Habsburg

June 28th marks the 100th anniversary of events that set off the First World War.

Not far from Habsburg.

The war came shortly after the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who had expansion on his mind. Much like Gary Bettman had, at least in the past.

The Serbs didn’t care much for this type of expansion behaviour and shot the poor bugger. Franz, not Gary.

But……

Franz Ferdinand, if he hadn’t taken a bullet, would soon become ruler of Habsburg.

Habsburg was an Austrian and Spanish Royal House beginning sometime in the 11th century, and remains an important European Royal House to this day. There was a Habsburg castle, Habsburg throne, an Archduke Otto von Habsburg, and now, Karl von Habsburg carries on to this day.

Karl’s the head of the House of Habsburg, much like Geoff Molson.

Was there a Bruinsburg, or Leafsburg, or Canucksburg? Otto von Bruinsburg? No way. But there was a Habsburg!

For more on Habsburg, click here – Habsburg

It was a gruesome time in history, when16 million died, including 7 million civilians, and another 20 million wounded. A miserable war. Starvation, trench warfare, chlorine and mustard gas, genocide, fifth, horrible uniforms that felt like burlap bags on the skin.

The men and women who fought are all gone now, the last was Florence Green, a British citizen who served in the Allies armed forces, who died at age 110 in 2012.

We can never forget, even though now it’s 100 years ago. But we all know that human beings will never learn. Greed, power, money, oil, arrogance. The wars will keep on coming.

 

Brand New Hab

A hearty welcome to Moscow-born (and Saskatoon Blades) forward Nikita Scherbak, chosen by the Canadiens with their first pick (26th), although Marc Bergevin says they had him at 15th for skaters and was surprised he was still around when it came time to choose.

From Moscow to Saskatoon, and sometime in the next few years, hopefully a full-time job in Montreal.

Time marches on. In 1972 when the Summit Series was played, Nikita’s mom and dad might not have been born yet.

Now we have Nikita, with a year in the WHL with the Blades under his belt, which not that long ago would’ve been unheard of, and speaking English, albeit with a heavy accent which is to be expected of course. You should hear my French accent.

I remember when it was truly strange to hear Valeri Kharlamov say a simple English “thank you” when interviewed with a translater in ’72. Completely unusual, although maybe you had to be there.

Now, after just a year in Canada, young Scherbak was a delight, and like Alex Galchenyuk a few years back, I liked him right away.

Again, welcome Nikita.

I’ll Take Several Please

Further to the John Lennon/Habs sweater update posted yesterday John Lennon’s Habs Jersey.

Ed, who filled us in on the details, paid $15.00 in 1969 for a Bobby Rousseau game-used Habs sweater. Besides the John Lennon aspect, that in itself is a mind-blowing detail.

In 1969, according to Calculator.net, $15.00 in 1969 is equal to about a hundred bucks today.

Fifteen bucks ($100) for Rousseau’s sweater. But If I’d known back then it wouldn’t have mattered much anyway because I had no money and neither did my parents.

In those days, when I was hitchhiking around the country with almost nothing to call my own except my clothes and a cool jean jacket, my mother would sometimes send me a five-dollar money order to help me out. I still have her letters.

Al McNeil’s early 1960s Habs sweater sold recently for $6700.00. Henri Richard’s from 1973-74  was $15,000.

Rousseau’s late ’60s gamer might be close to the McNeil price. Unless a couple of very serious bidders went at it and drove the price through the roof. Like Paul Henderson’s 1972 Summit Series sweater, which went for $1.25 million.

In 1969, people didn’t collect memorabilia like they do today. If everyone saved their sports and music treasures from back then, everyone would now be lounging on easy street.

But most never thought of it. And so at McNiece’s, which was located in the Forum before the 1968 renovations and eventually moved across the street, a brand new unused Habs sweater sold for more than a game-used sweater worn by a hard shooting star like Bobby Rousseau.

It’s amazing to think about, but it’s how our society has changed. Memorabilia from all walks of life is now big business. It’s also why I have a job.

Here’s a picture I took of McNiece’s in about 1965. I never realized until now that part of my finger is in it.

McNiece's

 

Update On John Lennon’s Habs Sweater

A year ago exactly I posted these great shots of John and Yoko with a Habs sweater John and Yoko on the Power Play, and what appeared to be number 5, and which I’d also assumed had taken place at the 1969 Bed-In for Peace at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

Easy to assume. But it wasn’t number 5 and it wasn’t during the Bed-In for Peace.

Yesterday I received a comment that you can see below the pictures.

Boom Boom Lennon

John Lennon and Yoko Ono Receiving Gift

Here’s the new comment, from a fellow who calls himself Ed.

“Glad to see these photos on your blog.. a bit of a clarification.
1. picture was taken in Dec 1969 months after the bed-in in June.
2. The number on the jersey is actually 15.. Bobby Rousseau.
How do I know?.. I bought that game worn jersey at McNiece’s Sports for $15.00 (that’s what they sold for – new jerseys were $22.)…and presented to John as well as the toques that they are both wearing.

John and Yoko had just spent a week in Toronto…and I figured that it would really piss off Leaf fans if he showed up with a Habs jersey.. The photo made the front page of the Sports section in The Gazette or Mtl. Star the following day.

Mission accomplished… I wonder where that jersey is now?”

Pat’s Time

I worked in Hull, Quebec at the E.B. Eddy paper mill in the mid to late-1970s when Pat Burns was a local cop there.

I never met him. I just thought it was a good opening paragraph.

I’ll bet as a cop, Burns was a beauty. Tough as nails. No nonsense.  We saw how ferocious he was as a coach. Smart-ass punks would have stood no chance.

The ex-cop has now been chosen as part of the 2014 Hall of Fame gang, along with Dominik Hasek, Mike Modano, Rob Blake, Peter Forsberg, and referee Bill McCreary.

Who knows why Burns wasn’t picked five or ten years ago? Maybe he’d ruffled some feathers before he passed away in 2010 from cancer.

This was a tough hombre who wouldn’t have stood for any guff from legends in their own minds who run various branches of hockey, including members of the HOF selection committee.

The bottom line is, he was a strong and successful coach who deserved to be placed in the Hall. There are plenty in there who are debatable choices, but not Pat Burns.

It was Wayne Gretzky, who owned the Hull Olympiques from 1985 to 1992, who convinced Pat to quit the beat and coach the Quebec Junior team full time. It worked out beautifully.

Of course it did. Because everything Gretzky touched back then seemed to turn to gold.

As a coach, when Pat Burns wasn’t raging, he seemed as likeable as can be in interviews, and by many accounts was popular and personable to everyone he wasn’t collaring or coaching or happened to be near when he was in a foul mood.

He admitted it was tough in Montreal with the pressure from media and fans, he didn’t always handle things in a cool and calm manner, and I’m sure at times, reporters would tread lightly after a tough loss. Would you want a pissed off Pat Burns glaring at you?

He was behind the Habs bench for just four years, his learning years as an NHL coach from 1988 to 1992, and was awarded the Jack Adams Award in 1989 for top coach in the league after taking the boys to the Cup finals before falling to the Terry Crisp-coached Calgary Flames.

(I wrote a letter to my sister in Calgary before that ’89 series had started, giving my prediction along with a little made-up series review which I titled “Pat Burns Terry to a Crisp”)

Next stop was Toronto, where he led the Buds from 1992 to ’96, and where he’d win the Adams in 1993. And from there it was four years with the Bruins (1997 to 2001),  where he’d earn a third Jack Adams Award, this one in 1998.

It sucked to see Pat Burns running the bench in Toronto and Boston. It always sucks to see a beloved Hab in those enemy uniforms.

Following Boston it was the New Jersey Devils in 2002-03 for Burns where he’d win the Stanley Cup, and then one final year after that with the Devils before being diagnosed with colon cancer.

A great career, successful almost everywhere he coached. And on Monday, November 17, 2014, eleven years after his final line change, we’ll see Pat inducted.

Late, but better late than never.

 

Happy St. Jean Baptiste Day

Yes, happy St. Jean Baptiste Day to all Quebecers. A big day. A provincial holiday. A time to party.

This is my second St. Jean Baptiste Day in Quebec, but the first doesn’t count because Lucy and I were only just arriving. It doesn’t feel any different. There’s still no party.

I’m still not exactly sure what it is. How come it’s a provincial holiday for John the Baptist? He never even came here. Although he’s a deserving fellow in many ways of course. I think more deserving than Queen Victoria, who has her big day in May.

According to Wikipedia, the first one was celebrated on the banks of the St. Lawrence way back in 1636. Close to the time the Leafs last won the Cup.

It honours the feast of John the Baptist. With all due respect to theologians, why do we say that? I had to look that up and I still don’t get it. I think June 24th is John’s birthday, which is also called the feast of.

No idea and I was an altar boy. Is the feast a celebration of John Baptist’s birth, or one of his big honkin barbecues?

Regardless, it should be August 4th. Maurice Richard Day. The Feast of Maurice Richard if you will.

Jean Baptiste’s buddy Jesus gets some big days like Christmas and Easter. Jean gets a good day at the beginning of summer.

It’s kinda like Jesus is Elton John and Jean Baptiste is Elton’s old friend and songwriter Bernie Taupin. Bernie is really important, but more in the background.

A great St. Jean Baptiste Day to all Quebecers. Even to the ones who want to separate. Peace and love from St. Hubert.

 

 

 

 

 

Markov Staying

Andrei Markov sticks around after signing for the identical number he just finished with – 3 years at $5.75 per.

I suppose most figured he’d stay, although it was that pesky three years he wanted when several million Habs fans, and probably management too, felt two years was plenty for the aging d-man.

But it’s neither here nor there now, and if after a couple of years he needs to be bought out, it’s only money, which of course the Montreal Canadiens have plenty of. Their beer cost 11 bucks.

I’m glad he’s staying. He’s smart, makes the fine short pass, and is a big part of the power play. He just gets blown by from time to time by speedy opponents.

But speedy opponents have blown by lots of smart, important veteran defencemen on all teams for the past century or two. It’s what young guys do – blow by old guys. It’s just that when it happens to Markov, we scream blue murder.

Now that the Markov signing is out of the way, we move on to the next thing, which should be P.K. Subban’s brand new doozy of a contract that’ll keep him in Lamborghinis and fancy suits until he’s too old for Lamborghinis and fancy suits.

And after that, it should be the announcing of me being the new stick boy.

Flattened Rink

Orillia

The old Orillia rink, where I put on my first team sweater when I was about six years old, is suddenly an empty lot. So is my old high school but I’m not missing that.

I always looked for number 9 because it was the Rocket’s. Often in those first few years I’d get it. Survival of the quickest to the sweater heap. And maybe number 9 was more important to me than to the others.

A rink where Ricky Ley, who became a star defenceman in the NHL and WHA, started life as a goalie and was rarely scored upon because he simply laid down across the goal and no one could raise the puck over him.

Where much of  my childhood and adolescent was centered around, and where the old guy who pulled the barrel of water on wheels around to flood it always had a cigarette in his mouth.

When I was a kid having my dad tie my laces, the rink was actually quite new, the same age as me, but it seemed old, with smells I smell to this day. Great smells. Cigars, sweaty sweaters. Distinct smells. It had only been a handful of years but it wasn’t new, not by a long shot.

The demolition company charged $97,000 to level the old barn, which I thought was cheap. It had become unsafe, the roof was the problem, and I guess it’s never good to sit in an arena watching a game and hoping the roof doesn’t fall on your head.

Developers had stayed away from $649,000 asking price because of the added cost of demolishing. But it was smack dab in the heart of Orillia where $96,000 tacked onto the land price shouldn’t be all that outlandish. I don’t know. Is it?

They turned the Montreal Forum into a cinema, coffee shop, liquor store and bank mall. Now I lose my second rink and it only cost $97,000.

It’s where my winters were spent. Where I went public skating. Where I took a puck in the mouth which broke two teeth, when I was sitting in the stands.

Where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget all-star teams, and where it was a badge of honor to get lots of concussions, long before we knew what a bummer a concussion could actually be.

Hey! I’m going to blame all my teenage and adult poor decisions on my concussions suffered at the old rink when I was kid! This is the best excuse I’ve ever come up with!

Other Orillia and rink stories are in Categories under “Orillia” and include, among others – Psst, Wanna Buy An Arena? and Old Orillia Rink.

 

Darth Comes Through Again

Darth (Wade Alexander) has been creating cool pieces of computer art for several years and it’s always a good day when another shows up that I can post.

Some of his other stuff can be seen right here

And now, without further ado, Darth’s newest.

PKPortrait

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