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Bill LaForge: A Players' Nightmare, and One of the Worst NHL Coaches of All Time

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04-09-2013, 08:12 PM
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JetsAlternate
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Bill LaForge: A Players' Nightmare, and One of the Worst NHL Coaches of All Time

In a discussion on the worst NHL coaches of all time, only few brought up Bill LaForge. Perhaps one of the most obscure coaches in the history of the NHL, he is also renowned as one of the worst. Hence, I'd like to share some stories about him.

Prior to LaForge being hired, the Canucks were a playoff team, having qualified for the postseason in each of their seasons since 1978-79. Roger Neilson, later one of the most respected coaches in the history of the NHL, had brought the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final in a Cinderella run in 1982 and was heralded by Canucks fans for doing so. Unfortunately, when the team struggled the following two seasons, Neilson was fired by then-GM and former Canucks coach Harry Neale. Neale would replace Roger behind the bench until the end of the 1983-84 season, though the team would still qualify for the postseason.

Before the following season, however, the Canucks needed a new full-time head coach, and team management conducted multiple interviews, including one with future Philadelphia Flyers coach Mike Keenan, to find the Canucks' next bench boss. They ultimately hired Bill LaForge, a mistake that would set the team back one year, cause them to miss the playoffs, and provide the team's players with one of the worst nightmares of their NHL careers.

LaForge had some success as an OHL and WHL head coach in the 1980s, spending four seasons as a junior-level coach and amassing 176 wins. He was also suspended several times; in fact, he was suspended for 50 games in the OHL in 1981 for assaulting the opposing coach (Dave Dryden) and a player during a playoff meeting between the Oshawa Generals and Peterborough Petes. In the NHL, he lasted all of 22 games. The Canucks recorded a record of 4-14-2 during his short tenure and endured humiliating drills and punishments:



http://www3.telus.net/dmarchak/candeal.htm
Quote:
May 18, 1984: Sorry, wrong number

When 33 year old Bill LaForge was hired as coach of the Vancouver Canucks, he was younger than some of the players on the team. LaForge had an impressive resume, but had no experience with NHL players. Still he stated that the Canucks would win 50 games in 1984-85, because, after all, losing 30 games was quite a lot. By the time training camp ended, players were in near revolt to Bill LaForge's amateur antics. He survived 20 games as coach, posting a record of 4-14-2 before being fired. At that rate, it would have taken over three full seasons to register 50 wins.
Below is a short feature on LaForge from the Vancouver Canucks with testimony from long-time former member of the organization, Norm Jewison:
http://video.canucks.nhl.com/videoce...onsole?id=4501

I've transcribed the audio below.
Quote:
30 Years, 30 Stories with Norm Jewison
Briefly Bill

--The honeymoon of the '82 Stanley Cup finalist team would turn into a hangover. Needing a fresh direction, the Canucks turned to no-nonsense junior coach Bill LaForge for the 84-85 season--

NORM JEWISON: I remember Moe Lemay going out for the warmup, and Moe went out without his chin strap done up. Bill LaForge grabbed a hockey stick and started smacking Moe Lemay's helmet with his stick and saying, "Why do you have your helmet on if you're not going to do up your chin strap! What are you doing!" And it was stuff like that.

--When the team assembled for training camp in 1984, they would quickly become familiar with the words "pride," "hustle," "desire."--

NORM: We went to training camp over in Duncan, and we had three teams: P.H.D -- "Pride," "Hustle," and "Desire." The team that lost the scrimmage had to go and run around [a football field], and the only thing you could take off were your skates. You would take your skates off, put your running shoes on, and had to run three laps around the football field. This was tough on guys who'd been in the league a long time like Peter McNab. That kind of thing just did not cut it.

--Ironically, the beginning of the end of the brief LaForge era could have occurred after the first victory of the season.--

NORM: I remember the first win under his guidance -- and there weren't many -- we won a game in overtime down in Los Angeles; the score was 5-4, and I think Gary Lupul scored the winning goal. Everybody was pretty loosey-goosey after the game, it was our first win of the season. Bill LaForge comes in and says, "Okay, quiet, everybody!" and he hands out sheets with words on them; it was a fight song. Gary Lupul had to get up on the table and lead this chorus, this fight song, because we'd won the game. These were some of Bill LaForge's methods, and the funny thing was that we had interviewed another guy for the job that summer from the University of Toronto, and the other guy's name was Mike Keenan. Mike Keenan was the loser of that coaching battle.
While I've criticized Keenan for his disastrous influence on the Canucks in the late 1990s, history would have been entirely different had he been hired at this point in his coaching career. The context of his hiring would have been entirely different, and he would have left a different mark on the franchise than he ultimately did thirteen years later.

The fight song incident happened in the second game of the season.

Here are some details from other posters about how much of a nightmare he was:

http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...&postcount=105
Quote:
Originally Posted by cursednumber6 View Post
Coach...There are many candidates but I will go with Laforge. I read about this guy in a book called Slapshots by Stephen Cole and I was incredulous. He ran ridiculous guantlet drills; he had them play though injuries that no other coach would and, just for fun, according to Cole, he bit the head off a live bat just prove his toughness....I guess.
http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...&postcount=106
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Originally Posted by Uncle Rotter View Post
Here's some more about Laforge's infamous gauntlet drill
Quote:
One day they were doing a gauntlet drill, which was virtually unheard of in the pro ranks, something one presumes was used in junior to either punish players or get them ready for contact after recovering from an injury. The idea was to have the player go down the boards with the whole team lined up in front of him, each standing maybe three feet away from said boards. As the fellow came through, each player would lower his shoulder into the guy.

Rota was an NHL all-star two years previous and was injured the season before, doctors determining he needed spinal fusion surgery that summer in order to return to play. Evidently LaForge thought the gauntlet drill would be a good test, but Rota re-injured his neck by the penalty box as he was clearly not ready for this treatment (nobody was) and he promptly retired. We'll never know how long or how well he could have played had he been rehabbed properly.
http://www2.canada.com/theprovince/c...63703811dc&p=1
http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/sh...&postcount=107
Quote:
Originally Posted by Killion View Post
Ya, LaForge was Hardcore Psycho, somewhere between John Brophy & Eddie Shore. You mentioned The Gauntlet; players lining up 3' out from the boards about 3' apart in a row, the incoming basically getting stapled, nail gunned & sledge hammered absolutely full-on.

LaForge insisted on pulling this completely idiotic primeval stunt in Vancouver (lasted about 22 games) as well. Darcy Rota, then a top producer and not far off from leading the Canucks in goals "all time" is recovering from a serious neck injury. Forced to run the Gauntlet, gets hurt again & cant play at all, eventually retires from the NHL & hockey altogether prematurely as a result.

LaForge however was fairly successful at the Jr levels, always with wins in 600-700% range. Still though, head case. He'd have his players sit on the bench during the pre-game skate. Just sit there staring at the opposition making their rings around the goalie & taking shots, loosening up, all in an attempt to intimidate them. Just sit there scowling, "gunning" em. Not saying a word. Then when the pre-game skate was over, single file into the dressing room like a bunch of psychopathic assassin robots....

... while coaching in the CHL, challenged Dave Dryden, coaching the opposition to a fistfight at centre ice. Dryden obliged, but that was it for LaForge. Got a 50 game suspension, effectively ejected from the league. Was hired by Tri-City Americans, but the players, Jr's mind you, they all went on strike & presented a petition to the GM before LaForge even arrived.

All kinds of crazy stories about Wild Bill... actually "adopted" some 17yr old behemoth of a player out of Delta BC, 6'3" 220lb Natural Born Killer.... When coaching in Niagara Falls Tie Domi begs him for a tryout, walkon. Bill ignores him until Domi says "look, I'll take on your best fighter right now & if I win I get a tryout, Ok?. So, who's your best fighter?". LaForge finally replying, telling Domi "I am"....

... purportedly had the trainers file out the bottom rims of the players visors to razor sharp edges, then instructed them leave the helmet on in a fight. Pity the poor kid throwing punches into that Ronco Vega-Matic of a nightmare. Like sticking your hand in a wheat thresher, under the plate of a frikin Lawnboy without first cutting the engine...

Died young did Bill LaForge. Heart attack at 53 in 2005. Quite the character. Just no way no how could you pull & get away with NHL players what he did at the Junior level. He deserves to be on this list, even though less than what was it, 22, 24 or 26 games in total?

Edit Note; I see Uncle Rotter dug up the Rota story... plenty more "out there". Most amusing fellow was Bill LaForge provided you didnt play for him I should think.
That October, the Canucks suffered a 13-2 loss to Philadelphia, a 10-3 loss to the LA Kings, a 7-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, and a 9-3 loss to Chicago. They only won one game that month, recording a record of 1-10-0.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/team...985_games.html

LaForge was never hired by any other NHL team, and would return to the OHL where he would spend three and a half seasons with the Hamilton Steelheads. He would coach the Niagara Falls thunder for the next one and a half seasons, being fired in mid-season during the 1989-90 OHL season. He would be hired by the Guelph Storm partway through the 1991-92 season only to end his tenure with them at the end of the year, and would only coach twice more, never again coaching a full year with any other team in any capacity.


Last edited by JetsAlternate: 03-15-2014 at 07:24 AM.
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Old
04-09-2013, 08:44 PM
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Nalens Oga
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So what you're saying is that he's better than Joe Sacco?

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04-09-2013, 09:09 PM
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Some of his junior players, guys like Corson, May & many others who went on to pro would in fact go through a wall for the guy so I guess its not all bad, and do so gladly. Odd when you consider that if while on the road his team had played badly & or just lost even with an effort, he'd have the bus driver pull over 2 or 3 miles away from the hotel, winter, bitter freezing cold in small town's out in the middle of nowhere, late at night, players already exhausted & make them run the rest of the way if they were staying over.... another episode while with Vancouver, during which the team lost several times in his 22 game tenure by some absolutely hideous scores, like 13-2 at the hands of the Flyers one night; in post game comments stating how he was Ok with it as the Canucks players who fought handled themselves well.

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04-09-2013, 11:06 PM
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I love your threads. I don't follow the canucks but i can honestly say i never heard of this guy before.

thank you for the great read.

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04-10-2013, 01:23 PM
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He did win a WHL championship with Kamloops in 1984. But by the time he joined Tri-Cities as an assistant coach in the early 90s his players went on strike and refused to play for him after one practice.

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04-10-2013, 01:51 PM
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This is actually a pretty common occurance, though rarely this extreme. In youth sports, there have always been psychopath-type coaches who could enjoy some success by essentially running their teams like cults. This method has some hope of working in youth sports because of the fact that the players are very vulnerable and insecure and thus can easily be "broken" and then indoctrinated into being obedient little spokes inside the team's wheel.

When such coaches then go to the pros, they rarely succeed unless they majorly adapt their approach. If they fail to make any adjustment they will flame out pretty quickly. That has nothing to do with toughness or ruthlessness, the pro ranks have plenty such coaches who use fear as a tool including some legendary ones, but the reality is that you can't deal with 25-30 year old men like you do with 16-17 year old boys.

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04-10-2013, 02:24 PM
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....but the reality is that you can't deal with 25-30 year old men like you do with 16-17 year old boys.
... The Darkness that was (Ned) Harkness.

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04-10-2013, 04:43 PM
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Laforge was also Brian Fogerty's coach with the Thunder. Would be interesting to know what kind of a relationship they had, with all the personal problems Fogerty had.

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01-20-2014, 01:59 PM
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Not to bring up a totally dead thread, but on Marek v Wyshynski today LaForge got brought up for some of his wild tactics while coaching in the juniors. Apparently while coaching in the WHL he completely mangled and killed a live chicken in the locker room before a game against the Winterhawks after referring to them as the "Chickenhawks" as a demonstration of what he wanted them to do. While coaching in the OHL, before a home game against the Kitchener Rangers he hung 23 bodybags in the rafters to represent every opposing player.

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01-20-2014, 07:24 PM
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Yeah that's a bad coach. I guess even Mario Tremblay lasted two years on the Habs before never setting foot behind an NHL bench again. I guess I've always picked Tremblay as the worst coach ever since he send the last superstar Montreal had packing and the team hasn't recovered from that since (Maybe Price will help)

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01-20-2014, 07:49 PM
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Yeah that's a bad coach. I guess even Mario Tremblay lasted two years on the Habs before never setting foot behind an NHL bench again. I guess I've always picked Tremblay as the worst coach ever since he send the last superstar Montreal had packing and the team hasn't recovered from that since (Maybe Price will help)
Tremblay spent quite a few years behind a bench as a assistant coach.

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01-20-2014, 07:54 PM
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Is Bill Laforge here to defend himself.I think the question is mean spirited why not ask was Scotty Bowman the most hated coach ever-that would be valid since most hated him as a person

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01-21-2014, 06:51 AM
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Is Bill Laforge here to defend himself.I think the question is mean spirited why not ask was Scotty Bowman the most hated coach ever-that would be valid since most hated him as a person
Laforge before he past more or less said he was too young and should have stayed in junior.

But some people are over looking the fact the leforge brought more theory to coaching in a time where it was still the old boys network. One thing that most teams adapted for awhile was his ten game time period of how to look and reflect on performances. He brought a lot of theory to the game that at the time was unheard of but now is common practice

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01-21-2014, 07:20 AM
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Dave Allison is the worst coach I've ever seen in the NHL, bar none.

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01-21-2014, 03:51 PM
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Tremblay spent quite a few years behind a bench as a assistant coach.
I was thinking as a head coach though.

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01-21-2014, 04:06 PM
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Jim Anderson was pretty brutal.

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01-21-2014, 04:17 PM
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Thanks for response I too got to see him win cup in kamloops he was a hot head but had a big heart-yes his antics went too far at times and yes that does not work in Nhl.BUT what I will say is that he was not a phony and he could back up what he said and did-he was very tough.A fair example is Bobby Knight-not comparing winning but antics.Bobby was an all-time great basketball coach but would he have been a pro coach.His antics like pushing a player would not work in pros-he would be fired.Kamloops best coaches were Don Hay,Ken Hitchcock,Bill Laforge and Tom Renny.Except for Renny the others were tough sob

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01-21-2014, 05:35 PM
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I was thinking as a head coach though.
He did get his teams to the playoffs though.

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01-22-2014, 12:57 AM
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Dave Allison is the worst coach I've ever seen in the NHL, bar none.
As a Sens fan I agree with this. It wasn't a good team but a career record of two wins, twenty two losses and a tie is pretty brutal. He also sounded like a fool in interviews.

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01-22-2014, 01:11 AM
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As a Sens fan I agree with this. It wasn't a good team but a career record of two wins, twenty two losses and a tie is pretty brutal. He also sounded like a fool in interviews.
He made the team worse than they were. What people tend to forget is that when team started spiraling downwards under Bowness it was due to injuries to their keyplayers like Dan Quinn and Duschesne. Quinn had played in pretty succesful line with Törmanen and Chorske(?) iirc. But yea that team missed a few pieces that they aquired after the season (McEachern, Dackell, Van Allen, Tugnutt, Laukkanen)

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01-22-2014, 01:29 AM
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But some people are over looking the fact the leforge brought more theory to coaching in a time where it was still the old boys network. One thing that most teams adapted for awhile was his ten game time period of how to look and reflect on performances. He brought a lot of theory to the game that at the time was unheard of but now is common practice
Neilson was an innovative tactician. LaForge was a troglodyte with a wooden club.

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03-15-2014, 06:15 AM
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Here's a bit more on LaForge's time in the NHL, a little bit about his past in the junior leagues, as well as a few mentions of how Harry Neale handled that entire situation:
Quote:
LaForge's lightning style stirs up Canucks
Staples, David. The Globe and Mail (1936-Current) [Toronto, Ont] 04 Oct 1984: M11.

"He gets you under his thumb and intimidates you. He kind of belittles you. That's his whole style of game. He wants to be in control all of the time. You quickly find out that there's a right way, a wrong way and a Bill LaForge way."
-- Martin Wood, 20, former goaltender of the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats and Kamloops Junior Oilers.

...

EDMONTON -- He is a failed hockey player who hustled his way to Junior B, but always believed he was good enough for the National Hockey League. And he's something of a wild man. He once swallowed a lizard. Years later, he was run out of the Ontario Hockey League with a 50-game suspension for attacking an opposing coach and player.

He's Bill LaForge, 33, new coach of the Vancouver Canucks and his arrival into the NHL has caused a stir. Will LaForge bring the successful intimidation tactics he used in major junior to the NHL? Will the Canuck veterans adjust to LaForge, who pushed and intimidated junior players and inspired cult-like devotion? Will he be able to take an average NHL team to a 100-point season, on which he has set his sights?

...

"Winning is the only thing with Bill LaForge. You do anything to win. It's not just a game out there. Not to him... He plays rough, so he expects his team to play rough. In Regina, we had no fear. You weren't afraid to go into the corners. If somebody touched me, the goaltender, the five players on the ice had better do something right quick. If they didn't, they were in big trouble... We'd talk to their best player, push him around a bit, maybe fight him, you know, just intimidate him, get him off his game. At the end of the year, if you're in the Memorial Cup, no one is going to say, 'Well, back in January, you gooned this guy up to win.' All they know is that you're in the Memorial Cup."... Even though LaForge scared Wood, he says LaForge was the best coach he's had. "He's a winner. He always used to say, 'I'm going to the NHL with you or without you.'

...

LaForge has made his mark in training camp. He is a believer in slogans, mental pep pills such as, "Too hurt to play, too hurt to stay," and "PHD -- pride, hustle and desire."... One drill befuddles a number of players. LaForge bristles. "Pass the puck over there, for Christ's sake!" His voice gets louder and harsher. He has no time for players who can't grasp his way. "Hurry up! Hurry up! You're too slow," he barks... After practice, LaForge says, "As a player, I always thought I was better than I was. I try to get my players to feel the same thing. I want them to have the ability to overachieve.

...
Quote:
Bloody message on Oshawa T-shirts
Abel, Allen. The Globe and Mail (1936-Current) [Toronto, Ont] 31 Mar 1981: 57.

OSHAWA, Ont. -- At the concession stands in the Civic Auditorium of the City That MotoVates Canada, motherly sales-women peddle T-shirts daubed with a splotch of red dye that is supposed to represent an enemy's blood. On each shirt is scrawled the legend, "The Hawk Was Here." The Hawk is Barry Tabobondung of the junior Generals, a pugnacious warrior assigned to protect a fragile marksman during the rites of spring of Canadian youth. Too often, the rites are accompanied by a fistful of wrongs. The marksman is Tony Tanti, the slender teenager who scored more goals in his first season in the Ontario Hockey League than any other rookie, including what's-his-name from Brantford.

...

The hemoglobin T-shirts have replaced a design that went out of fashion when the Generals, who have climbed in three years from the abyss of total incompetence, knocked out Peterborough Petes in the first round of the playoffs that lead eventually to the Memorial Cup. The series was distinguished by an excess of violence uncommon even in the gory junior wars, violence that spread to -- or was spread by -- Bill Laforge, Oshawa's coach, who has been barred from the bench until next Christmas for wrestling with Dave Dryden, his rival strategist. If you can't beat 'em on the blackboard, beat 'em on the ice.

The T-shirts popular during the preliminary round said, simply, "I Hate The Petes."

...
Quote:
Campers unpack for NHL New coaches prominent
Houston, William. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 22 Sep 1984: S.3.

...

At Duncan, B.C., Bill LaForge began his new job as coach of Vancouver Canucks by stressing the importance of mental toughness and character. LaForge's if-you- can't-beat-'em-in-the-alley approach once got him suspended for half a season in the Ontario Hockey League after he got into a fight with Peterborough Pete coach Dave Dryden during a game. This week, LaForge divided the players into three squads called Pride, Hustle and Desire. The championship game was played last night and the winner was awarded the PhD Cup.

...
The following incident occurred a few months after the Canucks released him, but it continues the theme of violence he set out to conquer junior hockey with. The brawl here reflects a frequent phenomenon under LaForge's direction.
Quote:
OHL suspension upsets LaForge
Delarocca, Stan. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 14 Mar 1985: M.6.

...

Bill LaForge, coach of the Hamilton Steelhawks, has been suspended for the rest of the Ontario Hockey League season and the playoffs for his role in a bench-clearing brawl Saturday during a televised game... The incident took place during a match against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at Hamilton's Mountain Arena... Five players on each team were handed game misconducts for their part in the lengthy brawl, which produced 164 minutes in penalties. Officials had to suspend play with 11:23 left in the second period to sort out the penalties... OHL commissioner Dave Branch, who suspended LaForge for 50 games in 1981 for attacking a coach and player when he coached the Oshawa Generals, also imposed the latest suspension. He criticized LaForge for his coaching methods and for his players' roughhouse tactics... In calling the incident "absolutely the worst by far this season," Branch particularly was angered by the fact that the melee occurred during a Global TV broadcast that could be seen in most of Southern Ontario.

LaForge said yesterday that he was upset with Branch's decision, saying it was totally out of proportion to what happened. "When a situation like this happens, it just happens," he said. "Nobody is at fault for it."

...

Branch, claiming that the image of the league had been tarnished, said LaForge warranted the severe punishment because the Steelhawks were the first off the bench, LaForge showed disrespect toward director of officiating Ken Bodendistel and game officials and made no attempt to restore order. Branch would not say how LaForge manifested his disrespect... The 33-year-old LaForge left the OHL in 1981 to coach in the Western Hockey League rather that sit out the previous suspension.

Branch insisted that, although it is difficult to separate the Steelhawk coach from his checkered past, he made every attempt to address this issue on its own merits. "I met with him on his first day back," Branch said, referring to when LaForge signed with the Steelhawks late last November. "I advised him then that he had a clean slate. "But we had a Feb. 2 meeting, in which I told him that I was concerned with the dramatic increase of aggressive penalties that his players were taking. I asked him to curtail such activity."... The commissioner said that LaForge's "intimidation tactics" could result in serious player injuries. LaForge didn't agree with Branch's assessment of his coaching methods.

"Our style of play didn't cause this. I'm a personality-type coach. My players are aggressive on the puck, but that's all."... Along with LaForge, who, as the youngest coach in the National Hockey League was fired earlier this season by the Vancouver Canucks, a total of 11 players received suspensions.

...
Quote:
NHL ROUNDUP Fans wearing paper bags as Canucks beaten again
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 01 Nov 1984: M.12.

Coach Bill LaForge figured things couldn't get much worse after his Vancouver Canucks began their National Hockey League season with a 1-9 start.

But, sure enough, things got worse last night as Dave Taylor's three goals propelled Los Angeles Kings to a 10-3 Halloween night humbling of a club that masqueraded as a hockey team.

The loss before an announced crowd of 9,270 was the second by seven goals in two nights and the ninth in a row for the NHL doormats who tied a club record for futility.

LaForge, who always tries to see something positive to build on, can take note that the 1974-75 team that lost nine in a row went on to win the Smythe Division title.

But last night LaForge said he's looking for defencemen willing to hit in their own end. ''If anyone could turn this team into a good team he'd be a magician,'' said the rookie coach. ''But we've got to get tougher. ''There are some guys who put on a helmet but now they're putting on a hat with a feather and some flowers in it. ''We've also got to get some goaltenders who can stop some pucks,'' he said of the performances by Richard Brodeur and Frank Caprice who came on in relief in the second period. ''We get momentum going and bang, bang, we're down again but I'm not totally blaming the goaltenders because we have defencemen out there too.''

...
Quote:
Flower children irk Canuck boss: HOCKEY
Christie, James. The Globe and Mail (1936-Current) [Toronto, Ont] 03 Nov 1984: S6.

...

LaForge's team only has one win in 11 starts and has allowed an average of almost seven goals a game.

...
Quote:
Sinisalo, Propp lead attack Flyers find Canucks easy prey
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 19 Oct 1984: M.11.

Philadelphia PA -- PHILADELPHIA (UPI) - Illka Sinisalo and Brian Propp scored three goals each to lead Philadelphia Flyers' 13-2 rout of Vancouver Canucks last night in a National Hockey League game marred by six fights and the ejection of six players.

The 13 goals tied a Flyer record.

Philadelphia, 2-1-1, had not scored a first-period goal in three games this season, but got four against Vancouver, 1-4-0. Propp made it 2-0 with his first two shots - scoring at 2:41 and 7:13.

Brad McCrimmon made it 3-0 at 16:26, his first goal in 84 games since March 12, 1983, at Boston. Al MacAdam, acquired by Vancouver during the summer, scored at 18:24 when he tipped in a slapshot by Doug Halward. Dave Poulin made it 4-1 for Philadelphia at 18:55.

The Flyers scored five goals in the second period for a 9-1 lead and outshot Vancouver 20-4.

Sinisalo scored at 0:19, Rick Tocchet at 3:36, Tim Kerr at 7:13 on a power play and Peter Zezel, with his first NHL goal, on a power play at 13:01. Sinisalo got his second goal on a power play at 18:21.

Fighting in the second period led to the ejection of Vancouver's Doug Lidster, Moe Lemay, Halward and Garth Butcher, as well as Doug Crossman and Len Hachborn of Philadelphia.

In the third period, Tony Tanti scored his fifth goal of the season for Vancouver on a shot that trickled in on a power play at 2:49.

Tim Kerr scored his second goal for Philadelphia at 10:21 of the third period and Sinisalo completed his three-goal effort at 10:35 for his fifth goal, boosting the Flyers' lead to 12-2.

Richard Brodeur faced 26 shots and allowed seven goals before being replaced in the Vancouver goal by John Garrett at 9:04 of the second period.

...

Penalties - Zezel (P) 1:40; MacAdam (V), Crawford (V), McCrimmon (P), Daigneault (V) (major), Butcher (V) (major, misconduct), Rich Sutter (P) (major) 3:23; Coxe (V) (misconduct) 10:21; Crawford (V) 13:30; Ron Sutter (P) 18:30. Shots on goal Vancouver 7 4 8 - 19 Philadelphia 18 20 30 - 58 Goaltenders - Vancouver, Brodeur, Garrett; Philadelphia, Froese.

...
Quote:
NOTEBOOK Canuck 'goon show' irks Long
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 30 Oct 1984: S.4.

...

Coach Barry Long of Winnipeg Jets wonders aloud what could possess Smythe Division-rival Vancouver Canucks to try to win National Hockey League games with their fists.

"What are they doing out there?" Long asked a day after the Canucks were walloped 13-2 by Philadelphia Flyers. "I see in the summary they had another goon show last night. "I don't know (Canuck coach Bill) LaForge very well, but I know his junior background and it disturbs me that the stuff we're trying to clean up in this league is the stuff he's trying to win with. "Every team in the NHL has a tough guy, but you aren't going to win by running around looking for trouble." Through Oct. 28, the Canucks had a dismal 1- 8-0 record.

...
Quote:
Garrett put on shelf
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 26 Oct 1984: N.19.

Vancouver BC -- VANCOUVER (CP) - Fan favorite John Garrett is the odd man out in the goaltending plans of Vancouver Canucks in the National Hockey League.

The Canucks, in the midst of a six-game losing streak, announced yesterday that Richard Brodeur and Frank Caprice will be the Vancouver goaltenders in future games.

Garrett will remain with the team as an adviser and practice goaltender, a club spokesman said.

Vancouver lost all five games on a road trip which concluded Wednesday in Chicago with a 9-3 loss to the Black Hawks. Brodeur surrendered six goals and Caprice three.

The Canucks, off to a 1-7 start, play host Sunday to Washington Capitals before a Tuesday visit to Edmonton Oilers.

...
Quote:
King Richard being exiled
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 02 Nov 1984: M.7.

Vancouver BC -- VANCOUVER (CP-UPC) - Goaltender Richard Brodeur, nicknamed King Richard when he led Vancouver Canucks to the Stanley Cup final in 1982, was placed on waivers yesterday by the struggling National Hockey League club.

The 32-year-old Brodeur, who has a 6.71 goals-against average this season, was pulled after the first period of Wednesday's 10-3 loss to Los Angeles Kings - the club's ninth consecutive defeat.

Teams interested in Brodeur have 72 hours to claim him for the $2,500 waiver price. If there are no takers the five- year veteran will be sent to Fredericton Express of the American Hockey League, leaving youngster Frank Caprice and veteran John Garrett to handle the goaltending.

Coach Bill LaForge said he thought Brodeur ''could have stopped all three goals that beat him (Wednesday night.) The first one was an easy shot, the second went in the short side and the third one wasn't much better.''

General manager Harry Neale said the team is not trying to blame Brodeur for the team's poor start, with just one win in 11 games. ''We want to show Richard we're not too keen on him and it just might be other teams are thinking the same way we are. ''We haven't been happy with Richard's play for well over a year now and we're finding out whether anyone else is interested.''

Brodeur, a native of Longueuil, Que., joined the Canucks in 1980 from New York Islanders. He had a 2.70 goals- against average in 17 playoff games in 1982 when the Canucks lost to the Islanders in the Stanley Cup final.

Bill Watters, Brodeur's agent, said his client was shocked at being put on waivers, but ''Richard will be back. I'm not so sure about some of the other people in the organization.''
Quote:
Edmonton 7, Vancouver 0
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 31 Oct 1984: S.4.

...

The Canucks, playing without Darcy Rota, Taylor Hall, Cam Neely, Tony Tanti, Jiri Bubla and J.J. Daigneault, all out with injuries, are off to the worst start in the club's 14-year history.

They never had a chance of ending that string last night.

With the continuing shuffle of lines, the Canucks were unable to co-ordinate their attack. They seldom mounted any sustained offence but they did have enough defence to keep themselves in the game through the first 20 minutes.

...
Harry Neale was not exactly good for that team either:
Quote:
LaForge survives first assault
Dunn, Bob. The Globe and Mail (1936-Current) [Toronto, Ont] 07 Nov 1984: S4.

VANCOUVER - On Halloween, a night that should have belonged to the team with what many consider the National Hockey League's ugliest uniforms, Vancouver Canucks bottomed out.

Playing to a crowd of only 9,200, the 15th edition of the Canucks lost a team-record ninth game in a row. There were inevitable pleas to fire the coach and/or the general manager and to trade half the team.

Rookie coach Bill LaForge, 2-10 and a stride out of junior hockey, has survived the first assault.

"If I'd brought in Dirk Irvin (Sr.) and gone 1-10, people would've said, 'Why didn't you bring in a coach who's young and enthusiastic?'" said general manager Harry Neale, who staked his future on the young and enthusiastic LaForge. "It makes no difference who it is."

The Canucks' 10-3 trouncing by the Los Angeles Kings last Wednesday sent them to the pits of their existence. "There were no more walls to climb," captain Stan Smyl said.

"I didn't know what to do," centre Peter McNab said. "I'd never been on a team that hasn't had 90 points. I was just like a rookie."

...

LaForge pledged more offence. As the Canucks open a three-game road trip in Toronto tonight, they have yielded 78 goals, 15 more than any of their rivals, for a record-setting pace of 6.5 a game. Once revered goalie Richard Brodeur has been demoted to the minors, and Laforge's "let's do it like Edmonton" philosophy is being questioned.

...

"I have thousands of suggestions from people who don't know what they're talking about and who don't have my job, and I tell them all the same thing -- stuff it," Neale said. "As long as I've got the job, that's the way it's going to be."
Quote:
NOTEBOOK Bossy, Wilson best of month
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 03 Nov 1984: S.5.

...

Roger Neilson, fired suddenly as coach of Vancouver Canucks last January, filed suit against the NHL club yesterday in British Columbia Supreme Court, claiming $53,500 in damages for breach of contract.

Neilson, who was fired by the club Jan. 31 with no warning, had six months remaining on his contract with an option year after that.

He is suing the club's board of directors, board chairman Frank Griffiths and general manager Harry Neale for $47,500 in lost wages and $6,000 in lost bonuses. Veteran goaltender Richard Brodeur of Vancouver Canucks will be demoted to the minors so he can regain his sharpness, coach Bill LaForge said yesterday.
Quote:
NOTEBOOK Blues striking out with bowlers: [1]
Christie, James; Delarocca, Stan. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 22 Nov 1984: M.12.

...

Not only are the Vancouver Canucks reeling in the National Hockey League's Smythe Division, but so is attendance at Pacific Coliseum.

The Canucks are last in the division with a record of 4-15-2 and some fans are registering their disgust by staying away from the Coliseum.

Attendance for the first nine Canuck home games this season was down an average of 1,130 fans - from 12,617 in 1983-84 to 11,487 - and fewer than 10,000 showed up on two occasions.

Only 9,975 took in Tuesday night's 5-1 loss to the Blues.
Quote:
Blues 5, Canucks 1
The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 21 Nov 1984: S.4.

Vancouver BC -- VANCOUVER (CP) - Right winger Mark Reeds scored three goals and added an assist as the St. Louis Blues opened a five-game National Hockey League road trip with an easy 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.

Reeds, whose final goal in the third period was a shorthanded effort, jumped on mistakes by the young, error-prone Vancouver defence, to record the first three-goal game of his NHL career. The four points also gave the 24-year-old Burlington, Ont., native 12 points in his past nine games.

...

Peter McNab scored the lone goal for the Canucks' before a hostile Pacific Coliseum crowd of 9,979 as Vancouver's attendance continues to plummet.
Quote:
Neale takes over LaForge fired by Canucks
Strachan, Al. The Globe and Mail [Toronto, Ont] 22 Nov 1984: M.9.

...

Bill LaForge became the second coaching casualty of the National Hockey League season when he was fired yesterday by Vancouver Canuck general manager Harry Neale... Neale will take over the coaching duties once again, as he did last season when Roger Neilson was fired. LaForge has been offered another job in the Canuck organization and they are to discuss details in the near future.

...

"I could understand a slow start because of a new coach and an inordinate number of injuries and a tough schedule," Neale said. "But I don't think I could describe ours as a slow start. I think I'd have to describe it as a no-start." With only four victories and two ties to show for his first 20 games as an NHL head coach, LaForge follows the Minnesota North Stars' Bill Mahoney into the ranks of the unemployed. "I definitely agree there had to be a change made and, obviously, some of the blame falls on me," LaForge said. "Obviously, I didn't expect to be replaced after 20 games, so the job must have been harder than I expected it to be." LaForge had been the NHL's youngest coach and had beaten out two other candidates, Mike Keenan and Pat Quinn, for the Vancouver job last summer. At the moment, Keenan has the Philadelphia Flyers leading the Patrick Division and Quinn is on a tear with the Los Angeles Kings, who have lost only twice in their past 10 games.

...

LaForge... had been successful in junior hockey and had tried to apply a number of his methods to the Canucks. For instance, he had divided the team into three squads in training camp and then staged competitions. The losing squad had to run a mile wearing hockey equipment as punishment.

Many of the veteran players were less than thrilled by this approach and simply were not producing for LaForge. "Even though we won a couple of games last week, we didn't look very much like a team that was coming on," Neale said. "We've all been disappointed in the way our team has played. I saw too many of our better players not being our better players and I saw too much of our team not functioning as a team." Also, the Canucks have been hampered by injuries. No NHL team has lost as many player games as the Canucks. Just as the season started, they lost an entire line with knee injuries.

...

But the biggest problem was the lack of quality defensive play. For the past few years, under both Neilson and Neale, the Canucks had been a defensive-minded team. LaForge tried to switch them to an offensive team, a tactic that often is successful in junior hockey, where defence is a relatively unexplored field... Said Neale: "You can't turn the tap wide open and win unless your water is a hell of a lot hotter than anybody else's. And ours isn't."

...
According to John Garrett on a recent Canucks broadcast, LaForge's instruction when defending a two-on-one was for the defender to charge the puck carrier -- a strategy that rarely worked.
Quote:
Canucks flunk PHD program
Strachan, Al. The Globe and Mail (1936-Current) [Toronto, Ont] 24 Nov 1984: S1.

VANCOUVER -- In training camp, two short months ago, new coach Bill LaForge introduced his PHD concept to the Vancouver Canucks. Pride. Hustle. Desire. Twenty games later, the Canucks were still encountering PHD. Punishment. Harassment. Discipline. Also pain, humiliation and defeat. They had lost 13-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers, 9-3 to the Chicago Black Hawks, 7-0 to the Edmonton Oilers, 7-0 to the Oilers again (thereby proving the first shellacking was no fluke) and 10-3 to the Los Angeles Kings... On Wednesday, the PHD program was terminated... LaForge was the only type of coach the Canucks hadn't tried. He was fresh out of junior hockey, at 33 the youngest coach in the NHL, and an innovator. He was also more than that.

Although it might be something of an overstatement to say that LaForge was also a goon coach, there can be no denying that, wherever he went in his four seasons of junior hockey, brawls broke out. "When we see a loose puck in a corner, we intend to go after it and get there in a bad humor," he said repeatedly... LaForge also decided that he would change the team's primary orientation from defence to offence... As Neale said after firing LaForge, "You can't turn the tap wide open and win unless your water is a hell of a lot hotter than anybody else's. And ours isn't."... LaForge may not be everybody's ideal human being -- he once bit the head off a live lizard and consumed it to (a) prove it could be done and (b) win a $50 bet -- but he had commitment, desire and confidence that are supposed to be rewarded in our society.

...

In training camp, he divided his team into three squads -- Pride, Hustle and Desire. The players wore T-shirts emblazoned with a single letter indicating their allegiance. At the end of the day, the losing team had to doff skates and run a mile back to the motel in full gear. LaForge made the players practice wrestling -- on the ice -- and alluded to the possibility of having them practice punching. The day before his final game as a coach, he introduced a new wrinkle. Most of the players lined up two yards apart and four feet from the boards. Then the other players had to skate from one end of the line to the other while their teammates tried to run them into the boards. It was the most gruelling practice seasoned Canuck-watchers can remember. Its effect on the players was infinitesimal. The next night, they made the St. Louis Blues look like the Soviet nationals and, thanks to good goaltending, held on to preserve a 5-1 loss. By the end of the third period, the Pacific Coliseum was virtually empty as most of the announced crowd of 9,979 had departed, having run out of epithets to hurl. The defencemen weren't defending and the offence was offensive. It was hockey's version of anarchy and it was evident to all that, the longer Neale waited, the tougher the turnabout would be when the finally fired LaForge.

...
Harry Neale was fired at the end of the season.


Quote:
Works Cited

Abel, Allen. "Bloody Message on Oshawa T-Shirts." The Globe and Mail (1936-Current): 57. Mar 31 1981. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"Blues 5, Canucks 1." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 21 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Christie, James. "Flower Children Irk Canuck Boss." The Globe and Mail (1936-Current): 1. Nov 03 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Christie, James, and Delarocca, Stan. "NOTEBOOK Blues Striking Out with Bowlers." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 22 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Delarocca, Stan. "OHL Suspension Upsets LaForge." The Globe and Mail: 0. Mar 14 1985. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Dunn, Bob. "LaForge Survives First Assault." The Globe and Mail (1936-Current): 1. Nov 07 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"Edmonton 7, Vancouver 0." The Globe and Mail: 0. Oct 31 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"Garrett Put on Shelf." The Globe and Mail: 0. Oct 26 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Houston, William. "Campers Unpack for NHL New Coaches Prominent." The Globe and Mail: 0. Sep 22 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"King Richard being Exiled." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 02 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"NHL ROUNDUP Fans Wearing Paper Bags as Canucks Beaten again." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 01 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"NOTEBOOK Bossy, Wilson Best of Month." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 03 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"NOTEBOOK Canuck 'Goon show' Irks Long." The Globe and Mail: 0. Oct 30 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

"Sinisalo, Propp Lead Attack Flyers Find Canucks Easy Prey." The Globe and Mail: 0. Oct 19 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Staples, David. "LaForge's Lightning Style Stirs Up Canucks." The Globe and Mail (1936-Current): 1. Oct 04 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Strachan, Al. "Canucks Flunk PHD Program." The Globe and Mail (1936-Current): 2. Nov 24 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .

Strachan, Al. "Neale Takes Over LaForge Fired by Canucks." The Globe and Mail: 0. Nov 22 1984. ProQuest. Web. 15 Mar. 2014 .


Last edited by JetsAlternate: 03-15-2014 at 07:51 AM.
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03-15-2014, 12:51 PM
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^^^ Nice job JA!. Some excellent work in digging up old articles that really do paint a picture of one of the most colorful & controversial Coaches in the history of the game. Very interesting guy, subject.

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