Tag Archives: HNIC

Imagine – A Habs Fan Hosting

How refreshing it would be to have a Habs fan hosting Hockey Night in Canada.

This, from the National Post, with thanks to Hobo for sending it along.


“TSN reporter Bob McKenzie tweeted Sunday the CBC host of George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight will become the face of the show when Rogers Communications Inc. takes control of Canada’s NHL broadcasting rights next season.

“Stroumboulopoulos, who was a presenter at the Canadian Screen Awards on Sunday, was not made available for comment. A spokesperson for Rogers’ Sportsnet also declined to comment.

“The hiring of Stroumboulopoulos would be the first major personnel change made by Rogers after acquiring the NHL rights in a blockbuster 12-year, $5.2-billion deal in November.”

Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.





Only 5.2 Billion

The big news of course is Rogers (Sportsnet) buying the TV rights for hockey games across Canada for the next twelve years, including four years and beyond of Hockey Night in Canada. For 5.2 billion dollars.

CBC will still do the games, but Rogers collects money other ways. Whether or not Don Cherry and Ron MacLean continue remains to be seen. It’ll be up to the Rogers people but I’m guessing they will be. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, people still watch.

If Cherry stays, I’m hoping Hazel Mae replaces MacLean.

As they were saying on Prime Time Sports, this is a great thing, this massive deal. Hockey Night in Canada could have died if Rogers didn’t do this. CBC’s taxpayer dollars can’t handle 5.2 billion.

The big question is, will Habs fans see every Habs game like now? What about RDS? Can I get TVA? Where will certain broadcasters go? Will PJ Stock and Glenn Healy have to send their wives back to work?

I grew up with Hockey Night in Canada. It’s important to me.






Scientific Tracking System Not New

You may think that my Scientific Habs Tracking System (SHTS), which I do every year using high-tech yellow highlighter and ultra modern computer page link, is something new.

Heck, I used to do it often, long before computers were invented, using the very fine method of red star for a Habs win, blue for a loss, and a straight red line for a tie on an Esso schedule.

Below is the only one I have left from those days, the 1966-67 season, which also happens to be the year the Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup by beating Montreal four games to two.

Look at the run Montreal went on in March and April, losing just once, in Toronto of all places.

The standings for 1966-67 were:

Chicago 94
Montreal 77
Toronto 75
New York 72
Detroit 58
Boston 44



Brian And Roy Spencer

Imagine how proud Roy Spencer must have been. The thoughts that must have swirled through his head. The phone call had finally come, and when he would see the game, there would be no words to describe it, no greater feeling. Roy’s boy was about to play, on national television, for the fabled Toronto Maple Leafs.

Roy Spencer’s son Brian had sure been no angel. The boy was quick-tempered, and quicker to fight, but everyone in Fort St. James, a dark, blue-collar town in northern British Columbia, knew he was a chip off the old block. After all, old man Roy was known in those parts as a fiery, hard-living, no-nonsense type of fellow, and his family, for all intents and purposes, was a tough family in a tough town.

Brian had a twin brother and the two played for hours each day during the cold winter nights on the backyard rink Roy had built behind the simple log cabin they lived in. Roy would often go out with the boys and slowly teach them the finer points of the game, especially how to play with an aggressive edge, because, as Roy would explain, this way would lead to the pros the fastest. Forget about being the next Dave Keon or Jean Beliveau. Forget about smoothness and concentrate on toughness.

Those hours in the backyard paid off, because in 1969, the Toronto Maple Leafs chose young Brian, and he was sent to the Tulsa Oilers, a farm team of the Leafs, for grooming. Brian played hard, and on December 12, 1970, with the Leafs about to face Chicago, the call came. Brian Spencer was being brought up to play for the big team.

When Brian learned he was going to Toronto, he quickly made his own call. It was to his dad Roy back home who, by that time, was dying from kidney disease. He was playing, Brian told his dad, and his game was to be aired on Hockey Night in Canada from coast to coast!

Bad kidneys or not, it must have been one of the best days of Roy’s life. For a proud hockey dad, something like this just doesn’t get any better.

In the end, it couldn’t have gotten any worse.

Of course the CBC knew nothing about Roy and Brian Spencer and the big debut in the Leafs uniform, and for an unknown reason decided to air the Vancouver-Oakland game instead. Roy, once he realized what had happened, rose from his chair in front of the television, got into his car with his rifle, and drove 85 miles to the nearest television station. At the station, Roy demanded they show the Leafs game, a demand that was refused, and the RCMP were called. Roy found himself in a shoot-out with the police, and the proud dad, who only wanted to see his boy playing in the big league, was quickly shot and killed.

In Toronto, young Brian was wearing the famous blue and white uniform of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and between periods, he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada. It was the biggest night of his life, and he was sure his dad was watching, smiling, with chest pumped with pride. What Brian didn’t know was at the same time he was being interviewed, his dad was being shot to death. He learned after the game.

Brian Spencer’s career lasted 10 years, with stops after Toronto in Long Island, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. In 1987, Spinner, as he was known, while living a drifter’s life in Florida, was charged with kidnapping and murder but was acquitted for lack of evidence. Three months later, while he was beginning to get his life back in order, he was murdered by a young hoodlum trying to rob him.

Gionta Finished

Brian Gionta has a torn bicep muscle, will undergo surgery on Friday, and that’s it for him.

So Kevin Weekes was dead-on when he said recently on HNIC that this would happen.

It’s the same sort of thing Gionta did last year.

The team also said that Brandon Prust and Ryan White would sit out game 5 with upper body injuries, while Carey Price remains day to day with a lower body problem.

It’s all lousy news, except that Lars Eller has begun skating again, which is great news.

I’m going to keep hoping and cheering through all this. I wouldn’t be a good fan if I didn’t.


On The Verge Of Game Three

Now where were we.

When we last left off, the Canadiens had kicked some ass. Senators ass.

Now, in this upcoming Sunday evening game 3, they need to do it again.

Kevin Weekes on HNIC’s Hotstove Tonight mentioned that Brian Gionta has an upper body injury, may require surgery, and may be gone for the season. P.J. Stock informed us that he (Stock) is a great ball hockey player.

I can’t wait for the game to begin so we can watch the linesman kick guys out of the faceoff circle. It’s just great to see. Exciting. Riveting. OUT!, he says with authority. Fantastic.

Hoping Carey Price’s sore mouth isn’t sore anymore. The question is – is the knocked out tooth back in his mouth, and if it is, does he realize it might turn black at some point? Or has he considered selling it on eBay and raising money for his favourite charity?

I haven’t heard of any celebrity teeth collectors, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t any. There’s a guy who collects navel fluff, and one who collects ketchup bottles. Heck, I’ve even heard of the odd person who collects Toronto Maple Leaf memorabilia, if you can believe that.

So of course teeth isn’t out of the question.

I’ve read that the medical term for a knocked out tooth is “avulsed,” if you’re interested.

Looking for a good game from number 61. Number 61 began the season as one of the team’s key blueliners, and we need number 61 to regain that form he showed back then. So c’mon number 61.

Hey Paul MacLean, who’s that number 61? And who’s that number 11 and number 8 and number 76?

The first time I ever spent time on the West Coast, many years ago, I found it extremely odd to watch hockey games that began at four in the afternoon. But I like it now. It’s comfortable to watch the game and still have the evening left. But for a long time I felt that these early games missed the magic of later on. What do you think?

Watched much of the Leafs-Bruins game two. It’s pretty bad, I guess, when you hope the zamboni runs over about 18 players from both sides.



Don’s Dressing Room Rant

On Coach’s Corner last night, Don Cherry went on about how women shouldn’t be allowed in men’s dressing rooms and the same goes for men in ladies’ rooms. It was quite a lively Coach’s Corner to say the least. And although many will say Don is wrong on this, I’ll bet there are plenty who agree with him.

I suppose women should be allowed into these smelly places, although I don’t know why they’d want to be. These are wretched places, with guys scratching themselves and doing the one-fingered nose blow as they fling tape into garbage cans, with filthy jock straps hanging near faces and unruly long johns lying on the floor that people have to gingerly walk over or around.

And I can well imagine many of these guys leaving their towels off on purpose when the ladies are trying to inquire about the limp power play and such.

I guess in this day and age it’s more of a normal thing to have women walking among naked, smelly guys hanging out all over the place. So I’ll say it should be allowed, although honestly, I’m not exactly sure. But equal rights are equal rights I guess.

As far as men being allowed in ladies’ dressing rooms, Ron MacLean was all for it, but I kind of feel that the majority of women changing their clothes in dressing rooms wouldn’t be all that nuts about it. Although with the men there, at least the ladies would have something to hang their towels on.

I’m glad my wife is a lousy athlete and I don’t have to worry about this.

And all I know is, when the time comes for me to cover the Women’s World Water Skiing and Cheerleading Championships, I’m going in the room. I’ll need the answers and quotes, and I’ll need them right away.

Hopefully Not Three In A Row

Whenever the Canadiens lose, like they have in their last two outings against Boston and Buffalo, I have to change my television viewing habits. I refuse to watch hockey highlights after the game, and the following day. Especially when the gang gets scored on with two seconds left.

Seeing some sportscaster talk about a Habs loss and how it happened isn’t my idea of a good time. Why do I need this again? It sucked the first time and surely it’ll suck the second time too. It’s been this way for me for many years.

I hate it when Montreal loses, and I definitely don’t want to watch others dwell on it.

I’m on days off now, and  instead of having sports on, I’ll watch a couple of cop shows, recycle, walk, do the dishes, read, pick my toenails, gargle, look in the fridge, swab my ears, vacuum, go to the store, and wait until they win again so I can watch some sports news.

Hopefully they’ll beat the Leafs on Saturday night, although there’s certainly no guarantee. Phil Kessel finally got his first of the year, and watch, he’ll play like Charlie Conacher when the Leafs and Habs connect that night.

When I first heard that Kessel had scored, I said good, I’ve got him in my pool. Then, when I checked my pool to see how I’m doing, I see I don’t have him after all. All along I thought I had the bugger, and disturbingly, it’s probably just another direct sign that I’m losing my mind. It goes along with when I was in Orillia recently and I was looking at a 1972 Ontario license plate for sale in a second-hand store. I went back the next day and somehow it had become a 1973 license plate.

The Leafs, although they’ve played eleven games to the Habs ten, are just one point behind Montreal and we can’t be having the Canadiens lose three in a row and the Leafs overtaking them. How that would suck. And once again there would be no sports on my television until at least after the next game.

Having no sports shows on is fine, I suppose, although I’m a fan of Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown. At least he doesn’t dwell on actual games. He’s into the bigger picture and I’m pretty confident he won’t bring up the latest Habs loss. Although the question lingers – why does he wear sunglasses indoors?

I hate it when Montreal loses. I take it hard. It’s always been this way, and I ask myself –  when am I gonna grow up? It’s only a game, isn’t it?