The Rocket And The No. 9 Thing

Recently on Hockey Night in Canada, host Ron Maclean told viewers a little story about how Maurice Richard asked to change his number from 15 to 9 during the 1942-43 season in honour of his new baby girl Hugette, who weighed in at 9 pounds.

Wikipedia also says the same thing. Along with everywhere else you look.

But the number 9 must have already held a soft spot in Rocket’s heart, because as you can see in the lineup below, he was wearing it when he was playing senior hockey, a year before he joined the big club.

Is it possible that the traditional claim from Maclean, books, and the Internet, about choosing 9 because of his baby’s weight at birth, is strictly something that took on a life of its own over the years?

Not that I want to throw cold water on the time-honoured story.

Here’s my program from the 1941-42 season in the Quebec Senior Hockey League, featuring a game between the Montreal Senior Canadiens and the Montreal Royals. Further down, the Rocket in the lineup for the Senior Canadiens, a year before he joined the Habs, and with his number 9.

Maybe he simply liked the number, and along with his 9-pound baby, convinced himself that he wouldn’t mind having it again.

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Also playing on this particular night for the Montreal Royals was Bill Durnan, who of course became a legendary goalie for the Canadiens shortly after, from 1943 to 1950, and Glen Harmon, number 12 for the senior Canadiens, who joined the Habs the following season and played for them from 1942-51.

Below, from my scrapbook, the Richard family circa 1958.

From left to right, Maurice Jr, Hugette, Lucille, dad and Suzanne, Norman (who’s my age, and whom I spoken to on the phone a couple of times), and Andre. Two others, Paul and Jean, had yet to arrive.

Habs Smoke Flames

So many good things to be happy with, and only one bad thing to grind teeth about. So as far as the big picture goes, the Canadiens 5-1 win over the visiting Calgary Flames was sensational and far out and, as we used to say, uptight and out of sight. (How stupid is that?)

But that one thing……….grrrr.

Five goals, including a pair of power play markers, and the Habs blitzed the Flames in a big way, even with the visitors outshooting Montreal 31-20.

A big night that saw a Tomas Plekanec shorthanded goal, a Calgary 5-on-3 man advantage for 50-odd seconds that was killed in style, two goals on the power play from Alexander Radulov, delightful clear cut breakaways by Philip Danault and Andrew Shaw (although they didn’t score)…….

……….and last but not least, Carey Price, the guy people have been wondering about lately, coming up big and kicking out everything that came his way.

Everything expect one puck with 1.1 seconds left in the game. 1.1 SECONDS LEFT IN THE GAME. With Radulov in the box, but whatever.

Would’ve been nice to see Price get that shutout. But he didn’t, and that’s that. We focus instead on a big night with a somewhat surprising 5-goal output, a power play that went 2/3, and a huge win after dropping their last 3 of 4 games and 5 of 8.

Also, because they’re good solid Habs fans, a hearty shout-out to all the folks at the Bell Centre who braved what seems to be ultra-shitty, icy weather in the Montreal area this evening.

I myself was warm and cozy, with the fridge, bed, and bathroom within very short walking distance.

1.1 seconds. Damn.

Random Notes:

Aside from Plek’s shorthanded goal and Radulov’s pair, the other goals came from the sticks of Andrew Shaw, who opened the scoring in the first period with under a minute remaining, and a great Carr-Mitchell-Carr bing bang boom in the third that made it 4-0 at that point.

The win was Carey Price’s first after losing his last three. A shutout would’ve been nice………….

Next up – Thursday in Brooklyn to tackle the Islanders.

 

 

 

 

Sabres Stab Habs

It’s three losses in the Canadiens’ last four games after falling 3-2 in overtime to the visiting Buffalo Sabres.  Or four losses in six if you’re interested.

Yep, the boys are far from smokin’.

They held on to a thin 2-1 lead going into the third period, they were playing well and were on their way to two big points, but they couldn’t nail down the all-important insurance marker.

They couldn’t muster any killer instinct, Buffalo would tie it at 8:07 of the third, and then the Canadiens simply decided to give about 50% instead of the required 110%. It makes my blood boil, considering I always gave at least 160% wherever I worked.

Sometimes 170%. But I digress.

Well, I’m kinda mad. But not at Carey Price, who was terrific throughout and came up with two astonishing saves in the last 20 seconds of the third period to get the boys into overtime and of course that important single point.

Price got them the point, not the guys in front of him. The Sabres were allowed to fire clear shots and move in close far too many times. It’s soft hockey. Doug Harvey would be rolling in his grave. And if Larry Robinson was dead, he would be too.

Sprague Cleghorn would’ve punched Lehner, a ref, Brian Gionta, and most of his own teammates for losing a game they should’ve won, against a much-inferior squad. Toe Blake would’ve torn a strip off them and taken away the beer on the next train trip. John Ferguson would’ve punched a hole in a cement block. But that was a different time of course.

Today’s players check their investments, go to dinner with friends from the other teams, and say “obviously” a lot when interviewed.

Full marks to Sabres goalie Robin Lehner, who absolutely robbed Alex Galchenyuk in overtime with a glove save on a hard shot while being screened. It’s marked for the highlight reels. His save, and Price’s glove on Rasmus Ristalainen, are two for the ages.

But alas, after Lehner’s big stop, Zach Bogosian would light the lamp and win the game and not that I’m the pessimistic type, but I’d say the Canadiens are in a bit of a mid-winter funk right now.

I’ll also say it again, it’s the wives fault and they should be rounded up and sent to Powell River until the season and playoffs come to a close. I’ll find something for them to do.

Random Notes:

Artturi Lehkonen and Philip Danault scored for Montreal, with both goals coming the middle frame.

Next up – Tuesday, when the Calgary Flames come a callin’.

 

 

Fit For A King

This is the dump, er house, that I lived in with these guys in Powell River in 1970. We had a dead fish in a birdcage out front and a pressure cooker inside to make moonshine.
I’m not in the picture, not sure where I was, but it was around this time that I hitchhiked across the country and back again, so maybe that’s where I was.

Elite Perreault

The Buffalo Sabres, the team the Canadiens meet tonight, boasted one of the greatest players in the game, the magnificent Gilbert Perreault, who could dangle and dazzle with the best of them.

Nowadays, it’s almost as if he’s become a bit of a forgotten superstar for some reason, which is an absolute shame. The guy was amazing.

After starring for the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in the late-’60s, he would play 1191 games, all with Buffalo, scoring 512 goals and adding 814 assists for 1326 points, and in 1990 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of fame.

He would’ve looked just excellent in a Habs uniform.

This big Gilbert Perreault bobbing head doll is a whopping 3- feet high, is one of only 100 produced, and stands in the showroom of Classic Auctions in Montreal, where I once worked.

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Vintage Me, Non-Vintage Lyla

Along with the usual health reasons for wanting to lose weight (17 pounds so far) was the fact that I wanted to fit into my jacket again.

This old Habs team jacket from the 1950s was owned by a Northern Ontario scout named Joe Delguidice, and now belongs to me. Team photos from back then show the trainers wearing them, Toe Blake would have his on during practices, and players like the Rocket and Beliveau would sometimes be photographed wearing theirs.

I had one of my kid sweaters from the late-’50s-early’60s for Lyla to wear, but it was too itchy for her. (I remember the feeling). So she’s wearing a non-itchy number from a few decades later.

Below, Toe and the trainers wearing the same type of jacket.

 

 

Habs Rock Rangers

The Canadiens rebound from a 7-1 trouncing on Thursday in Minnesota to edge the visiting New York Rangers 5-4 at the Bell on Saturday night, and church bells ring throughout the land.

So if you hear church bells on Saturday night or Sunday morning, it’s because the Habs won. What else could it be?

Not only did they win but they did it by scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to do it. It’s almost religious.

The first period saw Andrew Shaw, returning from concussion, interfere in the crease which caused Phillip Danault’s goal to be called back,  the team was scored upon with Shaw in the box, and to cap off the night for the returning not-so-bright forward, he blindsided Jesper Fast and received a five minute major and game misconduct.

Too much energy and adrenaline for Shaw, and not enough brain cells turned on. But whatever. The team won. And regardless of the lack of brain cells, at least Shaw plays with an edge.

I’ve been whining that the Canadiens have been too full of peace and love for a decade. Time to be mean assholes. But probably a bit smarter than Shaw on this night.

Alex Galchenyuk, back from sick bay after more than a month, tied the game with a deflection, but quickly the visitors went ahead after Alexei Emelin took the man but forgot the puck, and Rick Nash banged it home.

But….I don’t understand.

Kevin Hayes barged in, wrapped his skate behind Carey Price’s pad, and dragged the poor bastard out of the crease, thereby giving Nash the open net. The play was reviewed and the goal stood.

How come? Please tell me. Maybe Kerry Fraser can explain. I’ll watch for it.

Things were heating up, and the Bell Centre patrons sat up. Brian Flynn would shove it home to tie the game at 2-2, but tragically, our man Chucky would lose the puck along the boards, reliable old Shea Weber was beaten cleanly, it was 3-2 Rangers, and life wasn’t worth living.

Until it was.

The third frame saw Alexei Emelin fire a wrist shot home from the blueline to put things at 3-3, then Max would outrace two d-men to put the boys ahead 4-3, and Paul Byron would give them a beauty of two goal, 5-3 lead.

The Rangers would make it 5-4 with 5:07 left, but that was the best the Broadway Blueshirts could do.

Habs win 5-4. And please don’t fret about Carey Price’s mediocre play lately, or cracks in defence, or this or that. This is the regular season, where we only have to be concerned about them making the playoffs, which they will.

The regular season is only a rehearsal, a fine-tuning, a time to get the gang ready for opening night – the playoffs. I’m sure Marlon Brando was an asshole sometimes before the cameras rolled, and then rallied to give the performance of his life.

That’s the Habs. Ups, downs, fine tuning, readying for the curtain to rise.

Random Notes:

The Rangers outshot Montreal 33-32. Price came up big a bunch of times.

Next up – two tough games on the horizon. Detroit on Monday, and at home to greet Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Habs Burn Leafs

Just when the young and smug Toronto Maple Leafs and their giddy fans thought the team was rockin’ and rollin’ toward new and amazing heights, they came up against the gritty Montreal Canadiens.

Suddenly, all isn’t so fantastic in Leafland, as the visiting Habs, finishing off a seven-game road trip that took them to winter wonderlands like Miami, Tampa, Dallas, Nashville etc, waltzed into Toronto and won 5-3 in solid fashion over the Toronto Kadris.

Alexander Radulov was sensational, as was Carey Price, but for me the real hero was Shea Weber, who pounced and trounced Zach Hyman after the Leaf forward flew into Price and sent him sprawling. Then, as the second period came to an end, Weber once again sought out Hyman and made his point even clearer.

That’s what we want, and it’s what I knew we’d get from Weber when he came over from Nashville. This is is a guy respected by all, he’s a big brother to some and a leader to all, and he needed to bend Hyman’s nose to say it loud and clear in Toronto and around the league that Carey Price is not to be messed with.

The team will protect Price, and the corner was abruptly turned after New Jersey’s Kyle Palmieri ran Price a month ago and Price took matters into his own hands. His teammates were embarrassed and criticized, but sometimes a team in the midst of gelling needs to learn a solid lesson.

And the Canadiens have.

Habs

Leafs

Three wins in their first three games of January. Last season, the boys won just three in the entire month. I’m proud of these crazy bunch of beautiful bastards. A team held together with band aids, and they won’t break.

Just a tremendous showing in front of smug Leaf fans.

Random Notes

Habs were outshot by the Leafs 36-31, and were 2/5 on the power play (Scherbak and Radulov).

Nikita Scherbak, in his very first NHL game, scored his first NHL goal with just one second left in the first period to give the boys a 3-2 lead.

Max Pacioretty had opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the game, and Artturi Lehkonen added another befor e the Leafs stormed back to tie it.

Radu scored his power play marker in the second frame to widen the gap to 4-2, but the Leafs would soon make it a 4-3 game.

In the third period, Michael McCarron salted it away by bouncing the biscuit off Leafs goaltender Frederik Anderson, who was quite shitty on the night. Anderson is keeping up the fine tradition of mediocre backstopping in Cabbagetown. It goes back many decades.

No sense naming the Montreal injury list. It’s old news.

But if you haven’t heard, it’s Gally, Chucky, DD, Pateryn, Markov, Byron, and Shaw.

Next up – Habs at home on Monday to battle the Washington Capitals, then it’s back on the road to Winnipeg and Minnesota on Wednesday and Thursday. The wives must be lonely. (And if you are, my number is 604-555-1212. Call me.)

Photos – First – the art was done by me in grade two. Second – one of my old ads from crumbling newspapers. Third – My hockey coin collection. I have the other four teams complete as well. Fourth – the iconic Maclean’s magazine cover, with added script created by my friend Ed in Ottawa.

Almost In Pittsburgh PA

The Canadiens let it slip away and fell 4-3 in overtime to the Pens in Pittsburgh, but it was a hard fought loss, they almost won it but they didn’t, and all in all a decent showing against the defending Stanley Cup champions with the world’s greatest player on the team – Tom Kuhnhackl.

They had it in the bag until Pittsburgh tied it with just 55 seconds left in the third period, and in overtime it was an inexcusable ‘too many men’ penalty that cost them the two points.

But at least it was a single point gained, the boys are still near the top of the leader board, and in the words of Bob Cole, it was “not too shabby”.

This is a team with numerous injuries, but they remain competitive. So cheer up, celebrate New Year’s Eve, and all the best to you in 2017. Hopefully great things will happen and it’ll be your best year ever.

Gatorade and chicken soup is good for a hangover.

Random Notes:

Alex Radulov opened the scoring in the first frame, Pittsburgh would go ahead 2-1 in the second, but with just 39 seconds left in the middle period, Paul Byron deflected Jeff Petry’s shot and it was tied at two.

Brian Flynn would put the boys ahead in the third, but then the wheels fell off.

The Pens outshot the Habs 41-40, and Montreal was absolutely dismal on their two power play attempts.

Next up – Music City on Tuesday.

I’m having some doubts about my new idea for this site. It’s possible that it’s a tremendously stupid idea.

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