My New Old Mitts

Lyla 2

I read somewhere that’s it’s a certain gene in one’s DNA that makes you want to collect things. Either you have it or you don’t. I have it.

I’m happy to have it, although I’m not interested in modern day stuff. And although I feel that collecting isn’t as important as being a doctor or Habs stick boy, it’s better than shooting crystal meth or hacking computers or any number of things that aren’t good at all and you can’t put on your shelf and look at.

The mitts above are from the 1950s, and if you have the gene you might like them. If not, your life is an empty and meaningless shell and probably isn’t worth living.

Just darn fine mitts and they look great on my shelf. But I also thought that showing a beautiful model wearing them would be good. And it was easy to find a beautiful model.

Lyla 1

 

Well I Woke Up Sunday Morning

It’s Sunday morning and although the grass needs cutting, I can’t get out there and do it because a little baby is sleeping. What a fantastic excuse!

Nathan Beaulieu has signed a two-year contact with the Habs, at a million per. Great to  have this done, it doesn’t break the bank, and it should inspire the young fellow to be all he can be and ink a whopper in a few years.

It seems like only yesterday that we debated the idea of who would win a full-time job first, Beaulieu or Jarred Tinordi, but Beaulieu came through with his skating, puckhandling and poise, while Tinordi lagged behind because of his tentativeness with the puck. But we can’t give up on the big fellow, mainly because he’s a big fellow.

And regarding Beaulieu and his dad’s assault charge in 2013, it came to light only recently that the two had heard someone at a party saying Kane’s blog sucked and they naturally took matters into their own hands. “Nobody says that and gets away with it,” said papa Jacques Beaulieu.

The Leafs have signed former Leaf Wally Stanowski to a one-year deal. Stanowski, 96, says he’s anxious to suit up as it’s been awhile, and if someone can help him onto the ice and then off again, he feels he should be at least as mobile as Dion Phaneuf, and probably a better fighter.

Below, Wally at a recent press conference. “With Montreal inking Beaulieu, we felt this signing was necessary to keep pace,” said Leafs president Brendan Shanahan. “All we ask is that he quits smoking.”

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Other tidits: The Chicago Blackhawks have taken a 3-2 series over Tampa Bay, the Arizona Coyotes are in building lease trouble, and NBC’s Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus says playoff beards should go.

It’s hard to know which is the most important of the three. Probably the Cup Final, although as a Habs fan, any playoff passion has been squeezed out like that last drop from a bottle of Four Aces. And then, of course, the Coyotes situation, which everyone should be used to by now, and which could possibly end with Quebec getting their well-deserved team.

But the beard thing is definitely important too.

“I just don’t like the beards,” said Lazarus. “You can’t see their faces. Although, for that very reason, it was good when Brad Marchand grew one.”

For me, I don’t know what to think. The Rocket and Beliveau never grew playoff beards. What about that?

Below, Lazarus at his recent press conference, explaining the beard problem.

beard

Baby Lyla

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She’s the reason Lucy and I cut short our stay in Montreal and headed back to Powell River.

It was 17 round trips between Powell River and Victoria (4 1/2 hours each way, with 34 ferry rides) to get this done, and it was just the other day she finally moved to our home.

This beautiful little girl is Lyla, who just turned seven months. She likes to eat and sleep and read about Rocket Richard.

And yes, in our mid-60s we’re slightly old to be doing this but we don’t mind. We love her with all our heart.

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Lyla

McKenzie Earns An Elmer

Congratulations to the always excellent and insightful Bob McKenzie for winning this year’s Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, his profession’s highest honour, and which puts him Hall of Fame bound.

McKenzie is an absolutely deserving recipient, a guy at the top of his game, and the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) thinks so too.

There’s no word yet on whether P.J. Stock will take home the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting.

Below, a letter I have from Mr. Ferguson to Emile Dion in Quebec City, dated 1929.

 

Elmer

Elmer Ferguson, born in 1885 and deceased in 1972, was the sports editor for the now-defunct Montreal Herald, a newspaper in existence from 1811 to 1957. That’s quite a run. 146 years.

Elmer also did color commentary on radio broadcasts, first with the Montreal Maroons between 1933 and 1938, and then the Habs from 1938 to 1967. He worked alongside the late, great Danny Gallivan in later years.

Mr. Ferguson, who has signed the letter using fountain pen, was inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is given each year to a journalist “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalists and to hockey“.

Among those honoured are the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, and Roy MacGregor, and now McKenzie joins the pack.

The man mentioned in the letter, Cooper Smeaton, was a referee and the NHL’s first referee-in-chief when the league was formed in 1917. He was inducted into the referee/linesmen section of the Hall of Fame in 1961.

Summer Windbag

May 20 – Mike Babcock leaves the Detroit Red Wings to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the deal calling for 50 million bucks over eight years. Seriously, that’s more than I made at BC Ferries.

Last year Toronto brought in a hot shot advanced stats guy, and now it’s this coach. We’re all screwed. The Leafs will probably be fantastic from now on. Unstoppable every year until the two of them retire. Leafs fans are lucky.

May 21 – Babcock mentions at his big press conference that the Leafs are “Canada’s team”.

May 25 – Today I’ve been thinking about what Babcock said about Canada’s team. I wanted to know who Canada is, the one the team belongs to, so I typed in Canada 411 and had a look.

The problem is, there are quite a few people in Canada named Canada, and I’ve no idea which one the Leafs belong to. There’s Graham Canada in Brampton, Vicki Canada in Vancouver, Gorving Canada in Toronto, Sheldon Canada in Alberta, and a whole bunch in Manitoba, including Mervin and Terry. Others too, including Catherine Canada in Quebec. And then there’s the parents and siblings. All these Canadas, and at least one of them owns the Leafs. Right now we don’t know which one, but I’m hoping it’s Mervin.

Whichever Canada it is, maybe his or her granddad was part of the crew that helped build Maple leaf Gardens and took shares from Conn Smythe instead of money. And if it’s one of the Manitoba Canadas like Mervin, the neighbours probably had no idea. They thought the Canada clan down the road were Jets fans.

May 27 – Guy Lafleur says Brendan Gallagher should captain the Canadiens. Guy says what he thinks, and I say good for him, he doesn’t keep things bottled up inside which could lead to ulcers. Last year he put the hammer down on Max and Tomas Vanek for having lousy post seasons, before that it was Bob Gainey and Guy Carbonneau’s handling of Alex Kovalev, and in 2007 he said the Habs were a team of 4th liners. I’m sure there were more.

Management must grit their teeth when they find out that the Flower has spoken again.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what Guy or any of us think about who should wear the C. It should be put to a dressing room vote. They know each other. They have showers together. But call the vote when no one’s expecting so there’s no time for players to do some personal brown nosing to garner votes, like buying flowers for the other guys’ wives, or babysitting their kids.

And sadly, Carey Price’s name shouldn’t be on the ballot. You know, the goalie/captain thing. But if Price was a forward or d-man, it’s the captaincy for sure.

June 2 – Jeff Petry signs a new six year, $33 million contract with the Canadiens. I like the Habs blueline. You got yer P.K. and Petry and Beaulieu and Emelin and Pateryn and Tinordi. And yes, even Old Man Markov, who will be relying on smarts only from here on in, which is still good.

June 3 – The Stanley Cup Final featuring the Tampa Bay Lightning and Chicago Blackhawks begins. Canada’s team isn’t involved. Probably next year because they have the coach and the stats guy. Mervin or Graham, or whichever Canada it is that the team belongs to, will be cheering wildly from Manitoba or wherever.

June 4 – Something slightly unusual happens to me today.

 

 

Habs Gone With The Wind

Call me crazy, but I thought the Canadiens would play like gangbusters in game six. I guess I’ve never been more wrong.

The team that had stormed back from being down three games to none to make it a 3-2 series played like lethargic bums on Tuesday night and are now forced to sit at the cottage and clubhouse all summer and dwell on how they fizzled out instead of fighting with all their might to carry on down the trail to Lord Stanley’s old mug.

A dismal 4-1 spanking at the hands of the Lightning. Not in it from the first minute to the last.  Checked into the ground, with absolutely no pressure on Ben Bishop who had plenty of time to scan the crowd for lovely ladies.

It’s difficult to understand. Maybe the Canadiens were just too spent. Out of gas as they scrambled to come back from a 3-0 series deficit. There’s a reason why most teams don’t come back. Because the hole’s a deep bastard.

But talk about going out with a whimper. A surprising display of ………not much at all. A measly 6 shots in the first, 7 in the second, 6 in the third, from a team fighting for their life. From a team that was supposed to have character, but ultimately didn’t have firepower, or a half-decent power play.

It’s never easy when the team bows out. We hope and expect and cheer heartily and then hope some more. But in the end, they were completely outmatched for some reason, and now we have to hope about next year instead.

I remain proud of my team.

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I’ll be off and on this site all summer if you feel like stopping by. Unlike previous summers when I posted every day throughout, I have serious things to attend to this time around, which will take much of my time. But I think a few hours here and there on the computer will be good for me.

I’ll be around. You and I have to figure out how to make the 2015-16 team better than this one.

And I suppose now’s as good a time as any to post my golf picture.

From my old scrapbook – The Rocket and Arnold Palmer shoot the breeze when they were in New York in 1961. The two legends were honored by the S. Rae Hickok Co. as Athletes of the Decade in their respective sports.

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Hey Ghosts, Break’s Over

Sent over by Mike McKim, this article in Grantland.com – Battling the Ghosts by Sean McIndoe, talks about the Habs/ Lightning series, the old Forum and it’s replacement the Bell Centre, along with the distance between the two barns in different ways.

McIndoe also notes the apparent absence of Forum ghosts who were suppose to pack up and move over when the old cathedral closed its doors, but seem to be taking their time. If they came at all.

Contrary to what many think, I believe the Forum ghosts did make their way over to the Bell Centre in 1996, but they’ve had so much fun reminiscing, with the hangovers never ending and good times just rolling along, and they simply haven’t gotten around to modern day Habs teams yet, except for some fine times against Boston.

And they were on the job in the 2010 playoffs, at least for a few magical rounds. But all in all, they’ve really slacked off.

I can’t blame the ghosts. They welcome old buddies almost non-stop, so they party hard and tell tall tales, and lately, with Jean and Gilles and Elmer and Dollard and coach Ruel moving upstairs, there’s way too much to do in just a short amount of time.

Guys have to come from all corners of heaven to meet at the rebuilt Toe Blake’s Tavern. Fedora’s have to be dusted off. Someone has to be in charge of cigars at the corner tobacco store. It’s been tradition to have music greet the new guys, so Benny Goodman or Sinatra or Elvis have to be rounded up and sent to Toe’s.

So much to do, and we expect them to do more? Yes we do, because we believe in a serious work ethic from our ghosts,

It’s time to get off your behinds, ghosts. The boys down below need some guidance. Morenz only took 7 years after passing before lending a helping hand. What’s going on, Rocket? What’s the holdup?

And surely Toe and Dick Sr. can get the power play in sync, although it appears they might already be working on it.

All of you. Coffee break’s over. Up and at ’em.

Toe's

 

 

 

Sean’s Fine Piece

This story –  Canadiens Extend Series, is written by my friend Sean Farrell, who, when he’s not covering the Habs for Canadiens.com and NHL.com, works at Classic Auctions near Montreal, where I also worked before moving back to the West Coast.

Sean and I did the exact same job – we wrote descriptions of rare and unique hockey items for the auction catalogues.

During our big company hockey game a couple of winters ago, Sean tended goal and I was a smallish-yet-shifty forward on the team that won the game and in doing so, we got a day off with pay. It was a beautiful moment.

Sean also spent a season a few years back covering the Ottawa Senators for NHL.com, but is back where he belongs, taking care of Habs business.

 

Happy Mom’s Day

mom

I lost my mom to stomach cancer back in 1978 when I was 27. She got what she thought was the flu, and four months later she was dead. It took me more than 30 years before I could work up the guts to visit her grave.

My mom was the typical 1950s and ’60s stay-at-home mom who baked cookies and cakes that were ready when we got home from school. She helped me write fan letters to the Rocket and other Montreal Canadien players, and her and I would often listen boxing matches on the radio at the kitchen table, including fights that featured a young fellow named Cassius Clay.

And together, one morning before school, we heard the Orillia announcer mention for the first time a brand new group from Liverpool.

She made sure there were always lots of Christmas presents under the tree, presents that were bought on department store credit that my dad had no idea about until after she died. And my dad, who’s also gone now, once told me about the time when I was very young and as we drove by the arena, I said “Hey, there’s the fucking arena!” My mom was very understanding and gentle as she explained to me about the bad word.

It was the only time I ever swore in front of my parents, and they never saw me smoke either as I grew into my teens and early adulthood.

She went to my hockey and baseball games, listened politely when I played her my new Bob Dylan albums, she liked my long hair and weird clothes, and she understood more than anyone about my restless feet. My friends loved her and she loved them, especially if they made her laugh.

This was a lady who didn’t have a problem with the wild 1960s, even though she was born in 1924 and grew up in a much different world. I was very proud of her.

If your mom is still alive and you love her, maybe you should tell her so. I’d give anything to say it now to my mom.

Still Alive After Game Five!

The Montreal Canadiens are alive and well and clawing back after edging Tampa Bay 2-1 win in a game five thriller at a noisy and electric Bell Centre.

Now it’s back to the Sunshine State for a Tuesday night showdown, with the Habs feeling good and finding momentum, and the Lightning slightly on their heels and wondering how they squandered a 3-0 series lead and now could be screwed.

If you have to work Tuesday evening, quit. If you’re getting married that night, don’t. If your baby is due around game time, have it at home in front of the TV.

What a great game this Saturday night affair in Montreal was, wild and wooly, with the Habs grabbing the lead nine minutes into the first period when Devante Smith-Pelly’s wrist shot rang off the crossbar and in doing so, took the all-important lead and gave us big time hope.

Exciting and wondrous, and my pulse raced and my heart skipped several beats. Quivering sensations ran up and down my body. Just really nice camera shots of Angela Price.

The team had been a tad outmatched in the beginning, but Smith-Pelly’s goal reversed the flow. After that, the boys looked much better, their power play, although not scoring, was impressive as they moved the puck around, and the period also saw three pucks banged off posts behind and around Ben Bishop.

In final frame the Bolts pushed hard and were rewarded with a Steven Stamkos goal, and I’m assuming that Habs fans who bite their fingernails chewed hard. For me, because I don’t bite my nails, I gnawed on my arms.

As nerve-wracking as can be, but with the clock winding down, PA Parenteau took a PK Subban pass and just as Smith-Pelly had done in the first period, rang the puck off the crossbar and into the netting. The home team held on, we breathed a big and happy sigh of relief, and I wrapped my arms with towels to stop the bleeding.

Can they do it again and then again after that? Of course they can, because momentum has swung, the guys can taste and feel it, they’re playing well now and the power play seems on the verge. The Lightning also know they’ve been outmatched often in the series.

But the Canadiens have to play another beauty on Tuesday, and then again on Thursday. They can do it. Everybody knows it now.

Carey Price has been as cool as a cucumber of course, and was brilliant, especially when he robbed Val Flippula with a glove save when Tampa was pushing early in the third. Price did his job and the gang in front of him went about their business and got it done. And it was only just a few days ago that I decided that I hated hockey.

Ben Bishop was good too, although high shots seem to trouble him, he’s a bit of a complainer, and in heavy traffic he goes down more than Linda Lovelace. Maybe a few more high shots past him and we’ll see that lousy Russian guy between the pipes again!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot the visitors 29-25, and although they once again went 0 for 3 on the power, they looked great with the man advantage, especially with Jeff Petry quarterbacking from the blueline. They controlled things in slick fashion and came within a whisker of scoring several times.

They also stayed out of the penalty box all evening.

Tuesday, and remember – don’t work that night, don’t get married, and if you have a baby, have it in the TV room.

 

 

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