Tag Archives: Maurice Richard

In The Magazine – Mistakes and All

If you have number six of Les Canadiens magazine from the 1991-92 season, then you have a small story about me, complete with a couple of errors.

I was in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1991, at the time the Soviet Union was falling apart, a mind-blowing and historic time to be sure, and I was visiting a bunch of serious Habs fans who had their own Montreal Canadiens Fan Club. We were at the president of the fan club’s apartment and we sat around drinking tea and talking hockey.

The fellow in the black San Jose Sharks shirt was my translater, and he was a Russian scout for the San Jose Sharks and later the Anaheim Ducks.

That’s me in the middle, clean-shaven, with a serious sunburn. And unfortunately, the magazine made a few mistakes. The picture of the fellow in the Habs jacket holding the puck isn’t me, although it says it is in the caption below it. (It’s Anatoli Brel, who I went with to the meeting).

The story that accompanies the pictures says that “Dennis Kane is the only foreign member of the Canadiens Fan Club in St. Petersburg. As a boy, Dennis was always writing letters to his heros, Doug Harvey, Bernard Geoffrion and Maurice Richard; he still has their lovingly replies. (Second error – I don’t have any replies except for Rocket’s Christmas card and a couple of autographed pictures. The author took some liberties here.)

And then, one day, he came across a newspaper article about Anatoli Brel, a Russian fellow looking for a Canadiens fan with whom to correspond.

After six years of exchanging letters, Dennis decided to go visit his hockey pen pal and meet the fan club people who met once a month to talk about the Habs and bring their statistics up to date. “It was really weird,” he recalls. “There I was, thousands of miles from Canada, on a street in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), and there was this huge Canadiens logo in the window.”

Following that memorable meeting, Dennis received a letter officially confirming his membership in the Canadiens Fan Club…St. Petersburg Chapter! What more could you ask?

Boxed Patrick

0064

I bought this 12-inch ‘Patrick Roy’ McFarlane figurine a decade or so ago at Wal-Mart, not because I’m a great Patrick Roy fan, but because this thing is incredibly beautiful. The problem with most figurines is that it’s impossible to re-create the face properly, but with this one, there was no such problem because he’s wearing his mask. And the rest of it is dead-on.

I paid roughly 30 bucks for it, and on ebay now they’re selling for about $200. And the only way for something like this to ever grow in value is to never take it out of the box, which is the case here.

That’s the key, making sure it’s never removed from the box. So you have to make the decision – do you take it out of the box and enjoy it, or leave it in and enjoy it not quite so much?

It’s the same principle, sort of, as never removing the dust jacket from a book. Dust jackets make all the difference in the world of book collecting. Collectors will scramble to find that first edition Ernest Hemingway complete with jacket, and pay the big bucks. But they won’t bother near as much if the same Hemingway doesn’t have the dust jacket.

So always keep them on your books. Unless you just want to enjoy them. Kind of a silly decision isn’t it? If you’re a rebel you’ll just enjoy them with or without, which is why they were written in the first place. Or you could not even read them, just collect them because they have dust jackets.

Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket
Rocket book with no dust jacket

Card Abuse

We were sitting on a gold mine and just didn’t know it. Nobody knew it, not even the card makers.

beliveau cardWhenever we got a chance outside school, we’d throw Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe and Mickey Mantle cards against the school’s brick walls to see who would come the closest. All those helmet-less, legendary, magical names of yesterday, bang against the wall.

Winner takes all. Awesome!

In fact, we ruined pretty well every card we owned, because we’d also bend them and put them in our bicycle spokes and wrap tight elastics around them and pick food from our teeth with them.

In Orillia we’d buy our cards at a little kiosk at the corner where the two main streets meet, a place run by the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and the man who worked there couldn’t see a thing. I always wondered how he did it – taking money, making change, reaching for the right thing stacked among so many other things.

We could’ve taken anything within reach at that little store and that man would never know, but we didn’t. We were there to spend five cents a pack on cards and try to get our sets completed. And we’d usually get them all, or lose most of them by doing like I said; firing them against hard walls to see who got the closest.

These cards would be worth plenty now. Rookie cards of every name you’ve ever heard of from the NHL and MLB of the 1950s got dinged and bent and mud splattered on them. We loved our cards, but I guess you always hurt the one you love.

I remember when I was about eight years old and I needed only one card to complete my Montreal-Toronto set, and on a winter evening my dad came home from work with about fifty packs for me so I could finally find that one missing card.

I imagine what those fifty packs of unopened 1958 cards would be worth now and my eyes widen.

Of course, my mother and all my friends’ mothers eventually did their spring cleaning and threw our cards out. It’s what mothers did. They fed us, taught us, and threw our cards out. They were born to throw their son’s cards out.

We were just goofy kids throwing cards against walls until girls got interesting, and anyway, we were of a different mindset. For us, keeping Jacques Plante and Tim Horton mint, or even keeping them at all, didn’t really matter. It was the game that counted.

Getting rich just wasn’t in the cards.

Doug Jr Helped

I got on the phone in around 2008 and called Doug Harvey Jr, who’s my age and was living in Charlottetown at the time. I don’t even know why I’d do this phone thing from time to time. I was a lousy interviewer.  Sometimes I’d just gap out.

Maybe I should’ve had prepared questions ready before I dialed. Hmm. Never thought of that.

But Doug Jr. told me about how the Rocket, Moore, Beliveau and all the boys would come over to the house., which I thought was neat and slightly different than my dad bringing home buddies from the sign shop.

Doug told me about his ski trips with his wife to BC,  his restaurant in Charlottetown, and how being the son of a famous Montreal Canadiens seemed normal, like any other family.

He helped me with my pathetic interviewing. I think he sensed I needed prompting.

What stood out for me was when he said he’d go to games at the old Forum with his mother and they’d have to wait as Doug Sr. signed every autograph for every fan, regardless of how long it took. His mom would get mad at his dad because young Doug had to get up early for school in the morning.

Doug Jr, in the picture above with his dad, is a really good guy. He made my awkward phone call much easier, and I appreciated it. And by the way, I mentioned this picture to him, which is in my scrapbook, and he said it was taken when his dad was building his house, and he often had help from teammates.

I wrote about this chat and not long after a fellow named Peter Galoska  sent in a comment, explaining that he lived two doors down from the Harvey’s in Montreal when he was a kid, and Dougie Jr was his best friend.

Here’s what Mr. Galoska wrote.

“I lived at 4560 St. Ignatius Avenue, two doors down from Mr. Harvey, and Dougie Junior was my best friend. Along with Johnnie Beatty, another boy on our dead-end street located between Somerled Avenue and the Loyola campus, we terrorized the neighbourhood. It was typical boy-kid mischief stuff like ringing doorbells and running away, throwing snowballs at city buses, and lighting firecrackers off in the local church (OOPS – I wasn’t supposed to give that one away!).

I will never forget Mr. Harvey’s generosity with his time – he was quite often the guest speaker at our Coronation Park hockey league’s year-end banquet and I would burst with pride being able to tell my friends that I knew him personally!

Dougie Jr. and I were always in trouble for some mischief or other – finally, when I was 11, in 1961, my family moved away from St. Ignatius and out to Pointe Claire – this slowed down the amount of time that Dougie and I spent together and we finally drifted away from each other.

One thing that I do remember about Dougie was that he really did seem oblivious about his dad being a star – he never used it to be better than anyone else and he couldn’t really understand why we thought it was such a big thing!”

Peter Galoska

Here’s Doug Jr all grown up, with then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Heroes and Dreams

001More than a hundred years of heroes and dreams. Of men donning the sweater and hitting the ice. The 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 days of Georges Vezina 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’ve been 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 Carbo and then Kovalev and Koivu graced the ice. And now, new guard is in 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

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

We wear the sweater whether we have a sweater or not, and we continue to hope.002

006

007

008

009010


Ed Meets James Brown at the Shrine

I consider Ed Wolk a good friend of mine for sure. A great guy Ed is, we’re about the same age, and we have similar interests, including the Habs (Ed grew up a Habs fan in Montreal), he’s a long time  Beatles fan like me, and he knew John and Yoko, which I’ll talk about at a later time.

Ed has sent me a great letter from the time the great James Brown came to the Montreal Forum, and he’s also included some cool photos from the Bell Centre,

Here’s Ed’s letter from that time at the Forum in 1971 when he covered the James Brown concert.

Take it away, Ed…

“In the off season the Montreal Forum was the venue for many rock concerts and other events.

Even the Montreal Symphony had a series called “Dollar Concerts”…yes the price of admission was one dollar!…unfortunately the acoustics sucked….sorry, I digress.

Back in 1971 the Forum hosted the ‘Godfather of Soul’…James Brown!

At that time I was working at a radio station and was invited to a pre-concert press conference at the Forum…which was held at, of all places, the Montreal Canadiens dressing room.

How many times at a Habs game had I looked at the CH logo on the door of the dressing room…and there was no way that I would gain access within, until that day in ‘71.

There was probably a dozen or so media people in the room, we sat on the players benches and James Brown sat on a chair, and I  couldn’t believe it. Here I was, sitting in the inner sanctum of my favourite hockey team. My eyes did a tour of the room…the photos of Morenz, the Rocket, Toe Blake etc….

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be sitting in the ultimate Canadiens hockey shrine reading that famous quote of John McCrae..”To you from failing hands we throw the torch be yours to hold it high”…I got goosebumps!

I somehow managed to return to reality and the charismatic presence of Jame Brown “in the house”.
Near the end of the press conference..Brown, who was sitting about eight feet away from me..looked me straight in the eyes and said..”Anything you want to ask me, brother?”

Stunned..my reply was very simple…”No, Mr Brown…I’m just happy to be here!”
Imagine…I’m in the Canadiens dressing room with James Brown…doesn’t get any better!”

Oh, and the concert?

“The concert was great…It was a James Brown Review ..his backup band”The Flames” opened the show with an instrumental…James would come out sing a couple of songs..then he would showcase a singer…let her  do a solo…he’d be back to do a duet with the singer…another couple of tunes….showcase another singer…Flames would be featured in another instrumental…and so on…a great show!
Saw him again a few years later at Place des Arts…a great showman!…always willing to share the spotlight on stage with others.”

Cheers
Ed

And Ed’s photos are in the inner sanctum of the Bell Centre, including the one above of him in the dressing room.

“Michael Whalen invited me to tag along while he covered the Habs practice in Brossard (for TSN),” says Ed. “It was the first time I got to see Carey Price.”

“After the practice the players were bused back to the Bell Centre to shower etc…then there was the media scrum. I asked Michael to take my photo in the dressing room, and you’ll notice it predates the ‘No Excuses’ sign!”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Kane’s Bar

In the late 1990s a buddy and I owned a sports bar in Powell River called Kane’s Sports Bistro. It was a nice little place and I was able to have my treasures all over the walls, just like I’d always wanted.

But it was way too much work and not much money, we were fairly clueless about running a place like this, and we ended up selling it.

The new owners kept the name and carried on for several more years.

When we had the pub, the NHL Oldtimers came to town to play one of their many charity games and dazzle us with their playmaking, the skill that never seems to leave retired players.

On the day of the game, in the early afternoon, my partner and I were the only ones in the place when a couple of legends, Red Storey and  Frank Mahovlich, walked in. They strolled around, looked at all the stuff on the walls, and then sat down.

Naturally we were very polite, offered them a nice spaghetti dinner (on the house), and started asking questions about hockey which they both seemed more than happy to go on about. We talked about the 1972 Canada-Russia series, modern day hockey, and Red told me how hard it was to handle the Rocket sometimes when he (Red) was refereeing.

And of course, we had a big talk about the Habs in general.

From that conversation, the thing that most stands out is Mahovlich saying what a class outfit the Canadiens were. He said it was by far the best team in the league to play for. He explained that he didn’t get along with Punch Imlach in Toronto and wasn’t happy there, and when he was playing in Detroit and heard the news that he was traded to Montreal, he knew it was perfect for him.

He said the Canadiens treated the players first-class, and he considered himself an ex-Hab, not a Leaf or Red Wing.

That night at the game, Red Storey carried a microphone with him as he mc’d, and told the sold-out crowd of about 2500 that everyone should go to Kane’s because the spaghetti was so good.

Rocket Signing The Orillia Book

The Rocket came to Orillia in 1962 to say hello and drop some pucks at the annual Variceties event at the arena, but something behind the scenes happened. The local sports reporter from the Packet and Times, who knew that I had a Habs scrapbook, asked if he could use one of my Richard pictures for the local program they were putting out.

I let him of course, and in return the reporter gave me this original photo he’d taken of the Rocket signing the Orillia registry.

******************************

Maurice Richard coming to Orillia was a big thing for me, that’s for sure. He was my hero, which is something that’s never changed over the years.

Here’s the program, with my picture of Rocket I lent to the newspaper.

The Rocket signed it, but the pen was beginning to run out of ink.

Rocket 3

Rocket 2

Orillia Var

A hockey friend of mine, Warren Howes, sent a team picture (below) from that night, with his younger brother, the goalie, in the front row.

As you can see, the entire team is wearing Habs sweaters but it appears they might have been worn to make Maurice happy. The kids had either their team sweaters underneath, or Leafs sweaters, which is what Warren thinks.

You can see the Rocket standing behind the boys. And in my pile of Habs stuff here in Powell River is a helmet identical to the one the kid in the front row, third from left, is wearing

Rocket in Orillia