Category Archives: New York Islanders

The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.






Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.


My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.





Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.



Bob Hope In Orillia, Jiggs In Hollywood

In September of 1957, Orillia hockey star Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, was 9 years old, Orillia folksinger Gordon Lightfoot was 19, Bobby Orr, 60 miles up the road, was 9, and I was a month shy of being 7.

And in September of 1957, Hollywood funnyman Bob Hope, fresh from hanging out with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, close friends with a bunch of Presidents, and star of stage and screen, came with his family for a nice visit to Orillia. (The above photo is Hope in Orillia and comes from one of my dad’s photo albums).

I was there, although I don’t remember it. But my dad told me we were all there. He told me about Hope and his wife and kids riding in a parade down the main street. And he told me the Hope clan were guests of my dad’s boss, who happened to own a local factory.

It seems Hope had been invited to Orillia to help celebrate the expansion of Orillia’s radio station, CFOR. I’m thinking he must have been in the area anyway.

It’s also a beautiful thing when I can tie in CFOR to NHL hockey.

CFOR’s sports guy was Ken McDonald, and Ken was a great guy. My sister worked with him when she was a radio copywriter, and he would not only do radio sports, but on the side he would broadcast minor hockey games from the Orillia Community Centre. I can remember my grandma and I huddled by the radio one night in the early sixties when Ken described Archie Rankin scoring the big goal with just seconds left as the Orillia juveniles captured the Ontario championship in dramatic fashion.

In 1966, the Los Angeles Kings were granted a team in the league’s first expansion, and Ken McDonald was offered and accepted the big job of being the Kings’ very first play-by-play guy. I suppose it was owner Jack Kent Cooke who decided the name Ken McDonald just wasn’t fancy enough for the Hollywood market, and from that day forward, Ken McDonald became Jiggs McDonald. Over the years, Jiggs became one of the NHL’s best and longest-lasting broadcasters, with gigs with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. He also had a brief stint doing New York Mets games.

When I ended up in jail for a week in Los Angeles during the summer of 1967 (breaking curfew after Sunset Strip riots), my sister phoned Ken/Jiggs in LA and asked him if he could help. I never learned if he did or not, but after a week behind bars, a plane ticket showed up from my parents, who had absolutely no money, to get me back to Canada, and I was set free.

Maybe Jiggs pulled some strings. If so it’s taken a lot of years, but thanks a lot, Mr. McDonald.

Topped By Tampa

The Canadiens fell 4-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night, although they gave it the old college try after falling behind 3-0 before three minutes had been played in the second period.

Unfortunately, old college tries are never good enough because they mean losing. And this was to a growing rival who had already won the first three encounters.

It began poorly, that’s for sure. Brenden Morrow got his stick up into the face of Brian Flynn (who didn’t return) and on the four-minute penalty handed down, the Canadiens, and I know you’ll be shocked by this, failed to score.

Following that, a puck was deflected off Andrei Markov and past Carey Price to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead, and then, not even 24 hours after Max Pacioretty was anointed with a new McDonald’s hamburger (the Max 67), he grabbed the puck along the boards near centre ice, turned, and passed it back to none other than a free as a bird Steven Stamkos, who waltzed in and beat Price.

But because I appreciate Max so much, I’m won’t say anything more about this. Or bring up that pass to an Islanders player the other night that killed Price’s shutout. Because Max has 34 goals on a team that you and I complain about because they can’t score. And he had 39 last year.

He also came close several times after, obviously intent on making up for his faux pas. And if you don’t think any of the greats of the game – Howe, Richard, Hull, Orr, Beliveau, Gretzky, Lemieux etc, pulled a boner once in awhile, you’d be wrong.

Later in the second period, Pleks would finally get his team on the scoreboard while on the powerplay (yes, the powerplay), and in the third frame, P.A. Parenteau banged one home after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop got crossed up behind the net.

But that was it, because Lars Eller was called for holding with just 2:22 left in the game, and with Carey Price pulled to at least keep things even, Steven Stamkos hit the empty net.

Now it’s across the state to take on the Panthers and hopefully better their record in March to three wins in nine games. Which, of course, is still nasty.

Random Notes:

There were a number of questionable decisions by the officials, including the call not made when Brandon Prust and Mike Angelidis fought and which was clearly started by Angelidis. But the instigator penalty wasn’t called.

And Lars Eller’s holding call in the dying minutes wasn’t flagrant by a country mile, and which of course, killed any chance of the Canadiens  squaring things up.

Shots were even at 34 apiece.




Canadiens Better Against Islanders

They still had to rely on Carey Price to come up big, but the Canadiens on Long Island would get the job done, winning 3-1 and looking better than they have in their other six games in March, and keeping me from putting %$#&* in the title.

Yes there were a few bad penalties taken by the boys, including a hot-headed Dale Weise boarding call that could’ve been smarter, and an Andrei Markov tripping penalty with just 4:11 left in the game and his team up-2-0, and which lead to an Islanders’ power play goal to make things tense for all concerned.

Not to mention that the Isles goal was scored after Max had sent an absolutely soft and ill-advised puck to the enemy in the slot.

But a Lars Eller empty-netter sealed it and the Canadiens, at least until Monday, stop the acid rain that has been coming down for about two weeks now, beginning in sunny California.

The win puts the Canadiens two big points ahead of the Lightning, who lost 2-1 to Winnipeg on Saturday, but most importantly, they looked like they’d finally slept off their stupor, shook out the cobwebs, and picked it up a notch.

That and Carey Price.

Montreal opened the scoring early in the second period on a Galchenyuk to Parenteau to Galchenyuk to Plekanec bang, bang, banger, and later, Max would fire one home with his team shorthanded, after Isles goaltender Michael Neuvirth left the puck behind his net, only to have it grabbed by Lars Eller who sent it out to Max.

It was also in this second frame that Carey Price swooped his glove behind him to rob Matt Martin, which you can see here at the bottom, and which is what plenty of folks will be talking about for the next day or two.

A fine effort in general by the visiting Canadiens, although they were outshot 36-30 and were saved by Price a bit more than should be expected.

They also went 0-4 on the power play but that’s not really news. They go 0-4 every game.

Next up – another important beauty as the Canadiens head to Tampa Bay for a Monday night meeting with Bolts. Time to shake these guys once and for all. They’re like leeches on the skin after swimming in local swamp.

Shoutout to both Lars Eller and P.A. Parenteau for contributing in a big way.

Habs In A Rut

The Canadiens moved out into a mighty fine 2-0 lead in the first period against the Ottawa Senators after a power play marker by P.K. Subban and a nice shorthanded effort by Max.

Then the roof collapsed.

The Sens tied it in the second and scored three more in the third, and aside from the obvious disappointment felt by the masses in losing 5-2 to these miserable bastards, it means the Canadiens have dropped 5 of 6 games in March.

This worrisome slump can’t be blamed on bad luck either. The team has been outmatched lately, and what they have now to look forward to are the Islanders on Saturday and the Lightning on Monday. Two great teams just itching to keep the misery going.

It’s entirely possible this depressing slump isn’t about to end soon.  The Canadiens aren’t racking up goals, whether it’s regular strength or on the power play (although P.K. blasted one home in the dying seconds of a first period 4-minute man-advantage), and unless they break on through to the other side in the next month or so, it won’t look pretty when things turn serious.

The team is in the middle of trying times, late in the season, which seems far from perfect timing. It’s a reason to be concerned, but not quite panic time. Several important guys, like Galchenyuk, Plekanec, and even Weise, are asleep at the wheel, but if they and a couple of others few pick it up a bit, these doldrums might quickly become a thing of the past.

We’re not seeing flair or colour or consistent banging or giving opposing goalies any kind of a night to work up a decent sweat. They haven’t been all that fun to watch, they’re often boring, and my kind of Montreal Canadiens team is practically the opposite of what we’ve been exposed to recently.

This team needs all four lines and defence pairings going good in their own particular ways to be considered a legitimate contender. And right now, some guys aren’t pulling their weight, the team is naturally faltering because of this, and I think many of us are less confident in them now taking a serious playoff run, which we thought could happen.

The horrible California experience and now two lousy home games have left many wondering. And the answers? Don’t look at me. I’m just a fan like everyone else, and one who’s disregarding the last half of the old adage “write drunk and edit sober.”

Next up –

Long Island on Saturday to face the very strong N.Y. Islanders.




Eller’s Penalty Didn’t Help


Lars Eller got his stick up into the face of Drew Doughty with just 1:35 left in the third period, with his team winning 3-2 after being down 2-0 to the hometown L.A. Kings, and having stormed back from the dead.

The Kings, of course, with just 45 seconds left in the game, would tie it with Lars in the sinbin, and ultimately take it to a shootout where the Canadiens didn’t get the job done and lose 4-3.

I wish I’d kept track of all the ill-timed, momentum-killing, game-ruining penalties Eller has managed over the past few years. Penalties late in periods, penalties that cancel out power plays, penalties when it’s definitely time to not get penalties. It seems like he’s the king of this &$%#@% category.

I know what the Maharishi would tell me (if I knew him and he was still alive). Take deep breaths. Concentrate on trees and streams. Focus on the good that happened before Lars slipped up.

It’s a shootout loss that yes, gets the team a point, but it should’ve been two, and it should’ve been a cool halt to the California creamin’.

It stings, Maharishi. Just like it probably did when the Beatles dumped you. Eller owes us all a dinner.

The first period was as dreadful as the showings in San Jose and Anaheim. Outshot 13-2 and outscored 2-0. Heck, it was only a few games ago when the boys had shutout the Leafs and won their fourth straight, and we were feeling high and mighty and thinking magnificent thoughts.

But seven periods in California changed all that.

The second frame saw the Canadiens come to life though, and Tom Gilbert, looking like a forward, closed the gap to 2-1 when he swooped in and around Jonathan Quick and lit the lamp. And it became a tie game not long after when Gally took a nice pass from Plekanec and backhanded it home.

In the third frame, Max would notch his 31st on a nice pass from DD, and all was swell in Habsville until Eller’s brain froze like a tray of ice cubes, and with the clock winding down and the Kings on the power play, along with Quick on the bench and the extra man out, the bullet was fired to tie it.

Overtime would solve nothing, and in the shootout, the Canadiens shooters were Chucky (nope), DD and Max (yes), and Eller (post), while Kings skaters buried 3 of 4 on Dustin Tokarski, who overall played a decent game between the pipes.

This mostly lousy four-game road trip comes to an end on Saturday in Phoenix, but things don’t exactly let up. The following four games see the boys tackle the Lightning and Sens at home, and the Islanders and Lightning on the road.

Upcoming strategy? Keep Eller on the bench in crucial situations.




Canadiens Drop Another

Couldn’t see the Habs-Coyotes Sunday matinee, but I heard that the boys, except for a flurry at the end, were reasonably lousy in their 3-2 loss to Arizona.

I did manage to catch the Habs and Sabres on Tuesday though, and aside from a third period flurry, were reasonably lousy in their 3-2 loss to Buffalo.

The Canadiens had plenty of chances, with pucks missing the net left and right. It’s infuriating to say the least. Maybe a bunch of them need to see an eye doctor.

Hit the net for #$&@ sakes.

I don’t have much to say. I’m a tired guy just back from an exhausting trip.  Here’s my official summary – the big shot 5th place Habs, busy feeling high and mighty after back-to-back 1-0 shutout wins over really good Rangers and Washington teams, suddenly lose to the 27th place Arizona Coyotes, and the 30th place Buffalo Sabres.

And I’ll add this. It’s a grueling marathon, this 82-game season, and there will be stinkers. Doesn’t matter if pro athletes make millions. Sometimes they don’t give the expected 100%.

Keep in mind, the minute the playoffs start, most of us will forget all about the regular season.

Next up – New Jersey Devils at the Bell on Saturday, and then the Canadiens head to Boston for a Sunday meeting.

Brandon Prust was involved in a cool sequence to tie the game at one in the 1st and lure us into thinking that it was the beginning of the end for the Sabres. Prust burst out of the penalty box, knocked the puck off Tyler Myers near centre ice, the puck scooted to DD who sent it back to Prust who buried it.

DD, in the 3rd frame, would score his team’s other goal.

Shots on goal – Habs 34, Sabres 18.

Left winger Jacob de la Rose was called up from Hamilton for his first NHL game and was -1 with 5 hits recorded.

Gabriel Dumont also saw action, while Michael Bournival, Manny Malhotra, and Mike Weaver didn’t.

A View From Above

Here it is, the latest look at the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System, showing nice amounts of yellow spread out over what amounts to more than half the season completed (45 games played, eighth best overall).

As you can see, the only real slump was back in the latter part of November and into early December when the boys lost six of seven games. And January shows a bit of a dip but nothing serious.

All in all, a fine season so far, with a big test coming up in early March when they hit the big three in California and shortly after tackle the Lightning, Sens, Islanders, and then Lightning again.

Isn’t this more fun than watching the All-Star Game?



Six Big Goals Against Isles

The Canadiens would pull off a nice 6-4 win against the visiting Islanders, although they led 6-2 with just over five minutes to play.

Which brings me to this. To those at the Bell who like to sing Ole, maybe you could wait until the siren goes. Cap it all off with a nice and hearty rendition when the game is actually won. Just for a change.

I’m blaming you for making things slightly dicey as the clock wore down. I find myself thinking how Ole warblers could stick their Ole up their ole.

But all in all a fine win against a good, although obviously tired Islanders team. Six goals past Jaroslav Halak before he was finally chased, with two of the six being power play markers, which thrills me to no end.

I think I’ve discovered the true meaning of life. A good Habs power play.

PK would blast home a man-advantage marker to open the scoring in the first, and just ten seconds into the second frame, Dale Weise converted a beautiful feed from Tomas Plekanec and the boys were off and running.

Never mind that the Islanders came within one twice. A Plekanec power play blast in the second kept the team in front, and in the third period, goals from Galchenyuk (close in), DD ( a scorching shot over Halak’s shoulder), and Pleks again (after bringing the puck in from centre ice), and things looked just dandy.

Until people started singing Ole.

But all’s well that ends well. Dustin Tokarski got the win, and the number two team in the east gets whomped by the number five Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot New York 35-31 and were 2/4 on the power play.

It was a full team effort, and along with Pleks, who tallied 2 goals and 2 assists, others like Jiri Sekac, Nathan Beaulieu, Brandon Prust, Christian Thomas, and PK all had moments that must have kept Sportsnet/HNIC announcer Paul Romanuk reaching for the Benylin with codeine so he could raise his weakened voice.

Romanuk called the game while under the weather, and although it wasn’t his fault, it sounded like the codeine was obviously working.

But I’m not one to criticize Romanuk. He got through it like a trooper, and I know from experience that when I wake up in the morning and have my vanilla extract, codeine, hashish, DK beer, banana, and orange juice shake, the only talking I do is to myself and I’m never able to translate. So good for him.

Tuesday the boys go up against the league’s number 1 team, the Nashville Predators.


Sliced By Sens

Reasonably lousy effort from the Canadiens in Ottawa Thursday night as they drop a 4-1 decision to the Sens after being outchecked, outhit, and outshot, and outplayed.

And of course, after a Habs power play that had come alive the previous night and scored three times, on this night it was back to reality as the team went 0 for 4, which is what we’re more accustomed to. Can’t expect a fine power play two games in a row, can we?

The Sens were the better team, which sucks to say considering my utter disdain for them. They had the Habs bottled up throughout, lined up like a wall when play was coming toward them, and Bobby Ryan and company must have had their fans wondering all evening why they’re not able to perform like this on more of a regular basis.

But as well as Ottawa played, if the Canadiens hadn’t been so soft around Dustin Tokarski, they might’ve been able to make a game of it. Soft and casual play in Montreal’s end led to the Sens first two goals, while an Erik Karlsson blast made it 3-1. Ottawa would also score on the empty net, while at the other end, Montreal’s guns were seized up.

For the Canadiens, Max would make it interesting early on when his 21st goal of the season (and 6th straight game with at least a goal) would tie it at one apiece. Jiri Sekac has a couple of great chances, including dinging one off the post. And Lars Eller skated miles all night and found himself with several great chances (although on one of Lars’ chances, he should’ve tried burying it instead of passing it across into traffic, which made me yell at the TV and scare the cat who already has health issues).

Mostly though, as a whole the boys stunk. But we’ve seen this before, doses of mediocrity mixed with in with runs of solid play that continues to see them at or near the top of the class. We’re a greedy bunch, us fans, and watching Le Tricolore fall flat against some bums up the road definitely smells.

Random Notes:

Ottawa outshot the Canadiens 35-26.

Dustin Tokarski came up big several times and did his job. Now Toker might ride the pines until February 8th, the next back to back situation. But rust can never sleep.

Next up – Saturday, when the really good Islanders visit the Bell.