Tag Archives: Allan Cup

The Canadiens Helped The Smoke Eaters

It all started when I saw an old clip on YouTube of the 1960 Chatham Maroons playing the U.S.S.R. on Russian television.

Even though the T.V. screen in that video below says 1963, it was actually Nov. 26, 1960 when the Maroons senior squad met Moscow Select in Russia and were bombed 11-2 by the home team.

Chatham had won the Allan Cup the previous spring by taking out the Trail Smoke Eaters in four of five games, and the Ontario squad played two exhibition games months later in Moscow, winning the first contest 5-3 before this 11-2 slaughter.

Unfortunately, Chatham opted out of representing Canada in the 1961 World Championships in Geneva and Lausanne, Switzerland due to lack of funds, and were replaced by the runner-up Smoke Eaters, who would end up winning the gold medal and gaining legendary status in the process.

I also discovered more to this story, after chatting with the daughter of the then-Smoke Eaters president, who was also the high school principal in Trail at the time.

The Smoke Eaters worked hard to go to the Worlds after Chatham bowed out. Players took out personal loans, and the team wrote to all six NHL teams hoping for some sort of financial help.

But it was only Montreal that stepped up to the plate, with the Molson family, owners of the Canadiens, giving Trail $1000, which was a fair amount of coin in 1961 (equal to $8000 today), and the Habs providing some serious hockey equipment.

The other teams, the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and Chicago Black Hawks, were cheap bastards.

Topping it all off was Cominco, the gigantic smelter plant in Trail where most or all of the Smoke Eaters worked, who gave the players’ families weekly stipends while the team was in Europe.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled Habs slump.

Below, Chatham in Russia against Moscow Select, and below that, the final game of the 1961 Worlds, when the Trail Smoke Eaters blasted the Soviet National Team 5-1.


Mr. Goalie

He came to Powell River in 1997 when the Allan Cup was on, and I asked him if I could buy him breakfast the next day. He said sure, we did, we talked hockey, and then I gave him a tour of the area in my little Hyundai Excel.

A real nice fellow, this Western Canadian farmer dubbed “Mr. Goalie”. When I asked him who the greatest ever was, he didn’t even have to think about it. Gordie Howe could do everything better than anybody else, he said, including Gretzky, whom he never played against of course, and Bobby Orr.

Glenn Hall, elected to the Hall of Fame in 1975, was the goalie in nets for the St. Louis Blues when Bobby Orr scored his famous “flying through the air” Stanley Cup winner in the spring of 1970.

Glenn Hall


Orillia And Galt Battle Hard


I saw this picture the other day, and in keeping with sometimes being all over the map and straying from the Habs, I thought it important to show, especially if you’re from the Orillia or Cambridge areas, some good old senior hockey action.

It’s a 1970 Senior A playoff game between the Orillia Terriers and Galt Hornets, and although it looks to me like it might be the Orillia arena, it very well could be in Galt. I have a helmet sort of like the Orillia guy, which now sits on Giant Gaston’s head. (the helmet, not the Orillia guy).

Galt and three other neighboring towns, Hespeler, Preston, and Blair, amalgamated in 1973 and became Cambridge. Hespeler used to make fine hockey sticks, including Hespeler Green Flash, which was my stick of choice. Not that it did any good.

The Galt Hornets were Allan Cup champs for 1968-69 and 1970-71, while Orillia would win it all in 1972-73.



Big Canadian Day, Eh!

For those of you in other countries, today, Sunday, is a big day in Canada. Grey Cup Day. The 100th Grey Cup. When Canadians from coast to coast gather to eat meatballs, dips and chili. They also drink a lot of beer on this day, which is never a good idea because most have to work the next day, and if they haven’t learned in 100 years, they probably never will. But Canadians are Canadians. Just a wild and crazy bunch.

This Grey Cup will feature the Toronto Argonauts hosting the Calgary Stampeders, and I don’t really have a favourite. Maybe the team with the best-looking cheerleaders. Maybe I’ll root for the Argos because Torontonians have the Leafs and I feel sorry for them.

This was a trophy donated by Earl Grey in 1909. He originally had wanted to give away silverware that represented the best amateur hockey team in the country, but that rascal Sir Montagu Allan beat him to it, so Earl had to make it football because all the good hockey trophies had already been taken. I’ll bet he was pissed when he found out Monty got there first.

Habs great Doug Harvey was a huge fan, and once played against the Argos as a member of the Quebec Rugby Football Union, which in the 1940s was part of the CFL. He said that if he had to choose between hockey and football, he’d choose football. The Canadiens would often find themselves playing in Toronto on Grey Cup night, and coach Dick Irvin warned the guys not to go to the big game in the afternoon because he didn’t want any of them getting colds and sore throats and all that. The fine was $500, and every year Doug would go to the game and then pay the fine.

Cure for the hangover? Okay.

This is a sure thing, and it’s taken most of my life to figure it out. Put your coat on and walk about nine kilometers (5.5 miles), or more. I don’t know why this works. Maybe it’s something about getting the blood flowing. Or crisp air getting into your lungs. But it’s the best hangover cure I’ve ever tried, and I’ve tried a lot.

Random Note:

If your math doesn’t add up, that this is the 100th Grey Cup even though the trophy was donated in 1909, it’s because the game wasn’t played during the First World War years. At least I think that’s how it works.





Don Kelcher Got It Done

Nice, interesting story about Don Kelcher, a member of the Orillia’s 1973 Allan Cup-winning team, Kelcher Big Part of Allan Cup Win, sent to me from two fine Orillians Ron Green and Don McIsaac, although Don lives in Houston, Texas now. His heart’s still in Orillia though.

It seems the Orillia coach Joe Kane (no relation) quit early in that historic season, Kelcher found himself in the role of player-coach, and ended up taking his gang to the promised land.

(Speaking of people named Joe Kane, my father and his two brothers were all named Joe Kane, so they had to go by their middle names to avoid confusion).

Rocket’s 500th

Thanks a lot to Beatnik for sending the video below.

It was Glenn Hall in nets for the Hawks who was the victim on the night the Rocket notched his 500th regular season goal, which was the first time a player had reached that milestone. I had breakfast with Hall once when he was in Powell River for the Allan Cup, and although I didn’t mention the goal, I did ask him who the greatest player ever was, hoping he’d say the Rocket. But it wasn’t to be. His answer, and I wasn’t all that surprised, was Gordie Howe. But he did mention that the Rocket scared the hell out of him close in.

Rocket’s 500th was scored on the power play on Oct. 19, 1957 when he took a pass from Jean Beliveau and blasted it home. He was 36 years old, and received a 10 minute standing ovation from the Forum crowd.

Rocket was the first to hit 500, but not the last by a long shot. He now sits 28th on a list of 42 players to have reached this magical mark and beyond, including Wayne Gretzky in first place, who managed a ridiculous 894 when all was said and done. But of the 42 players, only seven scored their 500th in less time than Rocket, who did it in 863 games. (Rocket would score 544 regular season goals before hanging up his skates).

The others who scored their 500th in less games than Rocket would be:

Wayne Gretzky, who got his 500th in just his 575th game, which is mind-boggling. Mario Lemieux made it after 605 games, Mike Bossy in game number 647, Brett Hull scored his 500th during his 741st game. Phil Esposito in his 803rd game, Jari Kurri in his 833rd match, and Bobby Hull in 861 games.

Makers Of Fine Hockey Stuff

I worked way too hard one Orillia summer, a 15 year old with my buddy Ron Clarke, hauling creosote-soaked railway ties a hundred feet to the shoreline so these evil things could be pounded into place to make some sort of breakwater. The job paid $1.75 an hour, and by the end of August I’d saved enough money to buy a pair of C.C.M. Tackaberrys, the skate, along with Bauer Supreme, that the pros wore.

I remember taking a bus to Toronto to the C.C.M factory because I’d heard that if you went to the factory, they would sell skates fitted to your feet. And I was disappointed when the man simply pulled out a normal box and found me a normal pair, which could’ve been done in Orillia. But I still felt like a million bucks as I swooped and swirved with my shiny new blades. And eventually the creosote burns would heal.

The Habs and Leafs used C.C.M Custom Pro sticks, while players from the four American teams went with Northland. My main weapon of choice wasn’t C.C.M., it was Hespeler Green Flash, although I would use C.C.M. sticks often along the way. Unfortunately, there was no stick from any company that would improve my shot.

And no matter how great any of the C.C.M. (from “Canada Cycle and Motor Co.”) equipment was, it didn’t help, and I wound up a truck driver instead of the new Ralph Backstrom.

Less Smiles, More Unpleasantness Please

The fantasy draft is over, the skills competition has wrapped up, we just have to get through what passes for a game, and All-Star weekend will draw to a close.

My prediction for today’s game? Hmm. I’d say Team Chara over Team Alfredsson. Maybe a low-scoring affair – 31 to 24. And later on, Botox salesmen will be present to give players free samples to help them remove wrinkles caused by those lovey-dovey smiles they’ve been wearing.

John Ferguson is punching heaven’s walls right now.

I just wish I could have had a slapshot like these guys when I was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget squads. When I was in Orillia last year I asked an old teammate Gary Cooper how he managed to have such a great shot back then, and he said he tried to tell us but we wouldn’t listen. He said the secret is for the stick to hit the ice several inches before it touches the puck, something we could see last night when Chara and the boys were whistling them in.

If only I would have listened to Gary Cooper. I could’ve played for the Habs. Or if I would’ve had the misfortune to be chosen by Boston, I could’ve stayed and helped the Orillia Terriers win the Allan Cup. But I didn’t listen to Gary and it’s been a struggle ever since.

And if I may, I’d like to suggest a couple more events for the skills competition. Wouldn’t it be fun to see players stand at one goal line and try to shoot a wrist shot over the glass at the other end? Gordie Howe could do it.

How about bouncing the puck toward the goal from outside the blueline, like JC Tremblay used to do. JC would score two or three goals a year by pulling off this little trickery, and no one else could do it as well. Seems like a bonafide skill to me.

Lets just get the peace and love out of the way and get back to business. The business of the Habs beating Buffalo on Tuesday, making it three in a row, which hasn’t happened since late October, and continue up that wobbly ladder.

And I’ve changed my prediction for today’s game because probably 31-24 is just too ridiculous. I’m saying 19-18. That’s more like it.




Big Scoop Involving Big Buff’s Name

From the moment I saw how Dustin Byfuglien’s name was pronounced “Bufflin”, I wondered why. And last night I found out. It shouldn’t be “Bufflin” at all.

It was a story told to me the other night in Powell River by a friendly salty dog named Bob Briggs, a retired diver and one of the original 1950’s Powell River Regals, the local senior team with three Allan Cup titles under their belt.

In 1997, the Allan Cup was held in Powell River, and one of the teams involved was the Warroad Lakers from Minnesota. At the rink during this time, Bob had met some of the Lakers and invited everyone to a day out on the ocean on his boat, to show them the wonders of this unreal area.

One of the guys who went for the ride was an older fellow named Ken Byfuglien, who had come to the tournament as a fan to cheer on his son who was on the Warroad team. Ken just happens to be Dustin Byfuglien’s grandfather, and Ken’s son who was playing in the Allan Cup is Dustin’s uncle.

Bob Briggs became great friends with Ken Byfuglien, they’ve stayed in touch all these years, and Bob and his wife Lorna visited Ken in Roseau, Minnesota when they were on a big bike trip not long ago. Roseau is a just a long cow pie throw from Warroad, and Roseau is where Dustin’s from.

“I saw that feature they did on Dustin on CBC between periods,” says Bob, “and Lorna and I had sat at the same kitchen table in that house in Roseau as they showed on the clip.”

And Bob filled me in with big news. The Byfuglien’s, the whole family,  pronounce their name almost as it looks, “By-foog-lien.” Not Bufflin.

I asked Bob why he thought it became pronounced “Bufflin” and he has no idea. “Maybe the announcers found it easier,” he guessed. 

Bob also said maybe he’ll ask old Ken the next time he talks to him.

I also thought, if we can pronounce long and difficult European’s players’ names correctly, why can’t we do the same with Byfuglien?

Grant Warwick Was In Montreal Just Long Enough To Have A Bee Hive

Grant Warwick came in the mail the other day. No, not the player, he died in 2000. It was the Bee Hive photo. And anyway, I don’t think the person would’ve fit through my mail slot.

Warwick’s professional career saw him with the Rangers from 1941 to 1948, then a couple of years in Boston before his short stint in Montreal where he scored two goals and six assists in 26 games, and therein lies the reason his Bee Hive is a tough one to find. Kids, including me, bugged our moms to buy lots of Beehive Corn Syrup so we could send in the little labels and get our favourite players like the Rocket and Jean Beliveau. Everybody went after the big names, and so there are lots of these out there still.

But no one wanted a Grant Warwick Beehive. Heck, he only played 26 games and scored two goals. Why would we?

Although Warwick played nine seasons in the NHL, he very much made a name for himself as player-coach of the 1955 Penticton Vees, a senior team who beat the Soviet Union to win the gold at the World Championships in Germany. His brothers Bill and Dick were his linemates in this historic tournament. The Penticton Vees played in the BC Okanagan Senior League and had been chosen to represent Canada after winning the Allan Cup.