November 08, 2023

The Other Howie Morenz

Hockey has many great examples of family connections within the sport. The Sutters, the Stastnys, the Hulls, the Richards, the Apps, the Tkachuks, the Espositos and now the Hughes.

But to date there has only been on family legacy that can claim four generations.

That would be the Morenz/Geoffrion family lineage.

Howie Morenz of the Montreal Canadiens was one of hockey's first true superstars. He was one of the most electrifying players of the 1920s and 1930s, so exciting that they dubbed him as the Stratford Streak and the Mitchell Meteor.

His daughter Marlene ended up marrying a fellow by Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion. Not only did Geoffrion rival his father in law in terms of great hockey nicknames, but he also challenged him on the pecking order of the greatest players in Montreal and hockey history.

Bernie's and Marlene's son Dan also played for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1979-80 season but went scoreless in 32 contests and his career was over soon after that.

Then Dan's son Blake - who was also Boom Boom's grandson and Morenz's great grandson - also made it to the NHL, including playing 13 games with the Montreal Canadiens before a skull fracture ended his career prematurely. Blake was very close to his grandfather Boom Boom and wore his number 5 in Nashville. With 5 hanging in the rafters in Monreal, Blake opted to wear 57 - Geoffrion's 5 and Morenz's 7 combined.

In an extension of the family lineage, 334 game NHL veteran Hartland Monohan married Boom Boom Geoffrion's daughter.

Now their likely could have been another member of this NHL family tree. Howie Morenz Jr. son of the original Howie Morenz, was a notable hockey star in Montreal, too, but with the senior amateur Montreal Royals, once a famed team in Montreal too. 

Howie Jr, who was 10 years old when his father famously passed away, didn't have an easy upbringing. Following his father's passing his mother Mary became so ill that the children were taken away and placed in an orphanage. Howie's brother Dan became very ill himself at Christmas 1938 and died of pleurisy early the next year. 

Through it all Howie Jr played hockey with ridiculous expectations placed up on him because of his name. In 1941, when Howie was 13, the Montreal Gazette proclaimed him to be a duplicate of his father stating that "the possibility of a Number 7 reappearing on a Canadiens line up looks decidedly bright."

Morenz Jr would graduate to the Montreal Junior Canadiens and scored 42 goals in 27 games in 1946-47, further heightening expectations. He would go on to play senior hockey with the Montreal Royals before joining the Canadiens farm system. He played one season with the Dallas Texans, scoring 12 goals in 60 games.

The Canadiens released Howie Morenz Jr in 1948 because Morenz Jr. was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease known as conical corneas which affected his peripheral vision. He tried to play on in the Quebec senior leagues but his hockey dreams came to an end without ever playing in the NHL.

Morenz ended up in the food supply and shoe repair business. He died in 2015, at the age of 88.

I found this article in the December 10th, 1947 issue of The Hockey News.

In it he states "I'd rather hang up my skates than make pro hockey on my father's merits." He added "I'm sick of everybody comparing me with dad. It won't be from the lack of trying but I don't ever expect o be as good as he was, and I don't think there will ever be anyone you can compare with him."

Here's the full article

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