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The Man With One Red Shoe
MONTREAL | December 27th, 2009
The Man With One Red Shoe
Hockey players and all-you-can-eat buffets should normally be a match made in heaven. But for former Habs defenseman turned assistant coach Jacques Laperriere, mealtime with the Canadiens in the mid-‘80s was a time to be afraid, very afraid.

Back then, meals on the road were often served on your garden-variety buffet tables set up in a hotel dining room reserved for the team. To hear former Habs winger Mike McPhee tell it, those dinners were also a golden opportunity for hijinx.

“Since the tablecloths would drag down to the floor, someone like Russ Courtnall, Mario Tremblay, or Chris Nilan would crawl underneath them and wait for his victim, who almost always happened to be our favorite assistant coach,” recalled McPhee. “Once Lappy walked up to get his food, they would squeeze some ketchup onto his shoes. If we didn’t get him there, someone would even crawl beneath our table and get Lappy that way.

“When we would all be back sitting down at the table eating, one of us would tap on our glass with a fork and yell out ‘Shoe check!’,” continued McPhee. “We would then look down at our feet to make sure they were clean. Lappy would see his ketchup-stained shoes and start cursing in French.”

Growing all the more paranoid about the state of his shiny brown wing tips, Laperriere began to eat on his own, away from the group with his shoes in clear view. Anything not to have them under the table.

“No matter what he tried, we still managed to get him somehow,” admitted McPhee, a Stanley Cup winner with the Canadiens in 1986. “He was a good sport about it, but we could tell it was starting to get to him.”

On one fateful road trip, an exasperated Laperriere finally took matters into his own hands.

“So one day, we’re all scheming as always, waiting for him to show up at the buffet,” recalled McPhee. “Lappy walks in with a big grin on his face pointing down to his shoes. He had pulled a pair of white tube socks over them just in case. Then he goes, ‘You guys won’t get me this time!’ What could we say? He was right about that.”  

See also
Is there a doctor in the house?
A White Welcome
Boss' Orders
Birds of a Feather
Howe could you?