Gaston Lebois: Mediocre player, but excellent "player"
By Dennis Kane
Recently I wrote a small story about Habs great Sprague Cleghorn and some folks commented that they liked to read things about the old guys because they were such a colourful bunch. So I’ve decided to listen to them, and today, I’d like to present another of the stars of yesteryear, Gaston LeBois.
Looking back now, Gaston LeBois admits it was his father who was mostly responsible for his sensational hockey career.
Mr. LeBois would flood the backyard for hours on end, alone and in the dark; it was unfortunate that he chose July and August to do this. Young Gaston would play and play on this homemade rink, but after coming close to drowning, eventually abandoned it for an arena in winter.
His dad never forgave him, but Gaston found that he enjoyed frozen water over unfrozen water.
In 1962 Gaston was finally called up to the big team and never looked back. He became one of the finest mediocre benchwarmers in the history of the game, and it’s something he’s proud of, even to this day.
“It was just nice to be dry after playing on my dad’s rink,” he admitted in a recent interview.
But LeBois wasn’t always a bench warmer. During the 1972 series against the Bulgarians, and with the team desperately needing a goal, LeBois jumped over the boards when coach Sinders wasn’t looking, called for a pass but missed, but carried on.
Big Bill Esponosa grabbed the puck and threw it out to LeBois, and with just 34 seconds left in the game, and a nation holding its collective breath, LeBois fanned on it, punched out the referee, and because his team lost, a riot ensued outside Rue Ste. Carla. Thousands of angry fans wanted to find Gaston and kick him in the balls.
They say no one was better inside the blueline and I agree. I’ve been to the Blueline Tavern and to this day, oldtimers gather round and drink and spit and tell stories about how Gaston could chug-a-lug and womanize for days on end - and still be a mediocre bench warmer when called upon.
LeBois actually did score six times in one game. Their names were Lola, Brigitte, Gloria, Xaviera, Penelope, and Sophia.
Gaston has always said that this feat ranks up there as one of the biggest moments in his career.
Yes, LeBois was a beauty, all right. Part of a dying breed. He’d kick and punch and take on all comers to get what he was after. Of course, the team wished he had this much spirit and drive playing hockey as he did with bartenders.
Gaston LeBois was never inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He once however attempted to buy a ticket to get in, but was kicked out when he tried to fondle the 70-year-old ticket-selling nun. I for one feel he should be elected, if only for scoring six times while sitting on the bench.
LeBois is still alive and living on Canada’s west coast. Although BC's Premier Campbell is trying to get him to live on Canada’s east coast.