Tag Archives: Boston

Happy New Year!!!

Yes indeed, Happy New Year.

May 2010 be a great year for you, and may you not get arthritis. And if you do get arthritis, let me know, I have some ideas to make you feel better, some of them even legal.

And while you’re all partying and kissing your partner’s best friend and wearing a lamp shape on your head and whooping and hollering as the new year gets closer, I’ll be working. I’ll be making sure the ferry runs smoothly so we don’t have the problems they’re having at airports. Yes people, I’m doing it for you.

It’s all about you.

And it’s also about the Habs.

In 2010, may there be no more injuries. May both our goalies not have to face 45 shots anymore. May the team climb high in the standings and show Leaf and Bruins fans they were wrong when they said bad things about us.

May the Habs wives and girlfriends continue to look beautiful and experience peace and contentment when your guys are napping on game day instead of showing affection to you. And may he say sweet things to you and kiss you on the cheek and not complain about the coach or the lack of ice time he’s getting.

May we never see those striped uniforms in 2010.

May Canada’s Olympic team win gold, and our Juniors too, even though I was cut from the junior squad because I didn’t come to any practices and I’m too old. But hey, nobody told me all the rules.

May all the readers of this blog be healthy, wealthy and wise. A fellow wrote in to a hockey website recently about this blog, saying that the comments here are the liveliest and friendliest out there. At some point I’ll post this letter because I think he’s right. When things really heat up in the comment section here, it makes for terrific reading because everyone really knows what they’re talking about. Of course, these readers get to watch games while others are working.

And once again, soon I’ll be packing my dismal, meagre peanut butter sandwiches and trudging to work with my head down and a frown on my face while you are laughing and smiling and telling lousy jokes and watching the Habs and the juniors and the silliness in Time’s Square and eating cupcakes and I”ll be stuck making sure the ferry’s doing fine because it affects the economy and people’s moods and it’s all about you. I want you to get to your gawddamn, overrated, hangover-inducing parties safe and sound and on time.

Yes people, I’m working so you don’t have to.

Happy New Year to everyone!


If You Were Bruins’ Brass, Would You Have Let Bobby Orr Go?

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What would you have done if you were the GM of the Boston Bruins and had to make this major decision. All along you’ve had the world’s best player, Bobby Orr. He’d turned the fortunes around for the Bruins, was loved and cherished, and had done more for the team than the team had done for him.

But you let him get away when he became a free agent, and the next thing you know, the player Bruins’ fans thought would be a Bruin forever, was now a Chicago Black Hawk.

What would you have done?

Talks in Boston collapsed with bitterness stemming from Boston’s refusal to pay Orr what he and his agent Alan Eagleson thought he was worth. And what was he worth? Orr had had five operations on his left knee in nine years and had missed most of the previous season because of his knee. The Bruins had also been given private medical advice that Orr would probably not play again, or if he did, not well and not long. And Orr and Eagleson wanted $600,000 for five years while the Bruins’ best offer was $350,000.

And because of all that, he was gone. If you were part of the Bruins’ decision makers, would you have kept him after looking at these medical problems?  He still wanted to play, wanted a big raise, and there was no assurance he would even play.

What a dilemna. If it was me, I might have done the same as the Bruins. It wasn’t like they were turning their back on a player who had done so much for them. It probably was going to be money down the drain, and after all, hockey is a business. Don’t forget, Orr still planned on playing.

As it turned out, Orr played great in the 1976 Canada Cup and was voted top player in the tournament. But much of his magic was gone, and his acceleration and great skating, which were his biggest attributes, were only just a memory. His career was, for all intents and purposes, finished. He played just 26 games over three years in Chicago, and he never cashed a Hawks paycheck because, as he said, he was paid to play hockey.

It’s all very sad, but in my mind, the Bruins weren’t villains at all. They simply did what made sense.

Mike Komisarek Wants A Raise. Really

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Reports are floating around that the Montreal Canadiens would like to re-sign defenceman Mike Komisarek for four million bucks a year but Komisarek wants six million instead. Now, I’m going to repeat the two key parts of the previous sentence – Mike Komisarek – 6 million.

Komisarek feels he’s worth much more than last year. So this is what I’m assuming. I’m assuming he didn’t go home after games and watch film of how he played that night. I’m assuming he forgets completely about all those head-scratching bad passes he sent up the middle that were intercepted and often resulted in goals for the other team. And I’m assuming he thinks he’s an elite NHL defenceman.

Mike Komisarek is not an elite NHL defenceman. He could be, but he’s not. Those previously-mentioned bad passes up the middle weren’t just from time to time. They were on a nightly basis. Except for maybe Patrice Brisebois, no defenceman on the Habs made such poor decisions with the puck. It was to the point of embarrassing. So like I said, I doubt he went home and looked at video of his game. Otherwise, he might be offering to give some of his salary back.

And then there’s the bad and poorly-timed penalty-taking. Komisarek’s a big boy – 6’4, 237 pounds, and likes to throw his weight around. But he hasn’t found that magical formula that allows you to be a heavy hitter without ending up in the penalty box. Scott Stevens he’s not.

Komisarek’s game went south after taking a beating from Boston’s Milan Lucic where he not only lost the fight but also injured his shoulder. I feel it was that one fight that gave the Habs an inferiority complex, and boosted Lucic to cult-status while showing his team, the Bruins, that they were a force to be reckoned with. That fight changed the seasons for both clubs.

Six million for Komisarek. Are you kidding? He was lucky he wasn’t on the bench more often.  He played like a $40,000 a year player, not a millionaire.  He hurt the team and added very little. And now he wants six million dollars.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman Writes How The Habs Have Hope

Canadiens’ situation far from a lost cause

April 24, 2009 02:00 AM | Posted by   Elliotte Friedman

It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received: Never make important decisions in overly emotional moments. Right now, everyone in the Montreal organization should listen.

Take a step back, really think things through, and don’t make any major decisions in the immediate aftermath of the 100 anniversary letdown.

The Canadiens are at a crossroads, with a need for the most honest and extensive self-evaluation since Bob Gainey’s arrival. With the fans out for blood, it would be easy to offer up a series of public floggings/hangings to satisfy the mob. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.

That’s why it’s best that Gainey wants to stay. It was funny to hear the “Carbo! Carbo!” chants after the coach was fired, because many of the people yelling were probably the same ones phoning the radio shows and demanding his head in February. Those same people are angry at Gainey now, but would probably be yelling his name once the team lost three in a row under a new GM.

Unfortunately, the lack of patience in pro sports these days means one bad year can undo many great ones. Yes, this was a horrible season. Yes, it appears that his decision to elevate Carey Price was premature. But, if you go back and look at it objectively, there is no doubt the Canadiens are a better organization now than when he arrived in 2003. I can’t understand why that is even being debated.

By calling fans “bullies” and “assholes,” not to mention trashing Brian Lawton, Gainey showed his determination to stick it to anyone who thinks he’s no longer the right man for this job. The Gainey we saw in those two media briefings is the Gainey who once played a post-season game with one separated shoulder, the other dislocated. Some of his friends wondered if he could stand Montreal anymore, but he will do everything to prove his regime a winner, whether the fans and media like it or not.

In this kind of a maelstrom, the calmest survive. The furor is not comparable, but how many times during their playoff failures from 2003-07 did Ken Holland feel pressure to break up his post-Yzerman Red Wings? Maybe the talent level is not the same, but the precedent is. It takes a strong man to stand in the face of this and make the proper decisions. Gainey is that guy. (Of course, new ownership could change everything, but we’ll address that later.)

Personally, I see three situations that are most important for him to address:

1) The coach

This is the one concern I’d have about Gainey. He fired both Claude Julien and his personal, handpicked, successor. He has to get this right.

Pierre Boivin did him no favours by publicly stating the next coach must speak French. If Gainey believes that Kirk Muller or Don Lever or Marc Crawford or someone else who doesn’t speak French is the right guy, then do it. (If he wanted Bob Hartley, I’d think Hartley would already be working.) You ask any GM what advice they get when taking a job, and some variation of, “If you’re going to do the job, do it your way” undoubtedly is the answer.

Judging from his public commentary the last 36 hours, Gainey is going to do exactly that.

2) Carey Price

Okay, so we know he’s not going to have Patrick Roy’s immediate impact. But, he doesn’t turn 22 until August and Gainey made it clear the organization won’t quit on him as quickly as the fans have. This is a world junior gold medallist and a Calder Cup champion by the time he was 20.

But, both he and Gainey have some extremely important issues to address.

For the GM: Is Price being taught properly? People who’ve seen him a lot more than I do say they don’t recognize the way he plays now, compared to how he played before he got to the big club. At his best, Price never moves more than six inches to make a save. Now, he’s deep in his crease and always looking around – even after making a stop. You wonder if he knows where the puck is. Why is that happening? Why has he regressed? Gainey must make certain he has the right man teaching his star pupil.

As for Price, he needs to mature. Mocking the Boston fan in Game 2 and acknowledging the home jeers in Game 4 sent a bad message. To be great, you have to not care. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – you have to be almost defiant.

It’s clear that he’s rattled. It’s clear that he’s lost some degree of confidence. But, as Tim Thomas said in the post-game, you can never let them know they bother you. This season, he showed up in much better physical condition. Next year, he must commit to showing up in better mental condition. A combination of improved instruction (from the team) and attitude (from him) will move him towards reaching his enormous potential.

And, the Canadiens must get him a veteran backup. Not necessarily someone who will take his job, but a goalie who can tutor him and show him through the tough times. Curtis Joseph has talked a great deal about how an experienced partner can help you through bad situations. Jaroslav Halak isn’t that person, simply because he’s a competitor and not that experienced. But a Ty Conklin type might be.

3) Young Players in The Big City

This, to me, is possibly the biggest issue facing the organization. The Canadiens do a great job of drafting and developing in Hamilton. However, the failure comes when they get to Montreal – and I’m not talking about on-ice performance. The off-ice rumours are so insanely crazy, you don’t know what to believe. However, it appears that some of them are having trouble handling Montreal’s temptations. Only a social leper can’t find something to enjoy in that city, but, it’s easy to go overboard.

I can understand how teams might think, “They’re young, but they’re adults – it’s up to them.” That’s not always true. The Penguins had enormous success putting Jordan Staal with Mark Recchi, Evgeni Malkin with Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby with Mario Lemieux. The Canadiens would be best advised to start doing the same thing. They’ve already told players to stop going to certain clubs, but that’s just the first step. I can’t help but wonder if some of the younger ones who regressed this season did so because they couldn’t handle all the freedom.

Some of them – Kostitsyns – might be beyond repair and need an immediate change of scenery.

What’s next?

Obviously, Gainey is going to revisit the Vincent Lecavalier situation before the Cup winner’s no-trade kicks in July 1. For those who think his outburst napalmed any chance of such a deal, well, there’s reason to believe he can still pull it off, if he wants to.

First, the Lightning are so desperate to unload that contract and there aren’t a ton of trading partners (although the Kings may be very interested and have the prospects/cap room to do it). Second, Gainey was upset that his deal to get Marian Hossa at last season’s deadline fell apart – and it didn’t stop him from trading for Mathieu Schneider this year.

The rest of the roster concerns are well-known. There’s nothing wrong with building on speed and skill, but those players have to be tough. The Red Wings don’t fight anyone, but they don’t back down from anyone, either. The Canadiens don’t have enough players with that mentality. The organization needs to add edgier players. And, size at centre. Chris Neil and Mattias Ohlund would look good here, for example. But so would Jason Arnott, who didn’t want any part of the place when pursued a couple of years back. That brings us to maybe the biggest problem.

I can’t remember where I read it and don’t want to be accused of plagiarism, but whoever wrote, “The same people who booed Price last night will be the same people wondering why no free agents will sign here this summer” was bang-on. Look, we all know the Canadiens are a religion in Quebec. Everyone in Canada lives and dies with their teams. Nowhere does it go farther, however, than in La Belle Province. And, the people there must realize that it’s got to change.

Joining Arnott in the “No Thanks” brigade were Brendan Shanahan and Daniel Briere. French players describe situations where there family members have to hide at work because they’re bombarded with questions about why the team stinks or why their relative hasn’t scored in three games.

Life in the pressure cooker

Reporters covering the team say they’re getting 25 emails/phone calls a day about what players are doing away from the rink. These are supposed to be fans, not spies. When the La Presse story broke, and rumours of arrests engulfed the team, there were 30 TV cameras at the airport waiting for the charter from Pittsburgh. On the flight, players wondered which of them was going to be charged. That’s no way to live.

There is nothing wrong with having high expectations and demanding the best. But this is so far over the line that many players the Canadiens could use want nothing to do with it. The word on Montreal is: Best place in the NHL to play when you’re winning, hell when you’re losing.

The franchise, and the fan base, must have a true understanding of where it is. When the team arrived for training camp last September, players were told that nothing less than a Stanley Cup would be acceptable. Not surprisingly, a group that is very young and still learning crumbled under the pressure. It’s a valuable lesson for everyone in the organization, including the players. Many of them had too much, too fast and couldn’t handle such a challenge. You can’t come back with the same group, but there’s no need to completely destroy it. It’s important to see if the key young players learned from this season.

The Canadiens may be farther from the Cup than their fans hoped, but it’s far from a lost cause.

What’s Worse? Habs Getting Swept, Or A Life Sentence At Alcatraz?

There’s nothing like a good prison visit to make you feel better after your team has been swept by your arch rivals. So when the Habs bow out for the year, do you think I drink myself into oblivion, or kick the cat, or scream “Why God, Why?” No way. I’ve learned that when the going gets tough, the tough go to Alcatraz.

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Boston Puts The Habs Out Of Their Misery

We sat in a sports bar in Redding, California, waiting for the game to start, when in walked the two fellows we met in Oregon, one who proudly wears the shirt and hat of the Montreal Canadiens, and his son. And at exactly 4:10 Pacific time, the bartender told us he can’t get the game on TV afterall.

I should have known things weren’t going to go so well.

But the four of us booted it back to our hotel room, where I promised everyone we’d be able to see it on CBC online. So that was good. Until CBC online wouldn’t let it happen, and we listened on the radio instead.

We listened as the Habs lost again, 4-1 to Boston, and are now finished for the season. We listened as Michael Ryder, once a proud Hab, scored twice for the team who now wants him. We listened as the post game phone callers were divided between blowing the team up, and the ones who are proud and faithful fans and there’s always next year.

The Bruins carry on, deservedly so, and they have a nice team, a team which could go far. Maybe if the Canadiens were healthy, it could’ve been a bit of different series. Maybe not. Who knows? Maybe if Carey Price stood on his head? But Carey Price isn’t ready yet. It’s all maybe this, maybe not. Regardless, The Canadiens were no match for the Beantowners in this series.

I’d like to give a big congratulations to the Boston Bruins and their passionate fans. It’s such a great rivalry between these two teams, and it gets heated not only on the ice but with fans and bloggers too. But imagine what hockey would be without a rivalry like this. It’s healthy for fans, and for the game. Because behind every argument, every expression of hatred, every disagreement, there’s a beautiful rivalry nurtured and honed over many years. And rivalries are a good thing, not a bad thing. Boston fans hate the Habs. Habs fans hate the Bruins. Is that so terrible? Do you want a Woodstock out there? A little peace and love, flowers in your hair? No way. This is hockey. War.

Random Notes:

What does Canadiens management do in the off-season? There’s ten UFA’s to deal with. How can things can turned around? Who will coach? Will Carey Price rebound? Lots to do. C’mon Canadiens brass, don’t put us fans through this nightmare again.

The two fellows who came to our hotel were great. Steve and his son Max. Steve is a cop in LA, played junior hockey for various clubs in BC, and regaled us with tales from a cop on the beat. Imagine, 22 years with the Pasadena force, collaring bad guys. Steve now plays hockey in a policemen/firemen league in LA. And son Max, who’s 20, is on the wrestling team at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. Really good guys. And Steve, like me, is a bit of a hurtin puppy right now.

Hey CBC. How come I can see games online in BC but not in California? What’s up?

One last thing – This site continues on rain or shine, year round. Please continue to visit.

Canadiens Can’t Get It Done Against This Solid Bruins Squad

If I was an Ottawa Senators fan, I think I’d have a hard time watching the Montreal-Boston series, which the Bruins now lead three games to none and will soon put all of us out of our misery. Because if I was a Senators fan, I think it’d be a bummer knowing that Zdeno Charo once played in Ottawa and was cut loose when the Sens decided to go with Wade Redden instead. Redden isn’t even with Ottawa anymore. He now toils as an ordinary blueliner with the Rangers, and Chara, carrying on nicely in Boston, will win the Norris.

Imagine how Chara would’ve helped the Senators. He’s a force, a gigantic leader, shooter, checker, passer, thinker, thumper, and, if you dare fight him, you lose.

The Canadiens stormed out of the gate on this night where the final tally was 4-2 Bruins. They took the lead, played their best period of the series, and yet, when twenty minutes was said and done, could only manage a tie. By the time the third period rolled around, the early energy and pace of the Habs had been slowly snuffed out by a patient and systematic Bruins.

The Bruins are finely-tuned and well-coached, and when you think of how Ottawa let go of Chara, you can also think that Claude Julien was fired as coach of the Habs, and Bruins sniper Michael Ryder, who’s been dangerous, was traded away by Bob Gainey.

I see now that Boston has a team that can very well win the whole thing this year. They have a tight checking system, but unlike trapping teams such as New Jersey and Minnesota, Boston also has a load of snipers like Phil Kessel, Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron,  Ryder, and a handful of others. Goalie Tim Thomas is as solid as they come. Milan Lucic, serving a one game suspension, makes his presence felt every game, in a big-time way.

And then there’s Chara.

Random Notes:

Yannick Weber and Chris Higgins scored for Montreal. The aforementioned Ryder notched the winner for the Bruins.

Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Schneider sat it out with upper body injuries. Sergei Kostitsyn sat it out because he’s brain dead. And Carey Price has now lost six straight playoff games. Does it get any worse?

I’m sure I heard some of the Bell Centre paying customers boo the Star Spangled Banner, and I definitely heard them boo Carey Price at a stage in the game when they should be rallying around the youngster, when the team still had a chance to win the thing. Yes Virginia, there are some loutish Hab fans.

Ouch

Sergei Kostitsyn might want to think about a brain transplant in the off-season. Doesn’t he understand that one of the main reasons he was sent down to Hamilton this year was because of his poorly-timed and silly penalties? And tonight, back in the lineup, when he should know better, he took a flagrant first-period hooking call which led to Boston’s first goal. Which, of course, woke the Bruins up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Soon after, it was two-nothing.

The couch became a very sad place to be, so I did what any good Habs fan would do. I started cleaning. I washed the front door. I tackled some cupboards. When Georges slammed Milan Lucic, I ducked back in and saw the replay and the scuffle that followed. Then I decided to wash the front steps railing. Shortly after, I came back in, started typing this, and listened to Don Cherry in the background talk about how Montreal has wee little players and the Bruins are big guys.

Alex Kovalev scored as I was deciding about scraping some peeling paint off my deck, so I sat and watched, but shortly after, Boston scored again. And then again. And again.

I’m sure every single one of you reading this saw the game for yourself, so what is there to say? You saw it too. Alex Kovalev played a smart, dangerous game. But only him. And I’m convinced now that Carey Price needs a few more years under his belt before he becomes a great one.

I heard on the radio today that the team that goes up two-nothing in a series wins the series 88% of the time. So I’m taking that 12% leftover and running with it. If 12% have done it, then the Canadiens can too.

Something has to happen for the Habs to turn this thing around. Some kind of heroic effort, maybe a two or three-goal game from someone other than Kovalev. Or a night where Carey Price stands on his head for a shutout, or Mike Komisarek beats the daylights out of Milan Lucic. Or Zdeno Charo breaks a finger. Something.

But if that special something doesn’t happen, if the Canadiens can’t pick it up considerably, the playoffs are going to be a long few months when you don’t have a favourite team to cheer for.

I guess when the games are on, I can always cut the lawn or clean the chimney.

Random Notes:

Tomas Plekanec and Matt D’Agostini were healthy scratches. Plekanec shouldn’t be a surprise. He’s been a non-factor, not only in game one, but throughout most of the season. Maybe it should’ve been done sooner. Plekanec performed poorly in last year’s playoffs too, and I hope he isn’t one of these stereotypical European players we used to label as being invisible in the playoffs. But so far he is.

Monday night in Montreal. There’s no need for understatements.