There were personal connections for Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn as he watched the No. 12 banners for Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore raised last night.
Quinn knows Cournoyer came by his nickname The Roadrunner very honestly, when going one-on-one with stay-at-home defencemen such as himself.
"He would frighten the ordinary defenceman," Quinn said with a laugh of their encounters in the 1960s and '70s. "He had speed and he competed hard. I don't know a Canadien that didn't compete hard, but he was a leader in that fashion. He wasn't afraid to go to the net. He didn't have great size, but he went where you had to go to be dangerous."
In the 1950s, Quinn grew up a Moore fan, as the latter helped the Habs to five Stanley Cups in a row.
"He had a great skill level and intelligence to his play," Quinn said.
In 1968, late in Moore's career, he was traded to the expansion St. Louis Blues in a deal which saw Quinn's rights transferred to the Leafs.
"St. Louis went on to the finals that year," Quinn said. "His strength was his leadership."
Montreal coach Claude Julien wasn't happy that star defenceman Sheldon Souray wasn't able to play last night, but appreciated that Souray was honest about his swollen foot after morning practice.
"I think it was a wise decision on his part to realize he'd do us more harm than good," Julien said.
"He'll take his time and get it healed, because he's a big part of our defence. Hopefully he and Jan Bulis (shoulder) will be back by Tuesday (when the Habs play against the Florida Panthers)."
WITH FAILING HANDS ...
The ceremony last night had a big effect on young Montreal defenceman Mike Komisarek. He read all the newspaper accounts of Cournoyer and Moore and picked their portraits out on the wall of greats in the Canadiens' dressing room.
"As a young player, you want to try to carry on the history and the tradition," the New York-born Komisarek said.
"There's a lot of pride that goes in wearing the sweater. There's high expectations."