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Habs Memories 1965-2021

HABS MEMORIES

1. 1965-66 Stanley Cups Toe Blake and his fedora behind the bench…. Bobby Rousseau saying "uuuh…." 76 times in 5 minutes while interviewed on Hockey Night In Canada by Ward Cornell…. Gump Worsley with no mask, J.C. Tremblay and Jacques Laperriere on D, Le Capitaine Jean Beliveau hoists the Cup….

2. 1967: Expo 67 and loss to hated Leafs in Final…. Yes, I’m actually old enough to remember the Leafs winning the Cup… felt nauseous at school the next day as my contrarian older brother gloated (inexplicably a Leafs fan)….

3. 1968-69 Expansion to 12 teams…. Two more Cups, John Ferguson belting Eddie Shack, Roadrunner Yvan Cournoyer, Pocket Rocket Henri Richard, and always at the Centre of it all elegant, handsome and gracious Jean Beliveau lifting the Cup…. all described in mellifluous tones by Danny Gallivan in English and Rene Lecavalier en Francais…

3. !971: Habs come back from 5-1 in 3rd period to beat Boston and eventually take semif-final, then win another Cup… this was the record-setting, supposedly invincible Bruins team of Bobby Orr, Esposito, Hodge, Cashman, Bucyk, MacKenzie, Sanderson, Cheevers etc…. Rookie Ken Dryden in net stymies Hodge on doorstep as he lifts his stick to celebrate goal… This one was oh so Sweet!

4. 1973 Henri Richard scores tying and winning goals in third period of Game 7 in Chicago to win yet another Cup, his record 11th… Defensive ace Clause Provost throws a cloak over Bobby Hull in all 7 games, rendering the Golden Jet invisible, a la Danault on Matthews, Wheeler, and Pacioretty… The Habs fire coach Al McNeil after winning the Cup due to "communication problems" with certain players (i.e. Richard)….

5. 1976-80 Back to back to back to back to Glory: after two years of Broad Street Bullies Bullshit… Scotty Bowman has loaded the team with players who can dish it out….

In a pre-season clash in Philadelphia, Habs thrash the Flyers on the scoreboard, and more importantly win every fight… Larry Robinson, Pierre Bouchard, Rick Chartraw, Mario Tremblay, etc all win their bouts…. end of Flyers Reign of Terror and beginning of 4 straight Cups….. one year, the Habs lose only 8 games and still Bowman is not satisfied…

LaFleur scores in last minute to tie game against Boston in 1979 semis, after coaching genius Don Cherry and the Bruins are caught with too many men on the ice… Lambert wins it in Overtime to send Habs to another Final…..

I listen to almost every game all of those years on the CBC French station, on my transistor radio in my bedroom, in a small town on the frozen Prairies southeast of Winnipeg… the local team in my French-Canadian village is also called the Habs… we also chant Go Habs Go! , but in a frigid no-artificial ice arena, as our local boys also win their league year after year…..

Relentless Dictator Scotty Bowman has at his disposal a lineup including Dryden, Robinson, Lapointe, Savard, Lemaire, Lafleur, Larouche, Schutt, Tremblay, Lambert, Tardif, Houle, Jarvis, Risebrough, etc…..

1980-84 Islanders dynasty takes over…. a scrawny 18 year-old kid by the name of Gretzky scores 2 goals and adds four assists against the Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens on his Saturday night Hockey Night In Canada debut….

1986: Rookie goalie Patrick Roy leads Habs to an unexpected Cup, with most of the important goals by Claude "Pepe" Lemieux….. Calgary upset Edmonton Oilers, preventing Oilers from gunning for Habs record of 5 straight Cups…. Habs step into the vacuum and hoist another Cup….

1989: Habs lose Final in Montreal to Calgary Flames…. the only time the Cup was awarded to the visitors at the Forum in Habs history…. Intense Nordiques-Habs rivalry ….. Insane Battles of Quebec……

1993: Another Patrick Roy Cup, with a record 10 wins in Overtime along the way….. Roy winking at Tomas Sandstrom after incredible save…Horseshoes and key goals… Trigger man Vinny Damphousse, Guy Carbonneau winning key face-offs… who knew it would be 28 years till the next Final?

1995: Habs move from Forum to Bell Centre… The Dark Ages begin…. Before final game at the Forum, a parade of Habs Hall of Famers honoured at centre ice…. Beliveau and Lafleur get huge cheers, but nothing like the 10 minute Standing O offered to Maurice "The Rocket" Richard…. check it out on Youtube… it’s lump-in-the-throat stuff, required viewing for all true Habs fans….

1995-2020: no Cups, bad management, inconsistent drafting, running Patrick Roy out of town to Denver in 1996, where he wins two more Cups with Colorado, salary caps, period of mediocrity and apathy, with brief glints of light at the end of a bleak tunnel, including upsets of Bruins and Washington… Carey Price injured by Rangers goon Kreider to end a great playoff run…. loss to Tampa Bay in semis, courtesy of Quebecois Martin St. Louis… will this new era of no Canadian and Canadien Cups ever end?

2021: To Be Determined: is this finally a return to glory or another mirage? This edition of the Habs is amazing, with plenty of potential for the future…. Grizzled, tough veterans on defence, skills and energy of exuberant youth and future stars in Goal Caufield and Dr. Nick Suzuki, a great mix of all the elements needed to win a title, including the world’s greatest playoff goalie..…. 12 down, 4 to Go….

Before Game 4 against Vegas, I was riding my bike in my leafy Toronto neighbourhood when I found a sacred relic by the curb, a Montreal Canadiens goalie mask…. courtesy of a former goalie, who had left a complete set of well-used gear up for grabs… I took it as a sign that the Canadiens are destined for Glory this crazy year… I’ve been wearing it during short-handed situations to help Jesus Price ward off the enemy….. I’ve also been flying my Habs flag from my 4th floor apartment since they beat the Leafs in Game 7 (smirk)….

Allez, les Glorieux, Go Habs Go!!!


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