Category Archives: Chicago Blackhawks

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

Cal And Company

This Orillia Terriers were household names, almost like NHL players for young Orillia kids like me. All larger than life big shots in my eyes and with other little hockey fans.

I wonder if they realized that.

The team was packed with great players playing in a great Ontario Senior League in a time when clubs weren’t far off from pro calibre. Almost a minor pro team except no money was involved.

I was just a kid, and they were grown men, really old guys who shaved. They drove trucks and worked in local factories and delivered milk and some dated older sisters of girls I knew. And when they played they burned up the ice surface.

It was fast, rough, tough hockey, and sometimes retired NHLers would show up in various lineups, including Harry Lumley between the pipes in Collingwood, and rugged forward Cal Gardner in Orillia. (top left corner in photo).

I remember watching Gardner play like it was yesterday. I can even visualize now where I was sitting during one game when he was on the ice, which is weird because I’ve often forgotten why I’ve walked from the living room to the kitchen.

But it’s vivid, and it was fun to see a guy in the flesh who had actually played in the NHL against the Rocket and Howe and others but was now an Orillia Terrier, only a few feet away, and who used the same dressing room as I did when I would lace up my little blades.

Gardner played for the Rangers, Toronto, Chicago and Boston before retiring in 1957, was twice an all-star, and joined Orillia after being with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. His two sons, Dave and Paul both became NHLers too.

He also also had a couple of big connections with the Habs in different ways.

Gardner was on the ice for Toronto when Bill Barilko scored his legendary goal to win the Cup for the Leafs in 1951, and had set up Howie Meeker who missed the net, just before Barilko didn’t miss the net.

And he and Montreal’s Ken Reardon enjoyed a bitter and dangerous feud that lasted years. It began when Gardner was with New York and got his stick up after a shot from the point and clipped Reardon on the lip. Gardner said his stick was up a little. Reardon said it was a blatant cross check to the face.

Whatever it was, it started a bench-clearing brawl and Reardon promised revenge on Gardner, pretty well every time the two met after that.

In 1949, when Gardner was a Leaf, Reardon finally got that revenge at the Forum, when he “accidentally” ran into Gardner and broke his jaw on both sides, causing league prez Clarence Campbell to force Reardon to post a $1000 good behaviour bond. But they continued to rough each other up even after that and the ill-will apparently continued long after both had retired.

Too bad Reardon didn’t latch on to an Ontario Senior team and they could have kept it going, maybe at the good old Orillia Community Centre, with me there to see it. I never minded seeing a little blood and intestines splattered on the ice, as long as it wasn’t mine.

Marc Talks About Things

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the press on Monday and didn’t say a lot  but mentioned the core players are maturing but the team in general isn’t mature yet like Chicago and Los Angeles are.

He said there will be more ups and downs, but the team is well on track.

Nice to hear. And we already knew all that. Ups and downs, on track, good core players.

He said Dale Weise was allowed to return and play after getting thumped by John Moore because all the tests looked to be normal, and it wasn’t until the next day that they realized he was concussed.

He looked pretty concussed to me on the TV screen. Wobbly and goofy, just like George Parros, Travis Moen, and Michael Bournival looked when they got clocked. PK had to give him a bear hug to hold him up.

If the test machines said he was fine, I’d be looking to buy new test machines. If the doctors and trainers said he was fine, I think Weise paid them off.

One of the guys Bergevin did single out as playing hard was Brian Gionta, which must be some sort of sneaky ploy. Make Gionta feel wanted and want to stay, and then cut the salary in half. Or something like that.

He played hard, he just didn’t make much of an impact. I’d rather have an impact guy. Put me in a uniform and I’d play hard too. Harder than anybody. I wouldn’t get anything done and I might fall down a lot, but I’d play hard.

For me though, it’s much different about Gionta. I think either Gionta should go, or if he stays it’s for a bargain rate and the captain’s ‘C’ comes off.

Why do I want the ‘C’ off? I don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s a great captain. I don’t care about that. I don’t want a non-productive wee little guy leading my team.

If I’m going to have a small captain that I can be proud of, I want one like 5’7 Henri Richard or 5’7 Yvon Cournoyer. Guys who play with burning fire and also produce.

Otherwise, I want a bigger captain. Crazy eh?

Really though, at this stage of the game, I think the one big change I’d make sooner than later would be the announcing of the new assistant to the assistant to Head Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais.

Stick boy.

Kings And Rangers Next

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention at least something regarding the great Kings-Hawks series that just wrapped up with a game 7 overtime win for L.A.

Great series. One of the best ever. Exciting and dramatic. Everything good about the sport.

I didn’t see much. It’s just what I heard.

Should I apologize for not being a good hockey fan? For not watching a lot of this great series that just wrapped up? For not paying as much attention after the Habs bowed out?

Sorry.

But enough about that.

Danny Gallivan speaks and Jean Beliveau lights the lamp in game seven of the 1965 Cup Finals.

The Canadiens would hoist the hardware after winning this game 4-0, and Mr. Beliveau would win the league’s first-ever Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

Sit Back And Enjoy Others Pound Away

Isn’t it nice to sit back, put the feet up, smile, light a stogie, stretch, hum a tune, clean ear wax, and watch other teams beat each other with sticks while our team has already got the job done?

At this point in time, Boston leads Detroit 2-1, Pittsburgh is winning 2 games to 1 over Columbus, the Rangers are up 2-1 on Philly, San Jose holds a huge 3-0 lead over L.A., Anaheim is leading Dallas 2-1, St. Louis has a 2-1 edge on Chicago, and Colorado leads Minnesota 2-1.

Of course by the time you might read this, it’ll have changed. But no matter. Change, don’t change. Whatever.

We’re relaxed. We watch without jitters. Our team is moving on, which is just about as good or better than anything we do with our clothes on.

And should we root for Detroit or Boston to play our Canadiens? With Detroit we’d be up against a talented, great skating team that for the most part plays it clean.

With Boston, there’s talent and a plethora of ugliness and uncouthness.

Maybe at this point I’m going with Detroit, really for no particular reason other than the Canadiens might stand less of a chance of getting injured.

And if it’s Detroit, it won’t take long for me to despise them as much as any other team playing the good guys from Montreal because that’s what we do. We hate the other team because they’re trying to get in the way of our happiness.

Montreal went 3-1 against the Bruins this year, and 2-1 against Detroit.

 

The Barrie Boys

There’s several different storylines in this picture. Have a look and then below I’ll tell you.

Even the Habs are involved!

Barrie

This is the 1964-65 Barrie All-Stars, a team my Orillia team played often.

It was that very year I think, that after Orillia had been eliminated from playoff action, this Barrie team picked up three players from Orillia and I was one of them.

I didn’t do so well but one of their coaches told my buddy Ron Clarke that they were glad they chose him. You bet I’m still insulted.

The coach sitting down on the right side is Paul Meger, who played 212 games in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens, from 1950-51 to 1954-55.

Mr. Meger and his Habs hoisted the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1953 by taking out the Bruins in five games.

That’s his son Gary Meger beside him with the “A” on his sweater.

The player on the far left in the middle row, standing next to a coach or trainer, is Dan Maloney. Dan played 737 games in the NHL with Chicago, L.A., Detroit, and Toronto.

It would be six years from the time this picture was taken to the time Dan played his first NHL game. He was one tough customer and I tried not to upset him when Orillia played Barrie.

He was a great player and leader, even as a kid.

Dan would go on to coach Toronto and Winnipeg in the 1980s when his playing days were over.

The kid in the top row, second from left, is Craig Ortiz, who would move to Orillia in a year or two because his dad opened a car dealership there. Craig and I became great buddies and spent most of our waking hours in the pool hall.

Craig took me down to Barrie once to visit his pal Dan Maloney and the three of us spent the day in the Barrie pool hall.

He and I also hitchhiked to Ottawa when our class went on a school trip. But the trip was only for those who had good marks and that wasn’t us, but we went anyway. The class bus passed us outside Orillia and we ended up beating it to Ottawa.

Not so lucky on the way back, though, and we voluntarily wound up sleeping in the Lindsay jail after asking the cop there if we could.

Maybe not so much for you, but for me this is an awesome picture, full of memories. I’d like to thank Mike Mohun, who I haven’t seen since about grade nine, for sending it to me.

 

Good Game, Single Point

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Fine game Wednesday night in Chicago, and although the Canadiens grabbed a point, they could’ve had two. But it slipped away in the dying seconds.

Hawks win 3-2 in overtime.

After two periods of play it was a see-saw battle with no goals and just one penalty, a hooking call to Daniel Briere, but in the third, the puck started to find its way.

Dale Weise, in his first game back after injury, banged one home after a fine rush by Rene Bourque. But the Hawks, who held the edge in play many times on the night, tied it soon after.

Just 22 seconds later, Francis Bouillon blasted one home and it became a Habs lead once again.

And then, the one-goal lead almost a two-goal lead when our almost 40-goal scorer came oh so close..

How great it would’ve been to see Max score his 40th when he was set up fifteen feet out but stopped point blank by Corey Crawford. Great play, great shot, great stop.

It was also the beginning of the end, because after some serious Hawks pressure, the home team would tie it with 48 seconds left in the third, and in overtime, Peter Budaj accidentally backhanded the puck into his own net and that was that.

A point on the road but it could’ve been two. But that’s fine, because the Canadiens played a solid skating game, took just two penalties (the only two of the night), and in my book they continue to impress.

They’ve won 10 of 13 games. I feel I’d be a greedy bastard if I complained.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Chicago 30-28.

Thomas Vanek and DD assisted on Bouillon’s marker, and the big line continues to roll.

Alex Galchenyuk left the game in the first period after taking a hit from Andrew Shaw and now we wait to hear the damage.

Injuries just before playoff time. Imagine how Tampa must have felt when Ben Bishop went down.

Other guys were hurt too, Bouillon and Ryan White in particular, but both would return. Thank goodness Carey Price, Andrei Markov, and Alexei Emelin were left at home where less injuries could happen.

Much safer at home. Maybe tripping on a roller skate or taking a rolling pin to the head from an upset wife.  But no hits into the boards or hard pucks to the ankles.

In a few short hours (sort of), the boys host the Islanders at the Bell. Then game number 82 on Saturday against the Rangers.

Grab that opening round home ice and please, no more injuries.

 

 

You Shoot Because You Do

As mentioned on Hockey Inside Out, both Josh Gorges and Dale Weise might be suiting up for Wednesday’s game in Chicago.

All we need now is Brandon Prust and Travis Moen back, and hope  everyone else is as healthy as a 40-year old Jack LaLanne when the real season begins.

Gorges is a left-handed shot, as are Francis Bouillon, Jarred Tinordi, and Douglas Murray, who’s back from his suspension after one more game. Somebody’s gonna take a rest there.

Dale Weise shoots right-handed, as does Rene Bourque and George Parros. So one of those fellows will also be having some down time.

I did a little Googling and found that the majority of Canadian hockey players, young and old, shoot left-handed, while the majority of Americans shoot right-handed.

It’s odd and there are different theories, none of which I had the time to try and understand when I was reading up on it.

And how do they know that folks young and old shoot more left or right? Because since curved sticks became the norm in the 1960s, American hockey manufactures say they’ve been shipping way more lefts than rights to Canada ever since.

It’s sort of the same with golf only different. Seven percent of Canadian golfers swing left, which is apparently the highest percentage of any nation. And the reason they give is because Canadians pick up hockey sticks at an early age and it’s therefore imprinted when it comes time to pick up a golf club.

European players are mostly left-handed shots too, and one site gives the example of the great Soviet teams of the 1980s, some of which never had even one righty on the roster.

I shoot right, write left, my fork is in my left, and I put my right shoe on first if you’re interested.

Mighty Fine Adventure

I said I’d continue later and that’s what I’m doing. Continuing.

I was in downtown Montreal early,  Danno and his clan wouldn’t show up from Ottawa for another couple of hours , so as I like to do, I walked the streets. And soon I heard excited voices on loudspeakers and people cheering.

I’d stumbled upon a Parti Quebecois rally in a park, and so I stopped and joined them.

Take away the signs and the voices explaining to the freezing crowd how great it would be if Quebec separated, the folks all seemed quite normal for being such treasonous, brainwashed enemies of the country.

Then I left because I didn’t belong. I’m a Canadian.

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Onwards to Ste-Catherine St. where it began to snow, and I stopped for coffee at Nickles. From the window I saw many of the people who were at the rally walking by with their signs. They can only talk about breaking up the country when it’s warmer.

Down Ste. Catherines to another park where a bunch of people were having pillow fights, which was much more normal than being at a Parti Quebecois rally.

Then it was down to meet Danno and his dad and brother, and we went for pizza and then to the game.

And what a tremendous game to be at. Detroit is a skating club, as Montreal certainly can be, and it made for back and forth, clean and skilled action. Emelin thumped, Price was sharp, the DD line brought extra doses of buzz when they jumped over the boards, and the team found themselves with a nice 3-0 lead.

One of my favourites guys, Michael Bournival, opened the scoring in the first, Max would get his 39th of the season in the second, with the third scored shortly after by Brian Gionta.

It was happy times for almost all concerned. Not for Danno’s brother Bob and others, but for most of us.

And it was just after my mentioning out loud that a fourth goal would be nice, along with the fact that it seems that on many nights now Carey Price stands a fine chance of blanking the opposition, that Detroit scored three quick ones and it was tied.

Rarely do you see me as animated as when Gionta would notch his second of the night late in the third and Alex Galchenyuk get the insurance marker. I looked like a separatist in a park trying to break up the country.

It was certainly a terrific night to be at the Bell. The crowd was loud, the game was fast and at times tense, and being with the Danno clan was a joy.

Afterwards it was beer at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel bar, and then I hopped on a bus and made my way home.

Vive Les Canadiens. Vive Canada.

Random Notes:

39 goals for Max. So great. And 40 is such a nice round number.

Wings outshot the Habs 37-26.

Quebecois Olympians at Sochi were introduced before the game, which was beautiful. Someday when I’m an Olympian I hope to be introduced at the Bell too.

Habs prospect Tim Bozon, looking great after his meningitis ordeal, was in the crowd and waved. Great to see.

Next up – Habs travel to Chicago for a date with the Hawks on Wednesday.

Below, Danno’s dad, brother Bob, and Danno enjoying nectar of the gods after pizza.

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