Category Archives: Boston Bruins

‘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.

Don Liked His Beer

Don Cherry was almost a Montreal Canadien.

Don suited up with Montreal’s minor league affiliate Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL (Eastern Professional Hockey League) before the start of the 1962-63 season, with the program here showing him in the lineup for an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins.

His tryout with Hull-Ottawa didn’t last more than a few games. Sam Pollock took him aside one day and asked him to lay off the beer. Cherry said he wouldn’t, and was promptly shipped out.

Maybe it’s why he’s never been much of a Habs fan.

 

Goalie Don Head On The Point?

Powell River’s George Stephen figured he should probably just let it go. No one had heard about it, and most didn’t believe him. I figured he had probably inhaled too many fumes from the local mill.

But George insisted he’d seen it, only now he was thinking he might be the only one on the planet who had.

George would say often that one night, more than 50 years ago on Hockey Night in Canada, the Boston Bruins, in Toronto for a game against the Leafs, were issued a delayed penalty, and something odd happened. As soon as the referee raised his arm, Bruin goaltender Don Head, instead of skating to the bench for an extra attacker, smartly skated to the blueline, goalie pads and all, and played a short shift as a defenceman until a Leaf finally touched the puck, and back to his net Mr. Head went.

What, the Bruins didn’t have a defenceman handy?

George insisted, though. When Chicago goalie great Glenn Hall came to Powell River, George asked him, but Hall had no idea what our man was talking about. A letter to the Hockey Hall of Fame garnered a reply, and all they could say was they had no idea, but if it were true, it would make a great story. George even asked Powell River resident Andy McCallum, who had played with Head for the Ontario Senior Windsor Bulldogs, and Andy said he wouldn’t be surprised because Head was such a good skater, even with goalie pads on.

There was only one last thing George could do. Ask the man himself, Don Head. If he could find him.

Through Dick Tracy-like sleuthing, George discovered that Head was alive and well and living in Portland, Oregon, and picked up the phone. After mistakenly getting a few others of the same name in Portland first, the goalie was finally tracked down, and George asked that big nagging question. Did he leave his net and become a defenceman with his goalie equipment on?

Head thought for a second, and gave an answer George wasn’t really hoping for. “I don’t remember ever doing that,” he said, and after a few more pleasantries, George politely said goodbye. He was even more convinced to just forget the whole thing.

And that should be the end of the story.

But the phone rang the very next night at George’s house, and sure enough, Don Head was on the line from Portland. “Hello George,” he said. “If I’m ever in a trivia game and need an answer, I’m phoning you.” George asked why, and Head continued. “You were absolutely right. My daughter and I went through my scrapbooks and found the write-up of me skating up the ice and playing the point on the power play. It was a Saturday night, Hockey night in Canada, and we beat Toronto 4-3. I’d forgotten all about that.”

Head wasn’t finished there. He sent a copy of the news story to George and enclosed a little note that said: “Maybe this will convince everyone that you didn’t really inhale those fumes at the mill after all.”

It took more than 40 years, but George Stephen finally has proof that he saw what he saw. All it took was asking Don Head himself. It was true. The goalie played the point, pads and all.

Papa Got A Brand New Team

I’m a Habs fan, born and raised in Orillia, Ont, which is Leafs country I suppose, considering it’s only an hour and a half north of Toronto. I’m a fan and my old man had a lot to do with it.

My dad, who served in the Canadian army overseas in WWll, was a hockey fan most of his life, although his enthusiasm waned as he aged, which I understand more and more. He followed the Leafs when he was young, and once wrote a letter in the 1930s to Ace Bailey, who lay in a hospital after Boston’s Eddie Shore clubbed him over the head, ending his career, and nearly killing him.

Bailey’s wife wrote back and thanked him.

Later though, my dad began to change his mind about his team. The Toronto Star and Telegram both plastered their papers with Leafs stories and my dad would complain. It was always “Leafs, Leafs, Leafs” he used to say. Broadcaster Foster Hewitt was the definitive homer, and this rubbed dad the wrong way. And pops was a quiet fellow and wasn’t crazy about the brash, loud, and arrogant Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

In the 1950s, with television entering households, it was usually only Leafs game shown, and when the Montreal Canadiens played in Toronto, my dad liked what he saw on his TV. There was the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Plante. Magical names. Stanley Cups began to be won by the Habs on a regular basis, and the Leafs just kept plodding along. The Canadiens had something the Leafs didn’t.

When I was a boy he started a big Montreal Canadiens scrapbook for me. He helped me write fan letters to the Rocket, and at one point, Rocket sent me a Christmas card. He took me to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of times, and once, when we were really early and stood at the gate, the Canadiens players walked right by us.

He bought me a hockey book for Christmas which he mailed to Montreal asking for autographs, and it was mailed back signed by the entire 1957-58 Habs – Richard, Plante, coach Toe Blake, Beliveau, Geoffrion etc, with Doug Harvey’s as the only signature missing. Later when we went to a game at the Gardens, he brought the book with him, took it down to the Montreal dressing room corridor, saw Toe Blake standing there, and asked Blake if he would take the book into the dressing room and get Harvey to sign it.

Believe it not, Blake did just that.

Thanks dad.

Habs Clipped By Wings

It’s a loser point so it’s still okay I suppose, but definitely not something to do handstands over.

Not that I could do a handstand. But whatever. Maybe a pushup.

The Canadiens, in falling 2-1 to the visiting Detroit Red Wings, reminded us of too many times this season when they looked flat throughout.

Boring, confused, out of sorts. Weird and a bit baffling. The season’s winding down and they played like they were on tour in northern Saskatchewan.

And in overtime, when they had a chance to win it, Detroit had the puck most of the time.

Oh well. Not that big a deal. Unless they play like that on Thursday against Carolina. Would two lousy games be a hiccup, or the beginning of the end?

I’m remaining optimistic. Not a good night for the Habs and fans, but it was a point and I suppose they can’t always play like gangbusters.

I just think that management needs to get the wives out of town until June. How many times do I have to say this? It’s obvious.

I can take about five of them at my house in Powell River, and I’ll cash in an RRSP to put the rest up at the hotel down the street.

Random Notes:

Al Montoya was in nets, and the last time he was, on March 9th in Calgary, he and the boys lost 5-0. Tonight, it took most of another full game before his team would score for him, thanks to Artturi Lehkonen with 2:29 left in the third.

Do they play a different, more hesitant game when Al is in the nets? If they do, they shouldn’t.

Anthony Mantha’s overtime goal came with just 50 seconds left, with Alex Galchenyuk being walked around like he was Dion Phaneuf or Mike Komisarek.

Chucky isn’t a complete player yet. Maybe next year. Maybe not. Maybe never.

Shots on goal were even at 36.

The Canadiens are still 3 big points ahead of Ottawa, who beat the Bruins 3-2 tonight in Boston.

 

Licked In Beantown


Done years back, when I didn’t know how to photoshop. I still don’t. It took a lot of clipping heads from gossip magazines, and not that it fits in this case, but I don’t have one like it for the Habs. I should.

So many great things to see in Montreal’s 4-0 loss to the Bruins in Boston.

There was a fine fight in the opening minute that saw Andrew Shaw deck Torey Krug with a solid right. This coming after Krug clocked Shaw on Dec. 12th, which resulted in our often brain-dead penalty taker being concussed for 15 games.

And I enjoyed referee Wes McCauley’s dramatic announcement of the fighting penalties with his mic on.

That’s about it. Everything else sucked, including this recap.

It also sucked to see happy Bruins fans. It’s just so much more heartwarming when these people look like they’re ready to jump off the John Hancock Tower.

Below, pretend it’s Shaw and Krug.

If you’re keeping track, that’s six losses in seven February games for the Canadiens. Points are slip slidin’ away. On far too many nights the gang has less than mediocre, and they’re causing me to rethink my list of passions.

My passions? Making my nose hairs look nice has jumped ahead. Teeth flossing is closing in fast. Sophia Loren and Sofia Vergara were already up there.

Carey Price allowed another four goals. It’s always either three or four goals a night now for our star goalie. Al Montoya is no worse, and he’s terrible.

Now the boys have five days off.

Michel Therrien? Maybe much more than that.

Random Notes:

After the boys’ five-day holiday where they’ll sleep in the basement and called names when they go out, they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, which is a 2:00 puck drop (or 11 where I live).

Nathan Beaulieu, who seems to be regressing instead of progressing, was called for slashing Zdeno Chara, which was a polite way of saying he rammed his stick up into Chara’s family jewels.

Chara scored a shorthanded goal to make it 2-0 in the second period, and if you see the replay, enjoy watching Beaulieu take a nice lazy skate behind as the big fellow closed in.

The Bruins made it 3-0 on the power play, and Beaulieu should’ve been benched for the final frame.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Explosion At The Bell

I’ll take a nice, tidy 10-1 thumping any time. Too bad it wasn’t against Ottawa, Boston, or Toronto, and so what that the cellar-dwelling Avs were truly lousy on this night. It’s still good. Great even.

It’s also too bad it wasn’t against the Columbus Blue Jackets, who demolished the Canadiens 10-0 back on November 4th.

I wouldn’t have minded 12 or 15 goals, because I’m a greedy bastard. But when you see your team rack up six goals in the first period alone, heady thoughts creep in. Like 12 or 15 goals when all is said and done.

Oh, they’re not suppose to rack up the score? Hey, what’s a dozen or so goals among friends?

It was a fine night at the old (opened in 1996) Bell Centre, with Max Pacioretty scoring four times and adding an assist, Tomas Plekanec racking up four helpers, and a whack of others lighting the lamp or helping to light the lamp.

Just too bad Shea Weber didn’t get on the score sheet. He leads that fellow in Nashville by just 1 point (at this writing), and I’d prefer that our guy had a way better year than that guy. Twice as good, Three times even.

It was just one of those nights. The Canadiens were clicking. Max was flying. Alexander Radulov, with a goal and an assist, was inspiring. The fourth line, led by Brian Flynn was two goals, were demons.

It was time for early Ole Ole’s and a late Na Na Na Goodbye. Time for stress-free watching, some chuckles, some completely relaxed viewing of the boys blitzing the Avs.

But then there was the Alexei Emelin low hit on Joe Colborne late in the game that had commentator Gary Galley seething. Galley said there was no need for it. I say hit ’em for 60 minutes, 10 goals or not.

I think Don Cherry pooh-poohed it too. I’m not sure, I wasn’t really paying attention to the old fellow.

And why won’t Emelin fight when the shit hit the fan, asked Galley? Probably because he has metal plates under his left eye, Gary. The guy’s on the team because he’s a bone bruiser, he hits harder than most. It’s his job. What if Colborne had danced around Emelin and caused a crease-crashing that injured Carey Price?

Nope. Stop ’em in his tracks. Old time hockey. Montreal has seven forwards under 6 feet. A little meanness shown by anyone is a welcomed sight in this corner.

Colborne might have his head up next time he waltzes down the right side. And most players from other teams will see it on the news and possibly be a bit more tentative when they come up against Emelin.

Oh, and maybe it was slightly dirty. I don’t give a shit.

A beauty shellacking on home ice. Fifteen goals scored in two games. What a machine!

Bring on the Bruins (Monday).

Random Notes:

Habs scoring went like this:

1st period – Flynn, Pacioretty, Lehkonen, Pacioretty, Byron, Flynn.

2nd period – Radulov, Pacioretty, Petry.

3rd period – Pacioretty