sons of sea-captains, haberdashers

The Montreal Canadiens yesterday named Marc Bergevin as their new general manager. A quick look at those who’ve preceded him in the position, starting at the club’s pre-NHL start:

• Joseph Cattarinich was a goaltender, the Canadiens’ first in 1909. As a businessman he was known as The Silent One and also Silent Joe. With Leo Dandurand and Louis Letourneau, he would later buy the Canadiens from George Kennedy’s widow for $11,500.

• Jack Laviolette, Hall-of-Fame defenceman, was a playing manager with Cattarinich when managers were also, sort of, coaches, too. His on-ice career ended when he lost a foot in a car accident in 1918. According the Hockey Hall of Fame, that didn’t keep him from refereeing the benefit game that was organized on his his behalf in 1921.

• George Kennedy, son of a sea-captain, was a Canadian amateur wrestling champion who died of the lingering effects of Spanish flu.

• Leo Dandurand, the man who brought Howie Morenz to Montreal, owned a restaurant called Drury’s. He forbade his players from driving cars because of the risk of leg and hand cramps.

• Ernest Savard was a stockbroker who, when talk arose that Montreal’s two teams might amalgamate in 1937, said that the Canadiens would never change their name.

• Cecil Hart, an insurance man, coached the Canadiens to three Stanley Cups before he came back to manage them in 1937, insisting that he’d only take the job if the team brought back Howie Morenz to play. Lester Patrick called him “one of the best managers who ever sat on a hockey bench.”

• Jules Dugal got into a hoo-ha in 1940 with Bill Stewart in a game in New York after the referee claimed that Dugal had sent out the Canadiens to “get me” because “I put him out of the arena five years ago and he’s never forgotten.” After the game, Stewart stormed into the Habs’ dressing room, furious about the curses Dugal had been yelling at him and challenging him to a fight, which Dugal didn’t accept. About sending players after the ref, Dugal said, “I’d be crazy to do anything like that. Much as I dislike the man, I would not do a thing like that.”

• Tommy Gorman was a lacrosse gold medallist at the 1908 Olympics and also a newspaperman at The Ottawa Citizen, not to mention a parliamentary page at the age of nine. “The other boys used to stuff me in wastepaper baskets,” he said. Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier is supposed to have seen him bloodied from the bullying and told him to keep the peace. He won seven Stanley Cups with four teams.

• Frank J. Selke stood 5’4” in skates. After he retired, he raised fancy chickens. Also there were the nine Stanley Cup-winning teams he presided over. In 1948 he said in a speech that if the boys of Europe had been taught team games and made national heroes of men like Howie Morenz, “there would be no Hitlers or Stalins necessary for them.”

• Sam Pollock, another nine-time Cup winner, was an English haberdasher’s son. Appointed to the job in 1964, he was described as a roly-poly little man who often chews on a handkerchief during an interview or a meeting. At 16, when he showed up try out for the Montreal Junior Royals, the coach took one look at him and told him to go home. Everybody assumed that Ken Reardon would be Selke’s successor, but no, wrong. He brought Ken Dryden to Montreal and wangled the trade that allowed the Habs to draft Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, and Larry Robinson.

• As a player, Réjean Houle’s adjectives were exuberant and effective. As general manager in Montreal, he traded away Patrick Roy, Mike Keane, Mark Recchi, Vincent Damphousse, and Pierre Turgeon.

• Boston picked André Savard sixth overall in the 1973 NHL amateur draft, two spots ahead of Montreal’s choice, Bob Gainey. After three years as Canadiens’ gm, he went into a meeting with club president Pierre Boivin to present his plan for the future of the team and came out having agreed to step down.

• Bob Gainey’s playerly adjectives were hardworking, painstaking, honest. He won five Stanley Cups and captained the team. In 1981, Viktor Tikhonov said he the best player in the world. In Peterborough, as a junior, he got a job putting up TV aerials after he quit the one at a clothing store. “I didn’t sell too many clothes,” he said. “I guess I didn’t have the gift of the gab.”

• Pierre Gauthier co-managed the Canadian team at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and oversaw hockey operations in Ottawa and Anaheim before returning to his hometown, Montreal. They called him Ghost in Ottawa. Earlier this year he was the man who fired the coach, Jacques Martin, who spoke French to hire the other one, Randy Cunneyworth, who didn’t.