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Birds of a Feather
MONTREAL | November 5th, 2009
Birds of a Feather
Lighting up cigars to celebrate a birth, smashing bottles of champagne to christen a new boat, or tossing caps in the air at graduation – there are some time-honored traditions that go hand-in-hand with almost all of life’s major milestones.  As some Canadiens players were quick to discover in 1979, though, the Habs’ dressing room was no place to announce an engagement.

“Back then, they had this ritual where they would tar and feather the guys who were getting married,” confided former Habs right winger Mark Napier. “They actually used molasses instead of tar, but you get the idea. I had gotten engaged a few weeks earlier and I was in the shower when they grabbed me, threw me in some track pants, and completely covered myself and Danny Geoffrion – who was also recently engaged – in molasses and feathers.”

Working with the same precision and single-mindedness that helped them capture four straight Stanley Cups in the late ‘70s, the likes of future Hall-of-Famers Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard, Steve Shutt, and their other willing accomplices coated the soon-to-be-newlyweds in the sticky concoction. Satisfied with the result of their makeover, the team marched the two feathered forwards to one of Montreal’s busiest streets to display their handiwork to adoring fans.  

“They handcuffed the two of us outside Thursday’s bar and restaurant right in the middle of Crescent Street and then they all headed inside for a team meeting; they actually left the two of us out there on the street,” laughed Napier, who spent six years lighting the lamp for the Habs from 1978 to 1984.  “It was September, so at least it was pretty warm outside, but from 2 to 3 o’clock, the two of us were just standing out there with people gawking and taking pictures as they walked by.”

While the helpless duo never did find out what they missed at the “team meeting” that day, Napier did manage to get a first-hand lesson on just how much a team can accomplish when everyone is working together.

“I could probably guess who the ringleader of it was,” he admitted, “but it really was a team effort – all the guys were literally in on it.”

See also
Howe could you?
The Voice of the Fans - Centennial Edition
Three players, one name
A history of numbers and pride