Category Archives: Los Angeles Kings

Habs On A Slippery Slope Losing To The Tampa Bay Lightning.

I had a real bad feeling after the Canadiens lost to Atlanta and then to New Jersey just before the All-Star break. Because then they’d  have to avoid losing to Tampa Bay not to become officially mired in a three-game losing slump.

But they did lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-3, and so, just like that, in a blink of an eye, the team that was winning, is now losing.

And imagine now if they stink out the joint against Florida Thursday night? Then it becomes a full-fledged slump.

 And if that happened, they’d better beat Los Angeles on Saturday or the wheels would then have fallen off and certain Habs fans would emerge from the cracks, screaming for a trade and saying Bob Gainey stinks as a general manager, Guy Carbonneau should get fired, and the radio talk shows would be chattering, and on and on and on.

All because they couldn’t beat the lousy Atlanta Thrashers a week ago.

And now it’s come to this. The Habs can’t handle Tampa Bay, a team that sits way back in the pack, somewhere around 26th of a 30 team league.

Yikes!!

Vinny Lecavalier was a force for the Bolts, and has possibly convinced Bob Gainey that the centreman is worth giving up a lot for. And maybe Vinnie played extra hard to convince the Canadiens’ brass to do just that.

Carey Price was mediocre in goal and hasn’t looked right since he returned from his ankle injury. I suppose he’s not 100%, even though he says he is.

The thing is, Montreal looked just fine in the first half of the game and even led 2-1 in the first period. But Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis, being the good French-Canadian boys that they are, made sure their team wouldn’t be denied. Both were very impressive.

Hopefully there’s no party planned at a Tampa restaurant after the game for Habs. That sort of thing hasn’t gone well in the past. Just ask Ryan O’Byrne. And with Super Bowl partying now under way in Tampa, maybe it’s best the boys abide by their curfew tonight.

GAME NOTES:

Big enemies Boston, the Rangers, and New Jersey all won tonight, which makes it even worse.

Montreal better win on Thursday.

The Old Orillia Arena Is Coming To An End

 It was announced a few days back that my old hometown arena in Orillia is on its last legs, and that its doors are now locked due to structural damage.

It’s a sad thought for me, the idea that the old arena could be no more. But it’s 60 years old, built by volunteers after the war, and I suppose its time has come.

There are so many memories.

Rocket Richard came there in 1962. I was there and watched as he skated around, waved to the crowd, dropped the puck for some brief little kids’ games, and made a small speech.

I learned to skate and play hockey at this old barn, and I became good enough to join all-star teams that took on all comers from central and southern Ontario.

My dad, because he was a sign painter, was one of the guys who sometimes painted the lines on the ice at the arena.

Lester Pearson held a political rally there, and the Prime Minister signed my ticket stub, “PM.”

Every Sunday afternoon was public skating, and it was a time when I’d work up enough nerve to ask a pretty girl to hold my hand and skate with me for a few minutes. It was nerve wracking. And of course, midway through public skating, everything would stop, and many of us would grab shovels and clean the ice as those pretty young girls watched with admiration at how talented we were with a shovel.

The Los Angeles Kings played an exhibition game there before they’d even played their first game ever in the NHL.

The Oshawa Generals and Niagara Falls Flyers came to town. The Orillia newspaper beforehand ran a photo of Flyers defenceman Don Awrey, and even though I hadn’t heard of him, when the Flyers walked through the lobby, I called out if Don Awrey was there. Ron Schock grabbed my toque and pulled it over my eyes.

That same night, the Generals and Flyers got into a massive bench-clearing brawl started, I believe, by Bill Goldsworthy.

Don Messer’s Jubilee played here, and I said hello to singer Tommy Hunter.

I practically lived at the Orillia arena, and I can still smell the smells, feel the old wool hockey sweaters on my skin, taste the hot dogs and hot chocolate, picture the dressing rooms and recall some of the shenanigans that went on in there, and of course, the adrenaline rush as we stood up from our benches, walked the short way to the ice, and skated out to the cheers of a several dozen family and friends.

It looks like, I guess, the old arena will soon be no more. It’s going to be sad, because it was my youth. I spent more time there than anywhere else. It was where my friends were, where those pretty girls were, where my hockey was.

It was where I tried so hard to get better so I could become a Montreal Canadien some day.

Late, Great Enemy Watch News. Thank You Sabres and Panthers!

The Buffalo Sabres beat Boston 4-2 in Boston today. This ends the Bruins’ ten-game winning streak. It’s so nice to see this over-achieving band of Beantown gangsters lose, and hopefully it’s the beginning of many more losses to come.

 

Also….Florida took it to Pittsburgh, winning 6-1 in Pittsburgh. Sidney Crosby was in a couple of fights, the goon.

Thank you Florida. I’ll try to be nicer to you in the future. 

 

Later on, two Habs enemies clash with each other when the Rangers play Washington. It’s a no-win situation here. We need both to lose somehow. Also, hopefully Tampa Bay can beat Carolina and LA destroys Philadelphia.

 

It’s all for the good of the Habs, people.

Number Nine Is Too Sacred For Just Anybody

  When Wayne Gretzky retired, the entire league, every team, agreed the proper thing to do was to retire jersey no. 99 permanently so no other player would ever wear it.

 

This is absolutely reasonable. Gretzky deserves this honour. He was Gretzky, for goodness sakes.

 

But there’s another number out there that deserves the same royal treatment. Number nine.

 

Number nine was the number of Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, and of course, Maurice Richard.

 

How can you argue with that? Number nine shouldn’t be worn by Steve Downie or Oscar Moller. Number nine was worn by Mr. Hockey, the Golden Jet, and the Rocket, three of the greatest ever, right up there at the top of the mountain. It’s a sacred number.

 

Currently there are 15 teams of the 30 with a player wearing number nine. It doesn’t seem right.

 

I think all but two of these players should surrender their number nine, choose another one, and carry on. The two players, Mike Modano in Dallas and Paul Kariya in St. Louis, have had too good a career to not wear these sweaters. But when they retire, so goes the number.

 

Here are the other 13 players currently wearing number nine.

 

Eric Christensen – Atlanta

Derek Roy – Buffalo

Steven Weiss – Florida

Oscar Moller – LA

Mikko Koivu – Minnesota

Zach Parise – New Jersey

Brendan Bell – Ottawa

Scottie Upshall – Philadelphia

Pascal Dupuis – Pittsburgh

Milan Michalek – San Jose

Steve Downie – Tampa Bay

Niklas Hagman – Toronto

Taylor Pyatt – Vancouver

Time To Sink Their Teeth Into The NY Rangers. That Means Kovy Of Course.

  With the New York Rangers in town Thursday to lose to the Habs, I thought I’d show you this nice picture of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Oh, sorry, that’s Gump Worsley, who joined the Canadiens in 1963 when he part of a major deal involving him, Dave Balon, Leon Rochefort, and Len Ronson going to Montreal, for Jacques Plante, Phil Goyette, and Don Marshall.

 

When the Gumper was with the Rangers, he was asked by a reporter which team gave him the most trouble. He answered, “the Rangers.” 

 

Other important things to note about the Rangers:

 

Alex Kovalev was one once. He was drafted in the first round by them (15th overall) in 1991 and played until early into the 1998 season. How great would it be if he broke out of his massive slump against his old team?

 

Sean Avery was also a Ranger. He joined them after playing for both the Detroit Red Wings and the LA Kings. The Rangers were a sloppy third.

 

They’ve got two guys from Anchorage, Alaska – Scott Gomez and Brandon Dubinsky, for what it’s worth.

 

They have 36 points to the Habs 32, but have played three more games than Montreal.

 

Their lineup consists of 8 Canadians, 6 Americans, and 8 Euros. Many of them like women.

 

 

 

See Ya Later Mats. Welcome Aboard Robert Lang!

Waiting for Mats Sundin to figure out what he wanted to do turned sour after about the first month. And finally, in the middle of September, with training camp close to happening, Bob Gainey made his move.

 

Because I’m sure Gainey was even more sick of the Sundin thing than we were.

 

So he went out yesterday and landed centre Robert Lang from Chicago, and now the team is set for training camp with all the pieces in place, and scoring Lang instead of Sundin isn’t that bad a thing at all.

 

It’s all strength down the middle now, with Lang, Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Maxim Lapierre, and Kyle Chipchura.

 

Robert Lang’s been around. He’s 37 now, and has played with six previous teams, LA, Boston, Pittsburgh, Washington, Detroit, and Chicago, and was even Alex Kovalev’s centreman in Pittsburgh. He’s a playmaker who averages 50 points a year, and is going to be, in my estimation, a key player with the Habs.

 

This means the Canadiens are now a mix of older and young, of experience throughout, with Carey Price beginning his second full season.

 

The Canadiens gave up a second-round draft pick in 2010, which is fine. Because this is a team gunning for all the marbles this year, their 100th season, and the time is ripe.

 

This Lang thing puts me in a good mood. I’ve got big expectations for him. They say he might he play alongside Kovalev, just like in the old days. And he seems really happy to come to Montreal, which is of the utmost importance. “You never want to get traded or have to move your family,” he said, “but I think it’s going to be a great situation. It’s a great hockey town.”

 

Of course it is, Robert. It’s the greatest hockey town on the planet. You’re walking into a great thing, and I know you’re 37 years old, but you now belong to a historic and legendary team and you’re going to do great.

 

Welcome aboard, Robert. Wear the CH with pride.

 

ALSO:

 

Patrice Brisbois has resigned with the Habs and this is good too. Brisebois, mistakes or not, is a classy guy with something to offer, but unless there’s an injury from another blueliner, he won’t see tons of ice time. 

 

And this is another guy who wants to play in Montreal and had hoped that Gainey would resign him so he could stay. And he may even pop the odd power play goal.

All Tom Kostopoulos Has To Do Is Just Keep Proving People Wrong.

If you had a team made up of only players like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Guy Lafleur, and Mike Bossy, with the same type of all-stars on defence and in goal, you wouldn’t win every game. You probably wouldn’t win the Stanley Cup. All you’d be is a fancy team that’s missing something.

 You wouldn’t have the type of players who battle in corners, who scrap to protect, who check other teams’ best lines, and who add colour and blue collar work ethic and dedication and the willingness to overcome odds that they’ve been overcoming for years.

 That’s why every good team needs the plumbers. And that’s why Tom Kostopoulos is not only one of my favourite Habs, but also a key ingredient on the club.

 This is a guy who was buried in the minors, had minor success with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and by all accounts, was going to be just another player in a long line of players who play a few years in the bigs and then become roofers and car salesmen.

 But Kostopoulos somehow made his way into the Montreal Canadiens lineup as a free agent a year ago, and he’s fit like a glove. He’s not a star, just a fourth-liner who sometimes replaces others on other lines. He’s a grinder, a sometimes-goal scorer, a guy who defends his teammates although he’s not huge (6′ 200 lbs.), a guy who gets his nose dirty, and in his own little way, is just as important as any player on the Habs.

 I remember the reactions on Habs forums when he was signed. Krustyopoulos they called him. What was Bob Gainey thinking, they cried. Fire Gainey. Imagine, signing a minor leaguer when there were good NHL’ers to be had.

 Early in last year’s season, a Quebec TV show called 110% was aired, with hockey people like Michel Bergeron and Jean Perron, and another named Michel Beaudry, and talk started about how the Habs should be playing their French Canadian players more, like Steve Begin, and forget about Kostopoulos, who’s from Mississauga, Ontario.

Beaudry, on live TV, and to the chuckles of the others, called him Kostfuckupoulos. 

 Not only did Kostopoulos prove Beaudry wrong with his great play on the ice, but Beaudry was fired from his TV show. 

 Bob Gainey, as usual, knew what he was doing when he signed this guy. Tom Kostopoulos would help any team in the league.

He helped the Habs last year with his character, grit, the way he played hurt, and the way he went up against anybody at any time. 

 And this year, he’s going to help them go a long way.