Tag Archives: Detroit Olympia

One More For Tampa And Detroit

009

The Canadiens must now wait for the Lightning and Red Wings to battle it out in game seven after Tampa held on for a 5-2 win in game six.

I’m not sure whom I want Montreal to face. Both teams look decent. Originally I would’ve said Red Wings after the Canadiens skunked them four games to none during the season while the Habs lost all five to Tampa. But either way is fine. Bring ’em on.

Detroit was Henri Richard and Claude Provost’s favourite place to play, although at that time it was at the Olympia, which opened in 1927 with the Detroit Cougars (and then Falcons), and closed in 1979 when the Red Wings, who played under that name from 1932 on, took over the brand new Joe Louis Arena.

When I was playing bantam or midget hockey in Orillia, our coach told us we had the choice of playing in a tournament somewhere in Ontario, or in an exhibition game at the Olympia in Detroit.

We had a vote, and the majority of the guys voted to play in the tournament. I was pissed then and I’m still now. I never understood my teammates about this. We were in lots of tournaments, but the chance to play at the Olympia was a once in a lifetime thing.

I’ll bet the guys don’t even remember the tournament. I don’t. But we’d all remember the Olympia.

Blame The Look Of Hockey Fans On The Beatles

Things were going so well. Rinks in Montreal, New York, Toronto, Boston, Chicago and Detroit were filled with people looking like they were going to church and went in the wrong building by mistake. Fedoras, shawls, hats with feathers in them, polished shoes, diamonds, all on display in the seats above as players grunted and spit and smashed noses in below.

It was the perfect blend.

Then those darn Beatles and others with guitars and drums showed their faces, wearing longer hair than people were accustomed to, and it was the beginning of the end. As the months turned into years, jeans and ragged shirts added to the long hair and it all became the style of the day that has lasted even to now.

Hockey fans, of course, were not immune, and were quickly swept away by the look brought by the Beatles, Rolling Stones and the rest, and soon, fedoras, shawls, diamonds, and hats with feathers in them were sadly put in trunks and only brought out when the kids were dressing up for Halloween.

Now, instead of looking like a million bucks, fans have taken to wearing hockey jerseys to games. It’s weird, yes it is, but they have. And NHL owners are sitting back looking at their jersey sales receipts and lighting cigars and drooling.

Blame it on the Beatles. If they would’ve shown up on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 with brushcuts and fedoras, arenas might still look like churches.

But the Forum, Maple Leaf Gardens, Boston Garden, Madison Square Gardens, Chicago Stadium, and the Detroit Olympia WERE cathedrals, weren’t they?

Postscript:

One of the things I’m most proud about is the fact that I saw the Beatles live, in Toronto, in 1966. The following is a small post I did a couple of years ago about this huge event in my life. Seeing The Beatles

100 Years Of Heroes And Dreams

001A hundred years of heroes and dreams. A hundred years of men donning the sweater and taking to the ice.  A hundred years of kids watching and reading about, dreaming and becoming. From the time Didier Pitre took a pass from Jack Laviolette and slid it over to Newsy Lalonde, little boys donned the sweater, the bleu, blanc, et rouge, and they became Pitre and Lalonde and all those who came later. kids-sweater1-150x150

From the time Georges Vezina began stopping pucks for Les Canadiens, little kids wanted to stop pucks too, on lakes and ponds and old rinks throughout, and when they wore the sweater, they made the saves with people cheering them, and for all those winter nights near their homes, they were Georges Vezina.

Like magic they became Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat, Toe Blake and George Hainsworth. They wore the sweater on nights so cold it should be illegal, slapping old rubber balls into snowbanks, stopping cow pies on slews, deking friends and sisters and little kids on the pond. wearing the red or white sweater with the simple and beautiful CH crest sewn on front.004

They became the Rocket, and Lach, Bouchard and Harvey, and they saw the game in their dreams. Behind the skaters they were Durnan and Plante crouched by the net, and when the time came, they were the Boomer and Big Jean scoring on the power play. It unfolded at the Forum and the Olympia and Conn Smythe’s old barn and the outdoor rink frozen in winter at the baseball field. And kids heard them on the radio and saw them in black and white and shuffled their bubblegum cards, wearing the sweater and becoming anyone they wanted to be, just when they wanted to be. 003

The wore the sweater when the Pocket Rocket wouldn’t give up the puck, when the Boomer boomed, and when the Gumper kicked out his pads. They opened boxes at Christmas and there was one to put on right away, and they were Ken Dryden and Lafleur and the Big Bird. And their kids and kid brothers wore the sweater when Patrick Roy and the Little Viking, and then Kovalev and Koivu, graced the ice. Now new guard takes their place, and kids are becoming them too.

the-rocket-150x150

They said goodbye to the Forum and to the Rocket and all those others who went when it was time and when it wasn’t time, and they wiped little drops of tears from their sweater. And they smiled and clapped and looked above as they watched the sweaters of their heroes raised triumphantly to the rafters.

005

Now, every night, the Bell Centre is packed with young and old, still wearing the sweater of the Montreal Canadiens. It’s been a dream for a hundred years. We are Georges, Howie, the Rocket and Guy. We’re Patrick and Saku and Price and Gionta and Markov.

We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we celebrate. 002

006

007

008

009010