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Train Games
MONTREAL | November 10th, 2011
Train Games
Back in the era when hockey teams travelled by train, a ride on the rails became the perfect setting to pull a few pranks.

While on a trip to New York during the 1960s, a few of the more mischievous members of the Canadiens stumbled across a practical joke shop while walking the streets of the Big Apple. After disappearing inside for a couple of minutes, they emerged with a healthy supply of itching and sneezing powder – the perfect entertainment for the journey home.

The setup was simple: while making his way through one of the cars, a player would pretend to lose his balance and stumble. In the process, he would use the distraction to sprinkle a little itching and sneezing powder on whichever unlucky soul happened to be nearby. “We would wait a few minutes to give the powders some time to take effect and then we’d take a stroll back through the same section of the train,” recalled Habs’ former forward, Gilles Tremblay.

During their second pass through the car, they could then enjoy their handiwork and observe the confused passengers as they suddenly found themselves overcome with fits of sneezing and scratching.

After a few rounds of successfully executing their plan at the expense of the train’s passengers, the group decided it was time to set their sights on bigger game. They eventually settled on targeting the Habs’ well-liked head-coach, Toe Blake and by proximity, the team doctor who happened to be sharing his compartment.

“We managed to pour the sneezing powder under the door and through the keyhole of Toe Blake’s compartment,” explained Tremblay. “To be honest with you, we really went for broke and used everything we had left.”

Too promising to walk away from, Tremblay and his cohorts stayed as close by as they could to witness the results.

“We crouched behind the door and listened to them sneeze non-stop for a good two hours. We even heard the doctor tell Blake, ‘Hey coach, we should probably take some aspirin. I think there’s a flu bug running loose on this train,’” confessed Tremblay, who still couldn’t help grinning about the incident so many years later.

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