Tag Archives: Brian Trottier

Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

Hey Hab Haters, We’re Good People

There’s a reason why the world is so chock full of Habs haters. And it’s not even all about the team.

It’s also about us, of course.

In way too many hockey fans’ minds we’ve been smug and spoiled and all-round nauseating. We must have this inner, holier-than-thou built-in peace because our team has done so well over the years and theirs hasn’t and it’s pissed off grandfathers and fathers and brothers and sisters and mistresses all over the place.

I think it’s some kind of self-esteem/paranoia thing.

The seeds were sown over many decades when things went right for us, and generations have evolved, like cro-magnon man into Brad Marchand, into the disliking of the team we like, even in the worst of times. Like now. I don’t understand it. Maybe they don’t really either. We loves babies and puppies and walk little old ladies across the street. We’re salt of the earth.

And then there’s Canucks fans.

Oh, the smugness when a Canucks fan talks to a Habs fan. The deckhands where I work and the guys at the building centre where I buy my nuts and bolts and the guys I sometimes drink beer with. Egads. They all have that smile, with that look in their eyes, a look that says our team sucks and theirs is fantastic and it looks good on us because we won a lot because we had the rights to Quebec players for so many years.

They’re loving that their team has been a powerhouse for a few years now while we scramble every year to make 8th place or worse. Don’t worry, they say giving off a slight grin, you should get a good draft pick. And then they walk away with this quite sickening look on their faces if I do say so myself.

These people might not be going to heaven. They might be going to that other place – where Bruins fans go.

And I’ve got news for you Canuckleheads. Your team hasn’t won a thing in 41 years of trying. Since you’ve been in the league, the Habs have celebrated eight times. And yes, the Buffalo Sabres, who joined the league the same time as you, haven’t won anything either, if that’s your argument. But I’ll bet that same crooked grin isn’t found nearly as often in Buffalo as it is in Vancouver, on ferry boats up the coast, and at the building centre where I buy my nuts and bolts..

And in case you’re trying to forget, Canucks fans, I’ll remind you. Teams who were born after your team, and who have actually gotten the job done, include the New York Islanders (4 times), Edmonton (5 times), New Jersey (3 times), Colorado (twice) and Anaheim, Carolina, and Tampa Bay. And yes, yes, I know. You didn’t have the luxury of a Wayne Gretzky or Brian Trottier in your lineup, but you had Moe Lemay and Tiger Williams so what’s your point?

We’ll accept your smugness, because that’s what we do. Geez, I think we’re practically saints.

The 1980-81 Gang That Didn’t Quite Shoot Straight

Below, the 1980 Habs baseball team. Even though he’s not in the photo, Maurice Richard also played on the team.

The Canadiens just couldn’t get it done in 1981, being swept by the upstart Edmonton Oilers with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup. And shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by Bob Berry. (11 different coaches have followed since). It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days of the New York Islanders dynasty, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning four straight. They were good, I give the bastards that. But if you think I’m going to rave about the New York Islanders, you’ve got another thing coming.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four-straight as they did in the late 1970’s was only a pipe dream. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over. The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50 goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending had cracks. And Patrick Roy was still several years away.  

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points. The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player Montreal thought they were getting. He had been a star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But Wickenheiser never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis. And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, Denis Savard had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

It would be five more years before the Canadiens would become champs, and at the time, a handful of years was unacceptable. Nowadays, my calculator can’t count how long it’s been. It’s just ridiculous. But the slump may end soon.

 

 

Islanders Outmatched In Habs 7-2 Shootout

Fans at Le Colisee in Quebec City voiced their approval in the Habs 7-2 trouncing of the New York Islanders, and these obviously must not be the same fans who threw cups and swore loudly at the Canadiens when the Nordiques were around a couple of decades ago.

They loved the Habs tonight, though, but only because they don’t have their beloved Nords.

And maybe for the Canadiens it’s not the best thing that could happen, this 7-2 romp over the New York Islanders. Maybe the Habs will forget that they played a young and inexperienced team, minus John Tavaras, and now think they’re the 1976 Canadiens, who had their way, like tonight, on most nights back then. 

This was not Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, and Brian Trottier wearing the Islanders jersey on this night that the Canadiens zipped around with abandon. Not even close. But I think it’s okay because it happens, these bad habit-forming games. It’s not automatic that the winning team will pick up bad things in a trouncing. Years ago, team would barmstom throughout the country in pre-season, playing amateur clubs and it didn’t seem to effect them then, so why should a good old-fashion blow out for the good guys be such a bad thing now? Nothing wrong with a fun night.

At least it got a few guys scoring. Benoit Pouliot finally found the twine. Lars Eller, who we expect big things from, had two. PK Subban blasted one home. Mike Cammalleri notched one. And Tomas Plekanec, who appears to be ready to set the league on fire, had two more.

It was a one-side romp, and Carey Price, although not overworked by any stretch, was solid and allowed two goals he had little chance with.

Random Notes:

That’s it for pre-season with the boys going four wins, three losses. Now it’s time to focus on October 7 when they travel to Toronto to obiterate the Leafs.

Jaroslav Spacek, in his late-game fight with some guy wearing the other jersey, looked like he bailed out before it got too serious. Or maybe he just stumbled. Regardless, Spacek looked less-than-a warrior than he should have.

Steve Shutt Or Clark Gillies. Who Would You Take?

shutt_hallnhl_g_gillies_195 

They’re both Hall of Famers, both were left wingers, they both played 14 seasons, and both come from the same era.

One was a huge, tough player with great hands, and the other was smaller with great hands.

Both were extremely important players on their teams.

Who would you pick to play left wing on your team, Clark Gillies or Steve Shutt?

Shutt, 5’11”, 180 pounds, notched 424 goals and 393 assists for 817 points in 930 games. And he had only 410 minutes in penalties. In the playoffs, Shutt had 98 points in 99 games.

Gillies, 6’3″, 210 pounds, tallied 319 goals and 378 assists for 697 points in 958 games. He was sent to the penalty box for a total of 1023 minutes. In the playoffs, Gillies had 94 points in 164 games.

Gary Lupul told me once that of all the players he played against when he was with the Canucks, it was Gillies who frightened him the most. He was as strong as a bull who could also play the finesse game – a very lethal combination. Gillies also benefitted from playing alongside Brian Trottier and Mike Bossy and grabbing rebounds from a Denis Potvin slapshot.

Shutt on the other hand didn’t scare anybody except enemy goalies. He’d been a junior superstar with the Toronto Marlies, and continued his knack for scoring when he joined the Canadiens. Many times he simply cashed in after Lafleur or Lemaire had done much of the work, but regardless, if garbage goals were easy, then everyone would be scoring. Phil Esposito was the same sort of goal scorer as Shutt. And Shutt also grabbed rebounds from Robinson, Lapointe and Savard at the point.

Both were extremely valuable players on cup-winning teams, – Gillies with the Islanders, Shutt with the Habs. Their points are similiar, their size isn’t.

Who would you take?

Montreal Needs This Islanders Game…..Plus…..Grade Two Was A Long Time Ago

There are thirty teams in the NHL and it’s the law of the universe that says one of those thirty teams must be in last place.

And that would be the New York Islanders, whom the Habs play Saturday night, with a record of five points in nine games. (2-6-1)

 

So Montreal absolutely needs to win this game. And hopefully they’ll look good while doing it, and Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec will be a force to be reckoned with. These two need a big, breakout game.

 

The Islanders will be wearing throwback jerseys from the 1970’s, similar to the Potvin, Bossy, and Trottier era.

So they’ll be looking good when they lose.

 

Meanwhile, I found my old grade two workbook with some serious pieces of my art in it. I think I was a better artist then than I am now.