Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Habs Flipped By Birds

It had to happen sooner or later!

The dismal showing by the Canadiens against the cellar dwelling Thrashers had all the plots makings of them falling into a predestined trap.

This year's Habs have so far shown a tendency of being able to conquer the more solid teams while punching cruise control against the perceived weaker ones - which leads to trouble. Lately the team has developed a habit of storming out of the gate and burrying teams early, and this would have been the recipe for success against Atlanta.

The one point earned in the third period's eighteenth minute was a just return for a partial effort.

The work ethic did not show up soon enough in this one, and that is puzzling.

You can tell when a team is on cruise control when the visiting opposition steps up and implements its own system of play, from the get go, in the home team's building - outshooting them by a wide margin in the opening period.

Coming off a four game win streak, the Canadiens might have seemed a touch overconfident that everything would place itself neatly, but things do not work that way.

As much as hockey is a game of effort and instinct, there is a certain amount of preparation that must go on between the ears in situation's like these. It is about lessons and experience.

This one point lost is similar to those dropped last season when it would have been needed after the 82nd game.

The Habs ought to know better. Much better.

I render a lesson such as this as part of the growing pains in the Habs evolution from a middle pack team with potential into an elite and confident team that is able to foresee what challenges lie around the corner.

That they might have seen this coming says little. Once the Habs are able to act upon seeing their sleep mode arrive and do something about it, then they will have climbed another rung up the ladder.

Coaches can prepare teams with the most precise of game plans, but when no one shows up to practice what's preached, he is left befuddled.

Carbonneau's alarm clocks did little to awaken a team sleepwalking through their slumber. The guiltiest pre-Halloween ghosts in red, white, and blue, had names like Ryder, Gorges, Markov, and Plekanec, among others.

In fact, only Alex Kovalev stood out, which is saying something.

Listing all those leaving their spirits behind and showing up in body only undoes the team concept. This loss was a team effort. In Carbonneau's mind, he must be concerned about certain players, and it would be surprising to see some less than subtle messages being sent, starting with Thursday's tilt against the Flyers.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Canadiens Goalies Of The 1930's

After the back to back Stanley Cup wins in 1930 and 1931, the Canadiens were soon to embark on the darkest period of their history. The times would see the franchise thread onto the brink of extinction in the late 1930's. Gone were stars such as Newsy Lalonde and Georges Vezina, and players such as Aurel Joliat and George Hainsworth were leaving their prime years behind. The untimely death of Howie Morenz cast a great shadown of doubt over the future of the franchise, as the team battled it out with the Montreal Maroons for the affections of Montrealer's.

The Canadiens goaltending stability reflected these dark days as a flurry of average netminders passed through the organization in the course of the 13 cupless seasons between 1931 and 1944. While it was apparent that Wilf Cude at his best still was not good enough, no more worthy successors to George Hainsworth could be found.

The two mainstays brought in following in Cude's wake were Claude Bourque and Mike Karakas, who despite their best efforts could not lift the Habs back to glory days.

Abbie Cox and Paul Gauthier were mere replacements for an injured Cude in the 1930's, and Connie Dion, a fairly good prospect, were all the resources the Canadiens had in the day. Cox and Gauthier appeared only in a single game, evidently not long enough to have their pictures taken with the team, and Dion was never called upon as he drifted in and out of the Habs system for a few more years.

The drought of quality puckstoppers would continue beyond 1940, when the arrival of Bill Durnan combined with the addition of stars the likes of Toe Blake, Maurice Richard, and Elmer Lach would assure that the Habs dark period be a thing of the past.

For the time being, the Canadiens were simply content to have won the war of Montreal over the Maroons. Better days were coming.

Here are the bios on Cox, Gauthier, Bourque, Karakas, and Dion.

Abbie Cox 1936

Goaltender Abbie Cox was a journeyman IHL'er who played five NHL games in his career, all as an injury replacement for a fallen starter.

Cox, born on July 19th, 1904 in London, Ontario had one year of Senior hockey and seven seasons of minor pro under his belt when an injury to Clint Benedict translated into Cox's first NHL start. Three full seasons would pass before opportunity would knock again.

Abbie Cox's NHL debut came on February 1, 1930, when Montreal Maroons goaltenders Benedict and Flat Walsh were both unable to play. The Windsor Bulldogs (Cox's club) loaned Abbie to the Maroons, who defeated the New York Americans by a 7-2 count.

Nearly four years later, while playing for the Detroit Olympics of the International-American Hockey League in 1933-34 he was loaned to the New York Americans to sub for an injured Roy Worters. The Americans lost to Detroit, 5-2, on November 12, 1933.

Later that season he made two appearances for the Detroit Red Wings to replace John Ross Roach who was unable to play. On December 10, 1933, Abbie was loaned to the Detroit Red Wings to replace an injured John Ross Roach, playing in a 4-1 Detroit win over the Maroons. In his second Detroit appearance on the 17th, he helped the Wings tie the Americans 4-4.

Finally, on February 16, 1936, Abbie was loaned to the Montreal Canadiens as a replacement for Wilf Cude. Cox held Les Habitants in the game allowing just one goal and helped them earn a 1-1 tie against the New York Rangers.

Cox had been signed as a free agent by NY Rangers, November 9, 1926 and was traded to Windsor (Can-Pro) by NY Rangers for cash, September, 1928.

The 1936-37 season was Cox's last as a hockey player. After playing 10 games with the Kansas City Greyhounds in which he was unable to record a victory he hung up his goalpads for good.

Paul Gauthier 1938

Goaltender Paul Gauthier made one appearance in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens in 1937-38. During a career that lasted nearly two decades, the 5' 5", 125 lb goalie was a successful puckstopper in the several minor pro and senior leagues.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Gauthier played junior with the Winnipeg Monarchs then made his pro debut with the Pittsburgh Shamrocks of the IAHL in 1935-36. He then played with the AHA's Minneapolis Millers and the New Haven Eagles of the AHL for one year each.

Gauthier was signed as a free agent by Montreal, October, 1937 and immediatly loaned to New Haven (AHL) by for cash.

It was while he was in New Haven that Gauthier was loaned back to the Canadiens to replace the injured Wilf Cude during a 2-2 versus the Chicago Black Hawks on January 13, 1938.

The Canadiens retained Gauthier's rights until 1942, during which time they loaned him out to Kansas City of the AHA and Seattle of the PCHL. In 1941, the Canadiens lent him for the duration of the schedule to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Terry reardon.

Between 1938-39 and 1948-49, Gauthier played on a dozen different teams in five different leagues. His best performance was 1943-44 when he registered four shutouts and a 29-10-7 record while helping the Cleveland Barons finish at the top of the AHL's Western Division standings.

Claude Bourque 1938 - 1940

As a young teenager, goalie Claude Bourque played in the New Brunswick Amateur Hockey Association with the Moncton St. Mary's. He also dressed for his high school team and the Moncton Red Indians where he played in eight Memorial Cup games in 1933, going 6-1-1. He then spent the final two years of his junior eligibility in Montreal tending goal for the Junior Canadiens.

Bourque began playing senior hockey in the fall of 1935, playing with the Montreal Senior Canadiens, the Montreal Royals and the Verdun Maple Leafs. Heading into the 1938-39 season his NHL rights were owned by the Montreal Maroons but in September he was traded to the crosstown rival Canadiens for cash.

The trade turned out to be a positive for Bourque who was given the opportunity to play in net for the Habs in 25 games, where he posted a 7-13-5 record. Although it was rather uncharacteristic, the Canadiens were somewhat lean in goaltending talent during those years and so Bourque returned as the number one goalie the following year, despite a dismal rookie season record.

Unfortunately for Bourque and the Habs, season two was no better. He was between the pipes for 36 games, going 9-24-3. He was also loaned to the Detroit Red Wings for one game that year, replacing the injured Tiny Thompson for a game on February 15th. Bourque and the Red Wings came out on the short end of a 3-1 score against the New York Rangers, who eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup.

In April, 1940 the Canadiens decided to move in a new direction in goal and traded Bourque to the New York Rangers for Bert Gardiner, although he never again played in the NHL. He played two of his last three years in the AHL with the Philadelphia Rockets and Buffalo Bisons, where he was named a Second Team All-Star, before winding down his career with the Lachine RCAF in 1942-43.

Mike Karakas 1939 - 1940

Mike Karakas was loaned to the Canadiens in 1939-40 for the final 5 (0-4-1) games after Wilf Cude went out with an injury.

In 1935-36 he was the NHL's rookie of the year, and two years later led the Chicago Black Hawks to a surprise Stanley Cup, after the team had gone 14-25-9 in the regular season. Prior to him being loaned to the Habs, Karakas had been suspended by the NHL for failing to report to Providence of the AHL after he was demoted.

Mike Karakas was the first American-born goalie to star in the NHL. He was lauded for having one of the quickest glove hands in hockey along with outstanding balance. In eight NHL seasons he recorded 28 shutouts and a goals against average of 2.82. Karakas recorded three blank sheets in the post-season and was considered at his best in key games. He handled the puck well and was always quick to credit his defence after a strong game.

A native of Aurora, Minnesota, Karakas was signed as a free agent by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1935-36 after apprenticing with the Chicago Shamrocks, St. Louis Flyers and Tulsa Oilers. He was awarded the Calder Memorial trophy after posting a 1.92 goals-against mark and nine shutouts. Two years later he recorded a pair of playoff shutouts while leading the Hawks to an unexpected Stanley Cup championship after finishing with a losing record in the regular season.

This achievement was even greater considering Karakas missed the first two games with a broken toe and eventually led the Hawks to their triumph wearing a cast.

Karakas was suspended by the Blackhawks for remainder of 1939-40 season after refusing assignment to Providence (AHL), on December 30, 1939. He had his suspension lifted by NHL President Frank Calder and rights were loaned to the Montreal Canadiens for remainder of 1939-40 season after Montreal goaltender Wilf Cude suffered shoulder injury on February 23, 1940.

Following the disagreement, the Blackhawks, who were run by a surly owner at the time, Karakas was banished to the minors via a cash trade with the Providence Reds in 1940. They reaquired him for Hec Highton, Gord Buttrey and $10,000, January 7, 1944.

Karakas returned to the NHL in 1943-44 after starring with the Reds of the AHL. Earlier he was the hero when the Reds won the Calder Cup in 1941. He led all NHL netminders with four shutouts in 1944-45 and was a post-season selection to the NHL second all-star team. He retired from the NHL following the 1945-46 season but continued to perform heroics in net for Providence until the conclusion of the 1948-49 season.

The talented Minnesotan recorded 114 career regular season wins and helped lead the way for future American born and trained goalkeepers. During his six NHL seasons he appeared in every one of Chicago's games and earned the nickname "Iron Mike". Karakas' immense contribution to the game in his native country was recognized when he was named as an original member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Connie Dion 1939 - 1941

Connie Dion was a much travelled goalie, toiling in the Canadiens farm system from 1939 and 1943 in both the QJHL and QSHL.

Dion began with the Verdun Maple Leafs, both junior and senior in 1937, which included a trip to the Memorial Cup. After appearing in 38 games with the Lachine Rapides of the QPHL in 1938-39 he joined the Sherbrooke Red Raiders for a season that culminated with an appearance in the Allen Cup.

Dion returned to the QSHL beginning in 1940-41 and played three seasons with the Cornwall Flyers / Army. While there, the Canadiens traded his rights to Washington of the AHL for cash.Dion refused to report, remaining in Cornwall until 1943. He later signed on as a free agent with the Detroit Red Wings on January 25, 1944.
The little goaltender from Quebec played just two NHL seasons with the Detroit Red Wings in 1943-44 and again in 1944-45.

In his first year with the Wings, Dion started 26 games and had one shutout with a 17-7-2 record and a 3.08 goals against average. The following year he appeared in 12 games, accounting for his 38-game NHL career where he finished with a 23-11-4 record.

Dion played another eight years of professional hockey, mostly with the Buffalo Bisons (another Canadiens affiliate ) of the AHL. He also made brief stops in St. Louis, Houston, Louisville, and Sherbrooke, where he retired after the 1952-53 season. He was a three-time Second Team all-star selection in the AHL while a member of the Buffalo Bisons and was the recipient of the Harry Hap Holmes Memorial Award in 1949-50, which went to the goaltender with the best goals against in the AHL.

After his retirement, an arena in his hometown of Asbestos, Quebec was named after him. Dion's biggest passion was involving kids in youth hockey. His name also graces a charity golf tournament in the area.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Wilf Cude 1933-1941

Wilf Cude once had the unique distinction of being the NHL's spare goaltender, playing for whatever team required a backup. He may also have been the lightest goalie in league history, tipping the scales at no more than 130 pounds. On September 27, 1931, he was signed by the NHL to act as a utility back-up goaltender for the 1931-32 season after his previous team, the Philadelphia Quackers, suspended operations.

Cude had a nine-year NHL career playing with five different teams.

Cude was born in Wales, learned to play hockey as a youngster growing up in Winnipeg before joining the Melville Millionaires of the Saskatchewan Senior Amateur Hockey Association in 1929.

Cude's tenure in the league began in 1930-31 with the Philadelphia Quakers, playing in 29 games. The following year, he played two games in goal for Boston and one for Chicago, with the balance of his season being played in the CAHL with the Boston Cubs. The entire 1932-33 season was spent in the CAHL with the Philadelphia Arrows.

In 1934, Cude began the new year with the Detroit Red Wings, on loan from the Montreal Canadiens who had aquired him in a cash trade with the Quakers earlier in the season. With Detroit, Cude posted his best career numbers going 15-8-6 in 29 games, with a 1.52 GAA. Over the next six and a half years in Montreal, Cude would win 73 games, mostly during the Canadiens leanest years.

Cude was an all-star before the game became an official event in 1947. Born July 4, 1910 in South Wales, he played 301 games between 1930-41 for five NHL teams, including the Detroit Red Wings and with the Canadiens he took part in the 1937 and ’39 memorial games to benefit the families of teammates Howie Morenz and Babe Siebert.

At 135 pounds, Cude surely was the smallest man to ever tend professional goal, and was used as a spare throughout his career, loaned to whichever one-goaler team was suddenly in need of a netminder.

He lost both all-star appearances, 6-5 and 5-2 decisions, though it’s unlikely they factored into his unique way of deciding when it was time to retire.

Cude was sitting to a post-game dinner with his wife, his nerves more raw than his steak, when he picked up the meat and hurled it across the room, plastering it to a wall.

Legend has it that the goalie said, "If the steak comes down, I’m through."

Cude was an ex-goalie an instant later when a slab of sirloin hit the floor.

After his NHL hockey career ended in 1940, Cude acquired private ownership of the distributing agency in the Rouyn-Noranda area for British American Oil. Cude died after a lengthy illness on May 5, 1968, at the age of 57.

Lorne Chabot 1933-34

Lorne Chabot has the distinction of playing in two of the NHL's longest games ever.

On October 1,1933 Chabot was traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Montreal Canadiens for George Hainsworth. The trade made the two men the first goalies ever to play for both storied teams.

Just over one year later, the Canadiens shipped Chabot, along with the legendary Howie Morenz and Marty Burke to the Blackhawks for Lionel Conacher, Roger Jenkins and Leroy Goldsworthy. Two years later, in 1936, he passed thru the Canadiens organization once more, in a three way deal that saw the Montreal Maroons Toe Blake end up in a Habs uniform and Chabot with the Maroons.

During his one season with the Canadiens, Chabot appeared in 47 games, winning 21 and losing 20, with 6 ties and 8 shutouts. His GAA ws an excellent 2.07.

Born in Montreal in 1900, he headed west in 1920 playing in Manitoba and Port Arthur until he got a call to the big leagues in 1926 with the New York Rangers. He then went on to play for 5 more NHL teams and won the Stanley Cup twice before retiring in 1937.

It was in northwestern Ontario that Chabot first gained widespread fame. His relatively large 6-foot 1-inch frame and quick reflexes made him hard to beat. His stellar play contributed to Port Arthur's consecutive Allan Cup triumphs in 1925 and 1926. After the second of these, Conn Smythe signed Chabot to play for the New York Rangers.

As a rookie, "Sad Eyes" won 22 games, recorded 10 shutouts and took the starting netminder's job away from Hal Winkler. In 1927-28 he played all 44 regular-season matches and helped New York reach the Stanley Cup finals. In the second game of the championship series against the Montreal Maroons, an injury to Chabot precipitated one of the most famous maneuvers in Stanley Cup playoff history. Teams didn't carry a backup goalie, so Rangers manager Lester Patrick was forced to make an emergency appearance between the pipes. The "Silver Fox" backstopped the Blueshirts to an overtime win that shifted the momentum of the series and helped New York win its first Stanley Cup.

Prior to the 1928-29 schedule Chabot was sent to Toronto, where he posted a career-best 1.61 goals-against average and 12 shutouts. In 1931-32 he helped the franchise win its first Stanley Cup under the Maple Leafs banner. In the fifth game of the 1933 semifinals against Boston, the teams played 164 minutes and 46 seconds of scoreless hockey before the Leafs' Ken Doraty scored in the sixth overtime period. Chabot earned the shutout in what was the longest game in NHL history to that date. But in the finals the Rangers prevented the Leafs from repeating as champions. Chabot was traded to the Canadiens the following season for Hainsworth.

Following the death of the legendary Charlie Gardiner in 1934, the Chicago Black Hawks acquired Chabot in a trade that also involved Hall of Famers Howie Morenz and Lionel Conacher. Chabot showed no ill effects at having to replace the popular Gardiner as he went on to lead the NHL with a 1.80 goals-against mark. The NHL acknowledged his excellence by placing him on the First All-Star Team and presenting him with the Vezina Trophy.

"Old Bulwarks" played 16 regular-season games for the Montreal Maroons in 1935-36, and during the playoffs, on March 24, 1936, he played in the longest game in NHL history. Despite his heroic efforts in that game, the first of the semifinals, the Montrealers succumbed to the Detroit Red Wings when Mud Bruneteau scored the game's only goal after 116 minutes and 30 seconds of overtime. Chabot played 6 games with the New York Americans in 1936-37

In 411 career games, Chabot registered 201 wins, 148 losses, and 62 ties, rounded out with 72 shutouts and an excellent 2.03 GAA.

Chabot spent the last years of his life bedridden with severe arthritis. He died October 10th,1946 of Bright's( kidney) Disease, which he'd been suffering from for some time.

Mickey Murray and Roy Worters 1929-30

Mickey Murray 1929-30

Mickey Murray played just one game in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens on February 25, 1930, replacing George Hainsworth who was out with an injury.

Prior to getting his one-day of glory, Murray played many years in the minors. He played four years in Peterborough, two with the juniors and two with the senior club before moving on to the North Toronto Rangers and the Galt Terriers of the OHA Senior A.

Nearing the age of 30, Murray made the jump to the Can-Am league in 1927, signing on with the Providence Reds. It was while in Providence that Murray was promoted for one game with the Canadiens as an injury replacement, the result being a 4-2 loss to the New York Americans.

The final six years of Murray's pro hockey career was spent in the AHA with St. Louis, Kansas City and St. Paul.

Roy Worters 1929-30

Hall Of Fame goaltender Roy Worters made one appearance as a Canadiens netminder on Febuary 27, 1930, while on loan from the New York Americans, replacing an injured George Hainsworth. The Canadiens defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs in the contest, 6-2.

Despite his 5'3" frame, the aptly named "Shrimp" Worters seemed like a giant to opposing shooters. He became one of the NHL's all-time great goalkeepers, chalking up a phenomenal 66 shutouts in only 12 seasons. Because his NHL tenure was chiefly with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Americans, Worters never felt the exhilaration of a Stanley Cup win.

The Toronto native grew up in the same part of town as the famous Conacher brothers, Charlie and Lionel. As an amateur he first gained prominence with the Aura Lee squad, the Parkdale Canoe Club and the Toronto Canoe Club Paddlers. Leaving town for a year in 1920-21, he turned in a strong performance in northern Ontario with the Porcupine Miners. Worters was also an accomplished second baseman on the local baseball circuit.

A suspension prevented Worters from competing in 1921-22, but he returned the next year as a member of the Argonauts in the Toronto city senior league. The next autumn saw the 23-year-old venturing south of the border to stop pucks for the Pittsburgh Yellowjackets of the United States Amateur Hockey Association. Over the next two years, Worters led all netminders in a host of categories and became a fan favorite. In 1924-25, he led the team to 25 wins and registered 17 shutouts in 39 games. He was a key reason that the Yellowjackets won consecutive championships in the USAHA.

In 1925-26, Worters made his first foray into the NHL with the expansion Pittsburgh Pirates. The new club boasted essentially the same lineup as the Yellowjackets' championship team of 1924-25, but Worters would have topped the new team's wish list in any event. The man they called "Shrimp" played three seasons with the Pirates, playing in all the team's games in their second and third years. The Pirates were weak defensively, but Worters routinely kept them competitive. One night in their first year, Worters stopped 70 of 73 shots in a 3-1 loss to the New York Americans.

Prior to the 1928-29 season, Worters rejected the Pirates' contract offer, prompting NHL president Frank Calder to suspend the diminutive netminder. A trade to the New York Americans resolved the issue, and Worters would spend the rest of his pro career - except for two games - in the Big Apple. Over a nine-year span, the Americans qualified for the post-season only twice. One of those playoff appearances came in Worters' first year, after he registered a 1.15 goals-against average to elevate the play of a team that had finished in last place the year before. His heroics made Worters the first goalie to win the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

Shrimp soldiered on, solidifying his place as one of the game's elite goalies. In 1930-31, he led all NHL netminders with a 1.61 goals-against mark and captured the Vezina Trophy. During the ensuing contract negotiations with the Amerks, his legend grew when he demanded - and received - $8,500 per season, an enormous sum for a goalie at that time. What made this coup all the more remarkable was that he'd out-bargained Americans' owner Bill Dwyer, a notorious bootlegger who continually defied the U.S. Prohibition laws.

Even though the Americans remained weak, Worters continued to rack up shutouts and keep his goals-against mark respectable. He was placed on the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1932 and 1934.

He retired after the 1936-37 season. Gritty to the end, he refused to take himself out of the lineup in his final days even though he was suffering from a painful hernia. He never played on any powerhouses, which made his 67 shutouts, 171 wins and his durability all the more impressive.

Canadiens Squeak Out OT Win

I've lots to say on Saturday' s win over the flightless birds, without a cohesive thread of thought or storyline to follow. This game was very similar to Friday night's win over Carolina, so in the absence of having something new to say, I will just proceed in a Mike Boone style random notes manner.

And no, that's not a knock on Boone!

If you read yesterday's game rundown here, on the Canadiens need to learn how to deal with leads early in games, you can guess that I would simply apply and reiterate many of the same points for the Penguins game.

Against Pittsburgh, the Canadiens fresh off a 3 zip lead, attempted to put the shutdown mode into practice starting in the third period, once the score was 3-2 - twenty minutes too late! Applying a defensive blanket and dumping the puck at the right time with a one goal lead was a tenuous proposition, but the Habs executed it well, holding the Penguins to only three shots through the first 16 minutes of the third period.

It looked as if the Canadiens had learned something from the night before, albeit a period too late, and it was unfortunate that a pair of dumb penalties corroded a fine third period focus. I choose the word "dumb" over "indisciplined" because of the nature of the penalties. A too many men on the ice call should require referees to count to three before an arm is raised and the whistle's blown, especially when the errant players aren't involved in the thick of the play. Dumb also perfectly describes a slashing call when the stick of a player in possession of the puck, or about to receive a pass, is slashed.

Is it just me or do the Canadiens / Penguins games lack a little spark without Maxim Lapierre. This game was without it's usual Ruutuu, Roberts, Armstrong, or Orpik incidents as well. The Kovalev shoving of an off balance Malkin didn't deserve the ruckus it created. Unfortunately, it changed the tempo of the game for Montreal. Never kick a sleeping dog.

Nothing to do with this game, but few things anger me as much as that shooting the puck over the glass, delay of game call. Calling the penalty is what delays the game most. Penalize the faulting team by disallowing a line change on the ensuing faceoff, as they do with icing. Misjudging the height of the glass should not be confused with a foul.

On brighter notes, has anyone noticed the Canadiens are undefeated since the Habs Fans Summit last Saturday? Were all of us that much of a good luck charm or did leaving behind my Rocket 500 sign at the Bell stir up old friendly ghosts?

Carey Price was phenominal in the shootout, stopping three of eight shots. He played his position so well, making himself big and square enough that five shooters shot wide. The shooters he offered little room to were no slouches - Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Sykora.

Who would have though the Canadiens would end up in a shootout eigth rounds deep with Andrei Markov netting the winner?

Next time the Habs play, watch this! Michael Ryder's calling card is his sniper - like wristers, and I noticed something about his mobility the last few games. Have you ever noticed Ryder is a triffle stiff in stickhandling or checking opponants going by him? For three games now, since Monday's tilt with the Bruins, I have been watching and waiting for Ryder to remove one hand from his stick, with or without the puck, and try a move unfamiliar to opponants. Ryder always has two hands on his stick, and it limits his effectiveness. That would explain why he appears so stiff out there. He reminds me of players on my daughter's team, who have yet to learn how to widen themselves defensively by using an open stick stance to appear larger and block passing lanes. Even when he switches to the backhand, in shooting or in defying a defender, the hands don't move off the shaft.

I notice that very few people still question the reasons behind singing Tom Kostopoulos and moving Mathieu Dandeneault up to wing. I gather that speaks for their work ethic and results.

Andrei Kostitsyn played a solid, if unspectacular, game against the Pens. He seemed a little more willing to pay to the price in the thick of traffic, and I liked that he tussled some with Crosby when he went after Kovalev.

Speaking of Kovy, he had a brutal second period playing like a player whose contract has bonus clauses for points. Of course, that's not the case, and he smartened up in the third, unloading the puck down ice instead of craddling it when confronted.

What would the San Jose Sharks give the Habs for returning Josh Gorges to them? Throw in Halak and give us back Rivet?

I am surprised by Kyle Chipchura, good as I heard he was, I was never expecting to find him so mature so soon.

The Penguins Dan Sabourin impresses me more than Fleury ever did.

Why was Sergei Gonchar allowed to participate in the shootout? Hadn't he been penalized in the final seconds of OT play, thus barring him from participation in the shootout? I was sure this was a rule!

I've never been a big fan of games on back to back nights, and there is an inherant unfairness in how they are scheduled. The league's board of governers should rule that every team partake in the same number of back to back contests. Teams should only play their second games against teams in the same situation. No team should have to play two consecutive nights on the road.

The NHL would like you to believe that all things fair out in the end. They would also like to sell you those flimsey Reebok jerseys at double the price and half the quality of the better looking ones we've all come to know and love.

That's all for now - back to work on goalie posts!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Trouble With Lopsided Wins

As everyone did, I enjoyed the Habs pounding of the Hurricanes last night.

Thumbs up to a killer power play and a four point game for Tomas Plekanec. Kudos to the toughness of Tom Kostopoulos and Francis Bouillon. Props to Alex Kovalev, who remains motivated and played his 1000th career game like the player I want him to be. A big high fiver to Kyle Chipchara for showing why he has become a regular while making the Habs fourth line a going concern for opposing teams.

Hey, I hate the Hurricanes as much as anyone - maybe more, so there was alot to like about this game.

On the surface.

Unfortunately, beneath the glitter of a half dozen highlight reel goals and a running up of the score was one ugly performance that showed the team still needs to mature.

Hockey is sometimes a game a that would perplex even the most astute of sports psychiatrists. Teams have a bad minute or a rough shift in a certain game and it costs them. A good example is last weeks meeting with the Florida Panthers, where 58 good minutes of excellent hockey wasn't quite enough.

Last night against the Hurricanes, roughly 20 minutes of good play, led by a killer PP unit, sufficed for a win.

For the remainder of the game, the Habs were butt ugly, and that is exactly where they might have been bitted were it not for a break or two.

Considering that this season Habs are young in experience, and playing with large leads is not a common occurrance, they are not used to dealing with what needs to be taken care of in games such as these.

When it comes to blowouts, "often" is a word they seldom use.

There are two points of view in how teams should go about duties when entering the second period with a 5-1 lead. The teams who are inexperienced, are loaded with players seeking to pad their stats. Experienced teams know better, and look to bag the two points by throwing a blanket over the opposition.

You don't see the Detroit Red Wings blowing 5-1 leads, that's something the Maple Leafs do. There are many reasons why.

The 1970's Canadiens used to drive my father right nuts, sitting on leads and subtly dumping endless pucks down ice and controlling the flow of the game. By playoff time, the discipline was perfected.

Does it make for dull hockey?

Of course it does, but that's beside the point - which is the two points.

The Canadiens should pour it on, and put the other team away, you say.

That has already been done. The score is 5 - 1! Stick a fork in the 'Cane's butts and turn 'em over - they're cooked!

The team is playing on the road and doesn't have the last line change. There is no need to entertain the fans as they are not playing at home. The Canadiens have another game within 24 hours, so it was time they shut this one down.

I've had the pour it on versus shutting it down argument for years with everybody from my father to other hockey coaches I have been associated with or had known while coaching.

Often the misconception of the pour it on method is based on the fact that the same 1970's Habs teams were equally adept at both. They could run up the score, or turn the bore into a snore.

Both ways worked wonders, but it was the hypnotism of dullness that was preferred come playoff time.

I recall the fifth game of the 1979 Stanley Cup playoffs against the New York Rangers as the ultimate snorefest in the ultimate game. The Blueshirts came out guns-a-blazing, having their backs to the wall facing elimination. It was Rangers coach fred Shero's style to create and provoke anything, and the Habs sat back, ate them up, and spat them out. Once they had a 4-1 lead, the Canadiens let the Rangers chase dumped pucks for close to 40 minutes. By the third period, the Rangers simply gave up, ill equiped to beat the impenetrable wall the Habs had set up.

No one likely remembers this game as a benchmark of great hockey. Fans do recall that the Canadiens won four straight Cups.

Just as winning the Stanley Cup was the objective in that particular game all those years ago, winning the two points last night isn't at all disimilar.

There's no need to remind anyone that these boys ain't the '77 Habs by any stretch!

The point in matter of proceding is all about that singular objective. Fashion points for stylishness of wins matter little in the end.

The current edition of the Montreal Canadiens needs to learn the distinction.

Friday, October 26, 2007

George Hainsworth 1927 - 1933

Hainsworth signed with the Montreal Canadiens on August 23, 1926, after Newsy Lalonde recommended him to owner Leo Dandurand. This proved to be an accurate appraisal and the newcomer became an instant hit.

Hainsworth was one of hockey's dominant goaltenders of the 1920s and 1930s and his netminding heroics became a legacy that lasted many years after he retired. He appeared relaxed while performing between the pipes, as though giving a minimum of effort. His laid back approach and exceptional puck stopping ability continually frustrated opposing players.

The Toronto native enjoyed a strong amateur career in Berlin (later Kitchener), Ontario. It began with a solid season with the Berlin Union Jacks junior outfit in 1911-12, leading the league in victories. This was followed by four years with the city's senior club. In the second year he backstopped the team to the OHA championship.

In all four seasons, Hainsworth led the OHA in wins while developing a reputation as one of the top amateur goaltending prospects in Canada. The emerging star spent the 1916-17 season with the Kew Beach team, based in the east end of Toronto. Hainsworth next moved on to play six seasons with the Kitchener Greenshirts senior OHA team and he added another honour to his portfolio with an Allan Cup triumph in 1918.

Western Canada benefited from Hainsworth's professional debut. He spent three years with the Saskatoon Crescents of the WCHL/WHL before becoming a legend in the NHL. In 1924-25, he led the club to a second-place finish in the regular season standings. This strong team also featured the likes of Corb Denneny as well as Bill and Bun Cook. Hainsworth's goals against mark of 2.70 was bettered only by Harry "Hap" Holmes of the Victoria Cougars. The Crescents met the favored Cougars in the playoffs. Hainsworth was strong but the Saskatoon club lost a tough series by a 6-4 aggregate score. In each of the three years he spent out west, he led the league in games played.

Upon joining the Canadiens, Hainsworth was an immediate hit winning the newly created Vezina Trophy each of the first three years it was presented, from 1927 to 1929. In 1928-29, he enjoyed his greatest season by allowing only 43 goals in 44 games and registering an incredible 22 shutouts - to this day an NHL record that will remain untouched. A veritable workhorse, Hainsworth led all NHL goalkeepers in games played for nine years out of 10 from 1926 to 1936. He hit double figures in shutouts in his first three years in the league while posting a goals-against mark of less than 1.50.

Following his record-breaking season, the NHL's forward passing rules were modernized, making it virtually impossible for Hainsworth to post such remarkable numbers again. Still, he backstopped the Habs to the Stanley Cup in 1930 and 1931.

In 1929-30, Hainsworth helped the Canadiens win their third Stanley Cup, defeating the Boston Bruins in a two game series. The following year, in an expanded playoff format, Hainsworth was heroic once more as the Canadiens held on to their title after falling behind 2-1 in games against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Habs took the five game series 3-2, and Hainsworth allowed only 8 goals in the series.

In 1933 he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Lorne Chabot. This transaction made the two netminders the first goalies to play for both storied franchises. Hainsworth helped Toronto win two Canadian Division titles and make appearances in the Stanley Cup finals. On February 14, 1934, he was the Toronto goaltender in the historic Ace Bailey Benefit Game.

As a member of the Maple Leafs, Hainsworth twice led the NHL in wins, but in 1936-37, the club decided to go with young star Turk Broda on a full-time basis. Consequently Hainsworth was allowed to sign as a free agent with the Canadiens, where he played his last four big-league games.

"Little George" retired in 1937 with a 1.91 career goals-against mark, the lowest in NHL history along with Alex Connell. His 94 career shutouts were an NHL record until Terry Sawchuk surpassed him in 1963-64. His professional total would include 10 shutouts in the WHL, giving him 104 - one more than the NHL's all-time leader. His miniscule 1.91 goals-against mark reflected the low scoring climate that existed during all but two of his seasons. Although the rule changes saw his average climb only late in his career, Hainsworth was one of the top backstoppers of his time.

George Hainsworth died from injuries ( several broken ribs had punctured his heart ) suffered in a car accident on October 9, 1950.

Hainsworth was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1961, the first year at its year-round location on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kostitsyn Sits In Sin

There will be no passengers allowed on the Canadiens train this season. Work hard and keep your seat. Failing to do so earns you a view from binocular row.

That seems to be the message, albeit a confusing one, being sent out to Andrei Kostitsyn and other Canadiens players by coach Guy Carbonneau thus far this season.

I will tiptoe delicately around the term "confusing", as certain messages sent by bench boss Carbonneau seem inexplicable at first glance depending on the player. Only in utopia are they all treated equally.

For one, sitting Kostitsyn for a pair of games most recently, is a bit of a puzzler for most. Sending hard working Steve Begin to a rafter seat was another move that raised eyebrows. The scenarios differ.

Not sitting Guillaume Latendresse, as a ghost of himself in early games, appeared like a kids gloves treatment one hand, and favoratism in another. He finally sat out one further along in his fluster. He seems to have hated the loneliness.

Other players who have sat out during the first eight games include Patrice Brisbois for one game, and Mikhail Grabovski for two, and Kyle Chipchura for three.

Garth Murray and Josh Gorges have conversely sat in, rather than sat out, replacing the undeserving of such in Begin and Brisebois.

Obviously, Carbonneau is enabling roster spot battling and inner competition at best, when he juggles the lineup card looking for the right mix versus the targeted evening's opponants. In his judgements, he has qualify who goes and who stays on a game by game basis based up effort, ability, and fit.

That's why coaches are paid the big bucks to have their hair go grey in light of an eventual firing!

In Carbonneau's case this season, his job is doubly difficult in that in certain cases an undeserving player has to bite the bullet. On a team carrying 23 contributors, logic is simply that 3 sitters per night will be grumbling long past the 8 floor elevator ride to the high seats. His job is made a lot easier when a player performs poorly. It is tougher when none do.

Still, the sin is failing to do one's required work.

Different players of different skill are demanded a different work focus - if that sorts it out any.

Where Kostitsyn has sinned, earning him passenger status, is in not applying in practice what the team has asked him to work on most, which is going hard to the net, and just as hard on the forecheck. Turning away from hits in his regard shows a squandering of focus. The press box seat is the coaches chosen manner of letting him know it.

The opinion has been voiced that Kostitsyn hasn't done all that badly to deserve his current fate. Trouble is, that's hardly the point. The Canadiens are trying to teach him that he is capable of a great deal more.

The Canadiens must be careful with Kostitsyn, a player with talent and skill to spare, who sometimes becomes misguided at times. They must bring him along by teaching him to earn his place without a free ride.

What makes the matter of Kostitsyn so delicate, is that he may be the most complete package of tools on the team. Assets such as shot, speed, vision, skill, passing and size all under one helmet are a rare breed, and an even bigger rarety on the Canadiens. The team cannot afford to have him develop only halfway and turning into a perenial third liner. They have slotted him in with Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec in order to bloom his skill package.

It's also right about where he belongs.

In teaching him that a night off on the ice is worth two in the stands, testifies to how serious the Canadiens are about doing this right. You can only drop a player from the second line to the third so many times before realizing that the hint isn't making a dent.

Some will make the point that the Habs are a better team with a forward like Kostitsyn in their lineup, half awake, than Mathieu Dandeneault, used on the fourth line.

But, the argument only flies on paper!

What use is Kostitsyn on the fourth line, seeing maybe ten minutes of ice time per game?
Better to have a relentlessly dedicated hard worker such as Dandeneault plowing about, than tinker with an experiment in punishment for a player slow in getting the message.

Like I said, different whiplash strokes for different folks.

There are three stages in a prospect's development that apply to a player of Kostitsyn's breed. First, he accomplishes being a top line player in the AHL. Second, he shows an occasional dominance or consistency of effort to gain him a shot in the bigs. Third, he sustains that consistency by working hard at what needs to improved upon to remain in the NHL.

Kostitsyn is stuck on lesson three.

Another facet of importance in Kostitsyn's case, is that he has a jewel of a younger brother, Sergei, drafted much later, who is about to begin tearing it up in the AHL. Should the Habs allow the elder brother his deviances, what message does that send to the kid brother?

If I'm Guy Carbonneau, Andrei continues to have a slim margin for slipping. Another chance or two, and it's mirror time. Send him for some reflection duty in Hamilton.

Call up his younger, harder working brother. That'll get it accross!

Between Vezina And Hainsworth

Once Georges Vezina arrived on the scene in Montreal, he commanded the goaltending position like no one before or since. From 1910 to 1926, the Canadiens did not use another goalie while Vezina appeared in an astounding 325 consecutive games.

During that 16 year period, only two other goaltenders passed through the Canadiens organization. Journeyman Sammy Hebert was the first, and not only didn't he see any game action, he never even made it town for a cup of coffee. The second was a mysterious signing - Eugene Decosse. No one can actually recall why Decosse was signed to the Habs at the start of the 1924 season, as he merely backed up Vezina for a game before vanishing from the teams book of record.

All that could unseat Vezina was illness, and sadly, death. Complications from tuberculosis ended Vezina's life prematurely in 1926, and the Canadiens were hard pressed to find a worthy successor. Initially they brought in U.S. Olympic team hero Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix, but the experiment only lasted 5 games. They turned their hopes to Herb Rheaume, who was considered the best of the Quebec junior prospects at the time.

Rheaume would finish out a dismal season in Canadiens history before one george Hainsworth brought new stability to the team and the position over the next decade.
Here are the bios on Hebert, Decosse, Lacroix, and Rheaume.

Sammy Hebert - In The System 1917

Goalie Sammy Hebert was merely a footnote in Canadiens history at a time when Georges Vezina was all the goalie the Habs would need for another decade.

Involved in a three - way trade, the Canadiens aquired Hebert from the Ottawa Senators on January 15, 1917 for Jack Fournier, then dispatched him on the same date for forward Tommy Smith of the Quebec Bulldogs of the NHA.

Hebert then suited up briefly with the Toronto Arenas and Ottawa Senators in the early days of the NHL. He was better known in the NHA, WCHL and the Ottawa senior league.

The native of Ottawa had previously played 19 games for the Toronto Ontarios of the OPHL in 1913-14 before moving up to the hometown Senators of the NHA for a couple of games. He also toiled briefly for the senior Ottawa New Edinburghs before serving his country in World War I.

Hebert returned to the game after a year's military service and spent most of the 1916-17 season in the NHA with the Quebec Bulldogs following the trade. The next year he played a pair of games as a spare netminder on the Toronto Arenas during the inaugural NHL schedule. This was followed by three years of senior hockey with the Ottawa City Cedar squad.

In 1921-22, Hebert returned to top-flight competition with the Saskatoon Sheiks of the Western Canada league. He played 42 games over two seasons for the club then returned home the following season. Hebert played the last two games of his career with the NHL's Senators as a fill-in before retiring in 1924. Hebert passed away in 1965.

Eugene Decosse - In The System 1924

Eugene Decosse, born on December 9th, 1900 in Hull, Québec, had the honour of backing up the legendary Montreal Canadiens goaltender Georges Vézina for a lone game in the 1924 season opener against the Toronto St-Pats.

In November of 1924, Gene got his chance with the NHL, joining the reigning world champion Montreal Canadiens at training camp. It is unclear exactly why he and relatively average fellow Ottawa players René Joliat and René Lafleur all got a chance with the Habs at the same time. Signed as a free agent, he headed to Toronto with the team to open the season against the St-Pats, but Vézina was in fine form, and back stopped the Habs to an easy 7 to 1 victory, leaving Gene to warm the bench.

The very next day, Décosse was headed for home. The french language Ottawa newspaper Le Droit painted Decosse's return to Ottawa as a good thing, claiming the conditions offered by the Canadiens contract were not worth throwing ones future away for a few dollars. The paper did not elaborate on what those expectations were, but they were presumably equally unacceptable to René Joliat and René Lafleur, who also returned to the Ottawa area following their lone games in the NHL. The pressure of family no doubt also factored into Gene's decision, as he was the primary bread winner in the family following the loss of his father to Influenza.

As a boy, Decosse was raised in the heart of the blue-collared area of Hull a few streets away from the E.B. Eddy paper mills and just around the corner from the Bank Hotel, which would later be owned by D'Arcy Coulson. Much of this neighborhood was demolished in the 1970's to make way for government office complexes, but his childhood house remains intact, wedged between two parking lots at 57 Wellington street.

Gene made his way up the Ottawa and Hull hockey ranks, playing for such teams as the Hull Canadiens, the Ottawa Royal Canadiens and the Ottawa New Edinburghs. Gene had his first great season in 1918-19, earning a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 0.50, managing 6 wins, 5 of which were shutouts, in his 8 appearances for the Ottawa Royal Canadiens. The next four years saw him put in good performances with three different teams in the OCHL, earning two First All-Star and one Second All-Star title.

Back in Ottawa in 1925, Gene somewhat reluctantly returned to the amateur hockey ranks and would play two more seasons with the Ottawa New Edinburghs before hanging up his pads for good at the age of 25. With hockey behind him for the time being, Gene focused on his career and founded the "L'Opinion de Hull" newspaper and assumed the role of editor-in-chief.

Described as a workaholic, Gene also took on various other positions which included the role of Provincial Finance Receiver for the city of Hull, Special Investigator for the provincial Receiver General and Director of Provincial Security for the city in addition to serving as a city alderman for two years. During this time, he would return to the newspaper offices at the end of the day to work late into the night.

Not one to sit still, Gene also continued to make time for his love of sports, which now included baseball. He took on the roles of president for the Interporvincial League and the city of Hull League. In 1940, he built Décosse Stadium which was the centre of baseball activity for a decade before outgrowing it's needs, and falling victim to expropriation to make way for office buildings. He also served as director of the National Baseball Team in Ottawa and as manager of the Ottawa Auditorium.

In 1936 Gene returned to hockey as a coach, putting together the Hull Volants team from what was described as "leftover" players. Against all odds, the team had a great season and went on to win the OCHL championship, earning them a birth in the Allan Cup's eastern finals, were they were later defeated.

During the Christmas holiday season of 1954-55, the long hours of hard work and volunteering caught up to Gene, and he was admitted to hospital following a heart attack. On January 2nd, 1955, he succumbed to heart failure, leaving behind his wife and son. As the city he had given his life to continued to grow, Gene's contributions were honoured with the naming of Décosse street.

Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix 1925 - 26

Goalie Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix was signed as a free agent by Montreal, November 10 and played five games for the Montreal Canadiens in 1925-26. He had previously been known from playing in the minors and in the Boston area senior leagues, before gaining fame for backstopping the 1924 U.S. Olympic squad.

The native of Newton, Massachusetts was a standout on his local high school before joining the senior Boston Navy Yard and AA Unicorns. "Frenchy" remained with the Unicorns when they joined the USAHA and posted a 4-1-0 record for the United States when they won the silver medal at the 1924 Chamonix Olympics.

The Montreal Canadiens had been backstopped by Georges Vezina for every season, but their first, up to the 1925-26 season. Vezina had played every exhibition, regular, playoff and Stanley Cup games for the Canadiens since 1910. When Vezina started coughing up blood in their first game of the season, there was no choice but to go to Frenchy Lacroix.

The Canadiens posted a 1-4-0 record in Lacroix's five appearances. Complicating Lacroix's existance with the Canadiens was a contract that termed him as being "on loan" from the Boston senior league. While the Canadiens hoped he would be a more long term solition, a resolve could not be worked out. The next year he was the club's spare goalie but did not see any game action.

Lacroix returned to the minors and played in the Northeast and Can-Am Leagues before retiring in 1931. Lacroix was the first American goaltender used by the now storied franchise. Previously, he had been the hero for the U.S.A. team at the 1924 Winter Olympics at Champioux, France. Lacroix took the American team to the gold medal game, having shutout his opponents in the four games leading to the final. The Canadian team managed to beat him for a 6-1 score and the gold medal.

After his playing career ended Lacroix stayed on in Lewiston, Maine. The town became his home and he was often seen at banquets honoring local teams. For several years he served as a professional hockey scout. He also followed the play of his two nephews, Dick and Jean Malo, who competed in the Lewiston-Auburn area.

Lacroix died in Lewiston, Maine on April 12, 1973.

Herb Rheaume 1925 - 26

In 1925-26 season, the Montreal Canadiens were a team desperate for a starting goaltender. They had lost the backbone of the franchise, Georges Vezina, in the first game of the season, whose career and life were terminated with a serious bout of tuberculosis.

At first the team tried Alphonse "Frenchy" Lacroix, the goalkeeper from the 1924 USA Olympic team, but the NHL could not loan their only designated backup goaltender for the full season. In mid-December the Canadiens signed Herb Rheaume to a contract and immediately threw him into action. For the rest of the season Rheaume would stand between the pipes.

The native of Mason, Quebec played his first organized hockey in the Ottawa area before moving on to Hamilton senior team, of the Ontario Hockey Association. After 1920-21, Rheaume moved on to Boston and New Haven before returning to Quebec. Herb played two seasons in the ECHA with Trois-Rivieres and Quebec before joining the Canadiens. Rheaume was considered the best Quebec prospect at the time, which was essential for the Montreal Canadien image. Vezina had been the local hero that drew crowds wherever the Canadiens toured.

Herb Rheaume made his National Hockey League debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The game happened to be the first regular season game for a New York based hockey club in the NHL. It was the Americans debut on home ice and everyone from the Mayor to the Governor General' s Foot Guards Band was present. Rheaume was beaten by Shorty Green in the first period but held the fort after that play. The Canadiens tied the score and went ahead in the second period. Howie Morenz rounded out the scoring in the last frame. Rheaume had won his first game and ruined the New York Americans debut at home.

Although he only played for one season in the NHL, Herb Rheaume did establish a mark among goaltenders. His ten wins set a record for most victories while serving only one NHL season. Hec Highton later tied the mark and Harvey Bennett. Rheaume's career took him to the west and eventual settlement in Vancouver, British Columbia. It was there that he died on January 1, 1953.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Georges Vezina 1910-26

One of the elite goaltenders in the annals of NHL history, Georges Vezina was a key figure in the early history of the Montreal Canadiens franchise. His outstanding play served as a model for stand-up goalies in the future. Long after he retired, fans were introduced to his name and his contributions whenever the Vezina Trophy was awarded at the end of each NHL season to the best goalkeeper in the league.

Vezina stood out in the Canadiens' net even though he played in a league that was very offensive-minded and on a team that initially struggled. In addition, goalies were forbidden to fall to the ice to make a save. So, Vezina managed to perfect an early version of the stand-up style of goaltending. A quiet, clean-living man who operated a tannery business in his home town during the off-season, his calm and cool demeanor resulted in his being labeled the "Chicoutimi Cucumber."

Vezina was born on January 21, 1887 in Chicoutimi, Quebec, Canada, a small town located on the Saguenay River. He was the son of Jacques Vezina and his wife, who were both employed as bakers. Vezina played hockey from his youth when the game was still in its infancy. He might have played on his town's first hockey team ever. The game probably had been brought to Chicoutimi by some employees of Price Bros. who had attended McGill University in Montreal. Price Bros. was a local company who built a rink in town, which Vezina's father later bought.

Vézina studied at the Petit Séminaire de Chicoutimi from 1898 to 1902, leaving after the second year of the commercial course to help his father in his bakery. At the age of 16 he was taken on as goaltender by the Club de Hockey de Chicoutimi. He was familiar with the game, having played street hockey with his friends, but he had never worn skates. Vézina learned quickly.

While playing the goalie position for amateur teams in his youth, Vezina wore boots instead of skates, a common practice of goalies in this time period. When Vezina was 18 years old, he learned to skate and wore skates while playing after that. By 1909, he was the goalie for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, an amateur team that played in the Montreal Senior League. Vezina was only 5'6" and weighed, at most, 185 lbs., and was described as thin and frail looking for much of his career, but his focused demeanor in goal was about to take him to professional ranks.

During the 1904-05 season, at an exhibition game between the Montreal Nationals of the Canadian Amateur Hockey League and the Chicoutimi club - a game Vézina’s team won - the Nationals’ goaltender, Joseph Cattarinich, was impressed by the 18 year old in the opposing goal.

At the end of the 1909-10 season, since he was giving up his position as goaltender for the Canadiens (a club formed in December 1909) to take on other duties with the team, Cattarinich suggested that Vézina be contacted.

Vezina agreed to play for the Canadiens beginning in the 1910-11 season for $800. He actually never signed a contract, but had a handshake agreement with the Canadiens manager. Vezina was known for such indiscriminate ways involving his money. He often loaned money to friends, which was never repaid. After agreeing to play with the Canadiens, he maintained a tannery business in his hometown. Vezina was also married in this time period.

In 1910, Vezina played in two exhibition games in Chicoutimi which would lead to his professional career. In preparation for upcoming Allan Cup play, the Sagueneens played against a touring Grand'Mère Senior club early in the year. Vezina garnered recognition because he got a shutout. He had the same result a short time later when he and the Chicoutimi team played against the newly formed Montreal Canadiens, a professional team of the first year National Hockey Association, in a barnstorming game in February 1910. Vezina backstopped his team to a 2-0 win. At this time, shutouts were very uncommon in part because goalies were forced to stand in goal for the whole game and were not allowed to drop to their knees to block shots. Vezina's stick handling skills were already in evidence and his play impressed the opposition.

To ensure that he would agree to come to Montreal, Pierre, one of his brothers, who played forward, was also asked to come and practise with the Canadiens for the 1910-11 season. Georges stayed on; his brother went back to Chicoutimi. Hired in December 1910, at a salary of $800 per season (not an unusual figure, since most payers received $1,000 or less in those years), he began a brilliant career with the Montreal Canadiens, in both the National Hockey Association of Canada (1911-17) and the National Hockey League (1918-25).

The Canadiens, who were known as the Club Athlétique Canadien from November 1910 to the end of the 1915-16 season, were not immediately successful but they continued to make progress, with Vézina invariably in the net. During his rookie year, 1910-11, Vezina led the NHA in his goals against average, a feat he duplicated in his sophomore campaign. In 1914 he led the Canadiens to a first-place finish in the NHA standings, though they lost the league championship series that year to the Stanley Cup winning Toronto Blueshirts.

At the end of that season they were NHA champions, and they had to face the Portland Rosebuds of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canadiens emerged victorious from a memorable five-game set against the PCHA champion Portland Rosebuds in a series that represented the first of many appearances in the Stanley Cup finals for the Canadiens and the inaugural one by an American team.

One of Vézina’s sons was born during the playoffs and he was named Marcel-Stanley in honour of the victory. In the 1916-17 season, the Canadiens again won the NHA championship, but lost in the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Seattle Metropolitans in four games.

Despite Vezina's heroics, Montreal lost the sacred silverware to the powerful Seattle Metropolitans the following year and the Washington State team became the first Stanley Cup winner from south of the border. Two years later, in the fateful rematch that was eventually canceled by the influenza epidemic, the normally quiescent Vezina was described as being high-strung. It was a portent of the goaltending showdown that was about to take place between the Habs star and the legendary Harry "Hap" Holmes of Seattle. The Canadiens entered the inaugural NHL schedule in 1917-18 with Vezina as one of their pillars. He topped all NHL goalkeepers in his goals-against average that year and again in 1924 and 1925.

Vezina's heroics were a vital component of the Canadiens second Stanley Cup championship in 1924. He stymied the Ottawa Senators in the NHL playoffs before helping Montreal overcome the challenges of Vancouver and Calgary of the PCHA and the Western Canada Hockey League respectively. In the regular season, he led all NHL netminders in his goals against average, ending a five-year dominance by the great Clint Benedict.

While sweating through training camp workouts prior to the 1925-26 season, Vezina was obviously not in good health. Despite a high fever, he was performing admirably in the Canadiens' season opener versus the Pittsburgh Pirates, but when he was forced to retire from the game, Vezina was diagnosed with advanced tuberculosis. Sadly, his condition only worsened until he passed away on March 26, 1926 but his family history was also full of tragedy, as only two of his 24 children lived to adulthood.

Even those in his own household did not know he was fighting for his life when he played his last game on November 28, 1925. The Canadien's' opponent in the old Mt. Royal Arena in Montreal that night was the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a scoreless first period, Vezina left the ice bleeding from the mouth. He collapsed in the dressing room, returned for the start of the second period, then collapsed again and had to leave the game. Only then did his family and friends learn that he had tuberculosis. Four months later, at the age of 39, he passed away.

Frank Boucher, a player from Vezina's era thought highly of the Montreal goalkeeper.
"The first thing that pops into my mind is that Vezina always wore a toque, a small, knitted hat with no brim in Montreal colours - bleu, blanc et rouge. I also remember him as the coolest man I ever saw, absolutely imperturbable. He stood upright in the net and scarcely ever left his feet; he simply played all his shots in a standing position. Vezina was a pale, narrow-featured fellow, almost frail-looking, yet remarkably good with his stick. He'd pick off more shots with it than he did with his glove."

Fittingly, the first recipient of the trophy was George Hainsworth, the brilliant young goalie who was presented with the task of replacing the legendary Vezina in Montreal. Another trophy was created in Vezina's name as a means of acknowledging the top goalkeeper in the Quebec senior league.

Vezina was among the first 12 individuals elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame when it was founded in 1945.

Habs Goalies Of 1909-10

(Robert L Note: I came up with an awesome idea to share with other Habs fans, and the plan is to feature a different Montreal Canadiens goaltender throughout their history since 1909. I plan on posting them chronologically from that year on, until the present. Late last season, I ran a feature here entitled "Who Were These Masked Men?" that proved to be quite popular, and it started me on a ginormous task - finding out everything I could come up with on each and every goalie that belonged to the Montreal Canadiens in any form. The daily feature I plan to run, will not only cover the masked (and maskless) men who have tended goal for the Habs, but each and every one drafted, signed, bought, or even simply claimed on waivers who have been Canadiens property at one time or another. It will be a journey from Vezina to Price, with every twist and turn in between. By starting in hockey's most formative years, you will be able to witness not only the evolution of the game, but also of the position and the role it plays in a team's success.

This series is dedicated to the friends, young and old, made at this past weekend's Habs Fans Summit. I was extremely touched and overwhelmingly surprised by the words of kindness and complements brought on by people's reactions to Eyes On The Prize. Putting smilling faces on readers has had the effect of motivating me to do something special, in addition to the regular rants and raves usually posted on this site about current activities. Following games, and ups and downs in the current Habs scheme of the season, will be content focused on the present. On off days between games, the goalie bios will roll out one by one. I hope you all enjoy the trip back through time!)

A disclaimer - for clarity's sake, considering beginning's of the era and it's lack of proper verifyable documentation.

The beginnings of the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club in the 1909-10 NHA season are extremely fuzzy and difficult to ascertain. The fact that it was almost 100 years ago makes things rather impossible to clarify for certain.

Four men played goal for the Canadiens in the 1909-10 season. As you will see, the details surrounding their debuts and performances may likely be forever lost to history. Only a fragment of what went on remains, the rest is blurred by time.

The two true goalies of the 4 who tended goal for the Canadiens in their inaugural season have become merely footnotes in time, while the other 2 who tended goal between them, are historical figures of prime importance in the story of the Montreal Canadiens.

In the origins of the game, players professional status was often debatable, nevermind their contractual obligations to an organization. Teams were moved and displaced in mid-season. There were few rules to abide by, and the era is one large, haphazardly, disorganized mess.

Often upon researching such times, facts conflict from source to source, making decisions as to what is really truth, practically impossible to verify.

Any eyewitnesses to happenings of the day would be 120 years old today - you get my drift?

In the 1909-10 season, and those that immediatly followed things changed extremely quickly in the burgeoning sport of hockey. The National Hockey Association (NHA) as it was know then, isn't very well documented. The NHL's earliest days are documented with much more clarity.

At that time in Canadiens history, you may have read that the hockey club initially went by the name of Club Athletique Canadien, using a C and then a CAC logo, before a potential lawsuit from a local athletic club of a similar name made team owners switch names to the current Club de Hockey Canadien (CHC), as it is still known and registered as a business today.

The CAC's initial season in the NHA also requires a certain scrutiny upon research as the 1909-10 season actually began twice. The league dropped its first ever games played from the record as teams folded, and restarted its season in January of 1910. The issue of melting outdoor ice for games also complicated matters.

Due to these auspicious beginnings, many facts were doublechecked when it came to determining which players actually played goal for the Canadiens in 1909-10.

Teddy Groulx was the first Montreal Canadiens goaltender on record, having signed with the team on January 29,1910.

Groulx himself is a man of complete mystery. There is no history as to where he came from or where he went after the season. All that is known is that the Canadiens won only 2 of their 16 games that season, and that Groulx was the winner of one. His season stats read: 7 games played, a 1 - 6 record, 420 minutes played, 62 goals against, and an 8.86 goals against average. Those stats might explain his disappearance.

The Canadiens second goaltender was a man known only as M. Larochelle. Many records fail to even confirm the first initial of his given name. I used the the book "La Glorieuse Histoire Des Canadiens" as my main reference, as in my Habs facets, it seems the most complete and best researched accountig available.

It is told that Larochelle didn't complete the game, which the Canadiens won, due to a dispute with an official. Seems he was tossed from the game after 67 minutes, a 7-6 OT win by the Habs, and was never to return. There are no pictures of Larochelle making history, and no personal information to record his place in history. There is simply text stating he was there, and then gone.

What is known of this mystery goalie, was that he belonged to the Montreal National of the LHCM in 1909-10. He was loaned to the Canadiens for the March 11, 1910 game in which he gave up four goals.

This game was the Canadiens second win in their history, the first having been a 9-5 result against the Haileybury Comets on February 26, 1910. The Canadiens had lost their first four games of it's history, including an inaugural 8-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Some accounts name the March 11 date as the first win while others claim it came in a matchup with the Cobalt Silver Kings, on January 5, 1910, in which Montreal won 7-6 in overtime.

Team manager, as they were termed in the day, Jean - Baptiste "Jack" Laviolette, took over in nets from Larochelle on March 11, 1910, and finished it, apparently being credited with winning the game. Laviolette was also the Canadiens manager, coach, captain, and best defenseman at the time.

Because of the cancelled beginning of the season, stats regarding Laviolette's stay between the posts cannot be determined precisely. It was mentioned at one source that he played in three additional games before handing puckstopping duties to another teammate, defenseman Joseph Cattarinich. Another source tells that it was managerial duties that were handed to Cattarinich after three games. My main reference book says that Laviolette allowed no goals in 5 minutes of play on the March 11, 7-6 overtime win.

As you see, it does not add up.

It is unclear as to whether Laviolette played in any games that where cancelled in late December 1909, or if the stats given refer only to the game he participated in after the 1910 new year and the restarted season.

One source credits Laviolette with the teams first goaltender win on a December 1909 date, while another states that the coach made official history (first substitute goalie credited with a win) by replacing Larochelle on March 11, 1910. That date would seem very late in the season to be considered fact.

Adding to the confusion, it is commonly known that the Ottawa Senators won the 1910 Stanley Cup on January 20.

In any regard, Canadiens defenseman Cattarinich became the teams next goaltender, out of sheer personal dedication to the team. The Cattarinich name will be very familiar to those who have researched the team's history, as he would become an eventual owner (1921-35), along with Louis Letourneaux and Leo Dandurand.

Cattarinich, the player, executive, and man of all trades, would be eventually be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1962.

Cattarinich was a defenseman and forward with the Montreal National from 1904 to 1909. He was born in Levis, Quebec on November 13, 1881, and passed away on December 8, 1938, at the age of 57 years old. As a goaltender, records state that he caught with his left hand, and was 5' 10" and weighed 167 lbs.

All in all, conflicting reports considered, the Canadiens first four goaltenders of record were, in no particular factual order, Groulx, Larochelle, Laviolette, and Cattarinich. Maybe your great, great grandfather could help clear up the facts! Thankfully, Cattarinich discovered the next Canadiens goaltender, and no such confusion would reign again.

Due to an absense of further info on Larochelle and Groulx, only the profiles of Laviolette and Cattarinich, neither career goaltenders, shall be included in this initial post on the Canadiens goaltenders of the 1909-10 season.

For bilingual Habs fans, further readings on the beginnings of the Canadiens, circa 1909, can be found at the "Bilan Du Ciecle" site from the University of Sherbrooke. Facts mix with myth - take 'em with a grain of salt!

December 4, 1909 - Creation of the Canadiens hockey team in the NHA.

January 5, 1910 - The Canadiens first game.

November 12, 1910 - Canadiens admitted into the NHA.

(Robert L Note: The following bios of Laviolette and Cattarinich, however confusing, were edited from several sources including the Hockey Hall Of Fame website, which can at times be astounding in it's errors and grammatical incompetence. The site needs an editor, big time!)

Jack Laviolette likely never imagined himself a goaltender.

A true "Jack-of-all-trades", Laviolette was an offensively gifted defender entrusted by the team owner as coach, manager, and captain of the Canadiens. It was therefore his duty, as he took it, to replace goaltender M. Larochelle when he was thrown out of the Canadiens initial contest for arguing a goal.

While there is no statistical data to matches of this early inaugural season in Canadiens history, it has been written that Laviolette tended goal for 3 additional games, all loses, before reassuming his prior duties. Goaltending tasks were handed to another Canadiens defenseman, Joseph Cattarinich, until a suitable replacement could be found.

Laviolette's true place in hockey history has less to do with his scoring prowess as a player (as a defenseman,he scored 45 goals in 147 games) for the Montreal Canadiens, and more to do with the fact that he was the first player, coach and GM of the team in the 1909-10 season. With the formation of the National Hockey Association (which became the NHL 7 seasons later), team / league owner Ambrose O'Brian asked Laviolette to put together a team made up of French Canadian players to form a franchise in Montreal.

Laviolette completed the task in time for the NHA's inaugural season. Among those that would sign on to that first team would be future Hall Of Famers Newsy Lalonde and Didier Pitre. He would add the "Chicoutimi Cucumber," goaltender Georges Vezina the following season, helping to make the Canadiens more competitive in their second year.

The team Laviolette built would go on to be the most successful franchise in professional hockey.

While a youth, Laviolette's family moved to Valleyfield, Quebec where he took up the sports of hockey and lacrosse at an early age. He began his organized hockey career in the Montreal City League and moved to the Montreal Nationals of the Federal Amateur Hockey League in 1904, finishing sixth in league scoring with eight goals in six games. He moved to the Michigan Soo Indians of the International Hockey League the following season where he scored 40 goals over three seasons and was named to the IHL First All-Star Team in 1905 and 1907 along with a being made a Second Team selection in 1906.

He was also lacrosse star with the Montreal Nationales in the early 1900's. In 1904 joined the professional team in Sault St. Marie, MI.

He returned to Montreal in the fall of 1907 to play hockey for the Shamrocks of the Eastern Canadian Amateur Hockey Association for two seasons before joining the National Hockey Association's Montreal Canadiens in their inaugural season of 1909-10.

Laviolette played on his only Stanley Cup winning team in 1915-16 when the Canadiens defeated the Portland Rosebuds 3-2 in a best-of-five series hosted by Montreal.

While tuning a car for a planned tour of Quebec in the summer of 1919, Laviolette crashed and lost his right foot in the mishap. His playing days were over. A benefit game for Jack was arranged at the Mount Royal Arena during the winter of 1921. Not only was he the guest of honour but he also refereed the game.

He was later inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame as a lacrosse player. Jack Laviolette was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

Joseph Cattarinich, though not a goalie by trade, was the fourth man to tend goal for the Montreal Canadiens. A steady defenseman for the Canadiens, Cattarinich was asked by coach Jack Laviolette to replace him after three games in goal himself. It is assumed that he played in 5 games before a man named Teddy Groulx finished out the final 7 games of the season. No statistical data is available for Cattarinich's stint in goal.

Cattarinich's legacy as an important figure in the early annals of the Canadiens was likely cemented with the most astute of business decisions for the team. He solved its goaltending dilema.

Cattarinich discovered Georges Vezina in 1910 during a barnstorming match between Chicoutimi and the Montreal Canadiens. Vezina and his team of amateurs shut out the Habs, so impressing Montreal goalie Joseph Cattarinich that he persuaded Canadiens' owner George Kennedy to sign up Vezina, even though it would mean the end of Cattarinich's job. The "Chicoutimi Cucumber" would go on to play 328 league games and 39 more in the playoffs with the Canadiens from 1910 to 1926.

Known as a quiet, unselfish, but highly efficient businessman, Joseph Cattarinich's legacy was in helping to make the Montreal Canadiens one of the world's greatest sports franchises. He earned many admirers because he stressed making important and helpful decisions rather than gaining publicity for them. These decisive moves often based on financial assistance from Cattarinich who was generous, though not careless with his money.

Born in Levis, Quebec, across the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, on November 13, 1881, Cattarinich played hockey and lacrosse as a youth. While tending goal for the Montreal Nationals of the CHA, he was impressed with the individual guarding the Chicoutimi net. He astutely recommended that the player in question, Georges Vezina, be brought in to replace him the following season. This selfless move for the betterment of the team was typical of Cattarinich in sports or business.

Originally a brakeman for Canadian Pacific, Cattarinich had met Dandurand in 1909 when he was part of the Montreal Lacrosse Club. The two would enjoy a long and prosperous partnership, working together in the tobacco and horse racing industries before achieving their greatest successes as owners of the Canadiens.

On November 3, 1921, Cattarinich and business partners Leo Dandurand and Louis Letourneau purchased the Montreal Canadiens from the widow of former owner George Kennedy for $11,000. Under their management, the Canadiens became the most exciting team in the NHL and were known as the "Flying Frenchmen" while winning three Stanley Cups. Some of the stars of this period included Howie Morenz, Aurel Joliat, Joe Malone, and Newsy Lalonde.

Louis Letourneau retired in 1931 leaving the other two to see the team through the Great Depression. Cattarinich's generosity was not killed off by these difficult times. He loaned Chicago's Major Frederic McLaughlin a vast sum of money to keep the team in business because it was for the good of the league. Finally, in 1935, Cattarinich and Dandurand sold the team for $165,000 for economic reasons.

Dandurand, Letourneau, and Cattarinich, owners of the Canadiens, presented an idea for a trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina. The outstanding goalkeeper collapsed during an NHL game Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later.

After Letourneau retired and sold his interests in the team in 1931, Cattarinich and Dandurand were left to oversee the team through the Great Depression. Cattarinich's generosity was not killed off by these difficult times. He loaned Chicago's Major Frederic McLaughlin, the man who had named and ran the Black Hawks, a vast sum of money to keep the team in business because it was for the good of the league.

Upon the death of Habs legend Howie Morenz in 1937, all of the players personal items were to be auctionned off. Cattarinich could not attend, but asked that Jules Dugal, the Canadiens secretary treasurer, purchase the complete Morenz hockey outfit for $500. Cattarinich then turned over the outfit, giving it to Morenz' son Howie Jr.

The good deed is a fine example of the man whom Cattarinich was.

He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.

(Update: Following the publishing of this posting, Chuck, a regular reader of the site and a keen follower of Habs history went sleuthing to solve the mysteries of this most unusual of seasons. What he managed to come up was a more complete picture of what likely went on in 1910. By breaking down the goaltenders individual stats, Chuck sorts out what games were part of the original cancelled season, and which belonged to the two restarted seasons of record. By referencing several books on the matter, he then rolls out chronologically, the scores and goaltenders of each game. After I had banged my head on the subject of these four goalies for literally one month, searching for comprehension and clarity, Chuck's submission was quite the gift! Here is what he had to say, starting with a quick recap on the creation of the team and it's earliest days of existance.)

I was always under the impression that the original "Les Canadiens" franchise that was awarded to Ambrose O'Brien for the first NHA season in 1909-10 was suspended after that first year, and was eventually transferred to Toronto to become the Blueshirts for the 1912-13 season.

The apparent reason for this was that George Kennedy already owned the "Club Athletique Canadien" which was founded in 1908; to work out a name-infringement lawsuit O'Brien foreited the original Canadiens franchise on November 12, 1910 and received $7,500 from Kennedy to assume the rights to the players that were under contract with the original team. At that time, O'Brien also sold the rights to the Haileybury Comets franchise, which he also owned, to Kennedy... it was this franchise that he stocked with the former Les Canadiens players and re-christened it the Club Athletique Canadien.

This version of the story was referenced by Charles L. Coleman, Trail of the Stanley Cup, Kendall/Hunt (1964), p. 201. :

"George Kennedy, owner of the "Club Athlétique Canadien" founded a year earlier, claimed rights to the Canadiens name. To settle the dispute, a complex deal was worked out in the spring of 1910. Les Canadiens suspended operations for the 1910-11 NHA season (the franchise rights were taken over a year later by the Toronto Blueshirts), while Kennedy's team joined the NHA as its second Montreal franchise... Kennedy took over the franchise rights of the Haileybury Hockey Club. The Haileybury team had also been owned by O'Brien, but folded after the season when it became obvious that the mining town was too small to support a big-league hockey team; the remains of the club were sold to Kennedy as part of the deal with O'Brien."

Thus, George Kennedy was able to assimilate his Club Athletique Canadien with the Haileybury franchise for the 1910-11 NHA season. Technically then, the lineage for the current team would then go back through Kennedy's formation of the Club Athletique Canadien from 1909, and NOT back to the original franchise awarded to Ambrose O'Brien with the inception of the NHA.

If we accept this route, then theoretically anything to do with that original 1909-10 Canadiens team should not be part of the current team's history. However, since Kennedy assumed the name and the players from the 1909-10 squad, history acknowledges that the Canadiens played their first game on January 5, 1910. But even then, questions arise.

Regarding the Habs first win, well, it's more than a little foggy. Apparently the NHA restarted the season not once, but twice; the first restart was on January 5, 1910, with the first three Canadiens games from December 1909 of the proposed 16-game season having been stricken from the record.

The second restart came on January 15, 1910 after the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Shamrocks were absorbed from the Canadian Hockey Association. From that point, the season would consist of a 12-game schedule. Because of this, the 7-6 overtime win versus the Cobalt Silver Kings didn’t count in the final standings, and probably shouldn’t be counted as their first win.

According to the stats that I have for the 1910 season, of the 12 remaining games that the Canadiens played, they lost the first four: to Renfrew on January 19, Ottawa (newly crowned Stanly Cup champions after having defeated a challenge from Edmonton of the Alberta Hockey League in Ottawa on January 18 & 20) on January 22 in Ottawa, again to Ottawa on January 26, and then to the Shamrocks on February 2.

Their first “official” win, i.e.: one that counted in league standings was by a 9-5 score over Haileybury on February 7, 1910. In a strange twist of history, it could then be said that the Canadiens beat themselves for their first win! They were to win their second game, the last of their first campaign, on March 11, 1910 when they defeated the Shamrocks by a 5-4 score in the 12th minute of overtime.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, here’s where it gets interesting. By combining your data and mine, I think we can come up with a plausible explanation of who played when.

Your info has Teddy Groulx signing with the team January 29, 1910; therefore it would be highly unlikely that he tended goal in the first 4 games on January 5, 19, 22, and 26. My stats have Teddy playing in 9 games, giving up 77 goals - which is the total number of goals that the Canadiens gave up in their final 9 games played after January 29.

It would then be safe to say that Teddy Groulx played the final 9 games of that season - never to be heard from again.

The three games following the January 15th re-start saw the Canadiens give up a total of 23 goals in three games; those totals agree with the season stats that I have for Joe Cattarinich. We could then say that he played on January 19, 22, and 26.

That leaves M. Larochelle and Jack Laviolette. Your info has Laviolette taking over for M. Larochelle in a 7-6 overtime win. The only game matching that score is the January 5 game against Cobalt, which is the only one not accounted for by Groulx or Cattarinich. Also, Laviolette is said to have felt that “it was his duty", as he took it, to replace goaltender M. Larochelle when he was thrown out of the Canadiens initial contest for arguing a goal.

Since it is widely accepted that the first game was January 5th, that seems to add extra credence to the argument that the duo of Larochelle and Laviolette were in nets on that date.

You also mention that Laviolette was the goaltender in three other games, which dovetails nicely into the theory the he was pencilled in as the team's goaltender for the first three games in 1909 that were stricken from the record, especially since he was given the task of assembling the team by Ambrose O’Brien.

My other reasoning for this timeline is that teams only carried one goaltender; it makes sense that one guy would play until the next guy took over for good, and didn’t switch games back and forth with a second goaltender.

Putting all of this info together, here’s my version of the earliest Canadiens goaltender history:

December 1909: The first three games of the proposed 16-game 1909-1910 season are stricken from the record. Jack Laviolette was the Canadiens goaltender for these three games.

January 5, 1910: The first re-start of the season, with M. Larochelle tending goal for all six goals allowed in a 7-6 overtime win over the Cobalt Silver Kings. Jack Laviolette replaces Larochelle after he’s tossed from the game.

January 15, 1910: The second re-start of the season after the Senators and Shamrocks are admitted to the league. Only the games after that point in the season (the final 12 games) count in the record books.

January 19, 1910: Renfrew 9, Canadiens 4. Cattarinich in goal.

January 22, 1910: Ottawa 6, Canadiens 4. Cattarinich in goal.

January 26, 1910: Ottawa 8, Canadiens 4. Cattarinich in goal.

January 29, 1910: Groulx signs with the Canadiens, takes over goaltending duties.

February 2, 1910: Shamrocks 8, Canadiens 3. Groulx in goal.

February 7, 1910: Canadiens 9, Haileybury 5. First of two Canadiens official wins on the season. Groulx in goal.

February 12 (Wanderers), February 15 (Renfrew), February 24 (Cobalt), February 26 (Haileybury), March 5 (Cobalt) and March 9 (Wanderers). Six more losses, all with Groulx in goal.

March 11, 1910: Final game of the 1910 season. The Canadiens defeat the Shamrocks 5-4 in overtime, giving Groulx his second win of the season.

The only chink in the armor is that you have Groulx playing the last 7 games and picking up the win in the last game, while my stats seem to lean towards Groulx playing in the final 9 games and picking up both official wins. Therefore the only two games in question would be February 2 against the Shamrocks and February 7 against Haileybury.

My thoughts are this: I find it unlikely that if the Canadiens found a need to replace Cattarinich, and had signed Groulx on January 29 that they would let Cattarinich play two more games (the second being a win) and bring Groulx into the lineup two weeks later.

Whatever the true history is, it sure makes some for some great sleuthing opportunities! It would be interesting to see what's in the Canadiens' archive that might be able to clear up some of the earliest questions surrounding the team.