Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs

Moves Like The Missile

003

I don’t remember that two goals, one assist game. I can only assume what happened.

Dozens of fans, some even whoopin’ and hollerin’. We were probably down by a goal with just under a minute to go, and I had decided that enough was enough.

I’m thinking that I took the puck behind our goal, did a fancy little how do you do past the first forechecker, outskated the second guy like he’d just seen a ghost, did a slick loop de loop around the next guy, split the defence like nobody’s business, and after freezing the goalie with my patented Harlem shuffle, found the top corner to tie the game.

Then I guess I did it again.

I seem to recall that these were moves only The Missile in Montreal and Gordie Whye in Detroit could come close to, and of course what players in Toronto could only dream of doing.

Afterwards, I can sort of recall quite a few gorgeous female models waiting for me in the lobby, but being a shy and dedicated hockey player, I probably just went home and worked on my stick instead.

 

 

 

The Little Store In Orillia

Canadian Tire Orillia

I’ve often thought about this store, but I never figured I’d see a picture.

I found it on a Facebook page called “If you grew up in Orillia…you remember…“, a photo of the Canadian Tire I knew when I was a kid in the 1950s through to the mid-’60s. It was where I’d stop on my way to the arena and buy a stick, usually a Hespeler Green Flash. It was where I got my skates sharpened, and where I bought tape and laces and pucks and probably most of my equipment.

It was also where I saw my first white Habs sweater for sale. I think catalogs and local department stores usually stuck to red Habs and blue Leafs sweaters, so seeing a white one was cool. To this day I remember it on display in the window.

As you can see, it’s slightly smaller than the usual Canadian Tire you might shop at. This is the entire store, not just a department.

Cool Leafs Snub

As we make our way across the country, I thought I’d change things up slightly and do this instead.

The telegraph below is a tad difficult to read so I’ll type it.

It’s from the Leafs’ Conn Smythe to player Jackie Leclair, dated Sept. 15, 1952.

“You received instructions per your contract to report to the training camp September 14th. Have you any good reason why we should not suspend you for failure to report.”

telegraph 1

Jackie Leclair replied,

“Sorry, cannot report to camp. Still playing baseball. Be through on the 20th. Would rather stay in Quebec. Letter on the way.”

telegraph 2

Leclair never did report to the Leafs and later on, from 1954 to 1957 (3 seasons), he would play for the Montreal Canadiens where he got his name engraved on the Stanley Cup twice.

Jackleclair

Habs, Petes, And Eaton’s

A day after the 1956-57 Canadiens played in Detroit, and two days before they would suit up in Toronto, they played an exhibition game against the Junior A  Petes at Peterborough’s brand new Memorial Centre.

Imagine an NHL team nowadays playing an exhibition game against a junior squad, and during the regular season to boot!

And if you scroll down, there’s a fine Eaton’s ad on the inside cover of the program.

cover

eatons

Tracker On Duty

I may not be on top of things but the Scientific Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S) never sleeps.

As you can see, a a bit of an up and down stretch beginning in late November, but the boys remain in a somewhat enviable overall picture , sitting 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference, and 9th overall.

It’s Toronto I’m concerned about, with the bastards just a point behind with a game in hand.

003

A Screeching Halt

canadiangeeelanding

Maybe playing seven games in fourteen days doesn’t help. But the party line is there’s no excuses, so Canadiens lose 4-0 to the Pittsburgh Penguins, plain and simple, curtain closed.

They had lots of chances but no red light. Jiri Sekac barged in with the puck several times and came close. Lots of guys came close. But the six game streak couldn’t become seven, and now it’s the St. Louis Blues on Thursday to think about.

I don’t mind a loss here and there. They have to play 82 games and losses happen. But I know you know that, and I don’t know why I’m babbling.

Last year, top dogs Boston and Anaheim each won 54 games, not 82. The Stanley Cup-winning L.A. Kings won 46. These teams lost sometimes. Just like the Habs did tonight against Pittsburgh.

My main concern is that a loss could become two. And then three becomes a possibility. Four even. Other than that, everything’s cool and it could be much worse. We could be Leaf fans and have to compute a 9-2 demolishing by the Nashville Predators tonight.

Time to turn the TV off. Time to get back to my Johnny Cash biography now.

 

Canadiens Stomp Bruins

weise

Imagine that. The Bruins thumped 6-1 in Toronto and 24 hours later smoked 5-1 by the Canadiens.

Take that, Bruins fans.

The Canadiens looked just fine on this night, a solid three periods led by the guy whose name was mentioned beforehand not for what he might accomplish, but for what Milan Lucic might accomplish.

Dale Weise was a ball of fire, a guy who came to play, and with his fight in the first period with Gregory Campbell, then seeing him tie the score in the second on a penalty shot and setting up Max later on, it all added up to a sensational Gordie Howe hat trick.

But I’ll take it one step further, because after all that, he later on crashed the Bruins net in serious fashion, so I’m gonna call it a Rocket Richard home run.

Very impressive, those crazy Habs, even though, as sure as Bob Dylan won’t be singing opera and not one winning number will be on my lottery ticket, the Canadiens wouldn’t hit the back of the net in the first period and once again fell behind.

They didn’t get down on themselves though. They were dominant for the most part, and the worrisome power play was sharp all night and would eventually click on the fifth try when Jiri Sekac made it 5-1. But I’m  ahead of myself here. Tons of stuff went down.

Max Pacioretty was flying all night, and after not scoring on a last minute, clear cut breakaway in the first period, would light the lamp in the second and again in the third.

Nathan Beaulieu found himself in a fight with Matt Fraser and clocked the Bruin with a right that sent the fellow to the room with a sore face, leaving Beaulieu to add ice to the hand. Fraser had goaded Beaulieu to drop ‘em, and such a mistake it was.

40-year old Sergei Gonchar, after just one practice and playing in his first game with the Habs after coming over from Dallas in the Moen trade, was solid and effective all evening, including on the power play where he showed poise and smarts, otherwise known as experience.

Tomas Plekanec pulled off the coolest little between-the-legs pass to Gally in the crease, but unfortunately it couldn’t be finished off. Looked great though.

Lars Eller notched his third goal in three games with a nifty backhand after great work by Gally. Eller’s a new man.

Pleks had a wide open net on a power play and hit the crossbar. But I think at that point we could all feel a power play goal was only a matter of time and it was.

PK stood up to Lucic after the big thug had levelled Sekac. Luckily nothing developed, but good on PK anyway.

Weise looked like Mike Bossy on the penalty shot goal.

Alexei Emelin bumped and thumped as he likes to do against the Bruins. It’s a beautiful thing when he’s rattling bones. Especially Beantown bones.

Alex Galchenyuk pulled off several very cool moves to once again give us a more hints of what’s in store for years to come.

And Carey Price continues to stop most everything and show once again that when he’s doing his thing, the team always has a chance to win.

Great game, tremendous result. And if you turn your TV or radio down and open the window, that sound you hear are Bruins fans everywhere grinding their teeth and pushing down little old ladies..

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot Boston 34-22 and dominated much of the time.

The power play had a new feel to it. Therrien had two left handed blueliners, Markov and Gonchar, paired up, and two righties, Subban and Gilbert, for most of the five man-advantages.

Near the end, Nathan Beaulieu was rewarded for his fine play over the evening by getting some time on the power play as well. And it wasn’t just the d-men changing the environment. The power play units up front stormed the net, played like they were on a mission, and finally…..finally….Sekac scored after the team’s 28 previous attempts had proved futile.

Next up – Saturday when Philadelphia pays a visit.

 

Bridge Over Toronto Waters

Rocket

I guess it’s been decided that the future Champlain Bridge in Montreal won’t be named after Maurice Richard after all, which I respect but am disappointed about.

He was my hero when I was a young kid and he remains my hero now. No athlete has ever come close to the impact the Rocket had on me.

My friend Paul sent me a National Post article about how Toronto should name one of their bridges after the Rocket instead. Imagine.

It’s a fun piece and can be seen right here – A Rocket bridge in Toronto

Suitable For Framing

I was going to wait until the Canadiens and Leafs squared off before posting this great picture but I see that they don’t play each other again until Valentine’s Day which is a long way away. So I decided to put it up today instead.

A great old Habs/Leafs illustration on the cover of a 1949 MacLean’s magazine, created by Canadian artist Franklin Arbuckle and sent to me by Ed, a fellow who was at John Lennon’s Montreal press conference in 1969 and who handed John a Canadiens sweater and toque to wear, which you can see here – Lennon’s Habs sweater.

From Ed’s pile of old magazines – back in the days when players from opposing teams sat together in the penalty box.

image1

Small Habs Aura Thought

If you hate the Habs, you might want to stop reading right about now. Although if you hate the Habs, you’re probably not on this page anyway.

Fans of teams in western Canada must really like it when the boys come to town. I’m pretty sure about that. I used to think it would bug the hell out of them with all the Canadiens sweaters in the crowd and loud cheers and such, but now I think these folks like it, even if they’re ashamed of themselves for liking it.

There’s a cool aura about the Habs, although many say otherwise. It comes up all the time about how the aura is gone. It’s hard to hear that. People who say this sort of thing aren’t taking our feelings into consideration.

This is the team many of these western fans’ moms or dads, aunts or uncles, grandmas or grandpas cheered for, and it doesn’t matter that they themselves grew up preferring Lanny McDonald or the Sedins, they’re screwed and they come by it naturally.

The Canadiens are in their bloodstream and unless they go to Switzerland and get a complete oil change like Keith Richards apparently did, there’s nothing they can do about it.

Of course they want their team to kick ass. But it’s a special visit anyway.