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Habs retire the numbers of Bouchard and Lach

I was, unfortunately, a little too young to have seen either Butch Bouchard or Elmer Lach play for the Montreal Canadiens. However, my father, a fervent Montreal fan born in 1910, saw all the great ones play, and he often spoke to me glowingly of the exploits of Lach and Bouchard.

Lach (pictured with this story) was the outstanding playmaking center, authoring opportunities for Maurice Richard, while Bouchard was the rugged captain and leader of the fabled team in the 40s and 50s.

Interestingly, when I spoke to former Montreal and Leaf great Dickie Moore just a few weeks ago for our Vintage Leaf audio interview. Moore had just spent an evening with both gentlemen, now in their 90’s. Moore stressed that he would love to see their jerseys retired. Maybe he knew something when we spoke, as the Montreal organization was clearly planning some surprises for their 100th anniversary celebration.

In an un-announced highlight of the evening, the club did indeed formally retire the number #3 of Bouchard, and the #16 of Lach (though the number had actually been retired earlier for the “Pocket Rocket”, Henri Richard).

It was yet another well-planned and orchestrated event. So many former greats were on hand, on the ice, (if they were able) for a pre-game “warm-up”. To see Roy and Dryden “in goal” again was a treat—even for those of us who didn’t particularly like them as opponents.

And what a wonderful idea to ask long-time rival, Gordie Howe, to raise the Rocket’s #9 jersey up high for all to see, and then introduce the classiest Canadien of all, Jean Beliveau.

A marvelous reunion, celebrating one hundred years of hockey history in a great city, done the way only the Canadiens can do it.

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