Monday, 10 June 2013

Today in Habs History: June 10th Edition

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1971: The Canadiens dominance of the seventies begins to take shape as Scotty Bowman is announced as the 13th head coach in the history of the Montreal Canadiens.

 

The story is that Canadiens GM Sam Pollock had approached Bowman during Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final. Bowman, in a dispute with ownership, had parted ways with the St. Louis Blues. Having worked with Bowman the Canadiens organisation before, Pollock offered him an undetermined position. After mulling over offers from four other NHL clubs, including the Oakland Seals, Bowman made a call to Pollock.

“You’re hired,” Pollock told him ten days before the June 10, draft. “But I don’t know yet just what job I can give you.”

 

The only thing was for Pollock to decide what to do with current coach Al MacNeil who despite winning the Cup that season, had fallen out of favour with the media and many players, notably captain Henri Richard.

 

Pollock gave MacNeil the offer to step down as head coach and take over operations of the Nova Scotia Voyageurs (AHL). MacNeil accepted. “I’m not so naive to think leaving as coach of the Canadiens is not a big decision,” MacNeil said. “It was one of the most demanding positions in hockey. It has been a hectic – and exciting year – and I got a breat deal odf personal satisfaction from it.”

 

There was no formal interview, and Bowman didn’t even meet team owner David Molson until after the press conference. The choice also met approval from the Canadiens captain as well. “He proved himself in St. Louis,” said Richard “They say Scotty is something like Toe Blake in his approach. Yeah, a hard line. But we’ll just wait and see.”

 

For the organisation, it couldn’t have been a better combination. With Pollock’s shrewd dealing and drafting, MacNeil’s grooming of talent in the AHL, that led to three Calder Cups in the seventies, and Bowman behind the bench, the managerial formula to the next Habs dynasty was in place.

 

One the same day they added the most important piece of the puzzle on the ice, selecting Guy Lafleur first overall in the NHL Amateur Draft. “When I watch him, I keep thinking back to when (Bobby) Orr played junior,” said Sam Pollock at the draft.

 

“I was very happy to be chosen by the Canadiens,” Lafleur said at the draft. “I was a bit nervous before the draft because of all the publicity.”

 

The Canadiens the chose Chuck Arnason (7th), Murray Wilson (11th) and Larry Robinson (20th) in the draft. Arnason never fell into the Canadiens plans, dealt midway into the 1972-73 season. Wilson would be a realiabel secondary scorer for the Canadiens, until back injuries slowed him down, and Robinson would go on to have a Hall of Fame Career.

 

Also on this day..

 

1964: Dickie Moore is selected from the Canadiens, by the Toronto Maple Leafs, in the Intra-League Draft.

 

1968: The Canadiens trade Danny Grant and Claude Larose from to the Minnesota North Stars, in exchange for a 1st choice in the 1972 Entry Draft (Dave Gardner) and future considerations (Marshall Johnston).

 

1970: Former Canadiens defenseman Tom Johnson is announce as one of the newest members into the Hocky Hall of Fame.

 

The Canadiens acquire Bill Collins from the Minnesota North Stars to complete trade that sent Jude Drouin to Minnesota (May 22, 1970). Montreal also sends Bobby Rousseau and a 2nd round pick to Minnesota for Claude Larose and a 1st round pick (Chuck Lefley) in 1970.

 

Habs Born on This Day: Billy Bell (1891), Leo Gravelle (1925)

 

Sources:

www.canadiens.com

www.hhof.com

www.sihrhockey.org

AP, June 11, 1971, “Scotty Bowman Replaces MacNeil”

AP, June 11, 1971, “Montreal Canadiens draft high-scoring Guy Lafleur”

CP. June 11, 1971, “Coach, future star to Habs on same day”

Montreal Gazette, June 11, 1971, “Svoboda didn’t get the job but – surprise – Scotty did”

Photo: CHC

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