Habs legends unimpressed by Florida arrests

Following the Canadiens’ 1965 Stanley Cup win. From left: Bobby Rousseau, Henri Richard, Jim Roberts, Red Berenson, Jean Béliveau, coach Toe Blake, Jean-Guy Talbot, Yvan Cournoyer and Dick Duff.
Photo courtesy Yvan and Evelyn Cournoyer

The Canadiens’ record this week, with a game left to play tomorrow, stands at one overtime win, one loss, two arrests, $2,500 in bail paid and a river of bad ink. Yesterday, the team held an optional practice to begin preparations for tomorrow’s return home vs. the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jean Béliveau, Henri Richard and Yvan Cournoyer, consecutive Hall of Fame Canadiens captains from 1961-79, enjoyed this week’s victory and can swallow the loss.

But the winners of a combined 31 Stanley Cups have been less than dazzled by the other headlines.

"I don’t think (the dinner) is such a good idea," Béliveau said yesterday, following a news conference to announce a memorabilia auction next Wednesday to benefit his foundation and the Quebec Society for Disabled Children.

Added Cournoyer: "You’re a professional, and you’re old enough to play for the Canadiens. … I don’t think they were sober. And I think a lot of people have made the same stupid mistake. I hope it’s going to be a good message for (O’Byrne) and the rest of the team – to act like gentlemen and not do those things again."


  1. sailor2963 says:

    As someone who has visited Tampa on many occasions…and the bars in Ybor Village in particular…to say the Tampa Police are quick to overreact would be an understatement. I have witnessed many an “incident” where instead of trying to sort out a situation there immediate action appears to be: “arrest and charge people now, sort it out later”

    I was not there when O’Byrne was arrested; however, I am pretty confident that he was not stealing the woman’s purse. His intent was not to commit a robbery. I suspect that a more patient police force might have resolved the situation without resorting to arrests. But I was not there.

    Regarding the honour of the Habs. I lived in Montreal in the 70s and was in bars when players were guilty of postgame “incidents” that might have resulted in legal and/or publicity problems. However, common sense prevailed. In most cases police were not called, either the establishment bouncers or other players intervened. But that was Montreal and these were “our” players.

    Ryan O’Byrne is a gifted young player with a promising future. I believe and hope that he will learn a lesson from this. I do not agree that he has sullied the good name of the Montreal Canadiens. I truly hope that common sense will prevail in the justice system in Tampa and there will be no further damage to his career.

    Let’s turn our focus back to an exciting young team with lots of promise. GO HABS GO

  2. Shobud says:

    Why don’t people wait till everything is out in the open before getting all shook up.. I am not going to comment on it till I know what the truth is

  3. mjames says:

    “or until the charges were dropped as was the case.”

    It was my understanding that the charges were not dropped.


  4. mrstewart61 says:

    I guess you just did, Mr/Ms Anonymous.

  5. mrstewart61 says:

    ME! I mentioned that a few weeks ago and showed his sats in comparison to Kovy.

  6. Chuck says:

    Richard, Beliveau, Cournyer. Three Hall of Fame captains of the most storied franchise in hockey, with an incredible 31 Stanley Cups between them. I’d think that anyone currently wearing the CH would listen up when these legends have something to say.

    Dave, maybe you can answer me this: at the beginning of the year, does the team bring in the former greats to talk up the responsibility and tradition that goes along with being a Montreal Canadien to the current players?


    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  7. Chuck says:

    And I’m pretty sure that Red’s senses would have been able to tell if it was something other than hot water.


    “All bow down before the Komisaurus Rex!”

  8. RS says:

    As it has been stated numerous times by many here, the difference between now and then is that these guys got caught, charged and reported on. The greats were hockey greats not saints.

    OB is young, big, has potential, and is a welcome addition to the Habs blueline but we will indeed have to wait and see how he develops. And how his legal problems develop too.

  9. Berge says:

    To all the Fish:

    Even though this incident has made good fodder for selling printed rags and running rumourmills, it’s kinda funny (but not in a ha-ha way) how RB was immediately tagged (even by so called journalists) as quite possibly being guilty until he could be proven innocent…or until the charges were dropped as was the case.

    At least his teamates knew enough to stick up for him in the interim.

    Did it occur to anyone that the “Lady” in question might have actually ASKED him to hold her purse as she went to the washroom before leaving ( Meet you outside…wink…wink)…and then she just found a chivalrous bouncer to believe a rather common and very distressed claim of a stolen purse, and then tacked on her added claim for a lousy 20 bucks in order to make the (unpressed) ‘charges’ more material in the eyes of the police ?

    So much for balancing a story based on conjecture, and a single bar patron’s claim….huh

    Here’s another possibility: Does anyone think that perhaps some chick in a club might actually be capable of stirring up trouble for someone…With a high profile pro athlete no less?

    How does that possibility compare to (let’s say) a hardworking rookie defenseman who’s pulling down a half-mil, suddenly deciding that risking a blossoming career for 20 bucks, and a free phonecall, while OPENLY/VISIBLY sporting a non matching purse…is somehow all worth far more to him…than his entire future.

    Aren’t there enough journalists and fans out there who could at least mention that something smells fishy about that whole scenario…If not actually dig in and investigate before making (self) rightous moralistic statements…In print no less?

    Hmnnnn….Maybe the players in question were all blind drunk that night at the start of a regular season roadtrip, and the fairminded bouncers were just looking out for a distressed patron with nothing to gain from such an act of defamation…Hmnnnn. The local franchise certainly would not truly benefit from having a fan cause such trouble…Naah….That would be just as reprehensible a concept as commiting petty theft as some sort of a joke.

    Is it really so much more beleivable that top rung NHL players are going to be out drinking with each other until they are beligerent and stupefied, and then pulling teenaged pranks in front of the rest of their teamates? Perhaps even picking fights with otherwise benevolent bouncers and the non-egotistical types of career law enforcement officers that normally pull night shift duty in a bar district…You know…Those same hyper-intelligent, power-tripping meatheads who enjoy flexing their authority at the doors of bars, and the slightly more intelligent types who finished highschool in order to become gun-toting police officers in the state of Florida. I’m sure that those types of fine, mild mannered self-satisfied authority figures would never have any desire to assert their ego’s upon succcesful pro athletes…at any chance they get. I’m sure that Florida cops and bouncers are far more even headed and judicious at 3AM than any pro defenseman who’s out with team-mates and peers.

    Hmnnn…Funny how many people simply assumed that the chick in the bar was telling the truth, without so much as a hint of a hidden (victimizing?) agenda ….and then those same people simply bought the ensuing DRAMA…hook…line…and sinker

  10. showey47 says:

    “P.S. As for characterization of O’Byrne as mediocore, hmm .. I guess we’ll see about that.”

    I was thinking the same thing, this guy has big time potential. The scary thing is with his height and being 225 he may even fill out some more on such a big frame. Potentially an oversized komi or hamrlik with better wheels.

  11. TC says:

    That’s funny I don’t remember Jean Beliveau ever getting charged with grand theft. I guess it depends on your definition of fun. After all, for these three fun didn’t involve shaming the organization and themselves, in public.

    Be that as it may, I would argue that while hockey constiutes what made them famous, it is their efforts off the ice, especially their charity work, that has made them true legends.


    P.S. As for characterization of O’Byrne as mediocore, hmm .. I guess we’ll see about that.

  12. RS says:

    One might point out that the torch fell some time ago. But anyway, these guys are legends for their on-ice exploits, not for anything that any of them said, though Henri’s comments about Al MacNeil were classic! Just as OB and Kots are a couple mediocre Habs based on their hockey skills, not their drinking thrills.

    Actually, the worst part of the story was (as often with the papers) the headline. Les anciens were not out to talk about the purse episode and their comments were actually pretty mixed. They did not condemn OB or Kots, but the headline made it sound like the crest had been torn off “La Sainte Flanelle”.

    Like I said, what a joke, these guys know much better than we do that they really did get involved in a lot of “fun” back in the day, and once in a while it even involved a bit of Molsons.

  13. showey47 says:

    Anyone else glad that we didn’t sign briere? 10 million dollars this season for someone who might hit 25 goals along with his team leading -20 on a team where most of its top players are pluses. The french media bitched when gainey didn’t land him and would be bitching now if he had signed him and had these kinds of numbers. I think bob made a pitch for him to keep the media happy but i really don’t think bob wanted him.

  14. krob1000 says:

    Again another desperate team for us to play against….Philly is struggling lately and the loss of Gagne sems to have taken the wind right out of their sails….good or bad for us….I don’t know. They are going to come out fast and furious as Holmgren was calling them out in the media last night after losing to Tampa…he said they are thinking about offence too much and not starting games off very well. Philly is weak in nets in my opinion as well (Biron and Nittimaki are both average goalies but are both streaky)….let’s hope we get the cold version of each of them as we’ll probably see each on the weekend.

  15. coutNY says:

    Good stuff… I bet there is a ton of fans that would have traded for Zach Parise, Rick Nash, Jason Spezza or Ryan Getzlaf ect. already this year for young Mr. Price. I can say I wouldn’t have been one of them. I may be a little bias having a goalie as my all-time favorite player… but there is alot to be said about a player whose probably sees more Ice than your Top line combined throughout the year…

  16. TC says:

    I think what these three legends were trying to put across is the huge responsibility that one has a member of the Montreal Canadiens. These men have all devoted substantial parts of their lives to upholding the great tradition that is the Montreal Canadiens. All three are very proud of their role in the team’s history, as they should be.

    Regardless of the outcome of this week’s shenanigans it was an embarassment to the team, at the very least. The point being that anybody who puts on the jersey of the bleu-blanc et rouge has a tremendous legacy to uphold. As the three said, hopefully this can be an episode that can serve as a valuable, if perhaps, somewhat painful lesson for all those involved.

    As for the comment directed to Mr. Stubbs about his “fluff” piece on Higgins/Komisarek and some of the historical stories. Mr. Stubbs does an excellent job of doing the extra things that many others won’t or quite often don’t do. This particular website exists due to the hard work and generosity of Mssr’s Stubbs, Hickey, and Mio.

    The Higgins/Komisarek story that ran this summer was well written, well researched, and well thought out, as can be seen by the spate of similiar artilcles that have followed in it’s wake by other writers (including myself).

    For someone to consider themselves a Habs fan, and profess not to care about the team’s history is unbelievable to me. For me one who doesn’t appreciate the uniqueness and the specialness of this organization without giving a nod to the past, is not a fan at all.



  17. nightmare_49 says:

    Great post and lets get back to hockey and the back to back games with Philly who are smarting right now.

  18. Robert L says:

    Sorry Dave, I guess it could be taken in two ways from looking the book over again. It could be my misunderstanding, and perhaps I took it out of context. Here’s the quote from Red’s book, “Hockey Heroes, And Me”, page 42, final paragragh:

    “Once in a while, when some of the old time players get together, my initiation is mentioned. Moore still laughs about it. So does Geoffrion. I used to laugh about it, but no longer.

    “Bah, it took eighteen of you to do the job”, I once told Moore and Geoffrion. “Anyway, the only thing that upset me about the whole thing was the warm water you guys poured down my throat everytime I opened my mouth to yell.”

    “Tabarnac”, said Geoffrion, “you don’t really think that was warm water, do you?”

    My apologies if I offended anyone. I am off to Oshawa for my daughter’s hockey tournament, so I will be unable to respond to this comment post for now.

  19. RetroMikey says:

    All I could say is that this story was blown way out of proportion by the media! I’ve met Ryan O’Byrne several times in Hamilton at the local watering hole and he such a nice guy to talk and socialize with. Hey, we all love to party! Kudos for Kosto for sticking up to him when Ryan needed assistance in Tampa from some puck bunny. That’s the type of guy you want on your team off the ice as well!
    I remember going to games in Buffalo in the 80’s at the 747 club when the players were in town and partied with Chelios, Corson, Ludwig, etc…. I remember many puck bunnies there to waiting as well in the wings. I’ll end my story here.
    Let’s concentrate on the big weekend against Philly and let’s hope we take the 2 from them in back to back games!
    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  20. gentes21 says:

    Ah well then that’s different…:)

  21. Dave Stubbs says:

    The story about Red Fisher and the initiation: It was hot water. Bernie Geoffrion was pulling his leg that it was something else.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  22. gentes21 says:

    I don’t know what’s worst, getting in a little trouble with the law or having urine slammed down your throat, I may take the brush with the law.

    Back then they got away with murder and it would get covered up.

    Actually if this whole thing would have happened in Canada the involved players would have probably got a little warning and “It’s probably time to head home boys” “Here’s your purse back ma’am”.

    The whole thing is completely overblown.

  23. odber says:

    When Belliveau,Cournoyer and Richard say respect the jersey I would hope the players would pay attention.

  24. 1010 says:

    Perhaps if you actually read what the ‘legends’ said you could see that their comments were mitigated with statements about being young, making mistakes and hopefully learning from it. It was not overly jugdemental.

    GO HABS.

  25. t1tan5 says:

    pfft…as if these legends never did anything “young and stupid” as members of the habs.

  26. Dave Stubbs says:

    The argument could be made that there’s a bit of a difference between what the players of yesterday did among themselves in the dressing room and on trains and being arrested for alleged theft.

    None of the three Hall of Fame captains quoted in today’s story came down unfairly on O’Byrne or Kostopoulos. More their point was standing up for the tradition of the CH and the responsibility that comes with wearing it, on the ice and in public.

    If fierce pride in their team is a crime, then I suppose that they, too, should be in jail.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  27. RS says:

    Of course these guys have to say tsk, tsk, but what a joke. So back in the day, on those train rides, the guys drank mineral water and read the bible? Gee, I wonder if Doug Harvey ever had a drink? How about the Flower? And those initiation rights were all innocent fun?

  28. Wops says:

    Little disappointment with the bash of the legends…

    “Habs un jour, habs toujours”…

    Freaking s’pose to support everyone part of the franchise, not bash them.
    CH is for Chris Higgins

  29. showey47 says:

    well said mr.stubbs.

  30. Hammer says:

    Mr Stubbs,

    I could not agree more. In most corporations if you acted like an idiot while representing the firm, you would be heaved down the road. What people do not realize is the players are the “COMPANY” and when they goof off it is the companies image that is hurt.For a corporation like the Habs, image and reputation is sacred.
    In my opinion these two folks, one a rookie the other a journeyman at best got off rather lightly. If I was Gainey both of these would have been sent to the minors, and if Kostopolous got claimed on waivers so be it. I bet guys like Chipchura wouldn’t lose any sleep over it at all.

  31. RS says:

    Hey Dave,

    Why don’t you tell us what happened down in TB? I assume you’ve heard the story by now. Oh I know, “it’s before the courts” excuse.

    Remember when Price broke his stick during preseason and it made headlines. Some posters wondered why Habs I/O had to make a big deal of it. Then one of the Gazette guys, can’t remember who told us how you are all real reporters (hard-nosed, regular investigative Woodward and Bernstein types) and you just report the facts, warts and all.

    Well, here’s your chance. This old-timers story is like that old Higgins/Komisarek off-season training fluff piece that got recycled last summer. Why don’t you guys report what you know? Are you guys reporters or official team media reps?

  32. Dave Stubbs says:

    If you don’t like the fluff, don’t waste your time on it. The internet’s a big place. Change the channel. It seems, however, that a lot of people do enjoy some of the behind-the-scenes stories that put a human light on players off the ice. If you’re not among them, that’s your choice.

    And there is more to the Canadiens than today’s roster. The team was built on the backs of the Hall of Famers and the plumbers. I get no bigger reaction from readers of The Gazette than features done on the players of the past. Not so many from Inside/Out readers, but I understand the generation and technology gap.

    No Gazette reporter was in the Tampa bar last Monday morning, nor at the team dinner a few hours earlier, to give you the inside scoop. There is such a thing as until PROVEN guilty, and no guilt has been established at this point. Two arrests, which are on the public record. We’ve reported the facts as we know them, without speculation. We’re not convicting anyone of anything.

    But it’s up to us to find bartenders, other patrons, passers-by, etc., whose versions of the events of that evening will help us assemble a story using second-, third- and fourth-hand sources to satisfy your thirst for the “real news.”

    Just as long as I’m clear on this.

    Dave Stubbs
    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  33. RS says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I loved the stuff on (for example) Rogie Vachon!

    As far as the image of the great Montreal Canadiens goes, and I do love them, when I click on the Beliveau auction thing and see the reference to “Forum Pepsi” I want to puke. So much for the sacred image of Les Canadiens. That treatment of the shrine does a whole lot more to tarnish the reputation of one of the greatest sports franchises in North America, if not the world, then a few guys getting arrested outside a bar in TB, for what appears to be some drunken silliness and stupidity gone wrong, with no violence involved. I’ll be patient and await your future reports on the arrests.

  34. coutNY says:

    Be as it may, with the media being more intense and the public being more informed than in the “good old days”, incidence like these become more of a public circus. Public opinion, I believe has more of a voice these days through forums such as HIO, for example, which can add fuel to a smoldering fire by comments from their influential legends of the game. The more we analyse this off-ice issue the more pressure the authorities are to make examples out of “spoiled, rich, egotistical” atheltes. Yes, it gives the organization a proverbial black eye, but do we want to ruin a young rookie for purse snatching or a role playing Vet for standing up for his mate after a night of stupid alcohol induced mayham… To go further do we banish the Great “LaFluer” because of his actions in earlier this year?

    Not sure how Canadian law is, but hazing in the US is a popular prosecutable crime that receives a lot of attention from the media, so traditional hazing would probably land their teamates behind bars these days.

    Does letting pride grow into mob mentality with a public outcry message for justice just invite a paparazzi to start harrasing and scrutinzing every move from sports players? all this in pursuit of ratings… Yes this may be an extreme, but does this lead to circumstances were off-ice media circuses cause on-ice issues? Do we need the Hollywood be a outline for treatment of NHL players? Do we want TMZ digging up dirt on Players?

    I am not trying to ignore the crime or the legends for being upset, I felt the same way when I heard the news, but I don’t think these guys should given the scarlet letter for minor idiodacy either!

    We need to listen to our man upstairs when he said “He without sin shall cast the first stone!”

  35. t1tan5 says:

    One could also argue that if this event happened in Montreal at the time that they played, the cops would probably give the purse back to the lady and go on to interrogate the players on why their PK was struggling.

  36. coutNY says:

    THey probably would have received pending trial… pending on how they finish to the season; They don’t make the playoffs they’d be tried for treason…. They bring home the cup, the lady whose purse was snatched would probably charged for making false accusations against the natioanl heros :)

  37. nightmare_49 says:

    RS – You stated your opinion the best way you can and i applaud you for that. Constructive criticism if logical and not personal can be an asset for the site , at least most people believe that , and is better than some that kiss butt and add nothing to the site.

  38. Odie Cleghorn says:

    Let’s hope that the team, and not just these two players, has learned the lesson being taught by these former champions. Everything they do both on and off the ice is a reflection of the Canadiens organization and reflects on everybody who contributed to its success and standing over the years.

  39. Robert L says:

    I think that the Habs oldtimers quoted here should apologize to O’Byrne and Kostopoulos for their harsh and rushed judgement in what was a essentially an entirely misunderstood episode.

    They, the Habs oldtimers, are guilty of hypocrisy as well, as the rituals of their day could practically constitute assault on a person today.

    The hazings that went on against the wishes of rookies are now illegal in many parts and for sound reason. An army haircut was nothing!

    Shaving players testicles on a train or pourring a pitcher of pee down their throats while they were forcibly confined is despicable. When I read about this in Red Fisher’s book (they did it to Red as well) I couldn’t believe it.

    Often when we place our athletes on pedestals we forget that they are in fact as human as we all are, and sometimes in the worst of ways.

    I’d like to hear just one player from that era come out and list the things they did in the day and admit that they were worse than than they are now.

    While these players are gentleman off the ice now, they were hardly choir boys in their time.

    They missed a good opportunity to bite their tongues.

    That said, I think the rookie initiations should take on a charitable cause that would have them work like the common folk. Have them go to an arena and work the concession stand and donate proceeds. Make them shovel off an outdoors rink. Have them tie kids skates at games. Have people bid for their services to shovel some driveways after a snowstorm.

  40. NLhabsfan says:

    That can’t be said any better.

  41. G-Man says:

    RobertL- this is Jean Beliveau who spoke out- someone who is regarded as the classiest man ever to wear the Habs jersey. You should hold off with your keyboard before worrying about whether Jean Beliveau will embarrass the club. The second point is that maybe O’Byrne and Kostopoulos should have thought first before drinking to the point of incoherance and then embarrassing the club.
    Hazing rituals were revealed by Red many years later. He should never have written about it, let alone put it in a book.


  42. nightmare_49 says:

    I enjoyed your posts Robert L.

  43. The Teacher says:

    Time are different Robert L. Even you must understand that. This was accepted as common practise back in the day, it is not now. The players KNEW what they did back then would not be reported.

    Maybe the greats rushed to judgement, but they also know what the world is like today, they have evolved with the times. They are not talking about 40 years ago, they are talking about today and our present time.

    They have that right.

    P.S. I like your idea of having them shovel 😉 (getting fed up are you?)

  44. Sbah Reverof says:

    I think that back in the day, the hijinks were just as wild and crazy as today, but people probably exercised a little more discretion. I suspect, also, that the press back then reported things a little more judiciously, not like the vultures of today, who feel it necessary to tell us every ugly, embarassing detail, whether true or not.

  45. Dave Stubbs says:

    Good point. What a player did off the ice? The head was turned the other way.

    And there were far, far fewer media who covered the Canadiens then. Only Red Fisher and Jacques Beauchamp travelled with the team on the road during their most glorious years, if you can imagine that. Two journalists. Today, there will be 25 or more credentialed media in the dressing room after a practice.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  46. habsguy says:

    Dave Stubbs…. here here, well said !!!!!

  47. krob1000 says:

    The daily Hossa update……I don’t like his line about Canada in this interview but it sounds to me like he doesn’t want to be in Atlanta anymore.


  48. RS says:

    Yep, sounds like he’s outta there. Unless of course, he’s just driving a hard bargain.

  49. nightmare_49 says:

    Thanks for the update and in 11 days or less we’ll finally know.

  50. TommyB says:

    krob, what he said was that there is so much media attention (TV) in Canada regarding the trade deadline and all the speculation…..nothing more. He said he is glad he is not in Canada to listen to all that crap. That’s how his statement looks to me.

  51. krob1000 says:

    Yeah, but it didn’t need to be mentioned if he didn’t have some reservations about the intense fan/media scrutiny north of the border. I don’t think it would necessarily sway him one way or the other as he didn’t come out and say anything over the top. I do think their was a little hint of negativity in there probably left over from his time in Ottawa where they are nearly as bad as Montreal or Toronto. All of the talk can only help his bargaining position.

  52. habfan53 says:

    Dave my only comment is in an earlier post you said there were NO Gazette writers with the team.

    The 25 or more are probably at local practices.
    I doubt there there were that many in Tampa.

    As I said yesterday the problem was not with the rookie dinner where it probably cost each rookie 1 or 2 games pay. The problem was AFTER the dinner.

  53. REB says:

    “to act like gentlemen”….a trait that becomes less common every year, in players and non-players alike.

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