In The Magazine – Mistakes and All

If you have number six of Les Canadiens magazine from the 1991-92 season, then you have a small story about me, complete with a couple of errors.

I was in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1991, at the time the Soviet Union was falling apart, a mind-blowing and historic time to be sure, and I was visiting a bunch of serious Habs fans who had their own Montreal Canadiens Fan Club. We were at the president of the fan club’s apartment and we sat around drinking tea and talking hockey.

The fellow in the black San Jose Sharks shirt was my translater, and he was a Russian scout for the San Jose Sharks and later the Anaheim Ducks.

That’s me in the middle, clean-shaven, with a serious sunburn. And unfortunately, the magazine made a few mistakes. The picture of the fellow in the Habs jacket holding the puck isn’t me, although it says it is in the caption below it. (It’s Anatoli Brel, who I went with to the meeting).

The story that accompanies the pictures says that “Dennis Kane is the only foreign member of the Canadiens Fan Club in St. Petersburg. As a boy, Dennis was always writing letters to his heros, Doug Harvey, Bernard Geoffrion and Maurice Richard; he still has their lovingly replies. (Second error – I don’t have any replies except for Rocket’s Christmas card and a couple of autographed pictures. The author took some liberties here.)

And then, one day, he came across a newspaper article about Anatoli Brel, a Russian fellow looking for a Canadiens fan with whom to correspond.

After six years of exchanging letters, Dennis decided to go visit his hockey pen pal and meet the fan club people who met once a month to talk about the Habs and bring their statistics up to date. “It was really weird,” he recalls. “There I was, thousands of miles from Canada, on a street in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and there was this huge Canadiens logo in the window.”

Following that memorable meeting, Dennis received a letter officially confirming his membership in the Canadiens Fan Club…St. Petersburg Chapter! What more could you ask?

Boxed Patrick

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I bought this 12-inch ‘Patrick Roy’ McFarlane figurine a decade or so ago at Wal-Mart, not because I’m a great Patrick Roy fan, but because this thing is incredibly beautiful. The problem with most figurines is that it’s impossible to re-create the face properly, but with this one, there was no such problem because he’s wearing his mask. And the rest of it is dead-on.

I paid roughly 30 bucks for it, and on ebay now they’re selling for about $200. And the only way for something like this to ever grow in value is to never take it out of the box, which is the case here.

That’s the key, making sure it’s never removed from the box. So you have to make the decision – do you take it out of the box and enjoy it, or leave it in and enjoy it not quite so much?

It’s the same principle, sort of, as never removing the dust jacket from a book. Dust jackets make all the difference in the world of book collecting. Collectors will scramble to find that first edition Ernest Hemingway complete with jacket, and pay the big bucks. But they won’t bother near as much if the same Hemingway doesn’t have the dust jacket.

So always keep them on your books. Unless you just want to enjoy them. Kind of a silly decision isn’t it? If you’re a rebel you’ll just enjoy them with or without, which is why they were written in the first place. Or you could not even read them, just collect them because they have dust jackets.

Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket

Smoke Those Consols

The first time I went to the Montreal Forum I was about 13 or so, and what really stood out for me, aside from the logos at centre ice and the magical red colour of the players’ sweaters, was the scoreboard that had British Consols cigarettes ads around it.

I’m pretty sure that at some point after I got back to Orillia I got my hands on some British Consols and smoked them. Maybe it was a few years later. But anyway.

If British Consols were good enough for the Montreal Forum, they were good enough for me.

I was already smoking at my CYO dances by then, and sometimes smoked cigars behind my coaches’s backs on my baseball road trips when I was 12.

But I haven’t smoked in years. Maybe because there’s no ads on scoreboards anymore to sway me.

I saw this great photo recently of the Montreal Maroons from the early-’30s and quickly noticed that British Consols went way back with the Forum and hockey in Montreal.

 

The ’86 Cup Gang

It’s certain the Montreal Canadiens of 1986 weren’t a dominant team in the league, or a great team like the Habs of other years. Heck, they weren’t even as good as several other teams in these playoffs. But they won the Stanley Cup and the rest didn’t. And they did it through a blend of old, new, and a goalie who stood on his head.

Montreal’s 1986 Stanley Cup win over the Calgary Flames was the 23rd time the team had drank from the old mug, and surprising as it was for all the armchair quarterbacks and hockey experts of the world, there were actual reasons why they were able to do this drinking.

Patrick Roy standing on his head was a very good reason. The rookie won the Conn Smythe for his performance in these playoffs, and one stop in particular may just have saved the day for the Habs. Coach Jean Perron had called a timeout with the game winding down and Montreal leading 4-3, when just 30 seconds after the timeout and only 14 seconds left, Jamie Macoun thought he had it tied when he fired and waited for the red light. But Roy pulled out the most important big stop of the series to maintain the lead. “I wasn’t on the ice when Roy made that save,” grinned Bobby Smith.  “When he made it, I was on my feet yelling: ‘Roo-ah! Roo-ah!’ This smile is going to be on my face until September.”

But Roy wasn’t the only reason the Canadiens came through. It was simply an amazing and unheralded bunch.

Ryan Walter for example, who played with a half-healed broken ankle, and played like a demon. Team doctors said with astonishment that if it was the regular season, Walter wouldn’t have even skated for another three weeks. Walter later explained, “Adrenaline is an amazing healer with a Stanley Cup in sight.”

Guy Carbonneau, playing with a serious knee injury.

Chris Nilan, who sat out the last two games with a damaged ankle, said of journeymen Serge Boisvert and Steve Rooney, who had filled in, “I’m glad it gave these guys a chance to get their names on the Cup. They deserved it because they worked like hell and never opened their mouths.”

Brian Skrudland, who was knocked out cold early in the final game, put the Canadiens ahead, 2-1, for good in the second period and never missed a shift. Later, in the dressing later, he blurted out, “You don’t know how much being a part of this means to me.  Since I can remember, I’ve always cried when the Canadiens and Saskatchewan Roughriders lost.”

Gaston Gingras, a player who was made fun of in previous years because of miscues and a big shot with no control, was a big-time player in the finals, scoring three large goals. No one made jokes about Gingras after this series was over.

Craig Ludwig, a solid defenceman, with a back so bad he could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

Claude Lemieux, the target of every player in the league, losing two teeth and creating havoc and playing like a man possessed whenever he stepped on the ice.

Rick Green, who performed so well on the blueline he was considered the best defencemen in all of the 1986 series, including those from the other teams. And Green had been a scapegoat because he and Walter had come to Montreal in an unpopular trade that saw Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin sent to Washington.

Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson, thinking their time may have passed and wondering if they would ever win another Stanley Cup – and they played big and won again.

Coach Jean Perron saying this 1986 team was the best defensive team in Montreal history. “When you don’t have great scorers you have to be great defensively. When we hang up that banner in the Forum, it will be screaming ‘defence…defence.’ ”

And there were others who made their mark too; Mike McPhee, Smith, Mats Naslund, Lucien Deblois and Mike Lalor to name a few, and Chris Chelios in just his second full year in the NHL.

Montreal would win again in 1993 and that would be it. We’re still waiting for another.

Club de Cleveland

Because of the 1930s’ Great Depression, with money being as scarce as Habs goals, it was decided that having two teams in Montreal just wasn’t economically feasible. So the Montreal Maroons, winners of the Stanley Cup in 1926 and 1935, folded after the 1938 season, leaving the Canadiens to carry on.

The entire 1930s had been a struggle. In the early part of the decade, the Montreal Canadiens were doing so poorly both on the ice and at the box office that they were considering moving to Cleveland. (At least they could have kept the same crest.)

And to make matters worse, the Canadiens were even thinking about folding a couple of years after the Maroons had bit the dust, leaving Montreal with no NHL team at all. So you know what that means? It means we could be Leaf fans right now. Or Bruins fans. Or cricket fans.

Meals For the Gold Medal Game

The World Juniors gold metal game is on soon and you’re trying to decide what to eat while watching.

Presenting my amazing recipes that you can cook up and enjoy while Canada and Sweden go head to head.

1. Take two slices of bread and gently insert cheese (any type) between them. Spread butter or margarine on the outside of bread and place in a hot pan. Gently brown one side and then the other side, making sure both sides are equal.

This fascinating dish, which is the hit of my dinner parties, is what I like to call ‘Fromage de Grilled’.

2. Gingerly open top of package and pour pasta into boiling water. Make sure water is salted but do not use ocean water. Stir occasionally until pasta is soft, drain, and add delectable cheese powder, a touch of milk, and a tiny bit of butter.

This little treat, known as ‘Dinner du Kraft’ or ‘Mac and Le Cheese’, will  soon have you taking Italian lessons and dreaming of riding in a gondola along the canals of Venice.

3. Place one or two slices of bread into machine that gets hot when button is pushed down. In only a few minutes, bread will pop up and is now toasted and ready for butter. After butter is applied, slowly spread peanut butter evenly over top, making sure no areas of toast are missed. This is known on the dinner party circuit as ‘Peanut Butter sur Toast’. And for those with even more imagination, simply add raspberry or strawberry jam to top of the peanut butter and press hard to mix well. This is called ‘Peanut Butter sur Toast avec Jam’.

4. Carefully open a bun of approximately six inches long and place a cooked wiener inside. Add relish and/or mustard (and maybe catsup and top with fried onions. Do not overcook wiener as it will go limp. This wonderful entree, which I have perfected, is called ‘Chien Chaud’ or ‘Dog du Hot’.

5. At the top of the stove you will see dials. One of these dials will say ‘oven’ and it will have numbers on it. Turn dial to about 375 and insert the dinner package, which has been frozen to keep freshness in, into bottom of stove which will open up when pulled.

Check periodically, and when it looks like the delicious mashed potatoes are bubbling, take dinner from stove. Remove wrap from top and dig in. This meal, which is great for when Leaf and Bruins and all those other fans with serious issues come over, is fondly called ‘Dinner de Frozen’.

 

Far Away Habs Eatery

I wrote about this place not long ago, but I just found the photos.

The lovely ladies, who don’t look too thrilled about having their picture taken with me, are waitresses. But not just any waitresses. These ladies worked at the Montreal Canadiens Restaurant, deep in the heart of Russia.

It didn’t stay open long, this place. Maybe a year or so. And maybe because it was an independent business with no legal links to the Habs organization. It was also just too pricey for most Russians.

I’d heard about it in 1999 and found it on a dark street in the core of St. Petersburg, and we ate there and drank vodka and looked at the gigantic mural of the city of Montreal as singers and dancers sang and danced on the nearby stage. It wasn’t a sports bar by any stretch of the imagination. More like cabaret meets hockey pucks.

The walls were lined with players’ images, Frank Mahovlich smiles behind us, and you could buy a Habs puck and a couple of other Hab-related things in the cloakroom. The manager showed us a stick signed by a bunch of NHL oldtimers like Bobby Hull and Guy Lafleur when they had played in St. Petersburg and had enjoyed a closed party after the game in this restaurant, and he was extremely proud and held it like the Holy Grail.

But this eatery was really expensive and it might have taken off in 2010 but ten years prior there just wasn’t a lot of extra money for the majority of Russians.

But it was nice to know that so far away, the Montreal Canadiens have an impact on people, and this place paid excellent homage to the team and city. Even with the Russian folk songs. It’s just too bad it didn’t make it.

Young Guy Called Up

My Feb. 11, 2010 post:

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PK Subban has been summoned from Hamilton to play in Philadelphia Friday night.

This is terrific news because the young buck is considered a keeper and a big part of the future on the Habs blueline. But it also reminds us that it’s a little bit like preseason in Montreal right now, with guys being called up or sent down on a regular basis.

It’s never boring with the Montreal Canadiens.

(PK played two regular season games for the Habs during this call up before being sent back to Hamilton, and came back to the big team for 14 playoff games that year. He collected two assists in his two games, while in the playoffs had a goal and seven assists.

His NHL career fully began the following season, 2010-11, when he played in 77 games.)

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