Tag Archives: Jacques Martin

And It Slipped Away

This one hurts. Big time. It was going to be a big win and it slipped away. The Canadiens blew a 2-0 lead and lost in overtime 3-2. With Ottawa’s tying goal coming with the goalie pulled and just 23 seconds remaining on the clock.

It caps a lousy day that began at 5 a.m. when I dropped a full cup of coffee on the floor.

Montreal had jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second period with goals by P.K.Subban and Alex Galchenyuk, and things were looking good. Carey Price wasn’t overly busy but was coming up big when called upon. The guys were going, they were forechecking and showing so much improvement over their previous effort.

Visions of a tied series danced in my head.

But it was too good to last. Montreal began to sit back like they were playing for Jacques Martin again, and were outshot 13-4 in the final frame. And not long after the third period got underway, I could sense things might not go so well. Proof that sometimes some of my senses still work.

They were holding on instead of full speed ahead, and the Canadiens can only win when it’s full speed ahead. We needed one more goal, and four shots in the third doesn’t cut it. Their goalie’s pretty good, but he wasn’t exactly bombarded.

Ottawa closed the gap on a puck that I say was illegally directed by an Ottawa skate, but the referee went upstairs and it was called a goal. And with 23 second left and the goalie pulled, the puck found the back of the net. One of life’s lousy moments.

This team is now going to have to bring this bummer to a screetching halt, do a nice u-turn, play like they can, and grab game five. Make it a series again. I’m not ready for no more Habs until next fall.

Unfortunately, all this good stuff might have to be done without Brandon Prust, who left the game in great pain, holding his midsection, and Carey Price also after pulling a groin or something. So we’ll add them to the list of walking wounded and go to plan c or d.

Price was replaced by Peter Budaj for the overtime and imagine the feel-good story it would have been if Budaj could have stoned the Sens in overtime and won the big game. But this isn’t a Disney movie. Unless you’re the Senators, then maybe it is.

We need something good to happen in the days to come. I need a new coffee mug, and maybe it’ll be a lucky one.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 34, Montreal 28.

I thought David Desharnais showed a bit more than he has lately.

I never got a chance earlier, but congratulations to P.K. Subban for being one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy. P.K. is up against Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, but we all know our man deserves it.



Gomez Musings

What’s really sad is that I’ll never get a chance to use my Scott Gomez/Al Capone look alike joke again. (Photo by Al Catraz)

Gomez Alcatraz

I’ve liked Marc Bergevin since he was first hired by the Canadiens, but now I think he’s the greatest guy who ever lived. I want to buy him drinks and lobby to get him the Order of Canada.

He decided to rid us of the Scott Gomez piano on our back.

I’d also like to thank the Molson boys for agreeing to wear the money lost on this. Your wallet will soon be thinner, but the warm and fuzzy feelings coming from fans is so thick you can’t imagine. That has to be a decent tradeoff, don’t you think?

No more Gomez. How am I gonna get used to that? It’s asking a lot.

I don’t care what anyone will say now about how he was a good guy in the room, loved by reporters and by proud Alaskans. I can hear this all day long and it won’t matter. It never mattered. George W. Bush could be a lovely fellow too.

Gomez didn’t help his team. I ended up cringing at the sight of him in a Montreal Canadiens uniform. Sometimes it would throw me off for an entire game, even those odd times when the team was playing well. I’d be enjoying myself, and then Gomez would jump on the ice.

He never seemed to me to be a true Montreal Canadien, if that makes sense. In my eyes he didn’t belong. He played soft, even when he was spitting in a dangerous manner. He grinned at opponents much bigger than him as if to say he wasn’t at all scared by them, even though he wouldn’t go closer than three feet.

He went a year without one goal. What the hell is that?

He had sort of a decent shot but not a great one, and most times the puck sailed over the net. He tapped opposing goalies on the pads after they made a good save, which never sat well with me. The goalie prevented a Montreal goal and Gomez would congratulate him? It was like he needed players from other teams to like him. He sometimes talked and kidded with opposing centremen when they were about to take faceoffs. I wished he wouldn’t. I prefer the intense, hate-filled look.

He was the Sally Field of hockey. “You like me, you really like me!”

Recent coaches had to play him not only because he had a whopping contract, but also because there was no one else. Much better centremen like David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller, who actually worked hard and got a few things done, would sometimes get tired and go to the bench. That’s where Gomez came in. He was next in line.

Randy Cunneyworth and Jacques Martin both gave him far too much ice time and surely not enough grief. They played him like he was effective. They were also both fired. Not for that, but anyway.

Michel Therrien must be feeling good about this turn of events. One less reason to blow his top. Although there will be many other reasons.

We won’t have Mr. Gomez to kick around anymore, but we carry on. In this winter of discontent, it feels right now like the Summer of Love.


Michel Therrien Takes The Reins

Hey Michel Therrien, I just want you to know. We love, honour and respect you. Till death do us part.

Or until the first slump.

But we’re just getting to know you (it’s been ten or eleven years), and relationships take work. You don’t like the way our socks don’t match, we aren’t crazy about your line juggling and choices in the shootout. But we stick it out because that’s what people do in a commitment.

But about that second slump. Make your own dinner.

We start to win again, climb up the standings, and the players seem happy and contented. And if the kids are happy, we’re happy.

Until the third slump.

We freefall to 8th place, you seem to have lost control, your in-laws stop coming, the colour in your face is fading, and we’re not having fun like we once had. This relationship isn’t what we thought.

The kids bow out quickly in the first round. We want a divorce. It’s not you, it’s us. No, maybe it’s you.

Michel Therrien coached the Habs from 2000 to 2003, missing the playoffs in his first year, losing in the 2nd round in his second season, and was fired in his third. During his four years in Pittsburgh, he missed the playoffs, lost in the 1st round, lost in the Final, and was fired early on in his fourth campaign.

I’ve been reading some of the criticism from Habs fans regarding this hiring, and I just have to say that it’s probably a bit early to find fault. It’s only June. Give him until November at least. Marc Bergevin and Rick Dudley feel he’s a fine coach, and that’s good enough for me. I love that he has a big-time bad temper and he can be animated during games, and if you don’t like that, maybe you want Jacques Martin back.

Maybe he’ll be excellent. For those who say this is a terrible hiring, we’re going backwards, and the team is screwed, you don’t really know, do you. You’re just guessing. Up until now you thought Marc Bergevin was the second-coming of Sam Pollock. Now he’s not? Don’t forget, negativity breeds high blood pressure.

Michel Therrien is the new coach of the Montreal Canadiens, and I say welcome aboard and bon chance. We just want this relationship to work. No one likes a messy divorce.




When Cal Used The Same Room As Me

Before I get into anything else, I’d like to direct you to Hockey Inside Out which has a nice interview with Jaraslav Spacek, conducted by the Gazette’s Dave Stubbs. Spacek gives his thoughts about Jacques Martin, Pierre Gauthier, Geoff Molson and others, and I found the piece really interesting.

I can’t top that. Geez.

So I guess I’ll just go on to something completely different.

This Orillia Terriers Senior club were household names, like NHL players were, for Orillia kids like me. Whit Mousseau, Nick Kennedy, Red Barrett, John Hall and the gang. The entire team was packed with great players playing in a great Ontario Senior League, and in my mind, these clubs back then weren’t far off from pro calibre like the AHL. I still feel that way.

I was just a kid, and they were grown men, really old guys who shaved and probably had sex with women. They must have been all of 20 or 30 years old then.

It was fast, rough, tough hockey, and sometimes, even retired NHLers would show up in various lineups, including Harry Lumley between the pipes in Collingwood, and rugged forward Cal Gardner in Orillia. (top left corner in photo).

I remember watching Gardner play like it was yesterday. I can even visualize where I was sitting at one game when he was on the ice, which is weird because I’ve often forgotten why I’ve walked from the living room to the kitchen. But I remember Cal Gardner vividly, and it was amazing to me to see a real live person who had actually played in the NHL against the Rocket and Howe and others, but was now an Orillia Terrier, only a few feet away, and who used the same dressing room as I did.

Gardner played for the Rangers, Toronto, Chicago and Boston before retiring in 1957, was twice an all-star, and joined Orillia after being with the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League. His two sons, Dave and Paul both became NHLers too.

Gardner also had a couple of big connections with the Habs in different ways.

Gardner was on the ice for Toronto when Bill Barilko scored his legendary goal to win the Cup for the Leafs in 1951, and had set up Howie Meeker who missed the net, just before Barilko didn’t miss the net.

And he and Montreal’s Ken Reardon enjoyed a bitter and dangerous feud that lasted years. It began when Gardner was with New York and got his stick up after a shot from the point and clipped Reardon on the lip. Gardner said his stick was up a little. Reardon said it was a blatant cross check to the face. Whatever it was, it started a bench-clearing brawl and Reardon promised revenge on Gardner, pretty well every time the two met after that.

In 1949, when Gardner was a Leaf, Reardon finally got his revenge at the Forum, when he “accidentally” ran into Gardner and broke his jaw on both sides, causing league prez Clarence Campbell to force Reardon to post a $1000 good behaviour bond. But they continued to rough each other up even after that and the ill-will apparently continued long after both had retired.

Too bad Reardon didn’t latch on to an Ontario Senior team and they could have kept it going, maybe at the good old Orillia Community Centre, with me there to see it. I always did enjoy a little blood and intestines splattered on the ice. As long as it wasn’t mine.



Cunneyworth Gets The Word

On Marc Bergevin’s first day on the job, he met with Randy Cunneyworth and informed the head coach that he was now the assistant coach again. So that’s pretty final, the search for a new bench boss is on, and thanks to Cunneyworth for stepping in during a difficult time.

Two things kept Randy Cunneyworth from being rehired. Two big things. Not speaking French, and not getting much of anything out of his team. There was no miraculous comeback after Jacques Martin was fired and he was moved up. But even if the team did improve, he still didn’t speak French.

Thus, the end of the Cunneyworth era, which consisted of 50 games – 18 wins, 23 losses, and 9 overtime losses. The record’s not great but either were the players Cunneyworth had to work with. I’m hoping that down the road, this fellow gets another head coaching job somewhere and enjoys a long and great career.



Gauthier Gonzo

Our wild and crazy Montreal Canadiens have an opening for a new general manager after Pierre Gauthier has been sacked, and rightly so. Gauthier can now slither back to his pad in Vermont and do whatever he does. I dunno, what do ghosts do anyway?

Finally an excorcism from this season from hell. The first big step on the road to recovery. So long to the guy who brought us Tomas Kaberle, who fired assistant coach Perry Pearn on game day, who traded Mike Cammalleri midway through a game and gave us the ghastly Rene Bourque, and who hired a non-French-speaking Randy Cunneyworth, a virgin big league coach, to replace the fired Jacques Martin.

Gone is the man without personality, the man who led our team to the basement, and who gave us embarrassment beyond words. How could you do that to us, Mr. Gauthier? Your name will forever be associated with failure. Such a legacy.

Now who will replace him? Will it be Patrick Roy?

We’ll know soon enough. And next on the list? What to do with Scott Gomez.



Georges Laraque Talks About Mike Cammalleri

Geoff F. has sent along a most intriguing clip of Georges Laraque giving us some insight into Mike Cammalleri on a Quebec TV show, TVA Sports, and for those of us who struggle with the language, Geoff has been kind enough to give us an outline of what Laraque says.

I don’t know if Georges is exaggerating or whether he’s on the level, but regardless. it’s very interesting stuff. And I don’t suppose he and Mike will be getting together anytime soon.

Here’s what Mr. Laraque said:

- Mike C went in to JM’s office and asked for a letter on his jersey – One game when the Habs were playing poorly JM came in the room and started to yell at guys and said, “Hey Mike, instead of coming into my office and asking for a letter on your sweater, start playing like you deserve one.”  All the guys in the room started shooting incredulous glances at each other that he had went in and asked for a letter.

- at Christmas they had a gift exchange at a steakhouse and Lapierre had picked Mike C’s name as his gift recipient and put a “C” as the gift for Mike C. -Mike was offended by the joke and decided to leave -All the guys were a little uncomfortable with it but thought it was funny.

-When they were picking the captains nobody picked Mike C and he didn’t like that.  Apparently a lot of the guys thought he was a little too conceited and since then it appears was when Mike C’s performance dipped.

-Many feel that he was like a politician, the way he went shaking hands with all the legends at the Centennial.  Everyone felt it was like Mike C. throwing in his candidacy for the “C”.

The video clip of this can seen here – Laraque on TVA Sports

A Little Rant In A World Of Bigger And Stronger Rants

I’m up and at ‘em this morning after my usual lousy sleep, and I must admit, I’m slightly out of sorts. I think back to the Habs-Blues game last night, and it seems I’m more disappointed than usual about another Habs loss.

Maybe it’s because we felt new excitement after realizing that the team had shed the Jacques Martin harness and was beginning to play a more offensive game, for a full sixty minutes, under Randy Cunneyworth. And then we saw this new offensive bunch score not one goal in their 3-0 loss to a team, that yes, is a good team, high in the standings and playing well, but nonetheless, Jarosalv Halak enjoyed one of his easier nights and it should have been the other way around.

The Habs were easy prey to a better team and all those fresh and hopeful thoughts have hit a concrete wall in just a matter of three games. It looked mighty fine against a couple of teams in the middle of the pack, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay, but when one of the elite teams comes-a-callin’, the whole dismal season returns, and we see this bunch in all their underachieving glory.

It’s not the loss that hurts the most, although it does sting, but the fact that the team wasn’t really ever in it. If the score had been 4-3 or 3-2, for example, I would have simply chalked it up that you can’t win every night. But once again, the drive was dismal, their shots handled easily, and of course, they were 0-3 on the power play. Yes, that wretched, rotten, stinking, decaying power play. Worst in the league.

The players have underachieved and I’m mad at the majority of them, but in the big picture, you and I could have done a better job of assembling this team beginning a few years ago. For decades we’ve all known that modern-day players are bigger and stronger and gettting more so as the years go by. So what did the Canadiens do? They went out and landed little guys like Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Mike Cammalleri. Why did they do that? The core of our offence is under the height line to ride the ferris wheel at the county fair. If players are bigger and stronger now, why did Bob Gainey and the other Canadiens suits decide go the opposite way? Gainey always was a conservative, deep thinker, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was sampling some acid he was making in his basement.

Some small guys can do the job. David Desharnais, at 5’7″ can. He’s been a fine player most nights, and also earns about a tenth of what Gomez, Cammaleri, and Gionta earn. So hats off to Desharnais. I hope he enjoys a long and happy career as a Montreal Canadien, and he deserves a big raise. In the wings we have an explosive junior player, Brendan Gallagher, poised to become a regular, maybe even next year. Yes, he’s a big-time point-getter in junior. He’s also 5’8″. So unlike the rest of the hockey world, we aren’t exactly getting bigger and stronger.

Rarely have I seen so many not deserve their big money. I’m all for players having their ships come in after being taken advantage of, lied to, and ripped off by general managers for years. But these wealthy players still have to earn it. It’s one thing to say they’re working hard, it’s another to see that they don’t do what they’re paid to do – help the team win by being productive. Cammalleri has 9 lousy goals, Gionta 8, Gomez, 0, and our leading point-getter, another small player at 5’11″, Tomas Plekanec, has 8 goals and 22 assists. These numbers are good if we are talking about defensive specialists. But these are our our big guns, and is it ever embarrassing.

What a season. I’m all for saying goodbye to many of these players. Blow the thing up and start fresh. Last night, reality rose up and sucker punched me in the chops.





Another Fine Night For The Habs

A fine 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and although the light at the end of the tunnel is still a ways off, there’s new life in Habsland it seems.

Max Pacioretty finally woke up after far too long a slumber, the Kosteller boys, Kostitsyn and Eller, played like all-stars for the second night in a row, and Brian Gionta, fresh from ten games on the shelf, came up with several great chances along the way. The team played with zip, although it took them a period to get going, and when they play this way it’s a far cry from….you know, that time we want to forget.

Tampa scored the only goal in the first period, but in the second, Michael Blunden, with his first of the year, tied it, and things took off from there. The team woke up, the fans came to life, and just after Carey Price robbed Martin St. Louis, who usually has a stellar night when he comes to Montreal, PK Subban sent Pacioretty in alone with a long heads-up pass, Max fired it home, and the boys found themselves in the lead.

It was a beautiful sequence of events. Blunden gets his first, Price comes up huge, PK sends Max in, and all they had to do after that was hold the lead for a period and a half, something they haven’t been able to do all that often. But they did. And not only did they hold the lead, but they didn’t sit back. Is this what separates Randy Cunneyworth from Jacques Martin?

Andrei Kostitsym was a magician on this night, and in one instance almost duplicated his swoops and swerves that set up Lars Eller for his third goal against Winnipeg last Wednesday. If Kostitsyn and Eller can continue this chemistry and puck-control, the team will win those 60% of remaining games it needs to make the playoffs. Kostitsyn seems like he’s decided it’s time to strut his stuff, and no one on the team can handle the puck the way Eller can.

Brian Gionta grazed the post on a breakaway, which would have caused us to breathe easier, but Eric Cole shoved one home with 16 seconds left after David Desharnais had done terrific work to get the puck near the goal line, and finally we got to exhale. Good thing. I was turning blue.

Random Notes:

The Eller, Kostitsyn, Moen line oozes more chemistry than a North Korean nuclear plant.

Alexei Emelin crashed the enemy five or six times, including a fine hit on Martin St. Louis. Opposing players are going to have to learn the hard way to keep their heads up around our guy. Hopefully they’ll never learn.

Shots on goal - Habs 29, Lightning 24.

From time to time during commercial breaks I switched over to the Leafs-Wings game, and two things stand out. Our game was way faster, and the Bell Centre cameras are much higher than the ones at the Air Canada Centre. I’ve been whining about the high cameras ever since the place opened, and about a decade ago I sent a letter to the Canadiens complaining about this. I never heard back, and the cameras are still high.

Next up - Tuesday, when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit. C’mon boys, have a nice rest, enjoy the home cooking, nurse your wounds, and then make it three in a row.