Tag Archives: Roger Crozier

Six Appeal!

six

The Canadiens are serving early and serious notice that they’re a team to be reckoned with as they downed the visiting Detroit Red Wings 4-1 at the Bell Centre, thus extending their unbeaten streak to six, and doing so in fine style.

They even went a respectable 2/5 on the power play and outshot the Wings by a formidable 20-5 in the third period. Beauty eh?

It was Detroit who opened the scoring on this night, after the Canadiens had done just that in their five previous games, when 19-year old Dylan Larkin fired the puck off Carey Price and into the net in the second period.

I admire 19-year old pros. In almost every way, the complete opposite of me when I was 19. It’s just not normal for a teenager to be earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and being hit on by groupies in big league cities. He should be chugging tequila and smoking reefers and puking in the basement like everybody else.

Soon after the young fellow got things going, Brendan Gallagher would take the puck with him while sliding into the net, and after the officials went upstairs, it was ruled a good goal and things were tied.

When I first saw the goal I thought of Henri Richard, who scored the clincher in the 1966 Cup Finals when he slid into Detroit’s Roger Crozier and over the line, taking the puck with him.  But the puck was under Henri’s arm, unlike Gally’s puck which was forced in with his skate.

Truly sad is the recent news that the Pocket Rocket is in declining health due to Alzheimer’s. We’re with you, Henri, that’s for sure.

In the third fame, the Habs broke things open when Jeff Petry scored with the man advantage, Tomas Plekanec lit the lamp a dozen or so minutes later, and Brian Flynn found the empty net with less than a second remaining.

And the world rejoiced!

Random Notes:

Montreal outshot Detroit in impressive fashion, 41-22.

Plekanec’s goal, his fifth of the season, gives him the team lead (Max has four). Gallagher, Petry, and Flynn all scored their first of the year.

Next, the St. Louis Blues pay a visit on Tuesday. And of course we need seven.

Excellent night for the boys as they roll along. All four lines once again contributed, David Desharnais enjoyed a big night, the penalty kill was solid, Alexei Emelin thumped, Tomas Fleischmann was good, Alex Galchenyuk had some nice chances, especially when he danced through four Wings during a first period power play, and of course, Price was Price, although he wasn’t exactly overworked.

Price also fed a long pass to Plekanec in the second period, who rang the  puck off the bar. Our goalie even tried once again to send the puck down the ice and into the empty net. It’s gonna happen yet!

As far as Alex Semin goes, we keep hearing about his blistering wrist shot, but we never see him unload it.

The Leafs lost to Pittsburgh.

 

 

 

 

The Big Sports 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.

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.

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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

The Old Phone Book, With Orr And….

My old Orillia and area phone book that I grabbed years ago, just before my old man threw it out.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., where young Gordon grew up. The singer would’ve been about 20 when this phone book came out, and had moved out of the house just the year before.

My good buddies Kerry Baker and Robin Metcalfe also lived on Harvey St, and my dad worked for awhile at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

You see the Lightfoot listing halfway down, and further up is former NHLer Rick Ley’s dad Norman at 47 Wyandotte.

The book also features the area surrounding Orillia, including Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home, listed as Douglas Orr, (his dad) at 21 Great North Road. And Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr, is at 67 River. Bobby was about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into the Sundridge pages and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930’s and 40’s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but had also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, the family home of respected Canadian writer Roy MacGregor in Huntsville, (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team), and John MacWilliams’ home in Huntsville.

And finally, the old homestead at 5 Elmer Ave.

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The Team

baseball

I was the second baseman and sometimes shortstop, depending on whether Sparky Roe or Lorne Wingrove was pitching, and this little small-town team beat city teams all over central and southern Ontario. We were a force, and after winning a provincial championship, the Orillia fire truck picked us up outside of town and carried us in with siren wailing.

Orillia gave us a parade, with us riding in convertibles, just like a Stanley Cup parade. And we had a meeting with the mayor where she gave us pen sets. There was also a banquet we were invited to, with Andy Bathgate, Roger Crozier, football star Garney Henley, boxer Carmen Basilio. and baseball great Sal Maglie there as speakers. Ken  McDonald, who would someday become NHL play-by-play man Jiggs McDonald, was the master of ceremonies.

Each of us had to get up and thank our coaches and parents, and I got up, froze, and nothing came out, so they let me sit down to the laughter of the room.

My picture was in the paper eating ice cream. And when my dad died recently, the funeral director was John Mundell, the kid on the left in the front row, who was a fine outfielder. And of course he wasn’t a funeral director back then. But his dad was.

I was twelve. It was the summer I smoked my first cigar. And I still had my paper route.

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Ottawa Goalie Beats Habs

And now we wait.

We wait to see how Lars Eller is after being being leveled by Eric Gryba. We wait until Friday night to see if the Canadiens can come out of this with a split before moving up the highway to Ottawa. We wait to see if Carey Price can step it up and be the goaltender he needs to be, as Craig Anderson was at the other end.

And we wait for guys in slumps to snap out of it and start helping out before it’s too late.

Anderson was peppered with 50 Montreal shots on this night, including 27 in the second period alone, and in the end, he and his Ottawa Senators withstood the onslaught, came from behind in the final frame, and won the thing 4-2.

What a sick feeling when enemy goals go in during playoff action. It cuts like a knife. This is why I need a new sport. I’ve looked at cricket but I can’t figure it out. And I sure miss the Expos.

And although it was a first-game home team loss, it was also tremendously exciting, one that featured serious thrills and spills, and overall, the Habs held the edge in play. But there was just one slight difference. The Ottawa guy wearing the pads stood on his head and played like Roger Crozier against the Habs in ’65, while the guy at the other end, who was far less busy, didn’t stand on his head and there will be no mention of Price’s performance on this night when great playoff magic is discussed in future years.

I’m not necessarily putting the blame on Price. I thought he was decent. All I’m saying is, he wasn’t as good as Anderson. And we need him to be.

In the first period, Ottawa jumped ahead 1-0, although Montreal was the better team throughout, and it was a fine time indeed when, in the second period, Rene Bourque tied it on a backhand that would’ve made the Rocket proud.

But just seconds later, Lars Eller took an obscene suicide pass from Raphael Diaz, was clocked at open ice by the much bigger Eric Gyrba, and it appeared that he might have broken his nose, maybe as he crashed down to the ice. Whatever the true outcome will be, the blood was flowing, the doc and stretcher were out there, and there can by no worse feeling than seeing someone in serious trouble, with the hushed crowd, the concerned players, and the rest of us watching from a distance and keeping our fingers crossed that it’s not serious..

It’s bad enough when something bad happens to any hockey player, but when it’s a Montreal Canadien, there’s a bigger bite to it. He’s one of our guys, an important piece of the puzzle, one of our best players. We follow him every game and it’s like we know him. Get well soon, Lars. We’re pulling for you.

What a night for emotions, because less than a minute later during the five minute major to Gryba, Brendan Gallagher converted a Tomas Plekanec pass in front of the net and suddenly it was 2-1 Habs. This was the time, this second period, when the boys needed to rack up the score with the five- minute man-advantage. Make it 3-1. Hopefully 4-1.

But they didn’t. They couldn’t tighten the noose. And the tide would eventually turn.

The Canadiens peppered Anderson, not only during the major but throughout the period, including a 5 on 3 power play,, but they couldn’t bury these Senators. They couldn’t get one more goal, and in the third, Ottawa tied it, went ahead, and ultimately scored the insurance marker.

The depression shouldn’t last long I hope, but for now, I really wish the Expos were playing to take my mind off it for awhile. How I wanted that first game and be off to the races. Now the pressure is on for a serious rebound in game two. They can’t let Anderson get into their heads, which could happen. If he stones them again tomorrow, and then it’s off to Ottawa for the next two, I might decide to hunt for some good, relaxing opium.

Random Notes:

P.K. Subban was unreal on this night. He did it all, at both ends, and his thunderous bodycheck on Chris Neil was a thing of beauty. P.K. was Montreal’s best player, and showed more pizzazz than his counterpart Erik Karlsson, even though the Swedish dandy had a goal and an assist.

I also thought Brandon Prust and Rene Bourque played important roles in this game. Prust added some good old-fashioned jam, and Bourque could have had at least three goals if Anderson was more human. Max Pacioretty also enjoyed several good chances, and I know it’s easy to say, but Max has to start scoring more.

Michael Ryder was invisible.

Total shots on goal – Montreal 50, Ottawa 31. A real playoff barn burner. A barn burning bummer.

Right away, Friday night, they go again. A split is now the new plan.

 

 

 

The Big Dinner

My peewee baseball team (I was a smallish-yet-reliable infielder) was invited to the big Sports Celebrities Dinner in Orillia, a dinner organized by Ken McDonald, who became Jiggs McDonald, the Los Angeles Kings’ very first play-by-play announcer. I was 13.

The lineup of guests was impressive, and I got them all to sign my little book

Bobby Orr And The Phone Book

 

I came across this while rummaging through boxes in preparation for another contest I’m going to throw at you.

Years ago my dad had this old 1959 Orillia and area telephone book hanging around his house which he was planning on tossing out until I asked him if I could have it because I knew Gordon Lightfoot’s family home is listed in the pages. 

Turns out there are others too.

Paging through the Orillia section, I see the GM Lightfoot household at 283 Harvey St., and young Gordon, who would be about 20 when this phone book came out, had moved out of the house the year before. I used to have a couple of buddies who also lived on Harvie St, and my dad worked for awhile at a dry cleaners in Orillia with Gordon’s father.

The book also has listings of the area surrounding Orillia, which includes Parry Sound, and I found Bobby Orr’s family home which you can see at Doug Orr, (his dad) on 21 Great North Road. Bobby’s grandfather, Robert Orr is also listed at 67 River.  Bobby would be about 11 at the time of the phone book.

Searching further, I went into Sundridge and found Bucko McDonald on Main St. Bucko had not only been a star in the NHL in the 1930’s and 40’s with Detroit, New York, and Toronto, but also coached Bobby Orr in squirt and peewee in Parry Sound. Bucko decided to make the young fellow a defenceman even though Bobby was small and had great skills up front. When dad Doug questioned Bucko about this odd decision, Bucko told him “Bobby is born to play defence.”

Sundridge is also where my mother came from.

Also listed in the pages of this old phone book is the Roger Crozier household in Bracebridge, writer Paul Rimstead’s dad’s farm outside of Bracebridge, the family home of respected Canadian writer Roy MacGregor in Huntsville, (who played minor hockey against Orr and the Parry Sound team), and John MacWilliams’ home in Huntsville.

Stranger Things Have Happened

Hab-haters are in a giddy mood. They can’t wait for the series between Montreal and Washington to begin so they can be amused by the slaughter about to unfold. You’re screwed, you rotten bastard Habs, they exclaim with glee, a glee that probably rivals many of their best orgasms.

And of course on paper, these folks don’t have to be all that smart to come to their bitter and nasty conclusions. The Washington Capitals are loaded with firepower and the Habs aren’t. It’s about as clear-cut as you can get.

But two things come to mind as these smug armchair quarterbacks snort and sneeze from their allergies to the CH. Two upsets. Two huge upsets.

The first was my beer league team which entered a tournament with only six players and had to play three games in one day while suffering from massive hangovers. We played a team that enjoyed a full bench and lesser hangovers, but because we were such underdogs, we gave a little extra, almost puked several times on the bench and on the ice, and won the game with a last minute goal.

That was a big upset.

And there was another upset, although not quite as big as the beer league thing.

In 1970-71, the Boston Bruins finished with 121 points, exactly the same as the Washington Capitals this year. The Bruins were also loaded with gunners, just like the Caps. Phil Esposito tallied 152 points that year, Bobby Orr had 102 assists, John Bucyk managed 116 points, and Ken Hodge had 105 points. They were big, bad, and very talented. 

These big, bad Bruins met the Montreal Canadiens in the quarterfinals of that year, and it was going to be a massacre to end all massacres. The Habs had Ken Dryden in nets, a guy who had played a total of six games in the NHL and looked like he’d rather be in a library. The coaching situation was unstable, Claude Ruel resigned, and Al McNeil had taken over. John Beliveau was 39 years old.  And the Canadiens had missed the playoffs the previous year.

The future didn’t look all that bright.

No one gave Montreal a chance in that 1971 playoff series. But in game two, Montreal was losing 5-2 going into the third period and came back and won 7-5. It was the pivotal game and I remember listening to this classic on a transistor radio perched on a rock outside the shack I was living in at the time with a bunch of crazy hippies and American draft dodgers, none of whom had the slightest interest in what was going on.

And in the end, when the dust had settled on this quarterfinal series, Montreal shocked the Bruins by winning it in seven with big help from Dryden, then taking out both Minnesota and Chicago to capture the whole damn thing that year.

That’s what can happen. Washington has Ovechkin (109 points), Nicklas Backstrom (101), Alex Semin (84), and defenceman Mike Green (76), and of whom had higher totals than Montreal’s leading point-getter Tomas Plekanec, who managed 70 points this season. On paper, it’s not even fair.

But all the Habs have to do is have amazing goaltending, big goals from their first-liners, and nice, balanced scoring from everyone else.  Ryan O’Byrne has to quit falling down, Roman Hamrlik has to speed up, and Marc-Andre Bergeron has to blast away and hit the net, especially on the power play. And Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price, whoever, must perform like Ken Dryden or Terry Sawchuk or Roger Crozier or Glenn Hall, goalies who stood on their proverbial heads come playoff time.

And come to think of it, everyone might want to concentrate on stopping Ovechkin too.

The team also has to have the fortitude to come through like my beer-league team that had only six players but still got the job done. And we had hangovers, something the Canadiens better not have if they plan on knocking off a great Washington Capitals team.

I Hope I Didn’t Get Any Corn Stuck In My Teeth

0012 When I was twelve our Orillia peewee baseball team beat all comers, from little towns to big cities, and we won the all-Ontario championship. The following year, Orillia put on a Sports Celebrity dinner and our team and some successful minor hockey teams were invited and we accepted trophies and such from the celebrities –  like baseball legend Sal Maglie, hockey star Andy Bathgate, goalie great Roger Crozier, all-star fooball player Garney Henley, and champion boxer Carmen Basilio.

I’m in the bottom row, third from the right in the baseball picture, and Ricky Ley, who eventually played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, New England Whalers, and Team Canada ’74, is in the hockey photo, bottom row, third from left with the “A” on his sweater. The Whalers actually retired Rick Ley’s sweater in Hartford and it’s hanging from the rafters there.

Ken McDonald, who was the local radio guy, was the master of ceremonies, and he eventually changed his name to Jiggs McDonald and became an iconic play-by-play broadcaster for the inaugural Los Angeles Kings, and later the Atlanta Flames.

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Habs Save Their Energy For The Bruins. You Got A Better Excuse?

PJ Stock, Kelly Hrudey, Jordy, the Queen of England, the mob, various trapese artists, out-of-work reality stars, some tanned surfers in Australia, and several dancing bears all are in complete agreement that the Habs have absolutely no chance in the playoffs.

And yes, the team was fairly dozy tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, being outshot 41-30, and giving up two inexcusable shorthanded goals in a lacklustre 3-1 loss. But Carey Price, several times, was spectacular, and that has to count for something. Isn’t it a hot goaltender who takes a team to the promised land? Roger Crozier? Terry Sawchuk? Ken Dryden? Patrick Roy? Never count out any team with a goalie who can stand on his head.

The Habs will play Boston in the opening round and that’s fine. Because when they take them down, it’s going to be sweet music. No one will give them a chance. Not the great guru, PJ Stock, or the dancing bears, or the Australian surfer dudes. Do you think it’s never happened before that a team expected to fall flat on their faces digs deep down and pulls it out? That’s what hockey is. Bring on the Bruins.

Random Notes:

Kelly Hrudey says it should be too easy for the Bruins against the Habs.

Bob Gainey sat Alex Tanguay out tonight, saying he wasn’t hurt, he just needed a rest. The guy was on the shelf for two months, only came back recently, and now he needs a rest?