On Being A Professional…

Under the Crosscheck mission of history and preserving the game, the following story falls under both categories ….

Late May 1974:

The Montreal Canadiens were making another playoff run and as a result the Forum was not available for lacrosse practices.

The Quebecois were unknown and anxious to make a good impression as a new upstart professional team in hockey crazed Montreal. Conditioning was part of that goal.

And so it transpired that we had to practice at an outdoor parking lot owned by Blue Bonnets Race track. (Fergy had connections with the facility due to his interest in horses). The team had chartered one of those infamous yellow school buses on an un-airconditioned trek from the Belevedere Motel where we were housed up the Decarie Autoroute for the practice.

The Decarie was like a concrete three sided coffin that extended 10 km through the city and literally plugged up every day to a crawl at rush hour.

It was warm both on the bus and during the practice so I was quite happy after the workout to accept a ride back to the Belevedere in a cool air conditioned Cadillac with John Davis.

As it turned out Louis Stohl, one of the team owners and John (Ferguson) wanted to talk to us about media coverage on the trip back to the motel.

The mood was upbeat as we followed the bouncing yellow bus in rush hour down the now packed Decarie expressway. The conversation was about public relations as we passed under the sign for the Sherbrooke exit.

Without warning Fergy literally yelled out “What the f**k!”
We turned our attention to the rear of the bus (no pun intended here) to see the spread cheeks of a bare butt pressed up against the window for all commuters to see. Louis leaned on the horn aghast at the sight and the Assh**e disappeared!

Damage was done.

Fergy screamed “That player is GONE! We are trying to build an image here and that just ruined it”

John Davis and I recognized the ass ( after showering every day with these guys for a month after practices we knew who it was ). We said nothing.

Back in the parking lot of the motel we could hear the screaming on the bus from the safety of the car as Fergy addressed the guys.

This was no way to build an image, a tradition. No way to be professional and get respect for a new industry …. The offending player would be traded or cut.

Well it turned out the “Assh–e” responsible was the best fighter we had back in the days of the Broad Street Bullies. He had been drafted by Fergy specifically for that reason (his pugilistic proficiency) and we couldn’t afford to lose him.

Ultimately it ended with an apology behind closed doors, the point was driven home on professionalism and the incident was quietly swept under the rug.

Leap forward to a game in Rochester (maybe Syracuse, someone out there should remember this incident).

Fergy was coaching the game in a heated battle both for the competition and lack of air conditioning. (one of the reasons the team moved to another location the following year).

There was an incident, we were given the short end of a bad call by the ref and Fergy once again went ballistic.

He told us all to get up off the bench ( who would refuse him?) and he tossed the bench onto the floor in protest.

Naturally we received “a bench penalty” for delay of game.

We all cracked up and John had a smirk on his face that typified his personality.

After the game over refreshments I reminded him about his lecture to the team on “Professionalism” at the Belevedere.

He said “There is a time and place for everything, this was the right time and place for that!”

Another smirk. At least now the bus is air conditioned, he said.

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