Saturday, March 11, 2006

 

Bernard "Boom Boom" Geoffrion dead at 75

It seems "Boom Boom" Geoffrion will be missing more than just his sweater retirement ceremony.

From TSN:


Bernard (Boom Boom) Geoffrion said he invented the slapshot as a youngster, swiping at pucks on a rink in a churchyard near his home in Montreal.

Others have also claimed the invention, but there is no question that Geoffrion was the player who popularized the shot that would give him his nickname.

Geoffrion died in an Atlanta hospital on Saturday of stomach cancer. He was 75.

Bernard Andre Joseph Geoffrion, born on Feb. 16, 1931, was dubbed Boom Boom by sportswriter Charlie Boire of the Montreal Star while he was playing junior hockey for the Laval Nationale in the late 1940s.

One boom was for the sound of his stick striking the puck; the second was for when his rocketing shot hit the boards.


Geoffrion was known as a battler throughout his NHL career, but it seems this was one battle that he could not win.

A bit of history, from HickokSports:


One of the first players to use the slap shot as a primary scoring weapon, Geoffrion was a major player on the Montreal Canadiens' formidable power play during the 1950s. Usually a right wing, Geoffrion played the point on the power play because of his blistering shot. Even if it didn't go in the net, it was so hard for a goalie to control that the rebounds often set up easy shots for his teammates.

When he was fourteen, an assistant coach on his junior hockey team told him to forget the sport because he'd never make it to the NHL. That simply made Geoffrion more determined than ever and five years later he went to the Canadiens without ever playing in the minor leagues.

...

A freak injury in a 1958 practice session sent Geoffrion to the hospital with a ruptured bowel. He was given the last rites of the Catholic church and, after emergency surgery saved his life, he was told to forget about hockey until the following season. Less than six weeks later, he was on the ice for the Stanley Cup final series against Boston. In the sixth game, he scored the first Montreal goal, assisted on the second, and scored the winner in a victory that brought the Canadiens their third straight Stanley Cup.

Geoffrion retired in 1964 but returned to hockey with the New York Rangers in 1966 to play two more seasons. He became coach of the Rangers in 1968 but stomach problems forced him to quit before the season was over and he moved into the front office.
Hmm, so it seems he'd been having stomach problems for almost 40 years! He had to have part of his stomach removed and he never did recover fully.

With 822 points in 883 regular season games and 118 points in 132 playoff games, Bernard was a big part of the Canadiens dynasty, although he rarely got the same accolades as the Richards. When it comes to the slapshot, you often hear the name of Bobby Hull more as the pioneer of that weapon than Geoffrion.

The TSN story has a nice bit of history on him, so now is a good chance to learn a little more about a hockey pioneer (of sorts).

Comments:
Please read my post 'Bernard Geoffrion on my blog "Politics and the Law"
 
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