Remembering Canadiens’ Little Viking

The 1983-84 rookie card of Canadiens’ Mats Naslund, when O-Pee-Chee mistakenly figured the flashy forward was a defenceman.

The Little Viking was, and still is, a big man in the world of hockey.

Mats Naslund is best remembered by Montreal fans for the starring role he played with the Canadiens from 1982-89, particularly his 43-goal season in 1985-86 when he sparked the Habs to a Stanley Cup championship.

That Stanley Cup win was only one of Naslund’s major success stories in the sport. After he left Montreal and the National Hockey League in 1990, he helped Sweden win the world championship in 1991 at Helsinki, Finland.

Ian MacDonald looks back in this profile of and chat with the former Canadiens star, who’s still remembered fondly in the city where he made himself a big name.

26 Comments

  1. Da Hema says:

    Gretzky said that Naslund was the best left-winger in hockey in the mid-1980s. A pretty good endorsement of Naslund’s skills and value to the Habs. One of my memories of Naslund was an incident with Ken Linseman, a former rat hockey player. It was either during the 1984 or 1985 playoffs, and the Habs and Bruins once again had a playoff tilt. Linseman was playing his usual dirty rat style, when Naslund skated by him with the butt end of his stick and nailed Linseman in the mouth. I am certain Linseman needed a dentist after that play. What was memorable was Naslund going to the penalty box for four minutes (if it had been any other Hab player who had done that, it would have been an ejection and suspension). Mats had this indifferent air about him sitting in the penalty box, and the Habs killed the penalty–and seriously deflated the Bruins. Linseman got what he deserved, and that it was Mats who meted out the justice was even better. I loved Mats!
    _________________________________________________________
    “Listen…I’m not dumb. I know very well that I’ll never be part of the Ice Capades.”
    –Gilles Lupien, former Hab defenceman and enforcer

  2. Peter Young says:

    Mats had even more heart than he did talent–and he had a huge amount of talent. You could tell he was proud to wear the Canadiens jersey; it was apparent whenever he took the ice, even to casual observers. He played the kind of hockey for which the Canadiens were known; he relied primarily on speed and skill. He was a clean player, but not a soft one. Best of all, it was great to watch him play. If only some of our other European players had turned out to be half as good ….

  3. Rocket Richard says:

    The little sweden guy did alright for the habs.

    I loved the way he use to dance on the ice after a certain goal.

    For a small guy, he accomplished alot. Just one of my all-time favorite habs (see profile).

    Sometimes he was playing like a magician on the ice and his hockey stick was a magic wand ready to make things happen.

    I love the article on Naslund in the Gazette.

    The Rocket Richard – “you must hate to lose”
    Read and Research Thousands of Articles Here
    http://www.articles-plus.net

  4. Rocket Richard says:

    Until the Leafs fall rock buttom, do I think the cbc will switch teams for their saturday night telecasts. But it would’nt surprise me if the Leafs are the worst team in the NHL (30th) and they still get coverage. I think the people in TO are in another planet.

    Rest assure, if the habs keep playing well, you will all see their games broadcast on cbc, only by popular demand.

    The Rocket Richard – “you must hate to lose”
    Read and Research Thousands of Articles Here
    http://www.articles-plus.net

  5. 24 Cups says:

    You had me going there for a second or two – well done!

    The Original 24 Cups

  6. joe-hab-nuno says:

    Dave, you know what i liked. You guys had it for just less then a day I beleive. But in the main page on every headline you had the number of new post in red beside the total number of posts since the last time i checked posts.

    Better then refreshing the page and looking at each headline to see if there are new post.

    Just a suggestion.Hope you know what I’m talking about.

  7. JasonM says:

    *sneezes*

    Sorry, I’m allergic to bull@#$%.

    If they are comparing primetime ratings with afternoon games from other Canadian teams, they are WRONG.

    The best way we can FORCE them to show Hab games is to make it to the playoffs (while they Leafs don’t) and go deep. The true fans will be watching Canada’s team contend for the cup hoping to get their league leading 25th cup.

    Once they see those ratings, their favoritism for Toronto will be waned.

  8. Bill says:

    You are 100% correct and it is indeed amazing that the CBC pretends not to understand that it is they who have turned the Leafs into “Canada’s Team”. Show the Senators every Saturday for twenty years, and who will be the most popular team then?

    http://www.yearofthehab.blogspot.com

  9. ccs says:

    Hard to believe we have gone so long without a 100 point plus player…Mabey this will be the year that spell is broken….You never know we may get a player at the deadline who has 90 points and will only need to get ten more.

  10. nightmare_49 says:

    Thanks Calvin , ” Thr lafs broadcasts on TNIC draw the largest viewership of all Canadian-based teams by far”. How would they know if other teams are never on at that time slot. We are paying for the CBC and only the people of the Toronto area are always getting their team on the tube , so those people should pay a special tax for their convenience. This is a load of crap. The Center of the Universe does not rule. The CBC is ours and not the people of TO. We should pursue this issue someway.

  11. HAB-PROFESSOR says:

    WHAT B.S.

    FOR FREE?…THEY ARE FUNDED BY OUR POCKETS!…THE GALL!!

    ITS ALL ABOUT CORPORATE MONEY and CONTROL of the MARKET which is CONTROL OF THE DOLLAR BILLS – SIMPLE, WATCH ‘THE ROCKET’ TO UNDERSTAND IT ALL….

    WHAT A BLOODY JOKE THEY ARE…

    ———
    until the problem in my picture is solved…we will not be Champions.
    Delenda Est Torontium….

  12. Vancouver Hab Fan says:

    Mats was a great player and one of my all time favorites. Nice to see him still get some attention from the Habs media and for his fans.

  13. Vancouver Hab Fan says:

    CBC has been showing the Laffs across the country for years and years therefore I would suggest they created a fan base by always having the Laffs on TV. The Laffs are the team that many Canadians “grew up” watching because of the CBC’s favoritism for the Toronto team. I grew up in Southwestern Ontario and had to endure watching the crappy Laffs my entire childhood, the only reprieve was watching the Habs on French CBC and they weren’t on that often; this was true even when the Laffs were getting 30 points per year. The CBC reply is a good point/arugment but the CBC is a federally funded Canadian station and they should represent the interests of all Canadians which to me means they should rotate the teams they are showing more than they do. make the Laffs the regional game on occassion and show the other teams nationally on those nights.

    Go Habs!

    Thankfully we have RDS!

  14. calvee123 says:

    I loved watching Mats. Anyway, I have been on the CBC’s case about not showing Montreal, and only showing them when Toronto plays them. This is what they wrote me….. I just thought I’d put it out there in case anyone else wonders why is it always TORONTO…..

    “Calvin Alexander
    via email
    Calvin.Alexander@tolko.com

    Dear Mr. Alexander,

    Thank you for your email to CBC regarding the broadcast schedule of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC Television.

    You wrote to express your disappointment with the number of broadcasts of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the schedule. Every Canadian team has its peaks and valleys of popularity, but in the case of the Leafs, they continue to hold a very strong fanbase. The Leafs broadcasts on HNIC draw the largest viewership of all Canadian-based teams by far. We would be delighted if viewer interest was the same across the country for all teams, but it is not.

    Each year we work hard to balance our schedule – we listen closely to our audience, and we always try to do our best to bring them the games they want to see, specifically, the Canadian teams and all-Canadian
    match-ups. This is no easy task, as you can imagine. When we set the
    broadcast schedule, we know that we won’t be able to please everyone, but we do our best.

    Again, this season, we have a full slate of regional and afternoon games, and by making our games available for free, live and on-demand online, more Canadians across the country can tune in to the games they want. But even with an increase in the number of regional games, we cannot cover every Canadian team every Saturday night.

    Again, thank you for writing. I have shared your comments with my colleagues at Hockey Night in Canada.

    Sincerely,

    David Masse
    Senior Director
    CBC Sports

  15. HabsChick says:

    Calvin,

    Can you share the email address you used to send your complaint? I’d like to express my views to them as well. We need to let them know we don’t believe the BS they’re spewing.

    Thanks!

  16. HabsChick says:

    Actually, I wish you were right Rocket but I can’t believe the CBC will ever change their programming. To me, it’s as others have mentioned, a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg.

    Most people in Ontario are Laffs fans because they get all Leafs all the time. It’s rather sad.

    Growing up in Windsor I used to be able to watch the Habs on the French CBC every single game. Today, even our local cable channel doesn’t offer RDS, so unless you have satellite (which I do), you’re forced to watch the Leafs night after night. Unless you’re appropriately taught by a parent who to cheer for :), growing up almost anywhere in Ontario means you’re going to be a Leaf fan by default.

    The CBC makes me want to puke.

  17. nightmare_49 says:

    Nice to read an article on Mats who proved a lot with the Habs and i thank Ian MacDonald for the article. Is that the same Ian MacDonald that was a chum of Jim Trimble during his days with the Als.

  18. joe-hab-nuno says:

    I miss the Mats Nas-lund from the annoumcer at the Forum

  19. TommyB says:

    I was hearing the same thing as soon as I saw the Naslund article…..the announcer by the way was Claude Mouton. He had a flair, unequaled since his passing, for adding what I call the “goose-pimple effect” to his goal announcements.

  20. Rugger says:

    Always saw a lot of Nats in Saku with the same grit for a small guy.

  21. coutNY says:

    I think if you look at the back of one of Naslunds cards it also has him listed at something like 6’0 foot 196 pounds (might have been the same card). Everyone that thats ever seen him, knows he was a small fry more like 5’6 or 7 160-70 pounds. Poor guy they never seemed to get it right. I followed Matts as he was one of my favorites in his time.

  22. HabsChick says:

    Wow…that really brings back some great memories. I was a HUGE Mats fan. I actually carried his card around (not the one that listed him as a D) in my wallet. I was in grade school so there wasn’t much in it besides the card. :)

  23. krob1000 says:

    I miss the star announcements…….Le premier etoile…da first star…..Matsss (slight pause) Nassss-looond

  24. big_daddy says:

    nice article, I always wondered what happened to the little guy. He was a great player, lots of emotion. I was young when he played but he stands out in my memory as one of the greats of his time. I have a foggy memory of him scoring a goal against the Nordiques and flipping the bird!!! Does anyone else remember that???

  25. Rugger says:

    It does ring a bell, wasn’t it the year after winning the Lady Bing?

  26. J.T. says:

    Well, thanks for that! Mats Naslund was my very first favourite Hab. He was just so slick, he made everyone around him better. And even though he was small, he never stopped moving long enough for anyone to catch him. He was tough as nails too, and many times came off the boards against a bigger opponent with the puck. He and Bobby Smith were pure magic together. I met him once, in Montreal, when I was a kid. I remember standing on the curb while he stood on the street and looking him directly in the eye. Let me tell you, 5’7″ was a generous estimate on his height! I knew he worked with the Swedish National team, but I’m really glad to hear he’s doing well and still contributing to the game.


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.