May 13, 2010

D'Arcy Jenish: A Team Like No Other

The Montreal Canadiens: 100 Years of Glory
Written by D'Arcy Jenish

Format: Trade Paperback, 384 pages
Publisher: Anchor Canada
ISBN: 978-0-385-66325-0 (0-385-66325-0)

A Team Like No Other

When we think of the Montreal Canadiens, we think of many things, some obvious, some less so. There’s the Stanley Cup, of course, which was awarded to the Canadiens for championships won in 1916 and 1924, in 1930 and ’31, in 1944, ’46 and ’53, in fifteen of twentythree seasons between 1956 and 1979, in 1986 and again in 1993. We think of longevity, because the Canadiens have been playing for a hundred years, longer than any professional hockey team.

We think of the gods of hockey: Plante in goal, Harvey and Robinson on defence, the Rocket, Béliveau and Lafleur for the offence. And a host of lesser deities: the Pocket Rocket, Boom Boom Geoffrion, Cournoyer and Moore; Dryden, Savard and Gainey. Stars from the edge of living memory: Elmer Lach, Butch Bouchard, Ken Reardon and Bill Durnan. Stars from an era beyond memory: Newsy Lalonde, Aurel Joliat and George Hainsworth, the Cleghorns, Didier Pitre and Jack Laviolette. And those who went from the rink to hospital beds to their graves: Bad Joe Hall in 1919, Georges Vézina in 1926 and Howie Morenz in 1937.

We think of stern and demanding coaches: Dick Irvin, Toe Blake and Scotty Bowman, each of whom was the best of his day. Shrewd managers: Tommy Gorman, Frank Selke and Sam Pollock, who ran the team for a total of thirtynine years and won eighteen Stanley Cups. Owners who spanned the spectrum from aristocratic to flamboyant: George N. Gillett Jr. and the Bronfmans; the Molsons and Senator Donat Raymond; Ernest Savard, Colonel Maurice Forget and their partners in the depths of the Great Depression; Léo Dandurand, Joseph Cattarinich and Louis Létourneau (the three musketeers of the 1920s and early 1930s); George Kennedy, who named the team, created the logo, guided the Canadiens to their first Cup, led them into the NHL, died prematurely in 1921 and fell into obscurity; and Ambrose O’Brien, one of the founders, the original financier and the nominal proprietor for the first twelve months.

We think of a team that has had five homes: the Jubilee Rink, deep in the city’s Frenchspeaking east end; the Westmount Arena, Montreal’s premier hockey venue until fire devoured all but its brick walls in January 1918; the Mount Royal Arena, which replaced the Westmount; the Forum, which was erected on the site of an outdoor roller skating rink of the same name and was the most famous hockey stadium in the world by the time the Canadiens played their final game there on March 11, 1996; and the Bell Centre, which, with its seating capacity of 21,273 is the biggest arena in North America, and which acquired a heart, according to the Frenchlanguage journalists who cover the team, on the night of April 9, 2002, when Canadiens captain Saku Koivu skated onto the ice after six months of chemotherapy treatments for cancer and received an eightminute standing ovation from the fans.

Excerpted from The Montreal Canadiens by D'Arcy Jenish Copyright © 2008 by D'Arcy Jenish. Excerpted by permission of Anchor Canada. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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