Conn Smythe Was Only Sort-Of-A-Nice-Man

Conn Smythe, after building Maple Leaf Gardens and a successful franchise, the Leafs, was offered the presidency of the entire league so the other owners would finally have him out of the way. But Smythe said no way was he becoming a yes-man to the owners. So they hired Clarence Campbell, a name you know, who was the definitive yes-man and a guy the owners, especially Smythe, could manipulate like a puppet. Years later, someone asked Stafford Smythe, Conn’s son who succeeded dad as Maple Leaf president, why they didn’t get rid of Campbell who would, from time to time, piss owners off. Stafford replied, “Where would we find another Rhodes scholar, graduate lawyer, decorated war hero, and former prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, who will do what he’s told?” So now think about the St. Patrick’s Day riot in 1955 in Montreal, when Campbell suspended Rocket Richard for the remainder of the season, plus all of the playoffs. Owners, especially Smythe, had been fed up with the Rocket causing havoc throughout the league and wanted him curbed. So you can bet your bippy that they had their puppet, Campbell, do their dirty work for them with that gigantic suspension.

When you see a single house being built that takes maybe a year to finish, think about this. Maple Leaf Gardens was built during the depression in five months. FIVE MONTHS! Smythe recruited several rich buddies to invest, and when the money fell short by several hundred thousand dollars, Smythe convinced the workers to trade twenty percent of their wages for shares in the Gardens. The thing got built and the workers’ shares, that were bought for a dollar a piece, quickly increased by a hundred-fold.

Smythe had a beautiful apartment built in the innards of the Gardens where he practically lived most of the time and where he called many Gardens employees to so he could fire them. I would have liked an office like this but I would have preferred the Forum. He also had his mansion, and a ranch where he raised prize racing horses.

Conn Smythe was instrumental in not giving in to the ideas of the players to form a players association (union) and managed to prolong it for ten years, mostly by convincing all the teams to trade the main instigators, like Ted Lindsay and Doug Harvey, to other teams. He was very proud of this accomplishment. He also lobbied for years to stop Harvey Busher Jackson, one of his players throughout the 1940’s in Toronto, from being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame because he disapproved of Jackson’s drinking and womanizing. Smythe eventually quit hockey completely when Jackson was finally inducted in 1971. He also didn’t like Roman Catholics and was mortified when son Stafford fell in love with and married one.

Conn Smythe was a piece of work, but raised countless dollars for crippled children. So he was sort-of-a-nice-man. I’m sure Lawrence will say he was a nice man and there’s two sides to every story. And one last thing for Lawrence. In the 1920’s Smythe’s amateur football and hockey teams played big games up in Orillia, my home town, and always got pummeled.

What You May or May Not Be Reading Next

The team plays Tampa Bay in a couple of hours so it boils down to this. If they win, I’m gonna be upbeat and talk about things related to this and about all things interesting in the history of the world. However, if they lose, I’m going to tell you instead about the egotistical prick, Conn Smythe, who died in 1980, and who, if you’re not familiar, fought, fired, and dictated like an army major, which he was, to every single hockey person in the NHL in the 1940’s and ’50’s. Smythe is much more interesting than the 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens.

So we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Lawrence, That Rotten Low-Down Young Whippersnapper

My friend Lawrence, who’s also a fellow inmate (figuratively speaking) tells me the Habs suck, every time he sees me. May Lawrence taste the fires of Hell for all time, squirming and screaming as his skin shrivels, and praying that if he had one more chance, he’d tell me every time he saw me that the Montreal Canadiens are great, that they surely don’t suck and he’s really sorry and how could he have been more wrong.

If he got one last chance, he’d promise that tomorrow, Saturday, he’ll get down on his knees and pray that the boys put together two wins in a row when they play Carolina Sat. night.

Thanks Lawrence. We’ll see about that second chance.

Better Start Making Plans For The Parade Again

The team won a game last night. Seriously. Hasn’t happened often lately, but they beat Boston, so it gives all fans of the team a day off from misery and suicide thoughts. In the “glass is half full, not half empty” category, maybe the boys can put together a real lick-splitten bunch of wins and get back up to the penthouse where they had a room for a few weeks before they fell over the edge and ended up in a big garbage dumpster. Last year at this time, their record was 16-8-4 for 36 points. This year after the same amount of games it’s 14-10-4 for 32 points. It’s not great but just about every team in the east has about 32 points, it seems. Pretty soon, though, some teams are going to start putting some distance from the others and one of those teams better be the Habs or I’m going to have to resort to mentioning SEX, POSH, DAVID BECKHAM, BRITNEY, PARIS, and LINDSAY again to keep this blog from becoming the Diary of a Madman.

Sex, Drugs, Paris Hilton, David Beckham, Britney, Lindsay, Posh, and the Montreal Canadiens

They say the best way for a blog to be read by many is to insert lots of words that people seem to read about. So here goes. PARIS HILTON probably won’t be at the Montreal-Boston game tonight because she’s probably busy having SEX. She’ll probably be having SEX during every game the Habs play this year, and sadly, she’ll be missing a lot. Chances of her having SEX with DAVID BECKHAM are slim, though, but you never know, with his wife POSH SPICE being away on tour right now with the SPICE GIRLS.  However, speaking of the Habs, they’re playing like they’re all on DRUGS right now and it’s enough to make me start taking said DRUGS. It’s ridiculous how much of a slump they’re in. Cripes, I think PARIS HILTON and POSH SPICE or any of the SPICE GIRLS, or probably even LINDSAY LOHAN and BRITNEY SPEARS, could play for the team now. They don’t need DAVID BECKHAM, however, because he’s only a soccer player and would get carried off the ice on a stretcher whether he was really hurt or not. I wonder if he gets carried off on a stretcher after having SEX with POSH.

The things POSH, PARIS, and the rest think about when they’re not out clubbing is this: Should the Montreal Canadiens part ways with underachieving players like Michael Ryder, Steve Begin, and – Lord forgive me for this – Saku Koivu, who does way better raising money for hospital equipment and capturing the hearts of people because of his personal battles than he does putting the puck in the net.  Montreal has fallen a long way over the past decade and a half, and once again, they’re in the midst of a season where they start well,  slump badly in December, then scramble for the rest of the year and either make or not make the playoffs. Every year now, it seems, the same old song is played.

And one other thing for POSH, PARIS, and SEX kittens like BRITNEY and LINDSAY to ponder: When should Bob Gainey, who I trust and admire, start thinking seriously about firing coach Guy Carbonneau. In a perfect world, one where I win the lottery, my kids visit me, and I play God of Hockey, Scotty Bowman comes back, and the team signs Vincent Lacavelier. 

The Continuing Saga of: FASCINATING FACTS!!

Interesting fact: My pee wee coach in Orillia played 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1943-44 season. He had one goal and 31 penalty minutes. AND NOT ONLY THAT:  He played alongside Punch Imlach for the Quebec Aces in the old Quebec Senior League and played against the Rocket before Richard joined the Habs. Does it get any more interesting than this?

Interesting fact:  I went to the Forum in the early 1980’s to pick up an autographed stick they had waiting for me because I had phoned and asked for one. (no shit.) Afterwards, I was down at the bottom of the stairs somewhere in the Forum, wrapping my new stick in my coat, when Jean Beliveau appeared on the stairs above me. He saw me and jumped. I think he thought I had a gun.

Interesting fact: When I lived in Ottawa, it was a known fact that Doug Harvey, the greatest defenceman of all time after Bobby Orr, lived in some kind of railway car at the race track in Hull, completely down and out, with a drinking problem. So what did I do? Nothing. Nothing at all. Didn’t go there. Didn’t bring him any smokes or a bottle. Didn’t invite him home for a turkey dinner. Nothing. Geez, this would have made an interesting story.

Interesting fact: Conn Smythe let the Habs have Dick Irvin as their coach, even though Irvin was a good and successful coach in Toronto, because Smythe wanted his man Hap Day, a good, religious company man and supreme ass kisser, to coach. Irvin went on to coach Montreal for 15 years where he won 3 Stanley Cups and let his son, broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr., sit on the players bench from time to time when junior was a kid. Hap Day, in Toronto, won 5 Cups, but I don’t want to talk about that except that maybe it was good for Toronto to have a coach who liked to kiss his boss’s ass.

A couple of things to throw up about

Another fine example of the team leading by one, then getting a penalty in the last few minutes of the game, then getting scored on, then losing in overtime or in the shootout. I’m pretty sure that no other team in the league takes such stupid penalties at such crucial times of the game. Maybe if fans at the Bell Centre would quit singing that rediculous song when the team’s leading, maybe they wouldn’t get scored on so often. Maybe it peps the other team up. All I know is it smacks of smugness, overconfidence, and it backfires way too often. It’s also a really lousy song. I wish they’d shut up and simply keep their fingers crossed instead. I think these singing people are a bunch of morons.

They play Detroit next after this Nashville fiasco. I’m ready to take up ballroom dancing and let the heartache go.

The Biggest Question In The History Of The World

The question is this: Why do so many people, through so many generations, hate the Habs? It seems like more than any other team, probably even Toronto, Montreal is despised by way too many hockey fans from coast to coast. Except, of course, if you love them. And there’s lots of those. So I’ve been thinking about it.

The most common thing, Habs-haters whine, is the smugness of their fans. That look on Montreal fans’ faces really gets to people. I’ve been hearing this argument all my life, and frankly, I don’t get it. Has anyone ever paid attention to the smugness surrounding Canucks’ fans? Or Senators’ fans? I’ll bet the smugness enveloped all of Edmonton in the 1980’s. Calgary fans get really sickenly smug when their team’s winning. The bottom line is this. If we were smug in the ’50’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s, it’s because our team was better than yours. And anyway, I always made a real effort to be anti-smug around others. Also, why would we be smug nowadays? We’re not. We’re mad and disappointed that our team isn’t doing better. So get over it and grow up.

The generation of Habs haters today probably got it from their fathers. And their fathers got it from their fathers. All because our team beat their team on a regular basis. So today’s haters aren’t even unique. They’re just mindless robots programmed to think like their daddies. There’s lots of New York Yankees and Manchester United haters too. Could it be that people resent success? It’s very sad indeed.

The English-French thing. Everyone likes to talk about how shameful it is in the southern US when it comes to African-Americans, but get talking about “frogs” and they’re off and running for three hours. People associate the Montreal Canadiens with politics, separation, and maybe even the melting of the icecaps. You say they had the pick of the litter in Quebec for so many years and that’s why they had strong teams. So what? The Habs had Quebec sewn up for awhile, but the other teams had the rest of North America to choose from, and even a few french guys left over. Toronto basically had the same thing going in Ontario, with St. Michael’s College and Kirkland Lake, for example. So if you can’t draft properly from Ontario, the Maritimes, the prairies, the west coast, and the northern parts of the US, then you don’t deserve to win! What a sorry excuse for losing.

The Rocket won scoring titles because all the good players were overseas and he stayed? First, the Rocket wanted badly to join the army but was refused because of health reasons like broken bones etc. This is a known fact. Secondly, why didn’t others who played in the war years score like he did? Thirdly, he played 18 years in the league, starting in 1942 when the war was half over, and his first two years were write-offs because of injuries. He was a star among stars in the years afterwards, when everyone was playing.

Some of the finest battalions in the Canadian army were from Quebec, like the famous Van Doos. These people fought for us and I’m sure were great people. Maurice Richard loved Canada, all of Canada. Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur are staunch nationalists. and feel the same way as the Rocket did. Heck, I hear that the lotteries are rigged because so many from Quebec win. You need to grow up about this one.  You’ve never had a problem with Mario Lemieux, Vincent Lecavalier, Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, and all those other Quebecers who don’t or didn’t play for Montreal. So you’ve got selective thinking. Grow up and repeat after me – “I’m gonna quit being jealous. I’m gonna quit being jealous.”

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