Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Summer Windbag

May 20 – Mike Babcock leaves the Detroit Red Wings to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the deal calling for 50 million bucks over eight years. Seriously, that’s more than I made at BC Ferries.

Last year Toronto brought in a hot shot advanced stats guy, and now it’s this coach. We’re all screwed. The Leafs will probably be fantastic from now on. Unstoppable every year until the two of them retire. Leafs fans are lucky.

May 21 – Babcock mentions at his big press conference that the Leafs are “Canada’s team”.

May 25 – Today I’ve been thinking about what Babcock said about Canada’s team. I wanted to know who Canada is, the one the team belongs to, so I typed in Canada 411 and had a look.

The problem is, there are quite a few people in Canada named Canada, and I’ve no idea which one the Leafs belong to. There’s Graham Canada in Brampton, Vicki Canada in Vancouver, Gorving Canada in Toronto, Sheldon Canada in Alberta, and a whole bunch in Manitoba, including Mervin and Terry. Others too, including Catherine Canada in Quebec. And then there’s the parents and siblings. All these Canadas, and at least one of them owns the Leafs. Right now we don’t know which one, but I’m hoping it’s Mervin.

Whichever Canada it is, maybe his or her granddad was part of the crew that helped build Maple leaf Gardens and took shares from Conn Smythe instead of money. And if it’s one of the Manitoba Canadas like Mervin, the neighbours probably had no idea. They thought the Canada clan down the road were Jets fans.

May 27 – Guy Lafleur says Brendan Gallagher should captain the Canadiens. Guy says what he thinks, and I say good for him, he doesn’t keep things bottled up inside which could lead to ulcers. Last year he put the hammer down on Max and Tomas Vanek for having lousy post seasons, before that it was Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau’s handling of Alex Kovalev, and in 2007 he said the Habs were a team of 4th liners. I’m sure there were more.

Management must grit their teeth when they find out that the Flower has spoken again.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Guy or any of us think about who should wear the C. It should be put to a dressing room vote. They know each other. They have showers together. But call the vote when no one’s expecting so there’s no time for players to do some personal brown nosing to garner votes, like buying flowers for the other guys’ wives, or babysitting their kids.

And sadly, Carey Price’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot. You know, the goalie/captain thing. But if Price was a forward or d-man, it’s the captaincy for sure.

June 2 – Jeff Petry signs a new six year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens. I like the Habs blueline. You got yer P.K. and Petry and Beaulieu and Emelin and Pateryn and Tinordi. And yes, even Old Man Markov, who will be relying on smarts only from here on in, which is still good.

June 3 – The Stanley Cup Final featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks begins. Canada’s team isn’t involved. Probably next year because they have the coach and the stats guy. Mervin or Graham, or whichever Canada it is that the team belongs to, will be cheering wildly from Manitoba or wherever.

June 4 – Something slightly unusual happens to me today.

 

 

Habs Gone With The Wind

Call me crazy, but I thought the Canadiens would play like gangbusters in game six. I guess I’ve never been more wrong.

The team that had stormed back from being down three games to none to make it a 3-2 series played like lethargic bums on Tuesday night and are now forced to sit at the cottage and clubhouse all summer and dwell on how they fizzled out instead of fighting with all their might to carry on down the trail to Lord Stanley’s old mug.

A dismal 4-1 spanking at the hands of the Lightning. Not in it from the first minute to the last.  Checked into the ground, with absolutely no pressure on Ben Bishop who had plenty of time to scan the crowd for lovely ladies.

It’s difficult to understand. Maybe the Canadiens were just too spent. Out of gas as they scrambled to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. There’s a reason why most teams don’t come back. Because the hole’s a deep bastard.

But talk about going out with a whimper. A surprising display of ………not much at all. A measly 6 shots in the first, 7 in the second, 6 in the third, from a team fighting for their life. From a team that was supposed to have character, but ultimately didn’t have firepower, or a half-decent power play.

It’s never easy when the team bows out. We hope and expect and cheer heartily and then hope some more. But in the end, they were completely outmatched for some reason, and now we have to hope about next year instead.

I remain proud of my team.

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I’ll be off and on this site all summer if you feel like stopping by. Unlike previous summers when I posted every day throughout, I have serious things to attend to this time around, which will take much of my time. But I think a few hours here and there on the computer will be good for me.

I’ll be around. You and I have to figure out how to make the 2015-16 team better than this one.

And I suppose now’s as good a time as any to post my golf picture.

From my old scrapbook – The Rocket and Arnold Palmer shoot the breeze when they were in New York in 1961. The two legends were honored by the S. Rae Hickok Co. as Athletes of the Decade in their respective sports.

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Hey Ghosts, Break’s Over

Sent over by Mike McKim, this article in Grantland.com – Battling the Ghosts by Sean McIndoe, talks about the Habs/ Lightning series, the old Forum and it’s replacement the Bell Centre, along with the distance between the two barns in different ways.

McIndoe also notes the apparent absence of Forum ghosts who were suppose to pack up and move over when the old cathedral closed its doors, but seem to be taking their time. If they came at all.

Contrary to what many think, I believe the Forum ghosts did make their way over to the Bell Centre in 1996, but they’ve had so much fun reminiscing, with the hangovers never ending and good times just rolling along, and they simply haven’t gotten around to modern day Habs teams yet, except for some fine times against Boston.

And they were on the job in the 2010 playoffs, at least for a few magical rounds. But all in all, they’ve really slacked off.

I can’t blame the ghosts. They welcome old buddies almost non-stop, so they party hard and tell tall tales, and lately, with Jean and Gilles and Elmer and Dollard and coach Ruel moving upstairs, there’s way too much to do in just a short amount of time.

Guys have to come from all corners of heaven to meet at the rebuilt Toe Blake’s Tavern. Fedora’s have to be dusted off. Someone has to be in charge of cigars at the corner tobacco store. It’s been tradition to have music greet the new guys, so Benny Goodman or Sinatra or Elvis have to be rounded up and sent to Toe’s.

So much to do, and we expect them to do more? Yes we do, because we believe in a serious work ethic from our ghosts,

It’s time to get off your behinds, ghosts. The boys down below need some guidance. Morenz only took 7 years after passing before lending a helping hand. What’s going on, Rocket? What’s the holdup?

And surely Toe and Dick Sr. can get the power play in sync, although it appears they might already be working on it.

All of you. Coffee break’s over. Up and at ’em.

Toe's

 

 

 

Sean’s Fine Piece

This story –  Canadiens Extend Series, is written by my friend Sean Farrell, who, when he’s not covering the Habs for Canadiens.com and NHL.com, works at Classic Auctions near Montreal, where I also worked before moving back to the West Coast.

Sean and I did the exact same job – we wrote descriptions of rare and unique hockey items for the auction catalogues.

During our big company hockey game a couple of winters ago, Sean tended goal and I was a smallish-yet-shifty forward on the team that won the game and in doing so, we got a day off with pay. It was a beautiful moment.

Sean also spent a season a few years back covering the Ottawa Senators for NHL.com, but is back where he belongs, taking care of Habs business.

 

Happy Mom’s Day

mom

I lost my mom to stomach cancer back in 1978 when I was 27. She got what she thought was the flu, and four months later she was dead. It took me more than 30 years before I could work up the guts to visit her grave.

My mom was the typical 1950s and ’60s stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and cakes that were ready when we got home from school. She helped me write fan letters to the Rocket and other Montreal Canadien players, and her and I would often listen boxing matches on the radio at the kitchen table, including fights that featured a young fellow named Cassius Clay.

And together, one morning before school, we heard the Orillia announcer mention for the first time a brand new group from Liverpool.

She made sure there were always lots of Christmas presents under the tree, presents that were bought on department store credit that my dad had no idea about until after she died. And my dad, who’s also gone now, once told me about the time when I was very young and as we drove by the arena, I said “Hey, there’s the fucking arena!” My mom was very understanding and gentle as she explained to me about the bad word.

It was the only time I ever swore in front of my parents, and they never saw me smoke either as I grew into my teens and early adulthood.

She went to my hockey and baseball games, listened politely when I played her my new Bob Dylan albums, she liked my long hair and weird clothes, and she understood more than anyone about my restless feet. My friends loved her and she loved them, especially if they made her laugh.

This was a lady who didn’t have a problem with the wild 1960s, even though she was born in 1924 and grew up in a much different world. I was very proud of her.

If your mom is still alive and you love her, maybe you should tell her so. I’d give anything to say it now to my mom.

Still Alive After Game Five!

The Montreal Canadiens are alive and well and clawing back after edging Tampa Bay 2-1 win in a game five thriller at a noisy and electric Bell Centre.

Now it’s back to the Sunshine State for a Tuesday night showdown, with the Habs feeling good and finding momentum, and the Lightning slightly on their heels and wondering how they squandered a 3-0 series lead and now could be screwed.

If you have to work Tuesday evening, quit. If you’re getting married that night, don’t. If your baby is due around game time, have it at home in front of the TV.

What a great game this Saturday night affair in Montreal was, wild and wooly, with the Habs grabbing the lead nine minutes into the first period when Devante Smith-Pelly’s wrist shot rang off the crossbar and in doing so, took the all-important lead and gave us big time hope.

Exciting and wondrous, and my pulse raced and my heart skipped several beats. Quivering sensations ran up and down my body. Just really nice camera shots of Angela Price.

The team had been a tad outmatched in the beginning, but Smith-Pelly’s goal reversed the flow. After that, the boys looked much better, their power play, although not scoring, was impressive as they moved the puck around, and the period also saw three pucks banged off posts behind and around Ben Bishop.

In final frame the Bolts pushed hard and were rewarded with a Steven Stamkos goal, and I’m assuming that Habs fans who bite their fingernails chewed hard. For me, because I don’t bite my nails, I gnawed on my arms.

As nerve-wracking as can be, but with the clock winding down, PA Parenteau took a PK Subban pass and just as Smith-Pelly had done in the first period, rang the puck off the crossbar and into the netting. The home team held on, we breathed a big and happy sigh of relief, and I wrapped my arms with towels to stop the bleeding.

Can they do it again and then again after that? Of course they can, because momentum has swung, the guys can taste and feel it, they’re playing well now and the power play seems on the verge. The Lightning also know they’ve been outmatched often in the series.

But the Canadiens have to play another beauty on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. They can do it. Everybody knows it now.

Carey Price has been as cool as a cucumber of course, and was brilliant, especially when he robbed Val Flippula with a glove save when Tampa was pushing early in the third. Price did his job and the gang in front of him went about their business and got it done. And it was only just a few days ago that I decided that I hated hockey.

Ben Bishop was good too, although high shots seem to trouble him, he’s a bit of a complainer, and in heavy traffic he goes down more than Linda Lovelace. Maybe a few more high shots past him and we’ll see that lousy Russian guy between the pipes again!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot the visitors 29-25, and although they once again went 0 for 3 on the power, they looked great with the man advantage, especially with Jeff Petry quarterbacking from the blueline. They controlled things in slick fashion and came within a whisker of scoring several times.

They also stayed out of the penalty box all evening.

Tuesday, and remember – don’t work that night, don’t get married, and if you have a baby, have it in the TV room.

 

 

Boys Bomb Bolts

Such a character win by the Canadiens. I’m prouder than a peacock.

They’ve could’ve folded the tent after that murderous last-second goal in game three, but instead, they game out flying, got that first goal early, then another and another, and the series now shifts back to Montreal after the gang that couldn’t shoot straight took out the cocky Lightning with a tremendous 6-2 shellacking.

It was interesting to see one of the Tampa players in the corridor minutes before the game, shown during the first intermission, singing and having a grand old time. Sing some more, buddy. Maybe the blues? Maybe a hurtin’ tune?

Finally the breaks went the Canadiens way. Pucks that stayed out before went in this time. Ben Bishop was chased after the third goal and his replacement, Andrei Vasilevsky, was fairly lousy. Fans left early to water their palm tress.

Heck, Montreal even managed a power play goal, which in itself, is a mind blower of epic proportions. And Max’s shorthanded marker left me hanging from the chandelier.

Two goals in the first period, beginning with Andrei Markov converting a PK setup from a slightly difficult angle.

Next was Max’s shorty, and in the second period, Bishop was yanked after gloving a DD slapshot but then losing it. Craig Simpson on HNIC disagreed with coach Jon Cooper’s decision to switch goalies, but it worked for me.

The score became a juicy 4-0 when Jeff Petry, on the power play, finished it off after PK and Chucky and the gang threw it around in fine style, and just 15 seconds later, Brendan Gallagher let go a blast from the right side that Vasilevsky is still looking for.

It was good, real good, although Tampa would beat Carey Price twice after the 5-0 score was built, with their second just 17 seconds into the third. The Lightning weren’t going to pot three more, no way, but I was nervous anyway.

Brandon Prust converted Lars Eller’s rebound in the third period, the Bolts were officially fried, and it’s back to the Bell for a rousing game five and another one shift, one game at a time deal.

Random Notes:

Canadiens once again handily outshot Tampa, this time 40-24. Last night it was 31-19. And people say the Lightning are the better team?

I saw the game in a somewhat different place with a bunch of distractions that included that call from producers telling me I’m a “World’s Most Handsome Man” finalist. Pissed me off. So did that photo shoot with the Playboy bunnies during the second intermission.

But I still saw the game. I just wish these people would leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

Not Much To Say

I’ll be a man of few words here. I need to get to the local drug dealer and stock up. Without him I’m not able to face reality.

It seemed like only yesterday when the Canadiens were making us excited and hopeful. And then the playoffs started.

They played a fine game and should’ve won the thing, but they couldn’t beat Ben Bishop (aside from Brendan Gallagher’s third period marker), there wasn’t a break to be had as pucks came oh so close, some hit posts, the big bastard stopped 30 shots, and all in all, Montreal could’ve racked up four or five goals if even a bit of luck was on their side.

Tampa even went 16 minutes in the second period without recording one measly shot on Carey Price. And they still won.

The home team made it 2-1 with just over a second remaining in the third period, and things are grimmer than grim for the team everyone hates except 10 million of us worldwide. And now they’re down 3-0 in the series.

Just over a second left. Where’s that drug dealer?

The Canadiens haven’t bested the Bolts even once this year (8 games), and it could all come to a crashing halt on Thursday night.

Unless they play like they did tonight and things go their way for a change.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Lightning 31-19 and were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Up Against The Brotherhood?

Former referee Kerry Fraser says that after the Brandon Prust/Brad Watson dustup, the Canadiens will be in tough against not only Tampa, but the zebras as well – Refs Will Punish.

Officials are a brotherhood and they don’t like being shown up, is what Fraser more or less said as he backed off from his hairspray for a few seconds.

What happened to the idea that officials simply make the right call, regardless of the team? That’s what it’s supposed to be, but now they’re going to let things slide in favour of the Lightning?

Is this professional? Are the officials going to have a say in how this series plays out because Brad Watson isn’t crazy about Brandon Prust? What kind of third world sport are we dealing with here?

Not to excuse Prust or his teammates. They were all pathetic in game 2 and deserved to lose, although they were still in the game until PK was sent to the box near the end of the first period for a needless crosscheck and Tampa scored with just 24 seconds left to grab the lead and the momentum.

The Habs can’t score, and their special teams are the opposite of special. Can’t put ’em in and can’t keep ’em out. They were horrible in game two.  It was embarrassing. And I’m worried about Maripier Morin and how she’s holding up.

But if they come out in game 3 and play a great game but get shanked by the referees and lose a heartbreaker because of the striped brotherhood’s ‘all for one, one for all’ mentality,  after Fraser said what he said, do you think the league might call a few of the culprits up on the carpet and maybe change the way things are done? Or maybe not?

Habs haters are all over this. We’re a whiny bunch and getting what we deserve, they say as they scratch themselves and smash empty beer cans against their head. And if the Canadiens lose because the officials decided such, they’ll laugh and carry on and scratch and smash beer cans, until it happens to their team. Then they’ll cry that life isn’t fair and it’s only the Montreal Canadiens that get the sweet calls.

And one last thing before I sign off and cut the lawn. At least Prust showed fire, unlike so many others.