Category Archives: Detroit Red Wings

Habs Senatized


I downloaded a free app called Fresh Paint and the picture above is my first stab at it after being confused for several days.

I painted the cross, not the Sens logo of course, plus that little red blob over on the right which was an accident.

I feel the red blob somehow represents Mark Stone, on the outside looking in, currently sitting out a two-game suspension for a hit to the head of Detroit’s Landon Ferraro, and who is probably still recovering from his near-death experience when the evil PK Subban tapped him on the wrist last year.

A trooper, that’s what he is.

I’ll bet Landon’s pop Ray Ferraro  wouldn’t mind tapping this trooper.

Canadiens fell 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Ottawa Senators, although they carried most of the play and outshot the obnoxious pricks 37-27.

But it wasn’t to be as Max and Tomas Plekanec were caught during the newly installed three on three overtime, leaving Jeff Petry to fend off three oncoming Sens, and that was that. Bam. Kyle Turris ended it just 34 seconds in.

This loss is just the Canadiens third of the season, Michael Condon’s first in his five starts, and the first game to go beyond regulation time for the boys. It’s a loss but not something to lose sleep over. They played well, but Craig Anderson, between the pipes for the Sens, did too.

Now it’s time to focus on the N.Y. Islanders, who check into the Bell on Thursday.

In my world, a loss isn’t a disaster, but another after that is getting there, and another after that sucks to kingdom come.

So we need a win on Thursday to avoid all that.

Random Notes:

Dale Weise, with his seventh of the year, scored Montreal’s lone goal. Weise is now tied with Max for goals scored.

Montreal’s power play went 1/3. They also gave up a shorthanded goal to J-G Pageau in the second frame which opened the scoring.

Lars Eller, I felt, played a fine game.

A Habs goal was called back in the first period when referee (and Habs nemesis) Chris Lee ruled that Brendan Gallagher interfered with Anderson in the crease. It was looked at, and the call stood.

I, however, disagree.

Six Appeal!


The Canadiens are serving early and serious notice that they’re a team to be reckoned with as they downed the visiting Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at the Bell Centre, thus extending their unbeaten streak to six, and doing so in fine style.

They even went a respectable 2/5 on the power play and outshot the Wings by a formidable 20-5 in the third period. Beauty eh?

It was Detroit who opened the scoring on this night, after the Canadiens had done just that in their five previous games, when 19-year old Dylan Larkin fired the puck off Carey Price and into the net in the second period.

I admire 19-year old pros. In almost every way, the complete opposite of me when I was 19. It’s just not normal for a teenager to be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and being hit on by groupies in big league cities. He should be chugging tequila and smoking reefers and puking in the basement like everybody else.

Soon after the young fellow got things going, Brendan Gallagher would take the puck with him while sliding into the net, and after the officials went upstairs, it was ruled a good goal and things were tied.

When I first saw the goal I thought of Henri Richard, who scored the clincher in the 1966 Cup Finals when he slid into Detroit’s Roger Crozier and over the line, taking the puck with him.  But the puck was under Henri’s arm, unlike Gally’s puck which was forced in with his skate.

Truly sad is the recent news that the Pocket Rocket is in declining health due to Alzheimer’s. We’re with you, Henri, that’s for sure.

In the third fame, the Habs broke things open when Jeff Petry scored with the man advantage, Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp a dozen or so minutes later, and Brian Flynn found the empty net with less than a second remaining.

And the world rejoiced!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Detroit in impressive fashion, 41-22.

Plekanec’s goal, his fifth of the season, gives him the team lead (Max has four). Gallagher, Petry, and Flynn all scored their first of the year.

Next, the St. Louis Blues pay a visit on Tuesday. And of course we need seven.

Excellent night for the boys as they roll along. All four lines once again contributed, David Desharnais enjoyed a big night, the penalty kill was solid, Alexei Emelin thumped, Tomas Fleischmann was good, Alex Galchenyuk had some nice chances, especially when he danced through four Wings during a first period power play, and of course, Price was Price, although he wasn’t exactly overworked.

Price also fed a long pass to Plekanec in the second period, who rang the  puck off the bar. Our goalie even tried once again to send the puck down the ice and into the empty net. It’s gonna happen yet!

As far as Alex Semin goes, we keep hearing about his blistering wrist shot, but we never see him unload it.

The Leafs lost to Pittsburgh.





Habs Win Battle Of Brick Walls


The great Habs teams of the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s couldn’t do it, but the 2015-16 team just did. Five straight wins to open the season, never done in 106 years of Les Glorieux action until now.

My heart is soaring like a flock of pterodactyls.

Thursday night saw the gang shut out the visiting New York Rangers 3-0, with Carey Price standing on his head when needed and Henrik Lundqvist at the other end doing the same.

But Price was better. He got the shutout, not Lundqvist.

The Canadiens, in this history-making game, were aided by a second period goal by Tomas Fleischmann, a Dale Weise marker in the third frame, and an empty netter from Tomas Plekanec as the clock wore down.

Five straight wins, but now I need six of course, which means they have to take out the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the Bell. But they just handled a good Rangers team, so there’s no reason why they can’t do the same to the Wings.

I’m a tad concerned about the Wings. They don’t have the Babcockian One barking his arrogant orders at them anymore, so they’re probably looser than they’ve been in years. But we’ve got four solid lines, three excellent defence pairings, and Carey Price, so of course Detroit doesn’t stand a chance.

Not only did the boys win their fifth, but once again they scored the game’s first goal, something they’ve done every game so far. And equally important, they didn’t sit back in the third while nursing a slim lead. Also surprising? Michel Therrien hasn’t juggled lines yet.

Did God, who’s a solid Habs fan, put the hammer down on the coach?

Four lines contributing, with the best goalie in the world coming up big, and it makes for a team that’s already raising eyebrows in this young campaign.

An absolutely great start to the season, aside from a power play that shoots blanks. But they’ve won five, so what am I bitching about? Really though, the Canadiens with the man advantage have been brutal so far and went 0 for 5 tonight.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New York 32-25, and both goalies were unreal. Lundqvist’s glove hand shot out like lightning numerous times, and Price dazzled throughout, including a series of mind-boggling saves after his team had killed a 5 on 3 Rangers power play in the second frame.

Opening ceremonies saw  Guy Carbonneau, who captained the team from ’89-90 to ’93-94, hand the torch to new captain Max, with the torch then passed from player to player. The Habs’ last captain before Max was Brian Gionta, who I was never thrilled about wearing the C, but I’ve moved on.

Andrei Markov was a hoot when he came out and circled PK Subban before accepting the torch. Good for a hearty chuckle.

David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann both collected a pair of assists.

I’m hoping the parade route includes Marine Ave. in Powell River.


The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.






Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.


My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.





Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.



The Old Phone Book, With Orr And….

My old Orillia and area phone book that I grabbed years ago, just before my old man threw it out.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., where young Gordon grew up. The singer would’ve been about 20 when this phone book came out, and had moved out of the house just the year before.

My good buddies Kerry Baker and Robin Metcalfe also lived on Harvey St, and my dad worked for awhile at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

You see the Lightfoot listing halfway down, and further up is former NHLer Rick Ley’s dad Norman at 47 Wyandotte.

The book also features the area surrounding Orillia, including Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home, listed as Douglas Orr, (his dad) at 21 Great North Road. And Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr, is at 67 River. Bobby was about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into the Sundridge pages and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930’s and 40’s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but had also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, the family home of respected Canadian writer Roy MacGregor in Huntsville, (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team), and John MacWilliams’ home in Huntsville.

And finally, the old homestead at 5 Elmer Ave.


Summer Windbag

May 20 – Mike Babcock leaves the Detroit Red Wings to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the deal calling for 50 million bucks over eight years. Seriously, that’s more than I made at BC Ferries.

Last year Toronto brought in a hot shot advanced stats guy, and now it’s this coach. We’re all screwed. The Leafs will probably be fantastic from now on. Unstoppable every year until the two of them retire. Leafs fans are lucky.

May 21 – Babcock mentions at his big press conference that the Leafs are “Canada’s team”.

May 25 – Today I’ve been thinking about what Babcock said about Canada’s team. I wanted to know who Canada is, the one the team belongs to, so I typed in Canada 411 and had a look.

The problem is, there are quite a few people in Canada named Canada, and I’ve no idea which one the Leafs belong to. There’s Graham Canada in Brampton, Vicki Canada in Vancouver, Gorving Canada in Toronto, Sheldon Canada in Alberta, and a whole bunch in Manitoba, including Mervin and Terry. Others too, including Catherine Canada in Quebec. And then there’s the parents and siblings. All these Canadas, and at least one of them owns the Leafs. Right now we don’t know which one, but I’m hoping it’s Mervin.

Whichever Canada it is, maybe his or her granddad was part of the crew that helped build Maple leaf Gardens and took shares from Conn Smythe instead of money. And if it’s one of the Manitoba Canadas like Mervin, the neighbours probably had no idea. They thought the Canada clan down the road were Jets fans.

May 27 – Guy Lafleur says Brendan Gallagher should captain the Canadiens. Guy says what he thinks, and I say good for him, he doesn’t keep things bottled up inside which could lead to ulcers. Last year he put the hammer down on Max and Tomas Vanek for having lousy post seasons, before that it was Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau’s handling of Alex Kovalev, and in 2007 he said the Habs were a team of 4th liners. I’m sure there were more.

Management must grit their teeth when they find out that the Flower has spoken again.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Guy or any of us think about who should wear the C. It should be put to a dressing room vote. They know each other. They have showers together. But call the vote when no one’s expecting so there’s no time for players to do some personal brown nosing to garner votes, like buying flowers for the other guys’ wives, or babysitting their kids.

And sadly, Carey Price’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot. You know, the goalie/captain thing. But if Price was a forward or d-man, it’s the captaincy for sure.

June 2 – Jeff Petry signs a new six year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens. I like the Habs blueline. You got yer P.K. and Petry and Beaulieu and Emelin and Pateryn and Tinordi. And yes, even Old Man Markov, who will be relying on smarts only from here on in, which is still good.

June 3 – The Stanley Cup Final featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks begins. Canada’s team isn’t involved. Probably next year because they have the coach and the stats guy. Mervin or Graham, or whichever Canada it is that the team belongs to, will be cheering wildly from Manitoba or wherever.

June 4 – Something slightly unusual happens to me today.



One More For Tampa And Detroit


The Canadiens must now wait for the Lightning and Red Wings to battle it out in game seven after Tampa held on for a 5-2 win in game six.

I’m not sure whom I want Montreal to face. Both teams look decent. Originally I would’ve said Red Wings after the Canadiens skunked them four games to none during the season while the Habs lost all five to Tampa. But either way is fine. Bring ’em on.

Detroit was Henri Richard and Claude Provost’s favourite place to play, although at that time it was at the Olympia, which opened in 1927 with the Detroit Cougars (and then Falcons), and closed in 1979 when the Red Wings, who played under that name from 1932 on, took over the brand new Joe Louis Arena.

When I was playing bantam or midget hockey in Orillia, our coach told us we had the choice of playing in a tournament somewhere in Ontario, or in an exhibition game at the Olympia in Detroit.

We had a vote, and the majority of the guys voted to play in the tournament. I was pissed then and I’m still now. I never understood my teammates about this. We were in lots of tournaments, but the chance to play at the Olympia was a once in a lifetime thing.

I’ll bet the guys don’t even remember the tournament. I don’t. But we’d all remember the Olympia.

Price & Co. Snuff Sens

Ye Olde Coffin Nail

It wasn’t easy, for the players and for us, but with Carey Price being Carey Price, the Canadiens move on and the Sens don’t.

A big 2-0 shutout win in game six to end the drama. As tense as can be with the Senators swarming the Canadiens goal, with shrieks and oohs and aahs filling Canadian Tire Centre as the Sens poured it on with the clock winding down.

But Price and company withstood those heart-stopping moments, and now wait patiently for the Detroit-Tampa to end, with the Red Wings currently up 3-2 in the series.

Of course, whenever one talks to a Sens fan anytime over the next eight months or so, the conversation will center around the play being  whistled dead when Price bobbled the puck and it was banged home. But from where referee Chris Lee was standing, Price had the puck and that was that.

A good and proper call. Sorry Sens fans.

For the first time in the series, Montreal opened the scoring when Brendan Gallagher batted home a bouncing puck, and overall, the Canadiens as a whole played a fine, hard-working first period.

It’s a beautiful thing when the team is in the lead instead of behind, and not having us wonder if Craig Anderson can be beaten and a game made of it. A much better feeling. Love those leads.

It was just a matter of getting a second goal, which ultimately didn’t happen until Max sent it down the ice into the open net in the dying seconds. We need the Habs to open the scoring more often. It’s much easier on the nervous system and several vital organs. A second goal soon after would be nice too.

The second period saw the Canadiens play their disturbing ‘sit back’ type of game, at one point being outshot 12-1 and totaling 16-3 overall, but Lars Eller rang one off the post and and Tomas Plekanec had an amazing chance to buried it but it sailed over the net instead.

So regardless of the fact the boys were outshot, they still showed slivers of danger. How the air would’ve left the building if Eller or Pleks had buried one of those. It would’ve been a beautiful thing.

In the third period, Canadiens found themselves with a plethora of great chances, including a Parenteau and Mitchell combo on one sequence, Weise on another, and at least two from Brandon Prust. Beautiful chances, and when no light was lit, dark clouds began to form. We knew how these things usually work. Great chances, no goals, and the other team scores shortly after.

That’s how it usually works. Just not tonight. Because Carey Price was Carey Price and his teammates for the most part, stood their ground. Good, grinding hockey while withstanding an Ottawa team that refused to let up.

So nice to be rid of the Ottawa Senators. I’ll spend a couple more seconds thinking about them, and then begin wondering about the Wings and Bolts.

Either will be tough, but nobody said winning the Stanley Cup would be easy. For the players or us.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Habs 43-20.

Andrei Markov was a bit of a disaster, coughing up pucks, looking slow, showing uncharacteristic sloppiness with the puck from start to finish. We need Markov to be the general and in strict control out there, not a Mike Komisarek or Dion Phaneuf clone.

Hard and effective workers included, among others,  PA Parenteau, who was inserted into the lineup for Brian Flynn; Brandon Prust, who played a feisty game and as mentioned, had a handful of good scoring chances; Brendan Gallagher, who scored what became the winner and was his usual Gallagher self; Lars Eller, who once again was excellent; and of course Price, who rose to the occasion after not exactly being on top of things the other night.

Maybe it was my ears, but I think I heard the wild and crazy Glenn Healy give us what he called a Beatles reference when he mentioned things being “A long day’s night.” It’s “A Hard Day’s Night” Glenn. Or maybe you were thinking of “A Long and Winding Road”. Regardless, leave the Beatles out of your mutterings.

Tampa and Detroit play game six on Monday. We watch and wait.





Live, From The Edmonton Gardens




Neat old 4-page program I came across years ago, featuring the visiting New York Rangers playing the minor pro WHL Edmonton Flyers in an exhibition game prior to the 1955-56 season.

It’s actually a yellow program, but my camera gives it a bluish tint.

The Rangers lineup is packed with familiar names, including future HOFers Gump Worsley, Harry Howell, Bill Gadsby, and Andy Bathgate.

But the Edmonton Flyers has its share of names too, with Al Arbour, Jerry Melnyk, Bill Dea and a handful of others, plus #17 Aggie Kukulowicz, who, along with playing four games with the Rangers between 1952 and ’54, acted as a translator for Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series.

The Flyers, which existed from 1940 to 1963, were a Detroit Red Wings farm club, and also shows Johnny McCormack, who played for the Canadiens from 1951 to ’54, in the lineup.

Players on the Rangers who would don the Canadiens sweater at one time or another include the Gumper from 1963-64 to 1969-70; Ivan Irvin, who skated with the Habs for 4 games in the 1952-53 season; Lou Fontinato, with117 Habs games under his belt in 1961-62 and ’62-63; Jean-Guy Gendron, who was a Canadien for 43 games in 1960-61; and Bronco Horvath, who wore the CH for one game in1956-57;

And coach Phil Watson, who laced ’em up with the Habs for 44 games during the 1943-44 campaign.

I hope I haven’t missed anybody.  If I have, feel free to mention it.

The Edmonton Gardens, where this game took place, was built in 1913 and demolished in 1982, although years before the demolition, in 1974, the WHA Oilers moved over to the new Northlands Coliseum.


Lots To Read (If You Want)

I once phoned Hall of Famer and ex-Hab Bert Olmstead in Calgary (he was in the phone book), hoping to get him to talk about the old days with the Rocket and Stanley Cups etc. He hung up on me.

When I had my sports bar in Powell River, Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour. Frank told me the Montreal organization was so much better than the Leaf organization. We fed them a spaghetti dinner. That night, referee Storey, with a microphone, told the crowd that the spaghetti at Kane’s was the best.

I spoke to the Habs’ Jim Roberts after a game at the old Forum when I was about 13 , several years before it was renovated in 1968. He was nice to me and I decided to start a Jim Roberts fan club. I didn’t because I figured it was too much work and he wasn’t a good enough player.

I met the Rocket when he was refereeing an oldtimers game in Calgary. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was about 8 years old and he said he used to send out lots of cards but didn’t remember much at all about the old days. My sister took a picture of him, then the Rocket said he wanted me to take a picture of him with my sister.

My dad took me to a Montreal-Toronto game back in the 1950s. Somehow he corralled coach Toe Blake in the lobby and asked him to take my hockey book into the dressing room and get Doug Harvey to sign it. Blake did.

My peewee coach in Orillia, Jack Dyte, played 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1943-44 season. He had one goal and 31 penalty minutes.  He played alongside Punch Imlach for the Quebec Aces in the old Quebec Senior League and against the Rocket before Richard joined the Habs.

When I lived in Ottawa, it was well known that a somewhat down-and-out Doug Harvey was living in a railway car (which was once used by Canadian PM John Diefenbaker) at the race track across the river in Hull. And what did I do? Nothing. Didn’t go there. Didn’t bring him any smokes or a bottle. Didn’t invite him home for a turkey dinner. Nothing. It’s a big regret.

I had breakfast with HOF goalie Glenn Hall when he came to Powell River for the Allan Cup back in the late-1990s. After breakfast I drove him around the area in my Hyundai Excel.

Butch Bouchard didn’t own a pair of skates until he was 16, and just four years later he’d made the NHL.

I grew up just down the street from Rick Ley, who was a solid defenceman for the Leafs in the late 1960’s and into the ’70s. He also played for the New England Whalers in the WHA and has his sweater retired in Hartford. He then went on to a coaching career in Vancouver and Toronto. He and I would sometimes skate on an outdoor rink before school, and in the summer, during a pickup baseball game, with him pitching and me catching without a mask, the batter tipped one of Ley’s pitches and the ball knocked my front tooth out. I’ve had plastic in my mouth ever since.

In the late 1960s, Rick Ley’s older brother Ron and his buddies threatened to take me behind the pool hall and cut my long hair.

Bep Guidolin played his first NHL game in 1942 with Boston. He’s the youngest player ever to play in the league, at 16 years old.

Floyd Curry attended his first Montreal Canadiens training camp in 1940 at just 15. He didn’t make the team but it’s still quite a feat.

Bobby Orr played for the Jr. A Oshawa Generals when he was just 14.

Hall Of Fame goalie Johnny Bower didn’t play his first NHL game until he was 30 when he was called up from the minors to the NY Rangers. He played one season, then three more in the minors. After that he was traded to Toronto when he was 34 years old (maybe older). Amazingly enough, Bower played goal all those years with poor eyesight and rheumatoid arthritis.

Claire Alexander, who played defence for the Leafs in the mid 1970s, came into the league when he was 29. Before that, he was a milkman in Orillia, Ontario (my hometown).

In the early 1960s, when I was about 12, my parish priest, Monsignor Lee, was somehow connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think it had to do with St. Michael’s College. At one point he took my buddy Ron Clarke and I to Peterborough to see an exhibition game between the Leafs and Chicago, and the afternoon before the game, we had dinner at the hotel with the Leafs’ brass. The players were in an adjoining room. Ron and I had dinner with the Monsignor, King Clancy, and Jim Gregory, who is now in the builder’s category of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In the 1950s, New York tough guy Lou Fontinato (who later was traded to Montreal), got into a scrap with Rocket Richard. Fontinato got Richard’s sweater off and proceeded to rip it to shreds with his skates. A few weeks later, Fontinato received a bill from the Canadiens for $38.50.

I was a milkman in Calgary for awhile and Doug Risebrough was one of my customers. His wife, who looked after the milk situation, gave me a small tip at Christmas. Risebrough played 13 years in the NHL, with both Montreal and Calgary. When he was eating his Cheerios with the milk I had faithfully delivered, he was coaching the Flames. I remember years before, in Ottawa, when the Habs played a pre-season exhibition game at the old Civic Centre, the buzz in the papers was the new promising rookie who would be playing that night in his first NHL game. That player was Doug Risebrough.

I played on the same Midget team as Dan Maloney for one game in Barrie after our Orillia team got eliminated and three of us were loaned to Barrie. I remember he was big, and a real leader even then. We were about 16. I also spent an afternoon with him hanging out and playing pool. Dan Maloney played for four teams (Chicago, LA, Detroit, and Toronto) over 11 seasons, and eventually went on to coach. He was truly a great guy and a tough bastard.

Toe Blake’s real first name was Hector. He got the name ‘Toe’ from his younger sister who pronounced the last part of Hector as toe, as in “Hectoe.”

Turk Broda, who was the Toronto Maple Leaf goalie from 1936 to 1952, had the nickname “Turk” because as a child, his neck would turn red like a turkey when he got angry. His real name is Walter.

During the time I owned my restaurant in Powell River, the Hanson Brothers (from Slapshot) came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, two of them, the Carlson brothers, came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

When I was 12, my peewee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers, in his early-20s at the time, was the umpire.

When I was about 11 and at the opening of the Hockey Hall of Fame at the CNE in Toronto with my dad and sister, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, but because he was in a deep discussion with someone, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my sister had to get it for me.

Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

In the early ’60s when I was about 13 or so, my previously mentioned buddy Ron Clarke and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave Ron and I sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester, although I only know this from the lineup sheet I still have.

Toe Blake said “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

1950s Habs grinder Marcel Bonin would at times eat glass (probably after several pops), and also wrestled a bear or two. And once, while at training camp in Victoria, BC, Bonin broke his thumb during some horseplay off the ice. He kept it a secret from Toe Blake, then during the next practice, pretended to hurt his hand on the ice and kept himself from getting into hot water with Blake. It worked.

Two NHL players who were notorious for treating rookies on their own teams badly were Steve Shutt and Dave Keon. Shutt’s reasoning was, “Hey, it happened to me so it’s gonna happen to them too.”

Jim Pappin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1967, lost his Cup ring years ago. But it was found several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico when a diver using an underwater metal detector came up with it.

I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time. The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a little, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.

Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away several years ago, introduced me to goaltender Richard Brodeur, who was in town on an oldtimers tour. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh. I don’t want to talk to you.” (He was joking. I think.)

I was also introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager when the Hansons came to town. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.

A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970s and extremely difficult to crack the Habs line up, so French signed with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.

The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum in the late-1970s, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge.

The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at either end.

Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.

The first two artificial rinks built in Canada were in Victoria and Vancouver.

From a documentary I learned that Russian Czar Peter the Great would often go incognito to Europe, with a shaved mustache and old hat, and from a painting of him shown in the doc wearing these,  he looks a dead ringer for deceased Russian hockey star Valeri Kharlamov.

When the Rocket was playing for the Verdun juniors in 1939, he took boxing lessons in the off-season. He became so good at it that he was entered into a Golden Gloves competition, but a damaging punch in the nose by his coach prevented him from participating.

Leaf star Darryl Sittler and his wife Wendy were staying at Paul Henderson’s house and looking after their three daughters when Henderson scored those big goals during the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series.

Team Canada had a six-hour stopover in Paris on the way to Stockholm. Goalie Ed Johnston said this about Paris: “What’s wrong is the same thing you find with all these European cities. Too many old buildings.”

While in Stockholm, a Swedish fellow at the press conference mentioned that maybe Bobby Orr, who was injured and didn’t play in the series, wasn’t as good as Russian Valeri Kharlamov. “He’s good in the NHL,” said the guy, “but in Europe he’d be only average.” A Canadian who overheard this said, “Put this down. Bobby Orr-healthy-would eat any Czech or Russian alive. And he’d spit out any Swede.”

In Moscow, the Canadians were seen coming back to their hotel at all hours of the night. While some of the boys were sitting around the lobby of the Grand Hotel, someone mentioned hearing that the Russians had put street crews with jackhammers outside the Canadian team’s windows in the early morning. “No problem,” said one player. “We won’t be in anyway.”

Coach Harry Sinden celebrated his 40th birthday while overseas. “Ten days ago I was 29,” he said.

Some Canadian fans who arrived in Moscow found out there were no tickets available for them. These included Maurice Richard, Punch Imlach, former referee-in-chief Carl Voss, and legendary wrestler Whipper Billy Watson. Those left out were given three options: they could take an all-expenses paid 10-day tour of Copenhagen; they could fly home and be refunded; or they could stay and take their chances on finding tickets. Most chose the third option.

Dennis Hull, after a tour of Moscow, gushed, “I really like the place. It reminds me of Buffalo.”