In 1983 I asked Claude Mouton of the Canadiens for a Guy Lafleur stick and he came through.
Only it wasn’t a Lafleur stick, it was an unused Bob Gainey stick signed by the whole team.
A dandy alternative.
It’s the magical combination of Danny Gallivan and Dick Irvin as the Habs and Flyers battle on May 16, 1976. Montreal would win 5-3 on this night, sweeping the Flyers to win their 19th Stanley Cup.
Period one (30 min.) and period three (42 min) are included here, and we see the Cup awarded. Just wonderful, and thanks to my old buddy Rugger for sending it along.
Take your mind back, back to the summer of 2009, when Bob Gainey ruined our team?
June and July of that year were when Montreal traded for Scott Gomez and brought in UFA’s Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri. I was excited at the time, mainly because the Canadiens needed fresh blood, and I’ve been an optimistic bugger for pretty well every move the Habs have ever made, beginning when I was a kid. I’m always so hopeful, and maybe because I’m a Libra, I come up with all kinds of positives.
I thought fire-wagon hockey was back. I figured it would be a lightning-fast team of new Henri Richards and Ralph Backstroms, swirling around the ice and causing many a headache for lumbering forwards and defencemen of other teams. I was so hopeful
Did these three, who were immediately coined “The Smurfs,” improve the team a great deal? Hah! Montreal, in the blink of an eye, got smaller, became the laughing stock of the league, were mentioned everywhere by everyone as too small (I got so sick of that), and got pushed around in the playoffs like a grade one kid playing with grade fivers. We can only thank Jaroslav Halak for that beautiful run in the 2010 post-season against Washington and Pittsburgh.
We know how Gomez has turned out and I don’t want to get into it now. I’ve just eaten. Gionta and Cammalleri had their moments, Cammalleri shone at times, especially in those Caps and Pens games when he was a gunner-extraordinaire, and Gionta, although talented, is way too small at 5’7′ and his best days are behind him. Even more unfortunately, his best days were with New Jersey, not Montreal.
I hated that Montreal had gotten so small almost overnight. I cringed when I saw teams like Boston manhandle them. I knew that to win a Stanley Cup, it helps to be big and strong.
I say all this because I’m feeling bad. In the 1970s and 80s, I was one of Bob Gainey’s biggest fans. I loved his work ethic, his strong skating, his quiet and intelligent demeanor, his leadership, his penalty killing, his goals, his huge role in all those Montreal Stanley Cups. Never in a million years would I think I’d be joking about him, calling him down, and almost ridiculing him for what I think was basically destroying the team instead of improving it.
But I find myself doing these very things now. What was he thinking? Not just taking on the sinful Gomez contract, but making the team so small in almost one fell swoop. He played against tough Bruins squads, and the Broad St. Bullies. He knew muscle is usually needed to succeed. He learned under people like Scotty Bowman and Sam Pollock, who envisioned the proper mix of muscle and skill. But he turned the club into a laughing stock, Pierre Gauthier coming in turned the county fair into a circus, and Montreal every year remains the favourite team for predictors, along with the Leafs, to not make the playoffs.
Hopefully the black cloud is beginning to move away, everyone has woken up, and the team is now being gradually corrected under Marc Bergevin and the other new leadership boys. I know that whenever I hear that someone small, like Brendan Gallagher, is on the cusp of making the team, my heart sinks a little. Gainey has made me gun shy for the little guys, and I know I’m not right.
I admired Gainey so much as a player, and when he became management, I remember, when others were beginning to question him, my stock answer would be, “In Bob we trust.” And I did trust him. I trusted him as a player and from what I heard from him in interviews, and I saw no other reason not to when he took the reins. So I guess it comes down to two questions. What was he thinking? And what was I thinking?
There goes 2012. Maybe it’s a good thing.
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.
I know you’re itching to find out how Scott Gomez is doing with the Alaska Aces of the ECHL. Going crazy wondering. You can’t eat. You can’t sleep. You’ve started to bite your fingernails again. You’re a wreck.
He and his team are doing this:
The Aces sit in first place in the Western Conference with 26 points, and play in places like San Francisco and Las Vegas, so it seems like a pretty good gig. They’re a healthy 13 wins and 5 losses, have played 18 games, but Mr. Gomez has only been there for four.
But in four games, our man has two goals and three assists, although his first goal was a puck that bounced in off his rear end. I don’t know how his second went in but I’ll bet it was a beauty.
Gomer also has four penalty minutes, eleven shots on goal, and is plus one. He wears number 23, which coincidentally is the number Bob Gainey wore back in the good old days. Maybe it’s Scott’s way of saying thank you to the guy who agreed to take over his massive contract and bring him to Montreal. Grrrrr.
The Aces next game is Wednesday in Stockton, California to meet the Thunder, and I’m thinking Gomer’s going to bust out and get two on this night. All he has to do is make sure his rear end sticks out when he’s in deep.
Our man is doing so well and enjoying himself so much, heck, he just might want to stay there!
Tonight, while at work and taking a break from giving my usual 155%, I read, on the TSN site I think, someone suggest that Montreal should trade PK Subban to Edmonton, straight up, for Nail Yakupov, the first-overall pick in this year’s entry draft.
The argument is, basically, that PK has way too much of an ego, he’s already been offered $2.75 million a year for two years in which he and his agent said thanks but no thanks, and that he’s going after big money even though he’s still maturing and hasn’t reached elite status yet. And the Oilers really need help on the blueline.
But to trade our PK for an unproven kid yet to play a game in the NHL? Maybe if Bob Gainey was at the helm it might happen. But I don’t think Marc Bergevin would do it in a million years. At least I don’t think he would.
On the other hand, having both Yakupov and Galchenyuk in the lineup might create some serious fire-wagon hockey.
Anyway, we’re all armchair quarterbacks and this fellow just threw the Subban/Yakupov thing out there for the hell of it. But it got me thinking all the way home from work.
I just wish PK would hurry up and sign and we move on to other stuff. Like lockouts and the commissioner and all that.
Here’s the bastard who magically convinced Bob Gainey to take Scott Gomez off his hands. Gomez still had five years and 30 million left on his seven year, 51.5 million deal when Gainey had the biggest brain fart of his life.
Gainey also threw in Ryan McDonagh, Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, and Pavel Valentenko for Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and minor leaguer Mike Busto.
Copy this photo and paste on your dartboard. Just don’t hit the crest.
On Friday, September 19, 1986, the Montreal Canadiens played an exhibition game against the Edmonton Oilers at the Ottawa Civic Centre. I lived in Ottawa at the time but sometimes, as was the case here, real life gets in the way and I had to work and couldn’t go. Just like the time I had a couple of front row seats for Roy Orbison at the National Arts Centre and was out on a truck run, got back late, and missed that too.
But my buddy Frank and his son Robin went to this Habs-Oilers clash, and brought me back a program.
This was a charity event for the Canadian Cystric Fibrosis Foundation, and two beauty teams went at it that night. Montreal had won the Stanley Cup that previous spring, and boasted Patrick Roy in nets, along with guys like Bobby Smith, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey, Chris Chelios, and Stephane Richer.
The Oilers were pretty well in a class by themselves. They had won the two previous Cups, in 1984 and 1985, and the two after, in 1987 and `88, with a lineup of Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri etc.
Edmonton won the game that night 8-3, so maybe it was good that I missed it.
The Washington Capitals, with their 2-1 win over the New York Rangers Wednesday night, force a seventh game on Saturday. I didn’t see this big game 6 because I was at work.
But I saw the highlights.
I thought the Caps showed good intestinal fortitude by coming back with a win after experiencing a game five when they did what the Montreal Canadiens perfected last season - getting scored on with just seconds left and then losing in overtime. But they rebounded in game six, held their ground, and it seems Ovechkin has picked it up a notch. It’s about time.
So a big game seven coming up. Of course I have to work.
In other news…….
Bob Gainey is returning to whence he came, to the Dallas Stars, as an adviser to GM Joe Nieuwendyk. Gainey spent 9 years in Dallas before joining the Habs in 2003.
Maybe acquiring Scott Gomez clouds the issue somewhat, but as an executive, Bob was a fine player.
Regardless, good luck to Gainey. He played a huge role as a great Montreal Canadien defensive forward in the seventies and eighties, and we’ll always appreciate it.