Fifty yards down the corridor from Boston Coach Don Cherry's office, the Montreal Canadiens are celebrating the 4-1 victory over the Bruins that wrapped up their third straight Stanley Cup championship, their ninth in the last 14 years and their 21st in all. This is how they are celebrating in their Boston Garden locker room:
Pierre Larouche, a newcomer to the Canadiens—and to winning—is alternately guzzling champagne and squirting it at his teammates, most of whom are sipping beer from cans.
Larry Robinson, the imperial defenseman who almost singlehandedly ruined Boston last week as Montreal broke open the series by winning the last two games by the same convincing score, is trying to convey the sadness he feels for the vanquished Bruins. Now, he says, "They will have to spend their summer vacations answering the most depressing question of all: 'Why didn't you win?' "
Guy Lafleur, the dynamic goal scorer, is telling linemate Steve Shutt to hurry and get dressed, that the real party will begin when the Canadiens' charter lands in Montreal.
Mario Tremblay, the 22-year-old right wing who did not even dress for 10 of Montreal's 15 playoff games, but who had scored two goals—including the Cup winner—in Thursday night's sixth game, is speaking in French to some journalist friends. He is telling them that he hopes his two-goal performance will convince General Manager Sam Pollock not to ship one Mario Tremblay off to Colorado or Cleveland or—no, Sam!—St. Louis when Pollock conducts his annual fire sale of slightly used hockey merchandise next week.
Scotty Bowman, the coach who has led the Canadiens to four Stanley Cups in his seven seasons in Montreal, is strangely subdued. For once, he has nothing to say about the officiating. He is even quiet about Boston Defenseman Brad Park, whom he had singled out as being a sneaky, dirty player. Bowman, whose contract with the Canadiens has lapsed, asks a friend, "If the Canadiens don't give me the new contract I want, where should I live in the States?" Bowman says he is weary of coaching, and, indeed, within the next few weeks could well become the general manager of the New York Rangers, the Colorado Rockies or the St. Louis Blues.
Bob Gainey, the peerless defensive forward, shadow and body checker, is quietly disagreeing with the Montreal fanatics who feel that the 1978 Canadiens rate as the best team of all time. "I don't think that this team has the same drive that last year's team had," Gainey says. "This team played a lot of games—too many, in fact—by the score. Once the game was under control, this team didn't work as hard. Last year's team played every game until the tank was empty."
Red Fisher of the
Montreal Star, who has covered every Canadien team for the last 24 years, is agreeing with Gainey. "This team didn't have a Beliveau or a Henri Richard at center, a Rocket Richard and a Boom-Boom Geoffrion at right wing. And as good as Robinson, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe are on defense, I don't think any one of them is a Doug Harvey. To me, any of those Canadien teams of the late '50s—when Montreal won five straight Stanley Cups—was better than this '78 team."
Ken Dryden, the lawyer-goaltender, is disputing Gainey's thesis and not commenting on Fisher's. "This team had more depth and better flexibility than any of the Cup champions I've played on," Dryden says.
Savard, who works alongside Robinson and now has played on seven Cup teams in his 11 seasons with Montreal, seconds Dryden's opinion. "What really makes this club the best of them all is the fact that we don't have even one bad apple on it," Savard says. "For togetherness, this is by far the best group I've ever been around. When a Lafleur doesn't have a big head, when a Lafleur doesn't have a Rolls-Royce with a chauffeur, when a Lafleur doesn't go popping off in the newspapers, well, nobody does. That's the difference. We have to win, and we do win, but we don't win the way the Yankees win. We don't make noises about it."