at The Summit in 1972
This column features
stories and unique views on the
Summit'72 and international hockey
submitted by our visitors.
- Played with Montreal Canadiens
(NHL) and Quebec Nordiques
(WHA) in 1959-1979;
- Won five Stanley Cups
in '65, '66, '68, '69 and '71;
- Won AVCO Trophy
- WHA awards: Dennis A. Murphy Trophy
(Best Defenseman) in 1973, 1975;
for Team Canada at the '74 Summit
Series and more
by Mike Wyman, Inside
Comments by The
Summit in 1972: Were
Team Canada players the best in Canada in 1972?
Besides injured Bobby Orr, hockey experts often
also mention Bobby Hull, Gerry Cheevers and J.C.
Tremblay who could have been a significant addition
to the Team Canada 1972 roster had they not signed
their contracts with the WHA. The WHA players got
their chance to represent Canada vs. the Soviets
two years later at the '74
Summit Series. This article
tells the story of one of the most prominent defensemen
of the 1970s, Jean Claude Tremblay.
Coming out of the same Saguenay/Lac-St-Jean area
of Quebec that produced such folks as Vezina, Johnny
Gagnon, Bill Dineen, Sam St- Laurent and Peter Lee.
Tremblay was a promising forward until teammate
Claude Ruel lost an eye.
Moved back to the blue line, he soon established
himself as a magician with the stick and graduated
to the Habs in 59-60. Unlike others in his position,
his wizardry involved using his lumber to break
plays rather than opponents' bones. He's often maligned
because he didn't lay on the body as did most of
his peers buy he didn't have to play a physical
game to succeed.
By '61-62 he had established himself as a mainstay
on a Canadiens squad that was in a rebuilding phase
following their 5-Cup run in the fifties.
He was a student of the game, one of the smartest
players on the ice at any given time. He led the
Habs' in scoring in the playoffs leading up to the
'66 Cup against Detroit and seemed to have a lock
on the Conn Smythe, which ended up going to Roger
Crozier, who played a couple good games in the final.
Tremblay was, as we say in French, un vieux bougonneux,
old man" in the eyes of most media members,
largely because he really
didn't have much to say to them and was often curt
and abrupt in his
answers. The fact that his English was not too good
may have had
something to do with him aquiring a reputation as
After a decade with the Habs that saw him accumulate
5 rings and a couple All-Star nominations, yet not
the acclaim that was due his talents, Tremblay jumped
to the upstart WHA and gave the Quebec Nordiques
the same credibility that Bobby Hull brought to
While he may not have been a favorite of the newspeople,
he got along
with his teammates and was a source of information,
inspiration to his teammates.
Wally Weir played a couple years with Tremblay.
As a rookie he was
offered a couple choices come contract time, a two
way agreement that
potentially paid more if he stuck with the team
and a guaranteed deal
for less money than the top end of the split contract.
Tremblay advised him to take the guaranteed deal,
telling Weir that
if he was any good, he'd sign another contract in
a couple years for
even more money.
Weir also remembered Tremblay practicing a trick
shot for an entire
season in practice. Sort of a chip shot where he's
bring his blade
down on the edge of the puck, sending it into the
air, towards the
goal for about 30 feet, when it would suddenly drop,
as if falling
offa table. He practiced it all year and finally
used it effectively
in the final game of the '77 Avco Cup final.
Overlooked by the HHoF because he had the misfortune
of playing at a
time when there was only one defenceman in the NHL,
some guy named
Orr in Boston, Tremblay was one of the most entertaining
the ice, especially when his team was shorthanded.
He would kill
penalties virtually alone, dipsy-doodling up and
down the playing
surface, behind both nets, opponents trailing behind
outclassed in his game of "keepaway".
When asked for a comment on Tremblay when he passed
away a number of years ago, Gordie Howe expressed
surprise that he wasn't already enshrined in the
"He's got 5 Cups. I've only got 4."
After his playing days he moved to Europe and was
scouting for a number of years before passing away.
Unfortunatly the Canadiens were latecomers to the
practice of drafting players from outside North
America and only started giving his reports weight
once the rest of the league had been picking overseas
players for years.