Tag Archives: Rocket Richard

Bring ‘Em On

Boston beat Detroit 4-2 today to take out the Wings in five games, and thus, it’s a good old Habs-Bruins party coming up in about another freaking week.

The road to the Stanley Cup means tough going throughout, and it’ll definitely be tough against a red hot Bruins squad.

But it can be done of course, and if any Habs fan out there says we’re screwed, may the Rocket reach down from above and grab you by the throat.

It’s Good To Be A Habs Fan

The Habs are gone, and for now………

No more P.K. Subban wheeling around and rushing like a man possessed, or blasting a missile from the point, or sailing across the ice, fired up, in the moment, to level an oncoming enemy.

No more Brendan Gallagher crashing the net, standing firm as bigger opponents try to figure out how to take his head off without getting penalized, with the young fellow holding his ground as he’s mugged and coming back for more. No more of the little bugger pushing hard against the gigantic Zdeno Chara and other behemoths, and when seeing this, how could it not touch our hearts.

No more Brandon Prust sticking up for his teammates, and sometimes finding himself on the scoresheet after giving the proverbial and impossible 110%. No more choirboy Lars Eller getting better each game, or witnessing 19-year old Alex Galchenyuk slowly make his way to a brilliant future.

No more of the players we cheer for on some nights when they’re on fire, and want to ship to Vladivostok when they’re struggling.

No more beautiful blue, white, and red uniform with the big CH on the front. The uniform the Rocket wore. How it must feel to put this sweater on. Fans of other teams don’t understand, and I guess we don’t expect them to.

No more Pierre Houde shouting “et le but,” or, from any of the English voices, “he shoots, he scores,” as one or another Montreal Canadien lights the lamp, and we celebrate and crave more.

No more anticipation of a big game, especially at the Bell, with a booming rendition of the national anthem beforehand, with the crowd ready and expectations high, with little kids carrying the flag or pretending to light up the ice. I applied for this flag job a few years ago, only to be told I’m about 50 years too old.

No more games, for a few months, for us who cheer for our Montreal Canadiens. We who feel the magic. Magic in the crest. Magic in a big night.

It’s over for now, until they come together once again, when, as we always have, we’ll hope and dream and yell at the referee.

Until then, until we see the blue, blanc, and rouge take to the ice, the games might as well be played in Oregon.

Boring, Oregon.

Boring

l-boring-welcome-sign

Good Wood

Ron Green in Orillia sends along an interesting story from TheStar.com – Hockey Is In Tom Scanlan’s Bones  – about a fellow who bought game-used sticks once owned by the 42 players who scored at least 500 goals in the NHL. The sticks were up for auction last June from Classic Auctions in Montreal.

42 is a lot of sticks, especially when you attach the importance of the players who handled them. I have two that belong in this category – Wayne Gretzky and Jean Beliveau. He has 40 more than me, including the Rocket’s, which has me oozing with envy. I’ve always wanted one of Rocket’s sticks.

There’s a few in the 42 I can do without, starting with Mark Recchi, but all in all, it’s a beautiful pile of timber and good for the guy for being the winning bidder.

For the record, here’s the 42 men who’ve scored at least 500 goals, in order of ranking:

Wayne Gretzky – 894
Gordie Howe – 801
Brett Hull – 741
Marcel Dionne – 731
Phil Esposito – 717
Mike Gartner – 708
Mark Messier – 694
Steve Yzerman – 692
Mario Lemieux – 690
Luc Robitaille – 668
Jaromir Jagr – 665
Teemu Selanne – 663
Brendan Shanahan – 656
Dave Andreychuk – 640
Joe Sakic – 625
Bobby Hull – 610
Dino Ciccarelli – 608
Jari Kurri – 601
Mark Recchi – 577
Mike Bossy – 573
Mats Sundin – 564
Mike Modano – 561
Guy Lafleur – 560
Joe Nieuwendyk – 559
Johnny Bucyk – 556
Ron Francis – 549
Michel Goulet – 548
Maurice Richard – 544
Stan Mikita – 541
Keith Tkachuk – 538
Frank Mahovlich – 533
Bryan Trottier – 524
Pat Verbeek – 522
Dale Hawerchuk – 518
Jarome Iginla – 516
Pierre Turgeon – 515
Jeremy Roenick – 513
Gilbert Perreault – 512
Jean Beliveau – 507
Peter Bondra – 503
Joe Mullen – 502
Lanny McDonald – 500

Breakfast Of Champions

With my busy life I need to start my day right. That’s why I go for Rocket Flakes and a couple of DK Really Freaking Strong Beers. It’s a filling, nutritious and delicious combination, packed with seven essential nutrients and 40% alcohol content, and it gets me ready to greet the day with a big smile on my face.

Yes folks, Rocket Flakes and DKRFSB. Do your body, and your mind, a favour.

Cue the jingle:

“Rocket Flakes tastes really good,
Packed with vitamins, as it should.
Forget the milk, just add Kane’s beer,
You’ll be a breakfast pioneer.
Rocket Flakes, Rocket Flakes, Rocket Flakes.”

Flakes and beer. Now that’s a power play!

 

Toenail Clipping

I find myself thinking more and more about the lockout and how it’s affecting me, and I have to say it’s not affecting me a great deal at all, other than having to dig deep to keep posting here every day.

I’m just sick of the whole mess, one created through greed, distrust and lies, and one that may never get truly resolved, even if they go back to work. It’s way too discouraging. I’m also tired of seeing hockey analysts on TV going on and on about it every day, of press conferences with Donald Fehr with sombre-looking players standing in the background, and hearing that the Winter Classic is cancelled, with the all-star game next. Which is fine because I despise the All-Star game anyway. Seeing smiling players in a big love-in isn’t my idea of the sport.

I’m tired of hearing about players signing with teams overseas – it’s boring and depressing, and every time I hear, it’s like another nail in the season-being-over coffin. And of course I’m tired of Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and the word “millions.”

I’m just sick of it all, even to the point of putting personal hockey memorabilia away, out of sight, and making my museum-like room, which I’ve shown photos of here, more of a normal room. I hate the term “man-cave” and I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m too old for a man-cave, and I’m allergic to dust.

When PK Subban does the weather on TV, it doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t smile or laugh or have any kind of emotion. All I can think of is, why didn’t he sign a contract. When Andrei Markov gets hurt in the KHL, I’m nonchalant. When owners and players jostle over millions, I yawn. I’m too busy trying to get my ducks in a row so I can retire from the workforce and still be able to pay some bills.

I think about hockey players now and I think very little. With the Canadiens it’s always been about the team as a whole anyway. When I watch them, I see the sweater. I see the crest. I see if they win or not. Who wears the sweater makes very little difference. It’s how they help the team that’s important. That’s why I climb up one side of Scott Gomez and down the other. He hasn’t helped the team and thus, he deserves it. It goes with the territory.

If Josh Gorges or Erik Cole came to Powell River, it doesn’t matter, even though they do a good job for the team. I wouldn’t go out of my way. I don’t want their autographs. Trevor Linden was in town recently, played road hockey just around the corner from me, but I stayed in the house and clipped my toenails or whatever. This sort of thing just isn’t important to me. Yes, if it was Jean Beliveau, I’d seek him out and ask him to tell some stories about another time, about Plante and Harvey and the Rocket and such. Being coached by Toe Blake. With Josh Gorges or Erik Cole, I’d really have nothing to talk about.

I won’t be watching when Toronto plays Pittsburgh or Columbus takes on the Devils, or any other of the hundreds of meaningless games (to me) around the league. I could care less. I have toenails to clip. It’s only about the Habs crest and the team winning. Everything else about the NHL means nothing. The lockout, money, and the previous disputes, have made me tired.

 

Summit ’72 – “Seeds Being Sown”

Try as they may, Canadian teams were rarely a match for the powerful Soviets from the early 1960’s onward. Every World Championship, every Olympics, we’d listen on radio or watch on television as our Canadian boys, fine amateurs indeed, just couldn’t handle Russia’s best.

Father David Bauer’s players weren’t NHLers, we told ourselves, and it was far from fair when only the very best from throughout the massive Soviet Union were taking on our fine but overmatched National squad. If only our pros could play those Russians, we said time and again. It’d be a different story then.

The seeds were sown over many losing years, and the time had come to right the hockey ship. This wouldn’t be Father Bauer’s amateurs playing in 1972. It was going to be NHL superstars, the best of the best, and a great lesson was going to be taught to those upstarts behind the Iron Curtain.

Before the 1972 Summit Series finally took fruition, the so-called “Father of Russian Hockey,” Anatoli Tarasov, had had a falling out with Russian hockey brass, and thus was put on the sidelines only to observe. But more than any other man in the Russia, it was Tarasov who should be given credit for his country’s rise to the top in relatively short time (from the mid 1940’s). He worked his players during all four seasons, on ice, soccer fields, and gyms. He had his players do strange and varied drills, practicing balance and dexterity and quickness, and if Phil Esposito had ever been introduced to this type of thing, he would’ve high-tailed it back to the Soo and hid in a basement.

Tarasov wasn’t the only one to fall by the wayside before the Summit Series. Forward Anatoli Firsov, considered by many as the greatest Russian player of the era, was also left off the team because………he supported Tarasov.

The Father of Russian Hockey and Canada’s terrific Father David Bauer were both inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame as builders – Tarasov in 1974, and Bauer, posthumously in 1989 after passing away a year earlier. It’s a shame Father Bauer wasn’t able to enjoy his moment. He certainly deserved it.

In 1957 the Soviets played exhibition games in Canada, were guests of Maple Leaf Gardens for a Leafs-Hawks contest, and made it known that one of their priorities was to see the great Rocket Richard in action. (I don’t know if this happened or not).

They played to capacity crowds, said the big difference between NHL and Russian hockey was “the unnecessary roughness in the NHL”, and a Canadian teenager, seeing the foreigners in a hotel lobby exclaimed, “They’re humans, just like we are!”

Father David Bauer

Rocket’s 500th

Thanks a lot to Beatnik for sending the video below.

It was Glenn Hall in nets for the Hawks who was the victim on the night the Rocket notched his 500th regular season goal, which was the first time a player had reached that milestone. I had breakfast with Hall once when he was in Powell River for the Allan Cup, and although I didn’t mention the goal, I did ask him who the greatest player ever was, hoping he’d say the Rocket. But it wasn’t to be. His answer, and I wasn’t all that surprised, was Gordie Howe. But he did mention that the Rocket scared the hell out of him close in.

Rocket’s 500th was scored on the power play on Oct. 19, 1957 when he took a pass from Jean Beliveau and blasted it home. He was 36 years old, and received a 10 minute standing ovation from the Forum crowd.

Rocket was the first to hit 500, but not the last by a long shot. He now sits 28th on a list of 42 players to have reached this magical mark and beyond, including Wayne Gretzky in first place, who managed a ridiculous 894 when all was said and done. But of the 42 players, only seven scored their 500th in less time than Rocket, who did it in 863 games. (Rocket would score 544 regular season goals before hanging up his skates).

The others who scored their 500th in less games than Rocket would be:

Wayne Gretzky, who got his 500th in just his 575th game, which is mind-boggling. Mario Lemieux made it after 605 games, Mike Bossy in game number 647, Brett Hull scored his 500th during his 741st game. Phil Esposito in his 803rd game, Jari Kurri in his 833rd match, and Bobby Hull in 861 games.

Player Pics

Back when the earth was flat and dinosaurs roamed about in foul moods, the Toronto Star Weekly (and other sister newspapers around the country) would once a week feature lovely full size photos of NHL stars which I would cut out and put into a second scrapbook, the first being my treasured Montreal Canadiens scrapbook. I looked forward to see who would be next in the long line of photos, and it was always interesting to check out the big-league equipment these guys wore.

Here’s five of them;

Gump Worsley, before he was a Hab, was a Ranger.

Terry Sawchuk, who many believe was the greatest goaltender of his day, (some even say the the best ever), would eventually pass away after a wrestling match with teammate Ron Stewart out on the front lawn.

Don Simmons was one goalie in particular that the Rocket seemed to have his way with, and there are several pictures of Richard bulging the twine behind a snakebitten Simmons. He owned a sporting goods store in southern Ontario for years after he’d retired from the game.

Gordie Howe. I once had breakfast with Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall, and I asked him who was the greatest of them all. He didn’t even have to think about it. He’d played against Bobby Orr, admitted the Rocket was the most dangerous from the blueline in, and had watched Wayne Gretzky closely from his farm near Edmonton, but his answer was Howe.

George Armstrong, Leafs captain and a guy I always thought was a really mediocre skater, but he made up for it with leadership and smarts. I never liked him much because he was a Leaf and sometimes he’d score against the Habs. He was also very stingy about signing autographs, which was rare for players back then.