Category Archives: Gaston

Roadrunner In Action

Photo from my scrapbook of a peach-fuzzed rookie Yvan Cournoyer during the 1964-65 campaign, with Dickie Moore (as a Leaf), Jean Beliveau, Jean Guy Talbot, Bob Pulford, Ted Harris, Ron Stewart, and Charlie Hodge.

And below, although I never scrambled for a foul ball or flying puck, I did manage (very quietly) to get a Cournoyer goal puck through a trade, a goal he scored on Oct. 26, 1972, only a month after the ’72 Summit Series in which Roadrunner played a major role.

Yvan would retire at 35 after 15 seasons, all with the Habs, and 10 Stanley Cups.

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Yvan

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot! Henderson makes a wild stab at it and falls. Here’s another shot. Right in front. They score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

Roadrunner '72

And then there was that time he played on a line with Gaston.

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Habs Needing A Super Sunday

I distinctly recall the idea that if the Canadiens can get through the early stages of the season playing .500 hockey with all their injuries involved, then they’re doing fine.

They’re 8-8-1 right now. Not great but it could be worse. They could be the Buffalo Sabres.

Today it’s the Islanders (6 pm EST) with a backup goalie in nets, star left winger Tomas Vanek on the shelf, and star left winger Matt Moulson gone, traded for Vanek.

The Canadiens are now on the playoff spot bubble, in eighth spot in the East with 17 points, with the Islanders just behind with 15. Even someone like Gaston, who blew his brains out smoking gunpowder, should be able to figure out that this is a game the Habs need to win. But Montreal has to score more, has to have guys punch the clock and hit the net much more, and crash and bang and get the Bell Centre walls shaking.

Brian Gionta has four goals in sixteen games. Lars Eller and Rene Bourque five in seventeen, Max has two in eight, DD of course is stalled at zero in sixteen, and although Ryan White isn’t expected to light the lamp or do much offensively, the fact remains he’s zero points in fifteen games.

Alex Galchenyuk, someone we all expect huge things from in future years, is third in team points, but is showing just two goals to go along with his nine assists in seventeen games. But he’s only 19-years old so there’s not much I can say. I just want him to become a superstar as soon as possible, that’s all.

“We’re getting a lot of our shots blocked right now, so that’s a big factor,” says Bourque. Which I think is a feeble excuse. Find a way not to have them blocked. The Canadiens block a lot of shots and other teams manage.

Five straight losses would be dismal, and the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning are here on Tuesday. It could become six.

It’s an important game, this Islanders clash. Even Gaston knows that.

 

It Happened Like This

It was May when Brandon Prust called Senators coach Paul MacLean a “bug-eyed fat walrus”, not long before the Canadiens bowed out to the Sens in five games.

What does that mean? Nothing. I’m just babbling. And I like the quote.

In June, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the Canadiens grabbed lanky forward Michael McCarron along with Jacob de la Rose, goaltender Zachary Fucale, and Artturi Lehkonen in the 2013 Entry Draft, Brendan Gallagher was edged out by Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau for Calder Trophy/rookie of the year honours, and P.K captured the Norris Trophy and rightly so.

And Luci and I hopped in the car and moved to Montreal.

July saw big George Parrros and little Daniel Briere signed by the Habs, I started my new job, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Geraldine Heaney, and Fred Shero were announced as new Hall of Famers, and P.K. and Carey Price were officially invited to Canada’s National Team orientation camp which would ultimately become a ball hockey game.

In August, Douglas Murray was signed by the Canadiens, I bought Dylan’s Blond on Blond CD, my brother came to visit me, and hoodlum Whitey Bulger, whose ex-girlfriend’s daughter was once married to Knuckles Nilan, somehow ended up with a 1986 Stanley Cup ring. (Whitey’s about to get sentenced to life).

September saw rookie camp get underway at Brossard, a guy robbed a bank in Orillia wearing a Habs hat, the Canadiens pre-season exhibition games kicked off, Danno sent me a hockey card I didn’t have, and Michael Bournival and Jarred Tinordi got the news they were staying with the big club. (Tinordi’s down in Hamilton at the moment).

October began with a loss to the Loafs during which George Parros conked his head in a fight and was gone for a month, Ryan White shaved his long blond locks, Daniel Briere suffered a concussion, Max got hurt, Leaf great Allan Stanley passed away, the Red Sox won the World Series, Alexei Emelin signed for four more years, and the Hockey Inside Out Summit kicked off at Hurley’s on Crescent St.

In November, Parros came back with his mustache missing, I bought a sports jacket, Toronto’s mayor made a whack of headlines, a Michel Therrien/PK Subban soap opera picked up steam, Gaston’s still an asshole, and the Canadiens have lost all four games they’ve played this month.

 

 

Gaston With Some Class

These cufflinks were made by Swank in the 1950s for the Canadiens players. I know because Classic Auctions had sold them in the past. I have no reason not to believe that this set didn’t belong to a Hab from then. Maybe they belonged to Moore or Harvey or Plante or Beliveau. Maybe even the Rocket!

Maybe it was the stick boy.

I’ll never know. I found them on eBay recently, and they weren’t expensive. Not by a long shot. I couldn’t help myself, and Luci, if you’re reading this, I got them pretty darn cheap. Seriously.

Swank also made coloured brooches in the form of the “CH”for the players’ wives back then. I saw one at work recently and they’re beautiful.

Seeing Gaston with something so classy just doesn’t jive. He’s always been such a little asshole.

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Are They Lonely?

I wonder how Giant Gaston and Faceless Habs Fan are doing, tucked away in a dark storage shed thousands of miles away, while I roam the streets of Montreal, free as a bird.

I’m feeling guilty. Maybe I should send them some poutine!

Cheer up boys. Just don’t fight. And share your Penthouse magazines.

If you’re good, I’ll send for you.

It’s not the first time Gaston’s been locked up, and a storage shed can’t be as bad as San Quentin. And Faceless? Who knows how he’s feeling. His face is slightly hard to read.

They’re probably fine. I’m just being a dad.

The Orillia Stroll (Before Niagara)

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Wow, it was busy on the notorious Highway 401 in Toronto and then the QEW that took us to Niagara Falls.

Busy, busy, busy.

It’s a good thing I’m from Orillia, where men drive cars well and women crazy.

It’s so busy it reminds me of Joyce Ave. in Powell River on a Friday night.

It’ll be a fine day and evening here in Niagara. Warm, with a clear blue sky. I thought I could hear the roar of the falls from our hotel room but it’s possible it’s just my stomach.

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I can’t stop thinking about Orillia.

I walked the main drag past the pool hall, which unfortunately burned down years ago, and past the Shangri-La, which is no longer the Shangri-La.

I rounded the corner and looked at the Geneva Theatre, where I saw The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur, and which is now a bingo hall, just across from the Top Hat pool hall, which was condemned decades ago.

I headed up to the arena, which was locked and is about to be torn down, and across the way, the Oval ballpark, where my peewee team shone, and is now a school.

Up the hill to my high school, which is closed and will be torn down this summer. The lady in the office let us walk around, and I wondered where my locker, where I kept all my cheat sheets, used to be.

Over to the church, which was locked, but which brought back fond memories of when I was an altar boy and set the back of my clothes on fire while lighting candles.

Down at the park, another ballpark where I probably almost hit several triples, has vanished, replaced by nothing. And I couldn’t bear to see the empty lot that was once the Club Pavalon dance hall.

The dock where I fished must have sunk. The change room where I stood on my bike and saw my first set of boobs is now a big fancy deal that you can’t see in, even on a bicycle.

Down I walked to the West Ward, where I grew up, and I gazed at the ballpark where one of future Maple Leaf Rick Ley’s fastballs knocked my front tooth out, and I wondered why home plate is now in the outfield and vice versa. And the outdoor rink with the wood stove in the old shack is now an old field with too many weeds.

Onward to the Moose Lodge, which is now an old folk’s home. Over to my house, which was bought by someone who decided to leave my dad’s artwork on the garage door, which isn’t far from the Dominion store where I played ball hockey and is now a medical centre.

Up to the hospital where I was born, and it’s still there. I didn’t recognize it, but it’s where my hospital was so it must be it. Across the street, West Ward school, where I went from grades one to three, is now¬† the hospital parking lot. My catholic school was torn down and replaced by another, although they kept the same name.

Down West St. to Otaco, the factory I worked in, and it’s now a field, and back up to P&M, another factory where I assembled toilet doors and Gulf signs, and I see it’s now a building full of offices.

I’ve missed Orillia. And other than a few things, it’s still the same old place.

 

If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Calgary

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I know, the pictures aren’t great. The ones I was hoping to use are a bit blurry.

That’s the Calgary Saddledome behind Gaston, taken from my son’s street.

Maybe it’s because I’m blurry. Eight hours from Nelson to Calgary. It’s that number 3 highway. I felt just a few more miles and I’d end up in the Twilight Zone.

We’re at my son’s place in downtown Calgary, on a warm, sunny day, and aside from the above whining, things are great. I haven’t seen my son in over two years, and he looks good. He’s a martial arts guy who loves the Habs.

Calgary remains a bittersweet place for me. I went through a divorce here, but it’s a nice place regardless. Anyway, it was a long time ago and I never would have ended up with Luci if that nightmare from so long ago hadn’t happened. So I think I’ll embrace this vibrant city.

Thank you Calgary.

Even though I had a slew of terrible jobs here, including home delivery milkman. I also had several trucking jobs and I worked in the Safeway warehouse where I assembled boxes of bananas to be shipped to stores. Often I kicked myself for moving from Ottawa.

Years ago when my first wife and I brought a Russian couple over for a visit, I contacted the Calgary Flames and they were amazing. It was a novelty for all concerned. They gave the couple a team-autographed stick. They brought us to a closed Flames practice where GM Doug Risebrough came up and said hello. They took us down by ice level and my Russian friends had their picture taken with Theoren Fleury, who had just come off the ice. And they gave us four tickets to two separate Flames games.

Because of all this, it’s very difficult for me to say anything bad about the Calgary Flames organization.

I’m sorry but I have to cut this short. My son’s internet isn’t working and so I had to slip out to a restaurant to get this done. But I need to get back. I only have a few hours to spend with him.

Tomorrow the car is pointed toward Saskatchewan. Maybe we’ll make Regina. Maybe not.

Please check in and I’ll let you know. Your guess is as good as mine.

Nelson Calling

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I knew we shouldn’t have brought Gaston along.

Arrived in Nelson today after a serious mountain climb that took 45 minutes to go up and 30 minutes to go down just before Castlegar. This is the kind of thing I really tried to avoid when I was a semi driver working out of Calgary. Long mountain slopes. Lose control on a winter day and you’ll meet your maker.

Nelson’s always been quite a place. A popular destination in the ’60s and ’70s for American draft dodgers to hang their hats on, and a mecca back then for hippies from far and wide to set up housekeeping and eat rice and granola. I still have friends in the area who moved here in 1970.

Nowadays, on Baker Street, the main drag, it’s almost like going back in time. Long-haired kids busking and prancing about, stuck in some kind of time warp. I just want to tell them that the ’60s weren’t all it was cracked up to be. I was there in the thick of it. There was serious peer pressure back then, meeting a certain level of hipness was important, and often it was only the length of hair only that a person was judged by.

You could be be the biggest nincompoop on the planet, but if your hair was halfway down your back, you still got lots of chicks and revered by guys with shorter hair who desperately wished theirs would grow faster. The thinking was – if a guy had really, really long hair, then he must have become cool earlier than others because hair takes a while to grow. So he was well-respected in hippiedom, even if he was a blubbering idiot.

And frankly, when I see a guy my age looking like a refugee from Haight-Ashbury and asking for change, all it tells me is that he’s probably tremendously lazy and is using the old-age counterculture in this new age as a perfect excuse for not having to work, and nothing more than that.

My daughter and the gang are doing just fine. They have a new dog and a bunch of chickens that lay a whack of eggs every day. The two young boys are non-stop, and little Cameron’s pants fell down when we were crossing the street and cars were waiting.

The two girls, older and in school, are terrific. Jasmyne’s in grade seven and is a classic teenybopper. Delaney, who’s seven, wants to sit on my knee all the time and she demands to sit beside me at the dinner table.

I’m grandpa and she makes me feel like a grandpa. I love this so much.

I have a daughter I’m proud of, a great son-in-law, and awesome grandkids that wear me out. It’s about as good as it gets.

Below, Adam. And below that – Delaney drew a picture of me. It’s a little hard to tell, but that’s a Habs hat on my head.

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