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Forget Rings. One Year The Canadiens Got Championship TVs.03:29
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The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1971. But instead of receiving championship rings, they received championship televisions. (AP)
The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1971. But instead of receiving championship rings, they received championship televisions. (AP)
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This story is part of Only A Game's "Motivations Show," which looked at stories of motivation in sports.

For winning the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship, members of the Los Angeles Kings received enormous Tiffany championship rings. The ring's 32mm face was set with 136 round diamonds. For winning the 1971 Stanley Cup championship, former Montreal Canadians goaltender Rogie Vachon received...a television set.

Vachon spoke with Only A Game's Bill Littlefield.

BL: Rogie, what went through your mind and the minds of your teammates when you were awarded television sets instead of rings?

I think just winning the Cup is enough motivation. It's nice to have a little bonus and have a beautiful ring after that. But when you are in the dressing room you want that big cup. That's all you want.

Rogie Vachon

RV: Well, you know, personally, I needed an extra set, so that was fine with me.

BL: Was there a ceremony or did the TV just sort of show up in a big crate at your house one day?

RV: We just picked them up at the Forum, if I remember correctly.

BL: Just drove by and put it in the trunk?

RV: Yeah, that's it.

BL: Did you ever figure out or did anybody ever explain to you why in that particular year people got TV sets for winning the Stanley Cup instead of rings?

RV: No, we won two cups before that, '67, '68. And what happened is everybody had personal bonuses, you know, by winning the Cup. And with the personal bonuses, they added like two or three thousand per player as a reward. Instead of the ring, we got some money.

You open the letter from the Montreal Canadiens, and you've got another $3,000. Woah, that was pretty cool.

BL: Right, you could go out and buy a ring if you wanted,  or you could get some groceries.

RV: Well, actually that's what we did. One of those years, '67 or '68, where we were expecting some rings, but we never got them. So me, Carol Vadnais, and another player, we went to the jewelry store and had a Stanley Cup ring made for us, you know with the name on it, with the CH on it, and everything. So we just bought our own.

Vachon serving as a Los Angeles Kings royal ambassador in 2007. (Noah Graham/Getty Images)
Vachon serving as a Los Angeles Kings royal ambassador in 2007. (Noah Graham/Getty Images)

BL: Wow, I had no idea that 1971 wasn't the only year you didn't get a ring from the team after winning a championship. We're talking real collector's item here, aren't we? 

RV: Yes, I was.

BL: I don't suppose you still have that TV that you got all those years ago?

RV: Uh, no. I wish I did. It would be a nice collection.

BL: Is a ring by itself or any other award something that motivates players to put in an extra effort in a championship. These days do you suppose players talk about it in the locker room, "Hey we gotta get the ring?"

RV: Not really, no. I think just winning the Cup is enough motivation. It's nice to have a little bonus and have a beautiful ring after that. But when you are in the dressing room, you want that big cup. That's all you want.

BL: You played for the LA Kings from 1971-1978, retired as a player in 1982. You've been involved with the Kings in various capacities since 1984. So did you get rings when the team won last year and in 2012?

RV: Yes, actually, I was totally surprised. Luc Robitaille and the president of the team presented me with a ring, me and Marcel Dionne. So that was very nice of them, total surprise.

This segment aired on June 6, 2015.

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