Category Archives: Jean Beliveau

Canadiens Say Goodbye

That’s it for the Habs after falling to the Rangers 3-1 in game six, and I’d say I’ll now start getting excited about the Blue Jays’ season, except they’re 4 and 12 and about to lose another as I write.

I wish the Expos would come back.

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Still no Stanley Cup since 1993. Will it happen again soon? Will it happen in my lifetime or yours?

I don’t have favourite players on my team. That time is long gone. When I was a kid, the Rocket was my hero. And Beliveau and Harvey and I guess, every player on the team. As a guy in my twenties, I was happy about Lafleur and Dryden and Robinson.

But it’s only about the crest now. I liked Subban for example, but it didn’t bother me one bit when he was traded because¬† I thought Shea Weber was an upgrade in many ways. I still do.

It’s about the team only. Players can come and go and I won’t bat an eyelash.

A few days ago I saw a film clip of Andrei Markov coming out of a NY hotel (or maybe Madison Square Garden) and a kid, the only person in site, approached him for an autograph. Markov shook his head and casually walked across the street.

Players can say no all they want to adults, I understand and accept that. But there’s no excuse to say no to a kid.

No excuse. It would’ve taken all of about four seconds to sign the kid’s piece of paper.

And so, I finish off a season of game reports complaining about Andrei Markov.

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Thanks to everyone who read my posts this season. I hope you liked some of them.  And I also truly appreciate anyone who took the time to sometimes comment.

We thought the team had a decent chance this year to make a serious dent.

But without naming names, they let us down.

 

 

 

 

Elite Perreault

The Buffalo Sabres, the team the Canadiens meet tonight, boasted one of the greatest players in the game, the magnificent Gilbert Perreault, who could dangle and dazzle with the best of them.

Nowadays, it’s almost as if he’s become a bit of a forgotten superstar for some reason, which is an absolute shame. The guy was amazing.

After starring for the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in the late-’60s, he would play 1191 games, all with Buffalo, scoring 512 goals and adding 814 assists for 1326 points, and in 1990 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame.

He would’ve looked just excellent in a Habs uniform.

This big Gilbert Perreault bobbing head doll is a whopping 3- feet high, is one of only 100 produced, and stands in the showroom of Classic Auctions in Montreal, where I once worked.

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Vintage Me, Non-Vintage Lyla

Along with the usual health reasons for wanting to lose weight (17 pounds so far) was the fact that I wanted to fit into my jacket again.

This old Habs team jacket from the 1950s was owned by a Northern Ontario scout named Joe Delguidice, and now belongs to me. Team photos from back then show the trainers wearing them, Toe Blake would have his on during practices, and players like the Rocket and Beliveau would sometimes be photographed wearing theirs.

I had one of my kid sweaters from the late-’50s-early’60s for Lyla to wear, but it was too itchy for her. (I remember the feeling). So she’s wearing a non-itchy number from a few decades later.

Below, Toe and the trainers wearing the same type of jacket.

 

 

Beatles, Habs, And Leafs

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On August 17th, 1966, the Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was at the afternoon concert, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

In the summer of ’66 I was 15 and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23, Jacques Laperriere 24, and Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Radulov Enters Habs Universe

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Alexander Radulov is a new Montreal Canadien, for a year at least, which means I think we should hardly ever think about the jerk he once was and concentrate on the fact that he might be a great guy now.

Most importantly, this is a skilled forward, a top six guy like we knew the Canadiens needed, and so a big hole has been filled, adding to my ongoing optimism that the team is now bigger, tougher, and more talented.

I hope that some of the boys from BC, like Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, and Shea Weber, will find it within themselves to bring the Stanley Cup to Powell River next summer.

Radulov, who’ll be 30 on July 5th, made his millions these past few years in the KHL with Ufa Salavat Yulayev and CSKA Moscow. He also certainly knows North America, where his #22 sweater is retired in Quebec after starring for the Remports, scoring 61 goals and 91 assists in just 62 games back in 2005-06, his second and last season with the QMJHL club.

And of course with the Nashville Predators, where not only did he collect 102 points in 154 games, but he also earned a well-deserved spoiled shithead reputation.

Radulov dishonored his Preds contract to bolt to the KHL, and also decided to party with teammate Andrei Kostitsyn until 5 am at a bar in Phoenix, just before game two of their playoff series with the Coyotes in 2012. Who knows what else he did?

But we forget these things now because he’s a Montreal Canadien. Maybe not a Jean Beliveau-type Montreal Canadien, but hopefully a guy who can really make an impact up front.

It’s a new chapter for Radulov, and it’ll be up to him to show that not only is he a great player, but a great guy as well.

Perry And The Old Boys

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Habs greats Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost and Jean Beliveau show their hipness as they pose with legendary crooner Perry Como.

For those of you who are too young or just not up on your music history, Perry Como went from being a barber to an international singing sensation in the 1940s and ’50s mostly. He was as relaxing as they come. So relaxing that I’m falling asleep just talking about him.

SCTV did a really funny bit on Como where he (played by Eugene Levy), sang while in bed and on the couch and chair, which you can see below.

My mother and father liked him, he was definitely a big talent, but I preferred a bit more up-tempo stuff. Heck, almost anything was livelier than Perry’s music. Elevator music is heavy metal compared to him.

But these Habs legends seemed like they liked him. And I’ll even go as far as saying that the Pocket, Moore, Provost and Beliveau might have even made out with their wives sometimes to Perry Como’s soothing voice.

The Big House For Tony

In almost all ways, Tony Demers, who played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1937 to 1943, was just another in a long line of players who came and went and are mostly forgotten now because they were never a Richard or Beliveau or Lafleur.

But unlike others who at one point in the lives had that cup of coffee in the bigs, Demers’ story carried a slight twist, one that is rarely discussed, and it’s a story with details that remain sketchy even today.

The beginning is about hockey.

In my house, I have a really nice photo of Demers posing with the Rocket and Elmer Lach on a line, so they gave him a shot with the big boys, I suppose. He looked like a guy poised to replace Toe Blake at some point on the Punch Line.

But Demers played parts of just five seasons in Montreal as he bounced up and down from the minors. He scored only 20 goals in total and was no star, not by a long shot. His short career ended during the 1943-44 season when he played one game with the New York Rangers, and that was that.

Sort of.

In 1945, Demers was fined for an assault on a hotel keeper. Then, the next year while playing senior hockey in Sherbrooke, he became involved in a gambling situation and was given a ten-game suspension. Things were bad up to this point, but they were about to get worse.

In 1949, Demers was hauled in to the police station regarding the death of a woman who was later revealed to be Demers’ girlfriend. The story issued was that the two had been drinking heavily, they had gotten into an argument, and that he had hit her.

Hospital officials said it was more than a simple hit, it was a thorough beating. Demers claimed she had gotten all her bruises from jumping from his moving car. And he didn’t take the unconscious woman to the hospital until the following day which was far too late, and tragically, the lady passed away.

The court didn’t buy the ‘jumping from the car’ story and Tony Demers was found guilty of manslaughter, given 15 years in the maximum security St. Vincent de Paul penitentiary in Montreal, and he served eight years of the fifteen before being released.

In the late 1980s, while I was living in Ottawa, it was announced that this notorious St. Vincent de Paul was finally closing its doors after about 100 years, and the public was invited to tour the closed prison for a dollar. So I took my family to Montreal for the day to have a look.

The penitentiary was a horrendous place. They had left the cells the way they were, so clothes, writings, and graffiti on the walls were there as they had been. It was dirty and dark and my kids were nervous. I think it might have set them on the straight and narrow from that day on.

In Roger Caron’s book Go Boy, he described St. Vincent’s as the meanest and most dangerous prison in Canada, and he knew what he was writing about because he had served most of his adult life in different institutions across the country. It was a prison that served its purpose in the most brutal of fashion..

It sure didn’t seem a fitting place for a hockey hero. While the Rocket, Blake, and Lach thrilled the Forum faithful with big goals and Stanley Cups, an old teammate, one who had once shared the dressing room, train rides, restaurants, and hotels, sat in a dark cell inside Canada’s worst prison, maybe listening from time to time on the radio as his old friends carried on.

Demers went mostly into obscurity after his release eight years later, did some youth coaching from time to time, and eventually died in 1997. It has to be one of the sadder stories in the 100-plus years of the Montreal Canadiens.

Below, Demers, Lach, and Richard.

Ralph Backstrom Was The Guy

He was all the things I knew were good in life – he skated like the wind, had a great brush cut and a pretty wife, and he wore the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens.

What’s better than that?

This was Ralph Backstrom, and I wanted to be just like him. I knew I wasn’t going to be another Rocket or Beliveau or Geoffrion, but I thought maybe I could be like Backstrom. And I wasn’t even on drugs when I thought this.

It meant getting a brush cut and trying to look like him when I watched him on TV taking faceoffs and darting up the ice with the puck. I could do that and I did. I got the brush cut.

Ralph came out of Kirkland Lake, Ontario, a little town in northern Ontario that churned out NHL players in abnormal fashion, having produced him and Ted Lindsay, Mike Walton, Dick Duff, Mickey and Dick Redmond, Wayne and Larry Hillman, the Plagers, and many others.

About 30 in all. That’s a lot of players.

Ralph was a phenom in Kirkland Lake minor hockey, and became captain and the best of the powerhouse Hull-Ottawa Canadiens juniors before he joined the big club. He had it all, I thought. I gotta practice more, I thought.

I admired the way Ralph Backstrom played, the way he skated and was so solid both as a playmaker and a checker. And I loved the way he and rival Dave Keon of the enemy Leafs went head to head on glorious nights when the Habs and Leafs were what life was all about for Canadian kids from coast to coast.

This guy isn’t in the Hall of Fame, and when he played he sometimes got into coach Toe Blake’s bad books. But he was a great hockey player. Underrated maybe, but absolutely great.

And I wanted to be just like him and I was. I had the brush cut.

DK

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John Scott A Hab?

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Above, a new Hab and an ex-Hab. Will the new one be as fantastic as the old one?

I come home and see this? Big John Scott traded to Montreal from Arizona for Jarred Tinordi, with a bunch of other names and Nashville involved, although these don’t matter.

Sam Pollock, looking down from above, sure must be impressed.

Finally, the team’s goal scoring problems have been addressed. Big John has notched 5 goals and 6 assists in his 285 games, which is awesome because we all know it’s hard to score in the NHL, and he did it 5 freakin’ times!

This is fantastic. Now we wait to see who will score first, John or Tomas Plekanec.

And 5 goals in 285 games is almost exactly what the Canadiens as a whole are doing.

Big John reminds me in many ways of Guy Lafleur, Rocket, and Jean Beliveau. He knows how to skate, sort of, and those three could skate too, albeit way better.

Beliveau was big, but John, standing 6’8″ and weighing 260 pounds, is bigger, so that’s good, right?

And he’s an all-star like them. Fan%$#&tastic! Forget about the difference between fans voting John in as a joke while Guy, Rocket, and Jean got there by merit. This is only a technicality. They all put on their all-star sweaters the same way.

I’m sure there are other similarities too. But right now, with the numbness in my brain, I can’t think of any.

Anyway, who needs a young, skilled, huge, rough d-man like Tinordi who was also a first round draft pick. When the opportunity to grab John Scott arises, you take it.

Beauty trade, Marc Bergevin.

I need a drink.