All posts by Dennis Kane

Willie Nelson And My Sister Getting High And Mighty

My sister Wanda smoked a joint with country singer Willie Nelson. Two joints, in fact. She also drank a lot of alcohol during this time, and when the room started spinning, she staggered out. I know this because she told me. She is what you would call a “reliable source,” mainly because she’s my sister.

Certain things I find shocking. I had no idea that big stars, especially Willie Nelson, would resort to smoking drugs. The next thing you know, I’ll find out that Keith Richards smokes pot too, and probably drinks too much sometimes. I’m just hoping that that rumour about politicians telling big whopping fibs and not even feeling bad about it isn’t true.

I don’t get shocked much when it comes to Wanda. This is a girl who hitchhiked to Calgary from Ontario, who bombed around Calgary in a slick, maroon-coloured 1979 Harley Sportster when the weather was good, or reasonably decent. In the driving rain and wretched winter, her ride was a ’76 Chevy short box with a 454 under the hood. This is a lady who went back to Ontario for a wedding, and on her way back on the train, was kicked off in northern Ontario by the conductor when they didn’t see eye-to-eye.

Willie Nelson had no idea he was in the presence of greatness. He could have gathered Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash together for a night of partying, and Wanda would have drank and smoked them all under the table.

But Wanda’s not just another crazy partier. She’s also creative and smart. A radio station in Calgary held a contest to see which local company could think up the best beach-themed idea, even though it was the middle of winter, to win a 24-hour trip to Los Angeles for the whole staff. Her idea was for her and her co-workers at her office to wear bathing suits and bikinis and sit outside on lawn chairs and sunbathe and barbeque in below-zero temperatures. Naturally they won. How could they not have?

Meeting Willie Nelson was only a fluke. She and her girlfriend were in Reno a few years back and they somehow got talking to a guy who had been singing in a bar and was friends with Willie. The guy obviously took a shine to the girls and invited them to come along to meet this long-haired country gentleman who I think sometimes sings like he has a clamp on his groin.

After a brief visit, Wanda and her girlfriend got dizzy and said they had to go, and as a parting gift, Willie invited them to his show, with front row seats beside his wife, and gave them back-stage passes. When I asked her about this recently, her main recollection was that the man looked tired but was incredibly friendly and courteous, and oh yeah, his pot was primo.

I didn’t bother to ask if Willie kept a stash of Oreo cookies handy for the munchies. And I knew I didn’t have to ask if he had tried any funny stuff with my sister. Because even though she’s only 5’2″ and 120 pounds soaking wet, this feisty little fireball would have kicked the great man’s ass.

Ray Getliffe Passes Away

Oldest Montreal Canadiens player dies at 94
The Gazette

Ray Getliffe, who was the oldest living former Montreal Canadiens player and the second-oldest NHL alumnus, died Sunday in London, Ont. He was 94.
Elmer Lach, 90, is now the oldest living Canadien, while former New York Ranger and Chicago Blackhawk Clint Smith, born Dec. 12, 1913, is reported to be the oldest living NHL alumnus.
Getliffe played with the Boston Bruins and the Canadiens during a 10-year NHL career that began in 1935-36, winning a Stanley Cup with each team.

But his claim to fame might be as the man behind Maurice Richard’s nickname.
Getliffe, in a Where Are They Now? feature written by Ian MacDonald, that appeared in The Gazette in April 2004, recalled the first time he saw the rookie Richard on the ice in 1942.
“Reporters stood behind the bench at practice,” Getliffe recalled.
“Elmer Lach threw a puck over to this new kid who flew in from the blue line. I said: ‘Look at that, he’s like a rocket.’ Dink Carroll (a Montreal sports columnist at the time) heard me and the next day it was in The Gazette. That’s how Richard became Rocket.”
Getliffe, a left-winger, played in 393 regular-season games during his career, scoring 136 goals and adding 137 assists to go along with 250 penalty minutes. He won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 1939 and with the Canadiens in 1944.
Born in Galt, Ont., he was brought up in London, where he moved through the minor ranks before being signed as a free agent by the New York Rangers, who traded him to Boston for cash.
He was with the Bruins for three years before being traded to the Canadiens, along with Charlie Sands, for Herb Cain.
Getliffe was married to Lorna, 95, for 74 years, a union that produced two children, seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Visitation is Wednesday, 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. at Westview Funeral Chapel in London, Ont, with a memorial service Thursday at 3 p.m.

Brian McFarlane’s 1970’s Predictions For Hockey In The 21st Century

Here’s Toronto broadcaster and writer Brian McFarlane (writer of the very fine  http://www.ithappenedinhockey.com/) has his predictions for hockey in the year 2000 in his old 1970’s book, Hockey Annual.

“Let’s begin with the player. He’ll wear a lightweight, super plastic climate-control helmet equipped with two-way radio which receives messages from the coach. His uniform will be thermo-controlled and made from a material that gives absolute protection even though it weighs a mere five pounds. It is equipped with contact plates to register pulse, blood pressure, and, most important, fatigue rating. The skates will have impervium boots propelled by forward and retro rockets that increase the player’s natural speed about 50 per cent. In other words, they’ll move at about 50 miles an hour.

“Hockey sticks of the future will be rather unusual. The blade has a trapper pocket for puck control and a trigger on the handle propels the puck at around 200 miles per hour. This eliminates the need for goaltenders so the players shoot at a small target or goal area, and opposing players try to deflect the puck’s flight by means of an electro-magnetic repulsion force generated from their stick.

“The coach, by the way, never associates with his players because personality factors might interfere with his judgment from the coach’s bubble. The coach in this league probably never laced on a pair of rocket skates in his life.

“The referee will ride around in a hover gondola over the ice surface. Because of the terrific speed of play, offsides are recorded electronically and the play-by-play announcer is in direct radio contact with rival coaches, the benches, and the players at all times.

“The arenas will be fantastic! They’ll be geodesic dome-shaped affairs seating 100,000 fans. There’ll be no ice to play on. The players will skate on a Mylar surface, silicone treated, scratch-proof and shrink-resistant, if you like.

“There’ll be no boards. Instead, an invisible field of force will keep the puck in play. And if a player slams into this same field of force, he’ll be cuddled like a baby.

“Any fan who throws an object on the playing surface will be in for a shock because the rink is electronically geared to reject that object and deposit it right back in the thrower’s lap. So no more tomatoes. And what about the hockey fan in his moon home? He’ll see all the action on a super video screen covering one full wall in his living room, colour of course, in 3D too. Smellevision is optional at the press of a button.

“The three stars will appear in the flesh, right in your living room. They’ll be transported there by radiotonic waves after each game. That will be done by breaking down the molecular structure of the body and shooting the cells out on radiotonic waves into your living room. They’ll be duplicated and multiplied as they go along so everybody will get a two-minute chat with the three stars after every hockey game, right in the living room.

“It might take a while to perfect molecular form of transportation and a few players might be lost along the way, but then that’s progress. And that’s hockey as it might look in the first few years of the 21st century.”

Hey Mr. Canning, Where Are You? I’d Like To Pay You Back!

School’s winding down for kids who are mostly about 100 years younger than me, and when I thought about that, I thought about the teachers I had those many years ago. And it kind of pisses me off.

There were those nuns, of course, who helped guide and direct by giving me several good strappings on the hand after I got sassy or said a bad word or snapped a girl’s bra strap when she least expected it. So I guess I deserved it, and if you must know, there’s nothing like a nice piece of quarter-inch black leather whipped across the palms of the hands to help someone settle down and learn more.

Most of all, I remember Mr. Canning from grade six. I suppose Mr. Canning was probably in his mid-20s, although I never thought about it at the time. He had greased-back Elvis hair and was probably a kind, gentle soul on parent-teacher night. I seem to recall, although it’s fuzzy, that he sometimes had his good days. But I can clearly recall his bad days.

You see, Mr. Canning got mad at us when we were sassy or said a bad word or snapped a girl’s bra strap, but I can’t ever remember him using the strap. Nope, he never used the strap. Mr. Canning made his point a different way.

You’d first get the hint you were in trouble because his face turned beet red. Then he’d slowly walk down the aisle toward you, and the room grew quiet. His hands would then gently touch the top of your head, and you could feel the fingers wrapping themselves around your hair. After that, it wasn’t a great feeling as he lifted you up, right out of your seat, almost with feet leaving the ground, by the hair. Then he shook and shook and shook, and finally would slam you back down into your desk.

Geez, did that hurt. You wondered if he’d pulled your hair right out of your skull. Your head hurt for hours. So did your pride. Mr. Canning did this to most of the boys.

However, the guy wasn’t a one-trick pony. I guess sometimes he got tired of pulling boys out of their seats by the hair. Sometimes, when he got mad, he would simply stay at the front of the class and throw blackboard erasers, the ones made of wood, as hard as he could at our faces. Mr. Canning was probably a pretty good baseball player, because more times than not, he connected with a fastball eraser square between our eyes. I mean, that must have taken talent.

Mr. Canning taught in the days when teachers could pretty well pummel and torture students and get away with it. Sure, he was a quick-tempered madman, and I suppose he was unusual, even for those times.

He’d be in big trouble nowadays. First, he’d be removed from his teaching position very quickly. A police investigation would begin. Parents would be up in arms. Mr. Canning would retain a lawyer and his defence would be that children have great imaginations and naturally tell stories that the parents would interpret in an adult way, making it sound worse than it was. The lawyer might argue that the parents had other issues with Mr. Canning and they used their kids as a way to get him fired. He could win or lose, depending on his defence.

Two things are for sure. Mr. Canning’s lucky he taught when he did, because I’m assuming he got away with what he did. He’s also lucky he taught only grade-sixers. If he had taught high school kids, he just might have got his ass kicked.

More “Stealing Quotes.” My Second Day Of Laziness

Chuck Nevitt, North Carolina State basketball player, explaining to coach Jim Valvano why he appeared nervous at practice: “My sister’s expecting a baby, and I don’t know if I’m going to be an uncle or an aunt.”

Boxing promoter Dan Duva on Mike Tyson hooking up again with promoter Don King: “Why would anyone expect him to come out smarter? He went to prison for three years, not Princeton.”

Stu Grimson, Chicago Blackhawks left winger, explaining why he keeps a color photo of himself above his locker: “That’s so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes.”

Lou Duva, veteran boxing trainer, on the Spartan training regime of heavyweight Andrew Golota: “He’s a guy who gets up at six o’clock in the morning regardless of what time it is.”

Shelby Metcalf, basketball coach at Texas A&M, recounting what he told a player who received four F’s and one D: “Son, looks to me like you’re spending too much time on one subject.”

Stealing Quotes On A Lazy, Hazy, Summer’s Day

It’s late afternoon, and I’m home after a long, hot day at work. I’ve been up since 3 am, and all I want to do is drink some beer and watch television. So I’m pulling out this paper I found in a stack of papers, and I’m going to use it today and maybe even some more tomorrow. I know it’s cheating.
But you might like it!

The original title was “Why Athletes Can’t Have Real Jobs.”

Chicago Cubs outfielder Andre Dawson on being a role model. “I wan’ all dem kids to do what I do, to look up to me. I wan’ all the kids to copulate me.” (Dennis’ note: Andre got crossed up on a mix between ‘copy’ and ’emulate’ for those of you who didn’t get it.)

New Orleans Saint RB George Rogers when asked about the upcoming season. “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards, whichever comes first.”

And, upon hearing Joe Jacobi of the ‘Skins say, “I’d run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl,” Matt Millen of the Raiders said: “To win, I’d run over Joe’s mom too.”

Torrin Polk, University of Houston receiver, on his coach, John Jenkins: “He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings.”

Football commentator and former player Joe Theisman, 1996. “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

Senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: “I’m going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.”

Bill Peterson, a Florida State football coach: “You guys line up alphabetically by height.” And, “You guys pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle.”

I Sort Of Won Rookie Of The Year Last Night At The NHL Awards Show

If the NHL Awards show wants to become more of a flashy and polished affair, they might want to think about replacing host Ron McLean. For as much as he’s a quick-witted and able sidekick to Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner, he comes across on these glittering nights as a bit of a hick. Really hokey. With lame jokes like the Brian Burke bobbing head doll and the cell phone thing. He’s not too funny at all. Maybe he’s overrated?
Gary Bettman looked embarrassed and I felt embarrassed.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one in the world who feels like this.

On the brighter side, there sure were a lot of good looking wives there. It seems that hot women like millionaire athletes! Go figure.

Washington’s Bruce Boudreau beat out Guy Carbonneau and Mike Babcock to win the Adams trophy for coach of the year. For me it could’ve gone either way between him and Carbonneau so this is okay.

Alex Ovechkin won both the Hart for league MVP and the Lester B. Pearson for top player as voted by his peers. This is fine, but my question is, who dresses this guy? He looked so out of sorts with his silly red tie and weird collared shirt that I wondered if he just got off the Red Eye from Moscow.

Niklas Lidstrom took home his sixth Norris for best defenseman. His wife is also right up there for Best Wife.

Gordie Howe was honoured with the very first Lifetime Achievement Award. This is good, but I’m wondering if you have to be alive to win this. Because the Rocket deserves one too. But the Rocket has the Rocket Richard Trophy named for him for most goals in a season, and that’s better than a Lifetime Achievement award in my book.

Last but not least, Patrick Kane beat out Jonathan Toews and Nicklas Backstrom for Rookie of the Year (Calder trophy). I’m happy about this because my name is Dennis Patrick Kane.

The Luckiest Guy In The World. Plus, Max Makes More Money, And Trevor Will Soon Be Canonized.

Who’s the luckiest guy on the face of the earth today? It’s easy. It’s a soccer player named Vastic, that’s who.
It’s not even because I’m a soccer fan that I rushed to check the scores to see how Austria did against Poland in this year’s Euro 2008. I don’t know any players’ names in the tournament except Ronaldo, and I’m not even sure if he’s playing. I don’t know what teams are good and what teams are bad.

But I know Vastic now.

It’s because before the game, an Austrian beer company promised a lifetime supply of free beer to any Austrian player who scored a goal in their last two games of the tournament.
And Vastic did just that in his team’s 1-1 draw with Poland.
Vastic’s going to be the only player on the Austrian National team with a beer gut.

IN OTHER NEWS!

The Habs signed Maxim Lapierre the other day to a two-year $1.375 million dollar contract. This is a good signing, but Max might have to learn how to finish his fights instead of just starting them and letting Tom Kostopoulos or Mike Komisarek do the rest.
He reminds me of myself when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers Bantams who often had big Rick MacNeil step in and clean the clock of someone who wanted to clean my clock.

IN SOME MORE NEWS!

Vancouver favourite Trevor Linden retired after a 19 year NHL career. Linden’s always been known as a good guy, a constant visitor to hospitals, a fund raiser, and all-round big-hearted fellow, particularly to children with problems.
He’s a legend in Vancouver for his work on and off the ice.

However, he stunk during his two years in Montreal.

He played a total of 107 games there, with 66 points during his injury-filled stint in the mecca. His heart was obviously in Vancouver, where he eventually ended up returning to, and probably where he wanted to be all along. (He also played for the Islanders and Washington but the only thing worth mentioning about this is that he was traded from Vancouver to the Islanders for Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan McCabe, which is indeed interesting, right?)

Trevor Linden will have his sweater retired in Vancouver, and is probably the most popular player to ever play there. He owns the town. He could be mayor if he wanted. By all accounts he’s a gem of a fellow, a man of the people.

But like I said, he stunk with the Habs and maybe someday I’ll forgive him for this.

Gerry Barber Was One Tough Son Of A Bitch

He was the meanest, toughest, nastiest bar bouncer in the Hull-Ottawa area, probably the entire country, and my friends and I hold the tremendous honour of being thrown down the stairs by him.

We weren’t the first and we weren’t the last, but at least I can tell my grandkids someday that I once got tossed around like a pillow by the great Gerry Barber.

He wasn’t a giant of a man, this Gerry Barber, maybe five feet, 10 inches and maybe 250 pounds, but he took on all comers – drunken bikers a handful at a time, snotty teenaged kids with one too many quarts of beer in their gut, and shady characters toting guns and knives.

He broke up fights nightly at the Chaudiere Club, busted a lot of heads, and had his own head cracked open several times from pipes and other things that would damage you and me much more than him. Absolutely, Gerry Barber was one tough mother.

The Chaudiere Club sat alone on the road that led from Hull to Alymer on the Quebec side of the river across from Ottawa. It was a testament to a golden era, a massive dirty-white, two-story club built in the 1930s, and it was a monolithic marvel of balconies, rooms, and murals. In its prime, it was one of the finest jazz and swing night spots found anywhere.

Louis Armstrong, Gene Krupa, the Inkspots, Duke Ellington, they all played this house affectionately called the Chaud, and folks came from all over the Ottawa Valley tossed their fedoras and mink shawls aside and swung the night away.

But the Chaud, beginning in the 1960s, took a hardcore turn as music and minds changed, and toughs from all over began to make it their beer-soaked clubhouse. Fights, loud arguments, passing out at tables, stabbings, and angry confrontations in the parking lot all came along.

Luckily, so did Gerry Barber.

It didn’t matter how many he had to throw out, he just threw them out. Anybody. Any amount. Any time. He did his damage with sheer power, and was willing to takes great cracks on the head and knuckles on his nose to get the job done. And he’d return the favour.

Gerry Barber’s reputation grew. National magazine write-ups, stories in the Ottawa papers. Curious profiles. Several years ago, Ottawa Sun columnist Earl McRae held a long and fascinating poll with his readers to determine Ottawa’s toughest man ever. Yep, Gerry Barber won.

That’s why being thrown down the stairs at the Chaud by the great Gerry Barber is such an honour for me. I don’t remember what my friends and I had done to deserve the treatment, but guessing that we were young, obnoxious, drunken morons would be a really good guess.

Gerry Barber has been gone many years now, but I’m sure he’s still talked about with reverence and awe in the Ottawa area. The Chaudiere’s gone now too, levelled by a wrecking ball that was probably almost as hard as Barber’s fist and head. Now, for those who partied there, all that’s left are memories, several scars, and a few missing teeth.

The Chaud really had something when it had Gerry Barber to keep things in line. The place might have been out of control if it wasn’t for him. He not only rearranged noses, but he probably saved many lives by booting them out head-first into the parking lot before the worst could happen.

He was a man who can be an inspiration for all bouncers who decide to be the best they can be. Just don’t try to be like him, because you could get hurt. And I don’t want to get thrown down any more stairs.

You’ll Never Look At A Detroit Red Wing Octopus The Same Again.

Did you ever think that that very dead and very smelly octopus being thrown on the ice at Detroit Red Wing games just might have been a very lovely and interesting creature when it was alive swimming around in the ocean?
This five minute video is unbelievable, especially the last minute. It shows octopi like you’ve never imagined. Have a look at just how special these things are. Remember, the last minute is especially neat.