Tag Archives: AHL

Chick Webster

Yes, yes, he’s wearing a Rangers uniform. Please don’t hold that against him.

Chick

Over the past few months I’ve chatted and exchanged emails with 93-year old John “Chick” Webster and his son Rob, both of whom live up in the North Bay area. Serious hockey country. Cold winters.

Chick played just 14 games in the NHL, all with the Rangers during the 1949-50 season, but was a solid minor leaguer in the EHL, AHL, PCHL, and WHL.

An example of a fine player who couldn’t crack the bigs because in those days, only 120 could.

Real nice fellow, who says he’s not like so many others of his generation who insist the game was better way back when. It’s great now and he enjoys watching, he says. But if he and others shot the puck in the way they do now, they’d be benched. “We had to carry it in, there was none of that”.

A guy who played hockey when the pay was low and you didn’t shoot it in.

Chick was playing for Baltimore in the Eastern Hockey League in 1940-41 and decided to enlist. “I figured the war would go on for a few months, maybe a year, and then I’d come right back and carry on.

Five years later he finally got back to Baltimore.

Chick also played for the notorious Eddie Shore while with Syracuse, and says he was a terrible boss, which is also what anyone who ever played for Shore says. “Shore said we should never take time off, and if there was no ice available, we were supposed to practice on the streets. I ended up quitting.”

He would soon have a cup of coffee with the Vancouver Canucks of the old Western Hockey League, and ended up playing senior hockey with Sault Ste. Marie of the Northern Ontario Hockey league.

It’s also a family affair. Chick’s brother Don played for the Leafs in 1943-44. Rob’s nephew Jason Lafreniere was a Nordiques, a Ranger, and a Tampa Bay Lightning. And Jason’s dad helped win the Memorial Cup for the Hamilton Red Wings back in 1962.

Good people, these Websters. I should ask Chick who he’s cheering for in the Habs-Rangers series.

 

Reporting From Cobourg – Hobo!

As far as I can remember, the only American Hockey League game I ever went to was an exhibition contest in Barrie, Ont. in the early sixties between the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons. Ron Clarke and I hitchhiked down from Orillia, got there early, and somehow managed to meet the Buffalo trainer, who let us hang out in the Bisons dressing room and gave us jobs as stick boys during the game. We then took the bus home, carrying sticks signed by the Buffalo team, which we promptly wrecked playing road hockey.

I suppose this winter I could spend six hours making my way to Abbotsford, east of Vancouver, to see the Bulldogs when they come to town to play the Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, but I think I’ll pass on the long and tedious drive, the hotel room, and the several restaurant meals. Unless it’s a handy drive, no hotel involved, and cheap tickets and arena beer, I’m not donating any more greenbacks to the NHL. They have lots and I don’t. And we’ve seen how much they care about us.

I’d do what Hobo just did though. He drove a few minutes from his place to Cobourg to see the Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies in action, spent almost nothing, and he sends a nice little report about the affair.

Take it away, Hobo!

“It was the Marlies 3, Bulldogs 1, and the Marlies get full credit for the victory. The Dogs looked painfully like the parent club, not generating any kind of flowing offence, and losing in the last few minutes by taking a needless penalty. But at least they weren’t afraid to mix it up.

“The Cobourg rink is a great place to watch a game. We were in the last row of seating, about fifteen rows from the ice, and right behind us were Habs brass Larry Carriere and Rick Dudley in a makeshift press area. It took awhile for me to put names to these faces I recognized from somewhere, and I didn’t really talk to them much except to to tell them their little team played just like the big boys. I suppose they didn’t really need to hear this from a schmuck like me. It was interesting to eavesdrop on their conversation, though.

“Jarred Tinordi hardly played a shift for the first two periods but played more in the third. Brendan Gallagher didn’t dress. The Bulldogs pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and I heard Carriere say, “Hey, they only have five guys out there.”

“I really enjoy watching AHL games, especially at fifteen bucks a ticket. And Jake Gardiner was by far the best player on the ice. Too bad he was wearing the wrong colours.”

Thanks Hobo. Just great. And if anyone checks out the Bulldogs in action or any other minor-league tilts and wants to write a little bit about the experience, please sent it along. It would make for a nice post, just like Hobo’s today.

Here’s the lineup when Ron Clarke and I saw the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons in Barrie. I didn’t realize until years later when I looked at this that Don Cherry was in the Amerks lineup. I guess he didn’t stand out.

Cover Boy

Several times I’ve talked about John French, who was an old hockey and baseball teammate of mine while growing up in Orillia, our little town also known as Mariposa from Stephen Leacock’s “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town,” and seeing the fellow on a program cover recently finds me going on about him again.

John and his family moved to Toronto when he was in his mid-teens, and I remember when he came back with his new big city team for an important tournament in Orillia. In a sensational moment in time, the slick forward scored five goals in the championship game and was voted tourney MVP.

He had come through in a huge way in his first appearance back in his home town, and myself and his other old teammates sitting in the stands were truly impressed.

French was an excellent hockey player, much better than the rest of us, and he would eventually play Junior A for the Toronto Marlies before being picked by the Habs 52nd overall in the 1970 draft. John would play for the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL, with Ken Dryden and Wayne Thomas as his goalies, and not long after it was onward to the World Hockey Association.

Years ago I bought a used desk at an Ottawa second-hand shop, opened the drawer, and found a John French hockey card inside. And recently I noticed an old New England Whalers program, and there he was on the cover.

 

From My Pile Of Old Programs

Don Cherry belonged to the Montreal Canadiens for a short time in the early 1960’s, until Sam Pollock took him aside one day and asked him to lay off the beer. Cherry said he wouldn’t and was promptly shipped to the Spokane Comets of the Western Hockey League where he played one season (68 games, 9 goals, 13 assists), before moving on to the Rochester Americans of the AHL.

This is Cherry, number 6, with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL (Eastern Professional Hockey League) in an exhibition game against the Boston Bruins before the start of the 1962-63 season. Hull-Ottawa, a farm team of the Habs, supplied many, many players to the big club in those days. Don just wasn’t one of them.

Kirk Muller Makes His Move

After five years as assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens, Kirk Muller is no longer in the fold. This nice guy, whom my wife has a crush on, has become the new head coach of the American Hockey League Milwaukee Admirals, an affiliate of the Nashville Predators.

I don’t suppose anyone’s surprised. Rumours and speculation flew around for months about the possibility of Muller making some sort of move, although the recent word was that he was on his way to the Chicago Wolves, the new Vancouver affiliate, which of course didn’t happen.

So long, Kirk, and good luck. We know you’ll do well, and we know we’ll see you sooner than later as an NHL bench boss. Just wish it was as Montreal’s bench boss.

The Staal Who Isn’t A STAAL

Today’s incredibly important information. Montreal drafted a Staal 92nd overall in 1996.

Of course he’s no relation to the Staal brothers from Thunder Bay. This one came from Denmark and never played a minute in the NHL, although he did manage 34 games in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals.

Is that interesting or what?

Kim Staals’ stats can be found right here – http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=37609

Ron And Dennis’ Excellent Adventure

The other day the phone rang and it was my old friend Ron Clarke, and although he lives in the Kitchener/Waterloo area, he was in Vancouver visiting his 34 year old daughter who has terminal lung cancer.

Ron and I go back further than any other of my other friends as we were childhood buddies and schoolmates and we played road hockey and  held on to bumpers of cars and got free rides as the unsuspecting drivers made their way through snowy streets. He and I traded hockey cards, smoked our first cigarettes together, went through minor hockey, and he started hanging around with a girl in grade seven and ended up marrying her after they dated for about ten years.

Ron and I went our separate ways because he was a straight-laced guy who wanted no part of what was happening with the counter-culture in the 1960’s, and I was the opposite. But we always remained friends over the years anyway.

After talking to Ron, I remembered a time when we were 12 year old altar boys and one of the priests was not only the big shot priest, the Monsignor, but he also somehow had a connection to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It might have something to do with St. Michael’s College in Toronto but I’m not sure. 

Monsignor Lee asked Ron and I one day if we’d like to go to Peterborough for the day and visit the Leafs in training camp, and off we went. Turns out Monsignor Lee had more than just a slight connection with the Leafs. It was almost like he was part of them.

In the afternoon, we had dinner with the team, for gawd’s sakes, although the players, Keon, Horton, Mahovlich, Baun, Pulford and the rest were on the other side of the room. Ron and I sat at a table with King Clancy and Jim Gregory, and the two of them, with the Monsignor, told old stories about when they did this and when they did that, and although I don’t recall any of the conversations, I can still picture  Clancy being really funny and Jim Gregory doing most of the talking.

Later on, we had primo seats at the Peterborough arena to see the Leafs and Chicago Black Hawks play an exhibition game and we went down to the boards and got Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita’s autographs.

Then, back to Orillia we went, an hour away.

Back to the present. I spoke briefly on the phone with Ron’s daughter, Jocelyne, and I told her she was going to beat her lung cancer. She said that’s not what any of her doctor’s have told her.

Addendum:

Ron and I also went to Barrie at about the same age as when we went to Peterborough, and he and I helped the AHL Buffalo Bisons trainer and stood behind the bench as stick boys for an exhibition game between the Bisons and Rochester Americans. Don Cherry played for Rochester but it didn’t matter at that time, (I only know because I still have the lineup sheet), and the only players who made an impact on me where Gilles Marotte, Billy Dea, and Fred Stanfield.

I also remember Ron and I coming home from playing hockey at the arena in Orillia and noticed the Habs-Leafs on TV in someone’s living room. So we sat outside the window and watched the game without the people knowing.

His Dad Was………

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. But the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal, no assists, and collected 31 penalty minutes.

Who was the father, what team did he play for, and when?

(In the article it also mentions that John French, who would eventually play for the New England Whalers, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scored for the Imperials in the squirt division. But that has nothing to do with the quiz.)

Press Release – Two Randy’s In Hamilton

Randy Cunneyworth named as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs

Randy Ladouceur appointed as assistant coach with the Bulldogs

Tuesday, 20.07.2010 / 2:30 PM / News
canadiens.com
PRESS RELEASE
 
  Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur

MONTREAL (July 20, 2010) – Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier announced today that the club has named Randy Cunneyworth Head Coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League. The Canadiens also announced the hiring of Randy Ladouceur as the Bulldogs’ assistant coach.

“We were looking for a strong leader to coach our farm team in Hamilton. In Randy Cunneyworth, we get an individual who knows the game inside out and who brings a wealth of experience, both as a player and as a coach, to the table. Together, Randy Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur combine for over 20 years of coaching experience at the professional level. We are extremely pleased that they have joined the Canadiens’ organization”, said Gauthier.

Randy Cunneyworth was an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers over the past two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10). He previously spent nine seasons with the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans, including seven seasons as head coach from 2000 to 2008. During his tenure with the Americans, he led his team to three 40-plus win seasons, two 100-plus point seasons and six playoff berths. He left Rochester as the longest serving coach in franchise history and ranks second on the club’s all-time wins list. During the 2004-05 season, Cunneyworth led the Americans to a 51-19-4-6 record (112 points), en route to the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s top team in the regular season standings. That season, Cunneyworth would earn the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Trophy as the AHL’s Coach of the Year. He also reached the AHL’s Calder Cup Finals with Rochester as a player/assistant coach in 1999-00, earning the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award that same season (sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey). He played a total of 273 career AHL games with Rochester and Springfield, recording 270 points (166 goals, 104 assists) and helping Rochester win the Calder Cup in 1983.

A 49-year old native of Etobicoke, ON, Randy Cunneyworth played 15 seasons in the NHL between 1981 and 1999. An eighth round selection, 167th overall, by the Buffalo Sabres in 1990, the left winger played 866 career regular season games, suiting up with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford, Chicago and Ottawa. He registered 414 points (189 goals, 225 assists) and totaled 1,280 penalty minutes. He served as the Ottawa Senators captain for four seasons (1994 to 1998) and reached the Stanley Cup Finals with the Sabres in 1999.

Randy Ladouceur, 50, served as an assistant coach for 10 seasons in the NHL, including eight with the Carolina Hurricanes (and Hartford Whalers), from 1996 to 2004, and two with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Last season, he was an assistant coach for the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs. He was also Head Coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals in 2005-06.  

A native of Brockville, ON, Ladouceur enjoyed an NHL career that spanned over 14 seasons, from 1982 to 1996, with Detroit, Hartford and Anaheim. The defenseman played 931 career NHL games, registering 156 points (30 goals, 126 assists) and 1,322 penalty minutes.

Whittling Down The Roster

Two players assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs

Monday, 21.09.2009 / 10:00 PM / News
Montreal Canadiens
PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – The Canadiens announced Monday evening that two players were released from training camp and assigned to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. The Bulldogs will be leaving on Tuesday for Edinburgh, Scotland where they will hold training camp until September 28.

Here are the two players assigned to Hamilton :

Defenseman (1)
Shawn Belle

Forward (1)
Eric Neilson

Thirty-one (31) players are still at training camp, including three (3) goaltenders, ten (10) defensemen and eighteen (18) forwards. The list of injured players at camp includes; Kyle Chipchura (shoulder), Alex Henry (hand), Georges Laraque (lower body), Paul Mara (lower body), Roman Hamrlik (virus) and Olivier Fortier (shoulder).

Previously, these guys got the word:

Seventeen players assigned to Hamilton

Monday, 21.09.2009 / 6:35 PM / News
Montreal Canadiens
PRESS RELEASE

MONTREAL – The Canadiens announced Monday that 17 players were released from training camp and assigned to the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. The  Bulldogs will be leaving on Tuesday for Edinburgh, Scotland where they will hold training camp until September 28.

Here are the 17 players assigned to Hamilton:

Goaltenders (2)
Robert Mayer
Cédrick Desjardins

Defensemen (5)
Chad Anderson
André Benoit
Michael Busto
P.K. Subban
Frédérick St-Denis

Forwards (10)
Ryan White
Mikael Johansson
James T. Wyman
Ryan Russell
David Desharnais
Andrew Conboy
Brock Trotter
Dany Massé
Mike Glumac
Mathieu Darche