other things, I wrote about Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Claude Provost, and Ted Harris 1960s game-used sticks. And a rhinestone brooch given to players and executives’ wives after the Habs won the Cup in 1946.

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Georges Laraque talks too much, and I think him saying George Parros isn’t intimidating enough in a competitive division isn’t very nice. George should stick to what he’s good at – smiling and wearing tight t-shirts.

Georges told La Presse, “I’m sure that when the Canadiens signed Parros, the Bruins and Shawn Thornton were relieved. In Ottawa and Toronto, they were relieved.”

Yes Georges. And you weren’t exactly Attila the Hun when you were playing. Especially when you were a Hab. You were a peacenik, even though you weren’t supposed to be. You hated beating up people so you stopped doing it. But you were being paid to beat up people.

Stop criticizing the new sheriff. It’ll be tough enough trying to live up to the expectations of Habs fans without being trashed by peers..

“He’s a good guy, but in the NHL you have to intimidate,” Laraque continued. “He has a good technique, but he’s more like a wrestler than a finisher…Florida wouldn’t let Parros go if he was doing the job.

Georges wouldn’t stop.

“Knowing the Montreal market, people will begin to wonder why they got this guy after two or three beatings. I know the guy – I know them all. But those who don’t believe me will see for themselves.”

Georges, you’re not being nice. Be quiet and run for politics.

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I’m going to say this anyway. I hate cell phones. Bring back the phone booth.

Hit ‘Em When They Least Expect It; “Coins” Makes A Sudden Return

Like Cassius Clay landing a big blow to Sonny Liston’s nose and then quickly landing another, I respond just one day after the debut of  “The Coin Collection” with a quick one-two and do it again.

Can’t let people get too comfortable or set in their ways. Gotta keep em on their toes.

I’ve checked and checked, got the magnifying glass out, and it’s not there. I’ll probably check again in a few years to see if it suddenly decides to appear.

If this 1936 Canadian penny had a little dot under the date, I might be lighting cigars with twenty dollar bills right now. There are only three or four known, and at auction could sell for several hundred thousand bucks.

The 1936 dot penny was actually made in 1937, but a King thing happened and threw everybody off guard. Edward Vlll abdicated the throne so he could marry an American gal, Wallis Simpson, and so at the beginning of 1937 there was no King’s image to go on the penny. So they continued putting 1936 on the new ones, only with a dot below the date.

When King George Vl was finally made King, the mint melted these dot pennies and they did a good job of it because like I say, there’s only a few around anywhere.

The Habs of 1936-37 were a good but not great team, and although they won the Canadian division, lost in the semi-finals to the Detroit Red Wings. 1936 was the year Howie Morenz made his emotional return to Montreal after playing in Chicago and New York, but in January of 1937, just around the time the Canadian Mint was making 1936 dot pennies, Morenz got a foot caught on the boards and fractured his leg and would eventually pass away on March 8, 1937 from reasons ranging from medical complications to a broken heart.

Morenz would be gone just two months before George Vl’s coronation and the Mint making 1937 pennies for real.

Montreal Canadiens born in 1936 include the great Henri Richard, plus Andre Pronovost, Ab McDonald, Ted Harris, and Dick Duff, along with Claude Laforge who played five games for the team in 1957-58, and Reg Fleming and Murray Balfour who played three and five games before they were shipped to Chicago where they blossomed into stars.

Others born in 1936 – Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, actors Burt Reynolds and Dennis Hopper, and one of my favourites, right-handed pitching ace Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Terry Harper Doesn’t Know How Much We’re Suffering

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I phoned Terry Harper this morning, just to say hello and also to take him up on his invitation from several months ago to call him again after I’d had a nice long chat with him back then. Shooting the breeze with Terry Harper

He said “call me again” and so I did.

He was a tall, stay-at-home defenceman of the Canadiens of the 1960’s, big number 19, when we were proud of the team and weren’t mad at them on an almost nightly basis. His regular defence partners most of the time were either Jacques Laperriere or Ted Harris and all three were towering skyscrapers when the league didn’t have a lot of towering skyscrapers. Terry was one of my favourites growing up, but then again, every player on the team was one of my favourites.

He also had a good brushcut.

Anyway, I wanted to make it a quick call because I don’t like to bother people but Terry is salt-of-the-earth, friendly as friendly can be, so I knew he wouldn’t mind.

He didn’t. In fact, when saying goodbye he told me to call again!

I told him I saw him introduced during the Centennial celebrations at the Bell Centre in December and I mentioned he looked great and hasn’t changed a bit from the old days. He said I must have been wearing some 3-D glasses or glasses that were the wrong prescription. And he said it was a fantastic night, seeing so many old teammates like Bobby Rousseau, Ralph Backstrom and Jean Beliveau, and everyone stayed in the same hotel and it was all done up right for them and their wives.

He said it was also great seeing not just old teammates but so many old friends from Montreal. But he did mention that there was no chance he’d be moving back there anytime soon because it’s just too cold. (He and his wife live in California.)

I did, however, also want to ask him about the struggling Habs now, but because he gets very little news and isn’t much of a computer guy, he isn’t really up to date on the problems we see as tormented Habs fans. So all he could say about the team being in trouble is he wouldn’t want to be Bob Gainey and that the goaltending situation is almost impossible to really know how to handle.

And that was that. A quick chat with Terry Harper. And yes, it could’ve been more in-depth. But it wasn’t which means I’ll never be asked to work for 60 Minutes or The Fifth Estate. But like I say, I didn’t want to bother him.

You can see Terry’s years in the NHL right here.


Shooting The Breeze With Terry Harper

Terry Harper, with arm raised, celebrates sweet victory with Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau and coach Toe Blake.
Terry Harper, with arm raised, celebrates sweet victory with Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau and coach Toe Blake.

He played during a time of legends, when Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau and Bobby Hull roamed the ice; when Jacques Plante, Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall stopped pucks; and when Toe Blake and Punch Imlach pulled strings from behind the bench.

He’s Terry Harper, the lanky, stay-at-home defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens from 1963 to 1971, and I spoke with him on the telephone a short while ago. He’s a nice man, this 69 year old, lives in California with his wife Gladys, who was just as nice and friendly as Terry, (the two have been together since high school in Regina), and Terry was perfectly happy to talk to me about the old days and even hockey today. He even showed interest in my life, asking about places I’ve lived and live now.  And he felt bad for me when I told him Sam Pollock turned me down when I asked to be stickboy way back then. “I understand Sam’s reasoning,” he laughed. “Imagine how something like that could get out of control?”

“You caught me at a good time,” he said.  And he also added, “if someone is still interested in what I have to say after 40 years, then I’m completely fine with it.” 

Gordie Howe was the best he’s ever seen, he says. “Howe just dominated the game in every aspect, and he did so for so long. He did everything right.” But what about Bobby Orr? I asked.  “Orr was fantastic but he didn’t play long enough,” he explained. “He played a transition game with his skating, which was fantastic, but for me he wasn’t even the best defenceman. Doug Harvey is the best ever. For pure defence, it’s Harvey. No one’s been better.”

Jean Beliveau? “He’s a good friend, a super person. He’s one of those who stayed with the team even today, and is a wonderful man and great for hockey.”

Toe Blake? “I really liked and admired Toe. A really thoughtful man, a deep-thinker. And I think the best coach ever.”

Sam Pollock? “Sam liked me. I was his captain for the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens and we got along well. He was a great hockey mind.”

And the game today compared to then? “Players are certainly bigger now. When I played, Jacques Laperriere, Ted Harris and myself were considered huge because players back then weren’t overly big like most are now. Even my first defence partner, Jean-Guy Talbot wasn’t big. We were a new breed.”

“Guys now don’t have harder shots than many back then. A puck can only go so fast. Bobby Hull could get up to about 105 mph, and I don’t think there’s too many who can shoot harder than that. I also don’t think players are faster now either. It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone quicker than Ralph Backstrom or Dave Keon, for example. And don’t forget, equipment now must be 15 pounds lighter at least. Same with the goalies. More pads and lighter overall.”

“Because it was only a six-team league, everyone knew everyone completely. There were no surprises. It was so tight-checking, teams weren’t allowed to make a mistake or a goal would be scored. It was more like a chess match back then. And I think players now probably have the wrong attitude. It’s mostly just about money but where would they be without the fans? It’s the fans who make them. Like you. There’s seems to be no interaction anymore between fans and players.”

Do you still have any of your old Habs sweaters, Terry? “We weren’t allowed to keep those,” he said. “The trainers were strict about that. We always had to hand them in.” (He was surprised when I told him his old number 19 would fetch thousands at auction now.)

And one last thing, does he follow the Habs at all now. “I don’t know the team, but I look at the standings in the paper. We don’t get a lot of hockey news here, especially about the Canadiens. We go down to San Jose from time to time to see the Sharks, and we used to make a point of going when Montreal was in town, but the way it is now, there’s years when they don’t even come. So we just go, usually around February when it’s getting important, and it could be any team visiting.”

After Harper’s days in Montreal came to an end, he joined the LA Kings and also did stints in Detroit, St. Louis, and the Colorado Rockies before calling it quits in 1981. He played a total of 19 seasons in the NHL, which is a big-time career, and is now a 69 year old stay-at-home defenceman in his local beer league.

You can read more about Terry Harper at Joe Pelletier’s site right here.

Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal
Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal

 

Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.
Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.

Those TSN Guys Sure Can Be Kidders Sometimes.

This came out in the Edmonton Journal, written by John MacKinnon, and it’s quite amazing. Somehow, some place, the TSN gang must have got together and dropped some acid. MacKinnon’s story is entitled…

“Habs’ Dream Team Falls Flat With Imagination Shackled”  

So, in honour of the Montreal Canadiens centenary, TSN has assembled the “Ultimate Canadiens Team,” and it’s pretty much a laugh riot.

The TV folks put Jean Beliveau at centre between Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard on the first line. Fair enough. Then things got weird.

Saku Koivu between John Ferguson and Bobby Rousseau on the second line was an odd decision, and Brian Skrudland between Andre Pronovost and Jim Roberts on the ‘energy’ line, was a stretch, no offence to those splendid gentlemen, Cup-winners all.

The checking line of Guy Carbonneau between Bob Gainey and Claude Provost is OK, if you really need a checking line on a fantasy team. But the sublime Doug Harvey partnered with Mike Komisarek as the top defensive pairing? Ted Harris and Craig Ludwig as the third duo?

Michel (Bunny) Larocque backing up the incomparable Jacques Plante in goal?

Obviously, TSN was using some sort of ghost roster format to sort through 100 years of excellence. The network tried to inject a dash of realism — a questionable measure when the point is to indulge in fantasy — by limiting the number of Hockey Hall of Famers on the team to eight.

Still, an all-time assemblage of Les Glorieux with none of Guy Lafleur, Jacques Lemaire, Howie Morenz, Aurele Joliat, Henri (Pocket Rocket) Richard, Joe Malone, Yvan Cournoyer, Newsy Lalonde, Guy Lapointe, Chris Chelios, Jacques Laperriere, Emile (Butch) Bouchard, Tom Johnson, Sprague Cleghorn, Lorne (Gump) Worsley, Frank Mahovlich, Pete Mahovlich, Georges Vezina, Bert Olmstead, Dickie Duff, George Hainsworth, Ken Dryden, Patrick Roy, Steve Shutt, J.C. Tremblay, Rod Langway, Mats Naslund and Boom-Boom Geoffrion suiting up is mighty light on glory.

So how do you get to the right answer? That’s not so easy.

In this company, 50-goal scorers Pierre Larouche and Stephane Richer, or two-time 40-goal man Mark Napier, sit far down the list.

Others who wouldn’t make the cut:

Vincent Damphousse, Kirk Muller, Bobby Smith, Hall of Famer Buddy O’Connor, who centred the Razzle Dazzle Line, on and on.

To simplify, you could go with an all-native Montrealer team and start with the Richard brothers, Geoffrion, Lemaire and Moore up front with Harvey, Savard, Bouchard and Cleghorn on the back end, and the Gumper and Jose Theodore (Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2002) in goal.

How about the entire ’59-60 team, which capped off the five-in-a-row dynasty, or the ’76-77 edition, the best of the four-straight gang of the 1970s. You wouldn’t be wrong, either way.

Selecting Fergie, Skrudland, Harris and Ludwig ahead of a busload of Hall of Famers might be a bizarre conversation starter, but sifting through the Canadiens greats is quite a discussion, no matter how you attack it. With no right answer, finally.

The Beatles And The Habs – A Winning Combination.

 

On August 17th, in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there.

I was 15 years old and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that he was going and asked if I would like to go with him. I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, the show wasn’t sold out and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row of the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had the kiddies. Yvon Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23. Jacques Laperriere 24. And Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs have continued on over the years in mostly glorious fashion. The Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

And the Leafs continue to suck.