Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky won it four times; Maurice “Rocket” Richard, eight; and younger brother Henri a record 11 times.
But when it comes to celebrating Stanley Cup championships, Robert Leclerc of Henderson has them all beat.
Leclerc has resided in the same city as the eventual Stanley Cup champion 24 times. No, it had nothing to do with owning Tim Hortons doughnut shops.
He said nothing would please him more than to make it 25 Cups with the Golden Knights.
“Why not this year? We will be watching faithfully and hoping we serve as a good luck charm for the boys,” the former attorney and mining executive said of the Knights, whom he has adopted as his favorite team since semi-retiring to Southern Nevada in 2004.
Leclerc was born in Montreal in 1944, when the Canadiens defeated Chicago in four straight to win the Cup. He doesn’t recall much of the Punch Line — Toe Blake, Elmer Lach and Rocket Richard — accounting for 10 goals in the first of 17 finals Montreal won when Leclerc lived there.
“We moved out to western Canada in 1978, picked up five more during our years in Edmonton,” Leclerc, 76, said. “And then we moved to Denver in 1996 and bang, the Avs win the Stanley Cup. And they did it again in 2001.
“We didn’t become Avalanche fans — we were fans of Montreal and Edmonton, and I never thought Edmonton would replace Montreal in my heart, but they more or less did. And now my great dream is to see Montreal get all the way to the Stanley Cup finals … and get beat by the Golden Knights,” said Leclerc, adding that he is a much better hockey fan than he was a hockey goaltender.
“I played one year in Junior B, a level where, as my father said, you should really go into law school. I remember playing in an exhibition game where the opponent, the Lachine Maroons, had Yvan Cournoyer.”
Cournoyer played on 10 Stanley Cup-winning teams in Montreal en route to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) December 20, 2019
“It’s a different speed at which these guys play,” said Leclerc, who is so happy cheering for the Golden Knights that he doesn’t envision relocating again and becoming a four-leaf clover for other teams pursuing the Stanley Cup — the one in Toronto in particular.
“I had no trouble cheering for Montreal, not wanting to see those dreaded Maple Leafs do anything good,” he said of the Canadiens’ fierce Original Six rival. “They haven’t won anything at all since 1967, and that gives me great pleasure.”
Around the horn
■ What if a professional basketball world existed in which former UNLV star Anthony Bennett wasn’t an all-time draft bust?
A guy on the internet, using the same projections and algorithms the Cleveland Cavaliers must have been using when they made Bennett the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2013, recently played out his career using the NBA 2K20 video game.
Over a 20-year career, the former Rebels’ flash in the pan averaged 19.8 points and 11.3 rebounds after being drafted fourth overall by New Orleans and becoming a late bloomer. He scored 12 more career points than Wilt Chamberlain, won four NBA championships and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2040.
No word on whether the guy on the internet took the game back to the store and demanded a refund.
■ Final practice made perfect, or at least close to it, for two of Henderson car owner Sam Schmidt’s drivers before Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Patricio O’Ward clocked the fastest lap (224.355 mph), followed by fellow rookie Oliver Askew, who was fifth-quick among the 33 cars. Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso was 23rd in another Arrow McLaren SP entry.
— Arrow McLaren SP (@ArrowMcLarenSP) August 21, 2020
■ Crazy stat of the week: Kyle Busch, the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion from Las Vegas, is winless over 23 starts this season and winless in 45 dating to last year.
— Erich Keplinger (@TheErich101) August 17, 2020
The other night during the Golden Knights-Blackhawks playoff game they were showing that “Schmidty Approved” commercial for Henderson Hyundai on continuous loop. Mrs. K. was impressed with how Nate Schmidt hammed it up in front of the camera, figuring he was the local Hyundai dealership’s answer to John Barr, who will do anything to sell you a car at Findlay Toyota.
“You mean that guy is a real hockey player?” Mrs. K. asked when the game resumed and was told that was Schmidty playing on the Vegas blue line.