All posts by Dennis Kane

It’s No Big Deal. I’ve Got A Better Song In Mind

 

“TSN reports CTV has acquired the rights to the Hockey Night in Canada theme song.  The song, which was created by Vancouver’s Dolores Claman in 1968, will now be used in NHL broadcasts on TSN and RDS beginning this Fall. In addition, CTV will utilize the song as part of its hockey coverage during the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.”

 

I guess a new song is needed for Hockey Night in Canada.

 

So at this time, June 9, 2009, I would like to nominate Johnny Bower’s “Honky The Christmas Goose” as the new theme song to replace the old.

 

Here’s a little background to make you more familiar.

 

During the 1965-66 season, songwriter Chris Young visited Maple Leaf Gardens to see if any of the Leafs might be interested in becoming recording stars. He talked to cool cat hipsters like Punch Imlach, Red Kelly and the other Leaf rockers, and Johnny Bower, who reminded many at that time as a cross between John Lennon, Frank Zappa, and Bob Dylan, agreed to do it as long as any profits went to charity.

Bower and a bunch of kids including his son Johnny Jr., then became know as Johnny Bower and the Rinky-Dinks, and the rest was history.

The Rinky-Dinks came out with Honky the Christmas Goose, with the flipside being Banjo the Mule. There was no word at the time about if you played either song backwards, there was a hidden message, possibly some meaning of life morsels from spiritual guru Eddie Shack.

Honky debuted on Toronto’s CHUM chart at number 42, and went up against the obviously inferior Beatles and their songs “We Can Work it out” and “Day Tripper.” Sales of Honky exceeded 40,000, and it finally bottomed out at number 29 on the CHUM chart.

The Beatles, for whatever reason, and unfair as it was, did better than the Rinky-Dinks. Some things in life defy explanation.

Early the next day news:
Ron Wilson has his press conference after being announced as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. My prediction is: He’s going to lose his friggin mind after a few months into the season.

A Summit Series Standing Room Story

Sometime during the heat, or maybe a torrential rainfall, of the Quebec summer of 1972, somebody, probably in Montreal, bought two $7 standing room tickets to the very first hockey game of the classic Canada-Russia Summit Series. And for whatever reason, he and his friend or dad or kid or wife, didn’t go.

Most of us know what he missed. The Russians, who were supposed to collapse like a cheap card table, ended up pummelling the overconfident Canadians 7-3 that night in Montreal, and we were all in a tizzy, which didn’t end until Paul Henderson scored with 34 seconds left in game eight in an army-filled arena a million miles away in Moscow.

So this guy missed the big game, but he kept his tickets, and 35 years later, put them on eBay. Those two $7 tickets sold last year for $950 and there’s a lesson to be learned here. Buy tickets for really big events, don’t go, and sell them later and help put your kids through college.

In 1972, Wrangler jeans sold for twelve bucks, popcorn was 75 cents, eggs were 50 cents and apartment rent averaged around $165. I know this because Google told me so. So $14 for standing room tickets was pretty good coin to fork out at the time.

But if he could’ve turned his $14 investment into $950 right then and there, sure he would have missed the Montreal game, but with 1972 gas prices at 36 cents a gallon, he could have easily driven to Toronto for game two, then settled nicely into some fancy digs like the Royal York Hotel and enjoyed games three and four from Winnipeg and Vancouver on television, with room service included. All from the profit made from his two standing room tickets at the Montreal Forum, which he didn’t, for some reason, go to.

Even better, travel agents at that time were offering charter packages to Moscow to take in the four games there, and the cost was around $1,000 for the plane, hotel, and game tickets. So we know what that means. The guy could have sold his Montreal tickets for $950 and taken the trip of a lifetime to dark and mysterious Russia in the midst of the Cold War. He could have seen the four games and witnessed firsthand Alan Eagleson being manhandled by Soviet soldiers, Phil Esposito falling on his rear end during player announcements, and of course, Paul Henderson’s historic goal, all from his profits from two lousy standing room tickets, if only eBay had existed at that time.

Hopefully the poor guy didn’t feel too bad for missing the big opening game way back then. Maybe he was called into work, in which case he had to go to help pay off that new $4,000 1972 Toyota. Possibly he had lots to do in his new home, which he’d just purchased prior to the series for $30,000, and didn’t have the time or the energy to head down to the Forum on St. Catherines Street in Montreal, and jockey his way into good standing room position.

Maybe he’s been kicking himself ever since for missing it, and the $950 only makes him feel slightly better. But, if he really wants to let it go, he should probably think about the poor ticket takers at the Forum. They handled more than 18,000 tickets that night and then threw all the stubs, which are almost as valuable as full tickets, in the garbage. And the cleaners must have swept up dozens of these beautiful little things from under seats and in the aisles.

If anyone should be kicking themselves, it should be them.

Does CBC Stand for “Coddling Bob Cole” Or “Conniving Budget Cuts?”

CBC’s strange yet true decision to axe the Hockey Night in Canada theme song shouldn’t really be a surprise, should it? It’s all about $500 a pop. In their world, 500 bucks is more important than tradition. Can you see ABC/ESPN telling football fans they’re moving Monday Night Football to Sunday to save money?  

You should see the digs the CBC is in in downtown Toronto. Just a stone’s throw from Gretzky’s eatery. With a lease arrangement for the property that must be through the roof. If they want to save money, forget the 500 bucks, just move to Oshawa. There’s a GM plant there that should be empty pretty soon.

It’s a little like 2005 when they fired one of hockey’s best play-by-play guys, Chris Cuthbert. It was budget cuts, they explained. Viewers were livid, wrote nasty letters, and swore they’d never watch hockey again. But head sports lady Nancy Lee didn’t care. Chris Cuthbert goes and Bob Cole stays. The decision was made, regardless of the possibilty that Ms. Lee might have been on a major acid trip at the time.

CBC didn’t care then, and they don’t care now. They’re saving 500 bucks a week. It’s all about the bottom line, as small as it might be. It was a choice. 500 bucks, or music that heralded our hockey game on Saturday night for the last 40 years. The 500 bucks won.

And they figure because we’re Canadian, we’ll put up a fuss now, complain until the season starts, hate the new prize-winning song the first week, then it’ll all be forgotten, we’ll move on, and live happily ever after.

You know, they’re probably right.

Hey Rick Ley, About My Hockey Gloves? I Feel I’ve Been More Than Patient

Enough’s enough. Rick Ley still hasn’t returned my hockey gloves. Doesn’t he understand the impact here?

I’ve decided to write him a letter:

Dear Rick: I’m still waiting for my gloves. Remember? You borrowed them when you were going away to the Niagara Falls Flyers training camp. They fit you like a, uh, glove. If you would have borrowed big Gerry Gibson’s gloves from up around the corner, you might have done poorly, because they were too big and would have been hard to handle the puck with. But no, you borrowed mine, made the team, and the rest, as they say, is history.


You showed the coach you could play well, probably because my gloves were fitting well and feeling good. So he kept you, and within a couple of years, you were playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. You even had a small part in a movie. You made way more money than me, and it all started with my gloves. Is that ironic or what?

If you had decided to go with big Gerry Gibson’s gloves, which of course would have been too loose, you might still be a rink rat back home and would have never jumped over to the New England Whalers, where you were great. And when they raised your jersey to the rafters in Hartford, next to Gordie Howe’s jersey, did you and your wife even think of me and silently thank me during the emotional ceremony?

In 1974, when the World Hockey Association all-stars played the Russians and you were on the team, did you ever think you’d be playing for your country, all because you borrowed my gloves, which helped you make the Niagara Falls Flyers and you eventually ended up with the Leafs and then the Whalers and then Team Canada?

And when you mugged Russian star Valeri Kharlamov on the ice, did you know that Russian President Leonid Brezhnev, a big hockey fan, was following the series, and when Kharlamov was never the same again after your mugging and it affected the team, it led to a tremendously dispirited Brezhnev, who, maybe because he felt bad, eventually passed away, which led to a succession of leaders, and eventually Mikhail Gorbachev came in, and to make a long story short, was the beginning of the fall of communism? So when you look at it closely, I guess you could say me and my hockey gloves were responsible for the end of the Cold War.

Then you became the long-serving assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, did pretty good, and I feel it’s time you should return my gloves. You owe me, and it’s not even the end of it. You prepared the team, worked with them in practices and games, and made them better players. They wouldn’t have learned as much if you weren’t there, and you wouldn’t have been there if you hadn’t made the Niagara Falls Flyers shortly after you borrowed my gloves those many decades ago. So I guess that means that all those Leafs you coached should thank me. I hope they didn’t learn bad habits from you about not returning things, though.

I know you’re a busy man, and it was a long time ago, and have just forgotten completely about the borrowing. I’m just reminding you, that’s all, and I know that you will find the time to put the gloves in a box and send them to me.

Thanks a lot.

Your pal from the neighbourhood,

Dennis

Detroit Captures The Stanley Cup. I’m Searching For The Meaning Of Life.

And thus, there’s no more hockey. For a few months at least.

Detroit closed it off on this June 4, 2008 with a game six win in Pittsburgh, and even though all of us except Tiger Woods wanted a closely-fought seven games final, it was obvious from the very beginning, from game one, that Detroit was to be reckoned with, and they made the Pittsburgh Penguins, for the most part, look very ordinary throughout.

With the Red Wings looking so impressive, Montreal will have to pull up their socks, maybe add a couple of Mats Sundin’s, and then take a long hard run at it. I’ve got a real good feeling about the Habs. They’re young, exciting, fast, colourful, and they gave us a real fun season. Next year should be even more exciting and stressful.

I hadn’t paid much interest to the Detroit Red Wings during the regular season. I was too busy concentrating on the Habs taking on Boston, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Ottawa, and the rest of the eastern teams.

But what a nice team they are.

Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are simply fantastic players. We pride ourselves on this being a breeding grounds for good Canadian hockey-playing boys, but other countries sure know how to do it too. Sweden and Russia in particular must have great minor hockey systems.

And wouldn’t Zetterberg and Datsyuk look great in Montreal Canadiens sweaters?

So the hockey season is over, but my blog isn’t. I’m just going to carry on, trying to put something interesting up everyday. And I mean everyday, except, possibly, the odd missed day.

When the Habs bowed out, I lost a ton of readers, but many of you have stuck with me, and I really appreciate this. So I carry on for you and hope the odd new reader shows up. (I also carry on for myself because writing is pretty well the only way I can be creative. I can’t sing, dance, whistle, cook, speak well, or tell jokes properly.

Not every daily posting will be about hockey this summer. I’m on my quest to find the meaning of life, and so my meanderings will be here and there and over there. Surely the meaning of life can’t be that hard to find, can it?

I still haven’t heard back from the Montreal organization regarding my application to be flag guy at a game next season at the Bell Centre. Maybe the fact that they haven’t answered quickly is a good sign.

Back tomorrow. Good night.

   

Tiger Should Just Play With His Balls

 

Tiger Woods scoffs at Stanley Cup final

I don't think anybody really watches hockey any more: Tiger Woods on Monday. I don’t think anybody really watches hockey any more: Tiger Woods on Monday. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)                                                            
It seems Tiger Woods isn’t much of a hockey fan.

Woods, the world’s No. 1 golfer, told reporters Monday that he had no preference when it comes to who captures the Stanley Cup, the Detroit Red Wings or Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I don’t really care,” he said. “Let’s talk about the Dodgers.

“I don’t think anybody really watches hockey any more.”

Woods made the remark on a conference call promoting the PGA Championship, to be played Aug. 4-10 at Oakland Hills Country Club in the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Township.

Detroit leads Pittsburgh 3-2 in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final — the first championship showdown between the two cities since the 1909 World Series, won by the Pirates in seven games over the Tigers.

Since then, Detroit teams have won 21 pro sports titles: the Red Wings with 10, in 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998 and 2002; the Pistons in 1989, 1990 and 2004; the Lions in 1935, 1952, 1953 and 1957; and the Tigers in 1935, 1945, 1968 and 1984.

Pittsburgh’s pro franchises have won 11 titles since 1909: the Penguins with two, in 1991 and 1992; the Steelers in 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979 and 2005; and the Pirates in 1925, 1960, 1971 and 1979.

All Of A Sudden, After A Long Night, There’s A New Feel To The Finals

Is it possible this could be a dream series after all?

Is it possible that one team, although badly outshot in the series, down three games to one, with one young star, Evgeny Malkin, asleep at the wheel, and the other young star, Sidney Crosby, not behaving like the new Wayne Gretzky, can now make this a real series like we all thought it would be, on the strength of Petr Sykora’s overtime goal in game five that now makes it three games to two.

This absolutey can be a series to remember, although not the way we thought it would be. We thought it could go either way before it started. But Detroit’s been too good and it should be over but it’s not. Now, Wednesday’s tilt in Pittsburgh should be a real beauty.

Although we’ve been fooled before.

 

There’s nothing worse in professional sports than a final series sweep, or even a five game series.  In a perfect world, the showcase stretches out, with drama and heartache, and ending with sheer ecstacy for one team, with one player who creates a legend for himself by hitting that ninth inning pitch into the bleachers, nailing that last second three-pointer or Hail Mary, or notching a game seven overtime goal.

It’s drama. It’s what most of us want. Not some lacklustre, one-sided four game sweep. It’s not good for anyone, except the winning team.

Now we’ve got a series. Maybe.

In the last few hours I’ve talked to people who feel Pittsburgh can now win the whole thing. I’m not sure I feel this way, but they do.

And how can this be? The Penguins have been outplayed, outshot, and outclassed. But goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is starting to play like Martin Biron did in the Montreal-Philadelphia series, which is not something I’m particularly thrilled to remember.

 

Game Note.

When Maxime Talbot tied the game up late in the third period, it was originally announced as having been scored with 34 seconds to go. So I planned on mentioning that this would be the biggest goal with 34 seconds to go since Paul Henderson’s in Moscow in 1972.

Then the official time became 35 seconds to go. So never mind.

 

 

 

 

 

Game Four Puts The Penguins On The Brink. Maybe They Shouldn’t Have Made The Trade.

By beating Pittsburgh 2-1 Saturday night, the Detroit Red Wings are only one game away from (1) winning the Stanley Cup, and (2), making me look really smart because I predicted Detroit in five games.

Detroit just seems too deep in the lineup for the Penguins. It’s a team of much more than simply Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, and Nick Lidstrom. There’s all kinds of contributors spread throughout this lineup. Kind of makes you wonder how they went something like one win and eight losses during a bad stretch in the regular season.

And they’re doing this job with seven Swedes in their lineup. What would Harold Ballard think?

Pittsburgh on the other hand is Sidney Crosby, Gary Roberts, who makes up with heart what he’s lost in skill, (he is, after all, about 80 years old), and sometimes Marian Hossa and Evgeny Malkin.

Malkin looks like he’s in school, learning with great surprise that it takes a whole different game in the playoffs than it does in the regular season. Maybe he’s learning for future years, maybe not. All I know is that if I’m choosing a Russian for my team, I’d pick Pavel Datsyuk over Malkin. Datsyuk has this wonderful feistiness that I didn’t realize he had, and it goes along perfectly with his great skill.

Marian Hossa is good, not great, and I think Pittsburgh may have been more successful if they would’ve kept Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, instead of trading these young studs to Atlanta for the hired gun, Hossa. And don’t forget, Pittsburgh also gave away future star Angelo Esposito and a first round draft pick in this Hossa deal.

Not to mention the fact that Hossa could be gone from Pittsburgh after this season.

Announcer Bob Cole has been doing a fairly good job in this series. Maybe he’s only a wanker when he does Habs games.

Further to the last post regarding arenas and how most are named after banks and other corporations. It occurred to me today that maybe Vancouver Canucks fans might want to hope that BC Ferries doesn’t buy General Motors Place. There’s something about BC Ferries Place that doesn’t sound right. Don’t you think?

 

 

A Short Tale Of Two Arenas

Game four of the Stanley Cup finals is played, of course, at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena. This place, once known as the Civic Arena and nicknamed the Igloo, is the oldest in the league, having opened its’ doors in 1961. It holds about 17,000 people, is old, it leaks in places, and some people can’t see because an overhead structure obstructs their view. So televisions have been placed so they can watch the game they’re at on the screen.

The Civic Arena became the home of the Penguins when the team entered the league in the 1967 expansion.  The name was changed to Mellon in 1999, and was, like several other arenas around the league, named for a bank. 

When game five goes in Detroit, it will be, as always, played at the Joe Louis Arena, named after Detroit native and world champion boxer Joe Louis. It’s nice that this arena isn’t named after a bank or some other conglomerate.

The Joe has been around since 1979, and before that, the Wings played at the old Olympia, home of Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuk, and several hundred dead octopi.

It holds just over 20,000. 

Steroids: MLB? Yes. NFL? Yes. Olympians? Of Course. But Not The Habs.

This story broke in the Canadian Press yesterday and is about a doctor who says he fed steroids to certain Montreal Canadiens and Montreal Alouette players beginning around 2001 or so. He said it stopped when the players were traded to western teams.

The teams, however, are saying they know absolutely nothing about this doctor, and of course are denying everything.

I almost decided to make a list of Montreal Canadiens who were moved to western teams in the past years since 2001, but then I said no. No one’s name should be smeared because some crooked doctor who’s now in hot water wants to justify his reputation by saying even the Habs and Alouettes did it, so he’s not so bad after all.

This is all slanderous bullshit. I hate to see this kind of negative publicity, but because this blog is all about the Habs, I feel you should see it if you haven’t already.

It seems like if it’s not one thing it’s another with the Montreal Canadiens.

 

 

Montreal professional sports teams deny link to doctor who doped athletes

MONTREAL — Professional sports teams in Montreal are denying any connection with Dr. Maurice Duquette, who has pleaded guilty to charges of doping athletes.

Duquette has been linked to former Canadian cycling champ Genevieve Jeanson who tested positive in July 2005 for the banned substance erythropoietin. She admitted in an interview last year that she had taken the performance-enhancer, better known as EPO, for several years before the test.

Jeanson also has said Duquette administered the EPO for the first time in 1998 when she was 16 years old and suffered from anemia.

The disciplinary committee of the group which represents Quebec’s doctors also said Wednesday it wasn’t comfortable with the sanctions being recommended against Duquette.

An inquiry by the College des Medecins du Quebec recommended the doctor not be allowed to practice for four months and that he not to be permitted to treat athletes in the future.

The doctors’ disciplinary committee described the recommended sanctions as “not being severe enough.”

During a disciplinary hearing this week, it was revealed that Duquette admitted in 2001 he acted as an adviser to professional hockey players to help them “maintain their retail value.”

But investigators say he told them the relationship ended when the players were transferred to teams in the West.

No names or other details of Duquette’s relationships with professional teams were released at the two-day hearing.

Donald Beauchamp, a spokesman for the Montreal Canadiens, says he checked inside the hockey organization and nobody knew anything about Duquette.

“We’ve never heard of anything of this nature … we found no information whatsoever,” he told The Canadian Press.

Louis-Philippe Dorais, an official with the Montreal Alouettes, says the team has never communicated with Duquette and its doctors don’t know him “either personally or professionally.”

“We’ve spoken with our medical staff, our managers with the Alouettes and nobody’s been in touch with Dr. Duquette and our organization has no relationship with him,” Dorais said in an interview.

When asked if any players had been in personal contact with Duquette, Dorais said that was beyond the team’s control.

Jacques Prevost, a lawyer involved in Duquette’s inquiry, says the sanctions were negotiated more than four-and-half-years ago after a long list of complaints were filed against the doctor in 2002.

But he said it was up to the disciplinary committee to decide on the final sanctions.

“The goal of any disciplinary action is not to punish the professional but to protect the public,” Prevost said. “It’s not an inquiry into the sports world, it’s an inquiry (into the conduct) of a doctor.”

The disciplinary committee has postponed its decision on sanctions until a later date.

Prevost said he expects further arguments to be presented at that time by all parties involved.