Tag Archives: Calgary

Hi Bert

HOFer Bert Olmstead played for the Habs from 1950 to 1958, and hoisted four Stanley Cups along the way. He’d also pick up another in 1962 when he was with the Leafs.

Bert was a solid, feisty, and smart player with definite leadership qualities. He was also a cantankerous, no-nonsense type of fellow off the ice, and probably not exactly a barrel of laughs at team Christmas parties. No lampshades on his head. The Boomer maybe, but not Bert.

About 15 years ago I was visiting my sister in Calgary and decided to phone him, because I knew he lived there and he was in the phone book.

It went like this:

Ring. Ring.

A lady, his wife I guess, answered the phone. “Hello?” she said.

“Hi” I answered. “Would Bert be there please?”

“Yes, one moment,” said the lady.

“HELLO” growled the voice, and I kind of got the feeling this might be a mistake.

“Hi Bert” I said. I’m old hockey fan, a Habs fan, and I just wondered if you might spend a couple of minutes telling me about those days when you played.”

Click.

He hung up on me.

 

 

Door-To-Door Milkman

I was a door-to-door milkman in Calgary for a short while back in the early -’90s, and not once did a smokin’ hot woman meet me at the door in a silk negligee. Not once was I ever invited in for coffee by some buxom seductress.

The closest I came was when a lady answered the door in her bathrobe and a mouth full of toothpaste.

It was a lousy job. Low pay, cold, dark mornings, and I was new to the city and kept getting lost because my area had streets called Silver Springs Road, Silver Springs Way, Silver Springs Blvd, Silver Ridge, Silver Mead and a whole bunch of other Silvers.

One of my milk customers was Doug Risebrough, ex-feisty 1970s and early-’80s Hab, and during the time he and his wife and kids were drinking my milk, was coaching the Calgary Flames.

I never met Risebrough when I delivered the milk, but his wife was around. And they left me a tip at Christmas.

They lived in a nice house in suburbia in northwest Calgary (above all the streets named Silver), with a view of downtown in the distance and the Olympic ski jump off the other way.

I remember back in 1974 when the Habs played an exhibition game against some team at the Civic Centre in Ottawa (I was there), and one of the local newspapers did a story about Montreal’s hot new rookie, Risebrough, who was sure to make the team.

Risebrough made the team of course, and went on to play eight seasons with the Habs where he was a solid, gritty, checking forward and an important cog in the late ’70s machine that captured four straight Stanley Cups.

From Montreal he would move on to Calgary and played just over four seasons before joining the coaching staff there.

On those early mornings when I was on his street making my milk rounds, I wonder if he sometimes looked out his window and thought, “Man, is that a lousy milkman.”

One Man’s Junk Is…..

Under the well-used heading of “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”, are two things I found during my recent trip to Woodstock (Bethel) and Cooperstown.

First, from the dairy farm of Max Yasgur, the man who let organizers use his land for the 1969 Woodstock festival, is this Yasgur milk bottle.

It’s not an original 1950s/60s bottle, those sell for about $500. Mine came later, I’m not sure when, and I paid $8 for it. But it’s a real Yasgur milk bottle, I’m sure there was milk in it at one point, and it looks just dandy on my shelf.

Milk bottle

From Cooperstown, I found this. In the 1960s, Yankee Stadium sold popcorn in these and when one removed the cap, it became a megaphone! It’s perfect for my vintage popcorn box collection.

Yankees

I showed some of the photos below on Facebook recently, so basically, these are for folks who aren’t on Facebook. The rest of you, just go for a beer. There some different ones, though.

Festival organizers were truly lucky to find Yasgur’s land after previous sites near the villages of Woodstock and Wallkill fell through. The site is huge, with a nice sloping hill down to the stage area, it has a nearby forest to go to the bathroom or get frisky in, and White Lake is just down the road to go skinny dipping.

It’s also been called a natural amphitheater. Just perfect, and Max Yasgur loved the kids who invaded. Many of the Bethel townsfolk didn’t though.

Lucy and I spent several hours there and came back again the next day. There’s also a beautiful museum on the site.

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Below, Lucy’s video.

The peace sign at Woodstock, done with some sort of grass cutter, reminds of one I did behind my backyard in Calgary years ago. I got shit from the city for that because it was on municipal property.

Calgary

If It’s Wednesday, It Must Be Calgary

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I know, the pictures aren’t great. The ones I was hoping to use are a bit blurry.

That’s the Calgary Saddledome behind Gaston, taken from my son’s street.

Maybe it’s because I’m blurry. Eight hours from Nelson to Calgary. It’s that number 3 highway. I felt just a few more miles and I’d end up in the Twilight Zone.

We’re at my son’s place in downtown Calgary, on a warm, sunny day, and aside from the above whining, things are great. I haven’t seen my son in over two years, and he looks good. He’s a martial arts guy who loves the Habs.

Calgary remains a bittersweet place for me. I went through a divorce here, but it’s a nice place regardless. Anyway, it was a long time ago and I never would have ended up with Luci if that nightmare from so long ago hadn’t happened. So I think I’ll embrace this vibrant city.

Thank you Calgary.

Even though I had a slew of terrible jobs here, including home delivery milkman. I also had several trucking jobs and I worked in the Safeway warehouse where I assembled boxes of bananas to be shipped to stores. Often I kicked myself for moving from Ottawa.

Years ago when my first wife and I brought a Russian couple over for a visit, I contacted the Calgary Flames and they were amazing. It was a novelty for all concerned. They gave the couple a team-autographed stick. They brought us to a closed Flames practice where GM Doug Risebrough came up and said hello. They took us down by ice level and my Russian friends had their picture taken with Theoren Fleury, who had just come off the ice. And they gave us four tickets to two separate Flames games.

Because of all this, it’s very difficult for me to say anything bad about the Calgary Flames organization.

I’m sorry but I have to cut this short. My son’s internet isn’t working and so I had to slip out to a restaurant to get this done. But I need to get back. I only have a few hours to spend with him.

Tomorrow the car is pointed toward Saskatchewan. Maybe we’ll make Regina. Maybe not.

Please check in and I’ll let you know. Your guess is as good as mine.

The City Didn’t Appreciate The Beauty Makeover

When I lived in Calgary about 15 years ago there was this big, sloping field behind my backyard fence leading down to a busy road. The grass was long and yellow there, and I felt it needed some beauty added to it. So I got out my lawnmower and cut a big CH in this slope and thousands of cars a day saw it as they drove by.

Then, one day, there was a knock on my door. It was a man with a frown on his face, from the City of Calgary, and he told me to stop this nonsense, let the grass grow back, and never do it again or I’d be fined.

(And by the way, among those houses up on that big hill behind me is where Doug Risebrough was living at the time. I know because I was his milkman.)

Get In And Get Out Quick

It snowed in Calgary yesterday. Just a wet snow that vanished soon after, but snow nontheless. Winter’s on its way in cowtown, and soon people will be freezing their pistachios off scurrying from the Saddledome parking lot to the ticket takers inside.

I lived in Calgary for seven years, was a semi driver there, and once in late October, after a raging snowstorm had hit the night before, I dropped a trailer at a frozen meat warehouse and was bobtailing back in my tractor, I began to brake for a train crossing an icy industrial park road, and although I was only going about five miles an hour, slid right into it. How many people do you know who have hit a train?

Another time, while driving my truck in a major snowstorm south of Calgary, with a white-out so thick I couldn’t see even the hood, I crossed the medium into the northbound lane and didn’t know it until I got out and started walking around.

I ruined my knees skiing in the area. My first marriage ended there. I froze my pistachios often.

Calgary brings back bad memories. And on top of that, there’s Flames fans everywhere. Snow, ice, whiteouts, and Flames fans.

So the plan for the Canadiens is, get in, win, don’t get hurt, and get the hell out before anything bad happens.

Notes From An Important Visit

Cameron, the Montreal Canadiens’ first-round draft pick in 2027, not only celebrated his first birthday in Calgary on Wednesday, but also took his first steps on Tuesday. Judging from these first steps, the upcoming blue-chipper looks like his skating style will be short and choppy strides, possibly like Steve Shutt.

The Calgary Flames, who are about to celebrate their 30th anniversary of being in Calgary, have unveiled their third jersey which will be worn six times this year. The jersey, the old red ‘flaming C’ style, is the exact same as the one the Flames wore when they lost to the Habs in the Stanley Cup final in 1986. (It’s also the same uniform worn when the Flames beat Montreal to win the Cup in 1989, but nobody cares about that.)

Someone wrote in to the Calgary Sun saying that Flames rearguard Dion Phaneuf was an absolute prince of a guy when he did an autograph session recently in the city. Phaneuf signed and posed and smiled for hours on end, thus making the day for countless Flames fans. There are also no reports of any Edmonton fans in the lineup being bodychecked into the display table by the hulking defenceman.

Flames prez Ken King says the team should have a new rink within three years. He also says his Flames are one of the best organizations in the NHL. They’re definitely better than Phoenix at least.

My ex-wife, who was also at the birthday party of the 2027 Habs first-round draft pick Cameron, thinks I’m an idiot for having a Habs blog. When I showed it to her, all she did was roll her eyes. She then told me she runs marathons and climbs mountains.

2027 draft pick Cameron is absolutely delighted with the Habs boots, which should fit in three or four years, given by his grandpa. He then carried on playing with wrapping paper.
2027 draft pick Cameron is absolutely delighted with the Habs boots, which should fit in three or four years, given by his grandpa. He then carried on playing with wrapping paper.

Habs On The Road. Bonding With The Blues

I’m only just now looking at the new schedule because I’ve been battling an eyeball situation, but I see that the Canadiens open up on the road, hitting Toronto, Buffalo, and then a three-city west coast swing which takes them to Calgary, Vancouver, and Edmonton.

This might just be what the doctor ordered. All the new faces in the lineup, bonding early rather than later with the old faces on a good old west coach swing. And they get away from the pressure cooker before the pressure cooker is even turned on.

In Calgary, the boys can go out and take in the Calgary Zoo. They can go to the monkey cage and maybe see what myself and a bunch of others saw. A monkey sat behind the glass, looked at us with big eyes, and proceeded to play with himself until his eyes got even bigger. Mothers shielded their kids and scurried off. Japanese tourists talked politely, maybe snapped a few pictures, and carried on in orderly fashion. 

I myself looked at the monkey with great admiration. Imagine all those eyes on you and you don’t even give a shit?

Something like this is invaluable. Scott Gomez and Mike Cammellari and the old and new of the team would have a good topic to bring up in the dressing room when the pressure gets umbearable. Everyone would laugh and loosen up, at the poor monkey’s expense.

In Vancouver, the guys can bond at the Yale Hotel, listening to the best blues in the city, and hoping not to get shot at when they go out on the darkened Granville Street afterwards. Tip to the players – call a cab beforehand and when it arrives, dive into it like you’re Michael Phelps and get the hell back to your hotel.

But the blues is heavenly. And on second thought, that area of Vancouver isn’t seedy and dangerous. Okay, maybe it is.

In Edmonton, the team can band together, old and new, by looking out their hotel window and seeing snow falling lazily from the sky. It’s early October in Edmonton. Almost winter.Very soon it’s going to get so cold you’d think Gary Bettman and Jim Balsillie had just met in an elevator. Or they can go en masse to the West Edmonton Mall at gawk at ladies in bikinis at the wave pool and whisper crude yet very funny remarks to each other that hurries up the bonding process.

Opening on the road is a way to find out if any of the new guys are easy card marks and a new and quick way to make extra money on the side. It’s a chance to find out about players on other teams from which the new guys came from. If Jerome Iginla really likes Michael Bolton or Celine Dion, this can be valuable trash talk on Saddledome ice.

Scoott Gomez can relate Sean Avery stories from New York. Maybe Avery walks old ladies across streets and tips hotel housekeepers. Brian Gionta might show a different side when he punches out the first guy who calls him Tom Thumb.

Very quickly the team will become very close from all these monkeys and snow and the blues. Then they go back for a six-game home stand where they’ll probably kick some serious ass.

Give Those Western Fans Their Money’s Worth

 

images2 edmonton2van1 It can be an excellent time for western Canada’s Montreal Canadiens fans. The team’s coming, with stops in Calgary on Monday, Edmonton Wednesday, and Vancouver Sunday. People are excited. They’ve had their tickets for months, or are now ready to fork out hundreds of dollars for the high-priced ducats.

I’ve seen the the Habs in all three cities, and in all three it’s a lovely sight. The Montreal sweaters everywhere, the “Go Habs Go” chant throughout, the cheers as loud as the home team when the Canadiens score. In fact, when the “Go Habs Go” chant starts, the home team faithful start their own chant to outdo them and it becomes a cross between funny and tense.

For many western hockey fans, the Habs coming is one of the big nights in a long season, regardless of the year. And regardless of the kind of team the Habs happen to be in any given year.

And what will fans in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver see this year? Will they see a team that makes bad decisions, horrible giveaways, and offers weak goaltending? Or will they see the other team, the one we see glimpses of sometimes, the one where passes are crisp, the scorers score, the defence crushes, and the goalie plays like he can.

It must make Montreal players feel good to see how they’re embraced in the west. It’s a clear example of what it means to wear the sweater. Vincent Lecavalier would be pleasantly surprised if he were a Hab on this western visit. This week they’re movie stars. The young heard from their grandfathers and fathers, many of whom grew up back east, about all the Stanley Cups, about Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur and the others. Most Flames, Oilers and Canucks fans, cheering on their team to wallop the Canadiens, know and appreciate the uniqueness of this club that has come to town on one of those rare occasions. So the atmosphere at the rinks is heavy-duty.

The only problem is, the Habs have looked incredibly mediocre lately. This west coast trip could be a disaster for all those who’ve waited, or paid those big dollars for a ticket. They may wish they’d stayed home and watched it on TV.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed that the Habs break out of their doldrums, for themselves, for their fans in general, and for the western fans who’ve been waiting impatiently for the big night since the schedule was announced.

And I especially want them to win in Vancouver.