Reporting Live From The Press Box, Just Over From Foster And Bill

Tom at the Ryan Coke Experience suggested I do this and I thought about it and decided it might be fun. He said I should watch games from the Montreal Canadiens Memorable Games 10 DVD set, and report on them like they were live and had just happened.

So, live, from the press box in 1960, the game.



It’s a hustling, bustling night for scalpers outside the cathedral on Carleton Street as hockey fans, sensing history could be made, scramble to find a ticket to get in the door. And it seems that price is no issue as reports have come in that some are paying upwards of forty bucks for a seat, even high up in the greys, where it seems you’re watching from outer space.

And why are fans so anxious to witness game four of the Habs-Leafs clash tonight at the Gardens? Because the juggernaut which is the Montreal Canadiens, with four consecutive Stanley Cups already notched, are poised to win another, and fans feel it’ll be tonight. So the air is thick with excitement and anticipation, mixed with the feeling of resignation. Leaf fans know a home-team win might be asking too much.

And no wonder. The Canadiens rolled over the Chicago Black Hawks four straight in a lightening-fast semi final, and have won the first three against the Leafs in this final. It seems that this is a team that isn’t going to be stopped anytime soon. And they’re doing it with the aging and less-than-healthy Maurice Richard, who many feel will retire after this campaign.

My seat in the press box is just to the right of the Gondola, and I can see the father and son team of Foster and Bill Hewitt, poring over their notes and adjusting their microphones. Bill is the play-by-play man now, with Foster only adding colour, and although I can’t hear what they’re saying, I still glance from time to time to see their reaction to the game below. Foster was good, Bill’s even better, but neither of them can compare to Danny Gallivan in Montreal. But there’s no doubt, Foster Hewitt has seen a lot of hockey in his day. And down below, 14,000 fans sit and eat popcorn and read the Canadiens lineup in their programs, and yes indeed, know what is probably coming.

If the first period is any indication, Lord Stanley’s mug will certainly be hoisted tonight. The Canadiens are playing like they can taste it, and at the 8:16 mark, big Jean Beliveau, who’s proved time and again that he’s the heir apparent to the great Rocket, scores on a long shot that Toronto goalie Johnny Bower probably didn’t see. If he saw it, he would have stopped it, I’m sure. And then, just 27 seconds later, Habs defenceman Doug Harvey finds the twine in similiar fashion, with a long shot that also evades Bower.

Doug Harvey is in a league by himself when it comes to blueliners. He controls the game, as he is tonight, making those perfect passes, blocking shots in front of goalie Jacques Plante, and thumping when thumping is called for. There’s no defenceman in the world right now like Harvey, and it makes you wonder if somewhere out there, in some small Canadian town, a young guy may be learning his trade and will take over the crown which Harvey holds now. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone can become as good as Harvey.

Leafs’ coach and taskmaster George “Punch” Imlach must have had a lot to say to his team during the first intermission, because the boys in blue have come out in the second with more enthusiasm, more drive, hitting the post, storming Plante, but to no avail, and now, late in the period, Henri Richard, on a nice set-up from big brother Maurice, puts Les Habitants up 3-0, and certainly the partisan crowd knows now that the team in white, a powerhouse full of future Hall-Of-Famers, will be winning their fifth Stanley Cup on this night.

It’s just a matter of getting the third period over with. Beliveau, who I’m predicting will some day be captain of this great team, scores at 1:21 to make it four-nothing, and I know that somewhere in the depths of Maple Leaf Gardens, the Stanley Cup is being hauled out of its case and readied to hand over to league president Clarence Campbell, who in turn will give it to his old nemesis, the Rocket. 

The bell finally rings to end this affair, and the Leafs’ faithful give both teams a rousing applause. The Leafs have a nice team, with players like Frank Mahovlich, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, and Bob Pulford, but they’re no match for Montreal. Not this year, and not the previous four. Montreal was never going to be denied. It was in the stars. Beliveau, Bernie Geoffrion, Marcel Bonin line, all were sensational. Rocket, Pocket, and all-star Dickie Moore were dangerous on many occasions. Plante was spectacular, so was Harvey. The journeymen – Don Marshall, Claude Provost, Albert Langlois, Bob Turner and the rest, did their jobs magnificently. And Toe Blake stood behind the bench, fedora tilted back, and played his lines masterfully, like a great chess player.

I make my way down to the dressing room with Red Fisher, who’s been covering the Habs for five years now, and it’s bedlam as champagne is poured, toasts are made, players laugh and cry and hug their wives and kids, and much of my Brylcreem just got washed away when Geoffrion decides to give me a champagne bath. I have my stories, although Plante wanted to talk more about the toque he’d just knitted which he believes gives him inner powers, but on the whole, players just said they were happy and were going to savour things for a few days before they escape to their various homes throughout the country for a few months of well-deserved rest.

In the end, I walk out to Carleton Street, where the wind is blowing and rain falling, and make my way to my car. Tonight, there is no Cold War, no Krushchev or Eisenhower, no atomic bombs being tested, and no Elvis Presley corrupting our daughters with his voice and hips. No, tonight, everything is good. Everything is great. Tonight, the Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup.

2 thoughts on “Reporting Live From The Press Box, Just Over From Foster And Bill”

  1. Woo hoo, Habs win again, all’s right in the universe. Excellent colour commentary for the game. Its unfortunate about the Rocket retiring, but even the greats have to call it a career sometime.

  2. He had 18 great years. But he’d really slowed down. Yes, right now I’m celebrating our Cup win last night with coffee and waffles. Leafs sucked again.

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