Category Archives: Patrick Roy

“Oops” He Probably Said

Craig Conroy, now the assistant GM of the Calgary Flames, played 1009 games in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis, Calgary, and L.A. (13 total games with the Habs).

He broke into the league with the Canadiens in 1994, and during his first practice with the team he drilled a shot that smashed into Patrick Roy’s mask.

Several Habs jumped him and Patrick Roy punched him in the face.

Oops.

Boxed Patrick

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I bought this 12-inch ‘Patrick Roy’ McFarlane figurine a decade or so ago at Wal-Mart, not because I’m a great Patrick Roy fan, but because this thing is incredibly beautiful. The problem with most figurines is that it’s impossible to re-create the face properly, but with this one, there was no such problem because he’s wearing his mask. And the rest of it is dead-on.

I paid roughly 30 bucks for it, and on ebay now they’re selling for about $200. And the only way for something like this to ever grow in value is to never take it out of the box, which is the case here.

That’s the key, making sure it’s never removed from the box. So you have to make the decision – do you take it out of the box and enjoy it, or leave it in and enjoy it not quite so much?

It’s the same principle, sort of, as never removing the dust jacket from a book. Dust jackets make all the difference in the world of book collecting. Collectors will scramble to find that first edition Ernest Hemingway complete with jacket, and pay the big bucks. But they won’t bother near as much if the same Hemingway doesn’t have the dust jacket.

So always keep them on your books. Unless you just want to enjoy them. Kind of a silly decision isn’t it? If you’re a rebel you’ll just enjoy them with or without, which is why they were written in the first place. Or you could not even read them, just collect them because they have dust jackets.

Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket

The ’86 Cup Gang

It’s certain the Montreal Canadiens of 1986 weren’t a dominant team in the league, or a great team like the Habs of other years. Heck, they weren’t even as good as several other teams in these playoffs. But they won the Stanley Cup and the rest didn’t. And they did it through a blend of old, new, and a goalie who stood on his head.

Montreal’s 1986 Stanley Cup win over the Calgary Flames was the 23rd time the team had drank from the old mug, and surprising as it was for all the armchair quarterbacks and hockey experts of the world, there were actual reasons why they were able to do this drinking.

Patrick Roy standing on his head was a very good reason. The rookie won the Conn Smythe for his performance in these playoffs, and one stop in particular may just have saved the day for the Habs. Coach Jean Perron had called a timeout with the game winding down and Montreal leading 4-3, when just 30 seconds after the timeout and only 14 seconds left, Jamie Macoun thought he had it tied when he fired and waited for the red light. But Roy pulled out the most important big stop of the series to maintain the lead. “I wasn’t on the ice when Roy made that save,” grinned Bobby Smith.  “When he made it, I was on my feet yelling: ‘Roo-ah! Roo-ah!’ This smile is going to be on my face until September.”

But Roy wasn’t the only reason the Canadiens came through. It was simply an amazing and unheralded bunch.

Ryan Walter for example, who played with a half-healed broken ankle, and played like a demon. Team doctors said with astonishment that if it was the regular season, Walter wouldn’t have even skated for another three weeks. Walter later explained, “Adrenaline is an amazing healer with a Stanley Cup in sight.”

Guy Carbonneau, playing with a serious knee injury.

Chris Nilan, who sat out the last two games with a damaged ankle, said of journeymen Serge Boisvert and Steve Rooney, who had filled in, “I’m glad it gave these guys a chance to get their names on the Cup. They deserved it because they worked like hell and never opened their mouths.”

Brian Skrudland, who was knocked out cold early in the final game, put the Canadiens ahead, 2-1, for good in the second period and never missed a shift. Later, in the dressing later, he blurted out, “You don’t know how much being a part of this means to me.  Since I can remember, I’ve always cried when the Canadiens and Saskatchewan Roughriders lost.”

Gaston Gingras, a player who was made fun of in previous years because of miscues and a big shot with no control, was a big-time player in the finals, scoring three large goals. No one made jokes about Gingras after this series was over.

Craig Ludwig, a solid defenceman, with a back so bad he could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

Claude Lemieux, the target of every player in the league, losing two teeth and creating havoc and playing like a man possessed whenever he stepped on the ice.

Rick Green, who performed so well on the blueline he was considered the best defencemen in all of the 1986 series, including those from the other teams. And Green had been a scapegoat because he and Walter had come to Montreal in an unpopular trade that saw Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin sent to Washington.

Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson, thinking their time may have passed and wondering if they would ever win another Stanley Cup – and they played big and won again.

Coach Jean Perron saying this 1986 team was the best defensive team in Montreal history. “When you don’t have great scorers you have to be great defensively. When we hang up that banner in the Forum, it will be screaming ‘defence…defence.’ ”

And there were others who made their mark too; Mike McPhee, Smith, Mats Naslund, Lucien Deblois and Mike Lalor to name a few, and Chris Chelios in just his second full year in the NHL.

Montreal would win again in 1993 and that would be it. We’re still waiting for another.

Heroes and Dreams

001More than a hundred years of heroes and dreams. Of men donning the sweater and hitting the ice. The years of kids watching and reading about, dreaming and becoming. From the time Didier Pitre took a pass from Jack Laviolette and slid it over to Newsy Lalonde, little boys donned the sweater, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, and they became Pitre and Lalonde and all those who came later. kids-sweater1-150x150

From the days of Georges Vezina stopping pucks for Les Canadiens, little kids wanted to stop pucks too, on lakes and ponds and old rinks throughout, and when they wore the sweater, they made the saves with people cheering them, and for all those winter nights near their homes, they were Georges Vezina.

Like magic they became Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat, Toe Blake and George Hainsworth. They wore the sweater on nights so cold it should’ve been illegal, slapping old rubber balls into snowbanks, stopping cow pies on slews, deking friends and sisters and little kids on the pond. wearing the red or white sweater with the simple and beautiful CH crest sewn on front.004

They became the Rocket, and Lach, Bouchard and Harvey, and they saw the game in their dreams. Behind the skaters they were Durnan and Plante crouched by the net, and when the time came, they were the Boomer and Big Jean scoring on the power play. It unfolded at the Forum and the Olympia and Conn Smythe’s old barn and the outdoor rink frozen in winter at the baseball field. And kids heard them on the radio and saw them in black and white and shuffled their bubblegum cards, wearing the sweater and becoming anyone they wanted to be, just when they wanted to be. 003

The wore the sweater when the Pocket Rocket wouldn’t give up the puck, when the Boomer boomed, and when the Gumper kicked out his pads. They opened boxes at Christmas and there was one to put on right away, and they were Ken Dryden and Lafleur and the Big Bird. And their kids and kid brothers wore the sweater when Patrick Roy and Carbo and then Kovalev and Koivu graced the ice. And now, new guard is in place, and kids are becoming them too.

the-rocket-150x150

They said goodbye to the Forum and to the Rocket and all those others who went when it was time and when it wasn’t time, and they wiped little drops of tears from their sweater. And they smiled and clapped and looked above as they watched the sweaters of their heroes raised triumphantly to the rafters.

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Every night now, the Bell Centre is packed with young and old, still wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a dream for more than a hundred years. We are Georges, Howie, the Rocket and Guy. We’re Patrick and Saku and Price and Gally.

We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we continue to hope.002

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A Good Old-Fashioned Slaughter

Twenty-two years to the day after Patrick Roy quit the Habs after allowing 9 goals in an 11-1 bombing by the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum on Dec. 2, 1995, and now this happens.

On Dec. 2, 2017, the Canadiens slaughter the Detroit Red Wings 10-1 at the Bell Centre.

It has to be the Habs ghosts in the rafters. That’s just too weird.

But it’s good though. The boys seem back in business, and on this night, Paul Byron led the pack with three goals, but a plethora of guys also found themselves on the scoresheet:

Galchenyuk 4 assists
Deslauriers 1 goal and 2 assists
de la Rose 1 goal and 2 assists
Carr 1 goal and 2 assists
Hudon 1 goal and 1 assist
Froese 2 assists
Gallagher 1 goal
Shaw 1 goal
Benn 1 goal
Plekanec 1 assist
Danault 1 assist
Weber 1 assist
Mete 1 assist

That’s a lot of contributing from a lot of guys. It’s also five straight wins, with Carey Price in nets for all five.

Patrick Roy pissed me off 22 years ago and I never really forgave him, although Mario Tremblay could’ve handled it differently and taken him out after 4 or 5 goals. But he left him in for 9 goals, which wasn’t right. It was humiliation for one and stubborn nastiness by the other.

Let’s face it, both Roy and Tremblay lost their minds that night.

Tonight, though, my heart soars like the Avro Arrow.

 

Habs Edged By Blue Jackets

bombed

The Stanley Cup champion Columbus Blue Jackets edged the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

A nail biter.  A heart stopper, a thriller, and a barnburner.

Oh, that was game 7 of the World Series.

This game? 10-0.

And the Blue Jackets aren’t Stanley Cup champions?

Oh again.

stinker

And thus, the magical ride smashes full speed into a brick wall, and now we must consider something:

One loss is a baby slump. Two losses is a teenage slump. Three losses is a full-fledged adult slump.

Four or more straight losses is your grandma and grandpa and dead relatives slump.

And a slump creeps up like next month’s Visa bill. So the next game, which is also creeping up quickly, will be interesting.

Simply pathetic in Columbus, against a team 8 points behind our bunch. Inexcusable. I need to talk to the wives about this.

It’s just one loss, but they’ve sucked for several games now. Just as they did last year when they opened the season with nine straight wins.

Cracks in the armour lately. Turnovers. Laziness. Sloppiness. Two guys who score less than the Pope – David Desharnais on the power tonight and Tomas Plekanec on the PP against the Canucks.

I think that’s how it went. I wasn’t really paying a lot of attention as the night wore on.

Picture this: You’re a lifelong Habs fan living near Columbus, and you somehow nailed down a couple of great tickets to finally see your team when they come to town. You couldn’t sleep last night, you waited all day to finally head to the rink, and you wore beloved your Habs sweater with ‘Lafleur’ or ‘Beliveau’ on the back.

You watch your heroes warm up, and you think how much you love seeing that crest in person.

You’re in heaven. It’s so great.

And then your team gets demolished 10-0 and you want to stuff your sweater in the team bus exhaust pipe.

Random Notes:

Of course, if you’re a glass half full kind of person, you can always say that Stanley Cup-winning Habs teams have had a few pathetic nights.

The Canadiens, in their third year of five straight Cups, 1957-58, lost 7-1 to Chicago, on January 12th, 1958.

On Oct. 13, 1985, many months before they’d hoist the trophy, they were handed a 7-2 spanking by Boston.

When they won the Cup in 1993, they were bombed 8-2 by Buffalo on Oct. 11, 1992.

And who can forget Dec. 2, 1995, a non-Cup year but with Patrick Roy in nets, and the team was pasted 11-1 by Detroit.

But on this Friday night, they were embarrassed almost like never before. Snuffed out by the mediocre Columbus Blue Jackets 10-0.

Snuffed. Like this guy.

snuffed

Al Montoya was in nets for all 10 goals.

Shots on goal – Columbus 40, Montreal 30.

Habs power play was 0/1, while the Jackets went 4/5.

Next up – Saturday night, when Philly pays a visit. Will the boys get their shit together?

Or will it become a teenage slump?

 

 

 

Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

A Shootout Loss In Pittsburgh

The Canadiens fall 4-3 in the shootout against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, but that’s fine. They were skating and had their chances, they got a point out of the deal, and their dads, on the father/son road trip, probably still love them anyway.

It was just 13 seconds into the first period when Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis beat Mike Condon, and it goes without saying that a goal right off the bat like that isn’t a good thing. Especially for Condon’s dad, who was seeing his son in the bigs for the very first time.

But Andrei Markov would even things up with blast while on the power play (ranked third overall), and hopefully Markov’s dad was there too to see it.

Sadly though, the Pens would bulge the twine with just 44 seconds left to play in the frame, and the Canadiens went to the room a goal behind.

Tough when you’re scored against in the first and last minutes of the period.

In the second, Max Pacioretty sent Brendan Gallagher into the clear and Gally’s great shot evened things, while later on Brian Flynn fired the puck through Marc-Andre Fleury’s armpits to put the team in front.

Montreal owned things in that middle frame. They had it going, they were skating like the wind, passing the puck around like a first-place team would, and they outshot the home team 13-1 as proof.

All they needed was another goal. But it never came.

Pittsburgh would find their game in the third, eventually tie it, and after no scoring in the 3-on-3 overtime, the Pens, with the help of Sidney Crosby, wrapped it up in the shootout after Galchenyuk and DD didn’t come through.

Looking back, the Canadiens were going good in overtime. They came close several times, and they circled with confidence and moved the puck around in fine style, especially when Galchenyuk, Gallagher, and Markov were on the ice..

Then Tom Gilbert stepped on the ice too soon and the team was called for too many men. Which of course killed any built momentum, and any chance to nail it shut.

Gilbert was also called for holding with 2:17 left in the third period, which wasn’t good either.

An inexcusable penalty to take on a 3-on-3. But like I said, the dads probably still love all of them anyway. Possibly even Gilbert’s dad.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Pittsburgh 38-34 and went 1/4 on the power play.

P.K. Subban recorded two assists, which hurdles him past John Klingberg of the Dallas Stars for most points (16) by a d-man.

Next up – Saturday, when Patrick Roy and his Colorado Avalanche visit the Bell Centre.

And finally, this great artwork done by Wade Alexander (Darth), of Brendan Gallagher. Gally played a fine game and also took a shot in the foot which saw him leave the game, only to return. (Dale Weise also left after being hit by Ben Lovejoy, but also returned.)

Whew, on both counts.

Gally

 

 

 

 

Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.

 

 

 

 

 

Habs In Motown, Via Sooke

welcometosooke

Lucy and I saw the Habs and Red Wings clash from a corner table at Buffy’s Pub in Sooke, BC, pop. 11,000, home of nearby Potholes Provincial Park, where, apparently, some great big holes are.

It was a fine experience. A classic West Coast workingman`s pub – chicken wings, cheap beer, loggers, fishermen, a few women scattered about. About as far away from La Cage Aux Sports as you can get.

We watched it online, because, as you can well imagine, there probably aren`t that many bars in BC that subscribe to RDS or pick up Sportsnet East. The quality was pretty darn good, aside from some slight jerkiness, and geez, I could do this more often!

A fine and solid 2-0 win by the boys. Carey Price’s 30th career shutout, which passes Patrick Roy for fifth best in Canadiens history. A much better performance than what we’ve seen lately by those in front of the world`s greatest goalie, which shows us that those bummers against lesser teams are probably some sort of sick team humour thought up by that wild and crazy P.K. Subban, and we just have to play along with the joke, that`s all.

A goal by Tomas Plekanec with 2:30 left in the third to break the scoreless tie, an empty netter from Max, his 26th of the season, to seal it, and a big two points to put some distance on Hotown, er, Motown, and stay just ahead of the pesky Tampa Bay Lightning who lost 4-3 to LA. (Boston lost too!)

The gang stays best in the East. They’re feeling good, I’m feeling good. Buffy’s has cold beer.

Hic. Wish I was still there.

Next up – Canadiens in Ottawa on Wednesday and the Florida Panthers visit the Bell on Thursday. Four big points isn’t too much to ask. And Ottawa and Florida aren’t complete basement dwellers so there’s no reason to lose.