Tag Archives: Bob McKenzie

McKenzie Earns An Elmer

Congratulations to the always excellent and insightful Bob McKenzie for winning this year’s Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, his profession’s highest honour, and which puts him Hall of Fame bound.

McKenzie is an absolutely deserving recipient, a guy at the top of his game, and the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA) thinks so too.

There’s no word yet on whether P.J. Stock will take home the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting.

Below, a letter I have from Mr. Ferguson to Emile Dion in Quebec City, dated 1929.

 

Elmer

Elmer Ferguson, born in 1885 and deceased in 1972, was the sports editor for the now-defunct Montreal Herald, a newspaper in existence from 1811 to 1957. That’s quite a run. 146 years.

Elmer also did color commentary on radio broadcasts, first with the Montreal Maroons between 1933 and 1938, and then the Habs from 1938 to 1967. He worked alongside the late, great Danny Gallivan in later years.

Mr. Ferguson, who has signed the letter using fountain pen, was inducted into the media section of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982, and the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award is given each year to a journalist “in recognition of distinguished members of the newspaper profession whose words have brought honour to journalists and to hockey“.

Among those honoured are the likes of Jacques Beauchamp, Red Burnett, Trent Frayne, Red Fisher, Andy O’Brien, Michael Farber, and Roy MacGregor, and now McKenzie joins the pack.

The man mentioned in the letter, Cooper Smeaton, was a referee and the NHL’s first referee-in-chief when the league was formed in 1917. He was inducted into the referee/linesmen section of the Hall of Fame in 1961.

Imagine – A Habs Fan Hosting

How refreshing it would be to have a Habs fan hosting Hockey Night in Canada.

This, from the National Post, with thanks to Hobo for sending it along.

PJT-GeorgeStroumboulopoulos-10.jpg

“TSN reporter Bob McKenzie tweeted Sunday the CBC host of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight will become the face of the show when Rogers Communications Inc. takes control of Canada’s NHL broadcasting rights next season.

“Stroumboulopoulos, who was a presenter at the Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday, was not made available for comment. A spokesperson for Rogers’ Sportsnet also declined to comment.

“The hiring of Stroumboulopoulos would be the first major personnel change made by Rogers after acquiring the NHL rights in a blockbuster 12-year, $5.2-billion deal in November.”

Lesser Moments For Kovalev

Good old Alex Kovalev, the man who could dazzle us for one game and stink for the next five, is back in Montreal tonight wearing a Florida Panthers uniform. Kovalev, who was with Atlant Moscow Oblast of the KHL for the 2011-12 season, returned to North America and just after the lockout ended, signed with the Panthers.

I remember that night against Boston when he had his hand slashed by a Bruin, gave up on the play because it hurt a little, ran into Sheldon Souray as he was feeling so badly, and when all this was going on, a Bruin player took the puck, waltzed in, and scored the winner in overtime. I was embarrassed by Kovy’s antics that night.

In fact, for as long as he was a Montreal Canadien, which became five years ending in 2008-09, often he could embarrass with his fakery. He could also play like he didn’t care, and then sometimes, out of the blue, he’d be sensational, the best guy on the ice, a magician with the puck, and we’d cheer like crazy. But we never knew which Kovalev would show up, and for me personally, it was good when he finally hung up his Habs sweater.

Here’s the hand slash episode, and other moments in Kovalev’s career when he was less-than-stellar.

Coming Clean

Whenever I read a story from CBC’s Elliotte Freidman or Bob McKenzie at TSN or any of the other hockey guys telling us about the lockout and how it’s going, I always notice a bunch of comments that basically say the same thing; Who cares. I’ve moved on. Yawn.

So I’m hesitant to talk about it because lots of people don’t care.

Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s a great excuse to stay away because frankly, most of the time I don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t forget, I was the guy who used to get 10 out of a 100 on my math exams. If I managed 40 out of 100, I felt like Einstein. These words – “fixed targets, make-whole provisions” and the rest is all Greek to me. The only words I know are “He shoots, he scores, Gomez misses the net, Marchand goes for the knees, and Bugsy McSwain takes a dump at centre ice.”

It does seem like the two sides are getting closer though, and it’s possible that hockey will be back in December. If they can figure out that “make-whole” thingy.

Oh, oh. I hear a bunch of “who cares.”

 

Canadiens Buffaloed By Sabres

Sabres 5, Habs 3.

The Canadiens failed to score on a five-on-three power play in the first period and also should be ashamed of themselves for such boring hockey that left me with glazed eyes staring at the wall during this opening frame.

The only interesting thing about the Habs-Sabres first period was the intermission that followed. And even that was only mildly interesting. Bob McKenzie said the Canadiens could slide right out of the top eight teams in the east. “I like Carey Price,” said McKenzie, “but I don’t think he can duplicate what Halak did last year.”

Matthew Barnaby disagreed. “These guys are for real,” he said.

Thank you, Matthew. You were slightly nuts as a player but you’ve become a fine human being as an analyst.

In the second period, Ryan O’Byrne gave a nice little puck away to the enemy and the team fell behind 2-0. But they would somehow, in their slumber, tie it up before they fell into the penalty-taking routine. Buffalo, unlike Montreal, made the most of their own five-on-three, scored again, and presto, it’s 4-2 in the second.

Basically, it boils down to a lousy power play (0 for 5) and mediocre penalty killing ( 2 PPG against) for the boys in red.

So far, after two periods, the Canadiens have failed to punch the clock. C’mon Captain Gionta, stand up in the room and give them a pep talk.

During the second intermission we saw a new Alex Ovechkin commercial in which he’s a talking head stuck in a guy’s school locker and he gives off a laugh he must have learned from watching dubbed scary movies back in the old country.  Without really giving my opinion of this commercial, I’ll just say I think it’s………….stupid.

It’s now the third period and a 5-2 Buffalo lead just got narrowed to 5-3 when Tom Pyatt scored.

And then…. Kostitsyn scored…or did he? Yes? No?

No.

Random Notes;

Maxim Lapierre looked fine in his little fight with Mike Weber. Both stand at 6’2.

Ryan White showed some jam and continues to not look out of place.

Saturday it’s the Habs and Islanders at Le Colisee in Quebec City.

Young Guys With Nice Suits And A Bright Future

Before I start I’d like to convey my deepest sympathies to Gary Bettman for having a cold right now. I feel terrible about this.

By trading their 27th and 57th pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for the 22nd and 113th picks, Montreal grabbed a big, physical 6’3 plus defenceman named Jarred Tinordi, son of former NHL’er Mark Tinordi who played most of his career in Minnesota and Washington. Young Jarred captained the US National Team Program and will play in Notre Dame this coming season.

A big strapping defenceman in the Habs future playing alongside PK Subban is a beautiful thing.

The young thoroughbreds were picked by their NHL teams today, and there’s not much I can say because if you really want to know all about these young hockey-playing perfect physical specimens with good hair and nice suits, you should talk to a scout or pay attention to what Bob McKenzie or Pierre McGuire says about them.

They know. I can tell you about the Beatles or the Rocket or old TV shows or driving a semi, but not so much about these juniors other than they obviously have good genes and have a harder shot than me. And if we’re comparing suits, forget it.

But a couple of things did stand out on this first of two evenings.

Florida, picking 3rd, chose big Erik Gudbranson, whose dad is a huge Habs fan and said he’d wear Eric’s NHL jersey over top of his Habs jersey because the only one that will touch his skin is a Montreal one.

Tampa Bay took Brett Connelly, and Connelly looked so intense chewing his gum that he seemed like he was ready to drop his gloves and pound TSN’s James Duthie.

Chosen 7th by Carolina was ex-figure skater Jeff Skinner whose parents are both lawyers, and he has sisters going to Cornell and Harvard and a couple of other siblings in university also. This isn’t Eddie Shack up there.

Minnesota picked Finish skater Mikhael Granlund and what stood out for me about this was seeing old Hab and notorious practical joker Guy Lapointe up there with the Wild group. Wouldn’t it have been great if Pointu pulled another practical joke, like changing the name on the jersey the kid puts on so it says ‘Lapointe’ instead.

Jaden Schwartz, chosen by the St. Louis Blues, has an older sister fighting cancer and the story was talked about, and Jaden said hi to her back home when he was interviewed. It’s gotta be tough for all concerned.

Latendresse Caught Sleeping On The Job

Hockey analyst Bob McKenzie just mentioned on TSN that when it was decided that Brian Gionta couldn’t play in Nashville because of an injury, Guillaume Latendresse was pencilled in as a last-minute replacement. Latendresse was originally destined to sit that night, but an hour or so before the game, it was decided that he would play.

But they couldn’t find him.

He was back at the hotel sleeping.

Eventually they found him, woke him, and he suited up.

Latendresse is now officially my least-favourite player.

Welcome to Montreal, Georges Laraque.

I suppose it’s time to take stock in what’s gone down so far in Montreal. Alex Tanguay is now a Hab, but Mark Streit, Michael Ryder, and Mikhail Grabovski aren’t. That became- add one, deduct three.

So it only figured that Bob Gainey wasn’t through. But there’s no Mats Sundin, no Marian Hossa, no Jaromir Jagr, no Todd Bertuzzi, and no Markus Naslund. (Although Sundin, Jagr, and Bertuzzi continue to flutter in the wind.)

Gainey did something a little unexpected. He got big Georges Laraque, possibly the NHL heavyweight champion of the world, for three years, 4.5 million.

Is this good?

I think it’s fantastic. The Habs, with all their finesse, all their speed, and all their creativity, have lacked a component that we knew they needed. Someone to beat the bejeesus out of a rival player who just took liberties with our good but small players like Koivu, the Kostitsyns, Plekanec etc.

Laraque may not be a star, but either was Dave Semenko and Marty McSorley in Edmonton, who just happened to be key members of the Oilers because they looked after Gretzky and the boys.

Some may laugh at Gainey’s newest dealing, and some may hate it. But I think Georges adds a new dimension to the team. An important dimension.

Maybe Pierre McGuire, Bob McKenzie, and all the media boys will finally stop saying the Habs are too soft and too small to go all the way.

And what’s next for Gainey? Could Bertuzzi, Jagr, or Sundin still be in the mix?

Who knows? All I know is, it just got a lot scarier to play against Montreal now.

Montreal Ends It Off In Style. Now Bring On The Playoffs And Prove The Experts Wrong

Don Cherry thinks the Ottawa Senators will do well in the playoffs but the Habs won’t. Broadcaster Bob Cole threw water on the fire every time sidekick Greg Millen started to say great things about the Habs. “Watch their power play,” Millen would say. “Watch how they never stop moving, how unpredictable they are, how hard they are to stop.”

And Bob Cole would chime in, “yeah, but they haven’t scored yet.” And throughout the game, you could feel him cheering for the Leafs. Cole needs to retire. We’ll keep Cherry around for a chuckle here and there. But he loves the Leafs too.

It’s been like this all year. The so-called elite of the hockey media, Cole, Cherry, McKenzie, McGuire, Hodge et al, just can’t bring themselves to concede that maybe, just maybe, Montreal is a serious contender.

It’s the junior members like Millen and Glen Healy who are the ones who don’t mind offering up superlatives. The old guard won’t do it.

I guess, if the television screen’s right, Montreal meets Boston in the first round after taking out Toronto tonight (April 5) 3-1 in yet another impressive performance by all concerned, including a young buck in his first game, Gregory Stewart, who nearly scored a couple of times, and got the edge in a fight with Brian McCabe at the final siren.

Stewart skated off the ice to the cheers of the faithful and the pats from his new teammates, with this amazingly proud look on his face.

But back to Cherry and Cole and the like. I suppose by the third round, these guys might concede that the Habs look good. But you can be sure that they’ll say Montreal doesn’t stand a chance against the contender from the west.

It’s going to take a Stanley Cup to shut these guys up. Bring on Boston.

How Sweet It Is! Except, Of Course, If You’re A Sabres Fan

It’s times like this when I wish I still lived back east. I can feel old-time hockey atmosphere, too thick to cut, drifting out of Montreal and parts beyond, and filtering right out here to the coast.

The Habs aren’t being stopped, eliminating the Buffalo Sabres tonight in a completely convincing, except for some brief moments in the third period, 3-1 win. And they won it in style, even with injuries, even with the northeast sewn up, because, like Alex Kovalev says, “a team starts the playoffs the way they end the season.” 

And the way they’re ending it is flabbergasting. Without Koivu, Komisarek, and Bouillon, the team’s plumbers have risen to the occasion, and are not only shutting down other teams in general, but they’re shutting down other teams’ powerplays as well. And elder plumber Brian Smolinski gets a pair of big goals and once again, proves with the others that Pierre McGuire and Bob McKenzie and the rest can eat their words, and in the process, should finally give some big-time credit to the Canadiens, which they’ve yet to do.

And Alex Kovalev, at 35 and playing like 25, creates magic like no one. He could have scored about four beauties tonight, he worked like crazy, he set up others, he joined frays to help teammates, and has picked up an important role with Koivu out, showing that he’s a natural leader. My respect for Kovalev continues to grow.

This is a special time for Habs fans, so let’s savour it. In other years, when they made the playoffs, they made it by the skin of their teeth. Not this year though. Somewhere along the line, this team became a powerhouse, and are still threatening to win the east overall.

And they aren’t sneaking in the back door this time. They’re smashing in the front door and storming in.

I’m still a little numb about what’s transpiring. I expect the Canadiens to do well every single year of course, but this year I had no idea the Kostitsyn brothers would become such a force, or Kovalev would prove he’s one of the top five players in the league in my opinion, or that Carey Price would carry the torch, or that Guy Carbonneau would mature so nicely as a coach, or that the Kostopoulos’ and the Smolinski’s and the Begins’ would do the job like they’ve never done before.

Oh, to be in Montreal at this time. To be at the Bell Centre on one of the many triumphant nights, which, dare I say it, might even rival some of the big nights at the old Forum.

Keep it going, boys. Smash the Leafs on Saturday. Don’t get hurt. Head into the playoffs full steam ahead. We’re all behind you. And we’re all proud of you.