Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

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.

Conn Smythe Was Only Sort-Of-A-Nice-Man

Conn Smythe, after building Maple Leaf Gardens and a successful franchise, the Leafs, was offered the presidency of the entire league so the other owners would finally have him out of the way. But Smythe said no way was he becoming a yes-man to the owners. So they hired Clarence Campbell, a name you know, who was the definitive yes-man and a guy the owners, especially Smythe, could manipulate like a puppet. Years later, someone asked Stafford Smythe, Conn’s son who succeeded dad as Maple Leaf president, why they didn’t get rid of Campbell who would, from time to time, piss owners off. Stafford replied, “Where would we find another Rhodes scholar, graduate lawyer, decorated war hero, and former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who will do what he’s told?” So now think about the St. Patrick’s Day riot in 1955 in Montreal, when Campbell suspended Rocket Richard for the remainder of the season, plus all of the playoffs. Owners, especially Smythe, had been fed up with the Rocket causing havoc throughout the league and wanted him curbed. So you can bet your bippy that they had their puppet, Campbell, do their dirty work for them with that gigantic suspension.

When you see a single house being built that takes maybe a year to finish, think about this. Maple Leaf Gardens was built during the depression in five months. FIVE MONTHS! Smythe recruited several rich buddies to invest, and when the money fell short by several hundred thousand dollars, Smythe convinced the workers to trade twenty percent of their wages for shares in the Gardens. The thing got built and the workers’ shares, that were bought for a dollar a piece, quickly increased by a hundred-fold.

Smythe had a beautiful apartment built in the innards of the Gardens where he practically lived most of the time and where he called many Gardens employees to so he could fire them. I would have liked an office like this but I would have preferred the Forum. He also had his mansion, and a ranch where he raised prize racing horses.

Conn Smythe was instrumental in not giving in to the ideas of the players to form a players association (union) and managed to prolong it for ten years, mostly by convincing all the teams to trade the main instigators, like Ted Lindsay and Doug Harvey, to other teams. He was very proud of this accomplishment. He also lobbied for years to stop Harvey Busher Jackson, one of his players throughout the 1940’s in Toronto, from being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame because he disapproved of Jackson’s drinking and womanizing. Smythe eventually quit hockey completely when Jackson was finally inducted in 1971. He also didn’t like Roman Catholics and was mortified when son Stafford fell in love with and married one.

Conn Smythe was a piece of work, but raised countless dollars for crippled children. So he was sort-of-a-nice-man. I’m sure Lawrence will say he was a nice man and there’s two sides to every story. And one last thing for Lawrence. In the 1920’s Smythe’s amateur football and hockey teams played big games up in Orillia, my home town, and always got pummeled.

The Continuing Saga of: FASCINATING FACTS!!

Interesting fact: My pee wee coach in Orillia played 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1943-44 season. He had one goal and 31 penalty minutes. AND NOT ONLY THAT:  He played alongside Punch Imlach for the Quebec Aces in the old Quebec Senior League and played against the Rocket before Richard joined the Habs. Does it get any more interesting than this?

Interesting fact:  I went to the Forum in the early 1980’s to pick up an autographed stick they had waiting for me because I had phoned and asked for one. (no shit.) Afterwards, I was down at the bottom of the stairs somewhere in the Forum, wrapping my new stick in my coat, when Jean Beliveau appeared on the stairs above me. He saw me and jumped. I think he thought I had a gun.

Interesting fact: When I lived in Ottawa, it was a known fact that Doug Harvey, the greatest defenceman of all time after Bobby Orr, lived in some kind of railway car at the race track in Hull, completely down and out, with a drinking problem. So what did I do? Nothing. Nothing at all. Didn’t go there. Didn’t bring him any smokes or a bottle. Didn’t invite him home for a turkey dinner. Nothing. Geez, this would have made an interesting story.

Interesting fact: Conn Smythe let the Habs have Dick Irvin as their coach, even though Irvin was a good and successful coach in Toronto, because Smythe wanted his man Hap Day, a good, religious company man and supreme ass kisser, to coach. Irvin went on to coach Montreal for 15 years where he won 3 Stanley Cups and let his son, broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr., sit on the players bench from time to time when junior was a kid. Hap Day, in Toronto, won 5 Cups, but I don’t want to talk about that except that maybe it was good for Toronto to have a coach who liked to kiss his boss’s ass.

The Biggest Question In The History Of The World

The question is this: Why do so many people, through so many generations, hate the Habs? It seems like more than any other team, probably even Toronto, Montreal is despised by way too many hockey fans from coast to coast. Except, of course, if you love them. And there’s lots of those. So I’ve been thinking about it.

The most common thing, Habs-haters whine, is the smugness of their fans. That look on Montreal fans’ faces really gets to people. I’ve been hearing this argument all my life, and frankly, I don’t get it. Has anyone ever paid attention to the smugness surrounding Canucks’ fans? Or Senators’ fans? I’ll bet the smugness enveloped all of Edmonton in the 1980’s. Calgary fans get really sickenly smug when their team’s winning. The bottom line is this. If we were smug in the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, it’s because our team was better than yours. And anyway, I always made a real effort to be anti-smug around others. Also, why would we be smug nowadays? We’re not. We’re mad and disappointed that our team isn’t doing better. So get over it and grow up.

The generation of Habs haters today probably got it from their fathers. And their fathers got it from their fathers. All because our team beat their team on a regular basis. So today’s haters aren’t even unique. They’re just mindless robots programmed to think like their daddies. There’s lots of New York Yankees and Manchester United haters too. Could it be that people resent success? It’s very sad indeed.

The English-French thing. Everyone likes to talk about how shameful it is in the southern US when it comes to African-Americans, but get talking about “frogs” and they’re off and running for three hours. People associate the Montreal Canadiens with politics, separation, and maybe even the melting of the icecaps. You say they had the pick of the litter in Quebec for so many years and that’s why they had strong teams. So what? The Habs had Quebec sewn up for awhile, but the other teams had the rest of North America to choose from, and even a few french guys left over. Toronto basically had the same thing going in Ontario, with St. Michael’s College and Kirkland Lake, for example. So if you can’t draft properly from Ontario, the Maritimes, the prairies, the west coast, and the northern parts of the US, then you don’t deserve to win! What a sorry excuse for losing.

The Rocket won scoring titles because all the good players were overseas and he stayed? First, the Rocket wanted badly to join the army but was refused because of health reasons like broken bones etc. This is a known fact. Secondly, why didn’t others who played in the war years score like he did? Thirdly, he played 18 years in the league, starting in 1942 when the war was half over, and his first two years were write-offs because of injuries. He was a star among stars in the years afterwards, when everyone was playing.

Some of the finest battalions in the Canadian army were from Quebec, like the famous Van Doos. These people fought for us and I’m sure were great people. Maurice Richard loved Canada, all of Canada. Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur are staunch nationalists. and feel the same way as the Rocket did. Heck, I hear that the lotteries are rigged because so many from Quebec win. You need to grow up about this one.  You’ve never had a problem with Mario Lemieux, Vincent Lecavalier, Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, and all those other Quebecers who don’t or didn’t play for Montreal. So you’ve got selective thinking. Grow up and repeat after me – “I’m gonna quit being jealous. I’m gonna quit being jealous.”

The Thing Growing From My Deck

Some kind of other-worldly park bench is growing from my deck. Dogs and cats run away shrieking. It’s making me nervous. It just sits there, quiet, not moving, almost like it’s ready to strike at any moment. It has a number 9 on the back. What could that mean? Why is it here? What does it want? Will it hurt those dogs and cats? Stay tuned.

Let The Record Show

Let the record show that on this day, Friday, November 17, 2007, the Montreal Canadiens, while playing in Buffalo, SUCKED RAT DROPPINGS FROM A MOULDY RUG.

They lost 4-1 because Kovalev, Koivu, Higgins, Plecanec, and a dozen others played like they’d spent the night playing doctor with Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, overdosing on Buffalo wings, and chug-a-lugging Russian vodka that Kovalev’s mother shipped over.

Why do I even bother.

Me and the boys are almost like brothers: Fascinating Facts

Fascinating Fact #1.   I once phoned old Hall of Famer and ex-Hab Bert Olmstead (1948-1961) in Calgary just to talk about the old days with the Rocket and Stanley Cups etc. He hung up on me.

Fascinating Fact #2. I once sat in an old beer parlour in Ottawa and drank beer with ancient ex-Hab Aurel Joliet (1922-1938). I asked him what he thought about the Rocket and he poo pooed the question. He said his old buddy Howie Morenz (1923-1937) was way better, then his eyes got misty. He signed the cast on my arm and I drove him home.

Fascinating Fact #3. I met the Rocket (1942-1960) when he was refereeing an old-timers game in Calgary. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was about 8 years old. He said he didn’t remember. My sister took a picture of him, then the Rocket said he wanted a picture of him with my sister.

Fascinating Fact #4. My dad took me to a Montreal-Toronto game back in the 1950’s. Somehow he corralled coach Toe Blake in the lobby and asked him to take my hockey book into the dressing room and get Doug Harvey (1947-1969) to sign it. He did.

Fascinating Fact #4. When I had my restaurant, Frank Mahovlich (1956-1974) came in. He told me the Montreal organization was first class and way better than the Leaf organization. We fed him a spaghetti dinner. He didn’t pay for it. After that we called him Frank MaCheapovich.

Fascinating Fact #5. I once had breakfast with old Chicago and various other teams goalie Glenn Hall. (1952-1971.) He told me Gordie Howe (1946-1980) was better than the Rocket. Even so, I still paid for his breakfast.

Fascinating Fact #6. I once talked to the Habs Jim Roberts (1963-1978) when I was about 13 and at a game at the Old Forum (not the new Forum, which the Old became after it was renovated in 1969.) He was nice to me and I decided to start a Jim Roberts fan club. I didn’t because I decided it was too much work and he wasn’t a good enough player.

Fascinating Fact #7. My friend Leo Brosseau said old Hab goalie Bill Durnan (1944-1950) used to come in to his father’s bar in the Ottawa Valley in the early 1950’s. Leo said the guy was an asshole when he got drunk and kept getting thrown out.

When Things Get Going

Last year at this time, after 17 games, Montreal’s record was a blistering 10-4-3. And not only that, they went on to win the next five out of six games. I was worried management might neglect to plan the Stanley Cup parade down Ste. Catherines past the old Forum.

They carried on into December and by late in the month, their record was a quite lovely 22-9-5. Fans at the Bell Centre were singing that nauseous song far too often.  After that, though, with the help of three separate six game losing steaks, they ended up not making the playoffs.

This year, after 17 games, lo and behold, the team is 10-4-3, exactly the same as last year. Fans are singing that obnoxious song again. But will the team fall apart again? Nope. Because instead of David Aebisher in goal, there is Carey Price. As young as he is, he’s going to lead this team to the promised land. (The Forum ghosts, who I talk to, told me this.) And when this happens, the sky will open, the sun will shine, and Montreal fans who have stuck with the mediocrity for so long will wake from their slumber and smile, and Daniel  Briere will kick himself in the nuts and have nightmares for the rest of his life.