|Born||February 14, 1931 |
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
|Died||March 11, 2006 (aged 75) |
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight||166 lb (75 kg; 11 st 12 lb)|
|Played for||Montreal Canadiens|
New York Rangers
|Hall of Fame, 1972|
Bernie Geoffrion (born Joseph Bernard André Geoffrion on February 14, 1931) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach.
Generally considered as one of the innovators of the slapshot, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 following a 16-year career with the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers of the National Hockey League (NHL).
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Bernie was born in Montreal, Quebec, and began playing in the NHL in 1951. He earned the nickname "Boom Boom" for his thundering slapshot (which he claimed to have "invented" as a youngster) 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 Beliveau and Jean Beliveau, helping the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup championships, and at other times was right wing on the No. 2 line, but Bernie had a hard time convincing the NHL of his considerable talents.
Players Maurice Richard, Andy Bathgate (New York Rangers) and Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) were so good that they overshadowed him. Even after Bernie won the Art Ross Trophy as the league's scoring champion in 1955, the NHL First All-Star honours went to Richard while he only hooked up on the Second.
However, Bernie's resulting anger was nothing compared to the Montreal Forum fans when he scored one goal while crowd-favourite Richard was suspended and at the time, he had led the NHL scoring race.
Early in his playing career, he had a reputation for letting his temper get the best of him.
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, Bernie'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 & Bernie was suspended for the remaining matches between the two teams in that campaign.
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 Bernie and his life was saved by emergency surgery. Despite advice from his doctors to stop playing for a season, he was on the ice six weeks later to take part in the 1958 Stanley Cup Final.
Bernie first retired in 1964 and became the head coach of les AS de Québec of the American Hockey League (AHL), but he 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). Bernie (who had had an A) was devastated by the decision to go with Béliveau.
In 1968, Bernie 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.
Bernie moved to the Flames' broadcast booth, where he became the colour 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.
Post-Playing Career[edit | edit source]
In the 1970s and into the 1980s, Bernie 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.
Retired Number[edit | edit source]
The Montreal Canadiens announced on October 15, 2005, that Bernie's uniform number 5 would be retired on March 11, 2006.
On March 8, 2006, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer after a surgical procedure uncovered it. Doctors attempted to remove the tumour, but discovered that the cancer had spread. On March 11, 2006, Bernie died in Atlanta, Georgia, the day his jersey number was to be retired.
During his remarks at the pre-game retirement ceremony, Bernie'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.
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.
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
|1946–47||Montreal Concordia Civics||QJHL||26||7||8||15||6||—||—||—||—||—|
|1966–67||New York Rangers||NHL||58||17||25||42||42||4||2||0||2||0|
|1967–68||New York Rangers||NHL||59||5||16||21||11||1||0||1||1||0|
Accolades[edit | edit source]
- Calder Memorial Trophy - 1952
- NHL All-Star Game - 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963
- NHL Second All-Star Team - 1955, 1960
- Art Ross Trophy - 1955, 1961
- Stanley Cup champion - 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960
- Hart Memorial Trophy - 1961
- NHL First All-Star Team - 1961
- His number 5 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on March 11, 2006
- In 1998, he was ranked number 42 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players
Records[edit | edit source]
- Became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season.
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
Bernie 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 (who were early French settlers in the colony of Montreal). Marie Priault was a King's daughter.
Marlene and Bernie's son, Dan Geoffrion 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 the Winnipeg Jets in 1980–81.
His grandson, Blake Geoffrion 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 their grandson Shane Monahan played Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners in the late 1990s.