Pierre Jarry and Gary Doyle, the first two legitimate stars of the Ottawa 67’s, hadn’t seen each other since the last game of the 1968-69 regular season.
That seemed like way too long considering Doyle used to watch Jarry for 60 minutes almost every night from his crease. If Jarry wasn’t scoring a goal at the other end, he was marvelling at how the diminutive Doyle could face 50 or 60 shots a night and still keep the 67’s in most games.
The two originals — Jarry from Rosemount, Que., Doyle from Smiths Falls — were reunited Friday at the 47th annual Ottawa Valley Hockey Oldtimers Golf Day at Hylands, this year honouring “50 Seasons of Ottawa 67’s Hockey.”
They didn’t miss a beat even after 48 years, as if they were still suiting up every Friday night at the Civic Centre before a raucous and packed house watching a bad expansion team that won just six games while surrendering about six goals a game.
They were joined on the course by the likes of Brian Kilrea, Denis Potvin, Murray Wilson, 67’s governor Jeff Hunt, new 67’s general manager James Boyd, and current 67’s player Mathieu Foget. John Barrett, Frank St-Marseille, Noel Price and Chris Valentine were among former National Hockey League players participating in the event that began in 1971.
“What I remember that first year is everyone said we wouldn’t win five games all season,” Jarry said. “Well, we went into London the third game of the year, and the Nationals were a very good team, and we beat them 2-1. Then I don’t think we won another game until Christmas.”
Jarry’s second vivid memory came from the spring of 1968. He went on a recruiting trip with 67’s original owner Howard Darwin and head coach and GM Bill Long to Thurso, where they tried to recruit a 16-year-old Guy Lafleur to play for the 67’s.
“I was really the only guy who spoke French on the team,” Jarry said, “so off we went to Thurso to see Lafleur, and they offered him $5,000 to come play for the 67’s. But Guy’s heart was set on going to Quebec City and he said no.
“So, on the way home, I thought well I had a pretty good first year with the 67’s, so I asked for, and got, the $5,000. That was a lot of money then, too.”
Jarry had scored 36 goals in his first 67’s season, and he added a remarkable 41 goals in 53 games in his second and final season, accounting for a large percentage of the club’s offence.
Second to Jarry that first season was 18-year-old defenceman Jean Potvin, who had 18 goals.
Jarry posted 57 points, while Potvin had 35 and Buckingham’s Bill Clement, just 16, ranked third on the team with six goals and 19 assists for 25 points.
After two seasons in Ottawa, Jarry was the 12th overall draft pick by the New York Rangers in 1968. After two solid seasons with the Central League’s Omaha Knights, he played 344 NHL games with the Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota North Stars.
His best season featured 21 goals in 59 games with Minnesota in 1975-76.
Jarry was laughing on Friday as he met up with Dave McKenny, brother of former Leafs defenceman Jim McKenny, who happened to be Jarry’s roommate with that club.
“Ahh, Jim was the funniest guy ever,” Jarry said. “The king of the one-liners.”
Through all the ups and downs of pro hockey, Jarry’s sense of humour remained, too.
“You know veterans are hard on rookies and (the Rangers’) Vic Hadfield was on my arse for three weeks in training camp and I said to myself that some day I would get even,” Jarry said. “Vic was such a proud guy. He played and never even got his hair messed. But I swore I would get even.
“So, first time we were in the Montreal Forum, Vic scores two goals in the first period and the trainer tells him at the end of the period that TV wanted him for an interview in two minutes. So Vic asked the guy to go get his false teeth.
“Well I heard that and ran into the room and put Bobby Nevin’s false teeth at his locker. So the trainer went out and gave Vic the wrong false teeth and all he did was mumble and stutter during the interview and we watched it in the room.
“So he comes back into the room, just fuming and yelling, and I guess I was the first one to laugh, so he knew it was me. After the game, on the bus to the airport, they shaved my head and ripped my shirt off and taped me up so much I lost all the hair on my chest. But I still tell Hadfield nobody forgets the interview.”
Jarry had come to the 67’s in a roundabout way.
He played with the Junior Sherbrooke Braves in 1966-67, under coach Scott Bowman, and thought he would become St. Blues property. However, NHL draft rules had changed and Jarry’s rights were traded to the St. Catharines Blackhawks.
So he had the Blackhawks, Montreal Junior Canadiens and 67’s all vying for his services. Ottawa won out.
Both he and Doyle recalled an exhibition matchup with the Junior Canadiens, marking the official opening of the Civic Centre, in January 1968.
Doyle was supposed to hold the fort against one of the best alltime Habs team and Jarry scored the game’s first goal less than five minutes in. Darwin was seated in his usual seat behind the net at the west end, beside Canadiens GM Sam Pollock.
“I scored and, as I was told, Pollock turned to Howard and said, ‘Well, I guess there will be no shutout tonight,’ and Howard said, ‘Yeah, well, you guys haven’t scored yet,’ ” Jarry recalled. “Well that didn’t last long because the Canadiens scored the next nine and beat us 9-1.”
The golf field also included former 67’s players Gord McCormick, Paul Sheard, Tim Higgins, Paul Tosh, Adam Courchaine and Peter Harasym, former ticker manager Joe Fagan, among others.
“Gary was a really good goalie,” Jarry said. “I remember the next year, though. I thought we had picked up the worst goalie I had ever seen and that was Bunny Larocque. Turns out he got his name on a Vezina Trophy, so I guess I was wrong about that.”
Picking the top 50 from 50 years of 67’s hockey not easy
The 67’s are in the process of selecting a “Top 50” list of players to celebrate the franchise’s 50th anniversary.
The top of the list is easy, or so it would seem,
“It’s Denis Potvin … then Bobby Smith and Peter Lee, and Doug Wilson, and don’t forget Jimmy Fox … and then the rest,” said legendary head coach Brian KIlrea, who saw just about every 67’s player in person during his 43-year association with the club.
The only really big stars that Kilrea didn’t coach with the 67’s Denis Potvin, Jarry, Doyle, Murray Wilson and Terry Murray, who played in the lean early years before the 67’s roster filled out with with talent.
Still, how do you leave out Bryan McSheffrey or Peter Laframboise? Or Jean Potvin?
“The first five names are easy,” Kilrea said. “That’s just my opinion. But try naming a top 10. It gets really tough from No. 6 on. There has just been so many great players play here. It’s almost impossible past that group of five.
“How do you leave certain names out of a top 10. Even a top 50 is tough because there’s going to be guys left out who played great here.”