All posts by Dennis Kane

Gaston Wears His Habs Sweater On The Hawaii of the North

 Just north of Powell River lies Savary Island, called the Hawaii of the North for its beautiful beaches and tropical climate. All you do is drive north to the end of the road, 25 minutes away, hop in a little $11 water taxi, and presto, you’re there. It has a dirt road, a few cars, several dozen houses, but these houses have no electricity so generators, solar/wind systems, or propane are needed to enjoy those hockey games in the evening. Bluesman Colin James and family have a place here, and the word is Kevin Costner does too, but that may or may not be true.

 All I know is, the beaches are outstanding.

 So after Gaston’s recent ferry ride fiasco, he told me one night he’d like to get away for awhile, away from everything, and I suggested Savary. It’s not far, it’s relaxing, and I figured it was just what the doctor ordered for the little beastia.

 I drove him up to Lund and waved goodbye on the water taxi. He needs this rest and relaxation, I figured. Things haven’t been going well for him on the tour lately.

 The next day, Delores, a Savary Island local, showed up at my door a litle hot under the collar, and handed over a sickly Gaston to me. It seems he refused to take off his Habs sweater in sweltering temperatures and suffered a massive dose of sunstroke. Delores also informed me that Gaston crashed a womens’ beach volleyball game, propositioned the players, peed on a campfire during a group sing-a-long, threw sand in a couple of 90 pound weaklings’ eyes, stole a bottle of moonshine, drank most of it, and then lit it and set a big tent on fire.

 And in his drunken stupor, he proposed to Delores and tried to seduce her by singing old Mel Torme standards with no pants on.

 Now he’s got a hangover.

 Why do I put up with Gaston? Because he loves the Habs. Because he comes from a screwed up family tree. And because I need him for the tour.

 I took a photo of him when Delores showed up at the house. Here it is. Someday I hope he grows up.

 

The Schedule’s Out Finally. And I’m Making Plans

I’ve been waiting weeks for the release of the new schedule. I haven’t seen my Habs play live in ten years, and my wife, also a good, solid Habs fan, has never seen them. So on February 15th. I’m going to take her down to Vancouver, get a hotel, score some tickets, even if they’re scalpers tickets, and we’re gonna see our team. (Please excuse the lack of capital letters in this paragraph. This is what happens when I copy and paste something from NHL.com like I did here with the schedule. I can’t fix it.) 

The last time I saw them, it was also in Vancouver, and the Habs got walloped about 5-1 by those dastardly Canucks. The place was full of Habs fans chanting “Go Habs Go” and it really upset Canucks fans who tried to drown them out. I sat up near the top, but this time, things will be different. Not only will the boys be in top form and show those Canucks a thing or two, but I plan on getting primo tickets down low to make it all perfect. I think it’s better than going to Mexico. 

Oh, it’s going to be great. February 15th. A Sunday night. WHOOPEE!!

And one last thing. The last time I saw the Habs in Vancouver, I walked into a sports bar near GM Place a few hours before game time, and the place was packed with guys and gals wearing Montreal Canadien jerseys. It made my heart soar like an eagle.

 

 

Canadiens 2008-2009 Regular season click here for venue times
Visitor Home Start Time TV: Nat’l Local (A) Local (H) XM Result
Fri Oct 10, 2008
Canadiens Sabres
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Oct 11, 2008
Canadiens Maple Leafs
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Oct 13, 2008
Canadiens Flyers
7:00 PM ET
           
Wed Oct 15, 2008
Bruins Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Oct 18, 2008
Coyotes Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Oct 20, 2008
Panthers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Oct 25, 2008
Ducks Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Oct 28, 2008
Hurricanes Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Oct 30, 2008
Canadiens Wild
8:00 PM ET
           
Sat Nov 1, 2008
Canadiens Islanders
7:00 PM ET
           
Fri Nov 7, 2008
Canadiens Blue Jackets
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Nov 8, 2008
Canadiens Maple Leafs
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Nov 11, 2008
Senators Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Nov 13, 2008
Canadiens Bruins
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Nov 15, 2008
Flyers Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Sun Nov 16, 2008
Canadiens Blues
6:00 PM ET
           
Tue Nov 18, 2008
Canadiens Hurricanes
7:00 PM ET
           
Thu Nov 20, 2008
Canadiens Senators
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Nov 22, 2008
Bruins Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Nov 24, 2008
Islanders Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Wed Nov 26, 2008
Canadiens Red Wings
7:30 PM ET
           
Fri Nov 28, 2008
Canadiens Capitals
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Nov 29, 2008
Sabres Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Dec 2, 2008
Thrashers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Dec 4, 2008
Rangers Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Dec 6, 2008
Devils Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Dec 9, 2008
Flames Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Dec 11, 2008
Lightning Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Dec 13, 2008
Capitals Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Dec 16, 2008
Canadiens Hurricanes
7:00 PM ET
           
Thu Dec 18, 2008
Flyers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Dec 20, 2008
Sabres Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Sun Dec 21, 2008
Hurricanes Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Dec 27, 2008
Canadiens Penguins
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Dec 29, 2008
Canadiens Panthers
7:30 PM ET
           
Tue Dec 30, 2008
Canadiens Lightning
7:30 PM ET
           
Fri Jan 2, 2009
Canadiens Devils
7:00 PM ET
           
Sun Jan 4, 2009
Panthers Canadiens
1:00 PM ET
           
Wed Jan 7, 2009
Canadiens Rangers
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Jan 8, 2009
Maple Leafs Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Jan 10, 2009
Capitals Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Jan 13, 2009
Canadiens Bruins
7:00 PM ET
           
Thu Jan 15, 2009
Predators Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Jan 17, 2009
Canadiens Senators
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Jan 20, 2009
Canadiens Thrashers
7:00 PM ET
           
Wed Jan 21, 2009
Canadiens Devils
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Jan 27, 2009
Canadiens Lightning
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Jan 29, 2009
Canadiens Panthers
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Jan 31, 2009
Kings Canadiens
3:00 PM ET
           
Sun Feb 1, 2009
Bruins Canadiens
3:00 PM ET
           
Tue Feb 3, 2009
Penguins Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Fri Feb 6, 2009
Canadiens Sabres
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Feb 7, 2009
Maple Leafs Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Feb 9, 2009
Canadiens Flames
9:00 PM ET
           
Wed Feb 11, 2009
Canadiens Oilers
9:00 PM ET
           
Fri Feb 13, 2009
Canadiens Avalanche
9:00 PM ET
           
Sun Feb 15, 2009
Canadiens Canucks
10:00 PM ET
           
Wed Feb 18, 2009
Canadiens Capitals
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Feb 19, 2009
Canadiens Penguins
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Feb 21, 2009
Senators Canadiens
3:00 PM ET
           
Tue Feb 24, 2009
Canucks Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Fri Feb 27, 2009
Canadiens Flyers
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Feb 28, 2009
Sharks Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Wed Mar 4, 2009
Canadiens Sabres
7:30 PM ET
           
Fri Mar 6, 2009
Canadiens Thrashers
7:30 PM ET
           
Sun Mar 8, 2009
Canadiens Stars
6:00 PM ET
           
Tue Mar 10, 2009
Oilers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Mar 12, 2009
Islanders Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Mar 14, 2009
Devils Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Mar 17, 2009
Rangers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Mar 19, 2009
Canadiens Senators
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Mar 21, 2009
Maple Leafs Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Mar 24, 2009
Thrashers Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Mar 26, 2009
Lightning Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Sat Mar 28, 2009
Sabres Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           
Tue Mar 31, 2009
Blackhawks Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Thu Apr 2, 2009
Canadiens Islanders
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Apr 4, 2009
Canadiens Maple Leafs
7:00 PM ET
           
Mon Apr 6, 2009
Senators Canadiens
7:30 PM ET
           
Tue Apr 7, 2009
Canadiens Rangers
7:00 PM ET
           
Thu Apr 9, 2009
Canadiens Bruins
7:00 PM ET
           
Sat Apr 11, 2009
Penguins Canadiens
7:00 PM ET
           

We Lost Gary Lupul A Year Ago

  

A year ago today, July 17, 2007, Gary Lupul passed away. He was 48 years old.

Gary Lupul was an ex-Vancouver Canuck, a proud Powell Riverite, a friend to people from all walks of live, and a great friend of mine. He was a scout for the Canucks when he died, and his beat was Ontario and the northern US, and he would phone me from Kitchener or Ottawa or even while driving through my old birthplace, Orillia, just to check in, to ask how I’m doing, and to say all was well with him.

Gary had lived several lives. Along with being a great athlete, he also had personal demons which ended his career prematurely. He told me once that there were times when he’d get a couple of hours sleep after a big party at his house in Vancouver, get up, walk over a bunch of people sleeping on the floor, and go to his Canucks practices.

He was such a colourful character, and it seems like he was just here a few days ago, and now he’s gone forever.

When I heard the news that Gary had died, for a minute or so I thought it had to be another Gary Lupul. It was shocking. It’s still hard to sort out.

He was the friendliness guy I think I’ve ever met. He only wanted to talk about you, never himself. And he was always genuinely interested. And he could be best friends to the most down and out folks, all the way up to the movers and shakers. Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone.

I would just like you to know that Gary was a real hockey player, not just a fringe player. Drugs and alcohol hurt his career and he never really had a chance to show what he could do.

Here’s some examples;

He was a crowd favourite, and the Pacific Coliseum faithful used to chant ‘Loop, Loop, Loop’ thoughout the game. They loved him.

He was a star from the beginning. In minor all-star, he once notched 70 points in 16 games. At 16 he was rookie of the year with the BC Hockey League Nanaimo Clippers. And he racked up 300 points in three years with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.

He was a force to be reckoned with in the 1981-82 Stanley Cup finals against the Islanders.

He played a total of 300 games, with 70 goals and 75 assists. All while he did too much partying.

Mario Lemieux’s first fight in the NHL was against Gary.

Gary played for Canada in the 1979 World Juniors in Sweden.

Twice he was picked as a three star selection in an NHL game. And twice he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada.

In a game against the Montreal Canadiens during his first season, he scored twice against Bunny Larocque.

And he scored on his first shot in the NHL against Rogie Vachon.

Gary is missed by many people. He was a friend to all.

 

 

 

 

Some Moments Last forever, Whether You Want Them To Ot Not

If you say you’ve never been embarrassed, I don’t believe you.

 

I have been. Many times. Like this.

 

I parked my car at the back of the bicycle shop and my son and I walked through the back door and up to the counter. “I want to see about getting my son’s bike fixed,” I said to the guy standing across from me, but the guy looked disinterested and said nothing.

 

“I want to get my son’s bike fixed,” I repeated, with my voice rising.

 

The guy looked at me again, then said maybe someone over there would help.

 

“Look,” I said. “What kind of an employee are you? This is ridiculous. What are you getting paid for, anyway?”

 

I was really pissed off, my son was looking uncomfortable, but there’s was no way I was going to take this incompetency from this no-good, lazy employee. Employees can’t treat customers like this.

 

“Where’s the manager?” I yelled. “This is bullshit. Where’s the manager?”

 

The fellow looked at me, as did everyone in the store.  “I’ve no idea,” said the guy. “I’m just a customer like you. You’re standing on the wrong side of the counter.”

 

My son didn’t talk to me for several days.

 

It’s similar to a story I heard years ago. A guy was sitting in a restaurant drinking a coffee, and got up and went to the bathroom. When he returned, there was a guy sitting at his table drinking his coffee.

 

The guy from the bathroom was obviously upset and said, “Hey buddy, you’re sitting in my seat and drinking my coffee.” The guy at the table just sat there and said nothing, but continued to drink the coffee. 

 

“Hey buddy, you heard me. You’re at my table, drinking my coffee. Beat it. Get lost. Get your own coffee.”

 

The guy at the table just looked at the other guy and sipped a little more coffee.

 

So the fellow standing up had had enough. He went over, tipped the table over, and the coffee, of course, went flying. He was just about to slug the guy when, out of the corner of his eye, he saw his own, empty table a few feet away with his coffee sitting there getting cold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Georges Laraque Wins, Hockey Forums Lose (At Least I Say They Lose)

I was reading a year-old Maclean’s magazine yesterday while waiting for my car, and there was an article about the NHL’s greatest fighters, with matchups of serious bruisers over the years and then the ultimate winner. They had Gordie Howe, Stu Grimson, Bob Probert, Stan Jonathan and about ten others, did an elimination thing, and in the end, Montreal’s Georges Laraque beat Bob Probert to win Best Fighter Ever in the NHL.

 

Isn’t that good? Bring ’em on, tough guys around the league. Big Georges is gonna kick you to kingdom come. And Saku and Tomas and the rest can now sleep just a little more soundly.

 

In other news:

I don’t know if you ever read these hockey forums where guys give their two cents worth and most are only worth one cent. It doesn’t matter what team site it is, they’re all the same. One guy on the Habs site, for example, will go on about how Bob Gainey has lost his mind, another will show how smart he is by listing a bunch of minor leaguers Bob should either bring up or deal; another will say he’s heard through a legitimate rumour that Mats Sundin is on his way to Vancouver. Etc, etc.

 

These guys are the absolute definitive armchair quarterbacks. And they get nasty if someone decides the other is full of it.

 

I’ve offered my two cents from time to time, but I think I come across as boring because I don’t make the outlandish predictions or use players’ nicknames like I know them personally.

 

I think I’ll stay away from these forums. They upset me.

 

Or I could just say that Mats Sundin has bought the Montreal Canadiens and will become player-coach, owner, and announcer, but can’t right now because he’s dating Madonna and it’s complicated because Madonna is a Rangers fan that stems from her old relationship with Mark Messier. (Was there a love-child?) And now A-Rod is on the warpath because he’s lost both his wife and Madonna, is now looking for Mats, and apparently Bob Cole and Britney Spears were seen dancing the tango at Spago’s in Hollywood, and the whole thing’s just a big mess.  

 

 

 

My Dad Came From The Days When Hockey On The Radio Was Just As Good Seeing It On High Definition

My dad was born in 1920. He’ll be 88 in a couple of months.

 

He told me yesterday he really misses hockey from days gone by. About Foster Hewitt on the radio on Saturday night, telling him how Turk Broda was making a sprawling save, about Blake and Richard, Bill Barilko and Busher Jackson and all the grand old players from way back when.

 

Saturday night was a big night, he said. And when television came along, the only problem was the game started at the beginning of the second period.

 

After that he said he didn’t understand all the money players are making now.

 

Then we changed the subject and went on about chasing Nazi war criminals in South America.

Watching Good Old Hockey Games. It’s Food For The Soul

 I just watched game three on the NHL Network of the 1962 Stanley Cup finals between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Toronto Maple Leafs ( the Hawks won 3-0 but the Leafs eventually won the series in six games).

I love watching the old stuff. In this game, a young Bobby Hull, wearing number 7 (he first wore number sixteen, then went to nine), skated like the wind and blasted away with that cannon he had. Goalies Glenn Hall and Johnny Bower weren’t wearing masks. Frank Mahovlich skated in big swooping strides. Reg Fleming and Tim Horton got in a scuffle, then went and sat side by side in the penalty box, which players did in those days, even after major scraps. And big, heavy bodychecks were the order of the day.

The game was at a jam-packed Chicago Stadium, and when Stan Mikita scored, fans tossed balloons and the odd fedora on the ice. Toronto announcer Bill Hewitt (Foster’s son) did the play-by-play, and in 1962, he was still a little rough around the edges. He got smoother in later years. And he worked alone, without a sidekick.

 Watching games like this is a joy for me. It reminds me of when I was a schoolboy, collecting hockey cards and hockey coins, and dreaming of someday playing in the NHL just like these guys.

 I wish they’d show more of these old games. And this is what should’ve been on during those long breaks between games in this year’s playoffs.

 Really old games are a beautiful thing. We need more of them.

The Continental Hockey League Is A Curious Thing Indeed

It’ll be interesting to see how things play out in the next few years regarding the new Russian Continental Hockey League. They’ve now wooed a trickle of players there, Alexander Radulov being the latest, before that, Jaromir Jagr and others, and they welcome with open arms those who’ve basically worn out their welcome in the NHL such as Chris Simon and Ray Emery.

 

This is a league about to begin play in September, and is the blossoming flower that has emerged from the wilted Russian Elite League. It’s a league with money, thanks to a Russia that went from a penniless nation to a filthy rich empire, all because businessmen learned how to become capitalists and how Russian oil barons clued in on how to make lots of money with a product the rest of the world already knew what to do with.

 

Players in the past, Alexander Mogilny, Pavel Bure, Sergei Federov, etc., said goodbye to friends and family a couple of decades ago because they saw players in North America, often with lesser talent, making hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions, while they toiled under the tired mess in their homeland for maybe $200 a month if they were lucky.

 

Eventually, every great young Russian player made his way to the NHL, and we thought they most definitely are enjoying an upgrade in quality of life compared to the old country.

 

But players are starting to go back, because the money offered by the new league seems as silly as it is in the NHL. Which brings us to the real question: If this league is for real, how many Russian players will be left in the NHL in a few years from now?

 

Of course it’s natural that players will return to their roots, to what they know, to their families and their familiar foods and language.

 

But it goes beyond all of that. As I’ve said in older posts, I’ve been to Russia six or seven times, and I see, albeit maybe just scratching the surface, what life is like there. And in general, it’s not a pretty picture.

 

Rich hockey players will have nice apartments, but they still have to go outside. Russia’s not a clean country. It’s not an overly friendly place, especially in shops and subways. It’s not a safe place, it’s important to leave your wallet and passport hidden. Russian people there and here, including my wife, will attest to all of this.

 

And gypsies and low-life’s in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and other big cities where teams in the Continental Hocky League are based would love to meet rich, young hockey players in back alleys, or in bars after the player has had a few drinks.

 

Maybe most importanly, and dangerously, there’s the Russian mafia, who have their dirty hands in every kiosk and shop, and under-the-table payments to these criminals by struggling shopkeepers is the norm. If a storeowner says no to them, chances are their shop is burned to the ground, or worse. And the police are often in cahoots with these people, and turn the other way.

 

Rich hockey players will be like gold to these people.

 

What will the NHL look like in a few years because of this new league? And will the Continental Hockey League eventually square off against the NHL for a different kind of playoffs and Stanley Cup?  

 

Is a new hockey world in its infancy?

 

And one last note: Aside from the mafia, the gypsies, the low-life’s, the dirt, etc., you must know that everyday, regular Russian people are some of the warmest, kindest, gentle folk you will find. They’ll give you the shirt of their back. They’re loving, family-oriented people, and have all kinds of values North Americans can learn from.

 

And maybe that’s why Russian hockey players want to go home. 

Get Out Of Your Easy Chair, Mats, And Do What You Should Be Doing

I’m not like Mats Sundin. I have to go to work today. So do you.

 

I think Mats Sundin will sign with the Montreal Canadiens. And it’s only because the main rival to the Habs for Sundin’s services are the Canucks. Thank goodness it’s the Canucks. Everyone else has spent their allowance.

 

And even though Vancouver has offered Sundin three million a year more than Montreal, the bottom line is, Sundin wouldn’t mind winning a Stanley Cup, which the Canucks won’t be doing anytime soon. And his previous team? There’s a thousand jokes about that.

 

But the Habs will. Maybe even next year. Sundin knows this, of course, and anyway, what’s a lousy three million? Sundin lights his cigars with that kind of money.

 

I do however, think it’s a little rude on Sundin’s part to make teams wait. He’s a good player but he’s not the Rocket. And I’ll bet he’s enjoying the attention.

 

Just retire at 40 or 41, Mats. Consider yourself lucky that teams like the Montreal Canadiens are willing to pay you seven million dollars and give you a chance to win the Stanley Cup, something that was only a hallucinatory dream in Toronto. And of course, Mats, that along with your aging birth certificate comes aging bones, and if you go on the injury shelf, Montreal still pays you your millions.

 

So it’s a win-win for you. You probably don’t play a lot, you win a Stanley Cup, and you make your seven million. WHAT”S THE PROBLEM? 

 

Retire at 38 years old and turn down millions of dollars? Imagine?

 

How many of us can do that?

 

 

 

 

 

Pavol Demitra Wanted To Play For A Contender. And He Chose The Canucks?

Right winger Pavol Demitra said he really wanted to go to the Vancouver Canucks because he wants to play for a team which has a shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

 I thought about what he said, and I thought about the Canucks. Then I thought about Demitra. Funnyman Pavol Demitra. Last Comic Standing. What a wild and crazy guy! What a kidder! 

The Vancouver Canucks may have a shot at winning the Stanley Cup, just not anytime soon. They’re in the midst of rebuilding, the way Montreal was five years ago. They have goalie Roberto Luongo, the Sedin’s, and about fifteen players named Ryan. And the Sedin’s, as I see and hear first-hand, are really starting to piss off Canuck fans.

Even brand new GM Mike Gillis says this is a team that is not good enough. Kevin Lowe, in his recent tirade, said Brian Burke left the Canucks in shambles, which is almost true. And die-hard Powell River Canuck fans don’t want to talk about their team right now. They’re kind of embarrassed.

I suppose Demitra, because the Canucks did end up signing him, was just sucking up to the Canucks, that’s all. Maybe he wants to live close to Powell River? It can’t be that he actually believes the Canucks are contenders. Then I wouldn’t call him a comedian. I’d be worried that maybe he has a substance-abuse problem instead.

 Nah, he’s just a jokester.

 

He just did a really funny sucking-up job. He tickled our funny bones. The Tonight Show should be calling soon.

 

And if Toronto had shown interest, would he say he’d like to go there because the Leafs have a good shot at winning? I suppose so. It’s good solid humour.  The guy’s a riot. Robin Williams in shoulder pads.

 

Ah, Pavol. You funny, funny guy, you.