All posts by Dennis Kane

Canucks Fans Not Happy With The Coach…Plus…Der Habinator Says Hello!

Most every hockey fan on the west coast knows that Vancouver Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault is on the bubble. For him, it’s either the Canucks get off to a reasonably good start, or the guy, who coached the Habs for three years in the late 1990’s, will be filing for his unemployment papers.

 

The problem has been that the coach likes to keep his players under wraps, to play defensively and conservatively. It didn’t sit well with Markus Naslund, and it isn’t sitting well with Canucks’ fans.

 

These comments were posted in the Vancouver Sun a couple of days ago, regarding the release of the new Canucks’ TV broadcast schedule:

 

“Why waste time watching this season. They’ll be lucky if they win 40 games.”   Aldo M

 

“Great. This shame/sham of a hockey team will be broadcast live in living colour.”  vancouversredwingcountry

 

82 games of boredom….Watching paint dry is more exciting than watching the Canucks!”    Bob from Saanich

 

“If they continue their boring old neutral zone/defensive crap, I could care less if they win or not. Show me three minutes of highlights.”    Bob

 

“I’d rather sit in a chair and stare at my wall.”      David Puddy

 

 

 

Lots of readers know who der Habinator is. He was a regular reader and commentor here, but he’s gone away. The story’s been told. It’s all quite interesting.

 

I was at work the other night on the ferry, giving my 120 percent as usual, and a couple of passengers who know me called me over. They said they were just in Canmore, Alberta at a Home Depot, and another customer there overheard them mention they lived in Powell River. The guy went over to them and asked them if they knew Dennis Kane, which they said yes.

Tell him hello from der Habinator, said the guy. 

 

Yes indeed. This unsuspecting couple ran into the one and only der Habinator.

 

I thought this was fantastic and i know several people, like Danielleia in Buffalo and Mike in Toronto, and Lawrence in Powell River, who might get a kick out of this.

 

For the rest of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I suppose you had to be there.

 

Der Habinator’s colourful comments are peppered throughout this blog. You can’t miss them.

 

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs (How Can I Say It Politely), Will Smell Like Farm Animal Excretement

Hockey fans became completely sick of hearing Mats Sundin’s name about a month ago, and so I apologize for mentioning it now. But His Majesty is on the verge now of announcing whether he will retire or play, so I thought I’d get just a little head start on this.

 

If he plays, there’s always the chance he’ll rejoin his old club, the Toronto Maple Leafs. But I just had a look at the Leafs’ 2008-2009 roster, and maybe His Majesty should consider retiring. Wow! Harold Ballard and girlfriend Yolanda would’ve made this club. King Clancy would’ve made this team, when he was in his eighties.

Several of the hot dog vendors would make this team.  Prince Philip could make this team. Richard Simmons would be on the first line. My daughter’s baby would make this team, and the baby’s not even born yet.

 

The Leafs best player just may be ex-Hab Mikhail Grabovski. And they’ve added Rangers goon Ryan Hollweg, a guy who blows his mind way too often. There was no room for him anymore in New York, but of course there’s lots of room for him in Toronto.

 

Jason Blake will be their leader, like Jean Beliveau, the Rocket, Mark Messier, Joe Sakic, and Steve Yzerman were for their teams. You bet!

 

And I could mention the other Leaf players on the roster but you wouldn’t care anyway.

 

Toronto fans will pack the place every night to see one of the most inconsequential teams in Toronto ever.

 

Mats Sundin will make his choice soon. He can join the Leafs. He can join some good teams like the Habs. He can retire. Or he can help old pal Borje Salming with his underwear business. We’ll see shortly.

 

Sorry to mention his name. Also sorry to mention the Leafs.

Mothers Throw Things Out. It’s Just What They Do. No One Knows Why… Plus… A Boston Bruin Behaving Badly.

Even in 1934 the Boston Bruins were a dastardly bunch. Of course, that’s not anything new. Every year they’re a dastardly bunch.

 

Why is that? Does it have something to do with the Babe Ruth curse, or trading Bobby Orr to Chicago?  I think it’s something only schooled professionals might be able to figure out.

 

For example, in 1934, Bruins defenceman Eddie Shore clubbed Toronto’s Ace Bailey over the head. In fact, he clubbed him so hard, he ended Bailey’s career by fracturing his skull.  But worse than that, he almost ended the poor guy’s life.

 

It was such a terrible situation that later that same year, a charity game between the Leafs and the league’s best players was held in Toronto to help the Bailey family, and $23,000 was raised.

 

And this was the beginning of the annual NHL all-star game. 

 

When Shore did this to Bailey, my father was 14 years old, and he felt bad about what had happened. So he wrote a little get-well letter to Bailey while the player lay between life and death in a Toronto hospital.

 

A while later, a letter arrived for my dad, and it was from Bailey’s wife, thanking him for his kind thoughts.

 

And what happened to the letter?

 

It disappeared when he went into the army, never to be seen again, he explained. Must have got thrown out by his mother, he added.

 

Why do mothers throw out their kids’ good stuff, like hockey cards, baseball gloves, favourite t-shirts that might only have a few holes in it, and letters from Ace Bailey’s wife?

 

Mothers might not be as dastardly as the Bruin Bruins, but they throw out good stuff.

Three Serious Questions Part Two. Will Buffalo Work Hard Enough?

The Olympics are over, it’s late August, and school’s not far off. Which means two things: NHL training camps are soon to open, and retired people will take over the roads in their RV’s.

 

Which brings me to my questions. When swimmers do the backstroke, how do they manage to stay in a straight line? They can’t see. And how can retired people afford gas for their RV’s?

 

And because the gods have presented the city of Buffalo and its hockey team the extreme honour of hosting the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 10, is the city of Buffalo preparing properly for this incredulous occasion? 

Will Montreal’s hotel in Buffalo be scrubbed down properly and the silverware polished so it glistens?  

Will the Sabres make the visitors dressing room more lavish and comfortable than just any old dressing room for any old team?

Will there be a parade and ceremony in honour of this Pope-like visit?

Will the Montreal Canadiens be given the key to the city of Buffalo?

 

All important questions, I think.

 

 

Bring Back Hockey Coins

 

This is a set of Sherriff/Salada hockey coins from 1961-62. I’ve had these since I was eleven years old. They came in Jello and potato chips, and I pressured my mom to buy handfuls of Jello instead of just one or two. So we had a kitchen cupboard with lots of open boxes of Jello in it. I also ate more potato chips than any one human should possibly eat.

At school we would play closest to the wall, just like hockey cards, and I was devastated if my hoard of coins had dwindled. But on the other hand, if I went back to class after recess with dozens more than I had started out with, then all was right with the world. I think it was kind of like having sex before I really knew what sex was.

You could send away to the company for the shields, which I did, but after putting them in their holes and trying to hang them on the wall, most would fall out because they didn’t fit well. So I added small amounts of glue to the backs. When you see these coins in their shields on ebay, which you don’t see very often, most have been glued like mine.

These plastic hockey coins began the year before, in 1960-61 and I had a bunch of them years ago, but not anymore. They also came out as metal coins in 1962-63, and I still have the full set of these.  And there were no shields available for these other years.

The coins made a comeback in 1967, but I don’t think they became all the rage like they were in the earlier years. These later coins have become quite rare and valuable because, I suppose, there just weren’t that many.

Baseball and football also had their own coins, as did old cars and airplanes. But it’s the hockey coins that I cherished the most.

They should bring back hockey coins for the modern generation. Maybe they’d get kids away from computer games for awhile.

John Lennon’s Piece Of Paper Could’ve Made Me A Rich Man. But It Didn’t.

I’d like to go off topic today and tell you a little story about how I turned $120 into $7000. And about how stupid I was not to wait so I could be a rich man today.

 

In the late 1970’s, I bought through an auction house in New York, one of John Lennon’s bank cards. It was from Barkley’s bank, and it basically said that Lennon was free to use it as long as it was under $200, but over that it must be agreed upon by his two lawyers. I paid $120 for it.

 

The little card was signed by Lennon and these two lawyers.

 

I held onto this card for a few years, and then I thought I should sell it, so I put an ad in the Ottawa Citizen, but no one called.

 

Except one day someone did call. He told me his name, said he used to play in a band in NYC, and was a big Beatles collector. And amazingly enough, he even described the card I had.

 

He said he didn’t have much money, but would I be willing to trade, and I said I didn’t mind having a look at what he might offer. So I went to his apartment.

 

His apartment was jammed full of Beatles memorabilia. It was amazing. And he looked at my card and said yes, that’s the one he thought.

 

He then pulled out a binder of sheets of original John Lennon lyrics written in pencil from one particular album “Sometime in New York City”, one of Lennon’s lesser known releases, and asked me if I would like to choose one of the lyrics sheets and trade.

 

So I did. I chose the title song from the album, it was original indeed, in beautiful condition, and at the bottom was one of Lennon’s hand-drawn cartoons of him and Yoko.

 

So I kept this piece of paper for several years. But then my first wife and I began thinking about how nice it would be to turn our dark, musty old basement into a beautiful rec room, and we started getting quotes, and each quote that came in made us more depressed. We didn’t have the thousands of dollars to get this done right.

 

So I decided to put my John Lennon lyrics in another New York auction, at Sotheby’s, and it sold for $7000. We finished the basement, bought brand new furniture for it, and added a lovely big television. It was here I watched my Habs and Canada Cups and Expos.

 

That was good. John Lennon paid for my new rec room. But you know what? If I would’ve kept the lyrics and sold them today, it would go for well into six figures instead of a lousy seven grand.

 

It was just another big mistake for me in a long line of big mistakes.

I Can’t Shake The “Ole” Song, Even In August

Remember that wretched “Ole” song we heard all too often at the Bell Centre when Montreal was leading the game by a goal or two, and before you know it, the other team scores a couple and the song isn’t sung after that?

 

I hate that song. And the other night, watching the Olympics in Beijing, I heard it again during a men’s sailing event.

 

This song inspires the other team. It’s evil. Montreal has lost games because of this song.

 

I understand this is a popular soccer song in Europe. If so, fine. Then let it stay in Europe. Keep it out of Montreal Canadiens games. It doesn’t belong. It smacks of smugness and over-confidence, and celebrating before it’s time to celebrate.

 

I’ve never minded other songs and chants at games, only this one. It creates a positive charge for the opposing team. People who sing this think they’re rejoicing in the good fortunes of the Habs, but all they’re doing is rallying the other team.

 

There should be a city bylaw outlawing this song.

J. Ambrose O’Brien And His $5000 Montreal Canadiens

There’s been some good blog talk lately regarding the origins of the Montreal Canadiens, and the fact that Andy O’Brien’s book, “Fire-Wagon Hockey” later to become “Les Canadiens”, has original Canadiens owner J. Ambrose O’Brien’s own recollections of what happened.

 

I have both books, and they both print Ambrose’s memories of how it happened.

 

“On that chill November 25, 1909, J. Ambrose O’Brien was in Montreal buying supplies for a railway contract on the St. Maurice River. He also owned the Cobalt and Haileybury teams in the miners-supported, rip-snorting Temiskaming League. He received a phone call from the owners (George and Jim Barnett) of the Renfrew Millionaires, suggesting he apply for a franchise in the established league, renamed the Canadian Hockey Association.

 

This is Ambrose O’Brien’s recollection of what happened when he did apply.

 

“My application was laughed at in Room 135 of the Windsor Hotel where the new CHA was meeting. Out in the hall I ran into General Manager J. Gardner of the Wanderers who said: ‘Why don’t we form a new league – you own Cobalt and Haileybury and represent Renfrew, while I have the Wanderers?” So we held a meeting Room 129.”

 

At that meeting, Gardner had another idea. He said to O’Brien:

“Why don’t you get together a French team here in Montreal to balance off the Wanderers with a French-English rivalry?”

 

O’Brien, surprised, replied: “But I don’t know any French players here.”

 

“So what?” came back Gardiner. “I do. in fact, all you’d have to do is back Jack Laviolette financially and the team will be formed for you.”

 

So the National Hockey Association came into being in Room 129 – made up of the Wanderers, Renfrew, Cobalt, Haileybury, and a team to be known as Les Canadiens.

 

J. Ambrose told the author: “My total investment in forming the great Canadiens club was $5000. I paid nothing for the franchise; that amount was for expenses including guaranteeing of player salaries. The understanding was that the Canadiens’ franchise would be turned over to French sportsmen in Montreal as soon as practicable.” (The O’Brien interests withdrew from hockey two years later.)

 

The Canadiens played their first game on January 5, 1910. They won 7-6 over Cobalt.

 

It took the Canadiens six years to build from the NHA bottom to the Stanley Cup top.

 

The author also issues this footnote: “Confusion between J. Ambrose O’Brien and the author often enters because of an interesting coincidence. Both were born in Renfrew, Ont. When Ambrose took over the Millionaires, the author’s late father, Bill O’Brien, was the team trainer. Bill had started a thirty year career as a major league trainer extending through the NHL to baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers. But the two O’Brien families are not related.

Days Off On The Road For The Montreal Canadiens.

Montreal players will get the odd day off on the road this season, and the key to all of this is where their odd day off will fall.

 

For instance, the team is in Tampa Bay on Dec. 30, and doesn’t have to be in New Jersey until Jan. 2, so they can have a New Year’s Eve party. And what better place to have a party than Tampa Bay? Although the last time they decided to do this, Ryan O’Byrne got his mug shot taken.

 

So maybe Tampa Bay isn’t a good place to have a day off.

 

In February, the team goes on a west coast swing, hitting Calgary on Feb. 9th, and they don’t have to play In Edmonton until two days later, and it’s only a half hour plane ride away. So they have lots of time to relax.

 

Is it better to relax in Calgary, or Edmonton? I’m going out on a limb here and saying it’s Calgary. Only because the alternative is Edmonton.

 

So if the boys want to hang out in bars and wear shorts and golf shirts, it’s good to have days off in southern states. If they love cold and snow and a short but dreary existance in the land that time forgot, then that would be Edmonton.

 

However, far and away, the best city to have days off in would be New York. By a country mile. It’s the most vibrant, most interesting, most colourful city on the planet.  It has something for every hockey player. Bars, steaks, women, music, sightseeing, street hip hop for the younger players to get down and boogie, and even serious window shopping.

 

I have a serious dislike for their hockey team, but the city’s great.

 

Ken Dryden said he loved New York because of all the museums he would spend time in. He soaked up the culture. He probably didn’t even go for a beer in Greenwich Village. So Ken Dryden doesn’t count.

 

Forget about Philadelphia, Ottawa, Denver, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and all the rest. These places are just more stops in a long line of stops. The answer is New York. And after that, maybe Miami. And Phoenix if they want to golf and vegetate.  And of course, the notorious Tampa. And Nashville would be good if any of the Habs like country music.

 

And the silliest question of the day is: New York or Edmonton. Which is the better city to have a day off in?   

I Should’ve Tried, At Least, To Work At The Montreal Forum

I’ve been thinking about something a lot lately. A little reflecting, I suppose.

 Instead of working in different blue collar jobs all my life, from factories to bars to driving semi’s, and every other lousy job in between, why didn’t I, when I had the chance, try to get as close to my passion as possible?

 Why didn’t I at least try? Oh, not as a hockey player, of course. As a Forum maintenance man.

 I remember being at a game at the Forum when I was about twenty, and just a block away was a small apartment building. And I’ve thought about this apartment building, because it would’ve been the key.

 I should have saved enough for a year’s rent, went to Montreal as a teenager, and rented an apartment in this building. Then every day, early in the morning, for months, I would’ve walked the short block to the Forum and applied for a job.

 Originally I’d be turned down on a daily basis, but then I would’ve swung into step two. And that would be helping Forum workers carry things from trucks and going to get their coffee. I would’ve done this for free, of course, but it would be all part of the master plan.

 The workers would soon enough get to know me because I would’ve shown up a the same time every day, and was more than willing to help them. Slowly they’d learn my story about how much I wanted to work at the Forum, and slowly, their boss would learn this too.

 Then one day, the Forum needed a new labourer because someone had quit, and because the boss and all the workers liked me and knew I was a good worker, I was hired. Probably part-time to start.

 I would’ve worked myself into a permanent position, and stayed there for more than thirty years.  I would’ve cleaned up hats on the ice after hat tricks were scored. I would’ve fixed the glass, painted lines, laid the red carpet for dignitaries, been working the night of the first 1972 Canada-Russia tilt, scraped blood from the ice after John Ferguson had pummelled someone, and became friendly with all the players. I would’ve been at every game and every Stanley Cup in Montreal at the old Forum for more than three decades, helped work out some kinks at the Bell Centre after moving over, and then retired. 

It probably would’ve been a dream job for me.

But I didn’t do any of this. Damn.