Category Archives: Doug Harvey

Jacques Plante Thought It Would Be Nice To Have A Face

All you have to do is sit behind the net to fully understand why goaltenders wear masks. It’s not hard to figure out. They wear masks because they want to have a reasonably normal face to look at in the mirror. They also want to remain alive.

 That little black rubber puck hurts. When you sit behind the net, you see that the thing explodes off sticks, ricochets like bullets off steel and often is virtually impossible to see. It’s like batting against Nolan Ryan, and every pitch is at your head. Yes, there’s no doubt about it. A puck can do serious damage to a goalie’s movie star good looks.

 So imagine the time when goaltenders didn’t wear masks. It was a time when teeth were lost, cheekbones and noses flattened, and they lived in fear. It was rarely a problem when they could see the puck–they could handle that. It was the time when they couldn’t see it, when it was deflected or hard to find, that it became scary. Then, they knew the infirmary was only down the corridor.

 But in 1959, one goalie, against his coach’s wishes, finally put the mask on, because he was sick of looking in the mirror and seeing blood and bandages. His name was Jacques Plante, and every goaltender of every age, in every rink in every town, should say a quiet thank you to the man.

 Plante was a different kind of a guy, as goaltenders can be sometimes. He wasn’t particularly close to most of his teammates, and many wondered about his hobby. When Harvey and the Rocket and Boom Boom were playing poker and having beers, Plante was knitting scarves and sweaters. They would wonder about that. But they never had to wonder about him on the ice, because he happened to be one of the greatest of all time and he helped his team win. So they let him be with his knitting.

 But coach Toe Blake was another matter. Blake didn’t like Plante or his individual streak. He hated when the goalie would roam almost to the blueline with the puck. He didn’t understand the knitting. And there was no way in the world this coach was going to let his crazy goalie put on a mask. No way. Too cowardly.

 But Plante had been toying for awhile with different ideas and styles of facewear and would sometimes try one out in practice, probably when Blake wasn’t around. But during games, it would remain in the dressing room. It just wasn’t time.

 Everything changed in 1959 when Plante and his team were in New York. The Rangers at the time had a sharpshooter named Andy Bathgate, who had perfected one of the first slapshots, and his was like a cannon, hard and heavy. In the game, Bathgate wound up and his shot smashed into Plante’s face. The goalie was helped off the ice, spent 20 minutes in the clinic, was stitched up, and then announced he was ready to go back out. Only this time, with his sweater caked in blood, he was wearing his mask. Blake let him be, and in the games following the one in New York –with his mask on– Plante was still a star, and the mask stayed.

 Jacques Plante wasn’t the first to try the mask. Clint Benedict had put one on in 1930, but found it uncomfortable and quickly took it off. But Plante was the first to wear one on a permanent basis. He showed guts to defy his coach.

 But pucks hurt, and this was a goalie who was tired of that.

The Best Jobs In The World. Yes – Better Than Your Job.

1. Retired Famous Race Horse. You were Northern Dancer and Secretariat, and you were the toast of the town. You retired on top of the world and were given a fancy stable and told to get out into the field and make love to the finest fillies out there. Whenever you feel like it. Every day.

2. Guy Who Crashes Cymbals In A Symphony Orchestra. You’re in Carnegie Hall, and the horns and violins are working their way up to big crescendo. The crowd is enthralled, and then, at the precise moment, you crash your cymbals.
That’s it! And for this you get to wear an expensive tuxedo, make lots of money, and probably even sign a few programs!

3. Red Fisher. Play poker with the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Geoffrion on trains to Chicago, Boston, and the rest. Go for a cold one after the game with Lafleur, Savard, and Robinson, and talk shop. Cover the Montreal Canadiens and become just one of the boys for nearly fifty years. HE MAKES ME SICK.

4. George Martin. He’d put on his cardigan sweater, jump into a limo to take him to studios like Abbey Road, and help the Beatles weave their magic on their recordings. He was there almost from the start, and he also made zillions doing it.

5. Playboy photographer. Do I really need to explain this one?

6. Phil Pritchard. Phil’s job is to babysit the Stanley Cup, 12 months a year. He takes it all over North America and Europe so players from the winning team can show it off where they live. He brings it out onto the ice with his white gloves on when a team wins it in the final game. He’s practically married to it, and it never talks back.

Free Stuff For A Guy Who Doesn’t Need Free Stuff

Business people in Vancouver have decided to sweeten the pot for Mats Sundin, as if twenty million just might not be enough for this aging star.

 

People who make in a year what Sundin tips at his favourite restaurant are offering, among other things, free luxury cars from two different dealers, and a lifetime of free dental work, including all the fancy stuff like bridgework and dental surgery. Another has offered a lifetime of cosmetic work for His Worship’s girlfriend, like facials, nails, and whatever else it is that women get done. Then there’s the usual free meals, free drinks, free clothes, free this, free that.

 

In fact, it looks like an absolute free ride for Sundin if he chooses the Canucks.

 

Montreal, on the other hand, has offered seven million dollars a year, but their extra enticements seem a little more tempting. There’s that chance for Sundin to finally win a Stanley Cup. There’s the opportunity to wear the fabled Montreal Canadiens sweater. He can hang around with Jean Beliveau and Dickie Moore. If he did excel, he’d join the list of great Habs like Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Moore, Lafleur, and Mahovlich, instead of a list that includes Smyl, Linden, Rota, and Kurtenbach. He’d play in the most exciting rink in the best hockey city in the world. And he’s three thousand miles closer to Sweden than Vancouver is.

 

Surely that should be more than enough.

 

But if he decides to play, wherever he goes, he’d better be good. It’s getting a little silly.   

Andrei Kostitsyn Will Stay, A Scary Habs Story, And A New Site That Looks Like The Old One (Almost)

Several things to talk about on this sunny west coast day. And don’t worry, It won’t take long. I know you have a lawn to cut.

(Please note – I’m on a new site now  dennis-kane.com, so please add this new address to your favourites. More about his down below. Thanks.)

Reports say that Andrei Kostitsyn has said his plans are to stay with the Montreal Canadiens and not accept any offers from certain Russian teams with fat wallets. He likes Montreal, he likes the team, and he likes playing with his brother Sergei. Andrei was a free agent and could’ve bolted on us, but isn’t going to now. He’s a star in the making, and we need him for the Quest for the Cup next year. So hip hip hooray to Andrei Kostitsyn!

We like Andrei. He’s a good Hab.

Now a shocker of a tidbit. Are you ready for this?

Sometime around 1950, the Habs were returning from Toronto by train when their car suddenly derailed while crossing a bridge over ice waters of the Ottawa River. Had the car been flung to the right instead of to the left, which threw several players from their berths, the entire team would have plunged into the river.

I didn’t know this before but have just read it in a Terry Sawchuck biography. Imagine. We could’ve lost the entire Montreal Canadiens in one fell swoop. This is all quite unnerving.

Now, the news I’ve been waiting to tell you. You might see a few changes in the look of this blog. With the help of computer whiz Robin Murray, my old site was transferred lock, stock, and barrel over to a new one (although it looks the same) and I have a new domain address. It’s dennis-kane.com.

You have been automatically switched over to the new one through the wonders of technology, and this will always happen but you might, at some point, want to remember the new address, dennis-kane.com.

I moved it to this new one so I can have more freedom. I’ve included tasteful ads, and a world map showing where people live who have gone on my site. There’s CBC daily sports news updates, a whole bunch of Habs videos you can watch, and other cool things.

This blog is very important to me and I want it to grow, and it is. It was stressful doing these changes because I basically didn’t have a clue, but Robin took on the challenge, and with great patience and know how, came through for me. He never got angry at me with all my questions and obvious stress showing all over my face and voice, and he just carried on with a smile, tweaking and suggesting, and getting it done.

I grew up with typewriters, and so Robin became more important than you can imagine. If you have any questions for this great guru, he’s at greatoutdoorstoday@gmail.com. He’s a friendly sort.

Lovely Habs Wives In The 1950’s (Part 2 of 5)

Jacques Plante, with wife Jacqueline and boys Michel and Richard, singing and forgetting about flying pucks that hurt when they hit your face. Plante also liked to knit, and made his own socks and toques.

 

Dickie Moore and his lovely wife playing with their little baby. Such a fine looking couple. One of Moore’s daughters, and it could be the one in this photo, is dating one of Doug Harvey’s sons right now.

 

Bert Olmstead showing his beautiful family his scrapbook, just like the Rocket did. Scrapbooks were all the rage back then, and probably very cool when the scrapbook was about yourself. A few years back, I looked up Olmstead in the Calgary phone book, phoned him and asked him if he’d mind talking about the old days with the Habs. He hung up on me.

Ted Lindsay Means Well, But Vlad Konstantinov Was No Bobby Orr Or Doug Harvey

I’m sorry, but Ted Lindsay’s 82 years old now, and so some of his reality must have packed it in. Vladimir Konstantinov was a better defenceman than Bobby Orr?
Sorry, Ted. No one was better than Bobby Orr.
And he says Doug Harvey was the greatest ever before Konstantinov but didn’t have the bodychecking ability Konstantinov had?
Sorry again, Ted.
Harvey could not only bodycheck with the best of them in an era when bodychecking was much more prevalent than in the modern game, but players from the other original five teams knew they’d better not mess with Harvey because he was big, strong, mean, and an amateur boxer.
Good for Ted Lindsay for testifing during the accident lawsuit. He means well. But Konstantinov was no Bobby Orr, and no Doug Harvey. These two controlled the game. Everyone else comes in second.
The following are excerpts from Lindsay’s testimony, published in the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. 

Lindsay delivers emotional testimony at Konstantinov/Mnatsakanov lawsuit

Posted by George James Malik May 12, 2008 17:33PM

The Detroit News’s Paul Egan says that Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay testified that Vladimir Konstantinov was perhaps the best defenceman in hockey when he was injured in a limousine crash that’s resulted in a federal lawsuit by Konstantinov’s family and the family of Sergei Mnatsakanov against Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury, which the Konstantinov/Mnatsakanov suit alleges had defective seat belts:

May 12, Detroit News: “He was the greatest machine in the world,” Lindsay told the jury of five men and three women. Today, “I see this vegetable and to me it just kind of makes me sick (compared) to what was the greatest hockey player in the world. It’s a shame.”Lindsay said he continued to work out in the Red Wings weight room following his hockey career and became good friends with Konstantinov and other team members.

He described Konstantinov as “a gifted person,” a skilled bodychecker who was a magnificent skater and had the ability to go up ice and act as a fourth forward and still get back across his own blue line in time to defend.

Lindsay said Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens was the greatest defenseman he ever saw before Konstantinov, but “Doug didn’t have the gift of Vladi with the bodychecking.” The only other defenseman he compared Konstantinov to was Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins, whom Lindsay said was a great skater who again was not as physical as Konstantinov.

Lindsay said he understood the chauffeur had been unable to keep the limousine on the road. “People like that, they should be shot,” he said.

 

The Detroit Free Press’s Bob Swickard confirms:

May 12, Detroit Free Press: Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay testified today that the Red Wings easily could have won at least two — and perhaps five – more Stanley Cups if Vladimir Konstantinov hadn’t been disabled by 1997 limousine crash.”That’s how good he was,” Lindsay, 82, told a federal jury in Detroit considering a claim against Findlay Ford, the Ohio dealership that sold the limo to a metro Detroit company.

“There was none better,” he said, adding that Konstantinov topped even the legendary Bobby Orr as a physical body-checking defenseman.

“He was best in the world. No doubt about it”,” Lindsay said

Mike Ribeiro Two-Hands Detroit Goalie. Maybe He Was Using Sidney’s Stick.

It’s an interesting study, this Mike Ribeiro.

Let’s first start in the here and now, and work our way backwards.

In game two against Detroit, Ribeiro, the Dallas Stars offensive threat, while skating past the Wings’ net, received a butt-end from Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. Ribeiro then turned around and gave Osgood a two-hander across the chest of Osgood. It was, for lack of better words, selfish and stupid on Ribeiro’s part.

Now let’s back up a little. Ribeiro was an underacheiving forward for the Montreal Canadiens, and was sent packing to the Dallas Stars for defenceman Janne Niiniman and 5th round draft pick, and he blossomed into a big point-getter and an important piece of the puzzle in Dallas.

Habs critics had a field day with this. Gainey was an idiot, they cried. How could he make such a bad decision to practically give Ribeiro away and now the guy’s a star in Dallas? What a mistake Gainey had made, they decided.

But Gainey traded him for a reason. There was talk that he was a person who helped separate the dressing room into cliques. He was a yapper on the ice who never backed up his tough talk.

And the instance that showed me he was no Montreal Canadien came when they did a close up of him one night in a game against Pittsburgh, and the the Habs were losing by a goal late in the game. And was Ribeiro all business and focused on the task of tying the game up? No. Instead, he skated over to Sidney Crosby and asked him if he could have one of his sticks.

To me, this is no Montreal Canadien. The Rocket and Doug Harvey would be rolling over in their graves about this Crosby stick thing.  Jean Beliveau, I’m sure, never asked Gordie Howe for his stick in a closely-fought battle. Toe Blake would’ve benched him for a month if he did.

I was glad when Ribeiro was traded. And I could care less how many goals he went on to score with Dallas. He was never going to be a Montreal Canadien, plain and simple.

It Sure Wasn’t Hard Becoming A Habs Fan

I’m asked from time to time why I cheer for the Habs and not the Toronto Maple Leafs, seeing that I grew up only an hour north of Toronto, in Orillia. The answer’s easy. The Montreal Canadiens were a gift from my dad.

My dad’s 87 now, and of course, still watches hockey. He’s been a hockey fan all his life, followed the Leafs when he was young, and he once wrote a letter in the 1930’s 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 a thank-you note to my dad in return.

But slowly, my dad began to turn. The Toronto Star and Telegram both plastered their papers with Leafs stories and my dad began to wonder about the almost invisible other teams. It was always “Leafs, Leafs, Leafs” as he used to say. Foster Hewitt was the definitive homer, and this rubbed dad the wrong way. And dad, being the introverted type, cringed when he read or heard about the goings-on of brash, loud, and arrogant Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

In the fifties, with television entering households, it was 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. Stanley Cups began to be won by the Habs on a regular basis beginning in 1955, and the Leafs just kept plodding along. The Canadiens had something the Leafs didn’t.

When I was a boy, my dad started a big Montreal Canadiens scrapbook for me. He helped me write fan letters to the the Rocket, and at one point, the Rocket sent me a Christmas card. He took me to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of times, and once, when we were early and stood at the gate, the entire 1958 Montreal team walked right by us.

He bought me a hockey book which he mailed to Montreal asking for autographs in, and it was mailed back signed by the entire 1958-59 Habs – Richard, Plante, Toe Blake, Beliveau, Geoffrion etc, and the only one missing was Doug Harvey. When we went to a game at the Gardens, he brought the book with him, took it down the 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. My son has the book now.

So of course I became a Habs fan. They’ve been magical for me, and the magic has never gone away. It’s been a lifelong love affair.

And it’s all because of my dad.

Remembering Doug Harvey

The following is my column in the Powell River Peak, published March 3, 2008. doug.jpg                           

Unless you’re very young, or have never paid particular attention to hockey, you probably know who Doug Harvey is. You might know only that he was a hockey player a long time ago. But maybe you know he’s rated as the sixth greatest player of all time, and it’s between him and Bobby Orr as the game’s best defenceman ever.

He played for the Montreal Canadiens alongside Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, and the rest of the cast of iconic 1950’s characters, and he was, with the Rocket, my boyhood hero. When I was a kid, my dad even corralled coach Toe Blake one night at Maple leaf Gardens in Toronto to go into the dressing room and get Harvey’s autograph for me.

Doug Harvey’s gone now, but I still think about him, so a few weeks ago, I did what I had to do. I phoned his son in the Maritimes.

Doug Harvey Jr. is 57 years old, is proud of his dad, and he was happy to talk about him. What was it like, I asked, being the son of such a star? “It was probably just like you and your dad,” he said. “We were just a family like everyone else. Kids at school didn’t treat me any different, and when I played hockey, there were no names on the sweaters, so no one gave me a hard time at the rink. “I guess one thing that might be different was that players would come over to the house quite often – Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, the Rocket a few times. When dad was building our house, most of the team helped him.”Even the kids of the Montreal Canadiens found a connection, probably because they had so much in common. “We lived near a lot of the players,” continued Doug Jr., “and I was a good buddy with Toe Blake’s son. And it’s funny too, my brother has been dating Dickie Moore’s daughter for a few years now, and dad and Dickie were best friends.”Doug Jr. remembers too how sometimes his dad’s job interfered with a family trying to have a normal life. “My mom would get upset with dad because we’d go to games on schools nights from time to time, and for an eight o’clock game, he’d be at the old Forum at 5:30 and stay for a couple of hours afterward signing autographs for people. We wouldn’t get home until after midnight and we had to get up in the morning for school.”

Doug Harvey was a genuine free spirit, a practical joker, a fun-loving guy, a kind-hearted person, and a supremely gifted hockey player. He dominated on the ice in the old ‘original six’ NHL, controlling the game, slowing it down or speeding it up, making precise passes, setting the pace, and was a leader among men.

He was a general on the ice, and won the Norris trophy for best defenceman a remarkable seven times.

Slowly though, over the years, his health began to fail, and then, in 1989, at 65 years of age, the great Doug Harvey passed away.

“I remember visiting him in the hospital and he was usually in good spirits,” said Doug Jr. “One time I was in the corridor and I heard laughter coming from his room. Inside, Bobby Orr and Don Cherry were there cheering up my dad.”

And I’m sure, after all I’ve read, and after talking to Doug Jr., the man with the big heart was cheering them up too.