When Howie Morenz first came to Montreal from Stratford in 1923, Sprague Cleghorn was one of the veterans who wouldn’t talk to him. You hear that, now and again. Billy Coutu and Bert Corbeau, too, wouldn’t talk to him, supposedly. They were miffed at the fuss surrounding his arrival, I guess, or of his skill and his dash, unless that’s how they treated all rookies — or maybe were they just supremely mean? Could be nothing more than myth, of course. But then, too, here’s this, from March of the following year, in a Toronto Daily Star report on a 4-1 Canadiens win over the Toronto St. Patricks at the Arena Gardens. “There is no use selecting stars on the Canadien team,” wrote Lou Marsh.
Vezina was at his best, and Sprague Cleghorn mighty good, but not quite at their best, and the three forwards Joliat, Boucher and Morenz had everything. The rumor that Joliat and Boucher were jealous of Morenz’ spectacular splash into the limelight and would not feed him passes is a joke. Those three whipped the old pill back and forth like infielders warming up.
Morenz scored a goal on the night, Joliat a pair. “Canadiens cyclonic front line,” Marsh wrote; they “outlegged their checks all night,” and had the Toronto defence “plowing around in a frenzy.”