In the days of Toe Blake …


When the Habs were winning championships more often than an overweight man or woman ventures to the fridge for a midnight snack. There were no video reviews. One coach was able to control his players. Goalies, defencemen and the privaleged puck masters had to fend for themselves.

The Rocket through to Lafleur in the seventies did things successfully with a feeling. A gut instinct which made them rise above the hackers and dime-a-dozen players who attempted to thwart their desires of passion and victory.

Instinct was the biggest possible weapon toted through battles large and small.

What stops a man from stealing when he is hungry? Is it fear of the law or something else? Conscience plays a big role part of the time. A regal upbringing in the crown of adolescence. Yet there is something else which shakes the foundations of his moral compass.


Collectively, the city of Montreal, known for its hockey mad denizens, oozed a loud groan when the news of Michel Therrien as the new head coach of the Habs hit the media outlets. Did the majority of the fans not like Therrien’s haircut? Maybe his appearance on RDS ruffled a few fashion feathers? Know what?

None of the above.

When a sound similar to a chipmonk being run over by a mini – van is emitted from the mouths of hockey babes in under a second, a thought process of an Einstein is not taking place.

Ted Williams is not hitting the ball here. It’s Babe Ruth strolling to the plate and smashing common sense right down the throat of Marc Bergevin. Over the fence and into the cheap seats. That is where instinct has landed.

Molson et al do not take up residence in the cheap seats. The ball is too far away to see the scuffs of reasoning. The pine tar excess known as ‘ streetsmarts’.

The guy on the street, the man in the sewers and the gentleman who runs his minor hockey team know. Their brains hardwired to delete the nonsense from their hard drives of life. No grey areas when it comes to red and blue lines in hockey.

Michel Therrien will be relieved of his duties as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens before the team wins another Stanley Cup.

Like the days of Toe Blake …

Mr. Elmer Lach

Mr. Elmer Lach recently dropped the puck at the Pointe Claire Oldtimer’s Tournament.

At ninety – four years young, Elmer is the oldest remaining person to have played for the Canadiens and the last surviving member of the famous Punch Line. That line consisted of himself, Toe Blake and Maurice ( the Rocket ) Richard.

Please enjoy these photos of an icon … How many people do you know can say they passed to and received a puck from the Rocket!

Rick Keene and Elmer Lach

All photos property of Rick Keene

except the final one which is linked to the photographer.

Elmer Lach; The Legend that Time almost Forgot

Have your buddies gone golfing without you?

No worries – ignite your IPad!

What’s that? Not up on Steve Jobs’ legacy? Then do it the old – fashioned way! Grab a piece of paper and your favorite Robert Picard pen. Sit down on your Carey Price – signed couch and relax!

It is time for a Montreal Canadiens quiz! Ready?

What player celebrated the fifty – ninth anniversary of scoring a Stanley Cup winning goal on April 16, 2012? Who was the all – time leading scorer in NHL history when he hung up his skates for good in 1954? Which former Hab retains the record for most assists (six) in one game by a Montreal Canadien?

If any of your answers include Maurice Richard, Boom Boom Geoffrion or Jean Beliveau – sorry, an excursion to Montreal Canadien summer school is on your agenda. No holiday to visit Howe or Harry Howell. No trip to Toronto to see Gretzky’s jersey and no lunch at Guy Lafleur’s restaurant!

The correct response to all three questions is Elmer James Lach. The funny thing …? The last person to give you the proper answer – Lach himself …

Maurice Richard, Elmer Lach and Toe Blake

On hand yesterday to drop the ceremonial first puck for the 43th annual Pointe Claire Old- Timer’s hockey tournament, the ninety- four year old and longest living Montreal Canadien – was all smiles as he took his place at center ice. His rightful place!

Hard to believe – almost sixty years ago, Lach was on another ice surface and another era – celebrating his very own Stanley Cup winning goal against the Boston Bruins in a 1 – 0 overtime victory. A goal just 1:23 into the opening extra period. A goal that gave the Saskatchawan- born Lach a broken nose!

” Me and Maurice ( Richard ) were so excited that we won, we jumped into each other ‘s arms to celebrate! Rocket’s stick caught my nose a little to the side and that was the way I started my summer!” Lach laughs while he signs a miniature Stanley Cup. ” It didn’t bother me that much – I had been though worse.”

Worse is an understatement as Mr. Lach dealt with a fractured skull, a badly broken arm, two broken jaws ( which he played through ), a fractured leg, the same cheekbone shattered twice, a sliced foot, hundreds of stitches and 7 broken noses; including the one delivered by The Rocket. Of all the injuries – the one that bothered him the most however, was the broken hip he suffered on February 25, 2011.

” I was shoveling the snow off my deck and before you knew it – I was on my back! Luckily my wife looked out and saw me laying there. If not, I would have been covered in snow!” Lach laughs. ” This bothered me most because of my age – it took a while to heal and I can’t stand sitting around!”

Lach played through all his injuries, mostly on the famous Punch Line with Rocket Richard and Toe Blake. Two men – according to Lach, that shared the same sentiments as himself; they hated to lose!

In the 1944–45 season, Lach played in all fifty games, picking up a league-leading eighty points ( 26 goals – 54 assists). The same season, linemate Maurice Richard became the first player in the NHL to score 50 goals in 50 games. The Punch line amassed 220 points in total, a NHL record until the 1960s. Lach earned the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s Most Valuable Player. He was also named to the First All-Star team.

” That was the reason our line was so successful! All three of us did not agree with a defeat. When we travelled to Toronto – to play the Leafs, the three of us would go to the same bar. We had a few drinks and all we talked about was hockey, hockey, hockey! Because of these talks, we knew exactly where each other would be on the ice at all times!”

Elmer Lach won three Stanley Cups with the Habs and won two scoring titles. He retired as the league’s all-time leading scorer in 1954 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame 12 years later.

His number 16 was retired on December 4, 2009 during the Montreal Canadiens Centennial celebrations on the same night as Emile Bouchard. The latter passing away on Saturday morning – two days before the anniversary of Lach’s winner.

Mr. Lach remembers his former teammate fondly as he recalls the time the team elected Bouchard as captain. ” Butch was our leader! There was no doubt about it! We all had to write down our vote and I was probably the first to give my vote ( Bouchard ) to our coach – Dick Irvin Sr.

Lach also recalls Irvin Sr. as the guy who pulled the most practical jokes on the team. The coach – of all people !

” I came out of the shower after a game and my clothes were missing. I looked at Rocket – I knew by his expression, he had no idea where they were. Same thing with Toe. Then, I see Mr. Irvin standing in the corner. His hand trying to cover his mouth but his laughter got louder and louder!”

Elmer does not watch a lot of hockey yet enough to give his take on the current woes of the club de hockey Canadien. Lach believes Geoff Molson does not know enough about hockey and that is the biggest problem.

” It all starts at the top and falls down. If management is off – the rest of the team will suffer.” He says as he signs yet another souvenir for a fan(free of charge).

Mr. Lach utilizes a cane and a walker to get around. Dave Stubbs, one of the best sports writers in North America and writer at the Montreal Gazette- has become Lach’s unofficial ‘ keeper ‘ in recent years. Stubbs cannot understand why Lach does not receive the same accolades as Richard and Blake. Part of the reason, says Stubbs, is Lach’s humble nature.

” He’s not one for the public eye – it took a while, as usual, for me to convince him to drop the puck today!” Stubbs continues. ” This guy played on one of the greatest lines in the history of hockey. There was no one tougher or more dedicated to the Canadiens than him.”

So what will Lach do to celebrate the anniversary of his Stanley Cup winning goal?

” If the weather is nice tomorrow – I’m going golfing!” States Lach as he finishes his Budweiser …

Funeral for a Friend

After a long and courageous battle with it`s power-play, the Montreal Canadien organization is sad to announce the passing of it’s  offense.

The origin of many nights of joy throughout the Province of Quebec and North America , the offense passed away in it`s sleep last night .

The offense was in it`s one hundred and fourth year . Pre- deceased by Maurice Richard , Aurele Joliet , Toe Blake , Boom – Boom Geoffrion , Claude ProvostNewsy Malone and Howie Morenz . Survived by Jean Beliveau , Guy Lafleur , Henri Richard , Yvan Cournoyer , Dickie Moore, Elmer Lach , Jacques Lemaire , Steve Shutt and many, many Aunts and Uncles .

The Montreal Canadiens along with the Molson family would like to express their gratitude for ten decades of unflinching support from the many fans . Born in 1909 – the offense served in thirty – three battles winning twenty – four of them . The offense was married six times over the years, with  Molson being their primary love. The pair were together for forty – eight years before an amicable divorce in 2001. The couple reunited in 2009 as the offense has lived out the past four years in and out of sickness. Visitation will be at Le Centre Bell from now until the arena is part of a corporate condominium. At that time – it will cost big bucks to enter the shrine where Lemaire and Lapointe’s numbers do not hang …

In lieu of flowers – the Canadiens’ organization kindly asks that you donate sticks and pucks to the Hamilton Bulldogs .

A memorial fund will also be set up with all monies going to the underprivileged Carey Price and Peter Budaj.


%d bloggers like this: