Toronto Beats The Habs. I Hate Hockey

Things were going so well for me lately. I’ve had a few days off where I’ve just kind of lounged around. Twice in the last two days my wife has suggested we go out for some beers, and how good is that? My problem stepdaughter has found a nice apartment over on the island.

So things have been good.

But I knew it. I knew my good times were winding down when Toronto lost 8-0 to Florida the other night. I knew they were playing Montreal next, and I just knew these Leafs, who normally stink, were going to play like the 1972 Russian National Team against the Habs.

Bad news for me, and bad news for Montreal. Toronto wins 4-2. I’m gonna take up cricket. GO PAKISTAN!

It would’ve been better probably if the game was played in Toronto instead of Montreal. The Leafs would’ve felt crazy pressure at home, more than in Montreal. Instead, they got to get out of Dodge and play some pond hockey.

Frankly, Montreal hasn’t looked great in their last three games. They blew a three goal lead to the Rangers and lost 5-3. They barely hung on to win 4-3 against Ottawa after leading 4-1. And tonight, against Toronto, a team with about five NHL’ers and about 15 American Hockey Leaguers, they lost 4-2.

Kovalev was great again for the Habs. Carey Price, just called up from Hamilton, was good. A few others were pretty good.

The rest suffered from a bout of narcolepsy.

The Circus Is In Town: Montreal Takes On The Leafs

This might not be good for the Montreal Canadiens. They play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, and because the Leafs just got pasted 8-0 by the Florida Panthers, of all teams, they won’t be feeling good right now. This is a team in turmoil, has been all year, all decade, all several decades, and we’ve seen this scenario before. A team gets embarrassed, humiliated, laughed at, and dismissed, and comes out next game and plays like gangbusters.

The Leafs usually play well against the Habs anyway, so when I think about it, this game could smell. 

But it shouldn’t. The Habs are hotter than Angelina Jolie in heat, and are 16 points better than the Leafs, who are as cold as cold can be.

If I had a say in this, I’d want another 8-0 loss for the Leafs. I always have great evenings when Montreal scores a lot.

The Leafs in turmoil is part of being a Leaf. Even in the ’30’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s, Owner Conn Smythe was hiring and firing and mouthing off to the press about players like Busher Jackson and coaches like Dick Irvin and Billy Reay. There were the fights between Punch Imlach and various players such as Frank Mahovlich in the 1960’s. And Harold Ballard took turmoil to new heights in the 1970’s and ’80’s when he fought with Darryl Sittler and had his ‘C’ removed from his sweater, and when he ordered coach Roger Neilson to wear a paper bag over his head. (Neilson refused, thankfully.) Or Ballard going on about hating European players and how he wouldn’t let the Russians ever play at Maple Leaf Gardens. (He did anyway.)

Then there was the boardroom backstabbing, with Ballard trying to make his girlfriend Yolanda, who knew nothing about running a hockey team, a principle shareholder.

Frankly, I’ve never understood why King Clancy remained so faithful to the miserable old coot all those years.

Now, this year, GM John Ferguson Jr. has been fired, (probably rightfully so), and Cliff Fletcher has been brought in to restore some sanity to the asylum. Coach Paul Maurice’s job is hanging by a thread, and the Leafs’ best player, Mats Sundin, is the only one in the free world who thinks he’s staying put and not traded.

It’s all wonderful stuff.  And it’ll be even more wonderful if the Habs clobber them Thursday night.

‘Big’ isn’t the word for the Habs win tonight. More like ‘Gigantic’

I lived in Ottawa for 15 years. I passed out from tequila at my bachelor stag there, I was married there, my kids were born there, I drank beer with Aurele Joliat there, I got thrown down the Club Chaudiere stairs by world famous bouncer Gerry Barber near there.

And all the time I was there, I was among Montreal Canadiens fans. At work, at play, in bars, at parties – the majority of hockey fans were Habs fans.

Then, in 1992, Ottawa got the Senators. They’d had them once before, but in the early 1930’s, they lost them. Now the team’s back, and wouldn’t you know it, all those Habs fans I used to know are mostly now staunch Senators fans. My friends have become turncoats, traitors, ratfinks.

Aren’t there laws prohibiting this?

Tonight, on a cold, wintry February night in Montreal, the Canadiens, with a huge 4-3 win over Ottawa, have now closed a season-wide large gap to a tiny little 1 point difference with the Senators.  Government workers at Tunney’s Pasture in the Nation’s Capital will be crying in their Starbucks Caramel Macchiato’s.

I’m proud, but the team has to keep it going. They need to overtake the Sens, widen the gap, and end up the season in first place with adenaline-rushing momentum. Then I might celebrate by drinking tequila and passing out again.

Then we’ll see what kind of damage can be done in the playoffs.

One team in the east I think I can stop worrying about catching the Habs now is Toronto. This is a team that continues to implode like the Brittany Spears of the north, and tonight, on a cold, dismal February night in Toronto, they lost 8-0 to the Florida Panthers. I’m gonna say it again  – 8-0 to the Florida Panthers.

And for Habs fans, including those who were Montreal fans, then changed to Senators, then came back to where they belong as Montreal fans, click on the National Hockey League in blogroll on the right-hand side here and see the game recap on the Habs link, where Kovalev had three assists, Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and two assists, and Tomas Plekanec has two goals and an assist.

Man I’m feelin’ good.

Howe, Orr, Gretzky, and Lemieux. Which One Goes?

You’re the unbelievably lucky GM of your team because you have Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky, and Mario Lemieux on it. But because of your tight budget, you must trade one of them. All are 26 years old, and all are completely healthy. Who will you choose?

GORDIE HOWE, Mr. Hockey, was 6’1″, 205 lbs, and played right wing. In his career, he won 4 Cups, 6 MVP’s, was scoring champ (Art Ross trophy) 6 times, played in 23 All Star games, and holds 9 NHL records. In 1767 games, the big guy scored 801 goals, 1049 assists, for 1850 points.

Howe was also tough as nails, strong as an ox, and if you tried to rough him up in the corner, chances are you came out with your nose broken. He is Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall’s choice as greatest ever.

BOBBY ORR was like a forward playing defense. He could skate like the wind, make end to end rushes and get back quickly enough to break up the attack. and for all the beautiful things he could do with his skills, he was also undeniably strong and could hold his own in fights with pretty well anyone in the league. He was 6′!”, 200 lbs, and is the only defenseman in history to win the Art Ross trophy as scoring champion. He won two Stanley Cups, and in 657 games, notched 270 goals, 645 assists, for 915 points. He holds the record for most points by a defenseman in one season with 139. He would be Don Cherry’s choice.

WAYNE GRETZKY, The Great One, can only be measured by the magical numbers he put up because he wasn’t strong, couldn’t fight, and looked like he should be playing beach volleyball instead. But what numbers! In 1487 games, he scored 894 goals, 1963 assists, for 2857 points. He was a machine. He holds 40 regular season records, 15 playoff records, and 6 All Star records. He won 4 Stanley Cups, was MVP 9 times, and had over 200 points 4 times. And when you think about think about the fact that a 50 goal season is an incredible accomplishment that only a few of the elite can reach, remember that Gretzky had a 92 goal year, and an 87 goal year. He was a machine.

MARIO LEMIEUX was big – 6’4″, 230 lbs, and if he hadn’t had problems with his health that included Hodgkins Lymphoma, his numbers just may have been up around Gretzky’s. Gretzky played 572 more games than Mario.

 In 915 games, he scored 690 goals, 1033 assists, for 1723 points. He holds 12 NHL records and 11 Pittsburgh Penguins records. He also won 2 Stanley Cups and was MVP of the league 3 times. He had a big reach, soft hands, and could score carrying players on his back, much like the Rocket did.

BUT AS GM, YOU HAVE TO GET RID OF ONE OF THESE GUYS.

I suppose there’s two choices. Bite the bullet and choose one, or just retire early so you don’t have to make this decision.

But I’m making mine. And I choose……..Mario.

Mario was huge but didn’t really care for the rough going. (An aside: His very first fight was against my good friend, the much smaller, and tragically, recently deceased Gary Lupul). Howe was tougher than anyone in the league, Orr was tougher than the majority, and Gretzky had Dave Semenko. Mario also wasn’t all that hard a worker when he didn’t have the puck.

Other than these, the only reason I can come up with is I just can’t see myself saying goodbye to Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, or Wayne Gretzky. 

Sean Avery and Ryan Hollweg Play For The Rangers. This Is Good News For Everybody Else.

Yes, it’s not good that Montreal blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers and lost 5-3. Yes indeed, it’s not good. It would have kept the ball rolling and brought the team to within 1 point of Ottawa with the Senators in town for a big game on Tuesday. But these things happen from time to time. I just hope it was a major lesson learned, that it takes all three periods to win.

Damn, I’m mature.

The only good to come out of this horrid loss, though, was seeing how Ryan Hollweg operates.

Ryan Holliweg is a borderline Rangers thug with a lofty 2 goals and 1 assist in 53 games. He’s just what the doctor ordered for Montreal if the boys meet the Rangers in the playoffs. Hollweg is the kind of hothead who will hurt his team by taking goon-like penalties, as he showed when he rammed Sergei Kostitsyn into the boards after Alex Kovalev had given him a sweetheart of an elbow.

You just knew it was coming by seeing him on the bench, sitting and stewing and thinking how pissed off he was and how he was going to do something about it. It’s just lucky that Kostitsyn wasn’t hurt.

And lucky for whoever meets the Rangers in the playoffs, if they make it, because it ‘s good strategy to take advantage of a jerk like him and get the Rangers a man short.   (note: Hollweg is the guy Chris Simon whacked in the face with his stick and got 25 games for it. In case you’re interested.)

And then there’s Sean Avery, a smiling, cocky mountain of mediocrity, (4 goals, 11 assists), who pulled down Sergei Kostitsyn which led to a penalty shot, which led to a goal.  (note: Avery’s a guy who dates Hollywood starlets from time to time but they keep dumping him.)

Wow, the Rangers have both of these nuts on the team. It’s great news for all playoff-bound teams in the east.

Why I Still Back Guy Lafleur

It’s like TSN’s ‘Off The Record’ with the fallout from my post, “I’m With Guy Lafleur All The Way.” The debate rages on.

Of course I don’t agree with a 22 year old having sex with a 16 year, with his dad driving him to motels. But there’s a real reason why I sympathize with Guy Lafleur, and why I support him.

My stepdaughter has basically the same problems as Mark Lafleur, and I’ve seen first-hand the heartbreaking effect it’s had on her mother, my wife, much like Guy and Lise Lafleur, who have certainly been ripped apart inside. She’s been in trouble with the law, mostly for theft, has been dating a man much, much older than her, has major bouts of crying and uncontrollable anger, has a serious drug addiction, and is on more medication than Timothy Leary.

It’s no one’s fault because it’s a mental disorder, and there’s no real way to know how to react, thus mistakes by both her mother and myself, and the Lafleur’s, are made. I thought I’d pretty well seen everything in this crazy world, until this came along, and I was completely unprepared. 

The main thing is, my wife has loved her daughter no less all along the way, through the absolutely terrible times, because it’s an unconditional love. This is what the Lafleur’s surely have for their son.

Lately my stepdaughter, because of her heavy medication which constantly is being juggled to find the best fit, has calmed down considerably, and it’s magical to see. The Lafleur’s will never stop hoping to see magic with their son too. Ever.

Of course there is no excuse for Guy driving Mark to the motels. But all I understand is from what I’ve seen through my own experience, that it’s an incredibly confusing and scary time, with way too many mistakes made along the way.

I also back Lafleur about the way the police handled it. I disagree, as do many, on how the police announced to the media about the upcoming arrest warrant. Sometimes delicate situations could be handled delicately, which wasn’t the case here.

It’s Nice To Get Mail From Time To Time

As my blog gets more and more hits, readers from everywhere have begun to weigh in. Here’s some testimonials sent in that I’d like to share with you. 

Pope Benedict XVI  – I finally got my satellite dish and lazy-boy set up in the Vatican, so now I’ll be able to concentrate more on my Canadiens. But I’ve been able to keep up with them because of your heavenly blog. God bless you. And I pray Sean Avery and Jarkko Ruutu never play on our team.

Vladimir Putin  –  Nice blog. Da, nice blog. Maybe you must mention my thoughts on the team. Maybe comrade Gainey could bring up young Grabovski from Hamiltongrad and put him on a line with comrades Kovalev and Begin. We could call it the KGB line!  Hah!

Sophia Loren  – When I read your blog, especially the part about you, I get sort of…….warm all over! Excuse me, there’s something I must do.

Red Fisher  – Dennis, would you mind terribly if I retired and you took over my job?

George W. Bush  –  Just read about that Ovechkin scoring four goals against my Habs. I’ve got a lovely suite waiting for him at Guantanamo Bay.

Bin Laden  – Hockey really isn’t my number one sport, I prefer sharpshooting. But I have to say I like the way those young Kostitsyn’s are playing. They look familiar to me. Is it possible I shot one of their relatives in Afghanistan?

Bob Dylan  – Man, the Habs are a new team this year. What an improvement! The times, they are a changin. PS. Far out blog. One of these days I’ll tell you about the great road hockey games we have with Robbie and Garth and the boys.

Pamela Anderson  – Hey Loren. I was reading Dennis’ blog before you. Back off.

Thoughts From A Trucker Between Ottawa And Montreal: What’s Going On With The Sens, The Habs, And The Flower

I just got an email from my old pal Rick in Ottawa. Rick’s a semi driver, been doing it for 35 years or so, and often he runs his 18 wheeler from Ottawa, where he lives, down into Montreal. Here’s what he had to say.

“I sometimes think I’m lost when I’m trucking down the 417. At the beginning of the season, when I’d leave Ottawa, sports radio was all good time and happy people because the Sens had this great winning record. Then, as I neared Montreal, the radio talk was all doom and gloom with fans constantly whining. Funny how that goes where the situation is reversed now. If I was driving in a heavy fog listening to the radio now I would think I was driving in the wrong direction as the tables have turned. FOR NOW. 

“I didn’t hear any of the Ottawa game last night against Boston, but it sounds like they didn’t wake up until the third period. As I listened to the Habs game down there, it sounded from their announcers that they weren’t on their A game either but Huet kept them in it. There was talk yesterday that Carey Price might be coming back soon.

“English radio (in Montreal) were quite respectful to The Flower yesterday, keeping it low profile, but they were outraged by the way the cops handled it. I’m not saying that what Lafleur did was right but do the cops have to tell the media two days in advance that they were gonna pick him up? Maybe they were afraid that he was going to flee to Thurso and go into hiding.

That stunt was all politics by the cops to show they were doing their job.”

I’m With Guy Lafleur All The Way

It’s very disturbing that a warrant for the arrest of Guy Lafleur has been issued. It’s also wrong. First, the situation.

Guy’s 22 year old son Mark has had a history of trouble, due to the fact he has medical issues deriving from drug addiction, depression and bipolar complications. Mark was on strict bail conditions that he broke when he left his home and spent time in motels where he hooked up with his younger girlfriend.

Guy’s problem is that he drove Mark to the motels, and then wasn’t clear in court about telling authorities how he had helped his son violate the bail conditions.

Enter the arrest warrant.

But what is unsettling is how this is being handled. Like Guy’s lawyer says, his client (Guy) is so well known, and so is his address, and so is where Guy is at all times, that there was no need for an arrest warrant. If the police wanted Guy, all they had to do was knock on his door and say hello.

So now, it’s in all the news, including US-wide CNN, and Guy, if one doesn’t know the story, is made to look like a criminal in hiding, another athlete gone bad, etc. Why would the police decide to create such an embarrassing situation for this Canadian icon when they didn’t have to?

Lots of people have the unfortunate situation of having a child with mental problems, who have had run-ins with the law, and it tears moms and dads apart. All parents can do is continue to love their child, try to get the best help for them, and through the whole process, of course mistakes will be made from time to time.

It looks like this is the case for the Lafleur family, and my heart goes out to Guy and his wife Lise.

To Montreal Canadien fans, and hockey fans in general, please get behind Guy Lafleur in this difficult time.

I Wonder If George W. Bush Is A Habs Fan

Three big nights coming up for the surging Habs, beginning Thursday in Washington to complete the home and home series with the Capitals. I wonder if George W. Bush likes hockey. Do you think he’s heard of the Rocket, Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr? Maybe Sean Avery?

I’m sure he must know something about Wayne Gretzky, and possibly Mario Lemieux. He’s probably aware of Alex Ovechkin, but only because they work in the same city. George is a baseball and football guy. But from time to time, he might check out page 7 or 8 of the Washington Post sports section, where hockey is buried, and notice something about the Capitals.

Why, he may have even noticed a story about the big 4-0 win by Montreal over his home team the other night. Cripes, I hope he doesn’t bomb Montreal.

I like the Caps, but only because of their new coach, Bruce Boudreau. Otherwise, they’re meaningless to me. Boudreau seems like the kind of guy you were pals with in school, the one who helped with your paper route, the one whose mom had the great cookies. He seems like just an ordinary Joe who happens to be fullfilling a dream right now. I hope he does well, just not on Thursday night.

Saturday afternoon, Montreal takes on the Islanders, then Sunday it’s down the freeway into Manhattan to tackle the New York Rangers, home of Mr. Congeniality, Sean Avery.

Note from Dennis:  It’s 1 am Saturday morning and I just realized the Islanders and Rangers are playing in Montreal. So about the last paragraph? Pretend you didn’t read it. Except the part about Mr. Congeniality. (It’s not my fault. I’m old.)

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