The Rocket Said…..

In 1970 New York hockey writer Stan Fischler wrote a book called The ‘Flying Frenchmen’ in which he did a general story about the Habs over the years, and then in the second half of the book, Rocket Richard took over and wrote under the heading of ‘My Life With The Canadiens.’

Several things jump out from the pages and I’d like to mention a couple.

Rocket said, “Something should be done to put more of the class back into the game – the stickhandling and the wrist shot and the pattern plays that are so beautiful. Maybe it would be a good idea to eliminate the red line and allow passing all the way up to the opponent’s blue line.”

The Rocket, in talking about the 1969-70 Habs season said, “Too many times they were unable to hold on to leads in the late minutes of games. In my day we would sustain the offense at all times. But the latter-day Canadiens tended to go into a defensive shell, which is the worst technique to use to protect a lead.”

“Up front the Canadiens have too many little men.”

This next piece of business is odd and I feel what was said was somehow lost in translation when the Rocket wrote it and the ghostwriter, maybe Fischler, put it into English. Rocket was talking about a certain time when he played and it goes like this:

“There was no animosity on the team and there was plenty of spirit, especially with men like Ken Reardon and Butch Bouchard on the team. Butch was a big bull. When he was on the ice you knew that the smaller players on our team would be protected. If any of our men got pushed around Bouchard was right there to help. Butch and I were the first to step in if any of our teammates were involved in a fight. But I was never friendly with Butch. As a matter of fact, I never got along with him.”

And finally, this….from the Rocket.

“I’ve always felt that the Toronto fan is the best in the entire circuit. Whenever he sees good hockey being played, he’ll give the team and players a good hand even if they are bitter rivals of his home team.”

8 thoughts on “The Rocket Said…..”

  1. It seems that teams develop certain characteristics that are hard to shake. The Flyers will forever be goonish, for example. In the sixties, I can remember that same issue about size. John Ferguson helped a lot, and guys like Laperriere and Harper came along. Even recently, our bigger guys such as Lats and OB didn’t tend to play a rugged style.

    The Rocket’s comment about TO fans should be enough to incite the masses, but I’ve lived amongst TO fans and even watched finals with them back in the day. Of the two finals that we watched together (as I recall), we won one (65 maybe) and lost one (67). We all watched, cheered for our respective teams, and either lost or won graciously. I often think how you win or lose almost defines a person.

  2. Hey Anvilcloud, you nailed it when you mentioned the team getting bigger when Ferguson, Lapierriere, and Harper came along, along with Ted Harris. And you’re right – teams get handles – Philly tough, Bruins blue collar, Montreal small and fast. Someday I’d love to see the Canadiens as a huge, tough team with a nice blend of skaters. Hasn’t been that way in awhile.
    I used to go to Maple Leaf Gardens way back when and yes, the fans there are appreciative, but I’m not sure they’re as loud as in Montreal. Rocket said if he was ever traded, Toronto would be his choice. Can you imagine in your wildest dreams the Rocket wearing a Leafs uniform?

  3. Dennis,

    While it may seem a little abrupt, I think it sums up the chemistry of a team. You sit in a locker room (we sit in a dressing room over here) and your glad to see certain faces there for a variety of reasons.

    When I played rugby at college (an effete “lover not a fighter approach” from me I’m afraid) there were guys you wanted on the pitch when the boys from South Glamorgan Institute (Wales) pitched up with their robust style honed against teams of miners from up the valleys (God I’m old there aren’t any mines left!).

    There were others who lifted the atmosphere socially and then the really good players. We all got on after a fashion, had a drink together after games and such, but once you were away from the team or the pitch we all went our seperate ways. One or two might be friends but that was it.

    I can imagine that when it is a profession this would be even more the case.

    The romantic in us wants to see them all as best buddies but the Rocket gives the lie to that. And it’s to his credit that he should tell it like it is.

    So it’s all about that chemistry when you’re together as a team. The dynamic changes and you supress your natural judgements about your teamates. It’s something primeval from the hunter-gatherer in us I suppose. The group good before the individual.

  4. It was just a surprise, Blue Bayou, because I always thought Rocket and Butch were great buddies. You put it really well how it really is. And in reality, everyone on a team can’t be friends. Any team. There are just too many personalities involved.
    We also say dressing room here, or at least most of us do. Locker room I think is more of an American football term. Sometimes I say locker room, but in general, it’s been dressing room for me since the first time my dad tied my skates and wiped my nose.

  5. Dennis,

    I stand corrected (too much US based commentary and not enough of Uncle BoB describing things as dandy). And while it’s a dressing room in Canada and God is in his heaven pretty much everything will be right with the world.

  6. the rocket is just reiterating all the stuff we say………………… what a copy cat. except the leaf fan shit…….. surely the work of fischler translating into, not english but american…… i’m sorry, stan knows shit about hockey.

  7. Locker room is still used quite often, Blue Bayou. But I’ve always called it dressing room. And because of my age, I also say “sweater” instead of “jersey” when it comes to hockey sweaters. And did you see the seats Danno and his dad had? These kind of seats I only dream about. One of my first acts as owner is to appointing Danno in charge of finding seats like these for friends and players’ wives. And BB, how much are good seats to big-time soccer game?

  8. Dennis,

    At the home of the current Champions (cough and we all know who they are) its £55 for a Premier League match. There are more expensive seats but that will get you a good ‘un. Bear in mind it’s London and tickets might be cheaper at smaller regional clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United. There are 19 home games. For Cup games and European games the prices might be half that in the early rounds but go up to similar for the later rounds or if the opposition is big time.

    Oh and it’s a shirt, always a shirt for football but you might get away with jersey for rugby.

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