Tag Archives: Classic Auctions

A Beautiful Brick

Classic Auctions founder and president Marc Juteau gave me a going away gift before I left, and it now sits in my living room, reminding me of my special time there.

I remain tremendously proud of having worked at Classic, and I’ll never forget the job and the people I worked with. What a great bunch – Marc, Frank, Sean, Gilles, Dan, Josee, Debbie, Andre, Maude, Scott, Mathieu, and Greg. They became my friends, and they’re awesome.

Marc’s gift was a brick from the original Montreal Forum, before the building was renovated in 1968, placed into a special case, and with a plaque and Certificate of Authenticity from the Montreal Canadiens. I love it so much.

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Below, photos I took of the old Forum circa 1965, when I was 14 or 15. My buddy and I had taken a bus charter from Orillia to Montreal to see the Canadiens play the Rangers, and I still remember the magical feelings I had of the city.

And of course I remember the old Forum with the pillars on each side, and where, when the game was over, we made our way down and stared at the ice until we were told to leave.

The Forum would eventually be renovated and enlarged in 1968, but this is the old barn. Maybe one of the bricks you see in these photos is the one I have now.

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And a cool whimsical illustration of inside, from my old scrapbook.

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Curtain Closes On A Classic Adventure

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After a year and a half of living in the great city of Montreal, Lucy and I and Teesha the cat are heading back to the West Coast beginning on Christmas day.

A number of family-related matters have made this necessary. So it’s time to go back to our little house in Powell River, a small town 120 km. up the coast from Vancouver, and it should be a fun drive unless we get caught in the middle of a snowstorm.

It’s been a fantastic adventure for us. Montreal was a new and exciting life for us and we embraced it. I was in the city I had always wanted to be in, and Lucy backed me fully, for which I’m forever grateful. My job at Classic Auctions was something I  had wanted to do for many years and I’ll be forever proud that I did it.

Goodbye and thanks to our new friends we met in Montreal, and to my amazing coworkers at Classic – Marc and Frank and all the gang, an ultra-talented team from which I’ve learned so much about the world of big-time hockey auctions and world class memorabilia and all that goes with it.

And goodbye Montreal. What a vibrant, colourful, beautiful place.

 

Bobby Hull Showed Up

I’m probably not that interesting to guys like Bobby Hull. I’m shy and feel slightly uneasy. I don’t have much to say.

Although when he first came in to our offices on Thursday, I said to him, “There’s the guy who blew slapshots past Habs goalies.” And he replied, “And it was fun too.”

Bobby was an amazing player. A wonderful skater with a great shot. A guy with flair and Hollywood good looks. The ladies loved him. Hawks fans loved him. The rest of us admired him. Opposing goalies lived in fear.

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Great Gift From Marc, Great Goal From Lambert

The other day, owner and founder of Classic Auctions (and my boss), Marc Juteau, came into my office and gave me a beautiful vintage style (with fight strap) Yvon Lambert store model sweater, signed on the crest, which came from a Lambert charity golf tournament.

It was really nice of Marc to do this, and I greatly appreciate it.

When we talk about the unreal night of May 10, 1979, game seven of the semi-finals when Don Cherry and the Bruins were called for “too many men on the ice”, we first think of the  Habs power play that followed, capped off by Guy Lafleur tying the game and sending it into overtime.

Nine minutes in, it was Lambert winning it after taking a pass from Mario Tremblay.

Lambert wasn’t finished there either. Two weeks later, he would net the Stanley Cup winner against the New York Rangers.

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A Year Already

It was a year ago exactly that Lucy and I finally reached Montreal after a fine car ride full of excitement, anticipation, and Boston Pizzas.

One that began in Powell River, 120 km up the coast from Vancouver, and about a million miles from Montreal in almost every other sense.

I had retired from BC Ferries, about to begin an entirely new thing with Classic Auctions in Montreal, and now suddenly, like the snap of a finger, it’s been a year already.

Classic Auctions, if you’re not aware, is the world’s biggest and best hockey historical auction house. My job is to write descriptions of the auctions pieces and go on about players and teams related to the pieces.

When we got to Montreal we didn’t have a place to live and spent a week in a hotel until we found one. It was stressful. I like hotels but when you feel you might be stuck in one for weeks, the novelty wears off.

In Montreal, apartments don’t come with fridges and stoves, which I think is unusual. And it didn’t help that we didn’t have any furniture.

Wherever I’ve been in the past, apartments have been labelled as one bedroom, or two bedroom etc. In Montreal, and I suppose throughout Quebec, they’re called 2 1/2, or 3 1/3 etc.

I still haven’t got it perfectly straight. I think a 3 1/2 is a two bedroom. I could be wrong about that. (update – I just learned from a waitress that 3 1/2 is a one bedroom.)

We finally found a lady looking to rent her furnished condo, she happened to be Russian and her and Lucy chatted away, and now it’s where we live.

About 12 minutes to the Habs rink in Brossard.

I’m not getting as lost now. My French has improved only slightly. Traffic sucks and my middle finger is getting worn out.

If some drivers knew what I was saying about them, I might be sleeping in a shallow grave right now. Tailgators, stop the madness. I already drive over the speed limit. What more do you want?

Often I think about how much I’d like to live in downtown Montreal with a cafe on the corner, but can’t because I work on the south shore and the traffic on the bridges is completely insane.

And there’s the thing about affording to live downtown which I never really considered.

I’m thinking I won’t be living downtown.

It’s been exactly a year of adventure. Hard to believe. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were packing up the car and heading to the ferry where I used to work but now was traveling on for the first leg of a long journey to a completely different job.

Maybe you think it’s unusual for me to do this. Just drop everything and move across the country. I think so too. I could be retired. I could be living on the coast where it doesn’t get very cold.

But I think those who know me well aren’t all that surprised.

 

 

Gilles Does It His Way

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Ex-WHA and NHL goalie Gilles Gratton in a mock arm wrestling pose with Bobby Hull.

They did it as a joke because Gilles has always been a slight fellow and Hull is Hull.

I work with Gilles and he’s a great guy who seems to enjoy talking with me about games the night before and ones coming up. The feeling is mutual. I like hearing his thoughts on things.

Gilles was considered one of the best backstoppers in the WHA and was a backup during the WHA 1974 Canada-Russia series. He didn’t play and didn’t mind at all.

Gilles gained a reputation of being somewhat of a flake when he played, sometimes making noises at opposing players, rambling on about reincarnation to teammates and coaches, and he once refused to suit up with his Toronto Toros because the moon was in the wrong part of the sky and not lined up with Jupiter, which was his way of disagreeing with his coach being fired.

Ken Dryden says in his book “The Game” that Gilles once streaked during a practice with whatever team he was on at the time, and I asked him about it. He said that was wrong. It was during a ball hockey game and the coach promised him five new sticks if he did it.

He told us this story recently. When he first arrived in St. Louis to play for the Blues, he was in an elevator and a man riding up with him asked him if he was happy to be joining his new team.

Gilles answered, “I don’t give a f*&%k about the St. Louis Blues”.

When the elevator stopped, they got out and were met by others. It turned out the man in the elevator was his new coach Gary Young.

Gilles lasted 6 games in St. Louis before he walked out. The next year he was with the New York Rangers, then a season in the minors, and that was that.

After he retired he worked as a wire service photographer at a couple of World Championships in Europe, and eventually ended up in India for several years where he learned to meditate.

Gilles’ a Montreal boy, and I once asked him if ever would have liked to play for the Canadiens.

He said he didn’t know, he’d never thought about it.

Number 7 On Fire

Everyone thought the play had stopped, including the goalie, and I bulged the twine when no one was looking. The tying goal, and then my teammate won it with just seconds left.

And you thought the NHL playoffs were dramatic.

I also scored an earlier goal on a breakaway that the goalie stopped but somehow threw in his own net.

Regardless, the First Annual Classic Challenge is in the books, our team won and we get a day off with pay, and Luci said my skating was good but just slightly slower than a turtle.

But in five months I’ll be 64 years old, by far the oldest player on the ice, and I feel it’s an excellent excuse. And add to that excellent excuse the fact that until today, I hadn’t played a game of hockey in years.

I’m number 7 in white if you’re interested.

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Miracle Comeback!

Dennis Kane scored the tying goal with just a minute to go and Scott Coates notched the winner shortly after, giving the white sweaters a thrilling 9-8 comeback win over the black sweaters in the First Annual Classic Challenge.

Kane is now being revived by a team of doctors, nurses, and cold beer.

Details later when he’s able to sit up.

Today’s The Day

Up early today, checked last night’s scores and saw that Philadelphia edged the Rangers 2-1, Chicago beat St. Louis 3-2 in overtime, and Anaheim walloped Dallas 6-2.

Boston plays Detroit at 3:00 pm which of course I’ll watch. It’s a scouting mission for round two.

But none of that matters right now. Because today is the Classic Auctions Challenge, and I’ve got the pre-game jitters.

I’m hoping to score a big goal to help give my team the win and the prize of a day off with pay. But it’s a long way to the other end of the rink and I’m not sure I can skate that far.

And will my lingering question be answered, the one I lay in bed and considered as I tossed and turned and went over my moves.

Will I make it through without puking?

The game is less than four hours away and I want to get going. Guy Lafleur got to the rink early too.

On another note…

Luci and I went downtown yesterday, parked near St. Denis and Ste. Catherines, spent a fine afternoon where we bought tickets at the Theatre St. Denis box office for Steely Dan who are coming in August, sipped a beer at Jojo Blues Bar across the street, and walked around the eastern area of Ste. Catherines St. and enjoyed the sights and sounds.

I have no problem mingling with drunks and hookers and panhandlers. I feel a sort of bond with these folks. Not that they know it.

Below is my equipment. Very proud of my cardboard shin pads.

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