Friday, 11 October 2013

HABS-TOWN: "I can still smell it today!"

Writing about the Montreal Canadiens has many small perks. One of them is contributing a popular feature to Habs-lore. 

With "HABS-TOWN", we've met people who cover the Canadiens, people who used to cover the Canadiens, fans of the Canadiens, and now a family member of a Canadien. 

Stephanie Lapointe is the daughter of Hockey Hall of Famer, Guy Lapointe. During a 16-year NHL career, Lappinte helped revolutionize what a defenseman could be. Although he would finish up his career with stints in St.Louis and Boston, Lapointe is best remembered as a member of Montreal's "Big Three" on Defense. Together with compatriots Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, Lapointe would win six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970's. 

Stephanie is Guy Lapointe's only daughter, and yet of the family she was the one who fell in love with the game of hockey. She currently owns her own Human Resources consulting firm, and is at the forefront of a movement to have her father's sweater retired. 

Everyone's got a story about the Habs affecting their lives, Stephanie lived with one of the Montreal Canadiens all time greats for a father, making her a perfect person to read about in today's HABS-TOWN.

What got you into hockey, more specifically the Habs?
I was born in 1975 with a father playing hockey in the National Hockey League for the Habs. 

Early on in my life that’s all we heard and watched. When I was about four years old, I would go to hockey practice with my father. I quickly became a Habs fan because these players were like family to me.

Were there any you were particularly close with?
Not any particularly they were all very nice and I usually preferred to hang out with their kids.

Are you still friends with any of those players kids you grew up with?
I’ve moved a lot. My father was traded to Boston then St-Louis, back to Quebec for the Nordiques and finally arrived in Calgary as a coach and scout. It made it difficult to keep in touch, but if we see each other at events we are always happy to see each other.  

As you got older did your relationship with the players change? You would have been close enough in age to be their peer as opposed to "the daughter of". 

Absolutely! I was told to stay away from hockey players. (Laughs).  My dad didn’t approve. 

When I was in university, I was working in a bar in Calgary and would often see there.
They were always very polite, friendly, but knew not to cross the line. I knew they'd have my back if anything happened. 

Do you think your dad's reaction of "stay away from hockey players" was as a result of something specific, or just generally known in your house?

I was friends with a few of them, they dated my friends. I guess my father saw how difficult it was on the family with him being on the road so much. My parents divorced when I was very young. It’s not the lifestyle I would want for my son.  

Based on your dad's stance on hockey players, I guess it's safe to say your husband is not one?  
That is correct. However I married I Maple Leafs fan from Ontario and I'm not sure which is worse. I enjoy listening to my father and him talk hockey!   
Dave Kaufman from TSN 690, once asked Patrick Burke (Brian's son) what team he grew up cheering for. Patrick bluntly said "whichever one my dad worked for". 

Your dad was in hockey for a long time in various roles with multiple franchises, did you find your loyalties switching with your dads?
Great question! I always favoured the Habs. That's where my father spent most of his career and won his 6 cups. Out of respect I also cheered for the teams he worked for, but Habs were and will always be my favourite team. 

Do you remember your first Habs game?
My first Hab game was when I was only 3. My mother took me to watch my father play. I don’t remember much, but I’m told I would sit there and really watch the game.

Who is your all-time favourite Habs player?
My favorite Habs player was Guy Lafleur. He was a legendary player. I also found him to be very nice and attentive when I went to practice. He’s the one who taught me how to skate.

If the "demon blonde" taught you how to skate, is it within reason to say you must be a pretty good skater?
I don’t like to brag, but I do consider myself to be an excellent skater. I was also into figure skating so that helped as well.

What must your dad have thought that your favourite player was someone other than him? 
Well, to be perfectly honest my dad WAS my favorite player and my hero growing up. I just figured it sounded a bit corny.
Let's talk a little about the era's post-dad's retirement. Who were some of your favourite players then? It must be different liking a player that you don't have a personal relationship with. 
I liked players like Shane Corson, Chris Chelios, and Kirk Muller.  At least those are names that are off the top of my head!

Where do you like to watch games?
Of course it’s always more fun watching games at the Bell Center, the atmosphere is out of this world, but I enjoy watching them at home with my boys - husband and son.

Does your son play hockey? If so, do you feel there's any added pressure on him due to his lineage?
Luckily no. 

I can’t imagine the pressure he would have being the Grandson of a hockey legend. He’s an avid golfer. He loves to watch hockey, but never really got into it to play.
If your son did show interest in playing hockey, how do you think you'd react?
I would be extremely supportive and attend every single practice and game. I would be that crazy mother in the stands cheering on her child. He would be so embarrassed. 
Did you want to play Hockey growing up, or did you leave that to your siblings?

I have two brothers. Neither was really into hockey.  I was the one who wanted to play, but my dad always refused

Why do you think your dad didn't want you to play? Did he ever relent, and let you play?
At the time I think he thought it was a man’s sport. He knew I liked to wrestle and play fight with my older brother. He probably thought I would get hurt. Things were different back then. I never got to play in a team, but I make up for it now with my family and we get pretty competitive.
Do you prefer to watch with guys or girls in general?

I would be tempted to say guys because they know more about hockey, but I see that women are just as knowledgeable about the game. It’s not about watching the team with the best jersey or the cutest players!  
Do you have any pre-game rituals or in game superstitions?
No. I don’t really believe in rituals or superstitions. I probably should since I’ve seen my dad do all kinds of weird stuff during the playoffs.

What kind of weird stuff did you see your dad so during the playoffs?
He refused to shave and would wear the same socks, I remember my mother complaining about the smell of my dad’s equipment.

I can still smell it today! 
My wife hates the smell of my hockey gear! Luckily today there are ways to clean the gear, but man oh man "hockey hands" are the worst.
OMG hockey hands! That has got to be the most horrific smell in the world!
What's the best game you ever attended?
That’s a tough one since there have been so many great Habs games over the years that I was fortunate enough to see.  One that does come to mind however is a game against the New York Rangers about 6 years ago when we gave up 5 goals only to come back and win the game with 5 straight and then the shoot-out.  It was almost unbelievable how it was happening, and the fans (myself included) were losing their minds with every goal the Habs got.  When Kovalev tied it at 5-5, I really thought the roof was going to come off the Bell Center.

Do you have any funny or interesting stories that are somehow related to the Habs?
I have so many! As I said I practically grew up in the locker room. My father was quite the prankster so we shared some good laughs.   I recall one day he put whipped cream in all the players’ shoes while they were on the ice during practice.  Seeing their reactions after was priceless.

What are your expectations for the 2013-2014 edition of the Montreal Canadiens?
With the re-alignment of the divisions, it will be interesting to see what happens.  The Atlantic division is very strong, and it seems most think that either Boston or Detroit will dominate, but I think that Montreal may just surprise everyone.  

For the moment Jarred Tinordi and Michael Bournival are with the Canadiens, do you expect them to last the season here, why or why not? What are your expectations for them?
Tinordi may stay around, and I hope he does.  He’s a big body and the Habs could use some more size out there, especially in the absence of Parros who I hope gets back in action soon.   

Michael Bournival seems to be earning his position on the 4th line, and is adapting well to the speed of NHL paced hockey, so we’ll have to wait and see if he can continue.  He may get sent down, but I don’t think it will be very long before he’s got a permanent position on the team!
Do you see any current members of the Canadiens who remind you in any way of your dad? If so, what exactly reminds you of him?
Not current, but Chris Chelios often reminded me of my Dad’s style of play. He had a rough and tumble style about him that made me think of my Dad.
It's interesting that you compare Chris Chelios to your dad. Since PK Subban burst in with the Canadiens,  many have compared him to Chelios. Do you in turn see any similarities between Subban and your dad?
PK is a very talented defenseman.  I can’t see the similarities that everyone speaks about. You have two complete different players with different styles. On and off the ice.  

When current Hab-fans and players look up at the Bell Centre rafters they see the names and numbers of Larry Robinson and Serge Savard. 
For those who never saw him play,  what was special about your dad on the ice that earned those three men the name "the big three"? 
My father played 777 games for the Montreal Canadians.. He scored 572 career points in a Habs uniform.  Not only has he won 6 Stanley Cup Championships, but he was also a big part of Team Canada's victory in the 1972 Summit Series. To date he holds the franchise record of goals for a defenseman (28), and also most goals for a rookie defenseman (15). 

Objectively do you feel your dad belongs up there with his compatriots? Why do you think it hadn't happened to this point?
Let me be very clear that any effort I am doing to help retire my father’s jersey is all mine. I didn’t even mention it to him. I truly feel he should be up there with the rest of the big three.  I can’t answer why he isn’t up there. They waited so long for (Emile) Bouchard.  It should happen sooner than later.

Does it bother you that players can still wear #5? 
I would say it’s just a number, but it’s an important number in my family. My grandfather was chief firefighter and his badge was also #5. Then my Dad sported the number so I wouldn’t say “it bothers me” but I selfishly thinks it’s “ours”. 

For more from Stephanie Lapointe, follow her on Twitter @RavenMontreal


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