TORONTO – Yvan Cournoyer’s trip down memory lane started a couple days before he turned up for a busy weekend at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The legendary Montreal Canadiens winger was originally scheduled to fly to Toronto but decided to take a different kind of journey instead. Cournoyer and his wife travelled by train and checked in to the Royal York hotel, just as the Habs used to do during his playing days.
It was a fitting way for Cournoyer to start a weekend that will be full of reminders about how things once were.
“It’s good memories,” he said. “I was a less nervous coming here this week than when I was 20 years old and coming to play Toronto.”
Cournoyer joined fellow ex-Habs Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Frank Mahovlich at the Hall on Friday to unveil a beautiful exhibit that commemorates the team’s 100th anniversary.
They are four of the record 54 people with Montreal Canadiens connections that have gained induction into the Hall of Fame, and were all part of the 1972-73 Canadiens team together.
There were plenty of stories and a few verbal jabs as they sat side-by-side on a stage and chatted informally in front of reporters. Cournoyer, who won an amazing 10 Stanley Cups in Montreal, recalled what it was like when Mahovlich joined the Habs late in his career after stints in Toronto and Detroit.
“We had to show him what winning was like,” he joked.
No team in NHL history has won as much or as often as Montreal.
The Hall’s exhibit touches on each of the different eras the team has gone through. It features everything from Joe Hall’s contract for the 1918-19 season (which paid him $700) to the puck Rocket Richard scored his 500th career goal with to the tuque Jose Theodore wore during the 2003 Heritage Classic outdoor game in Edmonton.
All and all, the exhibit does a nice job of paying tribute to the oldest hockey team in the world.
“I still believe that we have probably the best Hall of Fame in all of sports,” said Robinson. “This is an extremely exciting event because 100 years is a long time. …
“It’s great that the Hall of Fame put a special display up for us.”
Mahovlich recalled a time during the ’60s when the Maple Leafs had actually won more Stanley Cups than the Canadiens.
That changed in a hurry over the next decade and Mahovlich had no trouble understanding why after getting a chance to play for the Habs before retiring.
“They really played to win and I think management had a lot to do with it,” he said. “It was run properly. I never felt the way I felt in Toronto in Montreal.
“I had a different feeling – they seemed to take care of things a lot better.”
The Montreal Canadiens centennial exhibit will be on display to the public for the next couple months.