Tag Archives: Al Capone

Moose Jawing


Pittsburgh has signed Evgeni Malkin to an 8-year, 76-million dollar contract extension, which works out to 9.5 million a year until the time he becomes 34. By then he should have enough money to buy a medium-sized country and make himself king.

I wonder at what point does a young fellow go from being relatively normal to letting money like that change him forever. When money becomes almost meaningless, where to buy a luxury car or three doesn’t even put a dent in the wallet. And where without even trying, can’t relate anymore to any of his old friends from the pool hall or local zabegalovka who make fifteen or twenty bucks an hour.

I’m guessing it happens without warning to the majority of these guys, who can’t spend it fast enough. Two-week paychecks fat enough to buy a house with cash, or live in 5-star hotels all summer. Imagine – with just one two-week paycheck. Yes I”m jealous, if that’s what you’re thinking.

We’ve stopped for the night in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. What a great name. An iconic name. Mentioned in books, movies, and comedy bits.

Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

I love the prairies. I don’t find them boring at all as we make our way through. Beautiful, clean highways with subtle curves. Rolling hills and farmers’ fields. The sky as big as can be.

My only disappointment is it seems the old, classic grain elevator has mostly become a thing of the past. There’s a big, slightly newer one in the photo, but the smaller ones you used to see seem to be gone now. Or maybe I just have to take some side roads to see them.

I don’t have time. Boston Pizza is right next door to where we are and we’re about to pay them a visit.

Moose Jaw has tunnels underneath that were originally built for workers to move about without going outside in the winter. Later, Chinese immigrants would live in them, and soon after that, Al Capone apparently did some bootlegging through them during U.S. prohibition. They have tours.

We’re not going to see them either. ūüôā

Years ago, me and four buddies were down in the park in Orillia and met an older fellow we called Swan Balls, who was drunk and leaving his wife and driving to Vancouver the next morning. We volunteered to go with him and he agreed for some reason.

The six of us made it to Vancouver and lived there for a couple of months, at which point Swan Balls came to his senses and announced he wasn’t going to pay the rent and buy food and smokes for us anymore, and was flying back to his wife. Which meant we had to hitchhike back to Orillia.

Frank and I teamed up and made it to Swift Current, Sask., where we hopped a freight train going east and had a fine ride until we saw the lights of Moose Jaw coming up. Getting busted by a yard bull wouldn’t be good, so we decided to jump off the train before it rolled into the yard. Frank jumped first and landed in some sort of shallow cow pond, making him wet and smelling like a sewage plant. Fifteen feet later the train stopped and I walked off, dry as a bone.

Frank still hates to be reminded of this.




Gomez Musings

What’s really sad is that I’ll never get a chance to use my Scott Gomez/Al Capone look alike joke again. (Photo by Al Catraz)

Gomez Alcatraz

I’ve liked Marc Bergevin since he was first hired by the Canadiens, but now I think he’s the greatest guy who ever lived. I want to buy him drinks and lobby to get him¬†the Order of Canada.

He decided to rid us of the Scott Gomez piano on our back.

I’d also like to thank the Molson boys for agreeing to wear the money lost on this. Your wallet¬†will soon be¬†thinner, but the warm and fuzzy feelings coming from fans is so thick you can’t imagine.¬†That has to be a decent tradeoff, don’t you¬†think?

No more Gomez. How am I gonna get used to that? It’s asking a lot.

I don’t care what anyone will say now about how he was a good guy in the room, loved by reporters and by proud Alaskans. I can hear this all day long and it won’t matter. It never mattered. George W. Bush could be a lovely fellow too.

Gomez didn’t help his team. I ended up¬†cringing at¬†the sight of him in a Montreal Canadiens uniform. Sometimes it would throw me off for an entire game, even those odd times when the team was playing well. I’d be enjoying myself, and then Gomez would jump¬†on the ice.

He never seemed to me to be a¬†true Montreal Canadien, if that makes sense. In my eyes he didn’t belong. He played soft, even when he was spitting in a dangerous manner. He¬†grinned at¬†opponents much bigger than him as if to say he wasn’t at all scared by them, even though he wouldn’t go closer than three feet.

He went a year without one goal. What the hell is that?

He had sort of a decent shot but not a great one, and most times the puck sailed over the net. He tapped opposing goalies on the pads after they made¬†a good save, which never sat well with me. The goalie prevented a Montreal goal and Gomez would congratulate him? It was like he needed players from other teams to like him. He sometimes talked and kidded with opposing centremen when they were about to take faceoffs. I wished he wouldn’t. I prefer the intense, hate-filled look.

He was the Sally Field of hockey. “You like me, you really like me!”

Recent coaches had to play him¬†not only¬†because he had a whopping contract, but also because there was no one else. Much better centremen like David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, who actually worked hard and got a few things done, would sometimes get tired and¬†go to¬†the bench. That’s where Gomez came in. He was next in line.

Randy Cunneyworth and Jacques Martin both gave him far too much ice time and surely not enough grief. They played him like he was effective. They were also both fired. Not for that, but anyway.

Michel Therrien must be feeling good about this turn of events. One less reason to blow his top. Although there will be many other reasons.

We won’t have Mr. Gomez to kick around anymore, but we carry on. In this winter of discontent, it feels right now like the Summer of Love.