All posts by Dennis Kane

A Few Good Jobs

1. Retired Famous Race Horse. You were Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and the toast of the town. You retired on top of the world and were given a fancy stable and told to get out into the field and make love to the finest fillies out there. Whenever you felt like it. Every day.

2. Guy Who Crashes Cymbals in a Symphony Orchestra. You’re in Carnegie Hall, and the horns and violins are working their way up to big crescendo. The crowd is enthralled, and then, at the precise moment, you crash your cymbals.
That’s it I think. Your timing has to be on. And for this you get to wear an expensive tuxedo, make lots of money, and probably even sign a few programs! Or maybe there’s more to it than I know.

3. Red Fisher. Play poker with the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion on trains to Chicago, Boston, and the rest. Go for a cold one after the game with Lafleur, Savard, and Robinson, and talk shop. Cover the Montreal Canadiens and become just one of the boys for nearly fifty years.

4. George Martin. He’d put on his cardigan sweater, jump into a limo to take him to studios like Abbey Road, and help the Beatles weave their magic. He was there almost from the start, and he also made zillions doing it.

5. Playboy photographer.

6. Phil Pritchard. Phil’s job is to babysit the Stanley Cup, 12 months a year. He takes it all over North America and Europe so players from the winning team can show it off where they live. He brings it out on to the ice with his white gloves on when a team wins it in the final game. He’s practically married to it, and it never talks back.

7. Habs stick boy (maybe not now but whatever).

A Dow Wouldn’t Go Good Now

Actually, after a 6-0 loss to the Leafs,  maybe a Dow laced with cobalt sulfate might go good now.

The Rocket wasn’t just a hockey player, as he once said of himself. He was also a beer rep, doing public relations work for Dow Breweries, which was owned by Carling-O’Keefe when Rocket was involved. I wonder how Molson felt about that.

Dow would eventually become owned by Molson in the mid-sixties, but closed shop after several dozen people who had been drinking at least 24 Dows a day suddenly died from heart failure. It was found that Dow contained cobalt sulfate, which apparently isn’t good for your health.

You’d think that anyone who drinks 24 beers a day, regardless of the brand, might suffer heart failure at some point. But I’m no doctor so I can’t be sure.

 

House Of Henri

On the TV show Canadian Pickers a few years back, the two stars of the show came across some old beer hall tables while in Montreal..

The two bubbly and slightly over-the-top Alberta pickers happened to find themselves in Montreal, Hudson, Hawkesbury, Lachute and surrounding territories, and not only did they come across a nice hoard of old La Presse hockey photos from the thirties and several other goodies, but while digging through piles of junk somewhere out in the boonies, they discovered nine old tavern tables which the owner said came out of Henri Richard’s tavern in downtown Montreal, and which closed in 1986.

And although there was no proof they were the Pocket’s, the pickers scooped them up for a few hundred bucks for the lot of them.

It gets a bit scripted, though. The pickers decided to try and find out if the tables were actually from Henri’s place or not, because if not, they’d just bought themselves some old tables they might be lucky to get $50 for, and eventually they found themselves in a little pub on a side street in Montreal, of which the name escapes me. In talking to the owner, the guys told him they had these tables and wanted to know his opinion on if they were the real thing or not, and the owner simply told them to ask Henri Richard himself, WHO JUST HAPPENED to be sitting at a table enjoying a Molson with ex-Habs player, coach, and GM Rejean Houle.

JUST HAPPENED. Right.

Henri looked at the tables, said they were indeed from his pub, and he and Houle signed the top of them and invited the guys to sit down and have a beer with them. “Eleven Stanley Cups”, they gushed at Henri, and Henri said, for probably about the eight thousandth time over the years, that he was just in the right place at the right time.

Later on, I found an auction site that was selling two of these tables, with the autographed tops, for $600 each. I wouldn’t have bought one, but that’s just me.

My first wife and I, along with Mike Williamson and Diana, had dinner at Henri Richard’s tavern in the late 1970s, and for the life of me I don’t remember tavern tables. It was more of a restaurant I thought, although maybe a beverage room was in another part of the building. Or maybe I’d just had a few too many Molsons.

Partying at Butch’s

Circa 1954 Canadiens players and their ladies get together at Butch Bouchard’s Cabaret in Montreal to enjoy some pops and chuckles.

I love this photo. It took some digging to find the names of some of the wives, and I’m not sure who some of the couples are.

Otherwise, around the table are Doug and Ursula Harvey in foreground, Bouchard (in glasses with wife Marie-Claire), Elmer Lach, Gerry and Theresa McNeil, Bernie and Marlene Geoffrion (being served by the waiter), Ken and Lorraine Mosdell across from the Geoffrions, and Maurice and Lucille Richard up by the Harveys.

A happy bunch letting off steam.

 

12-bouch-rest-group

At The Good Old Hockey Game

From a book called Liquor, Lust, and the Law (Aaron Chapman), which is a look at the old Penthouse nightclub and strip joint in Vancouver.

Penthouse owners hired these ladies to streak the Pacific Coliseum in 1974 during a game between the Canucks and New York Islanders.

It was a good idea, I suppose. Thousands of people would’ve been talking about Penthouse for days after. Hopefully all the kids shut their eyes.

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Thanks Rocket

On March 11, 1996, following a game between Dallas and Montreal, the Canadiens and fans said goodbye to the Montreal Forum. The lights were dimmed, and Montreal Canadien captains from over the years – Emile Bouchard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Pierre Turgeon, and of course, number nine, Maurice Richard – all walked onto the Forum ice.

A torch was lit and passed to Butch Bouchard, who then passed it to the Rocket, and the emotional fans in the beautiful old building, the wondrous Forum, erupted in an explosion of cheers, tears, and memories to the greatest Hab ever.

Fans weren’t only saying goodbye to the old building, they were also saying thank you to the Rocket, who had done so much to create the mystique that is the Montreal Canadiens, a man whose deeds, fire, passion, and humility continues to make all Montreal fans, young and old, proud of the team, and a man the emotional Quebec Habs fans embraced and clung to through rocky political and cultural times in the province.

The Rocket was my boyhood hero and remains my hero today. I met him once, but that’s a story for another day.

The 1996 standing ovation left most in tears. And Rocket wasn’t even sure why there such an outpouring of emotion. Because, as he said, “I’m just a hockey player.”

 

‘Thumbs Up’ To Chuvalo And Orr

When I was ‘slightly’ younger I hitchhiked across much of Canada three times. There was never any money for motels or hot meals in restaurants, only a few bucks for potato chips and cigarettes. Those tiring, mosquito and black fly-filled trips usually took about eight days or so.

I was always a hitchhiker, even before the cross country trips. At 14, while living with a family for a month in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec on a French-English exchange, my new buddy Normand Chaput and I stuck our thumbs out and toured a big part of the province, even camping out one night on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City.

When Normand came to live with us for a month in Orillia that same summer, he and I hit the road again, to Toronto, Buffalo, and also only 30 miles up the road from Orillia, where we saw two different icons in two different places, doing what they did best.

We were let off at a gas station near Gravenhurst, where a small crowd had gathered around a makeshift boxing ring, and we had a look. A look at a young George Chuvalo, then Canadian heavyweight boxing champ, sparring with a partner.

There he was, the man who would twice take on Mohammed Ali, giving and taking shots to the face and gut at a gas station parking lot.

After the fight, Normand and I carried on to Bracebridge, to the big exhibition charity game between the Orillia Pepsi’s senior club, and the newly assembled Muskoka All-Stars. And because the Muskoka All-Stars were a bit of a stacked team with several pros on it, a young, slight, blond-haired kid from the junior ranks was loaned to Orillia to help make the teams more equal.

But it wasn’t equal at all. The blond-haired kid, Bobby Orr, having just completed his first season with the Oshawa Generals, was, at 16 years old, dominating the game so much, so thoroughly, he had both the fans and the other players on the ice laughing and shaking their heads in admiration. He owned the puck, skated through the older, more experienced opponents, came back hard and broke up oncoming rushes, and controlled and dazzled. It was a major eye-opener for me, Normand, and a lot of people in the Bracebridge Arena.

Hitchhiking with Normand was just the beginning. It seemed like wherever I went, I hitchhiked. Barrie, Toronto, into parts of Muskoka, Sudbury. When I was 17  I thumbed my way to Los Angeles after taking the train to Vancouver, and after that, at 19, I began my three trips across Canada.

I don’t pick up hitchhikers now, it’s too risky of course. It was probably almost as dangerous then, but I didn’t realize it. Maybe I dodged a bullet. And it was hard work, dirty, and uncomfortable, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

But I got to see George Chuvalo and Bobby Orr in action, and that time in Bracebridge made the dirt and car fumes all worthwhile.

Rocket’s Banquet Speech

You can’t go wrong with a good Rocket Richard story.

After the Rocket retired in 1960, he went on the banquet circuit and was in Boston one night for a B’nai B’rith dinner. When it was his turn to speak he got up and said, “I’m happy to be back in Boston. I came here regularly in my 18 years as a player. We beat the Bruins eight or nine times in the playoffs.  We always won. Guess that’s why I like it here so much.”

Then he sat down.

Rousseau’s Blast

It was the early 1960s, and Montreal speedster Bobby Rousseau, a slapshot specialist and off-season golf pro in Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec, was awarded a penalty shot in a game against Boston.

Rousseau grabbed the puck at centre ice, took it just inside the blueline, and to the surprise of everyone, including his coach Toe Blake and Boston goalie, Bruce Gamble, wound up, fired, and scored.

Has a penalty shot or shootout goal ever been scored from so far out?

From my old scrapbook, a photo of the moment.