Habs Muzzle Coyotes


Beautiful. Tremendous. Hardworking. Almost flawless.

But enough about me. We’re talkin’ Habs here.

The Canadiens, with Carey Price finally back in the nets after 11 long months, took out the visiting Arizona Coyotes with a convincing 5-2 win at the Bell Centre.

Price faced 29 shots while his buddies fired 43 at Arizona’s net, and with the win the boys now see themselves with a mighty fine three wins and a shootout/point in their first four starts.

Who could ask for more? Especially when the entire team put together a rockin’, sockin’, red light-lighting night that will see the bars in Montreal being some of the happiest places on earth this Thursday night.

Maybe because of his World Cup experience, but Alexei Emelin seems a confident and improved player this year, and the hardrock d-man even bulged the twine with a massive blast from the blueline to open the scoring.

Emelin also crushed several unfortunate Coyotes who crossed his path, he hurts when he hits, always has, and this year with Shea Weber on board, he’s not the only one anymore who can turn bones into powder.

Torrey Mitchell in the second period gave his team a nice 2-0 lead after converting a great pass from Nathan Beaulieu, and at this point I thought to myself how cool it would be if Price could shut the door for the entire night.

But I never said it out loud so don’t blame me that it didn’t happen.

Shea Weber scored his first goal in a Montreal uniform, a missile from the blueline on the power play, and also smashed guys on several occasions, especially in the first two frames. A perfect example of why Jonathan Toews said after The Big Trade that it was great that Shea wasn’t in his Conference anymore.

Alex Galchenyuk finally scored his first of the season to make it 4-0, and which sent Coyotes’ goalie Louis Domingue to the bench and replaced by Justin Peters. Peters would see his team begin to fight back and narrow things to 4-2, but in the third, Artturi Lehkonen’s wrist shot lit the lamp, the score became a tidy 5-2, and the clock struck midnight for the visitors.

Random Notes:

We can complain about the weather and high taxes and hospital food and the price of cheese, but we can’t complain about the number of goals allowed by the Habs. Al Montoya and now Price, along with the boys out front, have allowed just seven goals in the four games to start the season.

And the gang has scored 16 in these four games to boot.

Alexander Radulov continues to be a major threat and is a great addition.

David Desharnais assisted on Emelin’s goal and is one of six guys who now have four points in four games (DD, Weber, Petry, Pacioretty, Gallagher, and Galchenyuk).

Next up – Saturday in Boston. Hopefully they can keep this going.




Habs Pluck Penguins


Two goals from David Desharnais, an awakening from Captain Max, and a well-deserved shutout for Al Montoya, and the Canadiens rebound from a dismal outing in Ottawa to finish off the Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 in their home opener at the Bell Centre.

Definitely better than a few nights ago, and it began with a fired up Max Pacioretty opening the scoring just 23 seconds into the contest. Max was alive on this night, like a young DK at parties when someone would put Led Zeppelin 1 on the turntable.

But although the team played well overall, in particular the top line of Pacioretty, Galchenyuk, and Gallagher, it was Montoya who was truly exceptional once again, and who shut the door when the door needed shutting.

Montoya stopped 36 shots, it was never easy throughout, and has now allowed just five goals in his three games for the good guys. Carey Price is still recovering from the flu, and Big Al is doing the job in a big way.

A couple of goals from Desharnais will see DD’s critics forgive him for a night or two, and it was sensational to see the little guy come through, especially after his puck fanning in the shootout in Ottawa.

Alexander Radulov scored his team’s third marker, one which saw him take a pass from Galchenyuk, skate the length of the ice, swoop across, and bury the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury.

This beauty of a goal, on the power play, demonstrated the kind of skill this guy has, and the team is far better with him on board.

All in all a fine, if not spectacular, showing from the Canadiens, on a night that began with a gorgeous pre-game ceremony to open the 2016-17 season at the Bell Centre, concluding with former coach Jacques Demers passing the torch to Captain Max.

Demers coached a bit more than three seasons in Montreal, and was behind the bench for the Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup win in 1993. He’s in a wheelchair now after suffering a stroke earlier this year.

Random Notes:

Montoya was given an assist on Radulov’s goal, and the point now sees him tied with Tomas Plekanec.

The power play was 1/6.

Jeff Petry’s cross ice pass to DD late in the third to make it a 4-0 game was a thing of beauty.

Young buck Mikhail Sergachev saw less ice time in the second and third periods, to the chagrin, I guess, of his folks and sister who had flown in from Russia. But guaranteed, as Misha’s career unfolds over the years, mom, pop, and sis will have plenty to cheer about.

Next up – Thursday, when the Arizona Coyotes pay a visit.




Canadiens Get A Point


Never mind that the Canadiens somehow came back from a 2-0 deficit to take the lead in the final frame.

Forget that the Ottawa Senators then tied the game with just 2:33 left.

Don’t even think about the up and down, tense 3-on-3 in overtime which didn’t solve a thing.

And try to hide the pain from the face palm you planted on yourself after David Desharnais completely fanned in the shootout which gave the enemy the win.

They didn’t play well, but it won’t do us any good to dwell. We could end up angry and bitter like Donald Trump if we dwell.

Ottawa 4, Montreal 3.

We care, us Habs fans, and we definitely can’t go through major misery like last year. And although the gang squeaked out a point, it was a lousy point that also ended in embarrassing fashion.

I hope the sports networks feel our pain and DD’s frustration, and not show the shootout fanning.

And because most of the boys were lousy for three quarters of this game in Ottawa, it stings a bit more than usual to see them play like they’d gone in back in time to the previous year. We made it, we have scars, and we don’t need to be reminded.

Of course it’s only game two, with another 80 to go, but it doesn’t matter how many games because we have big expectations, and we’ve been waiting all summer for a new dawn. And in this game two, the new dawn was dark and downright miserable, and showed there’s a lot of sorting out to do before visions of going deep into the playoffs next spring dance in our heads.

Thank goodness for Al Montoya, in nets once again for Carey Price, who might have the flu. That’s what they say about our star goalie anyway.

Montoya had 38 pucks fired at him and was steady, while the shaky team in front of him managed just 24 on Sens goalie Craig Anderson. The Canadiens first period was sloppy, disorganized, and downright pathetic, as was much of the second. And although they clawed back and made a game of it, overall it was reasonably sad, but at least there’s a point racked up.

Come to think of it, we don’t want them to win every game out of the gate because that’s what they did last year in their first nine. So that’s sort of a positive, isn’t it?

It leaves a sour taste, though. Even though it’s only game two.

Random Notes:

Jeff Petry, back in the lineup, scored a pair, while Habs rookie Artturi Lehkonen banged one in that tied things at two apiece, with the goal being his first in the bigs.

Habs biggest few minutes of the night? When the score was even at two, the Canadiens killed almost a full two minutes with both Paul Byron and Max Pacioretty in the box.

Next up, Tuesday, when the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins visit Montreal for the Habs home opener. Will Price be in nets? Who knows. Maybe if he takes enough cod liver oil.

New guy watch –

There were moments when Shea Weber, especially on the power play, blasted a handful of scary shots at the Sens net. But he often missed, and he didn’t score.

Alexander (Sasha) Radulov was quite a force, worked hard, and was one of the better players for his team.

Andrew Shaw wasn’t a factor, and Mikhail (Misha) Sergachev was in the press box.

Old guy watch –

None of them were much good.




Habs Handle Sabres In Opener


It was slightly sloppy and reasonably boring, but it’s October hockey, which is a far cry from deep winter hockey. They’re rusty, like me.

Heck, I quit doing recaps last season with more than a month left to go. But you understand. After the pathetic nosedive by the boys, you’d quit writing recaps too.

They owe us a big turnaround campaign, and it began Thursday night when the Canadiens skated off Buffalo ice with a 4-1 win under their belts.

It’s hard to be overly excited when it’s (a) October hockey, and (b) they won their first nine last year before free falling into the depths of hell, but it’s a new season with a roster makeover, and the new guys in the lineup showed grit and spark and became major factors in this bombing of the Buffalonians.

Al Montoya, in goal for the ailing Carey Price, was as solid as can be and stopped 30 of 31 shots fired at him.

Shea Weber thumped bodies and blasted missiles like we knew he would, although he missed the net several times in dramatic fashion. The big fellow was solid, tough, and imposing, and notched an assist when his wrist shot was deflected by Brendan Gallagher for the all-important third goal of the night for the good guys.

Alex Radulov showed plenty of smarts and composure, something another newcomer, Andrew Shaw, might want to consider.

Shaw batted home his team’s fourth goal of the night, but also received a match penalty at the final buzzer for slew-footing, which is despicable at the best of times, and it’s the kind of brain-dead act we’ll see from this fellow at various times throughout the season.

Shaw can be incredibly valuable, and can also be quite an arse, as we saw when he played for the Hawks. It’s something we need to get used to. If he doesn’t wear the CH we hate his guts, right?

Artturi Lehkonen seemed to have some chemistry with Tomas Plekanec and didn’t look out of place, although having said that, my mind did tend to wander throughout the game and maybe I missed a couple of things.

And young Mikhail Sergachev, only several months removed from being a 17-year old punk kid, looked fine but also at times looked like he might need another year in junior. But he’s a beauty with a great future.

Yes I’m excited about Sergachev, but I was excited about Jacob de la Rose, Jiri Sekac, and Michael Bournival too, so I have to contain myself. But Misha was the best d-man in the Ontario Hockey League last year, so maybe it’s safe to be excited.

Misha is the everyday nickname for Russian guys named Mikhail, so if you want to call Sergachev this, it’s perfectly fine. And while I’m at it, Radulov can be called Sasha, which is the common name for Alexander.

It was the heart of the team who did the most damage, though. Brendan Gallagher would contribute a pair on this night, the opener which was a long shot from the top of the circle that rang in off the post, and his deflection of Weber’s wrist shot for the third Habs goal.

Torrey Mitchell would score his team’s second goal after Paul Byron’s speedy rush created the opportunity.

Random Notes:

The Sabres outshot the Canadiens 31-24, but Al Montoya shut the door. The name Al Montoya sounds to me like a lounge singer with connections to the mob. I’ve always thought that.

Buffalo’s Evander Kane smashed into the end boards after getting tangled up with Alexei Emelin, and was taken to the hospital. Hope he’s okay, even though he can be a bit of a dipshit off the ice.

Next for the boys – Saturday in Ottawa to clash with a natural enemy.



John And Yoko – Two Habs Virgins

I think it was their own special way of saying “Go Habs!”


I bought Two Virgins when I was in England in 1968, near the time of its release (which was only a few weeks before the release of the Beatles’ beautiful White Album), and before it was sold in America in a brown paper sleeve to cover up the body parts.

It’s a terrible album, consisting of John and Yoko shrieking and sending out other stupid noises that would make cats in heat sound like the Vienna Boys Choir.

At one point I sold it, which I’ve always regretted, probably because it was one of the few souvenirs I had of my trip to England. I hadn’t even brought a camera, which is the biggest regret.

I recently found this one at a used record store in Ontario, and even though it’s in rough shape, it was my chance to get the thing back. Even though it’s a ridiculous body of work. (“body”. Get it?)

I can’t imagine what the other three Beatles thought of this. Or John’s wife Cynthia, who was holidaying in Greece when Yoko came over for a sleepover at the Lennon home and contributed her body and shrieks to this thing.

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.


Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.


Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.


And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.


Game 8 – C’mon Canada

Game eight. A game that almost didn’t happen because both sides couldn’t agree on which two referees would suit up. The Russians, of course, lobbied for both Josef Kompalla and Franz Baader, the two West Germans who heavily sucked up to the Russians, probably in search of future Olympic and World Championship gigs in which Russia held a weighty voice. Canada’s choices were a Swede, Uve Dahlberg, with their second being Czech Rudy Batja.

Thus, in the 11th hour it was decided that Kompalla and Dahlberg would handle the duties, until Dahlberg allegedly fell ill with food-poisoning. So then it became Kompalla and Batja.

However which way you slice it, the officiating situation was a mess.

And so it began, with Ken Dryden in nets after Tony Esposito had performed well two nights prior in Canada’s 4-3 win.  It was a game of wonderful and breathtaking hockey, with weirdness thrown in, including J.P. Parise blowing a fuse when he was assessed an interference call in which Kompalla waved it off and then Batja called it anyway. Parise complained, was given a ten-minute misconduct, and in a fit of rage skated to Kompalla with his stick raised, as if to chop the poor bugger’s head off. Needless to say, Parise took an early shower.

Both teams, in glorious fashion, went back and forth, with players coming close as the goalies held their ground time and time again. Phil Esposito roamed about and made the Soviets nervous. Alexander Yakushev continued to give Dryden fits, and the first period ended at two apiece, which seemed rightly so. Every inch had been fought for. JP Parise watched from the sidelines in his street clothes.

In the second, Russia took the lead, Bill White tied it, but then Russia scored two and it was 5-3 when 40 minutes had expired. Could Canada actually come back in the third period and win this? It didn’t look good. It was a two-goal Soviet lead, and a two-referee Soviet advantage. I can’t remember if I had any booze around or not, but surely I needed it.

But just two and a half minutes into the final frame, Esposito whacked one home, and at 12:56, Yvan Cournoyer tied it. A country jumping for joy, until we noticed a commotion from the penalty box area and wondered if we should be happy or not.

It turned out that the goal judge decided not to put the red light on when Cournoyer scored, prompting Alan Eagleson to freak out and be restrained by soldiers who began to lead him away, maybe to a train bound for Siberia. But Pete Mahovlich came to the rescue, others followed, and the Eagle was taken to the safety of the free world, otherwise known as the Canadian bench. But not before he got in a couple of one-finger salutes to the despicable goal judge.

Back and forth players went and the clock clicked down, which was fine with the Soviets. They had decided that they would claim victory in case of a tie, considering they had scored one more in total goals during the eight games. This couldn’t happen. We could not witness a smug, smiling and celebratory Soviet contingent, not after clawing back over a period of several games, and then having them claim victory on a technicality. A tie would be like kissing Leonid Brezhnev’s wife, or Leonid Brezhnev.

And then it happened, and maybe I should let good old Foster Hewitt take you home.

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson makes a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot, right in front. THEY SCORE! HENDERSON HAS SCORED FOR CANADA!”

Yes he did, with 34 seconds remaining. And a nation rejoiced.

Game 7 – Henderson Huge Again

Below, pucks that came with bottles of Bacardi Rum:

And Gary Bergman, one of Canada’s most solid performers.

Paul Henderson’s second straight game-winner, with just two minutes and sixteen seconds remaining, was a work of art which absolutely solidifies his standing as one of the tournament’s premier performers. Henderson has been a revelation, and his goal on this night, which evens the series and sets the stage for dizzying drama in game eight, was a goal of epic proportions that saw the Leaf star find himself behind the Soviet defence with a shot that fooled a surprised Tretiak.

4-3 Canada with one game to go. Several million Canadians are already calling in sick for, coincidentally, the same day as game eight.

Henderson has said often in the years following that his winning goal in this game seven is the goal he never gets tired of watching. And although our eyes were being opened wide by the exploits of Henderson with his consistency in this Summit Series, he had scored 38 goals the previous season with Toronto, and 30 the year before that, so the guy had come with good hands. We just hadn’t been paying attention.

Russian officials had promised the Canadians that the two German referees, Baader and Kompalla, would not be used on this night, but only if the Canadians assured them that Gary Bergman would stop skating by the Russian bench and heckling coach Bobrov. Midway through the game, after Boris Mikhailov had tossed several barbs at John Ferguson behind the Canadian bench, Team Canada sent a note over saying they were sticking to their Bergman promise, so back off with Mikhailov. And that was the end of that.

Game seven also saw some on-ice nastiness involving Bergman and Mikhailov. Mikhailov turns out to be a kicker, a practice rarely if ever seen in the NHL, and the skate dug into Bergman’s skin, which not surprisingly, upset the Canadian to no end. For Canadians, it was arm-waving time to see Bergman losing his cool with the obnoxious Russian star, and for Soviet fans, just another example of Canadian greasiness, and showed their disgust and displeasure by their shrill whistling. (Both Henderson’s goal and the Bergman/Mikhailov scuffle can be seen below).

More craziness, and a Canadian win. Canadian fans at this point couldn’t care less what Russian fans thought about our players, but over the years I would learn that Russians far and wide held great admiration for our boys. They just weren’t allowed to show it.

Gary Bergman, “a rock” in the series as described by Bobby Orr, passed away in 2000 after a battle with cancer. He was only 62.

Game 6 – They Needed To Win

Part 10

And win they did, 3-2, with absolutely no help from German officials Franz Baader and Josef Kompalla , who seemed to love the idea of sending a parade of Canadians to the sin bin and were living proof that when it came to refereeing hockey games, Germany made great cars.

No matter. Team Canada allowed a Soviet goal, then scored three in a minute and a half to take control in all aspects. Even Ken Dryden played well and finally beat his nemesis Soviets for the first time since facing them years before as an amateur.

This game had finally given us a glimmer of hope. The team played with poise and passion, they came together and played like they knew they could, and Paul Henderson, in the series of his life, scored the winner on a long slap shot that surprised everyone from Vladivostok to Victoria.

One particular incident on this night must be mentioned. It was time to stop Valeri Kharlamov, and John Ferguson provided an ugly-yet-brutally effective solution. “I think he needs a tap on the ankle,” Fergy told Bobby Clarke, and Clarke proceeded to chop and crack the Soviet star’s ankle, rendering the Soviet star useless and out of the series until game eight, where he looked absolutely non-Kharlamovian. Not one of Team Canada’s finest moments, but at this point, it was win-at-all-costs, which I understand. Although this tactic underlined what many at home and abroad had screamed loud and hard about – that the Canadians were thugs and weren’t playing the game the way it should be played.

Of course, no one mentioned the Swedes’ stick work and diving in Stockholm, or the Soviets’ exaggerated theatrics and their own particular brand of whining. And critics made no heed of the off-ice nonsense regarding Canada’s steaks and cokes going missing, and phone calls in the middle of the night to their hotel rooms with no one on the other end. Frank Mahovlich became so unnerved by the fact that his room might be bugged that he checked under the carpet and discovered what he thought was a KGB bug. The Big M then unscrewed it and promptly heard a loud crash as he realized he’d unscrewed a ceiling light from the room below.

The series had transformed into a bizarre, stressful, and unreal game of cat and mouse, but most importantly for Team Canada and the nation behind them, the Soviets were beginning to show some important cracks. Team Canada felt this thing was far from over, and Phil Esposito, as focused now as any man could be, was leading the charge like no other could. Years later, Espo would even say that he wasn’t a violent man but he would have killed to win if it had come down to that.

Below, Bobby Clarke, Bill White, and Tony Esposito see the sights of Moscow with their wives, while John Ferguson inspects some Red Army soldiers.

A Deep Hole Dug In Moscow Opener

Part 9

The cameras panned the Palace of Sports at Luzhniki in Moscow, where fans, the majority men and soldiers, stared hard at the ice and at the long-haired Canadian players swooping around. What were these fans thinking about these foreigners? They saw the long hair, they saw Esposito and others they recognized. They would scan the stadium, watching the Canadian fans whooping and hollering, and they must have wondered.

Of course they were curious, because in 1972, long before perestroika and glasnost (restructuring and openness), this was a novelty of the first degree. Westerners live and in colour, something not often seen in their closed country, and names they knew only slightly glided around the ice below. To have seen NHL games in their homes meant sporatic action on television, with announcers who droned on, in the middle of the night broken up periodically by agriculture commercials and speeches from Leonid Brezhnev and other stonefaced leaders from the Politburo. The Russians definitely didn’t have Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet, or TSN going for them back then.

Opening night, game five in Moscow meant serious business. At this point, three Canadian players had decided to go home. Vic Hadfield, told he probably wouldn’t see any action in Moscow, felt he should be preparing for the NHL season with his Ranger teammates. Jocelyn Guevremont’s wife, who had come along with her husband on the trip, fell ill and needed to enter a hospital back home. And Rick Martin said he felt pressure from Sabres boss Punch Imlach to return and be with his Buffalo teammates. Gilbert Perreault would do the same shortly after.

Canada had won just once in Canada, and to lose again meant having to win the final three, which seemed as remote a possibility as seeing Lenin scratch himself in his Tomb at Red Square. It would take a miracle, even if Canada could somehow pull it out on this night and narrow the gap.

During the opening festivities on this night, young Russian ladies skated out with flowers, and as one came near Phil Esposito, a petal fell off the stem and floated to the ice. When Espo was introduced, he stepped on the petal and fell flat on his rear end, to the smiles and laughter of the crowd and both teams. He did an exaggerated bow, seemed to be fine about the whole thing, and maybe we were more embarrassed than he was. Regardless, to show the high esteem the Soviet players held for our captain, Vladislav Tretiak would say years later that Espo did this on purpose to lighten things up for his tense teammates. It might have worked, but it certainly wasn’t on purpose. (see video below).

Maybe it was the 3000 Canadian fans cheering and blowing their horns and making such wonderful noise, but Team Canada came out with bounce, and late in the first period, J.P. Parise (father of Zach), converted on a Gilbert Perreault pass and Canada found themselves in the lead. At home we cheered, but we needed more. We’d seen in the past that leads can evaporate quickly against this Machine.

Early in the second period, Bobby Clarke shoved one past Tretiak, and the 3000 Canadians at Luzhnicki and 15 million back home cheered again. We liked what we were seeing, and we liked it even more when Paul Henderson made it a lovely 3-0 lead. Take that, you Russians.

It was heady times going into the third period. It would be such a beautiful win, a win for NHL and western hockey superiority, and a narrowing of the gap. Unsmiling Russian fans would be impressed by the NHLers. Soviet players might get nervous. It was perfect.

But Yuri Blinov scored and suddenly we weren’t so giddy. But although Henderson once again gave us a three-goal lead to allow us to breathe again, Ken Dryden mentioned later that, “We played stupidly. Instead of continuing the forechecking tactics that had worked so well in the first two periods, we stayed back and let the Russians take the puck to us.”

Anisin beat Tony Esposito to narrow the gap to 4-2, and then, just eight seconds later, Shadrin scored and it became 4-3. At this point, we needed a pill. Maybe some Anisin. And maybe we needed something much stronger than Anisin when Alexander Gusev’s shot was tipped by a Canadian player over the shoulder of Esposito, and the game was tied with still nine minutes remaining. The Soviets then won the damn thing when  Vladimir Vikulov scored the winner.

5-4 Russia. We were perfectly aware of what this meant. A miracle would be needed, and we weren’t so sure it would happen. But something extremely important had transpired during this game five loss. Canada seemed in better shape and showed more drive. They had outplayed the Soviets before things collapsed in the third period, and they seemed to have found a way to hogtie the enemy with furious forechecking. Team Canada knew, even in losing, that they weren’t out of it yet.

The Canadians were beginning to feel better about themselves, but they were in a deep hole.

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