Category Archives: Jacques Plante

Quebec City

We’re in Quebec City and it’s been terrific, with our hotel so perfectly situated we find ourselves only a couple of hundred feet from the Plains of Abraham.

When I was fourteen I spent a month with a French family in St. Hyacinthe on an English-French exchange, and my new friend and I hitchhiked to Quebec City and slept in sleeping bags on the Plains of Abraham. And now I’m back.

It’s Luci’s birthday and she and I celebrated at the greatest restaurant either of us have ever been in, called Parmesan, where joie de vivre reigned supreme, and where the staff was amazing, the food was excellent, and a singer and fellow with an accordion walked around and sang old Italian songs.

It was like being serenaded by Dean Martin and Perry Como.

We never stopped smiling and laughing for the two or three hours we were in Parmesan. Usually being in restaurants is fairly serious business.

We’ve already staked out a nearby Irish pub to watch the Habs-Rangers game tonight, after walking in and an employee showed us around and told us where the best TV viewing is.

And I hope I don’t sound like I’m boasting, but since my teens I’ve been saying exactly what Jacques Plante said in describing the nice time he had in Toronto when he played for the Leafs in the early-1970s:

“Maybe that’s been the trouble in our country; we just don’t get around and meet the neighbours in other provinces.”

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While Waiting

Just a great game the other night in Boston, and of course we need more of the same from the boys on Saturday afternoon when the Lightning come to town.

Meanwhile, cleaning more stuff off my desktop.

A snapshot of Jacques Plante and his wife in the late 1970s; a vintage sweater box I noticed on a shelf at work, a neat cartoon, and a Forum program that the cartoon was in, from a Montreal Maroons/Leafs game.

Hope you don’t mind. You’re at a slightly unconventional site.

And anyway, I could go on and on about how this year’s squad can never take a night off, how they have to skate and drive hard to the net and have the puck more than the other team and give 140% like I do at work.

But I won’t, because it’s Friday. Which means it’s beer time at St. Hubert’s Chicken.

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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.

 

 

 

 

Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.

Crazy Loss

The chances were there for the Canadiens from time to time, but 6’7″ Ben Bishop was a wall. A high wall. And much of the time Tampa Bay dominated but led only 1-0 in the third.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Canadiens would tie a game they shouldn’t have been close to doing, with just 4:38 seconds left in the third period, only to lose 2-1 in the shootout.

They also did their best to lose it several times in the late going, with chances starting to come and Carey Price playing like Jacques Plante, when suddenly Rene Bourque took a penalty for high sticking at 16:27 of the third, then Lars Eller went off at 18:54 for a face-off violation, and just forty seconds into overtime, Andre Markov went to the box for shooting the puck over the glass.

But Price continued to be sensational throughout, until of course the shoot-out, a time when things just don’t go right. Price struggles with these clear-cut situations, and the laws of nature say it’s a terrible combination when his shooters can’t put the puck in the ocean with their own chances.

How come other teams manage to beat goalies in shootouts?

Galchenyuk – nope, Tampa – yes, Briere – nope, Tampa – nope, Gallagher – nope, and the game ends 2-1 for the visitors and the Habs get a point thanks to Carey Price and no one else.

The Lightning played like a real team – quick both ways, solid checking, sound goaltending. The Canadiens often looked lost and confused. Like it was them who were without Steven Stamkos, not Tampa.

Not a good night for the Canadiens, except for Price, even though they kept it close and managed a point. So I suppose if you look at it that way, it was a good night after all. But they were tremendously outplayed, outshot 45-29, and the Bell Centre only came to life when the puck bounced in off Briere.

A perfect road game for Tampa. A less-than-dazzling display by the home team. And three seriously ill-timed penalties is enough to drive a man to drink.

Random Notes:

Brendan Gallagher, with his new mustache, looks like a young apprenticing porn star. Did he have that the other night or is it black felt pen?

Max assisted on Briere’s marker.

Is it fair to say Rene Bourque isn’t exactly helping right now? What do you think Mayor Coderre?

Next up – Friday in Columbus

 

Face-Off

I went to see Face-Off in downtown Toronto when it was brand new in the theatres. It was sort of interesting. Some great players had cameos in this Canadian story of a folk singer and a hockey player having problems because of the difference in lifestyles, but without the decent hockey footage, I think the story would suck.

Rick Ley, a kid from the neighborhood in Orillia playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time, was in it and I even think he had a one-line speaking role.

In the U.S. the movie is called “Winter Comes Early”. I don’t know why. Maybe the studio was worried that too many people, particularly in the warmer areas, wouldn’t have a clue what the title meant.

I like the last paragraph in the clipping below about Jacques Plante.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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What’s wrong with it? The great Doug Harvey is wearing a Rangers uniform, that’s what’s wrong with it.

Doug Harvey was a Canadiens from 1947 to 1961, winning six Norris Trophies in the process. He was the best of the best, but because he and Detroit’s Ted Lindsay started wondering out loud if  the owners were above board with players’ pension money, Doug was traded to the New York Rangers for Lou Fontinato at the end of the 1961 campaign. (Lindsay was banished to Chicago).

Doug’s first year as a Ranger was as player-coach, and he captured yet another Norris, his seventh. P.K. Subban has a ways to go.

What’s wrong with this picture. He should’ve retired as a Hab, because he was the Canadiens greatest defenceman. Usually it’s only Boston’s Bobby Orr that folks agree was as good or possibly better, and Orr in a Hawks uniform, a team he joined in 1976, didn’t seem right either.

Harvey’s sweater was retired by the Habs in 1985, which was about twenty years too late, but at least it got done. Although how could it not?

In a 1985 Tim Burke Montreal Gazette column, he writes that when Harvey was informed that his sweater would go up to the rafters, he was asked how he rated himself as a player. “I don’t know,” he replied. “I never saw myself play.”

Burke’s complete and interesting story about Harvey and the news of his sweater retirement can be seen here – Doug Harvey’s number 2 To Be Retired

I don’t like change. That’s why I’ve decided to stop aging. And I miss the young Sophia Loren, when she was only 65 or 70.

Here’s Orr, gone from the Bruins to Chicago, when his knees were shot. Like Harvey, a different uniform just wasn’t right. And below that, a fellow who never looked right in a Leafs uniform.

And then there’s the guy below him. I could on and on.

Orr

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50 Or More; And That Curved Stick

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Up until this December 1964 Hockey Pictorial question was posed, just three players had ever scored 50 goals in a season – Maurice Richard in 1944-45, Bernie Geoffrion in 1960-61, and Bobby Hull during the 1961-62 season.

Who would finally score more than 50 in a season?

As you can see, five of the six players polled thought it would be Bobby Hull, while Jacques Laperriere figured Jean Beliveau would be the man.

The answer would come the following year, when yes indeed, it was Bobby Hull, who scored 54 in 65 games.

Hull would also bulge the twine 52 times in ’66-’67 and 58 in ”68-’69.

And how did the Golden Jet explain his talent for scoring? He mostly credited the introduction of the curved stick, which allowed him to blast howitzers at panic-stricken goaltenders. And although that’s a very credible explanation, it doesn’t do Hull complete justice. He was a beautiful skater, strong as an ox, and one of the greatest ever. The curved stick only added another huge element to Hull’s game.

Not long after Hull’s feats, the numbers would get out of hand. Phil Esposito would light the lamp 76 times in 1970-71, and during the 1980-81 campaign, eight players would score 50 or more, including Mike Bossy with 68 markers.

But it would be the 1981-82 season when goal scoring really blossomed, led by Wayne Gretzky, of course. Ten players cracked the 50-goal mark that year, with Gretzky notching an amazing 92 goals.

And back to the curved stick -

Andy Bathgate says it was he who was the first to use it, but it was Hull’s teammate Stan Mikita who is generally regarded as the inventor, although it came accidentally.

As explained in Bruce Dowbiggin’s book “The Stick,” Mikita’s stick cracked during practice, and he tried to break it and throw it away, but it wouldn’t snap completely. Mikita then jammed the stick into the door at the bench and it ended up looking like a boomerang.

While he waited for his trainer to get him another stick in the dressing room, which was several minutes away down the steps at the old Chicago Stadium, Mikita, out of anger, slapped a puck with the broken stick and the puck took off. He slapped another and it was the same thing. He was amazed, even at the new sound the puck made hitting the boards.

Back in the dressing room, Mikita started bending all his sticks, but they were breaking, until someone suggested making them wet first, which he did. He then left his new, curved sticks overnight, and the next day at practice he started shooting. The first shot was like a knuckler in baseball. It dropped and veered, and the next shot did all sorts of weird things too.

Bobby Hull was watching all this, and began bending his too.

Coach Billy Reay wasn’t impressed. He figured they wouldn’t be able to control their shots, and he was right. In Hull’s first game using this new banana blade, his first shot went right over the glass. In another game, Hull hit Ranger goalie Gump Worsley in the head, and when asked if he feared the curved blade, Worsley replied that he thought fans behind him were in more danger than him.

And about Andy Bathgate saying he was the first.

Bobby Hull said he always remembered Bathgate as having a bit of a curve to his sticks, even in the late ’50s, but it was Mikita who pioneered the whole idea of it. Bathgate has said that when Chicago was playing his Rangers one night, his trainer had lent Mikita one of Bathgate’s sticks (which is unusual to say the least), after the Hawk had run out of his own, and Mikita had liked the curved stick.

Mikita disagrees and talked to Bathgate about this, and in Dowbiggin’s book is quoted as saying, “I told Andy to his face that he’s – well, let’s say I talked to him about it. I might have borrowed some sticks, but I sure don’t remember any curve.”

And one final note: It was a Bathgate shot that smashed into Jacques Plante’s face, causing Plante to come back out wearing his mask for the first time during a game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Long Weekend Hockey Coin Stuff

Ditto to yesterday’s post Long Weekend Hockey Coins, where the key words were “exhausted, 1961-62, Shirriff, and 140%.” And maybe “couch.”

Today, replace 1961-62 with 1962-62, and definitely include the words exhausted and 140%.

Hockey coins back then were a big success. I personally bought so many bags of Shirriff potato chips to get them, I probably paid for one of their new fancy potato slicing machines.

Below, my nice 60-coin 1962-63 metal set from Shirriff.

Burp.

The previous two years to this, coins were plastic.

The whole idea of hockey coins, along with with car coins, baseball coins, airplane coins etc, that came out during these years, was just fantastic. We had so much fun with these, at school and flipping against walls, and trying to get them all. Beautiful.

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Long Weekend Hockey Coins

You’re partying, opening up the cottage, slacking off, laying on the couch, picking your toenails, practicing yoga, drinking beer, while I’m giving my usual 140% at work, making sure travelers get on the ferry boat in fine fashion.

Naturally I’m exhausted, and because of this, I’ll just take some pictures of my 1961-62 hockey coins which I had collected when I was a kid and am lucky enough to still have now. I don’t have the energy for anything else. 140% is a lot.

It took a lot of Shirriff potato chips and Salada jello and pudding, but I managed to get the entire set, then the shields to complete it.

You relax and enjoy the holiday weekend. I’ll just go to work.

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