Category Archives: Hockey Night in Canada

A Brief Habs-Sens Recap

The Canadiens and Senators clashed three times before tonight, and how did things go?

On Nov. 7th in Ottawa, Montreal dropped a 4-1 decision , their fourth straight loss in November, because for some reason they had stopped scoring  – just seven goals scored in four games.

Sound familiar? Currently they’ve scored seven goals in their last five games.

On January 4th at the Bell, two goals from Daniel Briere and one from Brian Gionta wasn’t enough because with the the game tied and just 19 seconds remaining in the third period, P.K. Subban took a hooking penalty and Ottawa ended it on the power play in overtime.

On January 16th in Ottawa, the Canadiens finally solved the Sens, although it took overtime to do it. And the fact was, the boys were terrible on this night. They had jumped into a 3-0 lead in the first but by the time this period would draw to a close, Ottawa had replied twice and it was a 3-2 game.

For the rest of the night, it was all Ottawa and only Carey Price standing on his head kept his team in it. Finally in overtime, P.K. scored the winner and celebrated like crazy, making the talking heads at CBC and Habs-haters everywhere aghast at PK’s enthusiastic celebration.

I thought it was a justified celebration on PK’s part. After what had happened twelve days before when he was in the box and the Sens won it, and the way they had played so well in the first period of this game and then completely fell apart, it was only right that P.K. was joyful.

Cherry, Stock, Habs haters and Sens fans etc. didn’t get it, naturally.

Tonight is the fourth meeting between these two and it’s time for the Canadiens to start scoring. And it’s time to show some superiority over a team nine points behind them in the standings.

 

 

 

 

Imagine – A Habs Fan Hosting

How refreshing it would be to have a Habs fan hosting Hockey Night in Canada.

This, from the National Post, with thanks to Hobo for sending it along.

PJT-GeorgeStroumboulopoulos-10.jpg

“TSN reporter Bob McKenzie tweeted Sunday the CBC host of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight will become the face of the show when Rogers Communications Inc. takes control of Canada’s NHL broadcasting rights next season.

“Stroumboulopoulos, who was a presenter at the Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday, was not made available for comment. A spokesperson for Rogers’ Sportsnet also declined to comment.

“The hiring of Stroumboulopoulos would be the first major personnel change made by Rogers after acquiring the NHL rights in a blockbuster 12-year, $5.2-billion deal in November.”

Wharmsby’s Habs Lowdown

As we head into tonight’s game between the Habs and Leafs, I thought that instead of only just providing the link, I’d paste this very important Habs info provided by Tim Wharmsby in CBC Sports – Hockey Night in Canada.

The situation: The Canadians have made the playoffs in two of the last three seasons, but they haven’t won a series since they advanced to East final in 2010 … Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin needs to add offence up front and some defensive depth, but in 2013,  his first year at the helm of the Habs, he didn’t make any major moves at the trade deadline. After Bergevin re-acquired Michael Ryder and picked up Jeff Halpern off waivers earlier in the season, the only deadline move the Canadiens made was to trade for defenceman Davis Drewiske for a fifth-round draft choice … Most of the trade talk in Montreal has centred around what to do with looming unrestricted free agents Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov. There was a report earlier this week that Bergevin has offered Markov a one-year contract extension, but that the 35-year-old defenceman seeks a three-year deal … Since the Olympic break, the Habs have plucked three of four points in two games without their gold-medal-winning goalie Carey Price, who returned home with a lower-body injury.

Playoff hopes: 3rd in the East, six points behind second-place Boston and eight points clear of ninth-place Washington.

Schedule: 21 games remaining (nine home, 12 road)

At home: Toronto, Boston, Ottawa, Colorado, Columbus, Buffalo, Detroit, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers.

On the road: Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, San Jose, Buffalo, Toronto, Boston, Detroit, Florida, Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Chicago.

Restricted free agents: Lars Eller, P.K. Subban, Dale Weise, Ryan White.

Unrestricted free agents: Francis Bouillon, Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov, Douglas Murray, George Parros.

No-trade clauses: Daniel Briere (no movement), Josh Gorges (limited), Brian Gionta (no-trade), Rene Bourque (modified), Andrei Markov (modified), Travis Moen (modified), Tomas Plekanec (modified).

Cap space: $6.9 million US.

On the farm: The Habs have made good use of the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs, shuttling back-and-forth players like Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Louis Leblanc, Mike Blunden and Patrick Holland. Right wing Sven Andrighetto, 20, may be the next to get a shot. The Swiss forward is coming off his most productive month, with three goals and nine points in 10 games in February.

Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.

 

 

 

 

Only 5.2 Billion

The big news of course is Rogers (Sportsnet) buying the TV rights for hockey games across Canada for the next twelve years, including four years and beyond of Hockey Night in Canada. For 5.2 billion dollars.

CBC will still do the games, but Rogers collects money other ways. Whether or not Don Cherry and Ron MacLean continue remains to be seen. It’ll be up to the Rogers people but I’m guessing they will be. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, people still watch.

If Cherry stays, I’m hoping Hazel Mae replaces MacLean.

As they were saying on Prime Time Sports, this is a great thing, this massive deal. Hockey Night in Canada could have died if Rogers didn’t do this. CBC’s taxpayer dollars can’t handle 5.2 billion.

The big question is, will Habs fans see every Habs game like now? What about RDS? Can I get TVA? Where will certain broadcasters go? Will PJ Stock and Glenn Healy have to send their wives back to work?

I grew up with Hockey Night in Canada. It’s important to me.

 

 

 

 

 

Scientific Tracking System Not New

You may think that my Scientific Habs Tracking System (SHTS), which I do every year using high-tech yellow highlighter and ultra modern computer page link, is something new.

Heck, I used to do it often, long before computers were invented, using the very fine method of red star for a Habs win, blue for a loss, and a straight red line for a tie on an Esso schedule.

Below is the only one I have left from those days, the 1966-67 season, which also happens to be the year the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup by beating Montreal four games to two.

Look at the run Montreal went on in March and April, losing just once, in Toronto of all places.

The standings for 1966-67 were:

Chicago 94
Montreal 77
Toronto 75
New York 72
Detroit 58
Boston 44

018

019

Brian And Roy Spencer

Imagine how proud Roy Spencer must have been. The thoughts that must have swirled through his head. The phone call had finally come, and when he would see the game, there would be no words to describe it, no greater feeling. Roy’s boy was about to play, on national television, for the fabled Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roy Spencer’s son Brian had sure been no angel. The boy was quick-tempered, and quicker to fight, but everyone in Fort St. James, a dark, blue-collar town in northern British Columbia, knew he was a chip off the old block. After all, old man Roy was known in those parts as a fiery, hard-living, no-nonsense type of fellow, and his family, for all intents and purposes, was a tough family in a tough town.

Brian had a twin brother and the two played for hours each day during the cold winter nights on the backyard rink Roy had built behind the simple log cabin they lived in. Roy would often go out with the boys and slowly teach them the finer points of the game, especially how to play with an aggressive edge, because, as Roy would explain, this way would lead to the pros the fastest. Forget about being the next Dave Keon or Jean Beliveau. Forget about smoothness and concentrate on toughness.

Those hours in the backyard paid off, because in 1969, the Toronto Maple Leafs chose young Brian, and he was sent to the Tulsa Oilers, a farm team of the Leafs, for grooming. Brian played hard, and on December 12, 1970, with the Leafs about to face Chicago, the call came. Brian Spencer was being brought up to play for the big team.

When Brian learned he was going to Toronto, he quickly made his own call. It was to his dad Roy back home who, by that time, was dying from kidney disease. He was playing, Brian told his dad, and his game was to be aired on Hockey Night in Canada from coast to coast!

Bad kidneys or not, it must have been one of the best days of Roy’s life. For a proud hockey dad, something like this just doesn’t get any better.

In the end, it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

Of course the CBC knew nothing about Roy and Brian Spencer and the big debut in the Leafs uniform, and for an unknown reason decided to air the Vancouver-Oakland game instead. Roy, once he realized what had happened, rose from his chair in front of the television, got into his car with his rifle, and drove 85 miles to the nearest television station. At the station, Roy demanded they show the Leafs game, a demand that was refused, and the RCMP were called. Roy found himself in a shoot-out with the police, and the proud dad, who only wanted to see his boy playing in the big league, was quickly shot and killed.

In Toronto, young Brian was wearing the famous blue and white uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and between periods, he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada. It was the biggest night of his life, and he was sure his dad was watching, smiling, with chest pumped with pride. What Brian didn’t know was at the same time he was being interviewed, his dad was being shot to death. He learned after the game.

Brian Spencer’s career lasted 10 years, with stops after Toronto in Long Island, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. In 1987, Spinner, as he was known, while living a drifter’s life in Florida, was charged with kidnapping and murder but was acquitted for lack of evidence. Three months later, while he was beginning to get his life back in order, he was murdered by a young hoodlum trying to rob him.

John And Yoko On The Power Play

My friend Robert Lefevbre sent me these pictures today of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Montreal in 1969 for their seven-day Bed-In for peace.

I’d never seen these before. I love them.

Bernie Geoffrion wore number five from 1951 to ’64, and in 1968 Gilles Tremblay donned the sweater for two years, retiring just before these photos were taken.

Lennon, being a huge hockey fan of course, said the following. Or maybe I was on acid and just think he said the following.

“I don’t mind Fergy playing a rough style, but I can’t stand what Ted Green does, especially with his stick,” said John to the room packed with all types of people. “This sort of thing should be taken out of the game. That’s why I’m here for this Bed-In. To end violence in hockey. Give peace a chance.”

John and Yoko then started humming the Imperial Oil Hockey Night in Canada theme, joined by Tommy Smothers and Timothy Leary, two other huge hockey fans.

Boom Boom Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Receiving Gift