Category Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Watching In Style As Montreal Wins In Phoenix

Three big things happened in the last little while. Montreal beat Phoenix 4-2, they grabbed first place in the east again because of this win, and I watched the game on my brand new TV.

And not only did I watch the game on my new TV, but I also watched it on RDS French which shows every Habs game but you need a a box or digital cable to get it, which I now have.

And even though I don’t speak a lot of French, it’s no problem watching hockey on a French network. The players names are the same, and the puck does the same thing. Any hockey fan worth his or her salt can enjoy a game even if they don’t understand the announcers.

So it was interesting to see a game in Phoenix. I’m not sure if I ever have before, and the big thing that sticks out is there were a serious number of Habs fans there, with Montreal jerseys all over the place. Phoenix, of course, gets a lot of snowbirds, so the rink was packed with Canadians seeing their Canadiens.

I also thought Wayne Gretzky had a pretty expensive-looking suit with snazzy cream- coloured tie.

It wasn’t good that the Habs gave up 39 shots, but it seems like Carey Price rebounded just fine from his weak performance in San Jose. However, I’m really hoping Carbonneau plays Halak in Los Angeles on Saturday so the guy can get some work under his belt.  

After Los Angeles on Saturday, the boys get a real test Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks. (Isn’t ‘Ducks’ a really stupid name?)

But for now anyway, the team’s in first place in the east and my new TV, which is way bigger than my old TV, is pretty darn fantastic.

Remembering Doug Harvey

The following is my column in the Powell River Peak, published March 3, 2008. doug.jpg                           

Unless you’re very young, or have never paid particular attention to hockey, you probably know who Doug Harvey is. You might know only that he was a hockey player a long time ago. But maybe you know he’s rated as the sixth greatest player of all time, and it’s between him and Bobby Orr as the game’s best defenceman ever.

He played for the Montreal Canadiens alongside Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, and the rest of the cast of iconic 1950’s characters, and he was, with the Rocket, my boyhood hero. When I was a kid, my dad even corralled coach Toe Blake one night at Maple leaf Gardens in Toronto to go into the dressing room and get Harvey’s autograph for me.

Doug Harvey’s gone now, but I still think about him, so a few weeks ago, I did what I had to do. I phoned his son in the Maritimes.

Doug Harvey Jr. is 57 years old, is proud of his dad, and he was happy to talk about him. What was it like, I asked, being the son of such a star? “It was probably just like you and your dad,” he said. “We were just a family like everyone else. Kids at school didn’t treat me any different, and when I played hockey, there were no names on the sweaters, so no one gave me a hard time at the rink. “I guess one thing that might be different was that players would come over to the house quite often – Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, the Rocket a few times. When dad was building our house, most of the team helped him.”Even the kids of the Montreal Canadiens found a connection, probably because they had so much in common. “We lived near a lot of the players,” continued Doug Jr., “and I was a good buddy with Toe Blake’s son. And it’s funny too, my brother has been dating Dickie Moore’s daughter for a few years now, and dad and Dickie were best friends.”Doug Jr. remembers too how sometimes his dad’s job interfered with a family trying to have a normal life. “My mom would get upset with dad because we’d go to games on schools nights from time to time, and for an eight o’clock game, he’d be at the old Forum at 5:30 and stay for a couple of hours afterward signing autographs for people. We wouldn’t get home until after midnight and we had to get up in the morning for school.”

Doug Harvey was a genuine free spirit, a practical joker, a fun-loving guy, a kind-hearted person, and a supremely gifted hockey player. He dominated on the ice in the old ‘original six’ NHL, controlling the game, slowing it down or speeding it up, making precise passes, setting the pace, and was a leader among men.

He was a general on the ice, and won the Norris trophy for best defenceman a remarkable seven times.

Slowly though, over the years, his health began to fail, and then, in 1989, at 65 years of age, the great Doug Harvey passed away.

“I remember visiting him in the hospital and he was usually in good spirits,” said Doug Jr. “One time I was in the corridor and I heard laughter coming from his room. Inside, Bobby Orr and Don Cherry were there cheering up my dad.”

And I’m sure, after all I’ve read, and after talking to Doug Jr., the man with the big heart was cheering them up too.

We’re Not All Part Of Leaf Nation: Especially Habs Fans

Since I started this blog, the following topic has been bugging me, especially since I don’t have any specialty channels to see the Habs more often. It alway seems like the Leafs are the priority.  William Houston of the Globe and Mail does a nice job saying just what I was thinking. Here’s his fine column.  

  We don’t all live in Leaf Nation you know

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

With a month remaining in the NHL’s regular season, Hockey Night in Canada should be moving to increase its coverage of the Canadian teams outside the centre of the hockey universe.Leading up to last Saturday, the two leading NHL stories in this country were the dismissal of John Paddock as coach of the Ottawa Senators and the surprising success of the Montreal Canadiens, who gave the starting goaltending job to rookie Carey Price, who won his first two games.Despite the cheery optimism of Mats Sundin & Co., the Toronto Maple Leafs are unlikely to make the playoffs.Still, the conversation on the most recent Hockey Night focused almost entirely on the Leafs, 12th in the Eastern Conference.

The first intermission Coach’s Corner: Not a word about a Canadian team outside Toronto. Heavy discussion about Leafs rookie Jeremy Williams and Sundin’s decision to stay in Toronto.

Second intermission Hotstove panel: More talk about the Leafs — speculation about Sundin and the next Leafs general manager. Nothing about Ottawa, Montreal or the other NHL teams in Canada, except Vancouver, which was mentioned in passing as perhaps a destination for unsigned Swedish star Fabian Brunnstrom.

To be fair, Hockey Night aired a feature on the Canadiens during its afternoon Pittsburgh Penguins-Senators telecast. And the pregame show carried reports on Ottawa and Montreal.

However, in the important slot of 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. (ET), when one million-plus viewers tune into the CBC, the Leafs dominated the conversation.

This seems self-defeating, because when the playoffs start, Hockey Night will be hoping that one million or more viewers become interested in, and watch, the Senators and the Canadiens, as well as the Calgary Flames and the Canucks, assuming they make the playoffs.

Don Cherry controls the subject matter of Coach’s Corner, but Hockey Night has the ability to increase the relevancy of the Hotstove outside Toronto.

Montreal-based P.J. Stock makes the occasional appearance, but on most Saturdays the three commentators are from Toronto. The programming mandate for Hotstove is originality and that is accomplished by the Toronto panel some of the time, but a good amount of the content also consists of speculation or information that has been touched on elsewhere.

Hockey Night made the right move last week when it increased the distribution of the New Jersey Devils-Canadiens game to include Manitoba-West as well as Quebec. But a bolder statement would have been to place the Habs in Atlantic Canada as well, limiting Leafs-Washington Capitals to Ontario.

The CBC will decide later this week on the distribution of the two 7 p.m. games for this Saturday, Devils-Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes-Senators.

If Toronto picks up two wins this week, perhaps placing Devils-Leafs in most of the country makes sense. If not, Coyotes-Senators would be the better choice.

Making Things Right. Talking About The Vancouver Canucks. You’re Welcome, Lawrence.

In Lawrence’s comment today, he asked, because he’s on some sort of west coast hallucinatory drug, that I mention the Vancouver Canucks. Normally I prefer to write about only important things, but because Lawrence needs to read about the Canucks, I’ll try.

The Vancouver Canucks entered the NHL in 1970-71. Since then, they’ve only missed the playoffs 15 times. They made it to the Stanley Cup finals once, in 1994. Lawrence likes to dwell a lot on 1994. They didn’t win of course, but Lawrence, it seems, doesn’t mind just coming close.

The Canucks are known for their, uh, milkwagon hockey. They have one jersey retired, Stan Smyl’s number 12. Stan Smyl had 262 goals in 14 seasons there. That’s an average of 18 goals a year. He’s the best player in Canucks history, this 18 goal a year guy.

Of course there’s been other stars over the years for Vancouver. Todd Bertuzzi, for one, who every Canucks’ fan, including Lawrence, should be mighty proud of. There’s Darcy Rota, Doug Lidster, Ron Sedlbauer, Larry Gould. Legends all. Players who made fans jump out of their seats. Milkwagon hockey! And there’s more, lots more –   Jeff  Rohlicek, Garth Rizzuto, Roman Oksiuta, Jim Nill. The list is endless.

And last but not least, Lawrence’s all time favourite, Trevor Linden. Trevor will be in the Hall of Fame some day. All it’ll cost him is the $9.95 ticket to get through the door. 

Lawrence was right. I’ve neglected all this time to mention the Vancouver Canucks. But I hope I’ve made up for it now. 

I just don’t know what got into me. 

A Loss Like This To The San Jose Sharks Means There’s Still Work To Be Done

It’s not so much the loss tonight in San Jose that bothers me. Teams lose, whether they’re the 1958 Montreal Canadiens, the 1985 Edmonton Oilers, or the 1979 Soviet National team. No team can go forever without losing. It’s impossible, like robbing bank after bank and never getting caught.

But Monday night in San Jose, Montreal didn’t just lose, they lost ugly. They lost by giving up 39 shots and 6 goals, which is unacceptable in anyone’s books. Ordained number one goalie Carey Price, coming into tonight’s game, had given up a stingy four goals in three games. Now tonight, it’s six. Hopefully this one game won’t blow his recently regained confidence.

39 shots on goal is not at all what the doctor ordered. Granted, the team kept it close all night, staying within a goal for most of it, but in the end this 6-4 loss is a loss is a loss. 

At least Ottawa fell to the Anaheim Ducks on this same night, losing 3-1 and stays behind Montreal in the eastern standings.

So now it’s time to rebound. It’s time to get stingy again, to tighten up, to score more on the power play, to win big.

Thursday night in Phoenix, let’s show Wayne Gretzky and those desert dogs that the Montreal Canadiens mean business. 

GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Pittsburgh Penguins* 67 37 23   7 81 198 185 19-10-5 18-13-2 5-3-2
2 Montréal Canadiens* 67 36 22   9 81 213 190 16-12-5 20-10-4 7-3-0
3 Carolina Hurricanes* 68 34 29   5 73 203 213 19-12-3 15-17-2 7-2-1
4 New Jersey Devils 66 37 23   6 80 172 156 21-12-1 16-11-5 6-2-2
5 Ottawa Senators 67 37 24   6 80 217 202 20-12-3 17-12-3 3-5-2
6 Boston Bruins 65 35 24   6 76 179 180 17-12-3 18-12-3 7-2-1
7 New York Rangers 66 34 24   8 76 175 164 21-13-0 13-11-8 7-1-2
8 Philadelphia Flyers 66 33 25   8 74 203 189 14-12-6 19-13-2 3-4-3
9 Buffalo Sabres 66 31 26   9 71 200 192 17-12-4 14-14-5 4-5-1
10 Washington Capitals 67 31 28   8 70 197 202 17-14-3 14-14-5 4-3-3
11 New York Islanders 67 31 29   7 69 164 193 17-15-3 14-14-4 6-4-0
12 Toronto Maple Leafs 67 29 28   10 68 186 208 16-12-5 13-16-5 6-3-1
13 Florida Panthers 68 29 31   8 66 181 196 12-13-7 17-18-1 3-4-3
14 Atlanta Thrashers 67 29 31   7 65 178 219 16-14-3 13-17-4 3-4-3
15 Tampa Bay Lightning 65 26 32   7 59 183 213 16-16-2 10-16-5 3-5-2
Western Conference
Rank GP W L   OT Pts GF GA Home Away L10
1 Detroit Red Wings* 67 43 18   6 92 209 150 21-8-2 22-10-4 2-7-1
2 Dallas Stars* 69 41 23   5 87 207 171 21-11-2 20-12-3 7-3-0
3 Minnesota Wild* 66 37 24   5 79 179 177 19-10-3 18-14-2 5-4-1
4 Anaheim Ducks 68 38 23   7 83 173 165 22-8-4 16-15-3 9-1-0
5 San Jose Sharks 66 37 21   8 82 176 159 15-13-5 22-8-3 6-4-0
6 Calgary Flames 66 34 23   9 77 186 185 16-10-8 18-13-1 6-3-1
7 Vancouver Canucks 65 32 23   10 74 172 167 17-11-5 15-12-5 5-2-3
8 Colorado Avalanche 66 34 26   6 74 183 180 19-11-2 15-15-4 4-5-1
9 Nashville Predators 66 33 25   8 74 193 190 20-10-4 13-15-4 5-3-2
10 Phoenix Coyotes 66 33 28   5 71 176 176 14-15-3 19-13-2 5-4-1
11 Columbus Blue Jackets 67 30 27   10 70 164 176 16-10-6 14-17-4 4-4-2
12 Chicago Blackhawks 65 31 28   6 68 187 188 17-13-1 14-15-5 7-3-0
13 Edmonton Oilers 66 31 30   5 67 182 200 19-14-1 12-16-4 6-4-0
14 St Louis Blues 65 28 27   10 66 161 180 18-13-5 10-14-5 3-5-2
15 Los Angeles Kings 67 26 36   5 57 193 224 14-17-2 12-19-3 3-5-2

x – clinched playoff spot

A Good Rocket Richard Story As The Habs Prepare For The San Jose Sharks

the-rocket.jpg The big game in San Jose is still hours away, so in the meantime, here’s a little ditty to keep you amused. In my mind, at least, you can’t go wrong with a good Rocket Richard story.

After the Rocket had retired in 1960, he went on the banquet circuit. He was in Boston one night for a B’nai B’rith dinner, and when it was his turn to speak he got up and said, “I’m happy to be back in Boston. I came here regularly in my 18 years as a player. We beat the Bruins eight or nine times in the playoffs.  We always won. Guess that’s why I like it here so much.”

Then he sat down.

Footnotes From The Day After The Night Before. Being Especially Proud of The Montreal Canadiens Today

I’m in first place this morning. Actually, the Montreal Canadiens are in first place, but because me and Mike Williamson and scores of other fans have stuck with them through thick and thin over decades and decades, we’re part of the team too. We’re team members, we just don’t lace on the skates. 1st.jpg

When the score was tied 1-1 last night, my wife was laying on the couch, very tired from getting up early. I jokingly said to her we should go for a beer after the game. Surprisingly, she said if Montreal won, we would. They did and we did! What a wife!

I got an email from Rick the trucker informing me that cows don’t have balls, bulls do. (Feb. 27 post). Hey, if it stands in a field and moos from time to time, and eats and shits at the same time, it’s a cow even if it is a bull.cow-power.jpg

Martin Brodeur would have been a fine Montreal Canadien. He was born and raised in Montreal and his dad, Denis, was the Habs official photographer for years and years. I’m sure young Martin was a big Habs fan growing up. Just like Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, and Vladislav Tretiak. But we’re doing just fine without him, thank you very much.

When I heard the fans at the Bell Centre chanting ‘Go Habs Go’ it brought me back to another time. Unlike the past several years, I could hear real passion in last night’s chant. It felt like it was during Montreal-Boston, or the Nordiques, etc. playoff games at the old Forum. It was dramatic. It was spine-tingling. It was music to my ears.game-photo.jpg

The New Jersey Devils are a contender every year because they never change the way they approach their game. They smother the other team with checking and don’t worry a great deal about scoring. It’s effective, and really, really boring.

The Devils also blamed the officiating for the loss.

I hope Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire, and all the big-shot television experts learn something from this. They, in their wisdom, picked Montreal to finish out of the playoffs, in about 14th place. Maybe next year they should just say that there’s no way of telling.

During this weeks’ west coast swing, it’d be nice to see the Habs new backup goalie Jaroslav Halak, get some work. Maybe Carbonneau could start him against Phoenix, and if he plays well, let him go again in Los Angeles. It’d be a nice little breather for Carey Price, who could play in San Jose Monday and Anaheim next Sunday.

Dramatic Win Against The Devils. Up Now, A West Coast Road Trip for the Habs.

palm-trees.jpgMontreal showed the hockey world tonight that they can play any style, against any team, and are a team to be reckoned with as playoff time draws closer.

A close, well-played 2-1 win against the tight-fisted Devils just may have finally woke up those on the TSN panel and elsewhere that Montreal needs to be included in the elite pack who could win the Stanley Cup. After all, Les Canadiens now are the proud holders of first place in all the east.

I was just as proud of my team tonight as I was the night they came back from 5-0 against New York to win 6-5.

After tonight’s game, the boys hop on a plane and fly to sunny California and Arizona for games Monday in San Jose, Thursday in Phoenix, Saturday in LA, and Sunday in Anaheim. Ryan O’Byrne will be in bed reading his Gideon’s bible by 10 PM every night during this road trip.

nabokov_playerimage.jpg      gretz.jpg    kings.jpg    rubber-duck.jpg    beer.jpgOf course every game’s a big game, and it’s great that the team can get out of Montreal where there’s been so much snow and deepfreeze, but these warm- climate trips can often be a problem. Montreal’s record in Florida over the years has been less than stellar, and the latest escapade in Tampa Bay with O’Byrne capped it. And California hasn’t always been kind to our guys either.

It’s pretty hard to concentrate on the task at hand when there’s pool-side sitting, bikini- watching, and golf-playing to be had. The home teams down in these areas are used to this less-than-hockey world lifestyle, but for the Habs coming down from the great white north, it’s like a kid in the candy store.

I hope it rains, a hurricane comes up, a tornado blows in, hail falls, sleet whips across, and the south-west experiences the coldest March in history. Just so they don’t lose focus.

Maybe Jean Beliveau will come along and babysit. But I don’t believe they’ll need it. Montreal’s on a mission. I haven’t seen them play this well in years.

Pre-Game Rituals Before The Big Game in Buffalo. And Then The Big Win Happens

It’s 2:20 pm Pacific time and the boys are in Buffalo sharpening their skates, blow-torching sticks and drinking umpteen cups of coffee and a Red Bull or two, while ticket takers and ushers and hot dog vendors slowly drift in to ready themselves for when the Habs trounce the Sabres.slum.jpg         more-slum.jpg

                                            (Here’s a couple of pictures of some of the nicer parts of Buffalo.)

I’ve got my pre-game ritual in motion too. Head over to TC’s pub for some drafts, eat lasagna for energy, and today, as an extra little ritual, laugh my head off because rental Marian Hossa got injured in his first game with the Penguins and will be out a week or longer!

Pittsburgh gave up some crazy talent (Christensen, Armstrong, and Angelo Esposito, AND A FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK!) for Hossa, who may be gone again in a couple of months because unlike Toe Blake and the boys, it’s all about money. This deal might come back and bite Pittsburgh in the ass.

4:30 Pacific time  – Game time. If all reports are correct, not one Montreal player got mugged on his way to the Buffalo rink.

5:00 Pacific time – Montreal jumps out to 2-0 on goals by Pekanec and Streit. Not sure if Montreal fans who made the trek to Buffalo have started to sing the ‘olay’ song just yet. Many though, are having a riot and drinking lots of beer. 

5:07 Pacific time – Just thinking that Buffalo used to have some good teams in the days of the French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. You know, it’s sad that Perreault didn’t play for the Habs. With him and Lafleur together, it would have been historic. People would still be talking about them. It could have been Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Lafleur, and Perreault.

6:08 Pacific time – Tomas Plekanac just scored for the third time tonight as the good guys are beating the bad guys 4-1. The ‘experts’ say there’s too many small guys on Montreal for them to be dangerous. But Plekanek, who’s only 5’10, one of those small guys, looks pretty dangerous to me.

Do you know that TSN guy Pierre McGuire picked the Rangers and Minnesota as two of the five teams he thinks will win the Cup. Montreal didn’t even get a sneeze. But McGuire and his fellow ‘experts’ like Bob McKenzie and Dave Hodge all picked Montreal to finish 14th and so far out of the playoffs you’d need a telescope to see them.

7:01 Pacific time – Holy smokes. 6-2 Montreal over Buffalo. What a big win. It was 5-1 over Atlanta, and now 6-2 in Buffalo since the Habs made Carey Price their number one goalie. And this win catapults them over Ottawa for top spot in the north-east!

I’m sure the team flies back tonight, so guys, get home, have a midnight sandwich, relax, and get ready for another big game Saturday night against the Devils. But leave your wives alone. Eddie Shore, Victor Tikhonov, Punch Imlach and Toe Blake all believed there should be no sex the night before the game. So it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.

Again, When You Least Expect It, More Fascinating Facts!

mtl_2007.jpgmtl_white.jpgsweater5.gifsweater4.gifsweater3.gifsweater2.gifsweater11.gif

Fascinating Fact # 1   I owned a sports bar for awhile in Powell River, and during this time the infamous Hanson Brothers came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, they came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

Fascinating Fact #2  A small scrap of paper signed by Bill Barilko, who scored the Cup-winning goal for Toronto against Montreal in 1951 and died later that year in a plane crash in northern Ontario, recently sold on ebay for $750.

Fascinating Fact #3   Frank Mahovlich came into my pub after an NHL Oldtimer’s game with his niece, who lives in Powell River. I had to tell customers who clamoured all over him to cool it so the guy could eat his meal.

Fascinating Fact #4   When I was 12, my pee wee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers was the umpire.

Facsinating Fact # 5   Years ago, when I was about 11, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, then, because he was in a deep discussion with some other guy, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my older sister had to get it for me.

Fascinating Fact #6   Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Fascinating Fact # 7   Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

Facinating Fact # 8    I collect old Montreal Canadiens kid’s wool sweaters. Not like some of the old ones in the photos above as these are extremely early Habs sweaters,  but like the one in my photo at the top right, and other’s similar to that. They’re all from the 1940’s, ’50’s, and ’60’s but I’m still looking for ones from the ’30’s and ’20’s. I saw some in old Eaton’s catalogues recently, so I know they were around at that time. But are they around now?

Fascinating Fact #9  In the early ’60’s when I was about 13 or so, my buddy and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave us both sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester.

The final Fascinating Fact goes to Toe Blake, who said this: “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

(For more delicious and delightful facts, just click on ‘Fascinating Facts’ over in the category section and get a whole bunch of stuff.)