Tag Archives: Brendan Gallagher

Hab Fixer-Uppers

Maybe only Sigmund Freud could come close to finding an answer to why the Habs, as they were last night and so many times in recent years, can come out to an exciting atmosphere and play like it’s past their bedtime. So uninspired, so freaking lousy.

Freud might have known what the problem is, but he’s dead. So it’s left up to us to understand.

Here’s some of my suggestions:

Whichever restaurants the players eat at, fire the cooks.

Send the wives to Powell River and the kids to an uncle’s so the guys can focus better.

Arrange for an exorcism performed on the dressing room.

Build a new dressing room and start over.

Build a new rink and move.

Have the players look up to the sky and say sorry to dead Habs.

Go back to wood sticks and sweaters with tie-up necks.

Do what many dads do – give a buck for every goal scored.

Decline power plays.

Forget the free hot dogs, chips, and pop at inter-squad games and morning skates. After last night, fans deserve steaks, beer, and morphine.

Start playing Brendan Gallagher while he’s still enthusiastic, and before he starts playing like everybody else.

Issue strong laxatives to players so they can rid themselves of their obvious constipation.

Ask Dr. Recchi if it’s a health issue with the guys and how would he fix it.

If you see PK Subban drive by, throw snowballs at his car.

Wear those striped retro sweaters so the opposition goes cross-eyed.

Set up Walter and Jesse, from Breaking Bad, in the Bell Centre basement and have them start making meth for the players.

Pay the players by the mile, like truck drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Galchenyuk And Gallagher Stick Around

Finally, after only nine months, the Canadiens take to the ice again, and which has been the case in the previous three seasons, they take on those wild and crazy Toronto Maple Leafs to kick things off. Last year it was an opening night loss to the boys in blue, but that was last season, a season that needs to be flushed down the toilet and sent out to sea, never to be smelled again.

I expect no less than a convincing win for our gang. And don’t forget, the Leafs’ slide begins every year around now, so Toronto needs to get on this right away. It’s just the way the world works.

It seems Alex Galchenyuk will suit up for the Canadiens on opening night, which should add to the all-round excitement, and possibly Brendan Gallagher too. Here’s hoping they leave a trail of melted ice, but it’s dangerous to go overboard with enthusiasm at this stage of the game. Although it would be fun to see flashes of future greatness for sure.

Don’t forget, Guy Lafleur scored just five times in his first two months in the league and played, as he admitted, like his skates were in cement. He was quiet, withdrawn, and uncomfortable for months, didn’t exactly endear himself to many of his teammates (J.C. Tremblay for one, who wouldn’t pass the puck to him and called him impolite for his off-ice tardiness), and Lafleur became an unhappy and lonely fellow in the big city of Montreal.

Lafleur’s unspectacular debut was a surprise to Habs fans, and boos were sometimes heard at the Forum in his early days. Many had figured, or at least hoped, that he’d just carry on as if it was all just an extension of his monstrous junior career with the Quebec Remparts, where he scored 130 goals in his final year and 103 the year before. But junior hockey isn’t the NHL, and it would take Lafleur more than three seasons with the Habs before the goals really started to go in.

Curiously, Lafleur began to loosen up once he’d removed his helmet and let his hair blow in the wind.

It’s great to see that Galchenyuk (and maybe Gallagher) will dress, but who knows, they may only be up with the big team for a few games before being sent down for more grooming. All in all, though, it’s going to be neat to see them.

Go Habs. Show us some good stuff. We’ve missed that. And I hope P.K. will be watching and wishing.

 

 

Gun Shy About Size

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?

Reporting From Cobourg – Hobo!

As far as I can remember, the only American Hockey League game I ever went to was an exhibition contest in Barrie, Ont. in the early sixties between the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons. Ron Clarke and I hitchhiked down from Orillia, got there early, and somehow managed to meet the Buffalo trainer, who let us hang out in the Bisons dressing room and gave us jobs as stick boys during the game. We then took the bus home, carrying sticks signed by the Buffalo team, which we promptly wrecked playing road hockey.

I suppose this winter I could spend six hours making my way to Abbotsford, east of Vancouver, to see the Bulldogs when they come to town to play the Heat, the Calgary Flames AHL affiliate, but I think I’ll pass on the long and tedious drive, the hotel room, and the several restaurant meals. Unless it’s a handy drive, no hotel involved, and cheap tickets and arena beer, I’m not donating any more greenbacks to the NHL. They have lots and I don’t. And we’ve seen how much they care about us.

I’d do what Hobo just did though. He drove a few minutes from his place to Cobourg to see the Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies in action, spent almost nothing, and he sends a nice little report about the affair.

Take it away, Hobo!

“It was the Marlies 3, Bulldogs 1, and the Marlies get full credit for the victory. The Dogs looked painfully like the parent club, not generating any kind of flowing offence, and losing in the last few minutes by taking a needless penalty. But at least they weren’t afraid to mix it up.

“The Cobourg rink is a great place to watch a game. We were in the last row of seating, about fifteen rows from the ice, and right behind us were Habs brass Larry Carriere and Rick Dudley in a makeshift press area. It took awhile for me to put names to these faces I recognized from somewhere, and I didn’t really talk to them much except to to tell them their little team played just like the big boys. I suppose they didn’t really need to hear this from a schmuck like me. It was interesting to eavesdrop on their conversation, though.

“Jarred Tinordi hardly played a shift for the first two periods but played more in the third. Brendan Gallagher didn’t dress. The Bulldogs pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and I heard Carriere say, “Hey, they only have five guys out there.”

“I really enjoy watching AHL games, especially at fifteen bucks a ticket. And Jake Gardiner was by far the best player on the ice. Too bad he was wearing the wrong colours.”

Thanks Hobo. Just great. And if anyone checks out the Bulldogs in action or any other minor-league tilts and wants to write a little bit about the experience, please sent it along. It would make for a nice post, just like Hobo’s today.

Here’s the lineup when Ron Clarke and I saw the Rochester Americans and Buffalo Bisons in Barrie. I didn’t realize until years later when I looked at this that Don Cherry was in the Amerks lineup. I guess he didn’t stand out.

It’s Galchenyuk!

I haven’t been this excited about an entry draft in a long time. We know what this can mean for the club. A club that desperately needs a young star and game-breaker. Here’s hoping we got one.

Alex Galchenyuk’s named was called by Trevor Timmins, and add this to the Habs’ lineup – a highly-skilled, 6’2 centreman with all kinds of charisma, who plays a complete team game according to Craig Button, and who also has a good-looking mother and girlfriend.

Welcome to Montreal, Alex. Isn’t it a great thing that Andrei Kostitsyn and his brother aren’t there to lead him astray. And hopefully it’s sooner than later when he dons the CH and begins to set the world on fire. Maybe he could centre another bright light – Brendan Gallagher.

I talked about this guy the other day Going For Galchenyuk and I don’t want to repeat myself now. And I don’t want to get all warm and fuzzy about this pick, but I’ll say I’m very excited to say the least.  Number 3 picks don’t come along that often, unless you’re really lousy every year, and to get a quality, world-class, big centreman makes me all warm and fuzzy anyway.

 

 

 

A Little Rant In A World Of Bigger And Stronger Rants

I’m up and at ’em this morning after my usual lousy sleep, and I must admit, I’m slightly out of sorts. I think back to the Habs-Blues game last night, and it seems I’m more disappointed than usual about another Habs loss.

Maybe it’s because we felt new excitement after realizing that the team had shed the Jacques Martin harness and was beginning to play a more offensive game, for a full sixty minutes, under Randy Cunneyworth. And then we saw this new offensive bunch score not one goal in their 3-0 loss to a team, that yes, is a good team, high in the standings and playing well, but nonetheless, Jarosalv Halak enjoyed one of his easier nights and it should have been the other way around.

The Habs were easy prey to a better team and all those fresh and hopeful thoughts have hit a concrete wall in just a matter of three games. It looked mighty fine against a couple of teams in the middle of the pack, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay, but when one of the elite teams comes-a-callin’, the whole dismal season returns, and we see this bunch in all their underachieving glory.

It’s not the loss that hurts the most, although it does sting, but the fact that the team wasn’t really ever in it. If the score had been 4-3 or 3-2, for example, I would have simply chalked it up that you can’t win every night. But once again, the drive was dismal, their shots handled easily, and of course, they were 0-3 on the power play. Yes, that wretched, rotten, stinking, decaying power play. Worst in the league.

The players have underachieved and I’m mad at the majority of them, but in the big picture, you and I could have done a better job of assembling this team beginning a few years ago. For decades we’ve all known that modern-day players are bigger and stronger and gettting more so as the years go by. So what did the Canadiens do? They went out and landed little guys like Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Mike Cammalleri. Why did they do that? The core of our offence is under the height line to ride the ferris wheel at the county fair. If players are bigger and stronger now, why did Bob Gainey and the other Canadiens suits decide go the opposite way? Gainey always was a conservative, deep thinker, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was sampling some acid he was making in his basement.

Some small guys can do the job. David Desharnais, at 5’7″ can. He’s been a fine player most nights, and also earns about a tenth of what Gomez, Cammaleri, and Gionta earn. So hats off to Desharnais. I hope he enjoys a long and happy career as a Montreal Canadien, and he deserves a big raise. In the wings we have an explosive junior player, Brendan Gallagher, poised to become a regular, maybe even next year. Yes, he’s a big-time point-getter in junior. He’s also 5’8″. So unlike the rest of the hockey world, we aren’t exactly getting bigger and stronger.

Rarely have I seen so many not deserve their big money. I’m all for players having their ships come in after being taken advantage of, lied to, and ripped off by general managers for years. But these wealthy players still have to earn it. It’s one thing to say they’re working hard, it’s another to see that they don’t do what they’re paid to do – help the team win by being productive. Cammalleri has 9 lousy goals, Gionta 8, Gomez, 0, and our leading point-getter, another small player at 5’11”, Tomas Plekanec, has 8 goals and 22 assists. These numbers are good if we are talking about defensive specialists. But these are our our big guns, and is it ever embarrassing.

What a season. I’m all for saying goodbye to many of these players. Blow the thing up and start fresh. Last night, reality rose up and sucker punched me in the chops.

 

 

 

 

Incredible Canadian Charge Runs Out Of Time

The game had fast become a disappointing blow-out as the Russians racked up a 6-1 lead after two periods, led by Evgeni Kuznetsov with 3 goals and an assist, and Nail Yakupov with four assists. The partisan Canadian crowd at Calgary’s Saddledome sat on their hands, and I suppose most of us conceded the game to Russia by the time the third period came along with the visitors holding a five-goal lead and the Canadians becoming undisciplined and unraveling fast..

But then, Russia’s practically unbeatable goalie, 17 year old Andrei Vasilevski, was beaten, and the game became 6-2. Then it was 6-3, then 6-4, and shockingly, 6-5. The Saddledome was in explosion mode, several millions of us moved to the edge of our seats, and we watched and held our breath as Canada peppered the replacement goaltender Makarov from every angle. They hit the post, they came within inches, and my heart almost blew a valve.

In the end, the Russians held on for a 6-5 win and will meet Sweden for the gold, while Canada toughs it out with Finland for the bronze. But what a game, what a third period, what a finish. Regardless of the outcome, this is what hockey is all about. This is why it’s the world’s most exciting game.

Congratulations to Russia on this night. And to the Canadian boys, you did us proud. You came within a whisker of giving us one of the most memorable nights in hockey history. You never quit and came back and scratched and clawed the way Canadian hockey players do in big games like this. From this Canadian hockey fan, thanks.

Random Notes:

Montreal prospect Brendan Gallagher was a major force in the stirring third period, and the Habs have a good one on their hands.

Canada outshot the Russians 56-24. If only they had started their charge sooner than the third.

2011 – The Year Of Gomez’s Promise And Other Fine Moments

Another year older and deeper in debt. Etc.

2011 had some fine moments for Habs fans, and unfortunately, some not-so-fine moments. So let’s have a glimpse at what happened in this Year of the Rabbit. And please keep in mind, things aren’t in order here. That would be way too normal.

Carey Price posed with his arms crossed after a win, which upset some and I don’t know why. I thought it was quite creative. Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury mimicked Price a week later but alas, it all ended there.

Saku Koivu returned for the first time after being traded to Anaheim, and that was nice. Unfortunately, Saku’s new team won 4-3 in a shootout.

P.K. Subban was selected for the All-Rookie team at the All-Star game in Raleigh. PK’s smile made us smile, and when he put on Jeff Skinner’s jersey in the shootout competition he made us smile even more. At least I smiled. I don’t know about you.

I held half a dozen or so contests in 2011, with people far and wide winning some good shit.

James Wisniewski took a puck in the face in Edmonton, looked like we’d lose him for months, but he was back for the Heritage Classic in Calgary just a few days later. We would eventually lose Wiz anyways when Columbus gave him a zillion dollars. And speaking of the Heritage Classic, Carey Price put on his new facemask that was so weird that little kids were put to bed early so they wouldn’t see it and have nightmares.

Rearguard Brent Sopel played one year with the Habs, and when he was cut loose at the end and not picked up, ended up going to the KHL and is probably slurping borscht as we speak.

My grandson Adam entered the world on February 3rd and will almost certainly play for the Habs in twenty years.

Also in February, Luci and I went to Vancouver to see the Habs beat the Canucks in a terrific game where we had great seats and a wonderful time. And speaking of Vancouver, Gilbert Brule of the Edmonton Oilers was driving in his car with his girlfriend, near the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay, and stopped to pick up a hitchhiker who happened to be Bono from the band U2. I just find that as weird as can be.

Boston won the Cup, as you know, and thousands rioted in the Vancouver downtown area. Several dozen are just now on the verge of having their big court appearances and most say they feel bad. I feel bad too. Because the Bruins won the Cup.

We lost assistant coach Kirk Muller to Nashville affiliate Milwaukee Admirals, Boston Pizza changed their name to Montreal Pizza during the playoffs, Bruin Andrew Ference gave the finger to the Bell Centre crowd after scoring a goal, a tortoise named Gerry La Tortue tried to predict games in the Habs-Bruins series and often failed miserably, and Hal Gill signed a one year, 2.25 million dollar contract.

A woman in Vancouver flashed her boobs at San Jose’s Ben Eager while he sat in the penalty box, Winnipeg got an NHL team again – the ex-Atlanta Thrashers, and Luci and I went to Ontario where we hooked up with some great new and old friends and co-workers in both Ottawa and Orillia, enjoyed a luncheon with NHL oldtimers in Toronto, visited my dad in his new old folks home, stayed with my brother, and went to see the old arena in Orillia where the doors were locked.

2011 was the year of the big Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty, which fractured Max’s neck which in turn caused many Bruins fans to laugh and jump with glee. It also allowed Mark Recchi to use his medical knowledge to diagnose the situation and conclude it wasn’t as bad as we were led to believe.

Jean Beliveau turned 80 in 2011, Wayne Gretzky 50, Carey Price 24, and Don Cherry 119.

I had an interview in Puck Daddy and Bruins fans accused me of sounding like a Hab fan.

Andrei Kostitsyn slammed Jacques Martin for playing him improperly, Josh Gorges signed for one year, 2.5 million, Erik Cole also inked for 4 years, 18 million, and Roman Hamrlik went to Washington.

Assistant coach Perry Pearn was let go, and the two Randy’s – Cunneyworth and Ladouceur, joined Martin behind the bench.

Vancouver Giant sensation Brendan Gallagher had a great camp and almost made the Habs, Chris Campoli was added to the blueline corps, and Scott Gomez told us he was embarrassed by his previous season, was sorry, and things would be different this year.

Longtime Canadiens trainer and equipment guy Eddie Palchak passed away, Andrei Markov almost played on the Habs’ California trip but didn’t, Jacques Martin was out and Cunneyworth in, Rocket’s star was stolen from the sidewalk at the Forum, the bilingual coach issue has raised it’s ugly head, and I mistakingly ate some toxic maple syrup and lived to tell about it.

So there you have it. I know I’ve missed a lot, but enough’s enough.

And of course, I wish you all a very splendid New Year. May it be your best year ever.

 

 

 

Decision Made On Gallagher

The Canadiens have just announced that Brendan Gallagher has been sent back to his junior team, the Vancouver Giants, and there’s no doubt the young fellow gave his all, impressed everyone, and will be on the big club faster than we can say Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­pokai­whenua­ki­tana­tahu. (a hill in New Zealand).

Gallagher did admit after the Tampa game that he found it tougher and that the competition had gotten harder as things went along. But these are all parts of complex growing pains, and he’s a young guy with lots of time.

Forward Michael Bournival, another who did a nice job in preseason, also got the news that he’s returning to his junior club, the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.

Kudos to these guys and anyone else who remained or still remains with the big club. They’ve shown they are very fine hockey player for sticking around so long. I also know that this year I’ll be paying closer attention to the Vancouver Giants and anywhere else where our young prospects punch the clock. 

I’m curious about the evolution of all our prospects, and in particular, young Mr. Gallagher.

We want the future to look bright for our team, and I think it does.