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  • Marlene Geoffrion Testimony as Presented at the HMI All Star Breakfast in Montreal January 24, 2009

    I had a famous father, Howie Morenz who was a Montreal Canadien’s star.  I never got to know my dad as on March 8, 1937 he died of complications from a broken leg suffered from an injury in a game with the Canadiens.  I was almost 4 years old.  Mother had to work, so she placed me and my brothers Howie, Jr. and Donald in St. Patrick’s Orphanage.  Two years after Dad died, my brother Donald died from pneumonia.  My mother remarried when I was five. Because my mother and stepfather travelled a lot I was boarded at a convent.  I had no family life. When I was only 8 years old, my Mother died of alcoholism at age 42. I moved out of the convent.  I now had more free time, so I took up ice skating.  I loved it!  When I saw the Ice Follies at the Forum, it became my goal to skate the world on ice!

    Boom and I met at the Forum Hockey Carnival when I was seventeen.   I was skating in between periods.  Boom was there to be presented as the future upcoming rookie with the Montreal Canadians. A couple of days later, Boom called and asked me for a date.  First, he took me to a boxing match at the Forum, but we didn’t stay long.  He surprised me by taking me home to meet his parents.  There, I saw him in a different way: tender, loving, and respectful to his parents. This was the first time I had ever seen what a true family life was like.  By the time he took me home I liked those deep blue eyes and dimples! 

    Boom slipped an engagement ring on my finger at midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1951.   Our engagement lasted about a week because I still planned to skate from January to May of 1952, and according to Boom that just wasn’t going to happen! I gave him back the ring and off he went on a 10 day trip.  I missed him terribly.   By the time he returned, I had accepted that there would only be one person skating professionally in our family – and that would be Boom.  We married on May 3, 1952, and within a few years, had three children-Linda, Bob, and Danny.  At last I had my very own family!  Boom was a great husband, a good father - and just a lot of fun to be with.    He was a terrific hockey player. 

    He was hired to coach a new team, the Atlanta Flames, in Atlanta, Georgia.  Boom became the ambassador of hockey in Atlanta. To my dismay, he went ahead and made arrangements for Bob and Danny to stay in Cornwall, Ontario so they could further their hockey careers.  Linda would be coming to Atlanta with us. My family would be split up, and that didn’t sit well with me. 

    In September, 1972 we left for Atlanta.  I was very lonely – and yet I never even thought of asking God for help.  I was so miserable I was thinking divorce for the first time in my life.  Linda was getting married in a few months; what would I do when she was gone???? Somehow I made it through the next few years.

     And in 1979 God intervened.  A young hockey wife named Kathy Carr asked me to take her place at a Bible Study she’d been attending.   Her husband, Gene, had been cut from the team and they were leaving Atlanta. Bible Study was not on my “to do” list.  Church wasn’t even on my list!  I made all kinds of excuses as to why I couldn’t go.  “Call me in the morning, Kathy,” I said as I gently pushed her out the door.  That night I couldn’t sleep.  I pounced on the phone the next morning when it rang.  I told Kathy, “I’ll go anywhere today – even to a Bible Study – I AM SO BORED!”

    We drove up to this beautiful mansion that the golfer Bobby Jones used to own. I was surprised that there were other athletes’ wives there – Basketball, Football, and Hockey - and they were so pleasant. We were instructed to open our Bibles to Ecclesiastes 9:9.  I looked around.  How do you spell that, and where do you find it?  Diane Pronovost, who was sitting next to me, must have sensed my embarrassment, because she told me what page in French.  The scripture says:  Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun. 

    This was my message from God:  Remain with the HUSBAND of your youth.   Why did I have such a strong conviction after reading these words?  On my way home I prayed this simple prayer:  “Lord, come into my heart and make me be what you want me to be – change my life.”  When I got home, I opened my Bible to John 15:7-8:  “If you abide in me and I abide in you, you can ask anything you want.”  My eyes moved to verse 23:  “You did not choose me, I chose you.”  I came to a real understanding of God’s great love for me in January, 1979, confessed my sins and asked Jesus to be my Savior.

    I immediately grabbed a pen and notebook and wrote down 12 things I wanted to ask God for.  After all, didn’t God say I could ask for anything? How to change Boom took care of about 10 requests and that left 2 for me.  The Lord does have a good sense of humor.  He turned those requests around and started changing me first!  I began to see my life and circumstances from His point of view.

    The Lord was doing something in Boom’s life as well.  One of the players, Ed Kea, carried the Bible with him everywhere.  The other players teased Eddie and called him “the preacher”.   But soon a number of them to know the Lord… Ed suggested that we attend Christian conference for athletes in Phoenix. By the grace of God, we went.  One of the speakers asked a question that caught our attention:  “If you were to die today, where would you go?” Boom couldn’t answer that question, and it bothered him.  He spoke to Ron Pritchard a former NFL player and Ron shared with him.  He prayed with Boom and told him not to put off his desire to become a Christian, as tomorrow may never come.  Let me remind you. We were religious, but we didn’t have a relationship with the Lord.  Boom accepted Jesus into his heart in June, 1979.  We began to attend a weekly Bible Study.

    It was so encouraging to see all those young hockey players carrying their Bibles and learning the Scriptures.  The Lord put a new love in our marriage.  We were spiritually re-born!  God gave Boom that peace that surpasses all understanding.  Was our life perfect?  Absolutely not – but with God as the center of our lives, we found the answers. Our children and grandchildren know the meaning of prayer and they know that the Lord is in control of their every step.

    My dear husband died from Cancer on March 11, 2006 – the very day he was so looking forward to, as his Canadians jersey, was to be retired at the Centre Bell that night. Boom had made me promise to attend the ceremony even if he couldn’t be there.  This was not easy, I can assure you.   All our children were there.  We were so filled with pride that evening as we watched Jersey #7 – my father’s – come down and meet Jersey #5 – Boom’s.  Together, they made hockey history once again.  I am sure the Lord said to Boom, “Welcome my good and faithful servant.”  Why am I so sure Boom is in heaven?  The Bible says,” For God do loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16)

    We believe that Christ died on the cross for our sins and we were set free.  God has a plan for your life, too. He wants to transform your life beyond your wildest imagination.  He is longing to fill you with His peace, wisdom and love. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Thank you for letting me share my life with you.  May God bless every one as He has so wonderfully blessed me.

    Editor’s note

    Boomer won 6 Stanley Cups, a Calder Trophy, 2 Art Ross trophies, a Hart Trophy, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and in 2017 was selected to be a member of the prestigious top 100 NHL players of all time. Despite all these successes I was part of a small group gathered in a Phoenix hotel room and heard Boomer pray a brief pray on the night of his conversion to Christ. The prayer went something like this: “Lord I won many Stanley Cups…I have many rings and trophies…I have scored many goals and received many awards…but here tonight I accepted Jesus into my life and I now know that I have eternal life and that is the greatest award of all.”

    The last few sentences of the book on his life story read as follow: “Once upon a time I used to believe that hockey was everything. It isn’t. God and family come first. Being happy with the Lord and my family is a lot better than winning 500 Stanley Cups! Wghen you are flat on your back the only place to look is up to God. These words come to  mind: ‘ What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul? My feelings in life can be summed up in the following poem by Walt Huntley:”

          God’s Hall of Fame

    Your name may not appear down here,
    In this world’s hall of fame,
    In fact you may be so unknown,
    That no one knows your name!
    The Oscars here may pass you by
    And neon lights of blue,
    But if you love and serve the Lord,
    Then I have news for you.

    This Hall of Fame is only good
    As long as time shall be;
    But keep in mind, God’s Hall of Fame
    Is for eternity;
    To have your name inscribed up there
    Is greater more by far
    Than all the fame and all the praise
    Of ev’ry man-made star.

    This crowd on earth they soon forget
    When you’re not up at the top,
    They’ll cheer like mad until you fall
    And then their praise will stop;
    Not God, He never does forget,
    And in His Hall of Fame,
    By just believing on His Son,
    Forever – there’s your name.

    I tell you, friend, I wouldn’t trade     
    My name, however small,
    That’s written there beyond the stars
    In that celestial Hall,
    For all the famous names on earth,
    Or glory that they share;
    I’d rather be an unknown here,
    And have my name up there.