Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Barn Burners

Are you feeling romantic and appreciative and looking to do something nice for your spouse?

You could do what I did. I took my wife to see the places where the Canadiens played before they made the Forum their home. It goes without saying that she was overcome with joy and appreciation.

Three rinks. And all three burned down.

First, the 3,200-seat Jubilee Arena in east-end Montreal, at the corner of St. Catherine and Malborough (now Rue Alphonse – D. Roy.)

The Canadiens played there during their first ever season, 1909-10, and again from 1917 until it burned down in 1919.

What the Jubilee looked like, inside and out –

Jubilee Arena

Jub.

And what it looks like now, from two angles –

Jubilee 1

Jubilee 2

From 1910 to 1918, the Canadiens played at the Montreal Arena (or Westmount Arena as it was also called), at the corner of St. Catherine and Wood, one block west of what would become the Forum.

The place held 4,000 people seated and another 6,000 standees, and burned down in 1918, forcing the Canadiens to move back to the Jubilee for a very short period.

The Montreal Wanderers played there also, and I kind of feel for this long-gone team. After being a powerhouse in the old ECAHA and NHA, they joined the NHL in 1918 and played just four games before their barn burned down. So they called it quits permanently.

What the Montreal Arena looked like then –

Westmount Arena

And what it looks like now –

Westmount 1

Westmount 2

And finally, the 6,000-seat Mount Royal Arena near the corner of Mount Royal and St. Urbain, where the Canadiens, after the Jubilee burned down, played from 1920 to 1926 . After that they would take residence (with the Maroons) in the Forum, which was built two years prior in 1924.

The Mount Royal Arena burned down in 2000.

What it looked like then –

Mount Royal Arena

And what it looks like now. A Provigo –

Mount Royal 1

 

Habs Blanked By Caps

Canadiens drop a 2-0 decision to the visiting Washington Capitals, and thus, the three-game winning streak comes to an end, as does the consecutive 3-2 scores.

Not a lot went on in Sunday’s Habs-Caps affair. Carey Price was outstanding as his team was outshot 31-18. Lars Eller played his first preseason tilt. Jiri Sekac had his moments but didn’t truly shine. And Christian Thomas played just nine minutes and I never even noticed him.

What was great was seeing Jarred Tinordi lay out some solid thumps, including one on a hard-skating Nate Schmidt that flattened him, ending with Tinordi getting the best of Chris Brown in the fight that followed.

This is how Tinordi will stick with the Habs. Use that 6’6″ body on a regular basis.

My two favourite moments in the game? Tinordi walloping Schmidt, and Caps goalie Braden Holtby shaking his mask off to try and draw a penalty on Brendan Gallagher, who had clipped the mask and which got the whole thing going.

I really can’t think of a third favourite moment.

Washington’s Joel Ward broke the ice with 1.29 left in the third period when PK Subban was weak on the play behind the net, and shortly after, Brooks Laich hit the empty net.

All in all, not a classic.

I think this is probably more interesting – Rooting for J.P.

Great Gift From Marc, Great Goal From Lambert

The other day, owner and founder of Classic Auctions (and my boss), Marc Juteau, came into my office and gave me a beautiful vintage style (with fight strap) Yvon Lambert store model sweater, signed on the crest, which came from a Lambert charity golf tournament.

It was really nice of Marc to do this, and I greatly appreciate it.

When we talk about the unreal night of May 10, 1979, game seven of the semi-finals when Don Cherry and the Bruins were called for “too many men on the ice”, we first think of the  Habs power play that followed, capped off by Guy Lafleur tying the game and sending it into overtime.

Nine minutes in, it was Lambert winning it after taking a pass from Mario Tremblay.

Lambert wasn’t finished there either. Two weeks later, he would net the Stanley Cup winner against the New York Rangers.

002

003

 

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.

Habs Have Avs

It’s only the second game of preseason and I don’t see a lot of passion, drive, speed, and execution just yet.

From me, not them.

Early on like this, as it is every year, I find myself daydreaming a lot during games. It takes me awhile to gear up. I guess I’m a bad Habs fan.

Here’s the half-assed skinny:

Canadiens win 3-2 in overtime on a nice goal from Alex Galchenyuk when he walked in from the right side, cut into the middle, and fired one home. A beautiful goal.

How many moves can a good Chucky chuck? Maybe plenty this year.

Max and PK scored the other goals, both on power plays.

Christian Thomas played well once again, was chosen third star, and isn’t about to get sent to Hamilton just yet. Maybe he’ll latch on and go for a big league ride.

Much better tonight as far as seeing regulars play. Only Scherbak, Hudon, Pateryn, and Thomas were the prospects on this night, with fourteen regulars if you include Malhotra, Beaulieu, and Drewiske, and why wouldn’t you?

Shots on goal, Montreal 36, Colorado 27, with Carey Price and Peter Budaj donning the pads for the good guys.

Next up, Friday night in Quebec City when the same two teams do it again. Will the passion, fire, and execution be there? I don’t know. Depends on how I feel.

 

Canadiens Kick Things Off

Three unanswered goals by the Canadiens give the boys a sort of fine 3-2 win over the visiting Providence…er…Boston Bruins, thus getting things off to a fine start in preseason action.

The lineups of both teams were filled with players who won’t get a sniff of regular season action, and somehow it doesn’t seem right (at least to me) that fans at the Bell paid whatever it was – $100, $125 a seat. (Just guessing).

I checked and saw that Hamilton Bulldogs gold tickets will be $26 this year, so in a fair and just world, tickets to see players mostly destined to not be Montreal Canadiens soon should be only slightly higher than $26.

How about doubling it and making tickets in the reds an even 50 bucks or so for preseason action when only Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Rene Bourque, newcomer Tom Gilbert, and Jarred Tinordi  were the old guard suiting up, with the slack picked up by prospects.

There were moments though, both good and bad. Boston opened the scoring just 1.17 into the first when young Nikita Scherbak blindly passed behind himself, only to have the puck intercepted by the Bruins’ Ryan Spooner who then proceeded to fool Greg Pateryn, a fellow trying to win himself a job on the Habs blueline.

With just two seconds left in a Rene Bourque penalty, it became 2-0 Bruins, not that it mattered all that much I guess.

But then the Canadiens little by little began to scratch and claw and things slowly paid off.

Jiri Sekac, who played a poised and impressive game, fired one home from the circle with ten seconds left in the period, and it was 2-1.

In the second frame, Christian Thomas, son of Steve, tied the game with one second remaining in his team’s power play, with a little help from Bruins goalie Niklas Svedberg, who happened to bat it in while flailing away, and the game got livelier.

And in the third period, Drayson Bowman converted a Thomas pass with 48 seconds left to give the Canadiens their 3-2 win and earn Mr. Bowman the game’s first star.

Random Notes:

Jiri Sekac looked great at both the rookie and main camp, and never lost a beat tonight. Sekac’s rookie camp sheet has him listed as 6’02”, 182 pounds.

Habs 2014 first round draft pick Nikita Scherbak floundered for half the game, then began to find parts of his game and slowly came around. Scherbak is listed at 6’02”, 189 pounds, but appears leaner and lankier than Sekac, who truly looks like a mature hockey player.

Right winger Nick Sorkin (6’03”, 196), skated well and had several chances.

Big 6’5″, 240 pound Michael McCarron, after three or four solid wallops on unsuspecting Bruins, was driven into the goal post and at this point, it appears his arm took a serious beating, even possibly broken. It certainly didn’t look good.

Shots on goal, Montreal 28, Boston 24.

PK’s younger brother Malcolm was between the pipes for Boston in the third period and came up with several nice stops. PK in the press box looked proud.

Next game – Thursday, when the Avalanche (Daniel Briere?) pay a visit. How about doubling the regulars for game two.

 

 

 

Let Some Hitting Begin

Getting closer and closer to the real thing with seven exhibition games ready to go, beginning with the Bruins on Tuesday, the team that got their keisters kicked last spring in the playoffs by mere mortals who weren’t supposed to poke the almighty bear.

The bear got poked and it skedaddled right out of the rink and onto the nearest golf course.

How sweet that series was. A seven game battle royale that saw the Habs taking the opener 4-3 in Boston when P.K. scored in overtime, and game two had Montreal holding a 3-1 lead with nine minutes left, only to allow three goals in just over five minutes by Boston, plus an empty netter.

What a start, and what a series that would unfold. Electric. Nail biting. Ulcer-inducing. Ultimately crappy for the Bruins and their fans that made my heart soar like a flock of seagulls.

Ginette Reno warbling in Montreal. Shawn Thornton acting like a six-year old with his water bottle hijinks. Bruins anthem singer Rene Rancourt looking like he was peaking on acid.

Games going back and forth, keeping us all on the edge of our seat, chomping at the bit for the next game and then the next.

The Canadiens grabbed the series lead in game three with a 4-2 win. Remember that?

That was the night P.K. charged out of the penalty box, took a nice Lars Eller pass, and waltzed in along on Tuukka Rask, beating the goalie with a cool little move to the right that caught the goaltender flat-footed.

Boston would take game four with a tighter-than-tight 1-0 overtime win, and then grabbed game five by winning 4-2. It was excruciating to say the least.

I remember the odd Hab fan beginning to fold up the tent. Prematurely of course.

Montreal was dominant in game six, blanking the Bs 4-0 with Thomas Vanek awakening and notching a pair, and the series went to seven games, as it should, ending with the Canadiens posting a lovely and glorious 3-1 win that set Habs fans whoopin’ and hollerin’ throughout a dozen or so  time zones.

It seemed like only yesterday when it all went down, and which concluded with Milan Capone proving during the handshake that when his hockey career is finished, he’ll do just fine in the Cosa Nostra.

Frustrated Bruins players. Depressed Bruins fans. A suicidal Jack Edwards. And the Canadiens moved on to the Eastern Conference Final.

It was almost orgasmic.

It’s Boston at the Bell on Tuesday,  Colorado visits on Thursday, then on Friday the Habs and Avs clash again, only in Quebec City.

On Sunday the Caps pay a visit to Montreal, Wednesday the boys are in Chicago and Friday in Ottawa, and our Habs’ preseason ends on Saturday Oct. 4th when the Sens come to town for part two of being spanked.

After that it’s a few days to get ready for game one of the 2014-15 season when the Canadiens travel to Toronto to face the Worst Sports Franchise in North America.

How great is that? The Worst Pro Franchise in North America! That’s what ESPN decided about the Leafs organization and at this time I’d like to thank the TV channel for their fine assessment.

 

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.

036

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.

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.