Habs, Petes, And Eaton’s

A day after the 1956-57 Canadiens played in Detroit, and two days before they would suit up in Toronto, they played an exhibition game against the Junior A  Petes at Peterborough’s brand new Memorial Centre.

Imagine an NHL team nowadays playing an exhibition game against a junior squad, and during the regular season to boot!

And if you scroll down, there’s a fine Eaton’s ad on the inside cover of the program.

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Tracker On Duty

I may not be on top of things but the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S) never sleeps.

As you can see, a a bit of an up and down stretch beginning in late November, but the boys remain in a somewhat enviable overall picture , sitting 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference, and 9th overall.

It’s Toronto I’m concerned about, with the bastards just a point behind with a game in hand.

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Mystery Solved

The pictures below are of my program from 1925-26 when the defending Stanley Cup champion Victoria Cougars of the old WHL pro league played the NHL Ottawa Senators at the Auditorium in Ottawa.

The thing is, there’s no record of the Cougars playing the Senators in 1925-26, and even though several of us searched high and low, it remained a head scratcher.

Until now.

Not long ago I was at the home of hockey historian and author Jean-Patrice Martel, and after telling him about this program, he asked me to send him photos. I did, and not even half an hour or so later, he wrote back and said he’d found it, which surprised the heck out of me and left me feeling tremendously inadequate.

The Cougars played two exhibition games in Ottawa in November of 1925, with the money going to the Humane Society. The Sens won both games, 6-2 and 2-0.

Mystery solved by an amazing fellow, and I’m very grateful.

Here’s the link Jean-Patrice sent me, from a writeup in the Montreal Gazette after the second game – Cougars and Senators in November of 1925

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An Excellent Price (Again)

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A little late getting this done. I’ve been preoccupied with my little cat who’s in the hospital with a mystery illness that has left her weak and unable to walk. No one can figure it out and it’s heartbreaking. She may or may not pull through.

I suppose it should be old hat now to see Carey Price stop lots of pucks. But for me anyway, it’s always cool, including last night when the big guy came up huge as the Canadiens posted a fine 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, even though they were outshot 46-20.

Naysayers will say a team can’t always rely on the goaltender to win, but I think it’s fine, as long as other guys do the job too, and aside from Price’s heroics, some big moments were in store for us.

Jiri Sekac scored twice and showed again that he’s here to stay. Sven Andrighetto lit the lamp, his second in three games, and might be here to stay. David Desharnais scored an even-strength goal, which lately has been rarer than a Florida Panthers home rink sellout. PK notched a goal and assist, and with his three points sees him tied with Plekanec and Max for tops on the team with 22 points.

And last but not least, the power play came to life and was 2/3 on goals by Sekac and Markov, which makes me think that Jean had that chat with Toe.

So although Kings goaltender Martin Jones was no Carey Price (or Jonathan Quick), I’m chalking this up to a fine, all-round Habs win. Lots of contributors. Lots of guys not named here who also had fine evenings.

Now it’s time for breakfast and soon back to the animal hospital.

 

Habs Cancel Canucks

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After the incredibly emotional pregame ceremony that focused often on Elise Beliveau in the stands, I didn’t really care what happened during the game that followed.

That’s not true. I did care. And the Canadiens came through by pulling off a fine 3-1 win, led by the new and impressive Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Pacioretty line.

Although it was Tomas Plekanec converting a nice feed from Sven Andrighetto which won the thing.

Maybe once Jean gets settled in his new digs he can help sort out a few things about his beloved team below. Grab Toe and have a serious sit-down. Chat about the power play.

Again tonight, a now normal 0 for 5 with the man advantage.Eleven goals in 81 attempts if I’m reading it right. And they also gave up a shorthanded marker during one of their so-called power plays.

It might take more than Jean and Toe to figure it out. Might have to call in the Big Fellow for that one. Or at least Rocket, Doug, and Boom Boom.

But tonight is not a night to quibble. The boys halted a three-game losing streak. New lines were in place and it seemed like possible new chemistry could be in the works.

The Subbinator subbinated. Carey Price came up with a sparkling save in the first minute of play to keep his team from falling behind once again in the opening frame. Gally snapped one home in the second to give his team a rare 1-0 lead. And Max found the empty net with half a second left in the game.

They did it on a night in honor of Le Gros Bill, with his women there to see. It was good.

All they have to do now is beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Maybe by then Jean and Toe and the others will have had that little chat.

Jean Soiree

How $150 Became More, Thanks To John Lennon

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34 years ago today, John Lennon was shot dead. It sucked then and it sucks now. Below is a re-posting of a story I wrote a few years ago that, although unrelated to that dreadful evening and the days that followed, has a definite Lennon connection.

Years ago, through an autograph dealer in New York, I bought a little Rolodex-style Barclays bank card for $150, a card that had once been issued to John Lennon. This little card stated that anything under $200 in Lennon’s account could be withdrawn by his two lawyers without permission, but over $200 must be authorized by Lennon.

The card was signed by Lennon and the two lawyers.

I held onto this card for quite some time, but decided at some point to see what someone might pay for it, so I put an ad in an Ottawa paper and wondered what kind of offers might come up. Soon after, the phone rang.

It was a fellow in Ottawa who said he knew what the card was, he was a big Beatles collector, and said he had once played in David Peel’s band in New York, a band Lennon had jammed with and had produced Peel’s “The Pope Smokes Dope” album. He asked me if I would be willing to come to his place and have a look at what he had, and maybe make a trade. So I went.

The guy’s apartment was jammed with Beatles memorabilia, worth a large fortune for sure, and I could tell he really wanted my card. But if I was going to make a trade,  what he was offering better be good. And it was.

He showed me about half a dozen sheets of Lennon’s hand-written lyrics of songs from the “Sometime in New York City” album, and suggested that if I wanted, I could choose one if would part with the card. Oh yes, I thought. I’ll definitely do this.

I chose the song “New York City,” written by Lennon in pencil, with his little caricatures of himself and Yoko drawn on the sheet along with the lyrics. I was more than happy to make this trade.

It wasn’t long after that when my wife and I, just making ends meet, thought our dingy old basement would look fabulous if it was gutted and renovated. Our house was small, we had two young kids, and living space in the basement would double the size of the house. It was a lovely thought to have such an addition, so I made the decision. I’d sell the Lennon lyrics.

I sent a copy of it to Sotheby’s in New York, and they asked if they could see the real thing to assess it properly, so down it went by courier. Soon after they wrote back and said yes, it’s authentic, and they put a possible selling price of $2500. I knew that in the near future Sotheby’s would be holding a Lennon auction, the timing was right, and the basement needed serious work, so I told them to go ahead and sell it.

It sold for $7000.

I know what you’re going to say. Imagine if I sold it today, it would go for much, much more. But $7000 was a big score for us back then, it had only been a $150 investment in the first place, and we were happy. And the basement ended up looking like a million bucks, with new furniture, a new televison, and lots of shelving to hold my hockey and Beatles collections.

Eventually we sold this house, got a fine price for it, definitely because of the new basement, and moved to Calgary. And the extra money we got from the sale allowed us to buy a beautiful place in Cowtown, which I was able to enjoy for a solid three years before my wife left me.

A Goodbye at the Bell

JeanThe Bell Centre was softly lit as we made our way down a red carpet toward the casket where our beloved Jean Beliveau rested.

Throughout the upper levels, Jean’s familiar signature in lights was placed in every section, and ahead of us, behind the casket, hung long banners, one showing Jean with the torch in later years, and another of a much younger man raising the Stanley Cup as he had done so many times.

We moved slowly, and as each of us reached the casket, we then turned to our right where Jean’s beautiful wife Elise, their daughter Helene, and Helene’s two grown daughters received us and shook our hands and said merci to us.

The four ladies looked wonderful, and like Jean himself had always been, were an inspiration as they met so many strangers in an endless line.

I myself was a mess. Try as I may, I’m just not able to get through heart wrenching times without it showing in the most obvious fashion. I noticed others in the line seemed composed. Everyone except me, and when Elise looked at me, she looked square into my moist eyes and at my reddened face, and I knew she understood.

Our Jean

Jean

It was the mid-’80s and I was at the Forum offices to pick up a team-signed Bob Gainey stick that was waiting for me, and after getting it, I went down some stairs leading out but stopped at the bottom to wrap the stick in my coat to protect the autographs.

As I was wrapping it, the door above opened, and it was Jean Beliveau of all people. He saw what I was doing and he looked startled and he hesitated, because I’m sure he thought at first glance that it could’ve been a gun.

I picked up on his reaction, explained what I was doing, and he came down and took his pen out, ready to add his name to the stick. But I was so surprised, so brain-dead, that I just kept wrapping, and he put his pen back in his pocket and walked out the door and across the street into a restaurant.

I remember watching him as he walked across the street, and thinking that I’d just had an encounter with the great Jean Beliveau. But I had startled him, didn’t want his autograph, and blew a chance to have a beautiful and possibly lengthy chat.

Regrets, I’ve had a bunch. And this one’s right up there.

Born in Trois Rivieres and raised in Victoriaville, both relatively small cities fittingly midway between Montreal and Quebec where Jean gave his heart, soul, and staggering talent to both, first with the Citadelles and Aces in the provincial capital, and then as a beloved Montreal Canadien.

And in return, whether it was Quebec for an older generation, or the Canadiens for the rest of us, we cheered, admired, and embraced him.

We were proud of our Jean Beliveau, from his playing days through to the end. So lucky to have him.  Classy, friendly, polite, and dignified. One of the greatest ever, on and off the ice, and he was a Montreal Canadien. He was ours.

When the Rocket passed away in 2000, dark clouds hung over my head for weeks and probably months. And now it’s Jean. He was 83 years old and everyone has to go at some point, but of course it’s not easy.

I grew up watching him, beginning years before it became his turn to wear the captain’s ‘C’. I saw him play in the late-1950s at Maple Leaf Gardens with my dad, and throughout the 1960s at both the Gardens and Forum. I’m proud to be able to say that. He was a hero among heroes. A king of kings.

Jean, may you continue to lead and inspire in your new home, heaven. We’ll miss you so much.

 

Buffaloed

It was a game the Canadiens should’ve won. But they didn’t

One of those bad bounces off the glass that we see from time to time killed the mood, the tie, and the legs Montreal had finally found after being off all week. Halted quicker than a Brian Gionta head into an Alexei Emelin shoulder pad.

There was just 1:18 left in the third period, with the score tied 1-1, when a puck shot in from outside the blueline took one of those crazy caroms off the glass and headed out front where Matt Moulson was.

That was it. Buffaloed by a bad bounce. All Carey Price could do was look from afar, having left the premises to corral what should’ve been a puck around the back.

The breaks of the game, a game which had come alive only in the third, and which ended 2-1 for a team fighting it out with Edmonton and Columbus for best basement dweller.

Random Notes:

Buffalo’s Tyler Ennis opened the scoring with a beauty of a goal, a second effort that he’d eventually backhand behind Price, and which you’ll probably see on the highlights any second now.

I thought Eric Tangradi, playing his first game as a Hab, was impressive. He’s a huge 6’4″, 221 lb. left winger with 136 previous games in the NHL with Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, is a good skater for a big man, seems like he could create serious havoc when riled, and he seemed to fit in nicely on the fourth line.

Love the big guys who can play. Love the idea of what he might add as a bonafide power forward. But we’ll see. It’s just one game. I thought Rene Bourque was going to be a good power forward too.

Emelin clocked Gionta near the boards with a shoulder to the head and was given two minutes for it, at which time shortly after, Moulson scored the winner.

Gionta was pissed, but if he was a few inches taller, it would’ve been a great check. Gionta’s just a tiny bugger who collided with a hard shoulder pad. All’s fair in love and war.

Brandon Prust said something out there that got him a minor, a misconduct, and a game. We may or may not hear what he said, and if it comes out, I hope his mother doesn’t see it.

Jiri Sekac continues to look great.

P.A. Parenteau scored his team’s lone goal from a mad scramble in the crease.

Shots on goal – Montreal 31, Buffalo 25.

Next up – Buffalo at the Bell in a few hours.

 

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