Yvon Lambert

Yvon Lambert is best remembered as two-way grinding forward with the Montreal Canadiens, but it was the Detroit Red Wings who drafted him in 1970. Believing he could not skate well enough to play in the NHL, the Wings proved to be foolish for allowing Lambert to slip through the now-extinct NHL reverse draft that saw Lambert join the Habs organization.

Lambert would apprentice in the AHL. By his second full season in Nova Scotia with the Voyageurs, he won the league scoring title and led his team to the Calder Cup championship.

Lambert's explosion couldn't have come at a better time. Jobs were opening up in the NHL because of the arrival of the WHA and subsequent player defections to the new league. Lambert was promoted to the Canadiens in 1973-74. He had a quiet rookie season but by his sophomore year he had established himself as "the French John Ferguson" - a hard-as-nails, rugged performer who excelled in the corners and in front of the net during power plays. Often playing with the effective line of Doug Risebrough and Mario Tremblay, Lambert became one of the league's most unheralded power forwards.

Lambert was not the greatest skater, likely because he did not even learn to skate until the age of 14. But he made up for this lack of finesse with good ol' hard work and desire, sacrificing his body for the good of the team on a regular basis.

"I know I cannot skate the way people expect the Canadiens to skate and I know skating is the most important part of this sport, but I know other things are important, too, and I have seen that if I do the other things - work hard defensively, take advantage of the openings offensively, and get the odd goal, I can keep a place for myself here."

Hard work was never something Lambert was afraid of. He grew up on dairy farm, but his father worked in a textile mill. That left the farming duty to Yvon, his mother and his 7 siblings.

"We did not have a lot, but were happy because we were a big family with a lot of love," he said.

Lambert worked tirelessly on his skating, especially after Detroit let him go because they didn't think he could skate well enough to play in the NHL. That was Montreal's gain.

Lambert's most famous moment came in the much heralded 1979 playoff series with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins, coached by Don Cherry, were leading late in the game when they were called for having two many men on the ice. Habs superstar and Bruins-killer Guy Lafleur tied the score to force overtime in game 7. Lambert scored the series winning goal in one of the most entertaining playoff series of all time.

Lambert spent eight seasons in Montreal, earning four Stanley Cup victories.

In 1981, the Buffalo Sabres, with former Habs boss Scotty Bowman now in charge, claimed the veteran winger for one final NHL season. Lambert played on a line with youngsters Alan Haworth and J.F. Sauve.

The following year, he jumped to the minors where he completed his career as a playing coach with the Rochester Americans in 1984. After a brief stint of coaching the Verdun Junior Canadiens, Lambert left hockey to work in the public relations department of the Canadiens' organization.

In 683 NHL games, Lambert earned 206 goals, 273 assists for 479 points. Surprisingly he picked up only 390 penalty minutes.


Anonymous,  1:32 PM  

Great player even later in his career with the amerks where i was able to watch him play

Shéila 4:39 PM  

I have seen Yvon Lambert just once in Gaspé and he impressed me immediately. A very nice person, open to all conversations, and I would think that the Montreal canadians would have put his sweater up with the other great players!!!

I will always lconsider this man as my hero as well as Guy LaFleur!!!!!

Anonymous,  4:16 PM  

What I don't understand is, he was only 30 when his career in the N.H.L came to an end and scored 25 goals in his final season...why did he stop playing? Why was he sent to the minors?

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