The day after the big victory was a day of relaxation for the Montreal Canadiens, who cut short the usual practice and joined in feting one of their own, captain Serge Savard.
Savard was honored today at a Plaza Hotel luncheon as the 12th recipient of the Bill Masterton Trophy, for perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The award, presented by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, carries with it a $1,000 check. In his acceptance remarks Savard said, "I want to thank the writers. This is the first time I take money from those guys."
Savard's teammates gave him a standing ovation. Coach Scotty Bowman described Savard's entry into the Canadiens' organization, as a 15-year-old defenseman in the days when Bowman was a scout for the junior team.
"Serge came down from northern Quebec when he was 15 and he didn't have a lot of money then," Bowman said to general laughter. "He got $10 plus room and board. After the first year, he was not invited back, but nobody told him.
"So the next fall he comes back to the same boarding house and enrolls in school and he's there two weeks and he comes and asks for some money. Well, Cliff Fletcher and I looked at each other and we had to tell Sam (Pollock) and he hit the roof.
"We got Sam to let him stay till October and then Alf Harvey, Doug's brother, who took a lot of the kids nobody else wanted, let him play junior B. By December he was with the Junior Canadiens and he's gone on to reach the heights he has today. These players don't all start out to be stars.
Savard, 33, has played for seven Stanley Cup champions. The Canadiens, after Thursday's 4-1 victory here, are halfway to No. 8, with a 2-1 lead over the New York Rangers. Game 4 is set for Madison Square Garden Saturday night (WDCA-TV-20 at 9 p.m.).
"We have a lot of confidence and we always feel we can win the game," Savard said. "I think we have proven that."
Ranger Coach Fred Shero was in attendance, although his team was busily practicing under Mike Nykoluk. Shero talked of his abbreviated career with Montreal.
"I dressed for two games with the Canadiens in the 1957 Stanley Cup final and they won, although I guess I didn't have much to do with it," Shero said. "Then they gave me my first coaching job at Shawinigan, where I met the beautiful French girl who became my wife. Out of that union came two fine sons who have fine French names, Jean Paul and Rejean.
"I owe the Canadiens a lot, but I don't think I owe them another Stanley Cup.