Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Need a Good Laugh? – I’ve Got One For You

Although I have some doubts myself about the job Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau are doing, I’m basically ready to forgive and forget as soon as the team starts winning. But you should see what others think. 

Over on the right hand side of my blog is a link called “Habs Blog.” It’s the official blog sponsored by the team, and it’s a forum for mostly diehard Habs fans to offer their opinions about how they want to hang Gainey and Carbonneau by the balls, maybe ship Alexei Kovalev back to Russia dead or alive, and all the other reasons why their team needs to be blown up and re-done. It’s quite fascinating. It’s better than Mad magazine. Better than Saturday Night Live. It’s comedy at its finest.

The thing is though, most of these people who write in are simply full of it. They know their stats, that’s for sure, but their minds are made up that they’re right and Bob Gainey is wrong. But what jumps out for me is this: These same people almost had a heart attack when Gainey drafted goalie Carey Price in 2005 instead of Gilbert Brule, who they thought was going to be the next Guy Lafleur. Of course, they were all wrong and Gainey ended up being right. But it doesn’t stop these extremely opinionated folks from giving their hard-assed thoughts on why they want Gainey’s head on a platter, and why every one of them would make a better General Manager than him.

Have a look at this link. It’s great reading. Even offer an opinion. You might as well do it there because you’re not doing it here.

Christmas is over and Being Too Nice Has Sucked

It’s time the team made Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch look like Mother Teresa. It’s time to pull out the stops, kick the slump in the ass, and start playing every game with energy and enthusiasm. Games tomorrow against Tampa Bay, Friday against the Panthers, and Sunday in New York against the Rangers mark the time when it should be decided whether coach Guy Carbonneau should be given his walking papers or not. Giving 100% and losing can be excused, but giving 60% and losing is inexcusable. For me, not giving their all means the coach needs to be replaced.

And just think, I was a big fan of Carbonneau’s when he was a player. However, if the team starts winning, I’ll be a big fan of his as a coach too. But it doesn’t look great right now. I’m also starting to wonder about GM Bob Gainey, but first things first. Follow along with me even if you hate the Habs. Check the scores and see how they do in the next three games. The coach should be gone if they lose all three, or even two out of three. Follow along and treat it like it’s some kind of Deal or No Deal or something.

Sorting Through the Numbers and Not Missing Mike Ribeiro

Montreal has 7 less points than last year at this time, but what happened next isn’t going to happen this year. Beginning Dec 29th of last year, the team won only 9 out their next 35 games. But they had Huet and David Aebischer in goal last year and not Huet and Carey Price. There’s no way they’re going to be as pathetic this year.

Big game tonight in Dallas, the last before the short Christmas break.  And in the BIG overall picture, I need to win my yearly bet with Sandy, the one about who will finish with the most points, Montreal or those ridiculous Canucks. If there really is a Santa, he will come through for me. I need this bet. If you’ve heard Sandy, you know what I mean.

And one last thing about Dallas. Now that ex-Hab Mike Ribeiro is playing well with Dallas, people all over are saying what a mistake it was for Montreal to let him go. NO WAY. Ribeiro in Montreal was a selfish prima donna who only cared about if he played well, then his next contract would be better. It was all about money, not the team, for this immature player. I also saw with my own eyes the night with Pittsburgh in town and Montreal losing by a goal in a hard fought and important game, with a stoppage in play, Ribeiro skated over to Sidney Crosby and asked him if he could have his stick. Right then and there, I wanted Rebeiro out of Montreal. Ribeiro was never the kind of player I wanted on the Habs and I don’t care if he scores 50 goals this year with Dallas, I wouldn’t want him back.

Ovechkin Joins Habs Rumour

This article caught me off guard. I hadn’t heard this before today, and Todd makes some good points. Ovechkin is also best friends with the Habs’ rearguard Andrei Markov.  I can’t imagine what this would do for the team, both on and off the ice. If the team can’t land a French Canadian superstar like Vincent Lecavalier, then Ovechkin would be the next best thing. Talk about fire-wagon hockey. Here’s Jack Todd’s article, dated Dec. 21, 2007.

JACK TODD, The Gazette

Published: 13 hours ago

If you were watching the Canadiens’ 5-2 win over Washington last night, chances are your attention was about evenly divided between the Habs and the kid wearing No. 8 for the Capitals: the incomparable Alexander Ovechkin.

And chances are, more than a few of you closed your eyes and dreamed the dream:

Ovechkin wearing the CH.

True, Ovechkin showed only flashes of the form that makes him the most exciting player in the game – but there are dreams and there are dreams. All over the hockey world, there’s a rumour a minute and most of them last about that long. This is one dream that might have legs.

First of all, you can stop drooling over Vincent Lecavalier. It isn’t going to happen. Lecavalier does not want to play here, period. Has he said so? Not in so many words. Instead, he quietly re-upped in Tampa Bay, signing a long-term contract at a time when he could have opted for a one-year deal, free agency and a glorious return to Montreal.

Why? Lecavalier plays within 20 minutes of a beach. In the sunshine. Low taxes, few potholes, no need to deal with three dozen reporters at every morning skate wanting to know if it’s true that he’s dating Mitsou.

So if you’re going to dream in Technicolor, settle on a player who at least wants to play in this city. Better still, there’s a plausible scenario that could bring him to Montreal.

Ovechkin will be a restricted free agent after this season. This year, he’s earning a mere $1.3 million and the Capitals thought they could sign him for something similar to Sidney Crosby’s contract, which works out to $8.7 million a year for five years. But Ovechkin fired Don Meehan and turned his affairs over to a lawyer, with everything guided by his mother, Tatiana. Tatiana is apparently thinking something more in the $9-million to $10-million range.

Ovechkin and Russian teammate Alexander Semin will be restricted free agents and Washington will be hard put to satisfy both, and for the NHL to have a player like Ovechkin in a market like Washington is a crime. Night after night, Ovechkin plays to thousands of empty seats and in D.C., he always will. In Montreal, a so-so team without a marquee star in Ovechkin’s league can draw 21,273 for exhibitions.

Does Ovechkin like Montreal? Very much. He has never hesitated to say so. His best hockey buddy is Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov; last time the Habs were in Washington, reporters wanting to talk with Ovechkin had to wait half an hour while Ovechkin and Markov chatted on the ice.

But chitchat and sellouts are not going to bring Ovechkin to Montreal. A contract will – a big contract. If the Islanders can throw 15 years at Rick DiPietro and the Flyers are willing to give Mike Richards a dozen, why not a 15-year deal for Ovechkin? Is there a player in the league, apart from Crosby, as likely to make such a deal pay?

The Canadiens already know they may have to commit for at least a decade to keep Carey Price in the fold because Gary Bettman failed to foresee the potential impact of the decision to 1) offer restricted free agency early in a player’s career and 2) to sign a basic agreement without a cap on the length of contract.

You Didn’t Ask For It (But You Got It) – Fascinating Facts Again!

Facinating fact #1.  In Ottawa in the 1970’s, there was a tremendous fastball team called Turpin Pontiac (maybe they still exist), who were one of the best ball teams in Canada. They had a horn-rimmed glasses-wearing pitcher named Joe Belisle who looked like Dennis the Menace’s father. He probably weighed about 140 pounds and skinny as a rake. However, his pitching arm was twice as big as his other arm, and this was a guy who pitched mostly 1 or 2 hitters, with many, many no-hitters also. The ball was only a blur when he let it go. And one of the guys who played outfield for Turpin Pontiac was a big, strapping long-ball hitting red-head named Larry Robinson, who happened to play defence for the Montreal Canadiens in the off-season.

Faxcinating fact #2. When I was about 12, my grandmother told me the daughter of a friend of hers was getting married in Orillia on a Saturday, to the trainer of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bobby Haggart. So I scrambled on up to the church, and the entire Leafs team was standing outside the church. Bobby Baun, Frank Mahovlich, Tim Horton, Johnny Bower, Dave Keon, everybody. I got autographs, and the next day at Mass, me and my mom and dad sat right behind Dave Keon and his wife.

Fascinating fact #3. Several years ago, my sister Carla and I used to do this silly little thing like say, “You know Carla, I’ve known a lot of people in my life —and you’re one of them. Or “You know Dennis, I’ve seen a lot of men in my life — and you’re one of them.” You get the picture. Just silly stuff. So one day, somewhere, maybe Calgary, Ken Dryden was signing his book at a bookstore and Carla bought one for me and had Ken sign it this way- “Dennis, I’ve had a lot of fans in my life, —and you’re one of them. Ken Dryden.”

Facinating fact #4.  Rocket Richard was never really associated with being a practical joker, but he had that streak in him. One time on the train the team was travelling on, his coach Dick Irvin Sr. had brought along a bunch of caged prize pigeons that Irvin had shown at some agriculture fair somewhere. The Rocket tried to let the pigeons out of their cages but other guys on the team stopped him.

Fascinating fact #5. Emile ‘Bouch’ Bouchard was a big strapping defenceman for the Canadiens in the 1940’s and ’50’s. He was their captain for a period of time. The fascinating part of this story is that he didn’t own a pair of skates until he was 16, and four years later he’d made the NHL.

Fascinating fact #6.  Terry Sawchuk died after having a serious and drunken wrestling match on the front lawn of his house with teammate Ron Stewart. He was 40 years old.

Fascinating fact #7.  I grew up just down the street from Rick Ley, who was a solid defenceman for the Leafs in the late 1960’s and into the ’70’s. He also played for the New England Whalers in the WHA and has his sweater retired in Hartford. He then went on to a coaching career in Vancouver and Toronto. But the big news is that when we were kids, him and I would skate on an outdoor rink before school, and in the summer, during a pickup baseball game, with him pitching and me catching without a mask, the batter tipped one of Ley’s pitches and the ball knocked my front tooth out. I’ve worn dentures ever since.

Fascinating fact #8  In the late 1960’s, Rick Ley’s older brother Ron and his redneck buddies threatened to take me behind the pool hall and cut my long hair.

Reasons Why the Team Didn’t Win Last Night

It almost makes me sick when I think about this.

The overall scenario is this. The Habs had been in a deep funk for a month, couldn’t win at home, and the guys who are expected to be in the forefront were instead sucking exhaust. Guys like Saku Koivu, who had fallen off the star cliff and had held on to his respect soley by his great leadership and personal good deeds around the city. I mean, everyone everywhere loves Saku Koivu. I do too, although not as much as my wife and Sophia Loren. Anyway, it’s great that everyone loves Saku, but the problem is, he’s forgotten how to score goals. But three games ago, the team played great and won in Philadelphia. Then on Saturday night, the team won again, and sacre bleu! (I don’t know the Finnish equivalent), Saku got two big goals.

Now the team is flying, but before you can sing that incessant Bell Centre sorry excuse for a song, this no name bunch of scalliwags, the Florida Panthers, come in to Montreal, and wouldn’t you know it,  scurry out of town with a 3-2 win. In the process, Montreal played with no enthusiasm, were booed throughout the night, and now they’re back to square one. (can’t win at home, back in a slump, Koivu not producing, etc. etc.)

So there has to be a reason. And this is it.

The Christmas party. During the big snowstorm a few days back, the team was lucky enough to be in Montreal with several days off before they played Florida. And they had a Christmas party.

And down the drain went the focus. Maybe a few wives don’t like each other and this caused complications. Maybe some players had too much to drink. Maybe cliques raised their ugly heads. Maybe getting more tail than usual back at the ranch wore them out. Maybe someone said something to the boss (Carbonneau). Who knows? Overall, they probably weren’t thinking as much as they should about the upcoming game.

Last but not least – the turkey at the Christmas party. Too much turkey causes listlessness, cramps, and an overwhelming desire to nap.

I say cancel Christmas parties for the team and reschedule them in July.

My Friend, Gary Lupul

Several Months ago, my friend Gary Lupul passed away. He was an ex-Vancouver Canuck, a proud Powell Riverite, and a guy I was close to. The following is my column about Gary published in the Powell River Peak, July 26, 2007.


The last time I saw Gary was about a month ago, and he promised to come over to my house for a barbeque after he got back from seeing his daughter in Vancouver.

Now he won’t be coming. He’s gone, and there’ll be no more stories, no more happy visits, no more of a lot of things from this fantastic, down-to-earth, happy-go-lucky guy. A big hole has entered my life and it’s not going to go away.

Some athletes carry a distant persona long after they’ve retired from the spotlight. Some are almost unapproachable. Many have large egos, stroked from their years in front of cameras. But not Gary. This ex-Canuck connected with everyone, from every walk of life. He’d had his own hard knocks, and you could see in his eyes and voice that he had special feelings, a sort of kinship, for those who’d been through tough times. You could also see he was equally at home at the other end of the spectrum, and so he was everyman.

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When you were with Gary, you saw what his larger-than-life character could do. People couldn’t help but smile when he was around. They laughed because he was a really funny guy. He wanted to know how everyone was doing, from the kids to the job, to all of the family. He was interested in everyone, and it was genuine because he had such a huge heart. He was a hard one to go to a hockey game with because he couldn’t sit still. He was always up and about, saying hello to people, mixing with the crowd, and being his friendly self. I used to just give up wondering where he’d gone and watch the game, knowing he’d come back to his seat eventually.

When Gary was scouting in Ontario, he’d phone me from his car from time to time, telling me where he was, filling me in on some of the young guns he’d seen play, or that he was just passing through my hometown, Orillia, and how nice it was. And he always asked about my health and my life, because he cared and I truly felt this.

I watched him weave his magic around children. I saw all the time how much he loved Powell River. And he was puzzled that my team was the Habs and not the Canucks, who he never stopped loving and who were certainly part of his heart and soul.

Years ago, when I was having my own problems, before I remarried and got things back on track, and Gary had yet to get his scouting job with the Canucks, we would spend nights until dawn sharing our thoughts. They were marathon chats, just letting things out, and it was at these times when we really bonded. It wasn’t long ago, on one of those times when he phoned from Ontario, that we talked about how important those all-night talks were, and how grateful we both were for them.

Gary loved people so much, and he worried that because his personal troubles had cut his career short, he hadn’t lived up to everyone’s expectations. But in my eyes, and in all his friends’ eyes, he met every expectation. He was one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. I’m really going to miss him.

 
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The Boys Win Big On Hockey Night In Canada

Sometimes the blog has to be serious, like now, because the team, led by Saku Koivu, pummelled the Leafs on a classic Saturday night tilt, and this win was big, really big, in so many ways. Koivu has been a target of trade rumours lately because of mediocre play, and he scored the first two goals. The team’s been in a horrific slump. Carey Price almost had his first NHL shutout except for a weak goal scored with four minutes left. (Of course, Toronto scored only because those singing fools at the Bell Centre decided to sing that ridiculous song with ten minutes left.) And the Russian brothers, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn played with great energy, racked up three points, and were a force to be reckoned with. This game made me very proud.

Speaking of the Kostitsyn brothers, some very creative guy wrote this on the official Habs forum, which I wish I would’ve thought of. “If the Kostitsyn brothers were put on a line with Mathieu Dandenault, they could call the line “a Dandy pair of Tits!”

One last thing before I eat some spaghetti and get ready to work a graveyard. My father, who has lived just north of Toronto for 87 years, phoned before the game and said he hoped Montreal would clobber the Leafs. The other day, my friend Mike, in Toronto, said “&$@% the Leafs,” and during tonight’s game, Tony B. in Powell River phoned and said what a great game and if the Habs blew it, he’d stop watching hockey. So my point is this: Just because you live near an NHL team, like my dad north of Toronto, and Mike in Toronto, and Tony near Vancouver, doesn’t mean you gotta cheer for the Leafs or the Canucks. How many times do I have repeat this, CANUCKS FANS?

What, They Won? Get outta Here!

The team won last night! Weird. Yep, they beat Philadelphia 4-1, and they beat them good, real good. Michael Ryder was a healthy scratch, and deservingly so because unless he’s shows me otherwise, he’s a bum who probably thinks he’s a star and has gotten lazy, thinking his really good wrist shot is gonna get him by without having to do anything else. It’s too bad because he’s a good Canadian newfie but he needs to be traded. And if he continues this shitty play for another couple of years, even with another team, he’ll be out of the league for good. Geez I should be helping Bob Gainey make the decisions. I also should be replacing Red Fisher as resident team writer. I also should have an apartment at the Bell Centre like Conn Smythe had at Maple Leaf Gardens. Why am I being punished like this?

The team plays Toronto on Saturday night. Will they win? Will Michael Ryder play? Will Marie Osmond faint? Stay tuned. This is big stuff.