Category Archives: San Jose Sharks

In The Magazine – Mistakes and All

If you have number six of Les Canadiens magazine from the 1991-92 season, then you have a small story about me, complete with a couple of errors.

I was in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1991, at the time the Soviet Union was falling apart, a mind-blowing and historic time to be sure, and I was visiting a bunch of serious Habs fans who had their own Montreal Canadiens Fan Club. We were at the president of the fan club’s apartment and we sat around drinking tea and talking hockey.

The fellow in the black San Jose Sharks shirt was my translater, and he was a Russian scout for the San Jose Sharks and later the Anaheim Ducks.

That’s me in the middle, clean-shaven, with a serious sunburn. And unfortunately, the magazine made a few mistakes. The picture of the fellow in the Habs jacket holding the puck isn’t me, although it says it is in the caption below it. (It’s Anatoli Brel, who I went with to the meeting).

The story that accompanies the pictures says that “Dennis Kane is the only foreign member of the Canadiens Fan Club in St. Petersburg. As a boy, Dennis was always writing letters to his heros, Doug Harvey, Bernard Geoffrion and Maurice Richard; he still has their lovingly replies. (Second error – I don’t have any replies except for Rocket’s Christmas card and a couple of autographed pictures. The author took some liberties here.)

And then, one day, he came across a newspaper article about Anatoli Brel, a Russian fellow looking for a Canadiens fan with whom to correspond.

After six years of exchanging letters, Dennis decided to go visit his hockey pen pal and meet the fan club people who met once a month to talk about the Habs and bring their statistics up to date. “It was really weird,” he recalls. “There I was, thousands of miles from Canada, on a street in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and there was this huge Canadiens logo in the window.”

Following that memorable meeting, Dennis received a letter officially confirming his membership in the Canadiens Fan Club…St. Petersburg Chapter! What more could you ask?

Phoning Terry Harper

Unlike the time Bert Olmstead hung up on me, Terry Harper, the lanky, stay-at-home defenceman for the Montreal Canadiens from 1963 to 1971, was more than happy to chat, which happened almost a decade ago.

He’s was a nice, friendly fellow (I’m sure he still is) who at the time of the call was living in northern California with his wife Gladys (the two have been together since high school in Regina). We talked about days gone by and even hockey today, and he even showed interest in my life, asking about places I’ve lived and live now. And he felt bad for me when I told him Sam Pollock turned me down when I asked to be stickboy way back then. “I understand Sam’s reasoning,” he laughed. “Imagine how something like that could get out of control?”

“You caught me at a good time,” he said. And he added, “If someone is still interested in what I have to say after 40 years, then I’m completely fine with it.”

Gordie Howe was the best he’s ever seen, he says. “Howe just dominated the game in every aspect, and he did so for so long. He did everything right.” But what about Bobby Orr? I asked. “Orr was fantastic but he didn’t play long enough,” he explained. “He played a transition game with his skating, which was fantastic, but for me he wasn’t even the best defenceman. Doug Harvey is the best ever. For pure defence, it’s Harvey. No one’s been better.”

Jean Beliveau? “He’s a good friend, a super person. He’s one of those who stayed with the team even today, and is a wonderful man and great for hockey.”

Toe Blake? “I really liked and admired Toe. A really thoughtful man, a deep-thinker. And I think the best coach ever.”

Sam Pollock? “Sam liked me. I was his captain for the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens and we got along well. He was a great hockey mind.”

And the game today compared to then? “Players are certainly bigger now. When I played, Jacques Laperriere, Ted Harris and myself were considered huge because players back then weren’t overly big like most are now. Even my first defence partner, Jean-Guy Talbot wasn’t big. We were a new breed.”

“Guys now don’t have harder shots than many back then. A puck can only go so fast. Bobby Hull could get up to about 105 mph, and I don’t think there’s too many who can shoot harder than that. I also don’t think players are faster now either. It’s pretty hard to imagine anyone quicker than Ralph Backstrom or Dave Keon, for example. And don’t forget, equipment now must be 15 pounds lighter at least. Same with the goalies. More pads and lighter overall.”

“Because it was only a six-team league, everyone knew everyone completely. There were no surprises. It was so tight-checking, teams weren’t allowed to make a mistake or a goal would be scored. It was more like a chess match back then. And I think players now probably have the wrong attitude. It’s mostly just about money but where would they be without the fans? It’s the fans who make them. Like you. There’s seems to be no interaction anymore between fans and players.”

Do you still have any of your old Habs sweaters, Terry? “We weren’t allowed to keep those,” he said. “The trainers were strict about that. We always had to hand them in.” (He was surprised when I told him his old number 19 would fetch several thousand at auction now.)

And one last thing. Does he follow the Habs at all now. “I don’t know the team, but I look at the standings in the paper. We don’t get a lot of hockey news here, especially about the Canadiens. We go down to San Jose from time to time to see the Sharks, and we used to make a point of going when Montreal was in town, but the way it is now, there’s years when they don’t even come. So we just go, usually around February when it’s getting important, and it could be any team visiting.”

After Harper’s days in Montreal came to an end, he joined the LA Kings and also did stints in Detroit, St. Louis, and the Colorado Rockies before calling it quits in 1981. He played a total of 19 seasons in the NHL, which is a big-time career, and at the time of this phone call, was a 69-year old, stay-at-home defenceman in his local beer league.

Terry is 77 now.

Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal
Terry, winning another of his five Stanley Cups in Montreal
Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.
Harper and Jacques Laperriere take to the ice for a scrimmage at the Forum.

Habs Fall To Leafs In OT

The Canadiens fell 4-3 in overtime to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, and the hockey world is in utter disbelief that Montreal would give…

…a run for their money.

Yes, Montreal would take the lead just 2:19 into the first period when Jeff Petry blasted one from the point after a nice set up by Jonathan Drouin, they were outplaying the blue and white by a nice margin, the Bell crowd was happy, life was as it should be, but two goals in 44 seconds by the Leafs, who are…

in the history of the world…and the Habs looked to be in big trouble because the Torontonians can score and the Montrealers can’t, so we waited for the Bell Centre roof to cave in. But lo and behold, Alex Galchenyuk, with his first goal (and point) of the season while on the power play, the team’s first PP goal of the season, and it was hard to believe for all concerned.

How could the lowly Montreal Canadiens hang tough like this? Against a team that Central Canada hockey broadcasters, writers, analysts, hanger-ons, groupies, Don Cherry, Richard Simmons, Kim Jong-un, 5000 Syrian refugees, and many more, all consider to be…

Donald Trump can’t wait to invite them to Washington where he’ll have blue trim painted around the White House windows in honour of this juggernaut. Although he’s undecided about Nazem Kadri.

Montreal took the lead in the second period when Jonathan Drouin redirected a Karl Alzner hard pass from the blueline, but just 1:10 later, Patrick Marleau inched the puck just over the line, the teams were tied at three, and would remain so for the rest of the middle frame and all of the third.

Sadly in overtime, Auston Mathews notched the winner, Leaf fans rejoiced, and Sportsnet’s Daren Millard, who compares the Leafs to  Gretzky’s Oilers, had to be excused to go to the bathroom.

All in all, it was Montreal’s best outing of this young season, and now have 1 win, 3 losses, and 1 overtime loss/point racked up. Most importantly, three guys who had yet to score – Petry, Galchenyuk, and Drouin, did so, and maybe it’ll get them rolling. Rome wasn’t built in a day, a few others need to step up, and Max needs to stop shooting from far out at goalies who stop these type of shots while gawking at lovely ladies in the stands.

Another concern lingers, the sometimes mediocre backstopping of Carey Price. With this lineup we need Price at his best most of the time, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve seen some sensational stops from the guy, but because he’s Price, we need more than just some.

They fought valiantly but couldn’t get it done against the…

Random Notes:

The Canadiens now jet to California for games in San Jose on Tuesday, L.A. Wednesday, and Anaheim on Friday.  What a shitty October schedule for this team. Not that there should be any excuses I suppose.

Time now for…

 

Habs Win A Big One

It could’ve been as bad as can be. A loss against the Florida kmPanthers would’ve meant a four-game losing streak. A loss with Al Montoya in nets would’ve meant just three wins in ten games for the poor bugger, along with an extra loss when he replaced Carey Price in the third period of the San Jose game on December 16th.

And a four-game loss with Pittsburgh up next could’ve meant a five-game losing streak, and Habs fans from Timbuktu to Tahsis would begin making plans to jump off the Tallahatchie Bridge.

But they won 3-2 in overtime, so forget about the first two paragraphs. And they did it when Brendan Gallagher, in the midst of a horrendous dry spell, converted Phillip Danault’s sweet feed with just 2:37 remaining in the third to tie it, and in the extra minutes, Max sent Danault in alone, the game was won by the good guys, and plans for the bridge are put on hold for another day or week.

One other thing before I sign off. For months I’ve been racking my brain about how to change this blog a bit, to keep it fresh and original, and to allow me to not have to write the usual 600-word recap after games, which I’ve been doing for nearly ten years and which I’m growing a bit tired of and you’re probably tired of reading too.

But today on my walk, I thought of something. Maybe it’ll be good!

Go Habs in Pittsburgh. Slaughter those bastards.

Random Notes:

After a first-period fluke goal by Florida when the puck changed direction off Shea Weber, Max would tie it in the second on the power play, compliments of a great screen by Gallagher, Florida would go ahead again, and Gally would produce his magic as the clock wore down.

How nice would it be to live in the Miami area. Forget about the drugs and murders and kidnappings and alligators and famous wacko Floridians. You can go to a Habs game and sit anywhere you want!

Next up – in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Nashville on Tuesday, Dallas on Wednesday, and Toronto on Saturday. Bring ’em all on. We’ll see what this team is made of. And the Leafs suck of course.

 

 

Habs Handle Caps

Old mitts. Maybe older than you.

The Canadiens held on and edged the Washington Capitals 2-1 on Caps ice, and displayed a fine rebound game after their pathetic effort Friday against the San Jose Sharks.

Artturi Lehkonen and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and Carey Price made his own personal statement.

After the Canadiens’ great start, especially in October when they racked up eight wins and a shootout loss, each win now makes their chances of making the post season even more secure.

It also means that although they have their down moments, like the Sharks game, or that 10-0 thing in Columbus, once the playoffs start you’ll forget completely about the regular season.

You say you won’t but you will.

And if you look at last year, the year of The Nightmare (also known as The Worst Habs Season Ever), you’ll see that the collapse to end all collapses began in December, when they won the first game of the month, then dropped the next four, won again in the middle of the month, then lost another six, and then won just once more before falling in their final game of December.

Three wins in December and three times in January. And the sky did fall.

But I’m now happy to report that the 2016-17 team has won four times already in December, with six games to go, and they remain top of the heap with Pittsburgh and a couple of other pretenders.

So they’ll make the playoffs (yes they will), we’ll forget about anything else, and then they’ll win the Stanley Cup because everyone will be healthy (Andrei Markov left early tonight) and Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Plekanec will see their luck change and light several lamps as the CH steamrolls everyone in their path..

Oh, you have your doubts? Well you obviously haven’t been talking to Sprague Cleghorn and Didier Pitre like I have.

Habs Fall To Sharks……And The Theory Of Blockativity

The Canadiens slept for 50 minutes, fell behind 4-0, and finally woke up and made a game of it, scoring twice and also waking Bell Centre fans up.

But it was too late. 4-2 Sharks.

It was so bad, Carey Price was yanked after the fourth goal and replaced by Al Montoya. Price looked pissed at the coach as he exited.

This is the problem with the boys living at home during hockey season and not thinking hockey every minute of the day, especially at bedtime. I think they should live in isolated camps like Soviet players did 40 or 50 years ago, with a couple of phone calls home once or twice a week.

Maybe they wouldn’t be so sluggish like they were on this night.

I’ll make sure your wives are comfortable, boys. Don’t worry about that. Just concentrate on the job at hand. You can hang out with your wives for two months every summer.

Brian Flynn and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal, and if you need any other information… shots on goal, the power play, penalties etc, there’s about 100 places on the Internet, including Facebook and Twitter, where you can see all that.

Leaf coach Mike Babcock said the other day that to stay competitive, he needs his team to grab at least 6 points in every 5-game block.

His Leafs, of course, have failed miserably so far in this regard, although I’m way too lazy to actually figure out their numbers.

But let’s see how the Habs have done, using this Babcockian Theory.

Games      Points

1-5 ——     9
6-10 —-   10
11-15 —     8
16-20 —     3
21-25 —     6
26-30 —     6

Not bad, except for the 16 to 20 game stretch, when they got a point in their 4-3 OT loss to Florida, and a 2-1 win against Toronto. But they fell to Chicago, Carolina, and Ottawa during this 5-game block.

 

The Captain Came To Play

hooray

Captain Max put his team ahead just 14 seconds into the third period, and the Canadiens snag a big 2-1 win over their ungrateful guests, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Not a great game by the Canadiens, they were dominated by the Canes at times, particularly in the second frame when Carolina owned the puck and Montreal managed just 4 feeble shots.

But whatever. Carolina still lost. Ain’t life grand?

The boys were also outshot by the visitors 32-22 overall, and a hearty thanks it is to Carey Price, who shut the door when called upon, even though it is slightly disturbing to see once again that it was him to the rescue.

Maybe we just have to get used it. Maybe our man Price will take us to the promised land.

Thursday night was a night when silent guns suddenly became a bit louder, with Max chosen first star, and his linemates Tomas Plekanec and Brendan Gallagher collecting assists on the game winner.

Max even rang one off the post late in the third, so maybe the slump gods have found some peace and love up there.

Even DD got into the act when he (and Charles Hudon) assisted on Andrew Shaw’s goal in the first period that tied it at one apiece after Carolina had opened the scoring.

Spread the wealth, boys. It’s as basic a game plan as there is.

It reminds me of when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bantam Bulldozers and………

Never mind.

Random Notes:

The team now meets the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday night, and then it’s off to California for a Tuesday lace-up in Anaheim, then Friday in San Jose and Sunday in Los Angeles before ending the journey in St. Louis the following Tuesday.

Long road trips can be good and bad. Just stay away from Whisky A Go Go on the Sunset Strip, boys. And don’t worry about your wives. I’ll see to it that they’re in good hands.

Bonus Random Note:

I mentioned the other day that on November 22, 1968 my buddy and I sailed to England on an ocean liner, and here’s the ship’s weather log for each day of the journey.

ship-log

empress

 

16 Left

KerryAbove, the Canadiens at their hotel in Winnipeg.

If there’s one thing we can say about the four-game road trip the Canadiens just completed, it’s that it was a four-game road trip they just completed.

Games in San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and finally Winnipeg.

They lost all four, of course.

But they looked good in their Montreal Canadiens uniforms, with that big CH on the front.

The same uniform, in fact, that good Montreal teams used to wear. The big difference is, it used to be six months of cheering. Now it’s two months of cheering and a four-month prostate examination given by Andre the Giant.

Nothing unusual about the final game of the trip against the Jets in Winnipeg, as they scored two, like they did in the other three games of the trip, and PK Subban only turned the puck over once that led to a goal.

And to add to the merriment, Brendan Gallagher suffered a lower body injury and didn’t return.

There’s only 16 games left. Can they make us proud and win one?

Random Notes:

I saw an interesting Fats Domino documentary on PBS the other day.

Alex Galchenyuk scored both Habs goals.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Dallas Stars visit Montreal. In this game, the Canadiens will try to win, and PK will try not to give the puck up.

Both tasks will be tough.

 

Habs Throttled By Sharks

SanJose

The Habs in San Jose may be late for those back east as the puck drops at 10:30 and the thing ends around 1 am, but it’s late for me in Powell River too, where it starts at 7:30 and finishes around 10:00.

That’s late. Because I’m a big suck.

So this recap is gonna be short and mediocre because I need to get to bed so I can get up in the morning and give my usual 165% at my part-time job.

And on Wednesday they’re in Anaheim at 10:00 ET, and Los Angeles on Thursday at 10:30 ET, so those recaps will probably stink too.

First period:

The Sharks opened the scoring when Joe Thornton, left so long at the side of the net that he had time to pick ticks and small mice from his beard, lit the lamp.

Brendan Gallagher would even things when his harmless shot from the side got caught up in Sharks netminder Martin Jones’ skates and in it went.

But the Sharks would take the lead once again when Joe Pavelski blasted one home.

Shots on goal this period were Sharks 13, Habs 7.

Second period:

Brent Burns, who takes a back seat to no one when it comes to beards, made it 3-1 after converting a pass from Thornton. The two of them look like they should be in ZZ Top.

The Canadiens would close the gap when Torrey Mitchell batted home Paul Byron’s short Texas leaguer, and came close to tying it with 30 seconds left when Tomas Plekanec was stoned by Jones point blank.

Canadiens outshot the Sharks 10-9 in this period.

Third period:

4-2. Then 5-2. Then 6-2.

Habs were lousy. Outshot 14-6 in the third period and 36-23 overall.

Mike Condon has seen better days.

Thus ends February, with the team giving us six wins and seven losses.

Next up – Wednesday in Anaheim.

 

 

Habs Wax Leafs

iron 1

Two huge goals in the third period by the captain, and great work throughout by the new guy and the big young guy, and the Canadiens top the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1.

This gives the boys two straight wins, or three of their last four, and although their season still sucks, they’ve played better lately. It kind of makes my heart soar like a kite with holes in it.

And no, the team’s not tanking, it’s not the proud or right way of doing things. It’s management who would do the tanking anyway, not the players, and the Montreal Canadiens aren’t the 1919 Chicago White Sox.

The first period saw the Leafs strike first, but a great wrist shot from Alex Galchenyuk would even things, while the second period featured a couple of noteworthy events:

Brendan Gallagher batted the puck in, but it was decided his stick was too high, although maybe by just a whisker. Personally, I thought it was legal but I’m biased.

The goal that did count soon after was one that began with 6’6″ Michael McCarron ramming an enemy body into the end boards, with the puck nicely kept in for Devante Smith-Pelly to get his stick on.

This would mark big McCarron’s first point in his three games with the club, and with his size, if the veterans try to make this rookie buy the dinners, all he has to do is look down at them and say no.

In the third frame, when the score was tense at 2-1, Max Pacioretty finally came alive, scoring his 22nd of the year after taking a great cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov, and then notching his 23rd from a rebound off the back boards.

Maybe this will light a fire under Max’s arse. There’s 20 games left, and the team is clinging to life. If Max hasn’t exactly been great leadership material in the past, maybe as the season winds down he can show us some. A slew of goals would help.

Michael McCarron needs to win a regular spot in a big way. Imagine people calling the Habs a big team instead of what we’ve heard for years now?

A hulking forward like him, crashing the net, having his way with smaller opponents, contributing on the scoresheet, maybe winning most of his fights. Damn.

Twenty-three year old Quebecer Phillip Danault, over from Chicago in the Weise-Fleischmann trade, looked completely at home, winning his share of faceoffs, in on several scoring chances, and doing some bumping.

He might not a big point-getter, at least not yet, but Danault was impressive. And set to become UFAs anyway, Weise had come back to earth after his early season Dutch Gretzky act, and Fleischmann may have started the year in fine style, but sure wasn’t ending it like that.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Leafs 36-32.

Mike Condon, in his fourth straight start, once again played well.

That’s twelve games played in February, with one remaining, and the team has won 6 of these 12. Not fantastic, but better.

Next up – Canadiens begin their three-game series in California, beginning with the Sharks in San Jose on Monday night. (10:30 ET).