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Must read - Stubbs on Savard

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From The Gazette - this is freely available on their site, so I assume that it can be posted here. I love the opening two sentences :clap:

Savard wore the 'C' for courage with Habs

After breaking his leg in five places in 1970, defenceman recovered to join an elite group

DAVE STUBBS

The Gazette

Sunday, November 19, 2006

They were five captains of the Canadiens, in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, and it was often said they'd never survive the trenches of the National Hockey League.

I'd suggest their combined 47 Stanley Cups say otherwise.

Maurice Richard, No. 9, had broken both ankles and fractured a wrist playing hockey before his NHL career was 17 games old.

Jean Beliveau, No. 4, who missed time with a concussion and eye, chest and hand injuries, played with a defective heart - "an Austin's motor in a Cadillac's chassis," a doctor once wrote - which left him dizzy, temporarily sightless, short of breath, nauseous, constantly fatigued and with chest pains.

Henri Richard and Yvan Cournoyer, Nos. 16 and 12: too small to endure, no less excel.

And Serge Savard, No. 18, suffered two horrifically broken legs in consecutive seasons, either one grave enough to end a lesser player's career.

Last night, Savard's retired number joined those of the rickety Rocket, brittle Beliveau, vertically challenged Pocket Rocket and Roadrunner, and six other Canadiens icons in the rafters of the Bell Centre.

It was March 11, 1970, Savard's third season in the NHL, and the Canadiens were chasing the last of four playoff berths in the East Division; they would fail to make the postseason for the first time in 22 years, falling short of the New York Rangers by three goals on a tie-breaking formula.

The Rangers' Vic Hadfield was racing toward Canadiens goalie Rogie Vachon. In hot pursuit, Savard stripped the puck off Hadfield's stick with a desperate lunge that sent him sliding full speed into Vachon's net, anchored unforgivingly onto Forum ice with foot-long steel pegs.

The impact with the goalpost shattered Savard's leg in five places.

"I'd do anything not to give up a breakaway," he says now, laughing, his memory having erased the goal Rangers' Bob Nevin scored on the play.

Savard's exquisite pain was frozen in a dramatic photograph by the Montreal Star's Adrian Lunny, an image splashed the entire width of a page by Star sports editor Red Fisher.

"I remember everybody bending over me, touching me, and I just needed air," Savard said. "I told them: 'Don't touch it, it's broken.' "

More than broken, in fact. His tibia and fibula had been pulverized into rubble.

Doctors put Savard in a hip-to-ankle cast that night, and he fractured the leg again in his sleep when the limb twitched inside the plaster. This happened once more, prompting removal of the cast and insertion of two pins to anchor the bones.

Savard underwent three operations that week, yet never doubted his ability to play.

"Maybe I was never aware of the danger," he said. "I read in the papers that my career was finished, but I never believed it."

Doctors warned Savard of his leg's weakness just above the steel pins, which were inserted between his left ankle and knee.

And that's precisely where he was hipchecked by Toronto fireplug Bobby Baun on Jan. 30, 1971, fracturing the leg again. Savard skated off the ice - after retrieving the puck and clearing it from the Canadiens' zone.

The pins were removed for a bone graft, and Savard spent nearly a year rehabilitating in a hot tub and on a stationary bike at the Forum. He missed 80 games in all, returning to action in February 1972.

Six months later, he was selected to represent Canada in the historic Summit Series against the Soviets. Yet Savard's problems were hardly behind him.

He played in Games 2 and 3, and in a Winnipeg practice the morning after the latter, he took a Red Berenson slap shot off the ankle. He limped to the team's plane bound for Vancouver.

The ankle ballooned at altitude and Savard was rolled off the jet in a wheelchair. He flew home to Montreal with a hairline fracture, hearing the pilot's Game 4 updates on the intercom.

Savard rested 10 days and, against all advice, made the trip to Moscow, sitting out Game 5, but playing the last three of the series. Canada won four and tied another in his five games.

Once a superb rushing defenceman, Savard now chose to stay back more frequently. Soon, he was a shot-blocking specialist and the brilliant pillar of the Canadiens' Big Three with fellow rearguards Larry Robinson and Guy Lapointe.

"I watched myself a bit more," Savard said. "I took my chances, but Larry and Guy were very much offensive defencemen.

"I didn't have to press as much. I told Larry: 'Don't worry, go ahead. I'll stay back.' "

Savard captained the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup in 1978-79, his eighth. He was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy in recognition of his perseverance and dedication to hockey, bookending his playoff MVP Conn Smythe Trophy won a decade earlier.

Today, he's walking more easily a year and a bit since having his left knee replaced.

"Maybe I limp just a little," he said, unsure the knee was related to the fractures of his leg. "I'm not running, but I can bike and golf with no pain.

"I was very fortunate to play with the best players on the best teams, and to be associated with the best management.

"I've been very, very lucky."

Looking on last night was Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, a cancer survivor and fellow Masterton winner who was nearly blinded last season by a high stick. Koivu's NHL career has also been interrupted by three significant knee injuries and a shoulder separation.

If we all celebrated Savard's glorious night, today's captain and a champion from the past were linked. Not just by a 'C' on the CH, but by the courage long sewn into that special sweater.

dstubbs@thegazette.canwest.com

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what a sick injury

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You have to admire him - he was one tough cookie when he played..... a true 'Canadien'

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Seems every Canadiens captain (long term) has had some serious injuries and won Stanley Cups. You know what that means Saku is destined to win a Cup with the Habs.

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Since his jersey is retired and amongst the greats I figure we can bury the hatchet on one particular trade.

LeClair & Desjardins for Recchi, Lamb & a pick.

That trade brought in Recchi. We took Hohenberger with the pick. Not a good turnout. Desjardins was awesome in Philly. LeClair was a killer.

But, remember that LeClair wanted out of Montreal. He was playing HORRIBLY!!! Savard was not dealing from a position of strength. So I always cut him more slack than others.

I think that's the worst trade he did.

He traded Chelios for Denis Savard. He received criticism for that but Chelios was a cancer in the room and got in some (Like in Nagano-typical Cheli) Montreal trouble.

Bad boys, bad boys

Chelios gonna do, whatcha gonna do

when they come for you

Bad boys, bad boys

Chelios gonna do, watcha gonna do

when they come for you

:clap: Serge got Denis Savard back. :clap:

Edited by ATHLÉTIQUE.CANADIEN

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Well, from a personnel standpoint the Chelios trade was bad too.

Imagine how good it was for the Blackhawks. They acquired a young franchise defenseman for an aging forward who had clearly lost more than a step or two.

Savard was a good veteran presence, but in terms of value at the time they didn't match up. Was it worth trading such an asset to make up for that error in drafting way back when? I don't know.

Even if Chelios needed to be gone, there could have been a better deal to be made.

Likewise with the worst trade in Canadiens history (obviously not Savard behind this one) that sent Roy to Colorado. Did Roy want out? Sure, but there's no reason they couldn't have acquired better. Or simply put that klutz Tremblay out of work.

But this doesn't mean that Savard was a bad GM, in fact he was quite good. He did well in that he managed the team to two Cups. Unexpected or not, they were because of the personnel and the team put together.

Regardless and more on topic, Serge Savard was a great player and deserved his number retired.

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Well, from a personnel standpoint the Chelios trade was bad too.

Imagine how good it was for the Blackhawks. They acquired a young franchise defenseman for an aging forward who had clearly lost more than a step or two.

That wasn't they only bad move. Montreal could have had another dynasty early in the 90's, when you look at the team they could have built around Patrick Roy, and the young defensmen, Chris Chelios, Matt Schneider, Eric Dejardins, Patrice Brisebois and Sylvain Levebrve. With the later additions of Kirk Muller and Vincent Damphousse this could have been a powerhouse organization that could truly have been a dynasty. But the Chelios, Leclair and ultimatley Roy trades sunk this organization to a place it hadn't seen since the early 1940's. Only in the last few years has it begun to emerge, and thats why so many of us fans are so bitter at Ronald Corey, Rejean Houle and Mario Trembley

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That wasn't they only bad move. Montreal could have had another dynasty early in the 90's, when you look at the team they could have built around Patrick Roy, and the young defensmen, Chris Chelios, Matt Schneider, Eric Dejardins, Patrice Brisebois and Sylvain Levebrve. With the later additions of Kirk Muller and Vincent Damphousse this could have been a powerhouse organization that could truly have been a dynasty. But the Chelios, Leclair and ultimatley Roy trades sunk this organization to a place it hadn't seen since the early 1940's. Only in the last few years has it begun to emerge, and thats why so many of us fans are so bitter at Ronald Corey, Rejean Houle and Mario Trembley

The Roy trade was a real killer. I don't think you can really blame Savard on the Recchi deal, he was caught by the fact that his entire first line suddenly got old, literally overnight (Bellows and Muller) and his young gun (Leclair) was doing absolutely bugger-all, while the team was missing the playoffs for the first time in decades. So he had to do something, and no way were you going to get value back for LeClair alone. I'm among those who doubts that LeClair ever would have done what he did, if he hadn't been playing with Lindros. It was a reasonable gamble that brought us a top-tier forward...

Chelios deal, dumb dumb dumb. But then, consider that he bagged Kirk Muller for Stephane Richer and then rolled a washed-up Muller over to get Pierre Turgeon! Not too shabby, that. And neither was Courtnall for Kordic, come to think of it :lol:

But make no mistake, Reggie Houle is far and away the single biggest reason for the collapse into mediocrity in the 1990s. Savard left the organization in reasonably good shape. Anyway, his number was retired for his on-ice career, not his GMing.

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Serge won 2 cups as GM and 8 as player. Enough said.

I , like Scotty, had tears in my eyes.

When I was a teen, he was Bourque and more.

Best defenceman on a great squad.

8 cups in 15 years, think about that!

Just like to know what he said to Saku during the ceremony.

Edited by johnnyhasbeen

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Call Muller washed up, but he was the heart and soul of the Canadiens. The team was never the same when they pulled that deal, similar really to when the Leafs traded away Doug Gilmour.

Pierre Turgeon never lived up to anything in Montreal, the pressure wasn't for him, he wasn't a leader, etc, etc. Yes he was more talented than Muller, but the team didn't really benefit from that skill.

In the end, on paper the team acquired more skilled players but it killed any real chance they had.

And of course Turgeon was later dumped for Shayne Corson!

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Call Muller washed up, but he was the heart and soul of the Canadiens. The team was never the same when they pulled that deal, similar really to when the Leafs traded away Doug Gilmour.

Pierre Turgeon never lived up to anything in Montreal, the pressure wasn't for him, he wasn't a leader, etc, etc. Yes he was more talented than Muller, but the team didn't really benefit from that skill.

In the end, on paper the team acquired more skilled players but it killed any real chance they had.

And of course Turgeon was later dumped for Shayne Corson!

The Muller for Turgeon deal was brilliant. Muller degenerated from a 40-goal scorer to strictly a third-line grinder after 2004. Turgeon was a bona fide #1 centreman and stayed that way for several seasons. He wasn't a LEADER, but give me a break - 100-point guys are a lot harder to find than character players, and I trade a third-string C for a #1 any day. We still had Keane, Roy, Odelein and several other blood-and-guts character types.

Dumping Turgeon for Corson (to say nothing of THROWING IN Craig Conroy (!!!!!) into the deal) was a classic Reggie Houle special, one of the stupidest trades in Canadiens history - only forgotten because the Roy trade was an even more collosal blunder. Not Serge Savard's fault, of course; he had been fired long before that went down.

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Well, keep in mind that Muller wasn't a third line C at that point. Quite possible that if he stuck around in Montreal, he would have been able to contribute more effectively.

And by 2004, Turgeon wasn't a first liner either.

Another thing too - Malakhov and Schneider were included too, don't forget that. Schneider, like Muller, bounced around the league but unlike Muller, finally found a good place to play in Detroit and returned to star quality play. Whereas Malakhov was decent for a couple of years in Montreal, then returned to being an inconsistent and overpaid blueliner.

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Im curious to what Rejean Houle is doing today. Washing cars and stopsigns and hopes to get a dollar? Male prostitute? I hope the Leafs fall together and dumps JFJ and then makes Houle their new GM. I can see his first trade now.

to the Wings ---> Kaberle, Steen

to the Leafs ---> 41-42 year old Chelios and the rights to Igor Larionov's old skates.

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Im curious to what Rejean Houle is doing today.

He's with the Habs organization as alumni director (or something... not sure what his official title is). I think that means he coordinates the get-togethers, charitable work, and appearances made by former habs greats. Not sure if he does anything else besides this.

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He's with the Habs organization as alumni director (or something... not sure what his official title is). I think that means he coordinates the get-togethers, charitable work, and appearances made by former habs greats. Not sure if he does anything else besides this.

I'm sure Gainey has him as far away from anything related to hockey decisions as humanly possible.

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I'll tell you one thing with assured confidence... I'm nowhere near as tough as those guys were and that Koivu is... I'd have been blown away long ago in a similar time-line.

I've got a crappy pain threshold.

GO :hlogo: GO!

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