March 10, 2016

Claude Robert

In January 1951 the Montreal Canadiens found themselves in some injury trouble.

The fabled Maurice "Rocket" Richard was out of the lineup with an injury. To make matters worse role player Billy Reay was also unable to play.

The Montreal Canadiens opted to try out some rookie prospects to fill the line up card. A whole new "kid line" was set up for a game against the hapless Chicago Black Hawks. It featured a couple of rookies you have undoubtedly heard of - Jean Beliveau and Boom Boom Geoffrion. Both scored in a 4-2 win.

The linemate that night was another rookie named Claude Robert, a solid but unspectacular Montreal junior and senior player who was a first year pro. The left winger was having an okay rookie season in the AHL with the Cincinnati Mohawks.

Now you know that Beliveau and Geoffrion went on to become Hall of Famers and Stanley Cup champions many times over.

But Claude Robert played just 23 games, all in that 1950-51 season, scoring just one goal. He soon went on to a semi-pro hockey career in places like Quebec City, Charlottetown and New Westminster.

When Robert played in Quebec city he was once again a teammate of Beliveau. Beliveau, remember, did not join the Canadiens full time until 1953. Beliveau dedicated a couple of pages of his autobiography to Robert. He called him "a burly man, very strong" who "had a high tolerance for pain." He then goes on to tell a story of how Robert played three weeks with a broken leg before finally getting an x-ray to confirm the injury.

Robert did return to his native Montreal to serve as a long time police officer.

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