Looks Like The O’Byrne Story Is Being Swept Under The Carpet: So They’d Better Start Winning Now.

A statement by the Montreal Canadiens has been delivered, and they’re saying Ryan O’Byrne had been part of a rookie dinner party with Carey Price and Sergei Kostitsyn. (Rookie parties, where rookies pay the very large tab for the rest of the team, are standard practice in any sport). 

So it’s now being swept under the carpet with no excuse for why O’Byrne just happened to have a woman’s purse, her twenty dollars, and her cell phone in his hand outside of the bar at three in the morning. Or why several teammates gathered around the cops to try to slow things down. And when coach Carbonneau was asked how he felt about nearly half his team being out at 3 am, he replied. “They’re adults and can do what they want. There’s no curfew.”

None of this sits well with me, so if it’s being swept under the carpet, they’d better win both games in Florida, and even both games against Philadelphia after that.

I have no time for shithead rich athletes, even if they’re Montreal Canadiens. My personal feeling is that O’Byrne, if all this is what it says it is, shouldn’t be a Montreal Canadien. There’s too much history, class, and reputation in the organization to be ruined by such stupidity.

Anyway, here’s the latest newspaper report if you feel like reading it. 

NO DISCIPLINARY ACTION FOR CANADIENS PLAYERS ARRESTED AT TAMPA NIGHTCLUB.

TAMPA, Fla. – Two Montreal Canadiens players arrested Monday morning outside a Tampa nightclub will not face disciplinary action from the hockey club.

Rookie defenceman Ryan O’Byrne and veteran winger Tom Kostopoulos were arrested at about 3 a.m. outside Whiskey Park, a Tampa nightclub.

Police said that O’Byrne, 23, stole a woman’s purse while Kostopoulos resisted an officer. O’Byrne told police it was his girlfriend’s purse, but police said it belonged to another woman.

O’Byrne was invited to take a seat in a police cruiser. At the same time, a group of club-goers, including several hockey players, surrounded the car. On a number of occasions, police say they ordered the group to disperse.

Kostopoulos, 29, was charged with resisting an officer without violence while O’Byrne was charged with grand theft. Both players were released on bail, accompanied by teammates Christopher Higgins and Cristobal Huet.

The purse, minus $20, and the phone were returned to the complainant.

O’Byrne had a right to a phone call and called his friend Higgins.

Neither player had much to say after spending the night behind bars.

“I can’t talk, the lawyers will take care of the affair,” said the hulking O’Byrne after practice Monday. “I hope that we can resolve this as quickly as possible.

“I apologize to my teammates and I don’t think this incident will bother the team.”

Kostopoulos also kept mum.

“I can’t say anything. But I am sorry,” Kostopoulos said.

“After our team meeting, Bob Gainey reminded us all there was a lesson to be learned from this incident. I am happy the team decided not to punish us.”

The consequences could have serious implications for both players. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services could ban both players from entering the U.S. if they end up with criminal records.

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey arrived in Tampa at 9 a.m. Monday and found out as he disembarked at the airport.

“My message is that this is serious business,” Gainey said. “It’s a shame that it happened. It’s not a pleasant event. It happened during an annual team dinner.

“Unfortunately we can’t go back, we must go forward. We will try to diminish and also eliminate the negative effects this story will have on our team.”

Gainey offered no excuses for his players and did not defend them either.

“They must face whatever awaits them after their actions,” Gainey said, adding he had no idea what awaited either player in the days and weeks ahead.

Head Coach Guy Carbonneau called the incident “deplorable” and something you never like to hear about, but he said he has to get the Canadiens ready to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

“We are in 2008, it’s not the first year something like this has happened,” Carbonneau said. “The two players were not suspended but I haven’t decided yet if they will play against Tampa Bay. We met with them to hear their version. We wanted to know the truth.

“It’s too bad, but at least no one got hurt.”

O’Byrne had just been recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League and had been part of the rookie dinner, a tab he split with fellow rookies Sergei Kostitsyn and Carey Price.

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Did Ryan O’Byrne Just Make The Biggest Mistake Of His Life?

I woke up this morning to see this.  I’m not going to really have my say until more details are provided. For now, here’s the initial report.

  Pat Hickey ,  The Gazette

Published: Monday, February 11, 2008

Canadiens defenceman Ryan O’Byrne and forward Tom Kostopoulos spent last night in a holding cell in the Tampa jail after they were arrested outside a South Tampa night club early this morning.

O’Byrne was charged with grand theft, while Kostopoulos was charged with resisting an officer without violence.

Both were freed shortly before 9 this morning after posting bail. O’Byrne’s bail was set at $2,000, while Kostopoulos has to pay $500.

They were arrested around 3 a.m. outside Whiskey Park, a popular watering hole in South Tampa. The incident started when a woman set her purse on the counter top, according to the police report. She noticed it was missing and allerted the bouncers. They saw O’Byrne outside with the woman’s purse in one hand and her cellphone in the other.

Canadiens' Ryan O'Byrne.

Canadiens’ Ryan O’Byrne.

Bruce Bennett, Getty Images
O’Byrne told police it was his girlfriend’s purse, but police determined it was the woman’s, according to the report. He was detained and placed in the back of a police car. According to police, $20 was missing from the woman’s purse. O’Byrne is making $590,000 at the NHL level this season.

According to the report: “Several associates, who were identified as National Hockey League players/members, crowded around the officers and the police car. They were told numerous times to get away from the car and not to interfere.”

Kostopoulos was arrested when he refused to obey the police order.

The Canadiens declined to comment on the situation until after a 4 p.m. practice.

Rick Parks His 18 Wheeler To See The Habs And Senators

The Montreal Canadiens have now zoomed off to Florida to try to forget The Chaos in Kanata, The Nightmare Near Nepean, The Outflank in Ottawa. I remember a few years back when I was humming and hawing about buying tickets when the Habs were coming to Vancouver, but couldn’t get the time off. In that game, the Canucks scored six goals in the first period.

The game in Ottawa was the same thing. Just when we think Montreal might be a serious contender, they get their rear-ends spanked. What a humiliating and embarassing night. Just like in Vancouver a few years ago.

I’m so disgusted in my team right now, I think I’ll just let my trucker friend Rick, in Ottawa, tell it like it is. It’s all yours, Rick. I’m going back to bed.

“Don’t you just hate that?” says Rick.  “The anticipation level rises all week, and then escalates on Saturday afternoon during the Laffs and Wings game. You wipe out the popcorn bowl and refill it with a fresh crop. Pop a cold pint and sit down to the long-awaited game, and BOOM, it’s over in 4 minutes.

“I was kinda hoping Montreal would make a game of it, but no such luck. Ottawa’s top line only played 3 to 4 minutes in the third period, but Montreal still didn’t stand a chance. Son of Fred (Alfredsson) and the boys had already shut them down earlier.

“Things are normal around here – all the naysayers about this team can all sleep in this morning and take the day off. It is scary that a team (Ottawa) depends so much on one line, but as a Habs fan, I guess you already know that. Kovalev disappeared last night after the big hit by Fisher on him – kind of like last week’s game against the Rangers where he started off great and then seemed sucked up by the ice as the game and his body from the hitting wore on.

“I felt really bad for Huet because no one could have stopped the Sens early in the game – they just seemed to unload a month of baggage in the first 5 minutes.

“Anyway, the old ‘which direction is the truck heading is now reversed this week.’

Habs lose to the Senators. And It Was A Real Smelly loss

Unlike the caller to the Montreal radio station who went on about “I believe” regarding the Montreal Canadiens, (which became a revival meeting chant which turned into an “I believe” website), I knew armageddon was coming. I could feel it when the Habs blew a three goal lead to the Rangers last week and lost 5-3. And I’ve felt it ever since.

 All the signs are there. Less than stellar goalkeeping. Only one line, Kovalev, Plekanec, and Andrei Kostitsyn, is producing, with players who should be key players, like Higgins, Latendresse, and Koivu, accomplishing nothing. And the defence rests.

Michael Ryder has been in a 56 game slump. Kovalev’s line is the only unit kept together, while Carbonneau refuses to go with set lines for the others, mixing and trying new combinations pretty well every game.

Why was Carey Price brought up from the minors when the team will definitely go with Huet for most of the remainder of the season. Is keeping Price on the bench better for his development than having him be a workhorse in Hamilton?

A few more stinkers like tonight and will Jacques Demers still feel that Guy Carbonneau is coach of the year?

Ottawa’s Spezza, Alfredsson, and Heatley were absolutely too much for Montreal, garnering 15 points among them tonight. Montreal won’t be a contender as long as they let other teams’ big lines have their way with them like these three did. I’m embarrassed about all of this. It’s like the Alfredsson line was playing Powell River’s Gentlemen Oldtimers.

Huet, starting in nets for the Habs, let in three goals in the first four minutes of the game. Carey Price gave up the next three over two periods.

I’m not a happy camper. Neither are the other several million Habs fans out there.

This game stank worse than the pig farms near Chilliwack

To Ottawa Senators Fans, Do You Really Mean Those Boos?

That sound you hear tomorrow night in Ottawa is the sound of people cheering the Senators and booing the Habs? And that sound is the sound of long-time Montreal Canadiens fans who’ve become Senators fans.

I know, I know. The unwritten book of civic pride says you should always support your home team. But picture this. You grew up in east Ottawa making childhood scrapbooks of your team, Les Canadiens. You wrote fan letters to the Rocket and Beliveau, or Cournoyer and Lafleur. And you showed your son how to do the same with Patrick Roy and Vincent Damphousse.

From time to time you bought a bus/Forum ticket package and went down the 417 to see a game in your magical Forum. Then you took the bus back to Ottawa that same night, but still going to work the next morning.

You wore the Montreal sweater when the games were on TV. Pictures of Habs graced your rec room, to your wife’s dismay. You got into arguments with Leaf fans. Your eyes went moist when the Habs hoisted the Cup.

You were the staunchest, most die-hard, most loyal Montreal Canadiens fan you knew.

Then, in 1992, the Ottawa Senators started playing again after 60 years of being away. Suddenly you stopped going to games in Montreal. You bought a Sens jersey and put your Habs one in a trunk. You convinced your son of the magic of Heatley and Spezza instead of Kovalev and Koivu. Your pictures came down and the old scrapbooks somehow got misplaced. You still argued with Leaf fans, but for different reasons.

It’s all very sad. But I suppose it’s noble to back the home team. It’s good and proper community spirit. I just wonder if somewhere deep inside, deep in the crevices of your heart, sitting like cobwebs on your soul, lies a little bit of love for your old passion, your old team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Maybe it never completely went away.

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.

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