Category Archives: Kontinental Hockey League

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Anybody But Radulov

Alexander Radulov scored two goals in Russia’s 4-0 win over Norway today, and it’s just too bad it’s this guy who emerges as the hero.

Radulov’s the guy who once upon a time played for the Nashville Predators but in the middle of his contract decided that he could get a sweeter deal in the KHL and went ahead and signed a three-year contract with Salavat Yulayev UFA without telling the Preds.

The Preds suspended him, but sadly, took him back a few years later for some reason.

Then, in an important playoff game against the Coyotes, Radulov and teammate Andrei Kostitysn were spotted in a Phoenix bar at 5 A.M. the morning of the big game,

He was suspended once again, his contract with the Preds wasn’t extended, and he headed back to Russia where Moscow Red Army gave him a 4-year deal at 9.2 million per.

None of it seems right.

 

Habs Win Big With Budaj

It was a fine night in Boston, a spirited affair between two teams who like to have spirited affairs, and in the end, the Montreal Canadiens rally and beat the Boston Bruins 4-3, and back to the head of the class they go. And they did it with Peter Budaj between the pipes.

It was never-say-die for the Canadiens, who held their ground on the scoreboard and with the gloves dropped, and they clawed back in the third to win it. This team is for real, and with just two games to go before reaching halfway in the season, they just keep on proving it.

But it wasn’t easy, of course. It was the hot Bruins on home ice. It was Peter Budaj replacing Carey Price, which for me anyway, always causes slight anxiety. It was the night after losing a 7-6 crazy bummer to Pittsburgh. Last year there might have been less drive on a night like this and a scampering back home to regroup. But the Habs showed great character. They showed they can shake it off, re-focus and battle, and this was two huge points to make a genuine statement.

The boys are a force to be reckoned with. It’s like the sun has come up.

Boston tied it in the first after a Tomas Plekanec power play goal, but just sixteen seconds after the Bruins marker, David Desharnais put his team in front again. And when the Bruins went ahead 3-2 with the second period ending, the Canadiens again showed what they’re made of, what coach Therrien is instilling in them, and what they must certainly believe. Max tied it in the third, and finally, D.D., with his second, put his team ahead, they held on, and skated away feeling mighty good about themselves I’m sure.

Three points out of four this back-to-back weekend. It reminds me of a little story the bartender at the Shark Club told me yesterday. His brother had been in South America for a year, and when he came home he asked how things were going in hockey. His brother said, you’re not going to believe this but the Habs are in first place in the East. It made my heart soar like a Turquoise-throated Puffleg.

If I haven’t agreed with a couple of past decisions regarding starting Budaj this season, I sure did this time, even though it was such an important game. Carey Price needs to rest and regroup after some slightly shoddy play lately, and Budaj, in his last two starts, allowed just one goal against Philly and shut out Carolina two nights later. He’s performing yeoman’s service, has one three in a row, and although much of the night when pucks were around him it was time to hold our breath, he somehow got it done and lately he’s been the perfect backup, coming in when called upon and playing well.

Of course with this being a Montreal-Boston battle, fights broke out with Brandon Prust and Milan Lucic tangling and then Alexei Emelin and Zdeno Chara getting into it. Emelin had bone surgery performed on his face while playing in the KHL, and although he plays a hard-nosed game, he can’t be blamed for not fighting on a regular basis. Broken bones in the face must really suck, so imagine when he and the monstrous Chara dropped their gloves and started flailing away. If there’s one guy in the league Emelin shouldn’t be fighting, it would be Chara. But he held his own, he’s a strong bugger in his own right, and his gutsy display shows even more character for a team with tons already.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Boston 34, Montreal 26. But Budaj got it done and what a bonus it is.

The Bruins seemed upset with Lars Eller all evening. Eller’s got a choir boy face but I’m thinking he’s got some devil in him. I love that he has an edge, and he’s an active part of the above mentioned team character.

The team really misses Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz, especially on the power play.

Next up – The Habs pay a visit to the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday. The last time these two teams met, the Islanders skated away with a 4-3 OT win.

 

 

 

Lesser Moments For Kovalev

Good old Alex Kovalev, the man who could dazzle us for one game and stink for the next five, is back in Montreal tonight wearing a Florida Panthers uniform. Kovalev, who was with Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL for the 2011-12 season, returned to North America and just after the lockout ended, signed with the Panthers.

I remember that night against Boston when he had his hand slashed by a Bruin, gave up on the play because it hurt a little, ran into Sheldon Souray as he was feeling so badly, and when all this was going on, a Bruin player took the puck, waltzed in, and scored the winner in overtime. I was embarrassed by Kovy’s antics that night.

In fact, for as long as he was a Montreal Canadien, which became five years ending in 2008-09, often he could embarrass with his fakery. He could also play like he didn’t care, and then sometimes, out of the blue, he’d be sensational, the best guy on the ice, a magician with the puck, and we’d cheer like crazy. But we never knew which Kovalev would show up, and for me personally, it was good when he finally hung up his Habs sweater.

Here’s the hand slash episode, and other moments in Kovalev’s career when he was less-than-stellar.

Money Sure Can Talk

I must be pretty dense. All along I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was flirting with staying with his St. Petersburg SKA team because he loved his country so much and was finally eating his favourite foods again.

It barely registered on me that SKA, and probably the KHL head comrades, were offering him millions to stay. How come I’ve been so clueless? Kovalchuk has 13 years left on his 15-year, $100 million Devils salary, so if there’s one thing we must realize about the KHL, is that there’s some serious rubles floating around if they can get the guy to even think about it.

Slightly different from 1972, when Soviet players who didn’t dress for the four Summit Series games in Moscow had to buy their own tickets to get into the rink. Or those same National team players who were paid $200 to $400 a month for the honour of playing for their country.

Apparently Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk will be returning to North America following Sunday’s KHL All-Star game. A contract is a contract, whether North American food sucks for the guy or not. Kovalchuk’s a great player, a sniper with a deadly shot, and New Jersey fans must be happy this staying home talk is coming to an end.

Hockey? I’m Not Ready Yet

I woke this morning to the news – that NHL brains have made a sharp u-turn and hockey will begin again, maybe on January 15, maybe on January 19. (Details can be found on 8,537 news and sports sites).

I’m not ready for this. I’m not finished talking about Gary Bettman and rich hockey players yet. It’s too soon. It’s only January and it’s cold. Hockey should be played where it’s hot, like in Phoenix and South Florida. And how am I supposed to blog about actual hockey games forty-eight or fifty times in the next while when I’m out of shape? Players need training camp? So do I.

I just hope Bruins fans and others don’t keep bringing up the shortened season after Montreal wins it all. It’s going to be a nice, handy excuse for them – that they were just getting going and if it was any longer, they would’ve made the Habs look like the German junior team. This is what we’re up against. It’s gonna suck but we have to be ready for it.

I really was in a no-NHL-state of mind. I’d learned to occupy myself other ways on nights when hockey wasn’t being played. Like watching Sportsnet and TSN go on and on and on about hockey not being played. Good, quality entertainment.

I’m worried for some. Scott Gomez was on a roll with his Alaska Aces, notching six goals and seven assists in just eleven games. Now what? Now he has to stop scoring again. You have to feel for the guy. And Brad Marchand is only halfway through his grade seven course and will have to either stop completely or do homework on planes.

Maybe I can help Marchand, with this advice that comes via Eddie Shack. When Shack was playing, one of his teammates in the dressing room asked him how far he got in school, and Eddie said grade eight. When the other player asked how he managed to get so far, Eddie said it was easy, he’d lend the teacher his car.

It’s not just Gomez or Marchand. They all have to go back to work now. I know this feeling. A nice two or three week holiday and then I’m back in the thick of things and it’s hard. The players have been laying around and golfing and traveling to New York for six months now. Imagine what they’re going through. Hopefully they were able to keep busy. David Booth probably had a nice time blowing bears’ brains out, and Evander Kane had a nice picture taken of himself in Las Vegas holding a couple of three inch wads of bills and pretending the money was a phone. Now that’s fine humour. That’s how you keep busy.

I feel for the owners. Now they have to act like nice people when they show up at their private boxes, and that means they’ll have to tip the $9 an hour person who brings them their 20-year old scotch. Hollywood people can act like they’re nice and normal because they’re actors. Owners don’t have this luxury. They have every other luxury, just not this one.

What about Russian fans who’ve been flocking to KHL games this year? My stepson Denis in St. Petersburg says hockey in Russia has never been so exciting and invigorating to fans there. Now these players who took jobs have to come back to North America and not take anybody’s job and fans in the old country will be left with the team that once was. It’ll take some getting used to. And it’ll be nice for the captain of St. Petersburg SKA to get his “C” back now that Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be needing it anymore.

Can Montreal do well this year? It’ll be a sprint instead of a marathon, and who knows? It depends on how many games before Andre Markov gets hurt, and whether the power play can score sometimes. Maybe Alex Galchenyuk will be in the lineup! Let’s just embrace what we’ll have – a short race to the finish line. It’ll be over before we know it. Then we can get back to what we’re used to – no hockey.

 

 

 

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah

St. Petersburg SKA cheerleader cheers her team on. Maybe she’s singing –

“Rah rah sis boom bah,
Let’s go comrades, let’s go SKA
We need a goal, so send out Kovalchuk,
And about the NHL – who gives a flying $#%^&”

Photo taken by Denis Brel. And if you can read Russian, you can see his breakdown of how certain players like Malkin and Ovechkin and others are doing in the KHL right now – Brels Hockey

Toenail Clipping

I find myself thinking more and more about the lockout and how it’s affecting me, and I have to say it’s not affecting me a great deal at all, other than having to dig deep to keep posting here every day.

I’m just sick of the whole mess, one created through greed, distrust and lies, and one that may never get truly resolved, even if they go back to work. It’s way too discouraging. I’m also tired of seeing hockey analysts on TV going on and on about it every day, of press conferences with Donald Fehr with sombre-looking players standing in the background, and hearing that the Winter Classic is cancelled, with the all-star game next. Which is fine because I despise the All-Star game anyway. Seeing smiling players in a big love-in isn’t my idea of the sport.

I’m tired of hearing about players signing with teams overseas – it’s boring and depressing, and every time I hear, it’s like another nail in the season-being-over coffin. And of course I’m tired of Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and the word “millions.”

I’m just sick of it all, even to the point of putting personal hockey memorabilia away, out of sight, and making my museum-like room, which I’ve shown photos of here, more of a normal room. I hate the term “man-cave” and I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m too old for a man-cave, and I’m allergic to dust.

When PK Subban does the weather on TV, it doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t smile or laugh or have any kind of emotion. All I can think of is, why didn’t he sign a contract. When Andrei Markov gets hurt in the KHL, I’m nonchalant. When owners and players jostle over millions, I yawn. I’m too busy trying to get my ducks in a row so I can retire from the workforce and still be able to pay some bills.

I think about hockey players now and I think very little. With the Canadiens it’s always been about the team as a whole anyway. When I watch them, I see the sweater. I see the crest. I see if they win or not. Who wears the sweater makes very little difference. It’s how they help the team that’s important. That’s why I climb up one side of Scott Gomez and down the other. He hasn’t helped the team and thus, he deserves it. It goes with the territory.

If Josh Gorges or Erik Cole came to Powell River, it doesn’t matter, even though they do a good job for the team. I wouldn’t go out of my way. I don’t want their autographs. Trevor Linden was in town recently, played road hockey just around the corner from me, but I stayed in the house and clipped my toenails or whatever. This sort of thing just isn’t important to me. Yes, if it was Jean Beliveau, I’d seek him out and ask him to tell some stories about another time, about Plante and Harvey and the Rocket and such. Being coached by Toe Blake. With Josh Gorges or Erik Cole, I’d really have nothing to talk about.

I won’t be watching when Toronto plays Pittsburgh or Columbus takes on the Devils, or any other of the hundreds of meaningless games (to me) around the league. I could care less. I have toenails to clip. It’s only about the Habs crest and the team winning. Everything else about the NHL means nothing. The lockout, money, and the previous disputes, have made me tired.

 

Semin Helps Out

Denis Brel in St. Petersburg has written a fine piece about what Alexander Semin is up to in Russia. So I’m just going to put my feet up and let my terrific stepson take it away. Many thanks to Denis in “The City that Peter Built.”

By Denis Brel –

Alexander Semin signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, but of course has yet to skate with them. So he went overseas like others are doing.

Almost every day we hear in the news, and I heard again today, that another NHL star has signed a temporary contract with a KHL team. I think the main thing for most players is to maintain their form, although it’s also good money in the KHL, and many players have decided to return to the club where they played before because it’s a comfortable situation for them: Ovechkin is playing for his native “Dynamo” Moscow, and Evgeni Malkin of Magnitogorsk “Metallurg, for example.

But with Alexander Semin, things are slightly different.

The fact that he has decided to play for the second-division team in Krasnoyarsk, which was his first step in professional sports, for a team called Sokol in the VHL (Major Hockey League), a long way down from the KHL.

Semin also wanted to play for free, but he was told that he must be paid at least something, as it’s in league rules. Therefore, Sasha signed for the lowest possible wage in the VHL (50,000 rubles), which comes to about $ 1,450 per month after taxes. And Semin has decided that all of his money will go to a children’s hockey school, personally buying sports equipment for kids just starting out.

Why did Semin decide to play for free in his hometown when he could make much more?

His response is found in Sport-Express:

“I wanted to be close to my family, to play on a team where I started. To be honest, this has been my dream from the time I left Krasnoyarsk. Alex Ovechkin completely supports me, and he sent a text saying”Well done!” It will be great to play in front of family, friends and fans. This is a chance to give back to my hometown and the sports school, where I was taught to play hockey. Yes, there is a lockout, but these difficult circumstances should be used for something good.

Different clubs approached me to play, but I decided to play at home. I’m familiar with hockey people in Krasnoyarsk. I was here after the World Championship and preparing for the NHL season in the local arena. I thought just jokingly about what it would be like to stay if a lockout happened, and then I thought, why not?

I’ve haven’t been home much in a long time, and family and friends are delighted. And my grandmother hasn’t seen me play in years. It’ll be a great present for her, she just turned 90 years old. She is, incidentally, in good health, and she’s still a big cheerleader (laughs).

All of us NHLers are communicating over here, and maybe for some it’s a weird thing I’m doing. But I’ve explained everything. I just want to be at home.