Category Archives: Chicago Blackhawks

To The Forum, Bus Driver

Twice I saw games at the old Forum when a buddy and I took a bus charter from Orillia. This was the Forum before the renovations in 1968, when there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views, and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

The first time I went I was 13 when the Habs hosted Chicago (Feb. 22, 1964) but I remember almost nothing about this trip, including who I went with. I only know the date and my age because of my ticket stub I show here.

But the second time, with the game on February 26, 1966 against the Rangers as you can see in the other ticket stub and on the Forum marquee, was when I was 15 and I went with my friend Bernie Rivard.

I took all these pictures that also include Toe Blake’s Tavern on Ste. Catherine, which is now long gone (the tavern, not the street), McNeice’s Sporting Goods, which was located on Atwater St, at the Forum, and my two ticket stubs from both trips which are pasted in my scrapbook.

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station in the middle of the night, I was completely drunk. But he didn’t say one word about it.

Banquet Boys

Artwork by the great Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle that appeared on cover of the March 28,1959 issue of Maclean’s magazine.

A bunch of kids at a Catholic hockey banquet bombarding guest Maurice Richard for autographs as the priests and dads stay in the background looking slightly bored.

It makes me smile and it used to make my mom smile too. I have both the trimmed photo, which rests peacefully in my scrapbook now, and the full magazine, which also includes a Trent Frayne article on Chicago Black Hawks coach Rudy Pilous.

Kid Stuff


Practicing my quick draw in Orillia.

American author Bill Bryson wrote a tender and funny book about growing up in the 1950s called The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, I read it, and I was amazed by this guy’s talent (I’ve since read several more of his books).

I also saw how he and I have a couple of things in common.

We’re almost the same age (I’m a year older), we both lived in towns with great main streets, we wore Davy Crockett coonskin hats, we practiced our quick draw like Roy Rogers, we delivered newspapers, and occasionally we came across naughty skin magazines.

Both our dads were creative, his being a sports writer and mine a sign painter, although his dad got to go to baseball games in New York and Chicago, while my dad stayed in Orillia and painted letters on store windows.

Bill almost saw a naked girl once when he was about eight years old while playing doctor, but she backed out because she had a crush on him. I made sure I didn’t miss my chance because all I had to do was stand on my bike outside the window of the women’s change room at Couchiching beach and look in the window. I was doing great too, until one of my classmates from school, Carol Montgomery, saw me and gave me shit. But I’m pretty sure I rode away on my bike with eyes wide open.

Bill’s big job back then was his paper route, and it was mine too. I won a red transistor radio once for getting the most new customers, and sometimes on winter nights I’d pick up Habs games from Chicago where the homer announcer called the Hawks players by their first names as they moved about the ice.

I would tie my radio to my bike’s handlebars and listen to rock and roll as I made my paper route rounds, and it became the beginning of the end of my world as I knew it, because as soon as I heard Elvis and Roy Orbison and the rest, I began to grow up a little. Music was sure better than just about everything except maybe hockey and baseball, it was way better than school, and through it I began to learn more about girls.

Like Bill, I used to go to movie matinees and whip popcorn boxes like deadly frisbees at the screen and around the room. It was one of life’s great pleasures for me. If you’ve ever fired off a popcorn box missile and clunked some guy in the head who was making out with his girlfriend, you know what I mean.

Life then seemed to have only a small wrinkles, like hoping my classmate  Carol didn’t squeal on me about looking at naked women in the change room. Or trying to decide whether to spend money at the new Dairy Queen which had just opened around the corner, or pinball at the The Hub nearby, or maybe a new fishing rod or Hespeler Green Flash hockey stick at the tiny Canadian Tire next door to the movie theatre.

Back then the Antarctica wasn’t melting, the NHL only had six teams, Mickey Mantle was reaching the upper decks, and doctors recommended smoking for fun and relaxation.

It was great to be young. That’s for sure.

Those Wild And Crazy Early Years

It’s listed as being 1929  and the Chicago Black Hawks on YouTube but I think it’s off by a year or two and it’s more likely 1930 or ’31. And it’s not the Chicago Black Hawks.

Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Ace Bailey, Aurele Joliat, Dit Clapper, Lester Patrick, and so many other all-time greats of the game roamed the ice back then, and 1930 was only a year after Wall Street crashed and women now being considered “Persons” under new Canadian law.

The Habs would win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1930 after taking out the Boston Bruins in two games, with Howie Morenz netting the winner.

The NHL was a ten-team league at this time – Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, the Montreal Maroons, and the NY Americans in the Canadian Division, and Boston, the Rangers, the Detroit Cougars, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the American Division.

This minute and a half home video  features the AHA Chicago Shamrocks and possibly the St. Louis Flyers (or Duluth Hornets) and is a fascinating look at the boys back then.

And the ice cleaners at the end of the clip are something to behold.

Great Old Hockey Coins

This is my set of Sherriff/Salada hockey coins from 1961-62 which I’ve had 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 sad when my coins would dwindle. 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 one of the best feelings in the world, actually.

You could send away to the company for the shields, which I did, but after putting them in their slots 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, 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 and flags. But it’s the hockey coins I cherished the most.

Habs

Leafs

Hawks

Rangers

Wings

Bruins

Canadiens Hijack Jets

A gutsy comeback by the Habs in Winnipeg, capped by Max Pacioretty’s overtime winner, and the boys glided off the ice with a nice 5-4 win.

What a difference a couple of days make. Incredibly lousy in Minnesota on Thursday night, and a hard-working, solid display on Saturday.

With Al Montoya in net.

With Andrew Shaw scoring two power play goals.

And with Hometown Hockey coming from my hometown Orillia tomorrow!

It’s elation, sort of! But they’re in Chicago after the Orillia piece, so the elation might be short lived.

The game in Winnipeg was a back and forth deal, with the Jets opening the scoring in the first, followed by Shaw’s first after he redirected Jonathan Drouin’s shot.

Shaw would strike again in the second, but after that it seemed all wrapped up for the Jets as they would soon even it up, take a 4-2 lead in the third after Blake Wheeler blew by a stumbling Jeff Petry, and we waited for the inevitable.

Things looked gloomy, yes they did. But Pleks, after great work by Gally down low, narrowed it to 4-3, and then Petry atoned for his big mistake by firing home the tying goal with just 4:44 left in the period.

Overtime it became, and as the clock moved toward a shootout, Max Pacioretty suddenly bulged the twine on the power play. And just like that, the Canadiens rack up four wins in six games.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Jets 50-23.

Brendan Gallagher has been a bright light on most nights, and Saturday was no exception. He just kept fighting, nobody works harder, and as my buddy Mike Williamson says, he should be captain.

Once again, if you get Sportsnet, tune in a half hour before game time and check out Hometown Hockey’s feature on Orillia, where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers midgets and bantams. A time when I had trouble focusing I guess, as I used to sing Beatles songs under my breath as I raced down the ice.

 

 

Whupped By Wild

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.

And then….fizz.

An empty netter by the Wild killed that silly comeback notion.

Random Notes:

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.

 

 

Early Season Habs Blues

Four measly goals (and a shootout marker) in four games. Three straight losses after falling 3-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks on opening night at the Bell Centre. Another night of the power play shooting blanks.

If this keeps up, those wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens should be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs sometime around Christmas and we can concentrate fully on the magic of winter, spring, and early summer.

But they looked great in the first period, which should give us some hope. Maybe false hope. Tomas Plekanec handed the boys a 1-0 lead just 1:15 in, after letting loose a nice wrist shot, and they even ended the frame with 16 shots to the Hawks’ 7.

Really good. I was happy. Not happy the way Hugh Hefner was probably happy, but still pretty happy.

The problem was, Chicago scored twice in 19 seconds with only a couple of minutes left in the first, so all the good work that had been done was crushed like a beer can on a frat boy’s forehead.

And the main problem is, even though the boys are getting plenty of shots in each game, these are shots fired by guys not blessed with good hands, which is most of the team. Who on the Habs is blessed with good hands – Pacioretty? Sometimes he is. Drouin? Hopefully.

Who else, Galchenyuk? The guy who so far in this early season looks like he’d rather be back in his apartment with several lovely young ladies. Maybe he should be somewhere else. Maybe Marc Bergevin should’ve moved him when other GMs still thought he was good.

Chicago’s third goal was a power play marker in the second period with Philip Danault in the box for hooking. A cheap call I thought, but whatever, Montreal was toast, because they only score once a game and that had already happened back in the first.

Next up for the Habs is a Saturday night tilt at the Bell against the Leafs. The Leafs, who score more goals in one game than Montreal does in four.

This morning on Sportsnet Hockey Central, host Daren Millard blurted out like a 12-year old,”Do you think the Leafs are becoming the Oilers of the 1980s”? I almost choked on my 7 a.m Labatts Blue.

The 1980s Oilers are considered one of the NHL’s greatest-ever teams. Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Anderson, Kurri. The Leafs, I’m pretty sure, aren’t quite the 80s Oilers.

The Leafs-media love-in is causing a whole new wave of Leafs fans. Refugees are pouring in, turning on their TVs, and hearing how fantastic the team in Toronto is from groupies like Millard.  So they become fans even though they don’t know the difference between a puck and Auston Mathews’ used jock strap.

Speaking of Mathews, here’s a photo of him and his teammates today doing some dryland exercises at their training facility.

And now – for some post game bonus coverage of action on the water. The seas were angry that day, my friends.

We were at a restaurant outside of St. Petersburg, Russia, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, where I went fishing at a small adjacent pond and caught a large trout.

Then the folks in the kitchen cooked it up and we ate it.

 

Habs Vs Hawks – Close But No Cigar

Dick Irvin Sr, who played for the Hawks in the late-’20s before his coaching career, which included Montreal, began. Dick would be 124 if he was still around (125 in July).

The Canadiens couldn’t quite get it done, falling 4-2 to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, and if you like your glass half-full you could say Montreal sits at 8-3 in their last 11 games.

But if you’re a half-empty type of person, you might say they’ve lost two of their last three.

And the kind of person I am? Mostly a half-full kind of guy except when I’m not. And as I’ve said many times, the regular season will be long forgotten when pucks are dropped to begin the postseason.

Tuesday night in snowy Montreal, the home team fell behind 3-0 in the third frame, but red-hot Paul Byron banged home a rebound to ruin Corey Crawford’s shutout, and soon after, Shea Weber blasted one from the blueline to narrow it to 3-2.

A great comeback by the Habs. Exciting. Tense. Stressful. Stirring. And then Jonathan Toews found the empty net to salt it away for Chicago and ruin all that’s pure and good.

It was an ‘almost’ type of thing. Corey Crawford stood on his head throughout, as the Canadiens outshot the Hawks 39-24, but try as they may, Montreal skaters as a whole are snakebitten. They have a tough time scoring. But again, the playoffs are a different ball of wax completely. The scoring will probably start then!

There’s the half-full thing again.

I’d say that the boys miss the net way too much but they probably know that.  But the fierce rally late in the game that would sadly fall short for Montreal made my heart soar like a clown or a duck or something, flying around with an umbrella.

Random Notes:

A couple of big games coming up the Habs, as they meet the Sens in Ottawa on Saturday and then host those same Ottawans on Sunday. Yes, as much as the regular season will be forgotten come playoff time, these are huge games for both teams. Time to kick some sand in the faces of Sens players and their fans.

And one last thing. I’m guessing that Alexei Emelin will be an easy target now, considering how he was out of position on a couple of Chicago’s goals.

But I’m sticking up for him because I think the pros outweigh the cons for Mr. Emelin. He lets loose thunderous hits, he’s a bone-crunching bummer for players racing down the side with him waiting, and he has a good shot from the point. I like his old-time hockey style and I appreciate anyone on the Canadiens, including him, who plays a rugged game.

He reminds me of Gilles Marotte, who dished out Emelin-like checks for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, and St. Louis in the 1960s and ’70s,

The problem is, quite often the lights are on but nobody’s home for the Russian rearguard.