Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Scherbak Blues

For parts of two days Lucy and I were at the Habs rookie camp in Brossard watching the young bucks skate like the wind and whistle shots like pucks out of a bazooka. And I couldn’t find Nikita Scherbak.

Where was this new 1st rounder? I wanted to see him. I paid big money and………okay it was free. But still.

We showed up for the red and white scrimmage on Monday, sat down, and two minutes later the game ended. So we didn’t see Scherbak, but then again, we didn’t see almost anybody else either.

After most of the fans had left, and because we’d just got there, we hung around and moved over to the other rink where only goalie Zachary Fucale was on the ice. Then a couple of other guys showed up, then a few more. Soon there was a bunch of them.

Including Nikita Scherbak.

He skated around with a gloomy look on his face. Sometimes he coughed. He fell down a few times while attempting one-timers. His shots, when he wasn’t falling down, looked weak. He looked confused while doing drills, and although his skating seemed fine, once or twice he escaped to the bench, sat by himself, and put his head down.

This was a young fellow who looked terrible. I wondered if he was out of shape. He’s not ready, said Lucy.

After everyone left the ice, including Scherbak, we strolled over and watched the boys across the way going through various dryland training stretches with a couple of terrific-looking ladies in great shape leading the group.  These gals, who seemed close to the same age as the players, must love their job, I thought.

Then suddenly, making his way across to join the rest, was Scherbak again. Looking horrible. Like he’d rather be at the dentist. Walking slower than slow, his sweatshirt crumpled and stuck halfway up his back. Geezus, I thought.

Today I heard and read that Scherbak’s been sick and missed most of his rookie camp because of it.

I feel bad for the kid, but certainly not as bad as he probably feels.

A big page in his hockey career puked on by the flu gods. Such timing. Such bad luck. This wasn’t Nikita Scherbak at his finest, but someday, when he’s a regular on the big team, he might think back about his first rookie camp and laugh.

Or maybe not.

 

Stevie L

From that fine part-time Orillia boy Stephen Leacock.

“In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter…we are alive.”

Leacock was, of course, a world-renown humorist who in 1912 upset a bunch of locals after he’d made fun of the barber and undertaker and others in his book about Orillia called Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. My parents used to see his son Stephen Junior walking around town.

His beautiful Oriilia summer home, now a museum, sits on the shores of Lake Couchiching, a nice lake full of sunfish, perch and wee little bass, and where the odd time over the years someone would tell the newspaper they saw a sea serpent.

And although Stephen was originally from England, he seemed to get what hockey meant to many Canadians. He could’ve even been a Habs fan and followed the exploits of Vezina, Lalonde, Joliat, and Morenz and the boys when he was a professor and lecturer at McGill University in Montreal from 1900 to 1936.

Heck, he might have even taken a stroll to the Forum and watched the Montreal Maroons in 1934-35 when a young Toe Blake played eight games for them.

Stephen died in March of 1944,  and if he could’ve held on for another fifteen years or so, he might have seen me and my friends out on Lake Couchiching, whether it was swimming and fishing in summer or skating on the frozen lake in winter.

He might have made fun of us in a book like he did with the barber and undertaker and the rest in Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town. Maybe called it Sunshine Sketches of a Little Team.

leacock-museum

Leacock

 

Rockin’ With Claudette

You’ve got yer Zeppelin albums, yer Beatles, Stones, and Springsteen. You’ve got Dylan and Van the Man and Nirvana and the Who. You’ve got Miles Davis and Pete Seeger and the Buffalo Springfield. You’ve got U2, Metallica, Dave Van Ronk, and the Clash.

But have you got Claudette Auchu and her organ music, featuring such tunes as “It’s Impossible”, “Love Story”, “Ebb Tide”, and the always popular “Yellow Bird”?

I do!

(Claudette was the Montreal Forum organist from 1969 to 1974).

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Elmer Ferguson’s Letter

Recently I added two original letters to my collection. I’ll put the other up later on because spacing things out is my new mental health strategy. Sometimes it’s good to be spaced out.

I’ve got a bunch of cool letters and I’m very happy about this one, a beauty from 1929 on Montreal Herald letterhead from the one and only Elmer Ferguson, who was a long time editor of the Herald, later a Gazette columnist, and a guy an important award is named after.

I love old letters. Nobody sends me any, so I’ve resorted to collecting other people’s. Of course, I don’t write letters either but that’s beside the point.

I’ve added a small story about Elmer below it

Elmer

Elmer Ferguson, born in 1885 and deceased in 1972, was the sports editor for the now-defunct Montreal Herald, a newspaper in existence from 1811 to 1957. That’s quite a run. 146 years.

Elmer also did color commentary on radio broadcasts, first with the Montreal Maroons between 1933 and 1938, and then the Habs from 1938 to 1967. He worked alongside the late, great Danny Gallivan in later years.

Mr. Ferguson, who has signed the letter using fountain pen, was inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is given each year to a journalist “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalists and to hockey“.

Those given this big time award are automatically placed in the Hall of Fame, and among the many honoured are the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, and Roy MacGregor, all writers I’ve admired greatly over the years.

The man mentioned in the letter, Cooper Smeaton, was a referee and the NHL’s first referee-in-chief when the league was formed in 1917. He was inducted into the referee/linesmen section of the Hall of Fame in 1961.

Is The Coverage Good?

dunce-cap

The Sportsnet folk were beside themselves with the news that they’ve got a tremendous new deal in place for Habs fans. The announcers’ chests were pumped, which is good if we’re watching Hazel Mae I suppose.

The official announcement began as:

“Habs fans will see every play, every save, and every goal of every period for the next three seasons as Sportsnet today announced it has reached a three-year broadcast rights agreement with the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the official English-language regional television rights holder.”

I thought it might mean Habs fans no longer need petitions or letters to their local politician. Because it says “Habs Fans” Not Habs fans here or there. Simply “Habs fans”.

But then the next two paragraphs read as:

“The Canadiens are one of the most storied franchises in all of sports,” said Scott Moore, President, Sportsnet and NHL, Rogers. “Today’s agreement, combined with our national package, allows us to serve Eastern Canada and connect Habs fans to their beloved team by creating a one-stop-shop to watch all of the games.”

“The Montreal Canadiens are pleased to have concluded an English-language regional broadcasting agreement with Sportsnet that will enable a greater number of Habs hockey fans in the province of Quebec and in Eastern Canada to see the Canadiens in action,” said Kevin Gilmore, Canadiens’ Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Over the years, Sportsnet has acquired a strong reputation with the quality of their hockey broadcasts and this agreement will continue to enhance the hockey experience on television for our fans.”

What kind of doublespeak is this? Habs fans in the east already are secure in the knowledge that all 82 games will be covered, partly in English, partly on RDS. It’s the folks west of Montreal or Ottawa that still seemed screwed, still need to keep the petitions going.

What kind of doublespeak is this? Make it clear, Sportsnet people. Will fans west of Montreal see 82 games? And if not, quit pumping your chest (unless you’re Hazel Mae), and acting like you’re the saviour.

When I look at their press release, I can’t  figure it out. But I live in Montreal so I’m sure I’m fine when it comes to 82 games. But my friend in Pickering read the same release, has no idea, asked me, and I’ve got this big dunce hat on my head.

Other blogs are copying and pasting the press release, but haven’t explained a thing. At least not to me or my friend in Pickering. He and I would be truly grateful if someone would step forward and spell it out to us without the doublespeak. Thanks.

 

 

The Best Ashtray

ashtray

I’ll bet you’re saying to yourself that you’ve had better ashtrays than this one. Maybe one of those nice glass ones, or one on a fancy stand.

But this is the best ashtray in the world so forget about it.

It was sent to me from my old friend Bruce who ended up with two of them and knew that I’d need one. That’s what old friends do. Sometimes send ashtrays.

The porcelain beauty (although Lucy doesn’t see the beauty) came out of a closed factory in Orillia, Porcelain and Metal, or “P&M” as everybody called it because it was shorter and there’s nothing like shortcuts in life.

I worked there with Bruce, one of several jobs I had after dropping out of school after grade 10, and Bruce and I did the graveyard shift in the Fiat department, assembling metal toilet doors. We became toilet door superstars.

I’d also been saving enough money to sail on a ship to England with another friend when I’d turn 18 in that fall of 1968. And the toilet door gig was easy, mainly because the person at P&M who decided how many we needed to do in a shift was slightly off in the math and Bruce and I had the quota wrapped up in the first two or three hours.

After that we caught mice in a barrel and watched them run around for awhile, then let them go. Or we’d put our feet up and talk music, and hockey of course, because Bruce was and is a Habs fan.

Maybe we used this very ashtray on our dozen or so smoke breaks every night. (I quit years ago).

That fall I sailed to England on the Empress of England with my friend Robin and spent much of the winter there. At one point we knocked on the door of the Beatles’ Apple offices on Savile Row, and when a women answered, I asked if the boys were in. She said no.

Robin and I also saw John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers at the Klooks Kleek room in the Railway Hotel, a place where Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, the Rolling Stones, and most of the other well-known London musicians had played at some point, usually before they became rich and famous.

The night we saw Mayall, his guitar player was Mick Taylor, who not long after would join the Stones when Brian Jones drowned in his swimming pool.

It was a big experience, that trip to England, and it was all thanks to my job in the Fiat department at P&M, making toilet doors with Bruce and catching mice in a barrel.

Now I have an ashtray from that fine old Fiat toilet door department, on display in my display case.

The best ashtray in the world, regardless of what you and Lucy think.

Klooks Kleek

 

 

 

 

Price Gets New Hat

From last week’s Coast Mountain News, which covers areas of BC’s interior, is this story and pictures sent to me by my buddy Beatnik near Williams Lake.

“In town to promote his new role as First Nations Ambassador for the Breakfast Club of Canada, Price was excitedly received by his biggest fans: the Ulkatcho community.” – with the full story here – NHL Superstar Carey Price Honoured by Community in Anahim Lake.

I’ll look closer at the pictures as soon as I finish looking at his wife.

Price

Price 2

Mind Freeze

It seems I’m going through some sort of writer’s block. Been that way for awhile now, and…………………………………there’s that block again. I can’t even finish the sentence.

I need to plow through like a player with a hangover. Suck it up. Force myself. Rattle the couple of dozen remaining brain cells. Just start typing and hope.

It’s not supposed to be a problem. I’m from Orillia for goodness sakes, where folks are tough. Most are Leaf fans and they still go about their day to day life in almost sane fashion. It’s inspiring.

I’m already worried about the Canadiens making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their series last year against the Rangers started at 8:10 et. The first intermission hadn’t even ended and it was time for bed. I was a mess the next morning.

You have no idea how concerned I am about the Habs making it to the Finals and playing a Western team, with games starting even later here.

Why oh why didn’t I become a Leaf fan when I was young so I could go to bed early now that I’m old. Just dreading it when the Habs kick ass this year.

Oh damn…the block’s happening again. Signing off  but I’ll throw the following in to add some much-needed meat to this post..

My year-long project which for months I thought was a good idea but now I realize it’s just stupid. Regardless, I’m adding it because I’ve nothing else to add.

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Building 6

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Howie Going For A Spin

I noticed the following picture on eBay recently.

It’s Howie Morenz as a teenager back in Stratford, Ontario circa 1920, riding in a 1902 Olds, the year he was born.

It was still a few years until he’d lace ‘em up as a rookie with the Habs. The beginning of a journey that saw him as the finest player of his generation and one of the greatest Montreal Canadiens of all time.

The seller was listing this original photo at $3200.00, which…. ahem….is way out of whack but who am I to say what someone should or shouldn’t do?

If he can find a buyer who’ll pay $3200.00 for this, more power to him. But truthfully, it’s closer to the $500 range.

It’s neat though.

Morenz

 

One Man’s Junk Is…..

Under the well-used heading of “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, are two things I found during my recent trip to Woodstock (Bethel) and Cooperstown.

First, from the dairy farm of Max Yasgur, the man who let organizers use his land for the 1969 Woodstock festival, is this Yasgur milk bottle.

It’s not an original 1950s/60s bottle, those sell for about $500. Mine came later, I’m not sure when, and I paid $8 for it. But it’s a real Yasgur milk bottle, I’m sure there was milk in it at one point, and it looks just dandy on my shelf.

Milk bottle

From Cooperstown, I found this. In the 1960s, Yankee Stadium sold popcorn in these and when one removed the cap, it became a megaphone! It’s perfect for my vintage popcorn box collection.

Yankees

I showed some of the photos below on Facebook recently, so basically, these are for folks who aren’t on Facebook. The rest of you, just go for a beer. There some different ones, though.

Festival organizers were truly lucky to find Yasgur’s land after previous sites near the villages of Woodstock and Wallkill fell through. The site is huge, with a nice sloping hill down to the stage area, it has a nearby forest to go to the bathroom or get frisky in, and White Lake is just down the road to go skinny dipping.

It’s also been called a natural amphitheater. Just perfect, and Max Yasgur loved the kids who invaded. Many of the Bethel townsfolk didn’t though.

Lucy and I spent several hours there and came back again the next day. There’s also a beautiful museum on the site.

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Below, Lucy’s video.

The peace sign at Woodstock, done with some sort of grass cutter, reminds of one I did behind my backyard in Calgary years ago. I got shit from the city for that because it was on municipal property.

Calgary