Category Archives: NHL lockout

Markov And Co. Take Care Of Business

Isn’t it fun when you see an honest, hard-working, hard-skating team like we’ve seen so far from this year’s edition of the Montreal Canadiens? (Aside from the opening night loss to the Leafs).

Another four-goal game from the Habs, their third in a row, with this going to overtime and none other than Andrei Markov beating Martin Brodeur with just 38 seconds remaining before going to the dreaded shootout. Markov now has four goals and an assist, and nobody is as important to his team as this guy is to the Habs. He’s the man. The swizzle stick that stirs the scotch and water.

Just an excellent effort, although the Habs did blow a 3-1 lead in the third. But I’d go as far as saying that even if they’d lost, I’d be happy with what I saw. This isn’t last year’s Montreal Canadiens by a country mile.

How about Rene Bourque. Energized!  Maybe it’s not even Rene Bourque. Maybe it’s his long-lost twin, found in the woods and switched when we weren’t looking. The one who plays like he wants the puck. The one who skated miles and would have popped a few if he wouldn’t keep shooting it over the net.

Brendan Gallagher, second star on the night, scoring his first-ever NHL goal, converting a lovely pass from that other peach-fuzzed new kid on the block, Alex Galchenyuk. And Galchenyuk not only set up Gallagher but also helped Brandon Prust score his first as a Hab.

It wasn’t just a handful who contributed. All four lines were deeply involved, although Lars Eller seemed tentative. But maybe it was to be expected after he sat in the press box for the past couple of games. Erik Cole, to me, played his finest of the four games and skated the way we grew accustomed to last year. Carey Price was again excellent. And Ryan White, with a little help from Alexei Emelin, opened the scoring. How great it is when a plumber helps get the team rolling.

This was a terrific night for the Habs, although they almost blew it before Markov settled things. This new look, exciting squad now has three straights wins and looking good. Can they keep it going?

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot New Jersey 32-25.

Next game – Tuesday, when the Jets come to town.

After such a dismal year last year, followed by the pathetic lockout, seeing these Montreal Canadiens of the past three games is a genuine treat. Bring on the Jets.



Habs Fall Flat

It was going so well too. The crowd was pumped and happy. There was a friendly, robust cheer for new coach Michel Therrien. The torch was passed from past captains, from Yvan Cournoyer to the Pocket, from Vincent Damphousse to Serge Savard, and then Jean Beliveau handed it to present-day captain Brian Gionta.

The torch then made its way from player to player, Alex Galchenyuk heard a nice welcome from the faithful, as did Francis Bouillon and the others. It was all very nice, because that’s what happens in Montreal – nice pre-game ceremonies. If these things won Stanley Cups, the Montreal Canadiens would never lose. Every year the bleu, blanc et rouge would hoist the hardware. It’d be a hundred in a row.

Unfortunately, once the puck was dropped on this Hockey Night in Canada affair at the Bell Centre, the Habs couldn’t get untracked. The torch thing had worn them out, I suppose.

Brandon Prust scrapped with the Leafs Mike Brown, and did a fine job. But more sandpaper is required from Prust, not just the odd fight. We’d need him to be a menace to society from start to finish.

Carey Price was good in goal, and if the Habs had decided to show some zip and pressure in the first two periods, Price might have racked up a well-earned win. But the boys in front of him were flat as a pancake, and all it does is be a reminder of days gone by.

Young Alex Galchenyuk, in his first game in the bigs, had several shots on goal, but he has to remember, these aren’t junior goalies. His wrist shots from thirty feet out will be stopped pretty well every time.

The third period was slightly better. The Canadiens showed some jump, had some chances, and finally Brian Gionta found the back of the Leafs net to close the gap to one and wake the nodding crowd up somewhat. But it wasn’t enough as the Leafs held on to claim bragging rights, at least until the next time these two meet, on Feb. 9.

Montreal’s special teams leaved a lot to be desired. The Leafs scored both of their goals on power plays, while the Canadiens went one for five on their chances. But worse than the power plays, for most of the night they didn’t storm the net and cause havoc and commotion, or show much of anything. It was like a team of Scott Gomez’ out there. And P.K. Subban was certainly missed for his passion, his fire, his shot, his skating, and his larger-than-life presence. This guy has to get signed.

Habs bow to the Leafs. I miss the lockout.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – 26-22 Leafs.

The Desharnais, Pacioretty, Cole line has seen better nights. They were a B in my book, when we need an A every night. There’s only 47 games left for goodness sakes.

Alexei Emelin has picked up where he left off last year, with good, clean, bone-crunching hits that makes people keep their heads up. Emelin was a bright light in a dark and less-than-stormy opening night.

Just a dismal start. Hopefully the Canadiens can show some jump on Tuesday when Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers come a-callin’. They showed some in the third on this night, and maybe they liked how it felt.





The Last Time They Played 48

While we wait to see what the Habs schedule will look like, have a look at the last time the team played 48-games, which was during the 1994-95 lockout season.

As you can see, the Canadiens never traveled out of the east, they kicked things off on January 21, and they played four games each against the Rangers, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Buffalo, and Ottawa, while it was three games against Washington, Tampa Bay, Florida, and the Islanders.

It was also a dismal year for the team. They missed the playoffs for the first time since the 1969-70 season (25 years), won only 3 of 24 road games, and came out ahead in just 11 of their final 32 games.

This with Patrick Roy in nets (with a little help from Ron Tugnutt), and Dr. Recchi scoring and diagnosing. The good doctor had joined the Habs on Feb. 9/95 , with John Leclair, Eric Desjardins, and Gilbert Dionne heading off to Philadelphia.

01/21/1995 at NY Rangers 2 5 Loss
01/25/1995 vs. Washington 2 0 Win
01/28/1995 vs. New Jersey 5 1 Win
01/29/1995 vs. Philadelphia 2 2 Tie
01/31/1995 at Tampa Bay 1 4 Loss
02/02/1995 at Florida 1 1 Tie
02/04/1995 vs. NY Islanders 4 2 Win
02/07/1995 at Boston 4 7 Loss
02/08/1995 at Ottawa 4 2 Win
02/11/1995 at Pittsburgh 1 3 Loss
02/13/1995 vs. Hartford 2 2 Tie
02/15/1995 at Hartford 1 4 Loss
02/16/1995 at NY Rangers 2 2 Tie
02/18/1995 vs. NY Rangers 5 2 Win
02/20/1995 vs. NY Islanders 3 2 Win
02/23/1995 at Florida 5 2 Win
02/25/1995 vs. Philadelphia 0 7 Loss
02/27/1995 at New Jersey 1 6 Loss
02/28/1995 at NY Islanders 1 2 Loss
03/04/1995 at Washington 1 5 Loss
03/05/1995 at Buffalo 1 4 Loss
03/08/1995 vs. Buffalo 2 2 Tie
03/11/1995 vs. NY Rangers 3 1 Win
03/13/1995 at Pittsburgh 2 4 Loss
03/15/1995 vs. Pittsburgh 8 5 Win
03/16/1995 at Boston 0 6 Loss
03/18/1995 vs. Quebec 5 4 Win
03/20/1995 at Philadelphia 4 8 Loss
03/22/1995 vs. Florida 2 3 Loss
03/25/1995 vs. Ottawa 3 1 Win
03/27/1995 at Tampa Bay 2 3 Loss
04/01/1995 at New Jersey 1 4 Loss
04/03/1995 at Ottawa 5 4 Win
04/05/1995 vs. Quebec 6 5 Win
04/06/1995 at Quebec 2 3 Loss
04/08/1995 vs. Pittsburgh 2 1 Win
04/10/1995 vs. New Jersey 2 1 Win
04/12/1995 at Philadelphia 2 3 Loss
04/14/1995 at Hartford 3 4 Loss
04/15/1995 vs. Boston 2 3 Loss
04/17/1995 vs. Washington 5 2 Win
04/19/1995 vs. Ottawa 4 1 Win
04/22/1995 vs. Tampa Bay 3 1 Win
04/24/1995 vs. Hartford 3 4 Loss
04/26/1995 at Quebec 1 1 Tie
04/29/1995 vs. Buffalo 3 3 Tie
05/01/1995 at Buffalo 0 2 Loss
05/03/1995 vs. Boston 2 4 Loss

Hockey? I’m Not Ready Yet

I woke this morning to the news – that NHL brains have made a sharp u-turn and hockey will begin again, maybe on January 15, maybe on January 19. (Details can be found on 8,537 news and sports sites).

I’m not ready for this. I’m not finished talking about Gary Bettman and rich hockey players yet. It’s too soon. It’s only January and it’s cold. Hockey should be played where it’s hot, like in Phoenix and South Florida. And how am I supposed to blog about actual hockey games forty-eight or fifty times in the next while when I’m out of shape? Players need training camp? So do I.

I just hope Bruins fans and others don’t keep bringing up the shortened season after Montreal wins it all. It’s going to be a nice, handy excuse for them – that they were just getting going and if it was any longer, they would’ve made the Habs look like the German junior team. This is what we’re up against. It’s gonna suck but we have to be ready for it.

I really was in a no-NHL-state of mind. I’d learned to occupy myself other ways on nights when hockey wasn’t being played. Like watching Sportsnet and TSN go on and on and on about hockey not being played. Good, quality entertainment.

I’m worried for some. Scott Gomez was on a roll with his Alaska Aces, notching six goals and seven assists in just eleven games. Now what? Now he has to stop scoring again. You have to feel for the guy. And Brad Marchand is only halfway through his grade seven course and will have to either stop completely or do homework on planes.

Maybe I can help Marchand, with this advice that comes via Eddie Shack. When Shack was playing, one of his teammates in the dressing room asked him how far he got in school, and Eddie said grade eight. When the other player asked how he managed to get so far, Eddie said it was easy, he’d lend the teacher his car.

It’s not just Gomez or Marchand. They all have to go back to work now. I know this feeling. A nice two or three week holiday and then I’m back in the thick of things and it’s hard. The players have been laying around and golfing and traveling to New York for six months now. Imagine what they’re going through. Hopefully they were able to keep busy. David Booth probably had a nice time blowing bears’ brains out, and Evander Kane had a nice picture taken of himself in Las Vegas holding a couple of three inch wads of bills and pretending the money was a phone. Now that’s fine humour. That’s how you keep busy.

I feel for the owners. Now they have to act like nice people when they show up at their private boxes, and that means they’ll have to tip the $9 an hour person who brings them their 20-year old scotch. Hollywood people can act like they’re nice and normal because they’re actors. Owners don’t have this luxury. They have every other luxury, just not this one.

What about Russian fans who’ve been flocking to KHL games this year? My stepson Denis in St. Petersburg says hockey in Russia has never been so exciting and invigorating to fans there. Now these players who took jobs have to come back to North America and not take anybody’s job and fans in the old country will be left with the team that once was. It’ll take some getting used to. And it’ll be nice for the captain of St. Petersburg SKA to get his “C” back now that Ilya Kovalchuk won’t be needing it anymore.

Can Montreal do well this year? It’ll be a sprint instead of a marathon, and who knows? It depends on how many games before Andre Markov gets hurt, and whether the power play can score sometimes. Maybe Alex Galchenyuk will be in the lineup! Let’s just embrace what we’ll have – a short race to the finish line. It’ll be over before we know it. Then we can get back to what we’re used to – no hockey.




Raising The Cup


Unless these folks in New York decide to come to their senses, quit this nonsense, and give us a lousy 48 game asterisk season, maybe it’s just fine that the Cup probably won’t be awarded this year. The Habs aren’t quite ready yet. Next year they could be, and so thank you Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr and all the wild and crazy gang for not giving us hockey this year, thus allowing the Canadiens to blossom into a force to be reckoned with next year.

In fact, I think I’ll raise a cup right now. My coffee cup.

In the meantime, don’t just watch other sports, check sports betting options and make some quick cash. This is how I’m going to retire to a life of leisure. Betting on sports. I know of no other way.

Here’s what the two sides seem to be down to, from Elliotte Friedman’s fine piece in Friday’s CBSsports site – Bitterness Grows . Maybe you’re trying to make sense of all this, like me, and Elliotte’s explanations below might help somewhat.

Cap: League wants it to be $60 million next year, and Commissioner Bettman is trying keep it low to protect the floor from being too far from the ceiling. The players want $65 million for freer movement.

Contract length: League wants six years (other team’s free agent) or seven (your own). Players want eight overall.

Pensions: Players are determined to get what was previously agreed to. And they should.

CBA length: Both accept 10 years. League wants opt-out after eight, as long as intention to do so is after Year 6. And the CBA ends June 30. Players want opt-out after seven, with the CBA ending September 15.

Variance: League has offered a 30 per cent difference per season, but also that no season in any multi-year deal can be more than 60 percent lower than the highest-salaried one.

Buyouts: There will be two compliance buyouts per team before next season, although both will count against the players’ share of Hockey Related Revenue.

The BIG Story Of 2012

There goes 2012. Maybe it’s a good thing.

The Habs were disturbingly mediocre in 2012, finishing 15/15 in the Eastern Division, one point behind 14th place Islanders and two behind the Leafs. I still feel nauseous.

Along the way, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitysn were shipped to Nashville and I miss Hal. The other guy – not so much. Mike Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket to Calgary after saying publicly that his team was quite pitiful, and that was all well and good except for the fact that the Canadiens got Rene Bourque in return. We’re still not sure if Bourque is dead or alive or just really stoned on valium.

Habs’ brass Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey were dismissed after doing quite a lousy job for way too long, and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur were let go when the season ended, with Michel Therrien announced later on as Cunneyworth’s replacement. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cunneyworth learned to speak French without a trace of an accent. He was on his way out and he and everyone else knew it. Finishing in the basement didn’t help matters either.

Alex Galchenyuk was chosen third overall by the Habs in the 2012 entry draft, thus allowing us to dream that the young fellow will blossom into a Guy Lafleur-type superstar. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big, don’t you think?

The Summer Olympics took place in London and I’m still regretting not training to be a gymnast for these games. Judging by the more than 150,000 condoms that organizers gave out to athletes, it seems like I missed an excellent party. And September of 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, a series which catapulted Paul Henderson from normal, everyday NHL player to monumental icon, and a series which allows me tell everyone how I was a bartender in Sudbury at the time.

And of course 2012 saw the L.A. Kings win the Stanley Cup, once again the Vancouver Canucks collapsed when it counted, a lockout began, and the world didn’t end like it was supposed to.

But none of this can match the BIG story of the year. The story destined to become a movie, a story to tell grandkids and at parties and around the supper table for years to come.

February 9, 2012. The night, while playing against the New York Islanders, when Scott Gomez scored a goal.

It was a mighty feat, his first in more than a year, and it was the winner to boot in the Habs’ 4-2 decision over the Isles. The puck came out to him and although it seems impossible, he shot it right into the net. He did. It’s in the video below if you don’t believe me.

Yes, the biggest story of 2012. Can it get any better than that?

Oh, and Happy New Year. May great things happen to you over the next 12 months.

And The Cup Goes To…..

Danno sends this story over about a small group of folks getting down to business about the Stanley Cup being awarded to an amateur team in Canada, as long as the NHL isn’t playing. Spirit Challenge Cup

I agree. Why should it sit and collect dust? There’s a lot of good teams out there. I’d like to put together a team from my workplace and challenge for Lord Stanley, but I’m not sure any of them can skate.

And if you read this Globe story by Roy MacGregor, you’ll see that these lawyers should be taken seriously

Smile, Gary

I dunno, some people are just more photogenic than others. Take Gary Bettman for example. This recent photo of the commissioner shows him after another marathon four-hour meeting, looking tanned and healthy and ready to tackle any upcoming problems involving those crazy NHLPA people who just don’t seem to get it.

Lookin’ good, Mr. Commissioner. In fact, I’d say you’ve never looked better.


Galchenyuk Rockin’ And Rollin’

Our future star Alex Galchenyuk is on fire. Yes Habs fans, we’ve got a beauty on our hands, and we might even get to see him spin his magic someday when he’s about 25, the lockout has finally ended, and Gary Bettman is back doing what he does best – wanking.

This, from the Sarnia Observer:

In the wake of being named OHL Player of the Week on Monday, Sarnia Sting captain Alex Galchenyuk was named the CHL Player of the Week Tuesday on the strength of his eight points over two games this weekend.

Galchenyuk started with a three-point performance on Friday against Guelph, and followed that with a dominant three-goal, two-assists night Saturday against Kingston. Sarnia won both games to head into the Christmas break with a seven-point cushion atop the OHL West Division.

The scoring flurry has moved Galchenyuk to second place in the OHL scoring race with 61 points, just one back of Niagara’s Ryan Strome for top spot. The 18-year-old will spend the holidays with the American world junior squad.

He is the first member of the Sting to win the player of the week honours this year. Goaltender J.P. Anderson was CHL goalie of the week last week.

Also considered were QMJHL nominee Josh Currie of the P.E.I. Rocket and WHL honouree Josh Nicholls of the Saskatoon Blades. Currie had nine points in three games, while Nicholls had eight in four.

Prince George Cougars netminder Brett Zarowny was named the CHL Goaltender of the Week following a three game stretch where he went 2-1-0-0 with a 1.00 goal-against average, a .968 save percentage and a shutout.