Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Canadiens Burn Leafs In Opener


(Cool Carey Price portrait created by our friend Darth aka Wade Alexander)

Opening night for the Canadiens and Leafs at the ACC in Toronto, and the boys wearing the CH did what we knew hoped they’d do – send the local fans and the homer Sportsnet television crew home to pound whiskey and scream in the shower.

It wasn’t like the Habs outplayed the Babcockians though. Not by any stretch. Much of the time they were flat and disorganized, but Carey Price saved the day, something we’re definitely familiar with, and something which is both good and bad.

Good because he saved the day. Bad because he had to save the day.

Price stopped 36 of 37 shots, while the Habs fired 30 at Jonathan Bernier, who, by the way, has a tremendously hot fiancee (as seen on Hockey Wives).

It’s only game one, much too early to criticize, and in looking at things, we see the Habs in first place and the Leafs in last. But the so-called hockey panelists at TSN and Sportsnet rank Montreal 9th and 11th best overall, so as the weeks and months unfold, we need a tightened-up ship to show these folks they’re talking through their derrières.

Brand new captain Max Pacioretty scored twice, first on his team’s first shot of the game which trickled over the line behind Bernier, and an empty netter to seal things.

New centreman Alex Galchenyuk had put his team ahead 2-1 in the third before Max put the Leafs out of their misery, and the charitable P.K. Subban set up all three markers.

Two points, that’s all we need to focus on. After all, there’s 81 more games to get the proverbial shorts in a knot.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens were 0/1 on the power play, although Galchenyuk rang one off the crossbar.

A Jeff Petry goal in the second frame was called back after the Babcockian One used the new coach’s challenge, which can be implemented instead of a time out. Tomas Plekanec’s stick was found to be bothering Bernier’s chest at the time of the goal, and a closer look decided “no goal”.

A couple of cheapshots to mention – one by Leo Komarov, who slammed Subban from behind, and another from Nazem Kadri, who ran over Alexei Emelin’s face.

This is the kind of stuff that hardrock Zack Kassian might have dealt. And in case you’re interested, Lucy tells me in all seriousness that the name Komarov means “Son of Mosquito”.

Next up, Saturday, when the team skates onto Boston ice to meet Brad Marchand and company. Kassian might have said hello to this rat too, but alas……

Below, Bernier’s better half, Maxime Forget.






The Big Sports Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.






Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.


My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.





Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.



The Old Phone Book, With Orr And….

My old Orillia and area phone book that I grabbed years ago, just before my old man threw it out.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., where young Gordon grew up. The singer would’ve been about 20 when this phone book came out, and had moved out of the house just the year before.

My good buddies Kerry Baker and Robin Metcalfe also lived on Harvey St, and my dad worked for awhile at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

You see the Lightfoot listing halfway down, and further up is former NHLer Rick Ley’s dad Norman at 47 Wyandotte.

The book also features the area surrounding Orillia, including Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home, listed as Douglas Orr, (his dad) at 21 Great North Road. And Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr, is at 67 River. Bobby was about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into the Sundridge pages and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930’s and 40’s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but had also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, the family home of respected Canadian writer Roy MacGregor in Huntsville, (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team), and John MacWilliams’ home in Huntsville.

And finally, the old homestead at 5 Elmer Ave.


Bob Hope In Orillia, Jiggs In Hollywood

In September of 1957, Orillia hockey star Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, was 9 years old, Orillia folksinger Gordon Lightfoot was 19, Bobby Orr, 60 miles up the road, was 9, and I was a month shy of being 7.

And in September of 1957, Hollywood funnyman Bob Hope, fresh from hanging out with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour, close friends with a bunch of Presidents, and star of stage and screen, came with his family for a nice visit to Orillia. (The above photo is Hope in Orillia and comes from one of my dad’s photo albums).

I was there, although I don’t remember it. But my dad told me we were all there. He told me about Hope and his wife and kids riding in a parade down the main street. And he told me the Hope clan were guests of my dad’s boss, who happened to own a local factory.

It seems Hope had been invited to Orillia to help celebrate the expansion of Orillia’s radio station, CFOR. I’m thinking he must have been in the area anyway.

It’s also a beautiful thing when I can tie in CFOR to NHL hockey.

CFOR’s sports guy was Ken McDonald, and Ken was a great guy. My sister worked with him when she was a radio copywriter, and he would not only do radio sports, but on the side he would broadcast minor hockey games from the Orillia Community Centre. I can remember my grandma and I huddled by the radio one night in the early sixties when Ken described Archie Rankin scoring the big goal with just seconds left as the Orillia juveniles captured the Ontario championship in dramatic fashion.

In 1966, the Los Angeles Kings were granted a team in the league’s first expansion, and Ken McDonald was offered and accepted the big job of being the Kings’ very first play-by-play guy. I suppose it was owner Jack Kent Cooke who decided the name Ken McDonald just wasn’t fancy enough for the Hollywood market, and from that day forward, Ken McDonald became Jiggs McDonald. Over the years, Jiggs became one of the NHL’s best and longest-lasting broadcasters, with gigs with the Atlanta Flames, New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Florida Panthers. He also had a brief stint doing New York Mets games.

When I ended up in jail for a week in Los Angeles during the summer of 1967 (breaking curfew after Sunset Strip riots), my sister phoned Ken/Jiggs in LA and asked him if he could help. I never learned if he did or not, but after a week behind bars, a plane ticket showed up from my parents, who had absolutely no money, to get me back to Canada, and I was set free.

Maybe Jiggs pulled some strings. If so it’s taken a lot of years, but thanks a lot, Mr. McDonald.

Readable Shin Pads




You can say to yourself, after looking at these pictures, that wow, skates in the 1937-38 Eaton’s catalog were only a couple of bucks,  sticks a buck or less, sweaters just two bucks or so, and  jock straps at $1.95 for top of the line Protex.

Beats those $350 sticks and $800 skates and all that.

But the average wage then hovered around fifty cents an hour and folks had just suffered through the Dirty Thirties. A buck or 50 cents was still a lot, unless your name was Babe Ruth or John Dillinger.

And instead of buying shin pads for 98 cents, more often than not, kids strapped on these Eaton’s catalogs for free and they worked just fine.

You’ll noticed that Toronto Maple Leafs star Red Horner endorsed the top of the line, $4.95 skates. Horner starred for the Buds from 1928-29 to 1939-40.

You can also see, in the second photo, Montreal, Toronto, Chicago, and New York Americans sweaters, but without the crests. This kind of explains why it’s so difficult to find crested sweaters from those days. If Eaton’s didn’t sell them, who did?

Speaking of sweaters, the Canadiens are going with the laced-neck style this upcoming 2015-16 season, something the boys wore (aside from a couple of years in the mid-forties), from 1943-44 to 1974-75, after which they went with the v-neck.

Good to see these back. Maybe the boys will play like Richard, Beliveau and Harvey with them on.

Do you say ‘sweater’ or ‘jersey’? I’ve always said ‘sweater’, although my son says that’s truly uncool and old fashioned and everyone says ‘jersey’ now and I should get with the times. But I’m uncool and old-fashioned, so I’m sticking with sweater.

I scored these great catalogue pages from good old Kouli the Greek in Vancouver, a man who lists some of the coolest hockey stuff on eBay. Check him out hereKouli the Greek

Well I Woke Up Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning and although the grass needs cutting, I can’t get out there and do it because a little baby is sleeping. What a fantastic excuse!

Nathan Beaulieu has signed a two-year contact with the Habs, at a million per. Great to  have this done, it doesn’t break the bank, and it should inspire the young fellow to be all he can be and ink a whopper in a few years.

It seems like only yesterday that we debated the idea of who would win a full-time job first, Beaulieu or Jarred Tinordi, but Beaulieu came through with his skating, puckhandling and poise, while Tinordi lagged behind because of his tentativeness with the puck. But we can’t give up on the big fellow, mainly because he’s a big fellow.

And regarding Beaulieu and his dad’s assault charge in 2013, it came to light only recently that the two had heard someone at a party saying Kane’s blog sucked and they naturally took matters into their own hands. “Nobody says that and gets away with it,” said papa Jacques Beaulieu.

The Leafs have signed former Leaf Wally Stanowski to a one-year deal. Stanowski, 96, says he’s anxious to suit up as it’s been awhile, and if someone can help him onto the ice and then off again, he feels he should be at least as mobile as Dion Phaneuf, and probably a better fighter.

Below, Wally at a recent press conference. “With Montreal inking Beaulieu, we felt this signing was necessary to keep pace,” said Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. “All we ask is that he quits smoking.”


Other tidits: The Chicago Blackhawks have taken a 3-2 series over Tampa Bay, the Arizona Coyotes are in building lease trouble, and NBC’s Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus says playoff beards should go.

It’s hard to know which is the most important of the three. Probably the Cup Final, although as a Habs fan, any playoff passion has been squeezed out like that last drop from a bottle of Four Aces. And then, of course, the Coyotes situation, which everyone should be used to by now, and which could possibly end with Quebec getting their well-deserved team.

But the beard thing is definitely important too.

“I just don’t like the beards,” said Lazarus. “You can’t see their faces. Although, for that very reason, it was good when Brad Marchand grew one.”

For me, I don’t know what to think. The Rocket and Beliveau never grew playoff beards. What about that?

Below, Lazarus at his recent press conference, explaining the beard problem.


Summer Windbag

May 20 – Mike Babcock leaves the Detroit Red Wings to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the deal calling for 50 million bucks over eight years. Seriously, that’s more than I made at BC Ferries.

Last year Toronto brought in a hot shot advanced stats guy, and now it’s this coach. We’re all screwed. The Leafs will probably be fantastic from now on. Unstoppable every year until the two of them retire. Leafs fans are lucky.

May 21 – Babcock mentions at his big press conference that the Leafs are “Canada’s team”.

May 25 – Today I’ve been thinking about what Babcock said about Canada’s team. I wanted to know who Canada is, the one the team belongs to, so I typed in Canada 411 and had a look.

The problem is, there are quite a few people in Canada named Canada, and I’ve no idea which one the Leafs belong to. There’s Graham Canada in Brampton, Vicki Canada in Vancouver, Gorving Canada in Toronto, Sheldon Canada in Alberta, and a whole bunch in Manitoba, including Mervin and Terry. Others too, including Catherine Canada in Quebec. And then there’s the parents and siblings. All these Canadas, and at least one of them owns the Leafs. Right now we don’t know which one, but I’m hoping it’s Mervin.

Whichever Canada it is, maybe his or her granddad was part of the crew that helped build Maple leaf Gardens and took shares from Conn Smythe instead of money. And if it’s one of the Manitoba Canadas like Mervin, the neighbours probably had no idea. They thought the Canada clan down the road were Jets fans.

May 27 – Guy Lafleur says Brendan Gallagher should captain the Canadiens. Guy says what he thinks, and I say good for him, he doesn’t keep things bottled up inside which could lead to ulcers. Last year he put the hammer down on Max and Tomas Vanek for having lousy post seasons, before that it was Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau’s handling of Alex Kovalev, and in 2007 he said the Habs were a team of 4th liners. I’m sure there were more.

Management must grit their teeth when they find out that the Flower has spoken again.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Guy or any of us think about who should wear the C. It should be put to a dressing room vote. They know each other. They have showers together. But call the vote when no one’s expecting so there’s no time for players to do some personal brown nosing to garner votes, like buying flowers for the other guys’ wives, or babysitting their kids.

And sadly, Carey Price’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot. You know, the goalie/captain thing. But if Price was a forward or d-man, it’s the captaincy for sure.

June 2 – Jeff Petry signs a new six year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens. I like the Habs blueline. You got yer P.K. and Petry and Beaulieu and Emelin and Pateryn and Tinordi. And yes, even Old Man Markov, who will be relying on smarts only from here on in, which is still good.

June 3 – The Stanley Cup Final featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks begins. Canada’s team isn’t involved. Probably next year because they have the coach and the stats guy. Mervin or Graham, or whichever Canada it is that the team belongs to, will be cheering wildly from Manitoba or wherever.

June 4 – Something slightly unusual happens to me today.



Habs Chill At Tremblant

The Canadiens are holed up at beautiful Mont-Tremblant, a resort village nestled in the Laurentian Mountains, far from the madding crowds.

Here they’re able to bond, practice nearby, nurse wounds, put shaving cream in teammates’ shoes, and focus on one particular order of business.

Sweeping the Sens.

I just don’t know why they need to escape at all.  Habs fans and the media are a laid-back bunch who would hardly bother them at all. Right?

The Canadiens have been heading to this spectacular region at playoff time off and on for decades, and below are a couple of write ups from my scrapbook when they were preparing to do battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1964.

At that time they chilled out in Ste-Marguerite Station.



A Train Carrying The Habs Nearly……


There was a moment in time, just a month after I was born, when, according to a story I’d read somewhere a few years back, we almost lost the Montreal Canadiens after a train carrying the boys almost plunged into an icy river. We’re talking the Rocket and Doug and Butch and Elmer and the whole gang.

The Canadiens had fallen to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-1 in Toronto (which was bad enough) on December 20, 1950 , and hours later were heading back to Montreal.

Just 35 miles or so from the city, the train began to cross the Dorion bridge high above the St. Lawrence River, but a cracked wheel bearing caused the baggage car to hop the rails. Quickly the next four cars also left the track, and members of the Canadiens apparently moved to one side of their car to try and keep it from tipping.

Finally, after a few harrowing moments, the train managed to hug the rails and make it across. Barely.

Several passengers were injured although all of the Canadiens players were fine, and everyone was brought back to Montreal by another train and some buses.

But it was as close as can be to losing the entire Montreal Canadiens when their train came within a whisker of hurtling into the cold St. Lawrence below.






They Wanted To Meet Rocket


When the Soviet all-stars, selected from various Moscow clubs, made their historic visit to Canada in November of 1957, their main requests were to see an NHL game and meet Maurice Richard.

They took in a game between Chicago and the Leafs at Maple Leaf Gardens, and hoped that the Rocket would visit them in Ottawa on November 6 when the Soviets would play the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, “if the Rocket is fit to travel” they added.

I don’t know why the Rocket wouldn’t be fit to travel on November 6th. He hadn’t been injured and I think he’d played all 14 games to that point. But he sure wasn’t fit just seven days later when he severed his Achilles tendon in a game against Toronto and was gone for three months.

He’d only see action in 28 games that season, mostly because of this serious injury, and  that, along with the fact that he was now 36-years old, combined to make for a dismal season. Two years later he would hang ’em up for good.

And as far as I know, the meeting with the Russians in Ottawa didn’t happen, which of course hurt the already delicate Cold War situation (just joking). :-)

Here’s a photo from my scrapbook, showing the Rocket just seconds from having his Achilles tendon sliced.