Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

It’s Not Rocket Science: Montreal Needs A French-Canadian Star

Even though Michael Ryder is a good Canadian boy, born and raised in Bonavista, Newfoundland among the cod and the Screetch, it’s time for the Montreal Canadiens to say goodbye and make their team just a little bit better without really upsetting the fragile apple cart.

Ryder has been good, but never great for the Habs. He’s had a 25 goal season, and two 30 goal seasons, but this year he looks uninterested, just going through the motions, and has been in a season-long slump with only seven goals so far, which is pitiful for a guy considered to be a sharpshooter.

At the end of the season, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent, which means some other team like the Islanders will give him a 15 year contract for eight gazillion dollars, even though he may never score 30 goals again. But teams like the Islanders and Washington are wacko so nothing should be a surprise.

What Montreal needs to do is convince Calgary GM Darryl Sutter to trade left winger Alex Tanguay for Ryder and maybe a couple of draft picks. That would allow Calgary to have enough money to keep their stud, Dion Phaneuf, and the payoff for the Habs is  Tanguay, who’s 29 years old, (Ryder’s 27) is a really good playmaker, is French-Canadian from Ste. Justine, Quebec, in the heart of Habs country, and just might be the guy to play with Saku Koivu. Lord knows, they’ve tried everyone else.

And in the overall big picture, Montreal and it’s fans, including me, are screaming for a French-Canadian star. And I’m not even French-Canadian.

Zdeno Chara Is Taller Than You, Me, and Jarrko Ruutu

The Canadiens are sitting at home now, waiting to play Boston on Tuesday, and probably spending their down time watching NFL football. Isn’t it funny when you see a hockey player announcing his retirement, and through the tears, he explains that he wants to spend more time with the family. Then, for the next twenty years, he watches sports or goes golfing every day. Golfing takes up the better part of the day. But I guess the wife and kids are used to him not being there so it’s not a big deal. 

The Bruins on Tuesday and then the Habs travel to New Jersey to close it out before All-Star weekend. It’s time to rebound after the Pittsburgh loss. I wouldn’t mind seeing a scrap between that freak of nature, Boston’s Zdeno Chara and our hero, Mike Komisarek.

Chara’s so tall, he has to duck when he skates under the scoreboard. He can put a quarter in the view-o-matic at the top of the Empire State building without leaving the street. He got that big nose when a jetliner flying at 30,000 feet flew into him.

The one thing I appreciate about Chara is that he holds back when he could punch out someone much smaller than him. I’m sure the smaller players appreciate this too.

 I wonder if Jarkko Ruutu, Mike Rebeiro, and Sean Avery smile when they’re being held back by the linesmen when they almost get into it with Chara. “I’d kill you, Chara, if the linesman wasn’t holding me back,” they’d yell.

Waiting For Jarkko Ruutu’s Smile To Be Erased

Montreal lost 2-0 to Pittsburgh last night. It’s no wonder I drink. 

At least I didn’t have to hear that Olay song being sung.

But anyway:

You know when you’ve been with a couple of your really tough buddies, and some guy, who could normally kick your ass, gives you a hard time and you get really brave because you’re with your buddies. You’ve got this grin on your face that you wouldn’t have if you weren’t with your friends. It’s like you’re saying, “I’d kick your ass so easily, but I’ll let my friends do it this time.”

It’s all bullshit. The guy would kill you. But you’ve got this smug grin anyway because you’re protected. It’s called false bravado.

Certain hockey players are like this too.

Sean Avery is this way. So is Mike Rebeiro. And so is this player-actor Jarkko Ruutu, who plays for Pittsburgh and used to play for Vancouver. I’m not crazy about players of this sort. Shit disturbers. Cry babies. Moderately talented hockey players. Divers. Big smiles on their faces. Tough only because they rarely have to answer the bell.

John Ferguson would have destroyed these fellows.

Sidney Crosby Ruined My Story

I had this possible Pulitzer Prize-winning story written about Sidney Crosby coming to Montreal, and how the Bell Centre would be charged with great atmosphere, and all that. Then the bugger goes and hurts his ankle.  But I’m carrying on anyway, the way Red Fisher would.

Montreal fans hoping to see young Sid will have to settle for a big Habs’ win instead. That’s way better anyway. Maybe Sidney will peak in at the Montreal dressing room when the teams are on the ice and see the room he dreamed about being in when he was growing up.

Sidney is just what the NHL has had wet dreams about for a long time. He’s single, and women of all ages want to cuddle him and take him home and change his diaper. He says all the right things to the media, just like Gretzky did, and better than Mario Lemieux did. He’s no prima donna, as he works harder than most. He skates a little bow-legged, and therefore is hard to push aside. He’s a team player, and gives credit to others. He respects those who came before him. He grew up loving the Habs, and must love playing in Montreal. He’s got all his hair. Any GM would give their first-born to have him on their team.

But he’s hurt for the big game tonight.  Montreal must take advantage of this uh, ahem, unfortunate situation. Cough.

Another Big Win, An Old Scotty Bowman Brainwave

Montreal beat Atlanta Thursday night in a shootout, 3-2. There’s nothing I can add to this. Sometimes, life is good.

So because I’m in a serene and glorious mood as the team has only lost once in the last ten games, I think I’ll just light the fireplace, sit back, fire up the tobacco pipe, and ask you to pull up a chair and gather round. I’ll tell you a story that has nothing to do with last night’s big win. It’s just a little story you can tell your buddies next time you’re sitting around and trying to think of something interesting to add to the conversation.

In the late 1970’s, Montreal was in the middle of winning four straight Cups, and were in Los Angeles for a game against the Kings. The team easily won that night, and many of them decided to go out and celebrate. Of course, they drank too much and missed curfew, and wobbled back to the hotel. At the hotel, the doorman happened to have a hockey stick, and corralled the players as they staggered in, to autograph his stick.

The next morning, Scotty Bowman called out all the players who missed curfew and fined them.

 And how did he know?

He’d given the doorman a stick and asked him to get the latecomers to sign it.

Next game:  A huge one at home against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney grew up a Habs fan and always plays well against his favourite team. I suppose he has to do his job. It just doesn’t seem right.

Kovalev Was Smart, Not Selfish

It’s been a slow time lately for the press, radio and television people when it comes to the Montreal Canadiens. Things are going well for the team, they’re winning, Guy Carbonneau seems to have found the secret to communicating, and none of this has sat well with the media.

They need juicy Montreal stories like someone not speaking French or dissension in the dressing room. These are favourites, but there are always many others. They love their Alex Kovalev negative stories but alas, there’s been none lately. So did they what they had to do. They created one.

The other night against the Islanders, Montreal was leading by only 2-1 and in the last minute of play, the Islanders pulled their goalie. Tom Plekanec was put out with Kovalev, and Plekanec had already scored both Habs’ goals. An empty net goal would give him the hattrick.

Then it happened. Kovalev came down the ice with the puck and Plekanec, and lordy, lordy, the Russian shot the puck in the net for the insurance goal instead of passing to Plekanec. You could almost hear the laptops tap tap tapping their big headline, “Kovalev Greedy. Scores Instead of Passing to Plekanec for the Hattrick.”

So the question is (and I’m going to answer it), was Kovalev being selfish by scoring his 20th instead of passing to Plekanec for the hattrick?

The answer is, “no way.” Kovalev did the absolutely right thing. And he did it for the team, not for himself. What if his pass over to Plekanec went in his skates or hopped over his stick, and the Islanders, with the man advantage, then skated back and scored to tie the game.? What would the media have said then? They would have said something like, “Kovalev’s Bad Pass Costs the Team the Game. Why Didn’t He Shoot?”

If you had any thoughts at all about Kovalev being selfish and should have helped his linemate get his hatttrick, FORGET IT! He made sure the team got the two points.

The Boys Are Playing Large: Like The ’67 Leafs

On Tuesday night, Montreal beat the Islanders 3-1. There’s only one thing to say about this. The Habs are playing really, really well. As we speak, they’re one of the top teams in the east.

Last year at this time, after 45 games, Montreal had 55 points. This year, after the same amount of games, the team has 54 points. BUT! Last year, they won only 4 of their next 16 games. That won’t happen this year. Kovalev’s at the top of his game, so’s Plekanec and Huet, and the Kostitsyn’s are here this year.

The general consensus is that a team like Detroit, or Anaheim and Ottawa, or maybe New Jersey or Pittsburgh, are the ones that have so much going for them, they’re the odds-on favourites to win the Cup. Any of them.

But n 1967, Toronto won the Cup and they weren’t supposed to. They were a team of really old guys like Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, Allan Stanley, Bob Baun, Tim Horton, Red Kelly etc. and they defied the odds, and the general consensus. They were far from the favourites. (Please note: I’m no Leaf fan.)

Without getting carried away here, maybe Montreal can surprise people and go deep into the playoffs. Just like the ’67 Leafs. It’s that power of positive thinking again.

As an aside –

When Toronto won in 1967, they played and beat Montreal in the final, 4 games to two. The kicker is that Montreal had won the past two years before that, and won the next two years after that. So if Toronto hadn’t pulled off that big upset, Montreal would have won five straight Cups, like they did from 1955 to ’60.

  

More of the Mind Blowing “Fascinating Facts!”

Facinating Fact #1.  Montreal drafted Mark Napier instead of Mike Bossy.

Fascinating Fact #2. Scotty Bowman, when coaching the Habs in the 1970’s, would usually be a real  miserable soul after the team had won. But when the team lost, he was a nice, happy person. The general consensus was that Scotty liked to play games with his players’ heads, and it was a big reason he was such a good coach. (If that makes sense, please fill me in.)

Fascinating Fact #3. I was a milkman in Calgary for awhile and Doug Risebrough was one of my customers. His wife, who looked after the milk situation, gave me a very little tip at Christmas.

Risebrough played 13 years in the NHL, with both Montreal and Calgary. When he was eating his Cheerios with the milk I had faithfully delivered, he was coaching the Flames. I remember years before, in Ottawa, when the Habs played somebody else in a pre-season exhibition game at the old Civic Centre, the buzz in the papers was the new promising rookie who would be playing that night in his first NHL game. That player was Doug Risebrough.

Fascinating Fact #4.  CBC television host George Stroumboulopoulos, is a good, solid Habs fan.

Fascinating Fact #5.  I played on the same Midget team as Dan Maloney for one game in Barrie after our Orillia team got eliminated and three of us were loaned to Barrie. I remember he was big, and a real leader even then. We were about 16. I also spent an afternoon with him hanging out and playing pool.

Dan Maloney played for four teams (Chicago, LA, Detroit, and Toronto) over 11 seasons, and eventually went on to coach. He was really, really tough.

Fascinating Fact #6.  I have a beautiful old ticket stub from Game 8 of the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series at Luznicki Arena in Moscow.

Fascinating Fact #7.    Rumours are flying that Scotty Bowman (although he denies this) could become a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.

Typical. Montreal grooms them (Bowman, Cliff Fletcher, Dryden, Risebrough, etc.) and they become suits elsewhere.

Fascinating Fact #8.  Toe Blake’s real first name was Hector. He got the name ‘Toe’ from his younger sister who pronounced the last part of Hector as toe, as in “Hectoe.”

Fascinating Fact #9. Turk Broda, who was the Toronto Maple Leaf goalie from 1936 to 1952, had the nickname “Turk” because as a child, his neck would turn red like a turkey when he got angry. His real name is Walter.

Red Fisher Or Queen Elizabeth: Who Will Step Down First?

Okay, a small setback in New York Saturday night ,  4-1 being the score for the Rangers, or the Hell’s Kitchenettes as I like to call them. But it’s okay to lose from time to time to keep everyone on edge and not get too complacent. This is the power of positive thinking.

But there has to be a big rebound Tuesday in Long Island. The boys were pretty listless. Why is that?

Carey Price let in 5 goals in Hamilton against the Rochester Americans on Saturday, so things weren’t good on this particular night on different levels. In fact, the only ray of sunshine in the whole thing was Dany Heatley separating his shoulder in Ottawa and will be out four to six weeks.

I’d have a lot more to say about all this if only Red Fisher would retire and hand the reigns over to me to cover the team at home and on the road. I feel like Prince Charles, waiting for mum to finally take the retirement package.

Coming shortly: THE NIGHT I DRANK BEER WITH AUREL JOLIET!

What It Takes To Be A Good Montreal Canadiens Fan

A GOOD MONTREAL FAN:

Won’t have another favourite team also.

Will have a real dislike for Toronto and Boston, and probably Ottawa.

Won’t stop rooting for them if you live in, or close to, another NHL city.

Will feel lousy anytime the team loses.

Is proud to say you’re a Habs fan in any circle of people.

Will never admit that Howe was better than Richard.

Really, really wishes they’d win the Cup soon.

Will say that Harvey comes right after Orr for greatest defenceman, even if you’ve never even saw a film clip of him.

Really misses the Forum.

Really misses Claude Mouton.

Really misses Danny Gallivan and Rene Lecavalier.

Never bets against them in sport select-type lotteries.

Won’t sing that wretched song when the game is close.