Category Archives: Toe Blake

A Kid At The Forum




When I was about 13, I took a bus from Orillia to Montreal with a friend to see the Canadiens for my first time. It was the original Forum before it was renovated in 1968, and I remember there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

I also took a picture of Toe Blake’s Tavern on Rue Ste. Catherines, which is now long gone. (The tavern, not the street.)

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station, I was in rough shape.

A thirteen-year old kid with a hangover.


Friday’s Washington Game

Couldn’t see all of the Friday night Habs-Washington tilt, I’m in Ottawa at a family reunion,, and all I know from glancing back and forth from time to time was that Alex Galchenyuk looked good playing on the right side with Morenz at centre and Joliat on left wing.

I also thought the pairing of P.K. Subban and Doug Harvey on the blueline was a good fit, especially on the power play when Harvey outsmarted three Capitals, sent it over, and PK blasted one home.

Max Pacioretty, playing on a line with Jean Beliveau and Maurice Richard, dinged more than one biscuit off the post and apparently enjoyed a fine night all round. Playing with Le Gros Bill and Rocket seems to really agree with Patches, and I hope Toe Therrien keeps them together.

I also hope Toe sticks with the Lach, Bournival, and Lafleur line as well. I see good chemistry there. And anytime now I’m expecting the Steve Shutt, Lars Eller, and Brendan Gallagher triumvirate to finally break out of the doldrums.

The problem is, neither Peter Budaj in the first two periods and Jacques Plante, who replaced Budaj in the third, could handle Alex Ovechkin, who had the two netminders’ numbers in a big way. And it certainly didn’t help when John Ferguson was sent to the box for goalie mugging and shortly after, Brandon Prust for tripping, and it was left to Claude Provost and Tomas Plekanec to kill unnecessary and ill-timed penalties.

Although I must admit, I enjoyed seeing Sprague Cleghorn coldcock the obnoxious Mikhail Grabovski, even though it put us behind the eight-ball once again.

The team really has to get it together. Bobby Orr and the big, bad Bruins are well ahead in first place, and Tampa Bay continues to play well. And if Phil Kessel and Dave Keon continue their torrid goal scoring pace, Toronto’s going to be tough.

Habs get it done/not done in Washington Friday night. And they’ll have their hands full when the Penguins come to town on Saturday.

It’ll be nice when Cournoyer finally gets back.

The Morenz Memorial Program

Howie Morenz passed away on March 8, 1937, and that fall, on November 2, the NHL All-Stars featuring Eddie Shore, Charlie Conacher, Busher Jackson and the gang played a Montreal Canadiens/Maroons combination with Aurele Joliat, Johnny Gagnon, Toe Blake and Jimmy Ward and the rest to raise money for the Morenz family.

Howie Morenz Jr., who was about 10, skated in the pre-game warmup and took shots on both goalies.

This is the program from that night.





That’s Tony Demers on the left, circa 1942, with a couple of youngsters named Elmer Lach and rookie Maurice Richard.

Kind of a pre-Punch Line.

But it wouldn’t become the Punch Line because (a) Toe Blake filled that role nicely, and (b), Tony Demers ended up in the penitentiary.

You can see Tony’s situation right here – Eight Years in the Big House

Tony was born and raised in Chambly, not far from where I’m living right now. He died in 1997, and if he was still alive, he’d be 96.

Punch Played

It’s hard to picture Punch Imlach as anything but a hard-assed coach. But the guy who coached first the Quebec Aces of the Quebec Senior Hockey League, then the Springfield Indians in the AHL, and then became the notorious and egotistical taskmaster with the Leafs and Sabres, began as a really good player, the “best centre in the loop”, they said.

But it’s still hard not to think of him as the guy in the fedora behind the Leafs bench, playing cat and mouse with the Habs’ Toe Blake, and being so hard on Frank Mahovlich that the Big M was once hospitalized because of Punch’s daily pressure.

Although it doesn’t look like it in this picture. But things would deteriorate.

Big M

This is when he was playing for Cornwall in 1941-42.

Imlach best



The Original Six In Splendid Quality

I’m out of town for the day and thought I’d just re-post this because it’s so freakin’ unbelievable. Enjoy the Original Six, with Beliveau and the gang, in splendid quality.

I don’t know how often this has ever been in circulation, but it’s one of most greatest ten minutes of hockey clips you’ll ever see.

It’s from 1967, the quality is sensational, like it was filmed today, and we see Jean Beliveau, as smooth as smooth can be, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Jacques Laperriere, Terry Harper, Ralph Backstrom, Terry Sawchuk, and just about everybody else from that time, all from the old Montreal Forum with the pillars in the background.

It’s called Blades and Brass, is set to music of a Mexican brass band, and comes from the National Film Board of Canada. So just sit back and enjoy the Original Six at the old Montreal Forum, in perfect quality.

Jacket Diaries


This is my jacket, the same type as you’d see in Toe Blake photos and hockey cards, and is what the trainers in team photos would be wearing way back when. This baby’s from the mid-1950s. I have it in preparation of my being called up for the stick boy job.

A year ago I started to walk. I walked here and there and everywhere, almost every day, and in about six months I’d lost 25 pounds. And one day I tried this jacket on and it fit, which it didn’t before. A little short maybe, but it fit.

I brought this jacket to Montreal with me, and during the trip across the country, it was a lot of restaurant meals and sitting around with beer in the evenings. I ate pastries from those free hotel continental breakfasts, bought the odd Caramilk at gas stations so we could press on, and drove, ate, drank beer, sat around some more, and when we finally got to Montreal, I started a new job where I’m not moving around at all.

Now the jacket doesn’t fit as well anymore.

Is this a sad story?

Below, Toe wearing one from a different year, with the flags on the other arm, along with some different shading in the crest.


Montreal Musings


It’s been almost three weeks in Montreal now, and I’m really wishing I owned a car with air conditioning.

Aside from trying to settle in, which is asking a lot considering we came from a sleepy and beautiful little town with not a whole lot of hustle bustle, Luci and I have done some Montreal touring. Toured and got lost. That’s what we do. We’re pros.

We spent some time in Old Montreal with Marjo, who was a delight. A lovely woman full of vim and vigour, who looks about twenty years younger than she is. It’s serious fun when I can finally meet someone from my blog. First Marjo and then Darth. Good people, these Habs fans. Fine Montrealers. I’ll bet they don’t tailgate like everybody else.

We walked through the Montreal Forum, which wasn’t a delight and wasn’t lovely. Unless you’re a fan of indoor malls with hockey mementos scattered about and ghosts of hockey past hovering in the ceiling, pulling their invisible hair out.

We walked the halls of the Bell Centre, and although the doors were locked, we can now say we’ve been there. In a boring and idiotic kind of way.

We took in some blues at Bistro a Jojo’s on Rue St. Denis, which was both a cool bar and a cool street. We walked along Ste. Catherines, spent an afternoon on club-filled Crescent St., (which I’d like to see on a Friday or Saturday night), drove up to Mount Royal and peered over part of the city, but the best view meant paying for parking and I’m tired of getting shafted so we pretended the view was there as we drove away.

We’ve been stuck in major traffic more than once, went to the Bell Complex in Brossard and watched Habs prospects teach kids at a hockey school, and found a Russian grocery store for Luci.

We’ve had people honk their horns at us, and after I almost ran over a guy on a bicycle, he yelled and swore at me and I yelled back, because I’m not going to take it anymore. Even if I did almost kill him and it was my fault. But I was lost and looking around, gawdammit.

It’s been great fun sometimes, and sometimes not. We feel we’re outsiders, not part of anything. Lost souls working on a new chapter. Hoping to become comfortable. A part of things. Become Montrealers, at least for now. Sharing the same city as did Leonard Cohen and Mordecai Richler, Toe Blake’s Tavern, and the Rocket and Morenz.

I just miss my cat and she misses me. But I’ll get her here, come hell or high St. Lawrence water.


More Long Weekend Hockey Coin Stuff

Ditto to yesterday’s post Long Weekend Hockey Coins, where the key words were “exhausted, 1961-62, Shirriff, and 140%.” And maybe “couch.”

Today, replace 1961-62 with 1962-62, and definitely include the words exhausted and 140%.

Hockey coins back then were a big success. I personally bought so many bags of Shirriff potato chips to get them, I probably paid for one of their new fancy potato slicing machines.

Below, my nice 60-coin 1962-63 metal set from Shirriff.


The previous two years to this, coins were plastic.

The whole idea of hockey coins, along with with car coins, baseball coins, airplane coins etc, that came out during these years, was just fantastic. We had so much fun with these, at school and flipping against walls, and trying to get them all. Beautiful.




Long Weekend Hockey Coins

You’re partying, opening up the cottage, slacking off, laying on the couch, picking your toenails, practicing yoga, drinking beer, while I’m giving my usual 140% at work, making sure travelers get on the ferry boat in fine fashion.

Naturally I’m exhausted, and because of this, I’ll just take some pictures of my 1961-62 hockey coins which I had collected when I was a kid and am lucky enough to still have now. I don’t have the energy for anything else. 140% is a lot.

It took a lot of Shirriff potato chips and Salada jello and pudding, but I managed to get the entire set, then the shields to complete it.

You relax and enjoy the holiday weekend. I’ll just go to work.