Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Bombed By Bottom Feeders

sinking

I’m assuming the Canadiens wandered into Columbus feeling renewed and re-energized after beating the Leafs last Saturday.

The start of something better. Good times are here again!

And then they get trounced 5-2 by the worst team in the league.

Downward they go. Where they stop, nobody knows.

They’re playing with my head, these people. Stop the season, I wanna get off. Pathetic, soft, unorganized bunch of multi-millionaires, playing with my emotions.

A friend today told me about a game he used to play when he lived in New Guinea. Darts, using a real dart gun. Sounds excellent.

This is going to be my new favourite sport, because I can’t handle what the Habs are doing to me. And maybe I’ll put a picture of the team on the dartboard.

I thought, before tonight, that they could finally win two in a row after not doing so since November. After all, it was only the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets.

And the Canadiens play these same BJs in Montreal on Tuesday, so it was probably going to be three in a row.

A beautiful winning streak to make us happy. And then they’re blasted 5-2 and a dagger gets rammed into my already battered heart.

Can it get any sadder?

Can life be any better for Habs haters?

Random Notes:

Habs outshot Columbus 34-25 and were 1/3 on the power play.

Montreal’s goals came from Gally and PK, with PK’s a big blast from outside the blueline.

Two posts were hit, by Eller and Petry. I’m grasping at straws here.

 

 

Canadiens Begin Their Win Streak!

H L ad

It took Max and Lars Eller to come through in the shootout as the Canadiens down the Leafs 3-2 in Toronto, thus avoiding suicides, bricks through TVs, and serious hairpulling throughout Habsland.

Not really a fantastic win, or even a great win. Maybe only a decent win. But it was a big one as they snap a five-game losing streak in the midst of a gigantic slump, and it has to feel good.

Now the boys can relax and maybe take in a late show with Rompin’ Ronnie and the Hawks at Le Coq d’Or on Yonge Street before calling it a night.

It began in splendid fashion as the team dominated the Leafs, outshooting them 14-3, and jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by David Desharnais and Tomas Fleischmann, although Fleischmann’s goal appeared to go in off Daniel Carr.

But as we’ve seen before, a quick start can mean little as Toronto slowly found their game and scored in the second and third periods to send the game into overtime.

It would take the shootout to decide things, and now the challenge is for the team to win two in a row, something that hasn’t happened since November 20th to the 27th when they nailed down four straight.

After that, as we all know and need to forget, the roof fell in and continued until tonight, when they grabbed two big points against a team that boasts the despicable Dion Phaneuf.

Random Notes:

I feel good about this, mainly because it wasn’t a loss. But not good enough to put on my dancing shoes and head down to the Westview Hotel, though. They’d think the grim reaper just walked through the door.

A loss would continue the nightmarish slide into Satan’s basement. But it wasn’t a loss, mainly because Max and Eller got it done in the shootout, when Galchenyuk, Flynn, and DD didn’t.

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 29-19, and were 0/4 on the power play.

Next up – Monday, when the boys travel to Columbus to take on the BJs.

Extra Random Notes:

Before the game began, Leaf greats Turk Broda, Tim Horton, and Dave Keon were honoured with inclusion on Toronto’s Legends Row, and it was emotional fifteen or twenty minutes.

Broda retired when I was two, but I saw Horton and Keon in their prime, on those great old Leafs teams.

I sat behind Keon and his wife in church in Orillia when I was young. Keon and most of the Leafs had attended Leaf trainer Bobby Haggart’s wedding in Orillia the day before, and the next day in church there was the great centreman, standing and kneeling and sitting and crossing himself, just like the rest of us.

I also have a personal story about Tim Horton. I’ve been to his doughnut shop many times.

Broda was on hand for the opening ceremonies of the arena in Orillia in 1950.

ad

Brandy’s Habs-Leafs Lovers

You want romance? Hockey? Habs and Leafs on Saturday night?

This is the great Canadian artist Brandy Saturley’s recent creation, titled ‘Lovers in a Dangerous Time’, made prior to the last few months of our pain and misery.

Two lovers, two teams. With bags over their heads.

Habs and Leafs coming up. Get your beer and nuts ready, and your bricks to throw at the TV screen.

Go Habs. Kick the shit out of ’em.

LoversInADangerousTIme

Have a look at some of this award-winning, Victoria-based artist’s great stuff at her website The Art of Brandy Saturley . She’s a true Canadian gem.

Here’s To You, Historic Habs

leo

I saw the Beatles at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1966, and Janis and Zappa in Atlantic City in ’69.

I saw Led Zeppelin in Vancouver in ’73, and Evel Knievel sail over 13 Mack trucks on his motorcycle at the CNE in ’74.

NOn my TV in Orillia I saw the Kennedy assassination in ’63, and Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in ’69.

And from my couch in Powell River in 2016, I saw the Montreal Canadiens have their lousiest season in 75 years.

The historic Habs.

Something to tell my grandchildren.

And their fifth loss in a row (forget the overall loss tally) was against the Boston Bruins, with good old Brad Marchand scoring one of four Bruins goals as his team rolled over the hometown Habs 4-1.

It’s the Twilight Zone, baby.

It was last year when Marc Bergevin gave Michel Therrien a four year contract extension that kicked in this season, at $2 million per, and which takes him to 2019.

This was the report at the time;

Montreal re-signed Michel Therrien to a four-year contract extension Saturday, two weeks after the Canadiens were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“It really shows the stability that [general manager] Marc Bergevin and [owner] Geoff Molson want to establish with the Canadiens,” said Therrien on a conference call. “We’ve progressed a lot over the past two years and we want to continue to progress. It’s a sign of confidence.”

Continue to progress. Yes indeed.

Oh, you like Michel Therrien and argue that it’s not his fault this team is on the fast track into the depths of hell? Do you think getting Jonathan Drouin is the answer instead?

I don’t want my historic times tampered with. So lose boys. And then charge fans for your autograph on your days off.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Bruins 39-24, with their lone goal coming from d-man Mark Barberio. The sharpshooters are still on their extended lunch break.

Next up – Habs in Toronto on Saturday. Imagine.

Letters On My Shelf

Many of these letters were written to me, while some I collected along the way. If you find these boring, please don’t tell me.

Beginning with –

Red Fisher (1965) (after I complained to him that Stan Mikita swore at me when I asked him for his autograph at a Hawks-Leafs exhibition game in Peterborough during the Leafs training camp).

Red

Phyllis King (1951) – Clarence Campbell’s secretary and future wife.

Phyllis

Here’s Clarence and Phyllis on their romantic date at the Forum, which helped spark the 1955 St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot.

coverofTHN

Legendary sports editor Elmer Ferguson (1929). The Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is presented to outstanding hockey journalists and includes the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, Roy MacGregor and others.

Elmer

Sam Pollock (1964). By far my favourite letter.

Claude Mouton (1985)

Irving Grundman (1983)

Almost three months to the day after General Manager Grundman wrote this letter, he was fired by the Canadiens and Serge Savard would take his place.

Forum secretary Manon Bruneau (1984)

Letter from Sam Pollock to Habs prospect Michel Lagace (1962). This is the kind of letter I would have liked to receive.

002

Looking for tickets at Maple Leaf Gardens (1965 & 1966)

Two replies from Claude Mouton (1983) about my request for a stick. He gave me a Bob Gainey stick, signed by the entire team, which I picked up at the Forum after driving from Ottawa after graveyard shift.

Jean Beliveau (1984)

I decided I needed an 8X10 glossy of the Rocket shaking hands with Sugar Jim Henry, so I went right to the top. I wrote a letter to La Presse and it ended up on the desk of editor-in chief Gerard Pelletier (1964)

Pelletier would later serve in the Pierre Trudeau government, and was eventually awarded the Order of Canada.

Frank Selke Jr. (1961)

Max Gets The Job Done

sailor

In storybook fashion, Max Pacioretty, with the captain’s C meaning more than just about any game this season, buried the puck in the shootout to give the Habs a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the curtain closes, at least for one night, on a tremendously dismal time in Habsland.

But it’s the kind of thing that can right a ship, this clutch goal, and when it happened, Max’s teammates piled on him like teenagers celebrating at the World Junior Championship.

A beauty of winner it was too, with Max putting a couple of cool little dekes on netminder Ben Bishop, who’s still unraveling his jock strap from his testicles, and with that the Canadiens put an end to something called a six-game losing streak.

Max has been on the hot seat lately as folks haven`t been happy with his play. They say he looks lazy, floats, and isn’t trying like he should, which is all the same thing I guess. But as I mentioned on Twitter, it’s exactly what people said about Frank Mahovlich when he was with the Leafs.

For a few hours at least, fans can start planning the parade once again. I personally feel the Trans Canada Highway from Montreal to the West Coast would be a terrific route.

One win doesn’t guarantee anything except two points, we know that, but how it would’ve sucked to see yet another loss in this December to end all Decembers.

Now we see light, and it will shine even brighter if the boys handle the Florida Panthers in a few hours time. Big game, that one. Imagine a two-game winning streak?

The Canadiens opened the scoring in the first period when PK Subban fed Tomas Plekanec in close, and Pleks made no mistake.

How big was this goal? The Habs took the lead, which hasn’t happened much lately, and Pleks finally scored, which hadn’t happened since that night in ’36 when he beat Montreal Maroons backstopper Alec Connell.

Maybe not 1936, but it’s been a while. Twenty-one games in fact since Plekanec lit the lamp, which is completely unacceptable and one of several huge reasons why the team has spiraled out of control.

Scorers haven’t been scoring, and tonight, the nasty little monkey was wrenched from Plekanec’s back. It has to feel good.

Tampa would even it at one apiece in the second, but four minutes later, Alex Galchenyuk would wrist a puck from 20 feet out, and the boys took the lead once again.

In the third period, after the Lightning had shocked everyone with two quick goals to jump ahead, Dale Weise sent the puck over the line, and although Tampa called a Coach’s Challenge, the goal stood and the game was tied.

The Canadiens were less than great on the 3-on-3, aside from some flurries as the clock ticked down, but held on regardless. And onto the shootout we and they went, with Max getting it done in style.

Random Notes:

A fine enough evening, and best of all, the team looked like they wanted to win. Mike Condon was sensational, especially in the middle frame when he made several sprawling saves.

The team as a whole showed more energy than lately, they were alive and gunning for a win, and although it took a shootout, the sigh of relief is one big honkin’ beautiful sigh.

Tampa outshot Montreal 39-34.

Next up – across the state to Sunrise to take on the Panthers Tuesday evening. If ever another win is needed, it’s now.

There’s only one way to drive a stake into a pathetic, unending slump, and that’s to win a handful of games in a row.

One down, a handful to go.

 

 

 

Habs Lose Another

triple Crown

The Canadiens fired a season-high 45 shots at Kings’ goaltender Jonathan Quick, and not one of the little rubber bastards found the back of the net.

L.A. blanked the boys 3-0 at the Bell Centre, home of the first period Olé Olé song, which used to be sung near the end of things, when the team had the game under control

Now it’s sung near the start of things, when the guys hadn’t even scored a goal yet.

Why can’t a new song be found. What about Roy Orbison’s ‘It’s Over’? Or Nancy Sinatra’s (and Cher’s) ‘Bang Bang (you shot me down)’, with the lyrics changed to “we shot you down”.

Anything, actually. Anything but the tired old Olé.

Forty-five shots usually means a red light or two, but the Canadiens, now losers of seven of the last nine games, just couldn’t solve a tremendously quick Quick, although, without taking anything away from this fine Kings’ netminder, the Habs haven’t solved many goalies lately.

Eleven goals scored in seven games. Even the Canadian Armed Forces has more firepower.

Random Notes:

Maybe Steven Stamkos or Ryan Johansen will come riding in on a big white horse.

The boys now embark on a big honkin’ eight-game road trip that spans almost three weeks, although interrupted for Christmas in the middle of it.

This seriously difficult stretch against some mighty fine teams begins in Dallas on Saturday and Nashville Monday. I just don’t have the heart to list them all.

Aside from Thursday 45 shots, other big shot nights included 42 against Ottawa last Saturday, along with 40 against Colorado in November and 41 when Detroit visited back in October.

Also in October, Toronto peppered 52 at Carey Price, but the Habs beat the Buds 5-3 anyway.

lakings

 

Rocket In Orillia

I recently posted the photos below on an Orillia Facebook page called “If You Grew Up In Orillia You Remember….”, and lots of Orillians did remember that big night in 1962 when the great Rocket Richard came to town.

It was a big night for me, that’s for sure. Number 9 was my hero, which is something that’s never changed over the years.

Somehow the local sports editor, Lynn Jones, heard about me having a Montreal Canadiens scrapbook with plenty of pictures of the Rocket in it, so he called and asked if he could borrow one for the program they were putting together. I was very proud.

The Rocket signed it, but the pen was beginning to run out of ink.

After these pictures went on the Orillia site, an old baseball and hockey friend of mine, Warren Howes, sent a team picture from that night, with his younger brother, the goalie, in the front row.

As you can see, the entire team is wearing Habs sweaters but it appears they might have been worn to make Maurice happy.  The kids had either their team sweaters underneath, or Leafs sweaters, which is what Warren thinks.

You can see the Rocket standing behind the boys. And in my pile of Habs stuff here in Powell River is a helmet identical to the one the kid in the front row, third from left, is wearing.

Rocket 3

Rocket 2

Orillia Var

Rocket in Orillia

Habs Taste Their Own Medicine

I suppose Devils players thought if Montreal could come back from a 2-0 deficit on Friday and win, why couldn’t they on Saturday?

And so they did, skating away with a 3-2 overtime win over the Canadiens in Montreal, ending a perfectly good Habs winning streak (4 games), and ruining Alex Galchenyuk’s excellent two-goal night that pointed to yet another example of Galchenyuk’s sudden jump into a new and bright stage of his career.

But in true party-killing fashion, the visitors scored two third period goals, the last with just 28 seconds left and Cory Schneider pulled for the extra guy, and the game was tied.

In overtime, the final wall came tumbling down. But the home team got a point and remain in the penthouse, and things are good in general. Really would’ve like a five-game win streak though.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Habs 32, Devils 31.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Columbus Blue Jackets come a buzzin’.

The Leafs lost.

I’m truly sorry I have to cut this short, but I have to leave soon. Homer’s saving me a seat at the nearby watering hole.

In the meantime, maybe you’re not aware of this but not long ago, the NHL Board of Governors decided that if any NHL referee is deemed truly horrible and far from being up to scratch, they’re sent to London where they’re sliced up and made into zebra burgers.

I had the ‘Chris Lee’ when I was at a London market last week, and it tasted like shit.

Zebra burger

 

 

Habs Surprise Bruins

There were times throughout when they were far from sharp. Dozey in fact.  Definitely brain-dead in places.

But enough about the referees.

Canadiens double up the visiting Bruins 4-2 in a game that should turn more than a few Bruins fans into babbling glue sniffers. Their team had the Habs on the ropes. And then they didn’t.

Funny how that happens sometimes.

Somehow, although outplayed for much of the game, this first place team hung in against a surprisingly tough Boston squad. Tougher than I thought, considering the Bs sit in 19th spot overall with just 13 points, while the Canadiens, from the highest perch, can barely see them with binoculars.

But in the end, when the score was tied and just over a minute left in the third period, David Krejci decided to crosscheck Tomas Plekanec, several times in fact, and while he was cooling his blades in the sinbin after his numbing stupidity, David Desharnais buried the puck and the knife.

Soon after, Max found the empty net, and fans exhaled.

A fine ending to a tense game, and Bruins fans scurry to the local Army Surplus to buy knives to slit their throats.

Boston jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period after the Canadiens were called for a tremendously dubious ‘too many men’ infraction, which was one of several weird refereeing decisions. But because of the final score, I won’t bitch. Except for the first paragraph of course.

The team was stifled constantly. They were bottled up, scrambling, all out of whack. I couldn’t wait for the period to end.

The only fun I had in this 20 minutes was seeing Andrei Markov blast a slapshot into the Bruins bench after taking a tripping call when Colin Miller embellished in fine Brad Marchand style.

No one was hurt on the Bruins bench, which is good I suppose. But it was a great moment. An excellent Markov moment.

Just as the Bruins had scored early in the first on the power play, the Canadiens did the same in the second, when Tomas Plekanec finished off a feed from Brendan Gallagher at 1:09 into the frame.

The Canadiens power play is clicking now. They promised, and I believed.

The Bruins took the lead in the second when Frank Vatrano, from the legendary Vatrano/Gambino mob family and playing in just his first NHL game after the family made the Bruins an offer they couldn’t refuse, notched his first big league goal.

Now we wait for news of a horse’s head found in David Krejci’s hotel bed after he gets home from Crescent St.

A Bruins lead going into the third period, with Boston stifling the boys and simply being the better team, ready to collect two big road points.

The Canadiens were in trouble, and possibly let down emotionally  after a Plekanec goal in the the third, which would have tied things up, was ruled no goal because of Gally causing havoc in the crease.

It was a sad time at the old Bell barn. The team getting whupped by the rival Bostonians. Things just weren’t going the right way on this Saturday night.

And then………

At 8:58, Lars Eller slipped one through Jonas Gustavsson’s legs and the score was tied in dramatic and surprising fashion.

At 17:57, David Kejci lost his mind and not quite a minute later, DD put his team in front.

And with 17 seconds left, Max found the empty net.

The Bruins and their fans once again hate the Habs more than anyone they’ve ever hated.

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Boston 33-31.

Canadiens went 2/3 on the power play, while Boston was 1/5.

Too many turnovers, loose play, a plethora of icings, too many penalties, and the boys still won.

Next up – Canadiens take on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

A little humour to close with. The Leafs allowed a goal with just a second left in Washington, and then lost in the shootout.