All in the family
It’s not uncommon for young Habs fans to grow up hearing stories from their parents about legends who have worn the Canadiens jersey over the years. Memories of Stanley Cup parades and the great dynasties that define the history of the organization have been shared at dinner tables for generations. It was no different in Blake Geoffrion’s house as a kid – although for him the stories hit a little closer to home.
| Geoffrion's hat trick
His grandfather, Hall-of-Famer Bernard “Boom Boom” Geoffrion spent 14 seasons entertaining fans at the Montreal Forum with his blazing slap shot and larger-than-life personality, winning six Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Tropies and a Hart and Calder Trophy in the process. His great-grandfather, Howie Morenz is regarded as the first bona fide superstar in NHL history, winning three Stanley Cups and three Hart Trophies during his illustrious tenure in Montreal. Both have their jerseys hanging from the Bell Centre rafters.
“Yeah, no pressure,” joked Geoffrion from the Oklahoma City airport just after being traded to the Canadiens on Feb. 17. “I got pulled off the ice this morning and was just told to hang tight. I didn’t know if I was going to be traded or not but when they told me I was being traded to the Montreal Canadiens I couldn’t believe it. I thought they were pulling my leg. I’m thrilled. I can’t wait.”
Not surprisingly, one of the first calls the 24-year-old made after hearing the news was to his father Daniel, who also played 32 games with the Canadiens in 1979-80.
“I called him and I said, ‘Hey dad, are you sitting down?’ It’s funny, he’s actually in Atlanta right now visiting my grandma [Boom Boom Geoffrion’s widow, Marlene],” he explained. “He said, ‘Yeah, why?’ and I told him I was traded to Montreal. He just laughed and said, ‘Yeah, very funny, Blake. I’m just in a movie with Nana right now. I’ll call you back later.’
“I had to convince him I was telling the truth,” laughed Geoffrion, who will become the fourth generation to play for the Habs if he gets called up from the Bulldogs. “He finally believed me and just goes, ‘NO WAY!” He passed the phone to my Nana and she was just yelling in French about how excited she was and how she couldn’t believe it.”
Spending his childhood in Nashville, TN, Geoffrion didn’t grow up watching the Canadiens on television. He may have only been to Montreal once in his life, but that one visit gave the speedy centerman a pretty good idea what to expect from the Bell Centre faithful down the road.
“My first Habs game was in 2006 when my grandfather’s jersey was retired so I got to experience that and see what that was like. It was incredible,” described Geoffrion of the emotional ceremony that took place on March 11, 2006, the same day his grandfather succumbed to cancer. “I cried like a baby the whole time. I knew how much the Montreal Canadiens meant to my grandfather and the relationships he had built there with the staff and his teammates.
“The greatest thing about that night looking back on it now is I had always heard these stories about how great Papi was and what a great figure he was in the city of Montreal,” added Geoffrion, who will wear No.57 in Montreal in honor of his late grandfather and great-grandfather. “He really was a superstar there. We went out to restaurants and my dad would try to pay with his credit card and they would see the last name and just say, ‘Your money is no good here.’ People loved him in Montreal and he loved them back.”
He may be hockey royalty in Montreal, but Geoffrion knows his bloodlines won’t be enough to earn him a spot in the starting lineup. That suits him just fine.
“I spoke to Pierre Gauthier right after I was traded. He said he was excited to have me in the organization and that they were going to send me to Hamilton for now and then reassess things after the trade deadline,” mentioned Geoffrion, who was called up from the Bulldogs in time to face the Lightning on Tuesday night. “We’ll see what happens.
“I pride myself on being a smart two-way player who competes every night. I don’t have the slap shot my grandfather had, though,” he added with a laugh. “I’m still working on that one.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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