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The Bear Essentials
MONTREAL | May 26th, 2014
The Bear Essentials
He wrestled bears, ate glass and was known as the Joliette Strongman, but you had to have known former Canadiens winger Marcel Bonin to realize just how much of a character the policeman from Joliette really was. Even today, at age 78, his open countenance and mischievous smile still give Bonin away.

Standing 5-foot-10 and tipping the scales at a modest 170 pounds back in the day, Bonin didn’t inspire fear on the ice but as Tony Schneider would attest, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

Schneider was the Western Hockey League bruiser who went up against Bonin and left the battlefield with a broken nose and fractured jaw. Bonin didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but he was extremely strong and absolutely fearless.  

He picked up the moniker l’Ours de Joliette after taking to the ring in an attempt to pin a wrestling bear when a traveling carnival came to town. Though the $1,000 prize was a more-than-adequate incentive, Bonin failed to go the distance and walked away with nothing but a new nickname. To say the least Bonin, who was known to eat glass on occasion for the entertainment of his teammates, usually made life interesting.  

While he picked up a very respectable 272 points in 454 games, Bonin’s greatest career moments were owed to Maurice Richard, or more precisely, to “The Rocket’s” absence. Borrowing the injured Richard’s new gloves in 1959, he seemed to magically inherit his captain’s nose for the net. Bonin scored 10 times in 11 games and capped the season with the Stanley Cup.  

Asked to comment on his incredible playoff run, Bonin jokingly declared, “If I’d known how it was going to turn out, I’d have borrowed Rocket’s jock as well.”

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