#21: Bernie Geoffrion
Hundreds of today’s NHL players, thousands of players in the minors and millions of people across the world should give thanks to Bernie Geoffrion every time they pick up a hockey stick.
Geoffrion is credited with inventing the slapshot. Sure, someone else may have done it later on, but he was the first to use it as a method to score goals. Now, most players have the slapshot as their main weapon, especially defenceman (I’m looking at you, Mark Streit).
Geoffrion was born to play hockey for the Montreal Canadiens. He was born in Montreal, played various junior and minor hockey in Montreal, and played most of his career with the Habs.
He was nick-named Boom Boom for the noise the puck made after booming off the boards when Geoffrion would take a slapshot.
Geoffrion had a successful career as a Hab, even if the fans may not have realized it. He became the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season. When he won the Art Ross trophy in 1955, many fans were upset because he passed teammate Maurice the Rocket Richard for the award (Richard was suspended).
Boom Boom was one of the toughest players the Habs have ever seen. He suffered an injury so severe that his life was saved by emergency surgery (he was actually given last rites at the hospital). The doctors told him to take a year off from hockey, but he was back on the ice six weeks later, playing in the playoffs.
He had teammate Doug Harvey cut a cast off his leg so he could play in the playoffs in 1961. He broke his nose nine times, had 400 stitches and had several stomach problems and operations.
In 14 seasons with the Habs, Geoffrion won six Stanley Cups, two Art Ross Trophies, a Calder trophy as the league’s best rookie and a Hart trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
He was elected to the hall of fame in 1972.
He died on March 11, 2006 from stomach cancer, the day his number was retired by the Canadiens.
For more on Bernie Geoffrion: