This is the same
Gump—this tiger in the nets—who fears plane travel and on any trip sits stone
upright at the first tiny bump, his head rigid, eyes transfixed and knuckles
white, as if that big slap-shooter in the sky were coming in on a breakaway.
This is the Gump who, some nights after games, walks until sunrise. This is the
loner who will sometimes sit by himself in a bistro even if he runs into his
This, too, is the
Gump who got stick-whipped so rudely by Toronto's Tim Horton in one of his
first games with Montreal that he was described by a Canadien official as
"a pig in a slaughterhouse." The same man said, "He'll never play
for the Canadiens again."
And this is the
man who nevertheless is so admired now by his Canadien teammates that they kid
him with more reverence than rudeness.
In the lingo of
the English-speaking Canadien players, their French-speaking mates are
"Pep-zees" or "Gorfs." Pep-zee stems from a soft drink strike
during which Montreal storekeepers would say, "We 'ave no Coke, but we 'ave
Pep-zee." Gorf is merely Frog spelled backward. Chief gloom-chaser of the
Pep-zee generation is Winger Claude Provost, who one day last summer conducted
a question-and-answer session for his teammates. Charles de Gaulle was coming
to visit Expo 67, and the papers were full of the security precautions being
taken to protect him.
the President of the United States?" Provost shouted. "The Secret
Service," he answered. "Who guard the Canadian Prime Minister?"
Provost asked. "The Mounted Police."
fr�res," he said in his best Pep-zee accent, "who guard De
Gump may not be
the best goalie and these Canadiens the best team Blake has coached, but they
come close, and it is to the credit of the Blues—mostly to the credit of
34-year-old Head Coach Scotty Bowman—that the series did not turn into a
outgunned, the Blues chose to play tight-checking hockey. They had no other way
to go. If they kept the scores down and got lucky, maybe....
They kept the
scores down all right, and their luck was all one might have expected. When it
was over, Hall, who took more rounds than an FBI target, dressed quietly and
with dignity. He headed back to his Canadian farm to plant his 500 acres and
await another season.