Category Archives: New York Rangers

Full Concentration

Of the countless Habs photos in this crazy, mixed-up world of ours, this one for me ranks right up there near the top. The close-up action, the fans watching intently (I see one woman), Jacques Plante still almost two years away from putting the mask on.

It’s Dec. 18, 1957, Madison Square Gardens in New York, and Plante and Tom Johnson are working on thwarting a Rangers attack.

The Rangers in front of Johnson are Camille (the eel) Henry and Leapin’ Lou Fontinato wearing number 8. Fontinato would be dealt to the Habs in 1961 for Doug Harvey, who had fallen out of favour with the Canadiens mostly because of his player/union work.

This great photo, slightly adjusted, appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated on Feb. 17, 1958, and here, a Habs player wearing #27 is included. But I don’t have a clue who this guy might be because my records show that no one did before Frank Mahovlich, who wore it from 1971 to ’74.

However, one could suggest that it could actually be #22, and if that’s the case, Don Marshall wore this number. But Don had way less hair than this guy and a different shaped head.

Here’s an even wider frame that includes a sprawling Claude Provost in front of Fontinato, plus a couple more women in the crowd.

 

To The Forum, Bus Driver

Twice I saw games at the old Forum when a buddy and I took a bus charter from Orillia. This was the Forum before the renovations in 1968, when there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views, and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

The first time I went I was 13 when the Habs hosted Chicago (Feb. 22, 1964) but I remember almost nothing about this trip, including who I went with. I only know the date and my age because of my ticket stub I show here.

But the second time, with the game on February 26, 1966 against the Rangers as you can see in the other ticket stub and on the Forum marquee, was when I was 15 and I went with my friend Bernie Rivard.

I took all these pictures that also include Toe Blake’s Tavern on Ste. Catherine, which is now long gone (the tavern, not the street), McNeice’s Sporting Goods, which was located on Atwater St, at the Forum, and my two ticket stubs from both trips which are pasted in my scrapbook.

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station in the middle of the night, I was completely drunk. But he didn’t say one word about it.

Those Wild And Crazy Early Years

It’s listed as being 1929  and the Chicago Black Hawks on YouTube but I think it’s off by a year or two and it’s more likely 1930 or ’31. And it’s not the Chicago Black Hawks.

Howie Morenz, Eddie Shore, Ace Bailey, Aurele Joliat, Dit Clapper, Lester Patrick, and so many other all-time greats of the game roamed the ice back then, and 1930 was only a year after Wall Street crashed and women now being considered “Persons” under new Canadian law.

The Habs would win the Stanley Cup in the spring of 1930 after taking out the Boston Bruins in two games, with Howie Morenz netting the winner.

The NHL was a ten-team league at this time – Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, the Montreal Maroons, and the NY Americans in the Canadian Division, and Boston, the Rangers, the Detroit Cougars, Chicago, and the Pittsburgh Pirates in the American Division.

This minute and a half home video  features the AHA Chicago Shamrocks and possibly the St. Louis Flyers (or Duluth Hornets) and is a fascinating look at the boys back then.

And the ice cleaners at the end of the clip are something to behold.

Buzinski And The Rocket

It was about ten years ago when I tried to get in touch with someone from the Buzinski family. I tried Saskatoon and Swift Current. I tried Calgary, where Steve Buzinski’s son Peter was supposed to live. But I had no luck anywhere. It’s too bad. I would’ve liked to have learned more about the man.

Steve Buzinski was the goalie for the New York Rangers on the night of November 8, 1942, when Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard scored his first NHL goal.

Of course, being scored on by the Rocket was nothing to be ashamed of. Richard scored on dozens of the poor, padded people. This Ranger rookie just happened to be the first, that’s all.

Rocket was 21 years old and wore number 15 at the time for the Habs. He had yet to change to number 9, and he was still a few broken bones away from becoming the icon he became.

Buzinski had been called up from the minors to replace the Rangers’ goalies Chuck Raynor and Sugar Jim Henry, who were both enlisted to fight in the war overseas. Buzinski’s career was only nine games, letting in 55 goals, and he had a not so great average of more than six goals a game.

The Rangers soon released Buzinski, and the youngster returned to Swift Current and worked for the federal government until his retirement.

I would have liked to have known what Buzinski thought about his Rocket connection. Was he proud of the fact? How was the goal scored? Did the Rocket scoop the puck up for a souvenir? And why did Buzinski not play in the minors after being released by the Rangers?

But I couldn’t find any of his family, so I have no idea.

Great Old Hockey Coins

This is my set of Sherriff/Salada hockey coins from 1961-62 which I’ve had since I was eleven years old. They came in Jello and potato chips, and I pressured my mom to buy handfuls of Jello instead of just one or two. So we had a kitchen cupboard with lots of open boxes of Jello in it. I also ate more potato chips than any one human should possibly eat.

At school we would play closest to the wall, just like hockey cards, and I was sad when my coins would dwindle. But on the other hand, if I went back to class after recess with dozens more than I had started out with, then all was right with the world. I think it was one of the best feelings in the world, actually.

You could send away to the company for the shields, which I did, but after putting them in their slots and trying to hang them on the wall, most would fall out because they didn’t fit well. So I added small amounts of glue to the backs. When you see these coins in their shields on eBay, which you don’t see very often, most have been glued like mine.

These plastic hockey coins began the year before, in 1960-61 and I had a bunch of them, but not anymore. They also came out as metal coins in 1962-63, and I still have the full set of these. And there were no shields available for these other years.

The coins made a comeback in 1967, but I don’t think they became all the rage like they were in the earlier years. These later coins have become quite rare and valuable because, I suppose, there just weren’t that many.

Baseball and football also had their own coins, as did old cars and airplanes and flags. But it’s the hockey coins I cherished the most.

Habs

Leafs

Hawks

Rangers

Wings

Bruins

Killed By Kings

Things were going swimmingly for the boys on Thursday evening at the old Bell barn. They were displaying some mighty fine vim and vigour, outskating and outplaying the visiting L.A. Kings, and if the hockey gods had any decency at all, the light would be lit soon.

The light would be lit all right. Twice, within 11 seconds. By the other team.

Another loss was on the books. A 4-0 drubbing by the L.A. Kings.

Possibly due to the implosion near the end of the first frame, when the Kings beat Carey Price twice, first at the 18.59 mark, and then again seconds later.

For a team that has trouble scoring at the best of times (except when they put five past Panthers backup James Reimer on Tuesday), having two goals scored against them in 11 seconds, with a minute left to play in the opening period, and trying to come back after such a frustrating turn of events, is asking the impossible.

It’s a fragile group, these Montreal Canadiens. Maybe they need more money. C’mon people, line up for an hour to buy a couple of autographs at their next signing appearance. Tell them how great they are while you’re at it.

I feel bad for their wives and girlfriends. What can I do to cheer them up?

In the second period, the Canadiens again looked hungry, but Anze Kopitar blew a wrister past Carey Price, it was 3-0, and I was ready to turn the channel to CNN to see what kind of an ass Donald Trump made of himself in the last few hours.

In the third, it became a 4-0 rout. Time for fans to head to the exits, even though just four minutes had been played. Maybe head to the exits if the ticket was free, otherwise, suck it up and have another $12 beer.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot LA 40-27 and were 0/5 on the pp.

The Kings beat the CH 5-1 in L.A. last Wednesday.

Fans booed the team and Price was jeered whenever he made an easy save. The world is not unfolding as it should.

I pray I never see a sweater hit the ice. The crest is the crest.

Habs GM Marc Bergevin said at his recent press conference that there are elite teams, and then a bunch of good ones, which he included his team in. You’ve had five years to make it an elite team, Marc. Just being good is loser talk.

Next up – Saturday, when the Rangers pay a visit.

Dumped In D.C.

Who is this fellow? Find out after I babble a bit about tonight’s bummer.

Three goals in the first 2:51 of the game while the Canadiens were still waking up from their afternoon naps, and 4-0 Caps after one period, with Alex Ovechkin scoring three of them.

In the second frame, with Al Montoya in net to replace Carey Price, the Canadiens dominated in fine fashion, with Brendan Gallagher notching a shorthanded marker to narrow it slightly to 4-1 and give us a speck of hope. But Ovechkin, with his fourth of the night, and a goal by Aussie rookie Nathan Walker to make it 6-1 before the period ended, and it was all down the drain like overpoured $12 beer at the Capital One Arena.

The third frame was a lost cause, completely out of reach for the visitors, and all that was left to ponder was whether Ovy would score five. He didn’t.

Just one of those nights. Buried less than three minutes in. Caps goaltender Braden Holtby was terrific, and the Canadiens were demolished even though outshooting Washington 39-23 overall.

Now it’s on to New York for a Sunday game at MSG (7 pm ET), and it’s exciting to think of the possibility of Al Montoya showing up at the Copacabana to sing his massive hit ‘Volare’.

Oh. That’s Al Martino. And he’s dead.

Never mind.

Post-game show:

The cute baby below is Samuel Daigneault from Montreal, and back in June 2013 I posted a small story after seeing him in a 1991 Canadiens magazine that I have. (There’s also a story in the same issue about me and some Russian Habs fans friends, but I digress).

You can see my post about Sam right here – Samuel

002

Guess what? Samuel is all grown up now, he saw my post a while back, and here he is!

Canadiens Say Goodbye

That’s it for the Habs after falling to the Rangers 3-1 in game six, and I’d say I’ll now start getting excited about the Blue Jays’ season, except they’re 4 and 12 and about to lose another as I write.

I wish the Expos would come back.

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Still no Stanley Cup since 1993. Will it happen again soon? Will it happen in my lifetime or yours?

I don’t have favourite players on my team. That time is long gone. When I was a kid, the Rocket was my hero. And Beliveau and Harvey and I guess, every player on the team. As a guy in my twenties, I was happy about Lafleur and Dryden and Robinson.

But it’s only about the crest now. I liked Subban for example, but it didn’t bother me one bit when he was traded because  I thought Shea Weber was an upgrade in many ways. I still do.

It’s about the team only. Players can come and go and I won’t bat an eyelash.

A few days ago I saw a film clip of Andrei Markov coming out of a NY hotel (or maybe Madison Square Garden) and a kid, the only person in site, approached him for an autograph. Markov shook his head and casually walked across the street.

Players can say no all they want to adults, I understand and accept that. But there’s no excuse to say no to a kid.

No excuse. It would’ve taken all of about four seconds to sign the kid’s piece of paper.

And so, I finish off a season of game reports complaining about Andrei Markov.

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Thanks to everyone who read my posts this season. I hope you liked some of them.  And I also truly appreciate anyone who took the time to sometimes comment.

We thought the team had a decent chance this year to make a serious dent.

But without naming names, they let us down.

 

 

 

 

Game 5 Bummer

The Canadiens fall 3-2 to the Rangers in overtime, and now it’s gonna take them seven games to win the series instead of six.

I’m okay with that, because I have faith. But they’re testing my faith. And my patience. Bastards.

For much of the game, the Rangers were the better team, and that’s unacceptable, especially at the Bell Centre where noisy fans provided the atmosphere, but fans can’t put the puck in the net. That’s where the team is supposed to chip in.

It was a sickening sight to see the puck get past Carey Price in overtime, because as dominate as the Rangers were in OT, it was always possible that a lucky break could see the Canadiens end up winning the thing.

It never happened, and now the series resumes once again on Saturday in New York. And it’ll have to be all hands on deck for that one, because no-shows aren’t welcome. Never have been, never will. Especially no-shows that wear the CH.

I still feel that Montreal is the better team. It’s just how I feel. They weren’t tonight, and they weren’t on Tuesday. Or game 1 for that matter. So maybe they’re not.

This one hurts.

From my notes:

In the first minute of the game, Carey Price made a huge save on Mats Zuccarello, and I thought maybe Pricer was gonna be a hero on this night.

Andrew Shaw and the much bigger Brendan Smith dropped the gloves, Shaw got in several fine rights, and he looked good as he swung away. It was just the beginning of a rough and tumble, hard hitting, testy kind of a night.

Still in the first, Artturi Lehkonen fooled with Marc Staal and ended up swooping around the net and sending the puck past Henny Lunny to give the boys a 1-0 lead.

Still in the period, Jesper Fast scored a shorthanded marker after Alex Galchenyuk coughed up the puck, and the game was tied.

Galchenyuk’s been mediocre at best in this series. Maybe he doesn’t want to be a Hab anymore.

Just 25 seconds later, on the same power play, Brendan Gallagher fooled Henny from 15 feet out and the good guys took the lead again.

In the second period, Zuccarello highsticked Paul Byron, catching him in the eye area. Somebody needs to tune the Norwegian in once and for all.

With just 1:32 left in the 2nd, the Rangers tied it up, and it was after this that the strength of my ticker was firmly tested.

Sixteen seconds in, Gally took a slashing penalty when his little love tap knocked the stick out of the hands of a weak-wristed Blueshirt. A cheap call indeed, but NY failed to score.

Gally’s only 5’9″, 184 pounds, but he’s the toughest son of a gun on the ice.

Also in the third, Phillip Danault hit the post while the team was shorthanded, and Max couldn’t solve Henny on a clear-cut breakaway.

Max is in a slump at the wrong time of year. But you already know that.

In overtime it was all Rangers.

One Lousy Random Note:

Game 6 on Saturday in New York is an 8pm ET start. Or 5pm where I live.