Tag Archives: Byer’s Bulldozers

Stars of the World’s Fastest Game

In the picture below, four Orillia minor hockey players smile for the camera. And the father of one of these young players played 27 games in the NHL, scoring one goal and collecting 31 penalty minutes.

The father was Jack Dyte, one of my coaches when I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Byers Bulldozers juveniles. Jack played those 27 games with the Chicago Black Hawks during the 1943-44 campaign.

Jack was a quiet, no-nonsense, tobacco-chewing coach and I think he wasn’t crazy about my lack of focus and my humming of Beatles songs as I skated around the ice. But I guess he liked me enough to drive Ron Clarke and I to Barrie one day to see an exhibition game between the AHL Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Americans, who had a defenceman on the team named Don Cherry.

Ron and I watched the game from the Bisons bench as sort of unofficial stick boys, and we were given autographed sticks afterward.

I’m guessing Jack stayed and partied with his old hockey buddies because Ron and I had to take the bus back to Orillia. And I had forgotten that Jack had driven us there until Ron reminded me a couple of years ago.

The newspaper article also mentions John French, who would eventually play pro in the WHA, and Dennis Cain – me, mispelled, scoring for the Imperials in the squirt division.

Here’s Jack!

And here’s the lineups for the Bisons-Americans game that Ron and I were at.

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.


Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.


Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.


And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.


Cam Laces ‘Em Up In Nelson!

Please indulge me here.

My 5-year old grandson Cameron is well on his way to the bigs! Only 15 more years or so!

This swift-skating, right-handed shooter is now a key member of the Nelson, B.C. Leafs.

They haven’t played any real games yet, but I’m pretty sure that once they do, Cam’s gonna get some big goals! And insiders say this Leafs team is already better than the one in Toronto.


This, from September 10, 2008, when he was born.

Montreal Canadiens 2027 First Round Draft Pick Is Born!

Next week I’ll be in Calgary to scout and assess the brand new 2027 Montreal Canadiens draft pick.

My daughter just had a little baby boy, named Cameron Ryan, and he joins the world at a nice nine pounds (almost), and is also quite long.

He could be a big boy, which means he may either play defence for the Habs, or become a valued power forward.

I’m going to teach him about the Rocket and Beliveau and the Flower and all those Stanley Cups and the Forum and how I wanted to play for the Habs but became only a smallish yet shifty right winger for Orillia Byers Bulldozers instead.

I think I’m going to call him Rocket when my daughter and son-in-law aren’t around.


Rick In Retirement

Terrific piece in the Orillia Packet and Times about Rick Ley, a kid from my old neighbourhood, a guy who once borrowed my hockey gloves to go to junior camp, and who also accidentally knocked out my front tooth with a baseball. Of course he also enjoyed a stellar career in the NHL and WHA, which isn’t as important as the hockey glove and tooth knocked out, but should be mentioned anyway.

This link, sent to me from my buddy Ron Green in Orillia, is an interview in the Wednesday edition of the Packet, and it seems retirement is agreeing with Rick, which is great. It also mentions another guy I’ve talked about often, John French, along with Wayne Piper, who was my coach for a couple of years when I was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers.

Have a look. It’s a good read about a good Orillian. Ley’s Credentials Second to None


If It’s Sunday, I’m In…….

I need to explain and apologize. I can’t reply to your comments right now. I’m in Redding, California, after a 12 hour drive, and after passing through Weed, pop. 3000, just up the the road a ways. I’d prefer Powell River was called Weed instead of Powell River. And imagine if Montreal was called Weed. We’d be cheering for the Weed Canadiens!

But it’s late at night and Bleachers Sports Bar across the street from our hotel was still open and I was hot and the beer………you know.

But I read your comments and thank you very much. Tomorrow I’ll try to answer but I’m not sure if it’s possible.  And San Francisco, three hours down the road, beckons.

It was a long but fine drive, down through Washington and Oregon, over hills and through valleys, with occasional scrap yards littering the sides and Denny’s signs towering over others and all kinds of good shit, with a car full of Russians. It was long but good. A lot of Russian words filled the air. A lot of nyets and da and spaceeba and horosho and malinsky. I just drove and nodded from time to time. They laughed and snapped pictures and said horosho (which means “great” and I checked the fuel gauge, watched for highway patrol, and ate bananas.

Hopefully a visit to Alcatraz tomorrow and a brief check in at Haight-Ashbury and North Beach, with a few beer stops along Fisherman’s Wharf thrown in. I feel like Sal or Dean from “On the Road,” except it’s a Mazda 3 instead of a ’48 Hudson. And Sal and Dean didn’t have a car full of Russians.

And again, I apologize for not answering your comments. I will say this though. I’ve decided who to cheer for in the playoffs. It’s Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers. I think they’ve got the talent. It’s a smallish-yet-speedy team that can do damage. Although I do agree with Hobo – New York is some kind of mad, crazy, lit up kind of town.

Tomorrow, San Francisco. Tomorrow night, if I’m sober, I’ll write about it. And how the Russians felt about things.

And one last thing. I’ve been out of the loop for 20 hours or so. Has Gomez been sent to Siberia yet?

Crawford Thinks I’ll Play

Yes, it’s true I’m a smallish-yet-shifty right winger, but honestly, I haven’t decided if I’ll even play anywhere in 2014, let alone take up a spot on Team Canada’s roster.

Really, even though Marc Crawford feels I’ll be there, I just don’t know. I’m getting long in the tooth. I haven’t played since those Byers Bulldozer Midget glory days and a few momentous nights with the National Grocers beer league team. I also don’t have any skates or stick.

I don’t care if speculation is running rampant on this, I’ll just take my time in deciding.  It’s something I need to think about, regardless of how many millions want me on Team Canada.

I’ll know when the time comes. So until then people, you’re just going to have to chill.

The Old Barn Going Down

Word has come down that the Orillia Community Centre, after 61 years as home to skaters and shooters and wrestlers and fall fairs, will be flattened and I don’t mind saying, I’m quite upset about this. It’s not that old, is it?

The Orillia Arena, in the heart of the city, is where I learned to skate. It’s where I belonged to teams and scored my first goal and scored more in later years when I became a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for the Orillia Byer’s Bulldozers bantam and midget teams.

I tried to pattern myself after Ralph Backstrom, and I used to get numerous breakaways, sort of like Tomas Plekanec, and my big move was to veer to the right of the goalie, then shoot it over to the left. But I digress.

It’s where I went to public skating every Sunday and tried to work up enough nerve to ask Brenda Clarke or Janis Emmons to skate, which meant you got to hold hands with them, which meant it was sort of like sex in a way.

The old arena is where Ron Clarke and I trudged up to from the west ward with stick and duffel bag slung over our shoulders, and I probably mentioned to him that Brenda Clark wants me to be her boyfriend. Rocket Richard came to the arena, Bobby Orr played there, I saw Orr’s brother Ron in action there often, and retired NHL great Cal Gardner was on the Orillia senior team. It even boasted a large portrait of Queen Elizabeth at one end, like the old Winnipeg Arena did.

The grand arena was built by volunteers – men after their regular work day was through, kids joining in after school, people from all over Orillia coming together and putting the thing up at a cost of $150,000. Toronto Maple Leaf great Turk Broda showed for the opening ceremonies, which I didn’t know until recently, and as the years went by, it earned its rightful place as ground zero for a bunch of kids like me.

First it’s the family home getting sold after my dad went into an old folks home, and now the arena is getting the wrecking ball. From an emotional point of view, it’s getting harder to get back there now. My heart works overtime. I just wish I could have one last skate at the old barn. Maybe even with Brenda Clark and Janice Emmons.



Less Smiles, More Unpleasantness Please

The fantasy draft is over, the skills competition has wrapped up, we just have to get through what passes for a game, and All-Star weekend will draw to a close.

My prediction for today’s game? Hmm. I’d say Team Chara over Team Alfredsson. Maybe a low-scoring affair – 31 to 24. And later on, Botox salesmen will be present to give players free samples to help them remove wrinkles caused by those lovey-dovey smiles they’ve been wearing.

John Ferguson is punching heaven’s walls right now.

I just wish I could have had a slapshot like these guys when I was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers bantam and midget squads. When I was in Orillia last year I asked an old teammate Gary Cooper how he managed to have such a great shot back then, and he said he tried to tell us but we wouldn’t listen. He said the secret is for the stick to hit the ice several inches before it touches the puck, something we could see last night when Chara and the boys were whistling them in.

If only I would have listened to Gary Cooper. I could’ve played for the Habs. Or if I would’ve had the misfortune to be chosen by Boston, I could’ve stayed and helped the Orillia Terriers win the Allan Cup. But I didn’t listen to Gary and it’s been a struggle ever since.

And if I may, I’d like to suggest a couple more events for the skills competition. Wouldn’t it be fun to see players stand at one goal line and try to shoot a wrist shot over the glass at the other end? Gordie Howe could do it.

How about bouncing the puck toward the goal from outside the blueline, like JC Tremblay used to do. JC would score two or three goals a year by pulling off this little trickery, and no one else could do it as well. Seems like a bonafide skill to me.

Lets just get the peace and love out of the way and get back to business. The business of the Habs beating Buffalo on Tuesday, making it three in a row, which hasn’t happened since late October, and continue up that wobbly ladder.

And I’ve changed my prediction for today’s game because probably 31-24 is just too ridiculous. I’m saying 19-18. That’s more like it.




Habs Wiped In Windy City

I’ll make this short and sweet. I have no energy to go on and on about the sorry state of the Montreal Canadiens.

Again a loss, 5-1 in Chicago, the team’s fourth straight defeat, their 9th in 13 games and Randy Cunneyworth still hasn’t won in three tries as Habs bench boss, thus creating more fuel for the language fire. Times are hard for Habs fans, and in the words of the late, great John Candy, the team is poised to blow up, blow up real good.

The boys were fine in the first, allowed two goals in 21 seconds in the second, gave up and showed no zip or drive after that, PK Subban continues to go in reverse, Max Pacioretty can’t hit wide-open nets, Mike Cammalleri couldn’t make the Byer’s Bulldozers Orillia bantam team, and no, I’m not upset. I guess I’m apathetic, And that’s pathetic.

Random Notes:

Onward to Winnipeg tomorrow night. Yippee-ki-yay. Yawn.

Remember about a month ago when a few people here and there had the nerve to suggest that PK should be traded for a young quality player, and many of us, including myself, suggested that Pierre Gauthier would be out of his mind to entertain such a thought? I said Gauthier would be tarred and feathered if he made such a move.

But for most of this season, PK has blundered far too often, given pucks away, made horrible mistakes that have cost his club, and has done very little offensively except miss the net with his big wind-up slapshot. Is he such an untouchable now? All I know is, I miss the PK we knew and loved.

Whoever stole Rocket’s star, I’ll give you Cammalleri and Scott Gomez if you give it back. Maybe they can play on your beer league team. It’s not a fair trade? Okay, you can have Weber, Diaz, Darche, Kaberle, the injured Brian Gionta, and the bus driver who brought everyone to the rink.

Cole and Price and maybe a couple of trainers stay.

Peter Budaj was okay, not great, in nets.

Shots on goal, Hawks 28, Habs 21. Montreal managed all of three shots in the third period.






Habs Rebound And Sink Sens

The Canadiens win their second in two nights, and look out Toronto Maple Leafs, we’re coming.

Tonight it was the Ottawa Senators, with absolutely no help from Alex Kovalev, who fall to the Habs, and when you look at Montreal’s five games so far, only one was where they didn’t gain any points. So how can I be less than happy? How can I criticize?

I can’t.

I can, however, mention that PK Subban continues to make me nervous with some of his puck handling and ill-advised decisions, but how can I even be negative about this? He’s a rookie, with a only a few games under his belt last season and just five this year.

But CBC’s Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson were right when they pointed out that PK stayed on the ice for almost all of a power play with fresh and experienced defencemen biting at the bit to get out there. This is a big thing the young fellow needs to straighten out. Can’t have dissention within the ranks.

I know as a smallish yet shifty right winger for the Orillia Byers Bulldozers midgets that this can really piss off teammates.

PK is learning and we must be patient. He needs to be brash and colourful and daring, but until he sorts it all out over a period of time, he’s playing havoc with my nervous system.

The game was a see-saw affair, beginning with Brian Gionta looking like a shrunken Mario Lemieux the way he burst down on a clear cut breakaway and deked Sens goaltender Brian Elliot out of his jockstrap.

The Senators then tied it at one and in the second period scored two goals on just two shots that had visions of the old Carey Price dancing in my head. But our boys didn’t collapse. Jeff Halpern closed the gap, and then Andre Kostitsyn, playing the way we’ve begged and pleaded with him to play, scored a great goal late in the second after being set up by Tomas Plekanec. And in the third, Plekanec took the bull by the horns and scored his own beauty after a lovely Kostitsyn rush.

Good stuff. Plekanec and Kostitsyn getting it done.

Random Notes:

Carey Price got his first win at the Bell Centre in a long, long time. So long, in fact, that eight track cassettes were still around and Don Cherry was normal when he won last. Okay, maybe not that long. But it was last February, which is a long time ago.

Shots on goal? An amazing 40 to 19 for the Habs. How often does this happen? 

Next up – not until next Thursday when the New Jersey Devils pay a visit.

Keep it going, you crazy Habs.