Bernie Geoffrion

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Bernie Geoffrion
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1972
Boomboomg.jpg
Born(1931-02-14)February 14, 1931
Montreal, QC, CAN
DiedMarch 11, 2006(2006-03-11) (aged 75)
Atlanta, GA, USA
Height5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
PositionRight Wing
ShotRight
Played forMontreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Playing career1950–1968
 
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Bernie Geoffrion
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1972
Boomboomg.jpg
Born(1931-02-14)February 14, 1931
Montreal, QC, CAN
DiedMarch 11, 2006(2006-03-11) (aged 75)
Atlanta, GA, USA
Height5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
PositionRight Wing
ShotRight
Played forMontreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Playing career1950–1968

Joseph André Bernard Geoffrion (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɔfʁiɔ̃]; February 14, 1931 – March 11, 2006), nicknamed Boom Boom, was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. Generally considered as one of the innovators of the slapshot,[1] he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 following a 16-year career with the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers of the National Hockey League.

Playing career[edit]

Geoffrion was born in Montreal, Quebec, and began playing in the NHL in 1951. He earned the nickname "Boom Boom" for his thundering slapshot (which Geoffrion claimed to have 'invented' as a youngster [1]) from sportswriter Charlie Boire of the Montreal Star in the late 1940s while playing junior hockey for the Laval Nationale. He was the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in one season, the first being teammate Maurice Richard. Half the time, he played left-wing on Montreal's front line with fellow superstars Richard and Jean Béliveau, helping the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup championships, and at other times was right wing on the No. 2 line. But Boom Boom had a hard time convincing the NHL of his considerable talents; Maurice Richard, Andy Bathgate (New York Rangers) and Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) were so good that they overshadowed him. Even after Geoffrion won the Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champion in 1955, NHL First All-Star honours went to Richard, while Geoffrion only hooked up on the Second.

However, Geoffrion's resulting anger was nothing compared to the Montreal Forum fans when Geoffrion scored one goal while crowd-favourite Richard was suspended, and at the time had led the NHL scoring race. The Wings beat the Canadiens in the final round in seven games that year, exactly the same result of the previous season. "I couldn't deliberately not score, that isn't the point of hockey, Montreal," complained Geoffrion, but fans regardless kept catcalling and jeering him. "I was so feeling the urge to vomit; I felt terrible," Geoffrion emotionally, admitted. "Even thinking about hockey made me feel bad, man did I want to leave. If it had not been for Jean (Béliveau) and Maurice (Richard) visiting, I would have. Usually, it's not too much to expect to be on the First (All-Star) Team when you have more points than anyone else."

Early in his playing career, he had a reputation for letting his temper get the best of him.[2] One such example occurred late in the second period of a Canadiens' 3–1 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 20, 1953. With a two-handed swing, Geoffrion's stick made contact with the left side of Ron Murphy's face, resulting in a broken jaw and concussion. The injuries ended Murphy's season. Geoffrion was suspended for the remaining matches between the two teams in that campaign.[3]

In a testament to the rough-and-tumble style of play of that era, Geoffrion broke his nose six times, and received over 400 stitches. In 1958, a training accident severely injured him and his life was saved by emergency surgery. Despite advice from his doctors to stop playing for a season, Geoffrion was on the ice six weeks later to take part in the 1958 Stanley Cup Final.

Geoffrion first retired in 1964 and became head coach of les AS de Québec of the American Hockey League (AHL), but returned two seasons later to play for the New York Rangers. Likely the reason for his first retirement was Béliveau (who was not one of three alternate captains), getting appointed team captain in 1961. This was following the Rocket's retirement in 1960 and Doug Harvey's trade to the Rangers in 1961 (he only lasted a year with the C). Geoffrion, who had had an A, was devastated by the decision to go with Béliveau.

"If I didn't keep suffering all those terrible injuries and yet keep coming back, if I weren't fit to lead, would I have gotten the C and kept playing?" asked Geoffrion, who had, in the 1961 semifinals, had a hurt leg and insisted, even so, that Harvey cut a cast off it so he could play. "Yes, I think I would. There were times when everybody kept telling me to quit. My doctor even told me I should stop playing, but I came back."

In 1968 he finally retired as a player and became coach of the Rangers, but resigned after only 43 games due to ulcers in his stomach. In 1972 he became the first coach of the Atlanta Flames, and held the position for two and a half seasons, leading them to their first playoff appearance in 1974. However, 52 games into his third season, he had to resign due to health problems. Geoffrion moved to the Flames' broadcast booth, where he became the color commentator alongside veteran play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald. He realized a longtime dream of coaching his beloved Canadiens in 1979, but his recurring stomach ailment forced him to step down mid-season.

In the 1970s and into the 1980s, Geoffrion appeared in several television commercials for Miller Lite beer, part of their stable of retired athletes-turned-spokesmen which also included Billy Martin and Bob Uecker.

Family[edit]

Geoffrion was the son of Jean-Baptiste Geoffrion, a restaurant owner, and his wife, Florina Poitras. He grew up in Drolet, a suburb east of Montreal. Geoffrion was a direct descendant of Pierre Joffrion and his wife Marie Priault, early French settlers in the colony of Montreal.[4] Marie Priault was a King's daughter.

Geoffrion's widow Marlene is the daughter of fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Howie Morenz and the granddaughter of the sister of the wife of Billy Coutu, the only player banned from the NHL for life. Marlene and Boom Boom Geoffrion's son, Dan, (born January 24, 1958) played five seasons of professional hockey, which included stops with the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association in 1978–79, Canadiens in 1979–80 (with his father as coach), and Winnipeg Jets in 1980–81. His grandson Blake Geoffrion (born February 3, 1988) played for the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens in the NHL. Dan's younger sons, Sebastian and Brice, play for the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers. Bernie and Marlene's son-in-law, Hartland Monahan, played in the NHL for several teams in the 1970s and grandson Shane Monahan played Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners in the late 1990s.

Retired number[edit]

The Canadiens announced on October 15, 2005, that Geoffrion's uniform number 5 would be retired on March 11, 2006. On March 8, Geoffrion was diagnosed with stomach cancer after a surgical procedure uncovered it. Doctors attempted to remove the tumour, but found that the cancer had spread. Geoffrion died in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 11, the day his jersey number was to be retired.

During his remarks at the pre-game retirement ceremony, Geoffrion's son Bob recounted how his parents had once gone to a boxing match at the Montreal Forum and that Geoffrion had told his wife Marlene that his own number would someday hang from the rafters beside that of her father's, Howie Morenz.[5] Fulfilling that prophecy, and in further recognition of the special link between the Morenz and Geoffrion families, the two numbers were raised side by side (Morenz's banner was lowered halfway and was raised back up to the rafters with Geoffrion's banner). Traded to the Montreal Canadiens by the Nashville Predators on February 17, 2012, Blake Geoffrion decided to honour both his grandfather Geoffrion, as well as his great-grandfather Morenz, by wearing #57.

Awards[edit]

Records[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

  Regular season Playoffs
SeasonTeamLeagueGPGAPtsPIMGPGAPtsPIM
1946–47Montreal Concordia CivicsQJHL2678156
1947–48Laval NationaleQJHL292015354911751211
1947–48Laval NationaleM-Cup832511
1948–49Laval NationaleQJHL4241357649936922
1949–50Laval NationaleQJHL345234867736068
1949–50Montreal RoyalsQSHL10000
1950–51Montreal NationaleQJHL3654449880
1950–51Montreal CanadiensNHL1886149111126
1951–52Montreal CanadiensNHL6730245466113146
1952–53Montreal Canadiens*NHL652217393712641012
1953–54Montreal CanadiensNHL542925548711651118
1954–55Montreal CanadiensNHL70383775571285138
1955–56Montreal Canadiens*NHL59293362661059146
1956–57Montreal Canadiens*NHL411921401810117182
1957–58Montreal Canadiens*NHL42272350511065112
1958–59Montreal Canadiens*NHL592244663011581310
1959–60Montreal Canadiens*NHL59304171368210124
1960–61Montreal CanadiensNHL645045952942130
1961–62Montreal CanadiensNHL622336593650116
1962–63Montreal CanadiensNHL512318417350114
1963–64Montreal CanadiensNHL552118394171124
1966–67New York RangersNHL581725424242020
1967–68New York RangersNHL59516211110110
NHL totals883393429822689132586011888

Coaching record[edit]

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsFinish
NYR1968-694322183(47)3rd in EastResigned due to health problems
ATL1972-7378253815657th in WestMissed playoffs
ATL1973-7478303414744th in WestLost in Quarter-Finals
ATL1974-7552202210(544th in WestFired midseason
MTL1979-80301596(36)1st in NorrisResigned due to health problems
Total28111411948

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Terry Sawchuk
Winner of the Calder Trophy
1952
Succeeded by
Lorne "Gump" Worsley
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1955
Succeeded by
Jean Beliveau
Preceded by
Bobby Hull
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1961
Succeeded by
Bobby Hull
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1961
Succeeded by
Jacques Plante
Preceded by
Emile Francis
Head coach of the New York Rangers
1968–69
Succeeded by
Emile Francis
Preceded by
Position created
Head coach of the Atlanta Flames
1972–75
Succeeded by
Fred Creighton
Preceded by
Scotty Bowman
Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
1979
Succeeded by
Claude Ruel