Phyllis’ Lousy Date

Clarence Campbell sure was a lousy date. He takes his secretary/fiancee Phyllis King to a game at the Forum just after he suspends the Rocket for the remaining 15 games of the 1954-55 regular season plus the entire playoffs for slugging a linesman, and all hell breaks loose.

Folks in Montreal weren’t happy, and it certainly wasn’t a good time for Clarence to be impressing his squeeze. Phyllis ended up with eggs and tomatoes on her coat, tear gas smoke in her eyes and  nostrils, and a couple of rubber boots and programs bouncing off her head.

Bad romance call by Clarence.

But all’s well that ends well. Phyllis and Clarence were married in November of 1955, eight months after the infamous St. Patrick’s Day Richard Riot, so obviously she forgave him for his lack of judgement.

Not the Richard judgement, the going-out-on-a-date judgement.

The following, from my collection of letters, is a rare and original Phyllis King letter from the office of her boyfriend, four years before the lousy date.

Phyllis

Here they are on their romantic date.

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Trampled in Tampa

Four straight road wins wasn’t to be. Four straight comeback wins wasn’t to be. Even one lousy power play goal wasn’t to be.

Canadiens throttled by Tampa Bay 7-1, with Carey Price on the bench for the third period after allowing four goals in the first two frames, and Dustin Tokarski would be between the pipes for three more Lightning strikes.

The team stunk as a whole. P.K. Subban, for example, played like a nine thousand dollar a year man, not nine million.

But it’s all fine. I’m not about to mope about and curse. They’re still 3-1 to open the season and we have to be happy about that, don’t we?

I’ll curse the power play, however.

That’s it for tonight. My heart’s not in it. Something happened to me on Facebook today that has thrown me for a loop and I’m lacking the necessary enthusiasm to write a decent post, win or lose.

Someone I thought was my friend, a fellow Habs blogger in fact (although I won’t mention who), was ranting in a big way about the difficulty of finding a French broadcast for Habs games, and I replied with the comment, “You’re so angry”.

He let loose on me with such venom that I’m still reeling. And he finished the attack by calling me a “docile old man” and wrote one last word. “Die”.

Yes I’m shaken. He was my friend, although I’d never met him face to face. I don’t understand.

 

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

For those unsure, I’m here to tell you that Canada is a magnificent, beautiful, friendly country, and I’m darn proud to say I’m a citizen.

It’s Thanksgiving Weekend up here in the true north strong and free, and to everyone, whether you’re a Canadian or not, Happy Weekend!

Also proud of the Montreal Canadiens and maybe it’s time to fire up the annual Scientifc Habs Information Tracking System (S.H.I.T.S.), which isn’t the shits at all. (Yes, it’s only three games, but what’s your point?)

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Wicked Late-Game Magic

Whew! I needed to go outside and feel some cool air. I overheated during the last hour of the Flyers-Canada’s Team showdown.

Habs sadly behind 3-0 in the third to the always tough Flyers, and then suddenly, like magic, the jets got turned on, the game became tied, and it was won in overtime when P.A. Parenteau capped off the sensational comeback.

Now that’s hockey.

I wonder what was said in the dressing room between the second and third period. Whatever it was, it worked. Who needs a captain anyway?

Through two frames the Canadiens were outshot 27-18. They seemed to be going nowhere. The Flyers were skating and it was one of those games where we tell ourselves that they can’t win every night.

Trying to be realistic. Hate that but sometimes it has to be.

But in the final frame, the “can’t win every night” theory got thrown out the window once again. The Flying Third Period Men flew like the wind, played like they knew it wasn’t over by a long shot, dominated those orange eyesores, chipped away, and it went like this:

Markov from the blueline at 7.05 and it was 3-1. Plekanec bulged the top of the twine at 9.12 and became 3-2. And at 14.40, Galchenyuk converted Pleks’ pass and the game was tied.

It was amazing. The never-say-die kids were back on even terms, the Flyers’ heads must’ve been spinning, and the final salt was added to the wound in the shootout when, after Chucky, DD, and Gally couldn’t solve Ray Emery and no Flyer at the other end could slip one by Price,  Parenteau finally ended it and the team skated off with an incredible 4-3 win.

Three straight wins for the Canadiens to start the season. Late game heroics. And in the end, after being outshot in the first two frames, the team managed 38 shots to the Flyers’ 32.

It’s a beautiful thing if you’re a Habs fan, but now we need to see a game where they outplay the opposition for three periods. This kind of magic can’t go on forever.

Against Toronto, Pleks scored the winner with just 43 seconds remaining. In Washington, Pleks in the third and then Gally in the shootout gave them a 2-1 win.

Saturday night, Pleks scored his team’s second goal to keep things rolling. Fellow countryman, rookie Jiri Sekac, must be in awe.

Other than the six points in three games and the sheer pleasure involved, the power play now needs to get in gear. It was 0-2 against Toronto, 0-5 against Washington, and against Philly – 0-3.

The Canadiens have won three straight without a single power play goal. But we know it’s coming. Yes we do.

Random Notes:

Galchenyuk burst in on a clear cut breakaway in overtime but was stopped cold by Emery, and in the preceding shootout, Chucky tried the exact same move – a little move to his right, again foiled by Emery.

Next up – in Tampa on Monday. Grab a nice win there boys, then come home for some home cooking, a familiar bed, and some very pleased fans.

Toker Comes Up Big

Not a great start for the Montreal Canadiens in Washington, outshot in the first period 15-2, and maybe looking only slightly less lethargic in the second.

But with Dustin Tokarski holding the fort and the team playing slightly better as the night wore on, all it took was one goal in regulation and several in the shootout and the first two games are in the bag with four points collected.

Flat they were, for the first half at least. They played like Monica Lewinsky had woke them up from their afternoon naps at the hotel. But you could see their legs moving well in the third while down just a goal, and soon enough, Canada’s team, those Montreal Canadiens, found a way to get it done.

Did the Brandon Prust fight with Liam O’Brien in the second period liven up the bench? Was it the no-goal by P.A. Parenteau, called back because of Rene Bourque clipping Braden Holtby’s pad, that got them thinking they should probably pull up their socks?

Maybe a small bush fire got lit, because soon after, Tomas Plekanec took a great pass from Alex Galchenyuk and wired it, and game was even at one after three periods.

All the way through, Toker came up big and gave his team a fine chance to win, and when the game went to a shootout, he finally got some help from Chucky, Desharnais, and in the end, Gallagher, and the team skated off with a win that had to have the Caps and their fans shaking their heads at the unfairness of the universe.

Now it’s onwards to Philadelphia to meet the Flyers on Saturday night. It’s a tough early part of the schedule for Montreal. After Philly it’s the Lightning on Monday, then home to face the Bruins on Thursday.

But the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens can do it, because they’re the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens.

Random Notes:

Total shots on goal after that dismal 15-2 first period – Washington 30, Montreal 24.

Alexei Emelin went to the room in the third and if he returned I didn’t notice. Hopefully all’s well.

I watched the game on Sportsnet 360 and I have to say what a breath of fresh air it was listening to John Bartlett, Jason York, and from time to time Chantal Desjardins, after the three hour announcer/Leafs love-in on Wednesday.

Bartlett and York actually discussed the merits of the Habs often. How unique is that? And Chantal Desjardins has such a classy and professional delivery, just a wonderful way of speaking. I have a crush on Chantal’s voice.

Game One Goodness

Tomas Plekanec’s second goal of the game with just 43 seconds remaining in the third period gave the Canadiens a nice 4-3 win in Toronto and put to bed that opening game jinx they’ve experienced over the past four years.

Almost as good, it sends the rich Leaf fan bastards in the expensive seats sadly scrambling to their limos, possibly depressed by the fact that for the few minutes they were actually in their seats, it didn’t end properly for them.

Forget the sometimes weak play by a few Canadiens players on a few Leafs goals. It’s not that important because it’s only game one and they won it anyway.

What pisses me off more than a few costly mistakes by my team was seeing a whole bunch of $900 seats or whatever they were at the ACC, vacant more than five minutes into the second period, and for almost the first half of the third.

Jaded and spoiled silly by free tickets and ultra fat wallets, these people mingled in the lobbies or wherever else and missed probably a third of the game. I’d hate to be sitting high in the cheap seats and seeing these people casually strolling back to their perfect seats midway through the third with the scored tied at two. No wonder it’s the worst sports franchise in North America.

Rich Leaf fan bastards, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Max Pacioretty opened the scoring for Montreal on the team’s first shot of the game when he, as a lefthanded shot, swooped in from the right side and his wrist shot somehow went between the post and Jonathan Bernier’s skate.

Shades of Rocket Richard, a lefthanded shot swooping in from the right side. The big difference was, Max’s eyes probably didn’t burn like coals. Other than that, similar.

The Leafs would tie it and then take the lead with Alexei Emelin in the box, but in the second frame, Emelin would right things by sending Tomas Plekanec in free with a beauty pass, and the score was tied.

Many Leaf fans would have missed that goal because it was only at the 4:34 mark of the period.

At 8:41 of the third period, with rich fans still talking about business and mistresses somewhere else, P.K. Subban blasted one home after a great pass from DD.

A lovely sight, the PK celebration. Hope we see plenty of it over the next eight months.

With 2:19 left in the third, Toronto would tie it when a puck bounced in off Lars Eller, but, in keeping with the weirdness, Tomas Plekanec scored the winner with 43 seconds remaining when his shot bounced in off a Toronto guy.

It wasn’t a perfect win. Maybe Tom Gilbert could’ve been stronger. Maybe a few guys need to pull up their socks. But tonight is not the night to find fault. It’s only game one and they got it done.

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 32-27. It was 11-6 for the Leafs after the first period but the boys picked up steam as the game wore on.

Next Habs game – In just a few short hours when they visit the Caps in Washington.

Tonight!!! Go Habs Go

May you play like the wind is at your back, your skates have wings, your shots have eyes, and from time to time, your punches hit faces and your pucks sometimes land extremely close to opposing goalies’ nether regions.

It could be a sensational season for the Montreal Canadiens and of course their fans, without question the smartest and best looking fans in hockey.

Start if off right boys, tonight against those wild and crazy Laffs.

Artwork from the young and talented Wade (Darth) Alexander (Twitter @DarthAlexander9).

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Habs/Leafs Set To Blast Off

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Gally and Chucky are a tad older now (although, on the downside, Andrei Markov and Mike Weaver are too), the Canadiens are coming off some postseason deepness and liking it, and sixteen skaters (counting newcomer Eric Tangradi), are at least six feet tall.

The size factor has zoomed up considerably with Brian Gionta, Daniel Briere, and most recently Francis Bouillon, no longer in the picture. In fact, the roster, as it stands now, lists 11 guys all at 6’2″, which in my eyes is darn close to the perfect hockey player size.

It’s not that small guys can’t be key contributors. They certainly can be and it would be nonsense to say otherwise. But when there’s an abundance of small guys on one team, the team will often get bounced around like Brad Marchand’s three brain cells when the going gets rough.

It seems the Canadiens also have a nice balance of guys of young and not-quite-so-young. In fact, unless something changes, it’s only Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Bournival, Beaulieu, Tinordi, and Jiri Sekac under 25 years old, and it’s only Weaver, 36, Markov, 35, and Manny Malhotra, 34, as the overly-wrinkled veterans.

Tweaks have been made (- http://dennis-kane.com/summer-notes-from-habsville/), and the Canadiens should be labeled a legitimate contender, which is a sensational feeling. Unless you hate them of course.

It begins on Wednesday when they play the worst sports franchise in North America.

Yes, against those wacky Leafs.

It was ESPN who named the Leafs the worst, with the decision based on affordability, coaching, fan relations, ownership (honesty and loyalty), players (effort and likability), stadium experience, bang for the buck (wins per fan dollars) and title track (championships won or expected).

Pretty sure it costs an arm and a leg to see the Laffs at the ACC. They’ve increased their ticket prices by 53% this year, with the average price being $423.65.

But at ticket outlet “Vivid Seats”, one can grab a pair to see them and the Habs battle from down low, centre ice for slightly more. Just $1213 a seat.

However, if you want to wait until, say January, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the ACC, you can get a great seat through Vivid for just $385.00!

Likeable players? Probably not on this year’s team. But Johnny Bower has always seemed likeable. King Clancy. Some of the usherettes. I’m sure there’s more.

Stadium experience? I dunno. Are the hot dogs good?

Wins per fan dollar? The team hasn’t won much of anything in four and a half decades, which makes the fan dollar so low that when I do the math, the team should be paying the fans.

You can lump “wins per fan dollars and championships won or expected” together if you want. However which way you slice it, with these two categories being part of the criteria, ESPN should just hand the award to the Leafs permanently and come up with something new.

“Championships expected”? Yes, any year now, the Leafs will win the Cup. Said Don Rickles.

I don’t pay attention to the coaching and ownership so I can’t comment. I suppose they’re trying, but it’s the Maple Leafs they own or coach. How much trying can one do?

Habs and Laffs finally set to go. A big night for sure, even if one team is the worst franchise in North America.

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