Sam Pollock has passed away. He was born December 15, 1925 in Montreal Quebec and his life was so rich that any effort on my part to detail it and do it justice would fall far short of satisfactory. There’s simply too much to tell inside and outside hockey.
I offer instead an extended portion of the wonderful book LIONS IN WINTER (by Chrys Goyens and Allan Turowetz):
In 1978, the Queen Elizabeth Hotel hit upon a novel way of celebrating its twenty years in Montreal. The hotel began a “Great Montrealers” promotion, aimed at celebrating excellence in many fields of endeavor during those two decades. The promotion was an unequivocal success, as the Great Montrealers dinner held each year since then has become a popular celebration of the city’s best.
In the sports category, the first selection committee had a pantheon of local gems to pick from: Sam Etcheverry, Hal Patterson, George Dixon, Peter Dalla Riva and Terry Evanshen from the CFL and the Montreal Alouettes; Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Believeau, Guy Lafleur, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire from the Montreal Canadiens; Claude Raymond, Ron Piche and Bill Stoneman from the Expos and major league baseball, and a host of other athletes in other professional and amateur sports. Everybody had a favorite candidate and it became obvious early on that the final choice would please few and upset many, many more.
Therefore, it was almost ironic that the man they selected was the physical antithesis of the jock: short and portly and resembling an armchair athlete more closely than a sports hero. He never played a minute at the Forum, Delormier Downs, Molson Stadium, Jarry Park, the Autostade or Olympic Stadium. But he was the best by far, and not one voice was raised in complaint.
The first Great Montrealer was Sam Pollock.