Bernie Geoffrion

Joseph Bernard André Geoffrion (French pronunciation: [ʒɔfʁjɔ̃]; February 14, 1931 – March 11, 2006), nicknamed Boom Boom, was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. Generally considered as one of the innovators of the slapshot,[1] he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 following a 16-year career with the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers of the National Hockey League. In 2017 Geoffrion was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.[2]

Bernie Geoffrion
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1972
Born (1931-02-16)February 16, 1931
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died March 11, 2006(2006-03-11) (aged 75)
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 166 lb (75 kg; 11 st 12 lb)
Position Right wing
Shot Right
Played for Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Playing career 19501968

Playing career

Geoffrion was born in Montreal, Quebec, and began playing in the NHL in 1951. He earned the nickname "Boom Boom" for his thundering slapshot (which Geoffrion claimed to have 'invented' as a youngster ) from sportswriter Charlie Boire of the Montreal Star in the late 1940s while playing junior hockey for the Laval Nationale. He was the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals in one season, the first being teammate Maurice Richard. Half the time, he played left-wing on Montreal's front line with fellow superstars Richard and Jean Béliveau, helping the Canadiens to six Stanley Cup championships, and at other times was right wing on the No. 2 line. But Geoffrion had a hard time convincing the NHL of his considerable talents; Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull (Chicago Blackhawks) and Gordie Howe (Detroit Red Wings) were so good that they overshadowed him. Even after Geoffrion won the Art Ross Trophy as league scoring champion in 1955, NHL First All-Star honours went to Richard, while Geoffrion only was selected to the second.

However, Geoffrion's resulting anger was nothing compared to the Montreal Forum fans when Geoffrion scored one goal while crowd-favourite Richard was suspended, and at the time had led the NHL scoring race. The Wings beat the Canadiens in the final round in seven games that year, exactly the same result of the previous season. "I couldn't deliberately not score, that isn't the point of hockey, Montreal," complained Geoffrion, but fans regardless kept catcalling and jeering him. "I was so feeling the urge to vomit; I felt terrible," Geoffrion emotionally admitted. "Even thinking about hockey made me feel bad, man did I want to leave. If it had not been for Jean (Béliveau) and Maurice (Richard) visiting, I would have. Usually, it's not too much to expect to be on the First (All-Star) Team when you have more points than anyone else."

Early in his playing career, he had a reputation for letting his temper get the best of him.[3] One such example occurred late in the second period of a Canadiens' 3–1 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on December 20, 1953. With a two-handed swing, Geoffrion's stick made contact with the left side of Ron Murphy's face, resulting in a broken jaw and concussion. The injuries ended Murphy's season. Geoffrion was suspended for the remaining matches between the two teams in that campaign.[4]

In a testament to the rough-and-tumble style of play of that era, Geoffrion broke his nose six times, and received over 400 stitches. In 1958, a training accident severely injured him and his life was saved by emergency surgery. Despite advice from his doctors to stop playing for a season, Geoffrion was on the ice six weeks later to take part in the 1958 Stanley Cup Final.

Geoffrion first retired in 1964 and became head coach of les AS de Québec of the American Hockey League (AHL), but returned two seasons later to play for the New York Rangers. Likely the reason for his first retirement was Béliveau (who was not one of three alternate captains), getting appointed team captain in 1961. This was following the Rocket's retirement in 1960 and Doug Harvey's trade to the Rangers in 1961 (he only lasted a year with the C). Geoffrion, who had had an A, was devastated by the decision to go with Béliveau.

"If I didn't keep suffering all those terrible injuries and yet keep coming back, if I weren't fit to lead, would I have gotten the C and kept playing?" asked Geoffrion, who had, in the 1961 semifinals, had a hurt leg and insisted, even so, that Harvey cut a cast off it so he could play. "Yes, I think I would. There were times when everybody kept telling me to quit. My doctor even told me I should stop playing, but I came back."

Coaching career

In 1968 he finally retired as a player and became coach of the Rangers, but resigned after only 43 games due to ulcers in his stomach. In 1972 he became the first coach of the Atlanta Flames, and held the position for two and a half seasons, leading them to their first playoff appearance in 1974. However, 52 games into his third season, he had to resign due to health problems yet again. Geoffrion moved to the Flames' broadcast booth, where he became the colour commentator alongside veteran play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald. He realized a longtime dream of coaching his beloved Canadiens in 1979, but his recurring stomach ailment forced him to step down mid-season.

In the 1970s and into the 1980s, Geoffrion appeared in several television commercials for Miller Lite beer, part of their stable of retired athletes-turned-spokesmen which also included Billy Martin and Bob Uecker.


Geoffrion was the son of Jean-Baptiste Geoffrion, a restaurant owner, and his wife, Florina Poitras. He grew up in Drolet, a suburb east of Montreal. Geoffrion was a direct descendant of Pierre Joffrion and his wife Marie Priault, early French settlers in the colony of Montreal.[5] Marie Priault was a King's Daughter.

Geoffrion's widow Marlene is the daughter of fellow Hockey Hall of Famer Howie Morenz and the granddaughter of the sister of the wife of Billy Coutu, the only player banned from the NHL for life.[6] Geoffrion's son Dan (born January 24, 1958) played five seasons of professional hockey, which included stops with the Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association in 1978–79, Canadiens in 1979–80 (with his father as coach), and Winnipeg Jets in 1980–81. His grandson Blake Geoffrion (born February 3, 1988) played for the Nashville Predators and Montreal Canadiens in the NHL. Dan's younger sons, Sebastian and Brice, played for the University of Alabama in Huntsville Chargers[7],[8]. Geoffrion's son-in-law, Hartland Monahan, played in the NHL for several teams in the 1970s, and his grandson Shane Monahan played Major League Baseball for the Seattle Mariners in the late 1990s.[9]

Retired number

The Canadiens announced on October 15, 2005, that Geoffrion's uniform number, 5, would be retired on March 11, 2006. On March 8, Geoffrion was diagnosed with stomach cancer after a surgical procedure uncovered it. Doctors attempted to remove the tumour but found that the cancer had spread. Geoffrion died in Atlanta, Georgia, on March 11, the day his jersey number was to be retired.[10] During his remarks at the pre-game retirement ceremony, Geoffrion's son Bob recounted how his parents had once gone to a boxing match at the Montreal Forum and that Geoffrion had told his wife Marlene that his own number would someday hang from the rafters beside that of her father, Howie Morenz.[11] Fulfilling that prophecy, and in further recognition of the special link between the Morenz and Geoffrion families, the two numbers were raised side by side (Morenz's banner was lowered halfway and was raised back up to the rafters with Geoffrion's banner). Traded to the Montreal Canadiens by the Nashville Predators on February 17, 2012, Blake Geoffrion decided to honor both his grandfather Geoffrion, as well as his great-grandfather Morenz, by wearing #57.


Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1946–47 Montreal Concordia Civics QJHL 2678156
1947–48 Laval Nationale QJHL 2920153549 11751211
1947–48 Laval Nationale M-Cup 832511
1948–49 Laval Nationale QJHL 4241357649 936922
1949–50 Laval Nationale QJHL 3452348677 36068
1949–50 Montreal Royals QSHL 10000
1950–51 Montreal Nationale QJHL 3654449880
1950–51 Montreal Canadiens NHL 1886149 111126
1951–52 Montreal Canadiens NHL 6730245466 113146
1952–53 Montreal Canadiens NHL 6522173937 12641012
1953–54 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5429255487 11651118
1954–55 Montreal Canadiens NHL 7038377557 1285138
1955–56 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5929336266 1059146
1956–57 Montreal Canadiens NHL 4119214018 10117182
1957–58 Montreal Canadiens NHL 4227235051 1065112
1958–59 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5922446630 11581310
1959–60 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5930417136 8210124
1960–61 Montreal Canadiens NHL 6450459529 42130
1961–62 Montreal Canadiens NHL 6223365936 50116
1962–63 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5123184173 50114
1963–64 Montreal Canadiens NHL 5521183941 71124
1966–67 New York Rangers NHL 5817254242 42020
1967–68 New York Rangers NHL 595162111 10110
NHL totals 883393429822689 132586011888

Coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
NYR1968–69 4322183(47)3rd in EastResigned due to health problems
ATL1972–73 78253815657th in WestMissed playoffs
ATL1973–74 78303414744th in WestLost in quarter-finals
ATL1974–75 52202210(54)4th in WestFired midseason
MTL1979–80 301596(36)1st in NorrisResigned due to health problems

See also


  1. "Bernie Geoffrion dead at 75". CBC News. March 11, 2006.
  2. "100 Greatest NHL Players". January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  3. "Sport: Boom-Boom on Top", TIME (magazine), December 27, 1954.
  4. Sandomir, Richard. "A Brutal Hockey Fight in 1953 Finds New Life", The New York Times, Monday, June 20, 2011.
  5. Geoffrion family genealogy.
  6. "Surprise, Simon! Coutu's ban NHL's longest". Calgary Herald. December 23, 2007. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
  9. Fish, Mike (December 28, 2007). "Clubhouse culture led ex-Mariner to steroids and greenies". Retrieved February 9, 2018.
  11. "Post Game Story - YouTube: Geoffrion sweater retirement ceremony". YouTube. 2008. Retrieved June 5, 2008.
  12. "100 Greatest NHL Players". January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
Preceded by
Terry Sawchuk
Winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
Lorne "Gump" Worsley
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
Succeeded by
Jean Beliveau
Preceded by
Bobby Hull
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
Succeeded by
Bobby Hull
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy
Succeeded by
Jacques Plante
Preceded by
Emile Francis
Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Emile Francis
Preceded by
Position created
Head coach of the Atlanta Flames
Succeeded by
Fred Creighton
Preceded by
Scotty Bowman
Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
Succeeded by
Claude Ruel
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