In over 110 years of history, the Canadian of Montreal has seen its fair share of “characters”, that is to say, players, or coaches who had a particular character and which were the delight of their supporters, fans, and journalists during their stay in the organization.
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Either by their mannerisms, their eccentricities, or their thoughts, these men have marked the memories of many, and have helped to make their sport even more entertaining.
So here, in no particular order, the ten “characters” that have marked the history of the Habs :
One of the most dangerous markers of the history of the team, the Montrealer has literally invented the throw-hit, hence his famous nickname “boom Boom”. In the 1950s, while the hockey world was using mostly the wrist shot, Geoffrion, him, had simply decided to put a layer of more. It has served well : he became the second player to score 50 goals in a season in the NHL.
But if this was it.
The member of the hall of fame, who scored 371 goals with the CH, was also a sacred character. Magnetic, he has even been hired, after his hockey career, by the famous businessman Ted Turner in a position of public relations. With his piercing gaze and his voice of a stentor, he never passed unnoticed : moreover, he loved to sing and enjoyed to let go in the feasts and gatherings. He was also capable of the occasional quip memorable. The oldest undoubtedly remember the time where the journalist Michel Normandin had been questioned about the nature of his injuries.
“I have heard, by the doctor, that it was a surbite”, responded Geoffrion.
It was a bursitis.
The Russian has played only one season in Montreal, but it was quickly adopted by supporters. His abilities were what make it popular, but there was also something, in its exuberance, his spontaneity, who had charmed the public.
Radulov, no doubt about it, is a good living. A guy who has fun on the ice rink. Some of his celebrations after important goals, were memorable. His team-mates have also got their money.
Max Pacioretty, who has been very frequented during his year in Montreal, and has already told some good anecdotes about the Russian, including the one where Radulov had come to attend a feast at his home, one evening, before the recall the next day because it wasn’t his dentures.
Somewhere in this night, in circumstances that are more than obscure, Radulov, a man particularly toothless, had lost his dentures. Pacioretty has made the tour of his house to find him. Without success. Said denture to this day, remains lost. Two months later, “Radu” was bought a new one.
This is just a story among many others!
Keeper of the Canadians in the 1960s, Lorne “Gump” Worsley, an anglo-Québécois, had a particular style for the time. Often on the rink, freestyle, the diminutive porter was one of the last to occupy his position in the NHL without wearing a mask.
For him, the mask was very uncomfortable. And when a reporter asked him if one day he would use, he answered “my face is my mask”.
It was really another era. Worsley, who has already been knocked out in a match by a violent shooting of Bobby Hull, did not complain of his fate. “It’s better than walking around with a lunch box,” said he about his business, which was otherwise more risky in its time.
Before playing in Montreal, “Gump” was playing for the Rangers, during what was not a great era for the organization in new york. Regularly bombarded with more than 40 shots per game, “Gump” was asked which team was causing him more trouble.
“The Rangers”, had replied the ineffable guardian.
“Sharp” is above all recognised for its excellence at the blue line : the member of the hall of fame was part of the famous “Big Three”, in the company of Serge Savard and Larry Robinson, to the defense of the Canadiens during their dynasty of the 1970s.
But “Sharp”, it was also quite a prankster. Most of his teammates have, one day or the other, been victims of one of its towers pendables. Like nail to the ground the shoes of Ken Dryden. As bring his own whistle to the training to enrage Scotty Bowman. Such as hiding the car from Mario Tremblay during a week. These are only three examples in a sea of bad shots.
His great classic, this is probably the time where it was coated the hand of vaseline before going to shake that of Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The prime minister of Canada had been somewhat… surprised. He repeated the same trick with Johnny Bench, catcher-star of the Cincinnati Reds in the 1970s.
These days, Lapointe fight a cancer of the tongue and throat. We wish him all the strength necessary to cope successfully with this merciless opponent.
In total, the hard-to-cook from Maniwaki, has played only 49 games in the Canadiens uniform, but nobody has forgotten that. Odjick, in the words of many, is a guy dealing with the big heart.
But on the ice, it was… let’s say unexpected. It is enough to review the sequence where, bare chest during a melee general, he challenges the entire team Blues of St. Louis, and probably the rest of the universe also.
But Gino, a guy spontaneous with an interesting sense of fairness, amused and also a lot of journalists during his press briefings. One evening, after a defeat in the series, he said, “it is not the pins, it will not be cut down”.
Odjick is to this day a legend of the Canucks and Vancouver, the fans applaud him warmly everywhere he is presented. But in Montreal, the fans of the CH have also liked it a lot.
Member of Canadians between 1957 and 1962, Bonin, measuring only 5’8’, but according to many, it was at that time the strongest man, pound-for-pound, in the entire NHL.
And it was not cold in the eyes. The famous “Terrible” Ted Lindsay was taught, one evening in 1950, and after having provoked Bonin, he soon found himself lying on the ice, with more large-thing of “terrible” in him.
Able to bend nails six inches with his fingers, enjoying the crunch of the glass to entertain his teammates, Bonin has already fought against a bear, at age 16, while a circus was passing in Joliette. Good, the bears came out on top in the end, but this was enough for the hockey player was then nicknamed “the Bear of Joliette”.
And the bear, then, has probably bragged to his friends to have been the only one to be shown stronger than the old number 18…
The younger brother of Frank has had a nice career in the NHL, and many feel that he deserved his place in the hall of fame. Pete Mahovlich, a strapping lad of 6’5’, was a very good centre player who still holds the record for assists in a season with the CH, whereas it had accumulated 82 in 1974-75.
But the big Pete was also a good living. Partier inveterate, a little too much with the taste of the coach Scotty Bowman, even, Mahovlich was on the front and a sense of humor.
It had a little bit of both, in any case, to install the two feet on the office of the mayor of Montreal, Jean Drapeau, and light up a big cigar during the celebrations of the Stanley Cup won by the Habs in 1971.
For better and for worse, Patrick Roy, alias “Casseau” in his younger years, was quite a character. By his mannerisms, his mood swings, his split or his incredible instinct of a competitor, “St. Patrick” left nobody indifferent.
Roy had his share of shade. His conflicts with the coach Mario Tremblay had pulled out of Montreal in 1995.
But he was also capable, in turn, the occasional quote is a memorable one.
Criticized in the media by Jeremy Roenick during the 1990s, Roy had replied that he had heard about the U.s. because he had both ears blocked by his rings of the Stanley Cup.
P. K. Subban
As soon as he donned the sweater of the Canadiens, it was pretty clear that P. K. was in a class of its own and not only because of his skills of hockey.
Voluble, demonstrative, also capable of the replica memorable, Subban was, even in his style of play, a true “entertainer”.
The anecdotes of his ex-teammate Hal Gill is without doubt the best. In an article published on “the Player’s Tribune”, Gill remembered the first spring of Subban in Montreal, while CH faced the Penguins, champions of the Stanley Cup, the second round of the series.
As soon as the first game, as soon as his first tour on the ice, Subban was made to piss off none other than Sidney Crosby.
“Hey Sid! I’m going to follow you throughout the evening, my guys. It’s you against me! Throughout the evening. I wait for you!”
Gill was convinced that the youngster was going to be demolished. And four minutes later, the Canadians were leading 1-0.
Subban came in to score his first goal in the NHL.
Two things : ex-coach and talent scout of Canadians was nicknamed “Piton” and the phrase “there will not be easy,” must speak quebec modern, is his invention.
Claude Ruel had charged, in 1969, when he was asked if the Canadians had a chance to win the Stanley Cup. It remains to be seen.
In fact, “Peak” had the gift of unpacking the expressions involved who played his interlocutors. It is as well as journalists could learn that “the Flyers are accumulated at the foot of the wall”, that “the game was going to be televised Winnipeg Athletic to the other,” and that an injured player regained “of the coat worse out of the box”.
If his vocabulary sometimes lacked finish, his knowledge of hockey, they were settled in the quarter of a turn. Passionate about his sport, Ruel, working rather in the shadow, has built the careers of several players of the Canadiens. They were many to pay tribute to him when he passed away in 2015.