Category Archives: Jean Beliveau

Habs Cancel Canucks

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After the incredibly emotional pregame ceremony that focused often on Elise Beliveau in the stands, I didn’t really care what happened during the game that followed.

That’s not true. I did care. And the Canadiens came through by pulling off a fine 3-1 win, led by the new and impressive Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Pacioretty line.

Although it was Tomas Plekanec converting a nice feed from Sven Andrighetto which won the thing.

Maybe once Jean gets settled in his new digs he can help sort out a few things about his beloved team below. Grab Toe and have a serious sit-down. Chat about the power play.

Again tonight, a now normal 0 for 5 with the man advantage.Eleven goals in 81 attempts if I’m reading it right. And they also gave up a shorthanded marker during one of their so-called power plays.

It might take more than Jean and Toe to figure it out. Might have to call in the Big Fellow for that one. Or at least Rocket, Doug, and Boom Boom.

But tonight is not a night to quibble. The boys halted a three-game losing streak. New lines were in place and it seemed like possible new chemistry could be in the works.

The Subbinator subbinated. Carey Price came up with a sparkling save in the first minute of play to keep his team from falling behind once again in the opening frame. Gally snapped one home in the second to give his team a rare 1-0 lead. And Max found the empty net with half a second left in the game.

They did it on a night in honor of Le Gros Bill, with his women there to see. It was good.

All they have to do now is beat the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Friday. Maybe by then Jean and Toe and the others will have had that little chat.

Jean Soiree

A Goodbye at the Bell

JeanThe Bell Centre was softly lit as we made our way down a red carpet toward the casket where our beloved Jean Beliveau rested.

Throughout the upper levels, Jean’s familiar signature in lights was placed in every section, and ahead of us, behind the casket, hung long banners, one showing Jean with the torch in later years, and another of a much younger man raising the Stanley Cup as he had done so many times.

We moved slowly, and as each of us reached the casket, we then turned to our right where Jean’s beautiful wife Elise, their daughter Helene, and Helene’s two grown daughters received us and shook our hands and said merci to us.

The four ladies looked wonderful, and like Jean himself had always been, were an inspiration as they met so many strangers in an endless line.

I myself was a mess. Try as I may, I’m just not able to get through heart wrenching times without it showing in the most obvious fashion. I noticed others in the line seemed composed. Everyone except me, and when Elise looked at me, she looked square into my moist eyes and at my reddened face, and I knew she understood.

Our Jean

Jean

It was the mid-’80s and I was at the Forum offices to pick up a team-signed Bob Gainey stick that was waiting for me, and after getting it, I went down some stairs leading out but stopped at the bottom to wrap the stick in my coat to protect the autographs.

As I was wrapping it, the door above opened, and it was Jean Beliveau of all people. He saw what I was doing and he looked startled and he hesitated, because I’m sure he thought at first glance that it could’ve been a gun.

I picked up on his reaction, explained what I was doing, and he came down and took his pen out, ready to add his name to the stick. But I was so surprised, so brain-dead, that I just kept wrapping, and he put his pen back in his pocket and walked out the door and across the street into a restaurant.

I remember watching him as he walked across the street, and thinking that I’d just had an encounter with the great Jean Beliveau. But I had startled him, didn’t want his autograph, and blew a chance to have a beautiful and possibly lengthy chat.

Regrets, I’ve had a bunch. And this one’s right up there.

Born in Trois Rivieres and raised in Victoriaville, both relatively small cities fittingly midway between Montreal and Quebec where Jean gave his heart, soul, and staggering talent to both, first with the Citadelles and Aces in the provincial capital, and then as a beloved Montreal Canadien.

And in return, whether it was Quebec for an older generation, or the Canadiens for the rest of us, we cheered, admired, and embraced him.

We were proud of our Jean Beliveau, from his playing days through to the end. So lucky to have him.  Classy, friendly, polite, and dignified. One of the greatest ever, on and off the ice, and he was a Montreal Canadien. He was ours.

When the Rocket passed away in 2000, dark clouds hung over my head for weeks and probably months. And now it’s Jean. He was 83 years old and everyone has to go at some point, but of course it’s not easy.

I grew up watching him, beginning years before it became his turn to wear the captain’s ‘C’. I saw him play in the late-1950s at Maple Leaf Gardens with my dad, and throughout the 1960s at both the Gardens and Forum. I’m proud to be able to say that. He was a hero among heroes. A king of kings.

Jean, may you continue to lead and inspire in your new home, heaven. We’ll miss you so much.

 

Rare And Snazzy Habs Rags

The 7-1 Canadiens, in a dogfight with Anaheim for first overall, are in Edmonton for a Monday night tilt with the 3-4-1 Oilers, who sit 26th overall. We could feel confident about this, but you know how that works out sometimes.

And the Oilers have won their last three games, so they’re feeling better and probably playing better than they have lately.

Game time is 9:30 eastern, which means a lot of beauty sleeps, including mine, will come into play at some point.

In the meantime, as we work our way towards this game in Alberta, I’ll throw this out……..

You might have already seen some of these pictures in different posts here. But I”m very proud of all this. Vintage Habs stuff from my childhood is a huge passion of mine.

So without further ado:

Toe Blake, trainer Hector Dubois, and the whole gang had nice team jackets.

Toe

Dubois

And so do I. Except this isn’t me. I have a face. Sort of.

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Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and the whole gang had nice team sports jackets.

Jean's jacket

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And so do I.

jacket

And I have a bag to put it all in.

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Normand Richard wore a sweater while with his dad.

Normand

I’ve got a bunch of them from that era, only different.

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white sweater

socks

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Fab Habs Lads Edge Avs

Canadiens beat the Avs 3-2 again for the second time in two nights, only this time in regulation. But more about that below the photo. (It also happens to be three straight wins in preseason by the bleu, blanc et rouge, all by the score of 3-2)

The photo below is from last April when we were in Quebec to paint the town red. Well, not exactly paint the town red. Partied quite a bit, though. Well not exactly partied. Walked around a lot and went to a restaurant.

The historic district of Quebec City is sensational, and a handful of miles away is Le Colisee, The House That Beliveau Built, with the new barn being built next door.

Le Colisee holds 15,399 folks, and on this night when the Canadiens and Avalanche did battle, the attendance was………no idea. For some reason, the  Canadiens.com site was blank with no stats. Didn’t anybody want to do it?

Colisee

Jiri Sekac showed some serious moves, scored a beauty, and is absolutely forcing management to keep him. He had an excellent rookie camp, an excellent main camp, and is now excellent in exhibition games.

Feeling good about Sekac.

Sven Andrighetto, also enjoying a fine preseason, tied things in the second after Colorado had opened the scoring in the first, while in the third, the Avs took the lead once again when Montreal’s Gabriel Dumont was in the sinbin for shooting the puck over the glass.

But soon enough, Sekac, in a magical moment, used his skate to free the puck from goalie Semyon Varlamov and did a cool wraparound to even things at two. And then David Desharnais sent a sweet pass that Brandon Prust had to skate like the wind to catch, and Prust burst in and fooled Varlamov.

Unusual to see Prust behave like a left-handed Guy Lafleur.

The Quebec crowd was pro-Avalanche, cheering for them throughout. The Avs were once the Quebec Nordiques, and all I can say is, when the Expos left Montreal, I could care less about the Washington Nationals.

But there’s always been that built-in rivalry between big city Montreal and the quainter Quebec City, so it’s not really a surprise that Quebec fans cheered against the Canadiens.

Joe Sakic was introduced and given a hardy ovation. Pretty sure that wouldn’t happen with Eric Lindros. (If you’re not aware of the Lindros/Nords situation, give it a Google).

Shots on goal? I don’t know. Like I said, Canadiens.com was blank.

As it was in the first game, only six players played who can be considered regulars or semi-regulars – Tokarski, DD, Prust, Gilbert, Tinordi, and Beaulieu. The rest of the lineup was prospect-packed.

Next up, Washington Capitals at the Bell on Sunday night, probably to lose 3-2.

Training Camp For Them And Us

So far it’s been two days at rookie camp and three at the big one with more to come. And then there were those several days last year doing the same after just moving here.

If you’re a Habs fan and a Montrealer, you may have been to many of these things over the years. I’m sure you still appreciate it greatly. You’re not a jaded bastard, are you?

It’s the kind of thing I’d never done before but had always wanted too. Now here I am checking it out on most days and getting emotional just talking about it.

Plenty of Habs fans elsewhere would also like to be in Brossard right now. I can say that with complete confidence. And those who live in the Montreal area can do it every year if they’re able to call in sick on work and school days, or aren’t forced to go to Walmart on Saturday or Sunday morning.

Is there a better way to spend a morning and early afternoon?  Drills, intrasquad games. Watching the way they fly full-tilt around the ice, reminding me that it is indeed the world’s fastest game. Sixty-four guys all wearing the CH, with the number slowly getting whittled down.

For the players it’s all business, that’s for sure. And for those who don’t ever make the big club, who end up riding buses in the minors or junior and never get to hear the roar of the crowd or be threatened by Milan Lucic, it must be an unforgettable experience anyway.

Something to be proud of and talk about forever. That time they took part in a Montreal Canadiens training camp.

Yes, I remember it well.

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Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

Darth Comes Through Again

Darth (Wade Alexander) has been creating cool pieces of computer art for several years and it’s always a good day when another shows up that I can post.

Some of his other stuff can be seen right here

And now, without further ado, Darth’s newest.

PKPortrait