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Boss’ Orders
 
MONTREAL | November 11th, 2009
Boss’ Orders
Can anything liven up a workplace and bring co-workers together quite like a perfectly-executed practical joke? Unlikely.  Whether it’s hiding plastic spiders in a friend’s drawer on Halloween, switching the sugar for salt on April Fool’s Day, or simply crafting a terrifying fake e-mail from the boss at any time of the year, pranks around the office are always a recipe for hilarity.  But what happens when your boss ups the ante and joins in on the fun?

One of the biggest pranksters of them all, general manager Serge Savard jumped at the chance to try out some of his best material on baby-faced rookie Claude Lemieux when the opportunity arose in 1985-86.  According to Lemieux’s teammate Gaston Gingras, the road was the perfect venue to initiate the newest member of the Canadiens.

“We were in New York and Claude hadn’t played many games yet – it was pretty early on in his rookie season,” started Gingras, who played three seasons with Lemieux in Montreal.  “Serge calls him up at the hotel and tells him that he has to hurry up and get ready because he has an interview lined up and he needs to get there right away.”

Ready and willing to impress Savard at any opportunity, the 20-year-old sprinted downstairs to hail a cab to get to his big interview on time.

“Serge gave him this address, told him to write it down and just get the cabbie to drive him there,” explained Gingras.  “The place was about an hour away and the cab finally gets to the place and lets Claude out – only there was no radio station there, no reporter, no TV crew; nothing.”

Confused, but not willing to give up too quickly, the young right winger waited it out, popping into every office building on the block in search of his fictional interviewer.  Finally willing to throw in the towel, he decided to check in with the GM to see if the reporter had called to cancel.  

“He must have tried Serge eight or nine times, but Savard just wouldn’t answer,” laughed the former Habs’ blue-liner. “The address Serge gave him was real – a real warehouse, though.  Claude finally gave up and grabbed a cab to head back for the morning skate, only he got stuck in traffic and wound up late on the ice.

“The funniest part was that Serge had told us, but he hadn’t let our coach Jean Perron in on the joke yet, so Jean was just giving it to Claude on the ice for showing up late,” chuckled Gingras. “Claude was so stressed – he was freaking out.  It was all in good fun though – kind of a ‘Welcome to the team’-type of initiation that rookies get when they’ve finally made it. Claude lit it up in the playoffs and we won the Cup that year so I guess Serge’s plan worked out!”

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