Saturday, 21 September 2013

Today in Habs History: September 21st Edition

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Howie Morenz was born on this day in 1902

 

The Habs Stand Up to the Bullies

 

Many say that games in the NHL pre-season don’t matter. Such was not the case on September 21, 1975 when the Montreal Canadiens concluded a weekend exhibition series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

Many say it was a strategy right from the start by Canadiens coach Scotty Bowman. Though not a supporter of fighting in hockey, Bowman knew his squad would have to hit and hurt the defending Stanley Cup champions to get their attention.

 

It certainly worked, as the Canadiens proved they were willing to hold there ground against the rough and tumble club from the City of Brotherly Love.

 

The Canadiens already had some hard-nosed players in the lineup such as Pierre Bouchard, Larry Robinson, Mario Tremblay and Doug Risebrough. With the game in pre-season, the club also tagged along added grit in Habs hopefuls Sean Shanahan, Glen Goldup and Rick Chartraw.

 

The tension filled game was at a 6-1 lead for the Canadiens, but it ended abruptly after Bruce Hood lost control of the game. When Risebrough and Flyers captain Boobby Clarke dropped the gloves, Flyers tough guy Dave Schultz hopped the boards, resulting in a bench-clearing brawl with less than two minutes to play. A total of 69 penalties were assessed between the two teams.

 

You can read more in detail of how the Habs solved the bullies from a piece I wrote in 2012 for HabsEyesOnThePrize.

 

Many observers came to the conclusion that this game was a statement from the Canadiens that they were not pushovers to any team.  “We were many who who able to reply (to the Flyers),” Pierre Bouchard said years later. “The Flyers maybe lost their arrogance towards the Canadiens. They saw it didn’t work anymore or worked less.”

 

It was certainly proven by season’s end, when the Canadiens swept the Flyers for the Stanley Cup, and for the next three seasons after.

 

Below is some video footage from a Radio-Canada special on the Habs ‘70s dynasty that aired in 1994. Thanks to Francis Bouchard for digging up the clip.

 

 

 

Yvon Lambert is the first to talk and mentions that Scotty Bowman had prepared the team mentally for that game, to be ready for anything. He implies that the game had a positive effect on the Canadiens and the contrary effect on the Flyers, as they probably saw the Canadiens would not be intimidated.

 

Tremblay notes that the game changed the way the Canadiens looked at the Flyers. He also  points out the younger players present in the game and how he believed Canadiens management adopted a change of philosophy for the team at that time, to add toughness and protect their star players. Hmm does that sound familiar (Brandon Prust, Ryan White George Parros, Mike McCarron)?

 

Also on This Day..

 

1942: Former Canadiens defensemen Bert Corbeau is among the 25 men who perished in Georgian Bay, when Corbeau’s yacht sank off of Beausoleil Island. A look back at the tragic event.

 

1946: The Canadiens trade Wilbert Hiller and Vic Lynn traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs (Pittsburgh - AHL) for John Mahaffy and Gerry Brown

 

1992: Bob Gainey is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame

 

 

 

 

Habs Born on This Day: Howie Morenz (1902), Connie Tudin (1917), Russ Lowe (1928)

 

 

Sources:

 

www.hhof.com

www.sihrhockey.org

www.habseyesontheprize.com

Hunter, Douglas, ‘Scotty Bowman: A Life in Hockey”

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