Tag Archives: Orillia

Canadiens Clubbed at Classic

The Canadiens fell 3-0 to the Ottawa Senators at the frigid NHL 100 Classic at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, in which had been an important game for both teams considering the distant playoff hopes.

A game mostly dominated by Ottawa, and a game where Sens’ goalie Craig Anderson probably froze his ass off due to lack of action.

It was two points the Habs needed and two points they failed to get. It’s too bad. But I think I speak for most Habs fans when I say we’re all kind of numb about wins and losses now.

I was at Lansdowne Park many times when I lived in Ottawa, mostly when Tom Clements and Tony Gabriel lit up the CFL, and when it was warmer than -20 like Saturday for the Habs-Sens tilt.

Bryan Adams sang a couple of tunes during the second intermission of this NHL 100 Classic, and we got to see a couple of shirtless guys sitting on some poor bastards’ shoulders, rocking to Adams’ music.

That had to be tequila or vodka climate warming, don’t you think?

Habs were struggling when losing 1-0 in the third, but when Jonathan Drouin got stripped of the puck by Bobby Ryan and the game became 2-0 with just three minutes left, of course it was as over as can be. The Habs had shown no offence throughout, so why start then?

Ottawa’s third goal was an empty netter.

I’ve never been a big fan of outdoor games, although I’ve always like the slightly unusual down-close camera angles on the side. But the players seem to like it, and there’s something about skating outdoors.

Skating outdoors, like in this picture that hangs proudly on my living room wall, bringing back many memories of me and my friends playing on an outdoor rink at Mckinnell Square while growing up in Orillia.

This cool piece,  measuring two feet by three feet and produced on thick card stock, was originally in a Quebec school in the 1940s, as dated on the bottom of it.

It’s a scene from the 1930s, used as part of student storytelling, essays, copying, or whatever else they came up with in class.

There’s a fishing scene on the other side, and I think it’s part of a series of school posters.

What’s funny about it is the Montreal player on the left, handling the puck, is actually Leafs star Charlie Conacher.

The boys now hit the road for a six-game road trip beginning in my neck of the woods, Vancouver, which is 120 km south of me. My neighbour and buddy Tony is heading down, so c’mon Habs, win for Tony.

At the Sports Celebrities Dinner

Roger Crozier was there, and so was Andy Bathgate and hurler Sal Maglie and a host of others, including my peewee baseball team that rolled over unsuspecting teams from around Ontario.

I played either second base or shortstop, depending on who was pitching. If Doug Roe was on the mound, I was at shortstop. If it was Lorne Wingrove throwing, I moved to second base and Doug played short.

It was the 3rd annual Sports Celebrity Dinner in Orillia, from June 1964, organized by local radio personality Ken McDonald, later known as Jiggs McDonald.

Only a few years after this fancy affair, Jiggs would find himself broadcasting NHL games in Los Angeles when the league first expanded, and then in Atlanta and Long Island (along with stints in Toronto and Florida). Jiggs ultimately wound up in the Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award.

This is my program from that big night at Club Pavalon, a place where, on normal nights, gave us some of the best live rock bands from the province and beyond.

cover

Ken

Crozier

Bathgate

Sal

Former NHLer Cal Gardner is in the Terriers lineup.

Terriers

My peewee team. They spelled my name wrong.

peewees

Basilio

Castator

Henley

Jr. C

Below, Rick Ley, who would go on to NHL and WHA stardom, is in the front row of the midget team.

Ley

lacrosse

That Lingering Issue

Ernie Kane made the backyard rink in Orillia, and I practiced like crazy.

A few years later, when I was playing in an atom/tyke league, I smothered a puck with my knees just like I’d seen Doug Harvey do in a picture, which you can see below. The difference was, Harvey smothered the puck in his end, and I smothered mine in front of the other team’s  net.

I remember a man yelling from the stands, “Hey, wrong end!” and I remember hearing some other parents laughing. It’s stuck with me. Maybe it’s why I still have certain issues.

0035

0043

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

 

Canadiens Hijack Jets

A gutsy comeback by the Habs in Winnipeg, capped by Max Pacioretty’s overtime winner, and the boys glided off the ice with a nice 5-4 win.

What a difference a couple of days make. Incredibly lousy in Minnesota on Thursday night, and a hard-working, solid display on Saturday.

With Al Montoya in net.

With Andrew Shaw scoring two power play goals.

And with Hometown Hockey coming from my hometown Orillia tomorrow!

It’s elation, sort of! But they’re in Chicago after the Orillia piece, so the elation might be short lived.

The game in Winnipeg was a back and forth deal, with the Jets opening the scoring in the first, followed by Shaw’s first after he redirected Jonathan Drouin’s shot.

Shaw would strike again in the second, but after that it seemed all wrapped up for the Jets as they would soon even it up, take a 4-2 lead in the third after Blake Wheeler blew by a stumbling Jeff Petry, and we waited for the inevitable.

Things looked gloomy, yes they did. But Pleks, after great work by Gally down low, narrowed it to 4-3, and then Petry atoned for his big mistake by firing home the tying goal with just 4:44 left in the period.

Overtime it became, and as the clock moved toward a shootout, Max Pacioretty suddenly bulged the twine on the power play. And just like that, the Canadiens rack up four wins in six games.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Jets 50-23.

Brendan Gallagher has been a bright light on most nights, and Saturday was no exception. He just kept fighting, nobody works harder, and as my buddy Mike Williamson says, he should be captain.

Once again, if you get Sportsnet, tune in a half hour before game time and check out Hometown Hockey’s feature on Orillia, where I was a smallish yet shifty right winger for Byers Bulldozers midgets and bantams. A time when I had trouble focusing I guess, as I used to sing Beatles songs under my breath as I raced down the ice.

 

 

It Was Good To Be A Beatle

Yes it was good to be in the Beatles, but that photo shoot at Abbey Road drove me crazy. Two hours of back and forth, back and forth, until finally I’d simply had enough and just kept going, right to the St. John’s Wood underground station, out to Heathrow, and back to Canada where I got my dream job at the Porcelain and Metal factory in Orillia assembling metal doors for bathroom stalls on the graveyard shift.

So Many Disturbing Questions

From my grade two art book, in Mrs. Williams’s class at West Ward Public School in Orillia, circa 1957. Yes, I saved it.

It’s obviously Elvis Presley because it looks just like him. But I kinda spelled his name wrong.

There are questions.

Either the female fan has two pens for his autograph, or she’s preparing to stab him with nails. Was she really a fan, or was she something else?

Elvis is playing his guitar left-handed. Why? Was it a signal?

Although I can’t make out most of the words in the speech balloon because they were coloured over with red crayon, I think I can read ‘A cat’ at the top, and maybe ‘bot it’ at the bottom.

Why were the words coloured over? Curious.

Was ‘bot it’ code for ‘bought it, as in ‘killed’? Did Elvis already feel he was going to buy it? Was he on the KGB hit list and he knew it?

Did Krushchev’s wife have  an x-rated crush on Elvis, which might not have sat well with Nikita, thus escalating the Cold War?

Who was cat?

Was Elvis actually singing? Or was it a cry for help?

And what about Mrs. Williams? Did anybody REALLY know her?

 

 

 

Houses Of The Holy

Presenting the boyhood homes of four of the greatest players of all time.

All four photos were taken by yours truly. Not that I’m bragging or anything.

Below, the house in Bordeaux, Quebec, just north of Montreal, where Onesime and Alice Richard moved to from the Gaspe area when Onesime took a job in the big city as a CPR machinist. This is where son Maurice grew up with brother Henri and six other siblings.

When Maurice was older his dad got him a job in his machine shop for $20 a week.

rockets-house

Bobby Orr’s place in Parry Sound, across the street from the Seguin River where young Bobby learned to play the game better than anyone else, except for maybe the fourth player on this page.

This house is only a couple of hundred feet from Parry Sound’s main drag, but I’m guessing he didn’t hang out there looking for trouble, like I did in my home town.

orrs-house

Wayne Gretzky’s pad on Varadi Avenue in Brantford. A fine house on a nice tree-lined street. Bicycles and a little hockey net sit in the driveway, probably for various grandkids visiting Walter.

gretzky

And finally, Elmer Ave. in Orillia, where the smallish yet shifty Dennis Kane grew up. This is a guy who, while playing for Byers Bulldozers midget all-stars, had his shot clocked at an incredible 29 mph. And aside from seven or eight others, was the fastest skater on the team.

It’s a shame that scouts were either drunk or weren’t paying attention when Kane was playing.  It’s a shame that he was too smalI with shitty muscles. It’s a shame his shot sucked. It’s a shame that the wild and crazy 1960s came along and he got sidetracked. It’s a shame that he had a hard time focusing and would sometimes sing Beatles songs under his breath while carrying the puck down the wing.

There are several other fine excuses as well.

denniss-house