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A lasting first impression
MONTREAL | August 12th, 2009
A lasting first impression
Today’s sports writers may have access to better technology than ever before, but when it comes to spending quality time with the players, no one had more access than ‘70s journalists. Back then, the media didn’t just travel with the team – they stayed in the same hotels and dined with the guys, too.

For legendary journalist Richard Garneau, who covered the Canadiens for over three decades and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999, proximity didn’t always help his cause, though – especially when it came to head coach Scotty Bowman.  When the two met for the first time, Garneau admits that things got a little too close for comfort.

“It was my first time on the road with the team. On the way back, we took a DC3, which is an older, really small plane,” recalled the now 79-year-old. “I wasn’t familiar with all of the non-written rules about traveling with the team just yet. I was one of the first ones onboard and I noticed that the players who were already there were sitting at the back, so I took a seat in the first row.” 

What Garneau didn’t know, though, was that while the players had first dibs on the back of the plane, the front was reserved for the Canadiens’ coaching staff. Just as Garneau was settling into his seat for take off, Scotty Bowman strolled aboard.   

“He got on the plane and shot me the dirtiest look you’ve ever seen. I immediately realized that I was in his seat,” remembered Garneau, who, upon noticing the evil eye he was getting from the fiery coach, grabbed his bags, unbuckled his seatbelt and made a beeline for the middle of the plane in one fell swoop.

“No one warned me! The players all thought it was hilarious,” chuckled the former Radio-Canada icon. “They were all teasing me about it, especially Pierre Bouchard, who I finally ended up sitting next to for the flight.”

Still blushing from his encounter with the Habs’ head coach and now crammed next to a 6-foot-2, sprawling Bouchard, the voyage home was anything but comfortable for the Montreal journalist.

“Let’s just say Bowman was someone you always had to be careful with because you never knew what to expect from him,” advised Garneau. “What I did learn was to stay out of that front row!”
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Where are they now? C. Larose
Bowman's biography