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Tom and Dickie
 
MONTREAL | August 7th, 2010
Tom and Dickie
You never get a second chance to make a first impression. The incomparable Dickie Moore almost learned that the hard way from the late Tom Johnson in the fall of 1951.  

Prior to his first practice with the Canadiens, a fresh-faced rookie Moore was pulled aside by his new head coach.

Dick Irvin tells me ‘Hey Moore, I hear you’re tough, but I want you to prove it to me. Go out there and hit the Rocket,’” recalled Moore. “Trust me, the last thing I wanted to do was show up Maurice Richard on my very first day with the team, but I was a young player trying to earn a roster spot. I accepted Irvin’s challenge and threw a hard check on the Rocket the first chance I got.”

The brash move didn’t go unnoticed by some of the veterans on the team, including the defenseman Johnson.

“After practice all the guys were heading to lunch and Johnson stopped me and asked ‘Hey kid, who do you think you are, hitting the Rocket like that?’” recounted Moore. “I just told Tom that I was simply following orders, but that if he would prefer, I could gladly start hitting him, instead.”

Despite their rocky start as teammates, Moore and Johnson would become close friends over the years as the Stanley Cups piled up.

“Tom was a sociable person who was extremely well-liked by all the guys,” recalled Moore of his longtime teammate, who passed away at age 79 in November. “We’d always pull pranks on each other, most of which I couldn’t tell you about even if I wanted to. And the Christmas parties he held at his house in Cote-des-Neiges were legendary. Tom always knew how to show us a good time.”

Just over a year removed from nearly losing his own life in a car accident, Moore needn’t be reminded of how fortunate he was.

“I was lucky, but not everyone gets a second lease on life,” said Moore. “I like to think that Heaven’s gates will only open up for the good guys. That’s why I’m still here, and Tom is up there.”

See also
The Welcome Wagon
A Sticky Situation
The old switcheroo
Mikey Scissohands
The Bear Essentials
One of a kind
Joy and pain