February 20, 1973
Weeks ago, a general manager of one of the National Hockey League teams had a question.
"What do you think of Marc Tardif?" he asked me,
"He has the credentials to be an excellent hockey player," the g.m, was told.
"That's what I think," he said. "Why aren't they using him?"
"Because he's not using his credentials," was the answer.
"I think he can be happy here," the g.m. said. "We sure could use him. We could use him a lot."
"So could Canadiens," he was told, "but nobody knows for sure if Marc wants to play."
There are others who have asked about Tardif in recent weeks.
What, indeed, is wrong with Marc Tardif?
Only a couple of days ago, David Keon -- who had noticed that Tardif wasn't used at all against the Maple Leafs, said: "We could use all of those players who aren't being used by Canadiens. But what about Tardif? He had 19 goals by December 1 and here it is almost March 1, and he's still got 19 goals."
David's arithmetic isn't completely accurate, but it's close enough. So is his question. What, indeed, is wrong with Marc Tardif?
The answer is that there is nothing wrong with Marc Tardif that Marc Tardif can't cure. But only Tardif can cure it. William Scott Bowman can't do it. Marc's associates, who have talked to him from time to time about it, can't do it. Even his great and good friend Rejean Houle can't do it.
played a lot less than Tardif, in Marc's unhappy position. Pierre simply isn't as good a defenceman as those who are playing. If he had as much talent as a defenceman as Tardif could have as a forward, nobody could move Bouchard from the lineup even if you shoved 3 couple of sticks of dynamite in his drawers -- and lit the fuse.
And in Pierre's case, at least he has the attitude of finding a trace of humor in his position.
A few days ago, for example, a youngster working on a school project approached Pierre for an interview,
Youngster: "What do you do during the off-season, Mr. Bouchard?"
Bouchard: "The same thing I do inseason. Rest ! ! !"
Youngster: "Are you eligible for any of the NHL individual trophies?"
Bouchard: "I'm eligible for all of them, but I don't expect to win any."
One of the things that is wrong with Marc Tardif is that he doesn't like his coach. Know something? I'm sure that Scotty Bowman would accept that happily if Tardif played well enough to contribute something to this Canadiens team. He is not the first player who doesn't like his coach, but most of the players I know in that position react by playing harder and better. They dislike their coach so much, they play themselves into the lineup and play harder to stay there. Not Marc.
He plays as if he doesn't like Marc Tardif
He plays as if he doesn't like Mare Tardif, and that's a pity because he has a lot to offer to professional hockey at a time when the game has record rewards to offer in return.
I feel sorry for Tardif for several reasons. First of all, I find him am extremely pleasant youngster. Maybe others don't, but I do. He has a rare sense of humor and a talent that should be opening doors for him everywhere. But what has been happening is that door after door has been slammed in his face, and for this he has noboby to blame but himself.
You watch Canadiens on the ice, and who's taking a regular turn? The superstars like Frank Mahovlich and Yvan Cournoyer are there.
But how do you explain a Jim Roberts playing a regular shift, killing penalties and being used in crucial situations? Talent for talent, a kid like Marc Tardit should wear Roberts on his watch chain, but Roberts plays and Tardif doesn't. He plays because he works at it. He plays because in all the years I have known him, he has worked as hard as he can and then challenged a coach to take him out of the lineup. That's the reaction coaches are looking for. That's the attitude they seek in their personnel.
Put Tardif and his great and good friend Houle nose to nose in a talent contest - and it's no contest. Houle works at it, though. It's pretty hard to throw a rope around a kid when he's working. It's easy with Tardif, though, and if that makes sense, it escapes me. He is a gifted athlete with much to offer and much to receive for it in return, but he is drowning that talent in a sea of apathy.
Most of you know, by now, that Ken Dryden was a beauty contest near-winner last weekend.
Actually, Dryden finished seventh among a group of 10 males in Radio Canada's Gala du plus bel homme du Canada. It's a sort of electronic jet set contest.
Dryden's reaction: "Now that my face is my fortune, all of the hockey players have been instructed to keep their shots low!"
Goalie Wayne Thomas' astonished reaction: "If Dryden finished seventh, can you imagine what 8, 9 and 10 looked like!!!!