Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.

rockets-house

Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.

orrs-house

Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.

gretzky

And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.

denniss-house

Wanna Take You Higher

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As you probably know, PK is selling his condo on Montreal’s Sherbrooke St. for 1.4 million bucks, with the new buyer also needing $23,000 a year for condo fees.

Nice place. Nice street. PK’s TV is too high.

If PK wasn’t popular with his teammates, it’s probably because of the TV.

“Hey guys, wanna come over and watch the Super Bowl at my place?”

“Uh, no thanks PK.”

“Hey guys, wanna come over to my place and play video games?”

“Uh, no thanks PK.”

So it went. More and more, PK felt slighted and gradually grew apart from his teammates who always wanted to watch TV elsewhere.

And no, PK, when your coaches told you to keep your head up, they didn’t mean while watching TV.

Beatles, Habs, And Leafs

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On August 17th, 1966, the Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was at the afternoon concert, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

In the summer of ’66 I was 15 and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23, Jacques Laperriere 24, and Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Reusch Checks Out The Lineup

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A big and hearty thanks to Bill for sending Ron Reusch’s look at how the Canadiens stack up this year by position.

It was something I had kinda thought about doing, but you know how lazy I am. And Mr. Reusch does a way better job anyway.

Here’s Ron’s excellent look at the 2016-17 Montreal Canadiens so far – The Reusch Blog

You be the judge on whether or not you feel this is a team that can make a serious dent.

And by the way, the much-respected Reusch, who’s been covering Montreal sports since the 1960s, somehow manages to put out smart and sharp posts on a regular basis and his blog is for sure worth a hard look.

Borrowed from his website is a little bit about this fine fellow.

“Ron Reusch covered sports both nationally and internationally over five decades. (1960s through 2010). Based in Montreal, Ron worked on the English language play-by-play broadcasts of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens and NL’s Montreal Expos.

As a member of the CTV Television Network, Ron covered a variety of including the 1980, 1984, 1988 and 1994 Winter Olympic Games and the 1976, 1984 and 1992 Summer Olympic Games. He also did play-by-play for CTV’s coverage of the first three Canada Cup hockey tournaments (1976, 1981 and 1984) and served as color commentator to Dan Kelly’s play-by-play for the NHL’s 1984–85 and 1985–86 seasons on CTV plus the 1987 Canada Cup. Other CTV assignments included live broadcasts of the Indianapolis 500 (6 times), and the Canadian Grand Prix.

Reusch’s broadcast career started in the B.C. Interior as a broadcaster for the Kamloops Chiefs of the Okanagan Senior Hockey League and then with the Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers of the Eastern Professional Hockey League. Reusch moved to Europe in 1962, where, among other things, he covered the 1964 and 1968 Winter Olympics for American Broadcaster CBS Radio. Reusch returned to Canada and Montreal in 1969 where he began a 39 year association with the Montreal CTV affiliate CFCF. For twenty years he was CFCF Sports Director.”

Reusch

Radulov Enters Habs Universe

Radulov

Alexander Radulov is a new Montreal Canadien, for a year at least, which means I think we should hardly ever think about the jerk he once was and concentrate on the fact that he might be a great guy now.

Most importantly, this is a skilled forward, a top six guy like we knew the Canadiens needed, and so a big hole has been filled, adding to my ongoing optimism that the team is now bigger, tougher, and more talented.

I hope that some of the boys from BC, like Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, and Shea Weber, will find it within themselves to bring the Stanley Cup to Powell River next summer.

Radulov, who’ll be 30 on July 5th, made his millions these past few years in the KHL with Ufa Salavat Yulayev and CSKA Moscow. He also certainly knows North America, where his #22 sweater is retired in Quebec after starring for the Remports, scoring 61 goals and 91 assists in just 62 games back in 2005-06, his second and last season with the QMJHL club.

And of course with the Nashville Predators, where not only did he collect 102 points in 154 games, but he also earned a well-deserved spoiled shithead reputation.

Radulov dishonored his Preds contract to bolt to the KHL, and also decided to party with teammate Andrei Kostitsyn until 5 am at a bar in Phoenix, just before game two of their playoff series with the Coyotes in 2012. Who knows what else he did?

But we forget these things now because he’s a Montreal Canadien. Maybe not a Jean Beliveau-type Montreal Canadien, but hopefully a guy who can really make an impact up front.

It’s a new chapter for Radulov, and it’ll be up to him to show that not only is he a great player, but a great guy as well.

P.K. For Weber

PK Weber

The Subbanator is now a Nashville Predator, and big Shea Weber becomes a Montreal Canadien.

A switching of star defencemen. A trade that’ll piss off a lot of Habs fans. And who said Marc Bergevin was afraid to do something big?

Weber’s a stud with a shot that makes goalies consider crocodile wrestling. P.K.’s got a cannon too, but not like Weber, who wins hardest shot competitions and blasts pucks that sometimes remind me of my shot when I played for the Orillia Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars.

Weber, at 6’4″ and 235 lbs, hurts when he hits, and P.K. (6′ 210) – not so much.

Weber’s 30 and PK 27, and while both are Canadian, Weber hails from Sicamous BC, a place surrounded by lakes, streams, birds singing, and tranquility, while PK is from Toronto, where Nazem Kadri and the Leafs slither.

It’s a trade that might see some Habs fans furious at management and even quit watching hockey because they loved PK so much. Of course they’ll get over it, but right now they want to punch somebody in the mouth.

They loved what PK brought to the city, his charisma and charm and humour, and of course his $10 million pledge to Montreal Children’s Hospital. They loved his flashiness and his fancy suits, and certainly his way with the microphone and camera. They didn’t love it when he circled with the puck and fell down, but that won’t be mentioned now.

Would they love it if they knew for sure that P.K.’s teammates were sick of his act, that maybe he just might have been hurting his team in different ways?

Would they mind it if they realized that a Shea Weber personality, the polar opposite of Subban, just might be what this team in turmoil needs, and maybe the fact that winning is more important than a charismatic fellow who was great for his community but rubbed certain people at his job site the wrong way?

Subban wasn’t completely loved and accepted by all Habs fans either, but over the next hours, days, and weeks, we’ll be hearing only from those who feel Bergevin and Geoff Molson should be tarred and feathered and their heads placed in a vice.

Whose camp am I in? I’m looking on the bright side, because who knows how this will all play out. It could be terrific, and I’m all for change.

I liked Subban, but the team sucked last year like it’s never sucked before. They’ve been a small bunch, they ranked middle of the pack in scoring, the power play was pathetic, and if Bergevin had basically sat pat I would’ve been more pissed than this.

Yes, they still need firepower up front, but this is a start. Maybe Weber can help with some of the problems just mentioned. I’m expecting him too.

We’ve got a star defenceman with great size and a mighty fine NHL and Olympic resume, and one who sometimes shoots pucks through the netting. I’m okay with this deal, although it cost a big time quality guy to get him.

Think of the fun we’ll have watching opposing players scatter when the Webernator winds up.

 

 

R.I.P. Gordie

Howe and Rocket

When I was a kid in the schoolyard, the conversation with my buddies would go something like this:

Rocket’s better.
Nope, Howe’s better.
No way. Rocket’s better.
Howe’s better.
Take off, hoser.
No you take off.
Shut up and your mother wears army boots. (Or words to that effect).

That’s what it was. Always the same thing. Rocket and Howe. Two completely different players, but Howe was the enemy and Rocket was my hero, so I won. And I’ve  known now for years that Howe was the better all-round player, but I didn’t then and I wouldn’t have admitted it even if I did.

In the 1990s I had breakfast with the legendary goalie Glenn Hall, who was in Powell River for the Allan Cup. Glenn was a teammate of Gordie’s in the 1950s with Detroit, and played against him while with Chicago and St. Louis.

Glenn had also faced the Rocket and Orr during his Hall of Fame career, and because he lived near Edmonton and still involved in hockey in various ways, was as familiar with Wayne Gretzky as practically anyone.

I asked who he thought was the greatest ever and he didn’t hesitate. Howe, he answered, because he could do it all, and the others couldn’t.

I didn’t tell Glenn his mother wore army boots.

But Howe could do it all. His wrist shot was something to behold, his passes pinpoint, his deft scoring touch like few others, his unequaled on-ice intelligence, the unparalleled respect he rightfully earned from other players.

And tough? You want tough?

My friend and former co-worker Gilles Gratton was a backup goalie during the 1974 WHA Canada-Russia Summit Series, and he told me about the time Gordie’s son Mark was leveled by a Soviet defenceman in dastardly fashion, so much so that an unsteady Mark initially skated to the wrong bench and had to be steered to the right one by Soviet players.

Not long after, Gordie just happened to skate by the player who nailed Mark, and the guy just happened to end up with a broken arm and was gone for the series.

You didn’t mess with Gordie or his kin.

Players in the NHL, WHA, or Russia didn’t go in the corners with Gordie. They timidly poked their sticks at the puck and then got the hell out of there before one of those famous elbows crushed their faces.

He did it all, legally or not. There was absolutely no one like him.

Several years ago Howe came to Powell River for an autograph signing and the prices charged for his signature were incredibly outlandish. Way higher than normal, maybe because Powell River is fairly isolated.

I was astonished at these abnormal prices and I wrote a column about it for the local newspaper in which I wasn’t very nice, coming down hard on him and the grocery store where the signing was held.

I regret that I did that. Extraordinary prices or not (and they were), this was a fine and friendly fellow, a legendary man, possibly the greatest hockey player to ever play the game,  and he was there trying to make a buck. What an asshole I can be sometimes.

Now he’s gone and it’s a sad day for me and you and millions of others. I can almost hear angels in heaven’s schoolyard: “Rocket’s better”. “No, Howe’s better.” “Take off, hoser”.

Gordie & Rocket

Perry And The Old Boys

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Habs greats Henri Richard, Dickie Moore, Claude Provost and Jean Beliveau show their hipness as they pose with legendary crooner Perry Como.

For those of you who are too young or just not up on your music history, Perry Como went from being a barber to an international singing sensation in the 1940s and ’50s mostly. He was as relaxing as they come. So relaxing that I’m falling asleep just talking about him.

SCTV did a really funny bit on Como where he (played by Eugene Levy), sang while in bed and on the couch and chair, which you can see below.

My mother and father liked him, he was definitely a big talent, but I preferred a bit more up-tempo stuff. Heck, almost anything was livelier than Perry’s music. Elevator music is heavy metal compared to him.

But these Habs legends seemed like they liked him. And I’ll even go as far as saying that the Pocket, Moore, Provost and Beliveau might have even made out with their wives sometimes to Perry Como’s soothing voice.