Elmer Lach : Hockey Hall of Famer dies at age 97

Elmer Lach : Hockey Hall of Famer dies at age 97

Less than four months after a city and a fan base mourned the loss of the great Jean Beliveau, yet another Montreal Canadiens legend, Elmer Lach, has passed away. He was 97.

Lach was a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and a key member of the Canadiens dynsasty of the late 1940’s.

He was called “Elegant Elmer” for his play-making ability, and spent most of his 14-year career on a line with Maurice Richard and Toe Blake.

The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs said he’s saddened, but at the same time relieved.

“I knew of Elmer’s turn of health last Saturday night. I was standing outside the dressing room door of the Montreal Canadiens waiting to go in after the Habs had just nailed down a playoff berth and received a text message from one of Elmer’s step daughters, she’s down in Atlanta, to tell me he had suffered a stroke and was at the Lakeshore General and unresponsive, so it was a sledgehammer when you feel that”, said Stubbs.

Stubbs said Lach was quite the gentlman off the ice.

“The most modest, unassuming, most humble superstar I’ve met in my entire life”, added Stubbs.

He also said he had to drag stories out of Lach.

TSN 690’s Rick Moffat was asked about the famous Punch Line, which featured Lach, Maurice “The Rocket” Richard and Toe Blake.

“May go down as the greatest line ever in hockey history. Obviously, (Wayne) Gretzky’s linemates would beg to differ, but they changed the course of hockey history in a way and set up the first great Canadiens dynasty and Elmer Lach loved to pass his secrets to the next generation”, said Moffat.

“Tough little guy from Saskatchewan and the Toronto Maple Leafs had him on their sights. The Canadiens actually had lots of contacts with the hockey talent coming out of Saskatchewan.”

Moffat also told a story about how the Rangers were interested in Lach in the 40’s, but said Lach had to be responsible for his skates being sharpened.

In the end, said Moffat, the Canadiens provided that service.

The difference was a mere nickel.

Friend and caretaker, as well as former Hab, Phil Goyette says Lach was the ultimate genetlman.

“It’s sad because he was quite a gentleman and quite a hockey player, too. I’ll miss him”, said Goyette.

“He’ll always be remembered as one of the greatest hockey players along with “The Rocket”, Toe and everybody else, even in the hall of fame. We’ll always remember him, at least I will”, added Goyette.

Lach, who retired as the league’s all-time leader in points with 623, was inducted in the hall of fame in 1966.