I used to work for BC Ferries and every so often a tractor-trailer driver, on his way on or off the ferry, would slow down and hand me his copy of Canadiens magazine.
This trucker and I kind of bonded back then, not only because we were both Habs fans, but also because for 20 years while living in Ottawa and Calgary, I too had driven semis for a living.
From one of the magazines my friend had handed me, certain Habs, including Carey Price, Max Pacioretty, and Tomas Plekanec, who were with the team in 2011 of course, were asked who (girlfriends and wives excluded) would they want as their arm candy on a red carpet kind of evening.
It’s also kind of fun to see the other names.
So who would they want as their dates?
Jaroslav Spacek said Britney Spears.
Mike Cammalleri said either Eva Mendes or Shakira.
Max Pacioretty, Tom Pyatt, Carey Price, and PK Subban said Megan Fox.
Yannick Weber said Charlize Theron.
Tomas Plekanec said Jennifer Aniston.
David Desharnais said Halle Berry.
And Benoit Pouliot, Hal Gill, Alexandre Picard, and Alex Auld said Mom.
When I look at these, I’m on the same page with Weber (Charlize Theron), and Desharnais (Halle Berry). Although I like the mom choice too.
Below- my choices – Charlize and Halle. When I own the team they’ll be invited to my private box so I can teach them about bodychecking.
Montreal, normally a low-scoring team, scored six big ones against the Boston Bruins Wednesday night.
Unfortunately, the Boston Bruins scored eight.
It was a 2011 hockey game, but it was a Habs-Bruins tilt from the 1970s, a Habs-Nordiques battle from the 1980s, a senior game from small-town Canada. It was scoring, hitting, and fighting throughout, including a weird goaltending disagreement between Carey Price and Tim Thomas and a lovely smack in David Krejci’s mug compliments of Benoit Pouliot.
It was old-time hockey with blood spilt. But the Habs lost a game which would have seen them catch the Bruins for the Northeast division lead and they didn’t get it done. With absolutely no help from Scott Gomez and Andre Kostitsyn who just couldn’t find it within themselves to play hard and give all they could give. I know what I’d like to give them.
These two slugs were on the ice for four Boston goals before they rode the pine for most of the second half.
For some reason, and it wasn’t a full moon on this night, the goalies couldn’t stop the puck. And because it was a big game between two old rivals, with standings on the line and with Boston having lost the last five straight to the Habs, bad blood was the order of the day. Just like the old days.
Finally it was heard out loud – Pierre McGuire said before the game that PK Subban has become a legitimate contender for Rookie of the Year.
More than a hundred years of heroes and dreams. Of men donning the sweater and hitting the ice. The years of kids watching and reading about, dreaming and becoming. From the time Didier Pitre took a pass from Jack Laviolette and slid it over to Newsy Lalonde, little boys donned the sweater, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, and they became Pitre and Lalonde and all those who came later.
From the days of Georges Vezina stopping pucks for Les Canadiens, little kids wanted to stop pucks too, on lakes and ponds and old rinks throughout, and when they wore the sweater, they made the saves with people cheering them, and for all those winter nights near their homes, they were Georges Vezina.
Like magic they became Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat, Toe Blake and George Hainsworth. They wore the sweater on nights so cold it should’ve been illegal, slapping old rubber balls into snowbanks, stopping cow pies on slews, deking friends and sisters and little kids on the pond. wearing the red or white sweater with the simple and beautiful CH crest sewn on front.
They became the Rocket, and Lach, Bouchard and Harvey, and they saw the game in their dreams. Behind the skaters they were Durnan and Plante crouched by the net, and when the time came, they were the Boomer and Big Jean scoring on the power play. It unfolded at the Forum and the Olympia and Conn Smythe’s old barn and the outdoor rink frozen in winter at the baseball field. And kids heard them on the radio and saw them in black and white and shuffled their bubblegum cards, wearing the sweater and becoming anyone they wanted to be, just when they wanted to be.
The wore the sweater when the Pocket Rocket wouldn’t give up the puck, when the Boomer boomed, and when the Gumper kicked out his pads. They opened boxes at Christmas and there was one to put on right away, and they were Ken Dryden and Lafleur and the Big Bird. And their kids and kid brothers wore the sweater when Patrick Roy and Carbo and then Kovalev and Koivu graced the ice. And now, new guard is in place, and kids are becoming them too.
They said goodbye to the Forum and to the Rocket and all those others who went when it was time and when it wasn’t time, and they wiped little drops of tears from their sweater. And they smiled and clapped and looked above as they watched the sweaters of their heroes raised triumphantly to the rafters.
Every night now, the Bell Centre is packed with young and old, still wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a dream for more than a hundred years. We are Georges, Howie, the Rocket and Guy. We’re Patrick and Saku and Price and Gally.
We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we continue to hope.
I consider Ed Wolk a good friend of mine for sure. A great guy Ed is, we’re about the same age, and we have similar interests, including the Habs (Ed grew up a Habs fan in Montreal), he’s a long time Beatles fan like me, and he knew John and Yoko, which I’ll talk about at a later time.
Ed has sent me a great letter from the time the great James Brown came to the Montreal Forum, and he’s also included some cool photos from the Bell Centre,
Here’s Ed’s letter from that time at the Forum in 1971 when he covered the James Brown concert.
Take it away, Ed…
“In the off season the Montreal Forum was the venue for many rock concerts and other events.
Even the Montreal Symphony had a series called “Dollar Concerts”…yes the price of admission was one dollar!…unfortunately the acoustics sucked….sorry, I digress.
Back in 1971 the Forum hosted the ‘Godfather of Soul’…James Brown!
At that time I was working at a radio station and was invited to a pre-concert press conference at the Forum…which was held at, of all places, the Montreal Canadiens dressing room.
How many times at a Habs game had I looked at the CH logo on the door of the dressing room…and there was no way that I would gain access within, until that day in ‘71.
There was probably a dozen or so media people in the room, we sat on the players benches and James Brown sat on a chair, and I couldn’t believe it. Here I was, sitting in the inner sanctum of my favourite hockey team. My eyes did a tour of the room…the photos of Morenz, the Rocket, Toe Blake etc….
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sitting in the ultimate Canadiens hockey shrine reading that famous quote of John McCrae..”To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high”…I got goosebumps!
I somehow managed to return to reality and the charismatic presence of Jame Brown “in the house”.
Near the end of the press conference..Brown, who was sitting about eight feet away from me..looked me straight in the eyes and said..”Anything you want to ask me, brother?”
Stunned..my reply was very simple…”No, Mr Brown…I’m just happy to be here!”
Imagine…I’m in the Canadiens dressing room with James Brown…doesn’t get any better!”
Oh, and the concert?
“The concert was great…It was a James Brown Review ..his backup band”The Flames” opened the show with an instrumental…James would come out sing a couple of songs..then he would showcase a singer…let her do a solo…he’d be back to do a duet with the singer…another couple of tunes….showcase another singer…Flames would be featured in another instrumental…and so on…a great show!
Saw him again a few years later at Place des Arts…a great showman!…always willing to share the spotlight on stage with others.”
And Ed’s photos are in the inner sanctum of the Bell Centre, including the one above of him in the dressing room.
“Michael Whalen invited me to tag along while he covered the Habs practice in Brossard (for TSN),” says Ed. “It was the first time I got to see Carey Price.”
“After the practice the players were bused back to the Bell Centre to shower etc…then there was the media scrum. I asked Michael to take my photo in the dressing room, and you’ll notice it predates the ‘No Excuses’ sign!”
A comatosed and confused Canadiens squad were bombed 6-2 by the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at the Bell Centre, and once again the season unravels for our lovable unlikable ones.
All that fine and dandy good work shown recently, down the drain like an old man’s hoark in the kitchen sink.
All that clawing back from a deadly early season slump to win five straight, look great, and suddenly find themselves in a playoff spot – down the drain.
Carey Price going from mediocre to terrible to finally being the real Carey Price again – down the drain, because he’s back to mediocre again.
Now it’s three straight losses and they smelled worse than the broccoli and fish salad I bought at the deli today. They were every bit as bad as any night during this pathetic season. Worse than most.
Could it be that all 22 players are going through a divorce which is affecting their play?
Mistakes, like Charles Hudon failing to get the puck over the blueline, it was quickly turned over, and ex-Hab Mike Cammalleri scored his first goal in 37 games to open the scoring.
Our man Price stopped the puck behind the net and nonchalantly shot it around, only to have the puck knocked out of the air and yes, into the net it ended up, and it became 2-0. Price did this before when the team was in the pits of hell and now he’s done it again.
Shea Weber, who truly smelled like my broccoli and fish salad, was slow to cover his man, and it was 3-0. Then it was 4-0 (two goals within the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second period), and Price was out and Antti Niemi was in.
And to make a long story short, it became 4-1, then 5-1 (Karl Alzner kicked it into his own net), 6-1, and 6-2.
This game was worse than Patrick Kane’s Stanley Cup popcorn maker commercial. Yes, it was that bad.
A few good things were done by the Habs on Saturday night. They all apparently managed to drive to the rink without hitting a lamppost. And they……okay, it’s just the lamppost thing. Everything else sucked.
The Canadiens got the Blues on Tuesday night, and the bastards ended the boys’ nice and tidy five-game win streak.
But nobody expects Les Glorieux to be glorious every night. The streak had to end, and it might as well be against one of the league’s best teams – the big, fine skating, hard-hitting, well-balanced pride of St. Louis.
Besides, 4-3 is a respectable losing score. It wasn’t a 6-1 drubbing like they took against Washington in early October. Or 6-0 against Toronto in November when Carey Price was on the shelf and the world as we knew it was coming to an end.
One loss is nothing. All the Habs have to do now is win against the Flames on Thursday night and there will be no reason to think they’re falling off the rails again. Don’t be silly about that.
Three losses however, and Twitter will be all about the Subban trade again.
Jordie Benn’s blast from the blueline would tie things at one apiece in the first, but in the middle frame St. Louis opened it up to 3-1 with two goals just seven seconds apart.
Seven seconds apart. A real killer. And yet, the Canadiens didn’t die. This is the new Montreal Canadiens don’t forget.
Shea Weber fired a long-distance curveball to close the gap, and in the third, Weber again from the blueline tied things and injected some life into a a fairly quiet Bell Centre crowd.
Unfortunately, that was it. Braydon Schenn notched his third of the night to give his team the lead and the visitors skated off with a 4-3 win over the hometown Habs.
All three Montreal goals (Benn’s and Weber’s two), came from far out. In fact, if you were back in the late-1960s and living in say, Yorkville or Haight-Ashbury, you would probably say the goals were “far out.” They’d be far out, far out goals.
Twenty-two years to the day after Patrick Roy quit the Habs after allowing 9 goals in an 11-1 bombing by the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum on Dec. 2, 1995, and now this happens.
On Dec. 2, 2017, the Canadiens slaughter the Detroit Red Wings 10-1 at the Bell Centre.
It has to be the Habs ghosts in the rafters. That’s just too weird.
But it’s good though. The boys seem back in business, and on this night, Paul Byron led the pack with three goals, but a plethora of guys also found themselves on the scoresheet:
Galchenyuk 4 assists
Deslauriers 1 goal and 2 assists
de la Rose 1 goal and 2 assists
Carr 1 goal and 2 assists
Hudon 1 goal and 1 assist
Froese 2 assists
Gallagher 1 goal
Shaw 1 goal
Benn 1 goal
Plekanec 1 assist
Danault 1 assist
Weber 1 assist
Mete 1 assist
That’s a lot of contributing from a lot of guys. It’s also five straight wins, with Carey Price in nets for all five.
Patrick Roy pissed me off 22 years ago and I never really forgave him, although Mario Tremblay could’ve handled it differently and taken him out after 4 or 5 goals. But he left him in for 9 goals, which wasn’t right. It was humiliation for one and stubborn nastiness by the other.
Let’s face it, both Roy and Tremblay lost their minds that night.
Tonight, though, my heart soars like the Avro Arrow.
The Canadiens fell 6-3 to the Wild in Minnesota on Thursday evening, thus ending any thoughts of a modest yet dandy three-game winning streak, or in fact, four wins in five games. It was too much to ask, three wins in a row, and we’re now forced to settle for a lousy two-game streak instead.
The 8-3 explosion over Ottawa on Monday is a distant memory, a one-night oddity, a solid destruction of the Sens. A night when the boys were on fire.
Monday was so long ago.
Fans will be upset with Carey Price again, after a mediocre night against the Wild which saw the home team jump into a first period 3-0 stranglehold, and Don Cherry will once again call Habs fans ‘frontrunners’.
Frontrunners. For me the word means ‘leading the pack’. But I guess it also describes fair-weathered fans, which is what Cherry meant. Is that what we are? I don’t see the problem.
Thursday’s game in Minny was also a boring bastard, save for late in the third frame when, after the Wild had jumped out to a ridiculous 5-1 lead, Andrew Shaw and then Brendan Gallagher (with his second of the night), narrowed things to 5-3. A quick flurry shortly after saw the gang come close, and it almost seemed that a miraculous comeback could be in the works.
An empty netter by the Wild killed that silly comeback notion.
Canadiens outshot Minnesota 31-27 and were 0/1 on the power play.
Andrew Shaw netted his first of the season.
The Wild’s first two goals came 10 seconds apart in the first period, at 4:46 and again at 4:56. And at the risk of sounding like a frontrunner, Carey Price looked awkward on the first, and in giving the puck away seconds later, wasn’t able to completely regroup and just like that, it was 2-0.
If Price was on his game, both goals would never had happened.
Next up for the Habs is a visit to Winnipeg on Saturday. Then it’s Sunday in Chicago.
Things were going swimmingly for the boys on Thursday evening at the old Bell barn. They were displaying some mighty fine vim and vigour, outskating and outplaying the visiting L.A. Kings, and if the hockey gods had any decency at all, the light would be lit soon.
The light would be lit all right. Twice, within 11 seconds. By the other team.
Another loss was on the books. A 4-0 drubbing by the L.A. Kings.
Possibly due to the implosion near the end of the first frame, when the Kings beat Carey Price twice, first at the 18.59 mark, and then again seconds later.
For a team that has trouble scoring at the best of times (except when they put five past Panthers backup James Reimer on Tuesday), having two goals scored against them in 11 seconds, with a minute left to play in the opening period, and trying to come back after such a frustrating turn of events, is asking the impossible.
It’s a fragile group, these Montreal Canadiens. Maybe they need more money. C’mon people, line up for an hour to buy a couple of autographs at their next signing appearance. Tell them how great they are while you’re at it.
I feel bad for their wives and girlfriends. What can I do to cheer them up?
In the second period, the Canadiens again looked hungry, but Anze Kopitar blew a wrister past Carey Price, it was 3-0, and I was ready to turn the channel to CNN to see what kind of an ass Donald Trump made of himself in the last few hours.
In the third, it became a 4-0 rout. Time for fans to head to the exits, even though just four minutes had been played. Maybe head to the exits if the ticket was free, otherwise, suck it up and have another $12 beer.
Habs outshot LA 40-27 and were 0/5 on the pp.
The Kings beat the CH 5-1 in L.A. last Wednesday.
Fans booed the team and Price was jeered whenever he made an easy save. The world is not unfolding as it should.
I pray I never see a sweater hit the ice. The crest is the crest.
Habs GM Marc Bergevin said at his recent press conference that there are elite teams, and then a bunch of good ones, which he included his team in. You’ve had five years to make it an elite team, Marc. Just being good is loser talk.