Who is The Great One?
My family and some friends have been corresponding about the retirement of Mario Lemieux and his place in hockey history. A lot of the oldtimers still put their faith in the likes of Howe, Hull and Orr. This debate prompted the following response from my father, and I thought I’d share it with you:
I was a goalie with the McGill Redmen in the 50’s. We practiced at the Forum just before the Habs practice. After our practice I would sit in the front row for half an hour and watch the Rocket, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey, Boom Boom, the Pocket, Moore, etc. Damn near failed that year.
The Rocket was exciting, explosive, tough, a powerful stride, excellent skater, and really strong in body, with a devastating back-hand shot – it would go right through the boards or the goalie. His brother Henri could hang onto the puck for several minutes at a time. They had to gang-up on him in practice to get the puck away from him.
I played in an exhibition game in the eastern townships where the Rocket was referee. I spoke with him – a wonderful man. When not playing he was quite shy.
I also knew Dickie Moore quite well (from the construction business). He told me that in later years the Hab old timer’s had to make a referee out of the Rocket since he was battering too many of the old- timers, including his own team-mates. He only knew one way to play……………hard.
I was also at the Forum the night of the Richard riot…….but that’s another story.
Maurice Richard riot
(for CBC audio of the riot, go here)