A hearty welcome to Moscow-born (and Saskatoon Blades) forward Nikita Scherbak, chosen by the Canadiens with their first pick (26th), although Marc Bergevin says they had him at 15th for skaters and was surprised he was still around when it came time to choose.
From Moscow to Saskatoon, and sometime in the next few years, hopefully a full-time job in Montreal.
Time marches on. In 1972 when the Summit Series was played, Nikita’s mom and dad might not have been born yet.
Now we have Nikita, with a year in the WHL with the Blades under his belt, which not that long ago would’ve been unheard of, and speaking English, albeit with a heavy accent which is to be expected of course. You should hear my French accent.
I remember when it was truly strange to hear Valeri Kharlamov say a simple English “thank you” when interviewed with a translater in ’72. Completely unusual, although maybe you had to be there.
Now, after just a year in Canada, young Scherbak was a delight, and like Alex Galchenyuk a few years back, I liked him right away.
Today, Feb. 11, marks the 75th birthday of the Mayorov boys, Boris and Evgeny.
Geez, the things you learn on this blog.
Boris and Evgeny were a little too old to play in the 1972 Summit Series, with both calling it quits in 1969 after long and fruitful careers with Moscow Spartak. Boris was the better of the two, was captain of Spartak for ten years, was a six-time World Champion, and won two Olympic gold medals. Boris was also President of the U.S.S.R. Hockey federation between 1981 and 1985.
Boris and Evgeny played on a line for years with Viacheslav Starchinov, who played in game two in Toronto in the 1972 Summit Series.
Below, Mayorov in action with Spartak against rivals Moscow Red Army. He’s number 9 in white. The second video shows Mayorov in his farewell game.
And finally, under the videos, my three signed photos of the guy.
I must be pretty dense. All along I thought Ilya Kovalchuk was flirting with staying with his St. Petersburg SKA team because he loved his country so much and was finally eating his favourite foods again.
It barely registered on me that SKA, and probably the KHL head comrades, were offering him millions to stay. How come I’ve been so clueless? Kovalchuk has 13 years left on his 15-year, $100 million Devils salary, so if there’s one thing we must realize about the KHL, is that there’s some serious rubles floating around if they can get the guy to even think about it.
Slightly different from 1972, when Soviet players who didn’t dress for the four Summit Series games in Moscow had to buy their own tickets to get into the rink. Or those same National team players who were paid $200 to $400 a month for the honour of playing for their country.
Apparently Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk will be returning to North America following Sunday’s KHL All-Star game. A contract is a contract, whether North American food sucks for the guy or not. Kovalchuk’s a great player, a sniper with a deadly shot, and New Jersey fans must be happy this staying home talk is coming to an end.
The Habs were disturbingly mediocre in 2012, finishing 15/15 in the Eastern Division, one point behind 14th place Islanders and two behind the Leafs. I still feel nauseous.
Along the way, Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitysn were shipped to Nashville and I miss Hal. The other guy – not so much. Mike Cammalleri was given a one-way ticket to Calgary after saying publicly that his team was quite pitiful, and that was all well and good except for the fact that the Canadiens got Rene Bourque in return. We’re still not sure if Bourque is dead or alive or just really stoned on valium.
Habs’ brass Pierre Gauthier and Bob Gainey were dismissed after doing quite a lousy job for way too long, and interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and assistant Randy Ladouceur were let go when the season ended, with Michel Therrien announced later on as Cunneyworth’s replacement. It wouldn’t have mattered if Cunneyworth learned to speak French without a trace of an accent. He was on his way out and he and everyone else knew it. Finishing in the basement didn’t help matters either.
Alex Galchenyuk was chosen third overall by the Habs in the 2012 entry draft, thus allowing us to dream that the young fellow will blossom into a Guy Lafleur-type superstar. If we’re going to dream, we might as well dream big, don’t you think?
The Summer Olympics took place in London and I’m still regretting not training to be a gymnast for these games. Judging by the more than 150,000 condoms that organizers gave out to athletes, it seems like I missed an excellent party. And September of 2012 marked the 45th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series, a series which catapulted Paul Henderson from normal, everyday NHL player to monumental icon, and a series which allows me tell everyone how I was a bartender in Sudbury at the time.
And of course 2012 saw the L.A. Kings win the Stanley Cup, once again the Vancouver Canucks collapsed when it counted, a lockout began, and the world didn’t end like it was supposed to.
But none of this can match the BIG story of the year. The story destined to become a movie, a story to tell grandkids and at parties and around the supper table for years to come.
February 9, 2012. The night, while playing against the New York Islanders, when Scott Gomez scored a goal.
It was a mighty feat, his first in more than a year, and it was the winner to boot in the Habs’ 4-2 decision over the Isles. The puck came out to him and although it seems impossible, he shot it right into the net. He did. It’s in the video below if you don’t believe me.
Yes, the biggest story of 2012. Can it get any better than that?
Oh, and Happy New Year. May great things happen to you over the next 12 months.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Kostitsyn, Pavel Datsyuk and a few other Russians are now saying they might just stay in Russia. Are you feeling bad about this?
Nobody forced these guys to come to North America, and when they did come, the vaults were opened and they dove in head first, drooling and panting. Now they’re saying that if some kind of pay cut happens from this ridiculous lockout, they just might stay home.
Please stay home. We really don’t want you. You only play for the money anyway. The Stanley Cup isn’t at the top of your list, money is. After that it’s the Olympics and World Championships. Then some borscht and black bread. The Stanley Cup comes in fifth, after money, Olympics, the Worlds, and borscht and black bread. Ungrateful swine, the bunch of you. North American hockey will survive without you, thank you very much.
Is this the end result of the wonderful ’72 Summit Series, Canada Cups, and the New Year’s Eve Habs-Red Army clash in 1975, all of which caused closed doors to slowly open, and years later you marched in to a handshake and wheelbarrows packed full of Amerikanski dollars? What a sad legacy to such historic hockey meetings. Maybe the Summit Series and Canada Cups should never have happened and we wouldn’t have ever had to hear the sorry names of Kostitsyn and Kovalchuk and the others.
Even my wife, who is from Russia, says they’re only here for the money, that they’re not like Canadians, that they don’t have hockey in their blood. In fact, she’s not even surprised when I tell her these guys are threatening to stay home. “Let ‘em” she says. “They’re a different bunch.” And this from a Russian lady who loves her homeland but has these dudes all figured out.
You took jobs from players here and now you’re taking jobs from players there. And Sergei Kostitsyn, it was good riddance when you left Montreal, and now I hope I can say it again if your promise to leave this continent permanently comes to pass. Kovalchuk? Your 15-year, 100 million dollar deal with New Jersey might not cut the mustard if you have to give up some? And did you really have to take the captaincy for SKA in St. Petersburg? Wasn’t the old captain there doing his job? Ovechkin? You’re overrated, teams have figured you out, and now you sulk like a Russian baby. And your acting in commercials is much better suited for Russian TV, believe me. Frankly, I find you more than slightly goofy.
Please stay in the old country. All of you. Make Russian fans happy. And while you’re making them happy, you’ll be making me and many others happy too.
A nation on the edge of their seats. A series tied with one game to go.
Team Canada knew now that Canadians were behind them. The strong negativity, expressed profoundly in Vancouver, had melted like ice in a spring thaw, and the players no longer felt that they could play only for themselves because they hadn’t lived up to early expectations.
They knew from the telegrams and post cards and support reaching them in Moscow from sea to shining sea, that we were proud of them and were readying to watch and cheer from where we could. Televisions in schools and offices were being set up and plugged in, the final game would be seen through store windows and in living rooms, restaurants and bars, from Tofino to St. John’s.
For me in Sudbury, it became one last time to trade shifts with a fellow bartender, and I was alone and ready, hoping that my pathetic little black and white televison would hold up for one more day.
And while two nations prepared, there was one huge piece of unfinished business – who would be the two referees to work this historic game? No one could agree.
As I wait impatiently for the Grammy Awards to start, I’ve decided to show a few pictures because….well, just because. Hope you don’t mind. And is it true the Grammys people have set aside a few minutes tonight to honour Johnny Bower’s “Honky the Christmas Goose?” Will Johnny and Lady Gaga sing a duet? Will the Rinkydinks come out of retirement?
I was at a Kings-Flames game in Calgary some time ago and took this photo of Wayne Gretzky chatting with the Kings trainer. I just wanted you to see how stylish the trainer looked. Nice socks.
This isn’t just any pin, this is a homemade silver pin my ex-brother-in-law had made for me one Christmas. This is one of my all-time favourite Chirstmas presents not only because it’s a silver Habs pin but because it also came from this fellow whom I was very close to. He also doesn’t talk to me anymore. He and his brother, who was also a good guy. I’m like a stranger to them now. But I understand this kind of thing.
One was a Leaf fan and the other liked the Wings. Both hated the Habs.
This young lady was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia, and also happens to be my wife’s daughter. As you are well aware, there are Habs fans all over the place, even in Boston probably. Heck, come to think of it, I know two Habs fans in Boston – Diane, who likes both the Habs and Bruins, and her sister Nancy, who is a Hab fan through and through. But that might be it. I’m sure there are thousands in St. Petersburg, though.
My son was in Berlin way back and picked me up some rocks from the Berlin Wall. I’m just not sure if I’m crazy about the picture, which is Soviet leader Leonid Breznev and East German Communist leader Erich Honecker saying hello to each other. Brezhnev was a big hockey fan and was in attendance at the four games in Moscow during the 1972 Summit Series. No idea if Honecker liked hockey but he probably told Brezhnev he did as part of kissing his ass. And lips.
As you can see, I am the world’s greatest bartender, although I’m retired from the profession. This was given to me in Sudbury, right around the time of the Summit Series. I’m very proud of this. What, you don’t have one? Hah!
Danno sent me this last night. He said he’d been saving it, and finally sent it over after the big 5-0 blitzing of those Laffs.
I thought you might never get this in a million years, but Marjo nailed it. It’s Lester B. Pearson, and the scribblimg either says Pearson or PM, it’s hard to know. Way to go Marjo.
For those of you who haven’t heard of this fellow, he was the Canadian PM from 1963 to ’68, he won the Nobel Prize, is responsible for our current flag, and has a long list of buildings and schools named in his honour, including Pearson International Airport in Toronto. And the NHL had a trophy named after him (since renamed the Ted Lindsay Award), for the player voted best in the league by his peers.
I got it when I was a kid and happened to be at the Orillia arena for a Liberal Party rally, of all things. I guess security wasn’t much of an issue at the time, considering a 12 year old boy could walk right up to the leader of the country.
It wasn’t like I was there to learn about politics. I just must have been bored one night and decided to go the arena. The only things I knew then were hockey, baseball, bubblegum cards, and that the girls in my school were getting bigger chests.
I also saw a Tommy Hunter concert there once, and lots of wrestling matches, all around the same time. Seeing Don Messer’s Jubilee at the old barn seems to ring a bell too.
Mr. Pearson passed away in December of 1972, and hopefully he was able to comfortably enjoy the Canada-Russia Summit Series, held a couple of months prior to his passing.
To help take your mind off the wacky world of this year’s Habs, at least for a few minutes, I thought I’d mention a couple of tidbits about good old number 22, John Ferguson, that I found while re-reading my book Breakaway by Charles Wilkins.
First, an autograph I got from him in the mid-60’s.
Fergy was sitting in a restaurant with teammate Dick Duff, ready to tackle a steak, when Eddie Shack of the Leafs walked in. Duff, who had played with Shack in Toronto, struck up a conversation with his old friend. Fergy was so disgusted that a teammate would socialize with the enemy that he got up and walked out, leaving his uneaten steak.
Henri Richard was given the captaincy after Jean Beliveau retired, but Pocket Rocket wasn’t the Habs’ first choice to wear the C. It was Fergy. Fergy had decided to retire in 1971 and GM Sam Pollock offered him the honour of being captain if he would stay longer. But Sam was turned down.
John ended up resenting the Canadiens organization. He was in the hospital having surgery on a bone below his eye, a very serious operation, and he said that not once did a member of the team’s ownership, management, or coaching staff come to visit him. And only one them phoned – Toe Blake – but just once.
The Hall of Fame committee had Fergy’s name on the ballot and it went through, but for reasons unknown, they changed their minds and he was never inducted.
Ferguson was asked by Harry Sinden to play for Team Canada in the 1972 Summit Series but declined. His reasoning was that there was so much talk about Bobby Hull not being able to play because the Golden Jet had bolted to the new WHA, he felt it would be too much of a distraction to accept the offer, considering he’d been retired for a year. He became assistant coach instead.
Ferguson laid a beating on Chicago’s Eric Nesterenko during the 1965 Stanley Cup finals that changed the momentum of the series, and caused Nesterenko to live with the memory of it for years to come. Nesterenko even became the subject of a novel “The Drubbing of Nesterenko” by Hanford Woods, and although the fight was an absolute disaster for the Black Hawk, it only added to the legend of Fergy.
Yes, indeed, P.K.Subban picked up the puck in glorious fashion in his end, whirled and dashed to the oohs and awes of me and many others, and promptly lost it to the enemy, who then took off and scored on Carey Price. It was a young man’s mistake, learned from years ago when he most certainly had his way with other teams in small buildings.
It’s a tough thing. Do you harness his energy, or do you let him be P.K? This is a young fellow still learning his craft, and with this free-wheeler, this sort of thing is bound to happen from time to time. You just hope the goalie is there to back him up.
You can be sure there were times when even Bobby Orr and Flower and Howie Morenz all lost the puck on a big exciting rush. P.K. may even do it again and I’m fine with it. I just don’t want to see him play tentative and with less enthusiasm. He wouldn’t be P.K. if he did that.
Carey Price was quite mediocre at best in this Avalanche game, but he’ll get his game together very soon. He’s showed many signs so far, but still hasn’t played like the Carey Price we know and love. The consistently great Carey Price. A lot of blame, though, goes to the players in front of him. Lots of opposing players are getting way too many good chances.
Price ‘ll be fine though. Look at Ken Dryden. He was far from great in the 1972 Summit Series but he was a great goalie. It’s the same with Carey. We see some brutal nights.
Erik Cole says he and Jacques Martin don’t talk and I don’t care if they do or not. Cole’s a big boy making millions, and coaches can be difficult and complex creatures. Toe Blake’s favourite whipping boy was Ralph Backstrom, who was a sensational third-line centre for the Habs. And he was only third-line because Jean Beliveau and Henri Richard were the centres on the first and second lines. Toe was hard on him, and Ralph got so mad at his coach one day he threw a skate and it stuck in the door. Ask Frank Mahovlich about Punch Imlach. And Scotty Bowman was miserable and didn’t talk to anybody.
C’mon Cole, don’t let it get to you. And one assist in four games doesn’t cut it.
Scott Gomez – ditto. One assist in four games doesn’t cut it either. I know we’ve accepted that you’re not a goal scorer, you’re a playmaker, but you’re on track for another lousy season. You’d shown so much in preseason. What happened?
Sadly, I’ve just heard that Ottawa columnist Earl McCrae has passed away. I loved reading his stuff when I lived back east, and after I had moved to the west coast, and before the internet came along, a friend would send me ten or twenty of Earl’s columns at a time because I missed him. Earl could be outrageous, funny, deadly serious, really smart, and simply a wonderful writer who entertained me and countless others. He was also a member of the Elvis Presley Society in which he swore, tongue-in-cheek, that Elvis was alive and well in Tweed, Ontario.