Tag Archives: Ron MacLean

The Rocket And The No. 9 Thing

Recently on Hockey Night in Canada, host Ron Maclean told viewers a little story about how Maurice Richard asked to change his number from 15 to 9 during the 1942-43 season in honour of his new baby girl Hugette, who weighed in at 9 pounds.

Wikipedia also says the same thing. Along with everywhere else you look.

But the number 9 must have already held a soft spot in Rocket’s heart, because as you can see in the lineup below, he was wearing it when he was playing senior hockey, a year before he joined the big club.

Is it possible that the traditional claim from Maclean, books, and the Internet, about choosing 9 because of his baby’s weight at birth, is strictly something that took on a life of its own over the years?

Not that I want to throw cold water on the time-honoured story.

Here’s my program from the 1941-42 season in the Quebec Senior Hockey League, featuring a game between the Montreal Senior Canadiens and the Montreal Royals. Further down, the Rocket in the lineup for the Senior Canadiens, a year before he joined the Habs, and with his number 9.

Maybe he simply liked the number, and along with his 9-pound baby, convinced himself that he wouldn’t mind having it again.

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Also playing on this particular night for the Montreal Royals was Bill Durnan, who of course became a legendary goalie for the Canadiens shortly after, from 1943 to 1950, and Glen Harmon, number 12 for the senior Canadiens, who joined the Habs the following season and played for them from 1942-51.

Below, from my scrapbook, the Richard family circa 1958.

From left to right, Maurice Jr, Hugette, Lucille, dad and Suzanne, Norman (who’s my age, and whom I spoken to on the phone a couple of times), and Andre. Two others, Paul and Jean, had yet to arrive.

A Mighty Fine Nine

Rocket's sweater

Yes, Leafs fan, I’ll give you this. Your team spent much of the second period in Montreal’s zone, played well, outshot the Habs 23-11, and for awhile made things dicey.

Heck, your team had lots of gas for most of the game, and peppered an incredible 52 shots at Carey Price.

But you can thank your captain, Dion Phaneuf, for being a baby after getting hit hard by Dale Weise late in this second frame and getting sent to the box, which must¬† have been a kick in the gut to Dion’s teammates.

Phaneuf, to our amusement, took a crosschecking penalty on Weise because he couldn’t handle being hit hard, and the Canadiens, who were in tough at the time, scored with 14 seconds left to make it a 5-2 game at that point, and the dagger was thrust.

So blame some of the loss on your captain. If you can’t take a heavy hit, you shouldn’t be in the game.

Canadiens win their ninth straight, with Vancouver on Tuesday to tie the league record, with the boys not allowing a single goal in any first period along the way.

Random Notes:

My friend Mel St. St. Onge in Orillia wants to start a movement to have hockey host George Stroumboulopoulos sent packing and Ron Maclean brought back. I think it’s a great idea. C’mon Rogers, toss this guy.

Shots on goal when all was said and done – Leafs 52, Habs 27.

Canadiens went 2/4 on the power play.

P.K. Subban, especially in the first period, fired several cannons at Jonathan Bernier, with one going in while the Habs were enjoying the man advantage.

Lars Eller, David Desharnais, Max, and Gally tallied in the second, while in the third, after Morgan Rielly had made it 5-3, the Canadiens held the fort and skated away with their win.

Alexander Semin showed tonight why previous coaches and managers just weren’t thrilled with him. He floated, looked uninterested, and provided a blatant turnover which led to James Van Riemsdyk narrowing the gap to 3-2 at the time.

But Max would notch a shorthanded marker soon after, and Brendan Gallagher deflected a PK blast on the power play with Phaneuf serving his time, and the gap widened even further.

Have a great night and excellent Sunday. I’m on my way to a birthday party where there’s gonna be live music and a keg of draught in the back yard.

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The Controversial Brett Hull Goal

During the third overtime period of game six of the 1999 Cup Finals between the Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres, the Stars’ Brett Hull scored the winning goal that gave his team the Stanley Cup.

The Sabres and much of the hockey world screamed blue murder over this, as Hull’s foot was in the crease.

Below is the video of the play and explanation from Supervisor of Officials Bryan Lewis, and below the video are a couple of pucks (both sides), produced afterwards, that kinda show that the lovin’ feeling was lost with Sabres fans.

puck 1

puck 2

puck 3

puck 4

HNIC Starring Don, PJ, And The Gang

Buckle up boys and girls! Eleven minutes of the Hockey Night in Canada gang preparing for and during the broadcast.

Chills, spills, and thrills. Don and Ron watching the game. Don getting ready to talk about shots from the point. Ron trying to impress us by seeming normal and hoping we can somehow save his job.

Don says he tries to think of what those at home would be interested in hearing. (Note to Don. About 20 million Habs fans wouldn’t mind hearing about the Habs sometimes).

P.J. Stock is there! PJ says he and the others like Elliotte Friedman and Kelly Hrudey gather their thoughts and try to make a hockey conversation that people at home can join in on. (Note to P.J. – We’re sort of joining in, P.J. Does “Why is he on the show” count?)

The last thing we see? Don Cherry leaving and saying goodbye, unaware that the collar of his jacket is tucked inside.

It’s all here – The HNIC gang hard at work. See for yourself. Make sure you go to the bathroom first so you can watch it uninterrupted.

 

Live From Toronto, It’s Saturday Night

It’s nothing new to see and hear Hockey Night in Canada announcers pronounce their undying love for the Maple Leafs. It’s a bit sickening but it’s nothing new.

In fact, it’s been going on since Don Cherry was young and possibly humble.

On Saturday night, broadcasters Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson, whom I thought were generally fair-minded up until then, might as well have waved Leafs flags as they called the action below.

Throughout the night they praised the Leafs so much, I started wondering how far up Yonge Street the Stanley Cup parade will go.

One of the two said something about how Brandon Prust must be afraid of Dion Phaneuf, but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. It had to be a joke. Everyone knows Phaneuf fights like Ron Maclean.

And I’ve been sick so maybe I was hallucinating and just thought I heard it.

Glenn Healy down at ice level mentioned that the Leafs can’t let Montreal get a point so it better not go to overtime. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt too and say he was just stating a fact. But it sounded terrible.

There were lots of examples. Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.

How about P.J Stock, the Einstein of the airwaves. Carey Price was fantastic in Ottawa, it was said to him. But he did let in four goals, squawked P.J., and which is nonsensical.

The guy can barely talk, and yet he’s a HNIC analyst.

I checked Wikipedia and this was said about P.J. when he was on CHOM FM’s morning show in 2010. “He brought a comedic element to the show by attempting to interview his family’s hamster, Richard Gere.”

Must have been fine and outstanding humour.

Ron Maclean in Lloydminster for Hockey Day in Canada was his usual hokey self. Maclean became a HNIC star years ago because he was able to come up with quick thinking little puns on a regular basis when he and Don Cherry would sign off Coach’s Corner.

He’s rode the coattails of that one particular talent for years.

Cherry, also in Lloydminster, arrived at the rink in a chauffeur-driven car with a slew of mounties waiting to escort him into the arena. Like a king. King of the world.

Announced by Maclean as “Coach of the Year in the American Hockey League. Coach of the Year in the NHL. Seventh all-time most popular Canadian.”

And then Cherry kind of elbowed aside a woman when he was about to walk the red carpet, where he strolled along blessing the faithful.

Cherry, during Coach’s Corner, talked about P.K. Subban’s celebration after scoring the game-winner in overtime in Ottawa, and how P.K. shouldn’t do that. Others, including Sens goaltender Craig Anderson, have whined about the same thing.

They’re all put out about this. But there was certainly a good reason for P.K’s exuberance, which doesn’t seem to be mentioned.

The Canadiens were badly outplayed in Ottawa. They’d blown a 3-0 lead. It was only Carey Price keeping them in it, and in the third period, they tied the game on a flukey goal. A flukey goal that kept them in it even though they should’ve been losing by a country mile.

And then P.K. won it in overtime. A most unlikely win if there ever was one.

That wasn’t a goal to be cool and calm about. It was a huge mother of a goal, he saved the day for his team in dramatic fashion, and the celebration was justified.

Personally, though, I want to thank the original HNIC crew for being so pro-Leafs. Because of that reason, they made me what I am today – a Habs fan. I think I owe Foster Hewit and his cronies a sincere debt of gratitude.

Growing up in Orillia, an hour and a half north of Toronto, it was only Leafs games we would get on TV. My dad would constantly moan and groan about the biased announcing of Hewitt and about the men in the Hot Stove Lounge who would go on and on about the Leafs and barely mention other teams.

We were bombarded by all things Leafs. Way too much to take.

Meanwhile in Montreal, the team was winning five straight Stanley Cups with larger than life names like Richard, Beliveau, Plante, Harvey et al. The Leafs just didn’t seem to have the class and aura the Canadiens did. They weren’t in the same league.

My dad hated the HNIC Leafs love-fest in Toronto (you see, nothing’s changed) and turned up his cheering for the Canadiens by several notches.

And of course I did too. Stupid Leafs, we’d both say. It became easy to hate them, and so easy to love the Habs.

So thanks HNIC. You helped make me a Habs fan. If you weren’t such ridiculous homers, I might have been a Leafs fan.

Geez what a thought.

 

 

 

 

Boys Beat Buds

It was almost everything one would want from a Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada Habs-Leafs bash.

Guys skating like the wind, back and forth action, some nastiness, pretty goals, tense times. If only we didn’t have to see PJ Stock.

Aside from that and a couple of other things, the night was almost perfect. Leaf fans might not agree but of course that part isn’t important.

The Canadiens win the game 4-2 on two more goals by the red-hot Max Pacioretty, with PK Subban and Tomas Plekanec also bulging the twine. But they led the thing 4-0 before allowing two goals in 22 seconds late in the second period which quickly changed the gleeful merriment and put a quick halt to the tiresome Ole Ole singing.

They did manage to hang on though, there was no scoring in the third frame, and it’s a beautiful thing to see the boys rebound after losing to the Caps Friday night a shootout, which came after a four-game win streak.

Back on track, ending the month of November in fine style. Now it’s December to concentrate on.

Don’t forget, media and fans everywhere have predicted since last season that the Habs will run out of steam as the season unfolds. So it’s one month at a time, get it done throughout, and show these people they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Pre-game saw a terrific little HNIC clip showing Habs-Leafs action from over the years with soprano Giacomo Puccini warbling in Latin or Italian or whatever it was. I’ll take clips of the Rocket and Plante and the gang till the cows come home. Never tire of it, and I always get goosebumps.

The Bell Centre crowd sang the national anthem, Max Pacioretty opened the scoring after receiving a beautiful pass up the middle from PK Subban with Max banging it home with three or four whacks after the initial stop from Jonathan Bernier,

And after David Desharnais won the faceoff back to PK who sent a wrist shot to the back of the net, it was sort of off to the races.

The second period began with the obligatory Parros-Orr staged fight, and then without warning, first Plekanec scored, and then a shorthanded marker from Max Pacioretty, and the Ole singing really kicked in.

I know what the Ole bit is. It’s from European soccer, meant to be a celebration of the game and the happiness involved. I know it’s not supposed to be a smug thing, sung as a “we’ve got it in the bag” sort of thing.

No matter.¬† It is a smug thing whether intended or not. I don’t like it, never have, and I think it rallies the other team. And anyway, we’re in North America, not Europe, it’s hockey, not soccer, so can’t we find another way to show happiness? How about standing ovations instead?

The singing died down quickly when Toronto scored twice late in the second to make for uneasy times in living rooms and at the Bell, but the boys shut the visitors down in the third and skate away with a terrific 4-2 win that had me and I’m sure a plethora of others on the edge of couches, which is why it’s called “the good old hockey game.”

Random Notes:

Canadiens outshot the Leafs 39-36.

There was a nice feature about Habs goalie coach Stephane Waite before the game, and when asked if he thought the tandem of Carey Price and Peter Budaj were good enough to be goalies of a Stanley Cup-winner, Waite said “absolutely, without a doubt’ which of course is the right answer.

But Ron MacLean (just kidding he would say) piped in when the clip was done with a “somehow I doubt it” which was uncalled for because (a) he missed the point of the question completely, and (b) he’s a moron.

Canadiens are busy. They played Friday and Saturday, then again on Monday (New Jersey), and then Wednesday (Devils again) and Thursday (Bruins).

More and more I see that George Parros isn’t doing what we’d hoped. These staged fight are ridiculous, and what he does otherwise doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

PK ended with a goal and assist, Max with two goals, and Carey Price assisted on the first Max marker, tying him with Ryan White and putting him ahead of Parros and Douglas Murray in points, who are stalled at zero..

 

 

 

 

Don’s Dressing Room Rant

On Coach’s Corner last night, Don Cherry went on about how women shouldn’t be allowed in men’s dressing rooms and the same goes for men in ladies’ rooms. It was quite a lively Coach’s Corner to say the least. And although many will say Don is wrong on this, I’ll bet there are plenty who agree with him.

I suppose women should be allowed into these smelly places, although I don’t know why they’d want to be. These are wretched places, with guys scratching themselves and doing the one-fingered nose blow as they fling tape into garbage cans, with filthy jock straps hanging near faces and unruly long johns lying on the floor that people have to gingerly walk over or around.

And I can well imagine many of these guys leaving their towels off on purpose when the ladies are trying to inquire about the limp power play and such.

I guess in this day and age it’s more of a normal thing to have women walking among naked, smelly guys hanging out all over the place. So I’ll say it should be allowed, although honestly, I’m not exactly sure. But equal rights are equal rights I guess.

As far as men being allowed in ladies’ dressing rooms, Ron MacLean was all for it, but I kind of feel that the majority of women changing their clothes in dressing rooms wouldn’t be all that nuts about it. Although with the men there, at least the ladies would have something to hang their towels on.

I’m glad my wife is a lousy athlete and I don’t have to worry about this.

And all I know is, when the time comes for me to cover the Women’s World Water Skiing and Cheerleading Championships, I’m going in the room. I’ll need the answers and quotes, and I’ll need them right away.

Domination In Buffalo

It was as one-sided as can be, a 5-1 Habs romp over a lacklustre Buffalo team, and how nice it is to clinch a playoff spot with eight games still to go instead of on the last day of the season, which is what we’ve seen in the past.

Just a great night for the Canadiens, in many ways, from start to finish.

A terrific rebound performance after losing to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. A domination of the other team like we’ve rarely seen this year. And best of all, a solid effort from almost everyone, top to bottom, beginning with Peter Budaj, who wins his seventh straight game in relief of Carey Price, and who said beforehand how proud he is to be a Montreal Canadien.

Maybe the entire team feels that way. Maybe the ones who weren’t proud aren’t there anymore.

Brendan Gallagher was a force all night, scoring Montreal’s third goal and in the thick of most things whenever he stepped on the ice. His joy of playing hockey and getting his nose dirty is written all over his face. This isn’t a small guy. Somehow his personal stats got mixed up along the way. Gallagher’s a huge guy. Just ask anyone who plays against him.

CBC’s Craig Simpson might be wrong when he says that next time around, opponents will play him differently and he might not be as effective down the road. I ask why not? I see no reason why he can’t continue to be an energetic and skilled guy who causes such havoc. Let other teams adjust. He’ll just plow ahead, play the only way he knows how, and maybe it’ll open things up for his teammates.

Ron MacLean said between periods that Gallagher is the modern day version of P.J.Stock……. I have no words for this.

Francis Bouillon took on Steve Ott after Ott had laid a punishing hit on Gallagher, and the super-strong Bouillon got the better of this Buffalo hothead. Ott also licked Jeff Halpern’s visor for some reason, which is a fine example of Ott not being completely all there.

Rene Bourque opened the game’s scoring, and once again he enjoyed a fine game, his second since returning from injury. Bourque’s a key guy, there’s no doubt, because you can never have enough big forwards who can skate like the wind, burst to the net using muscle, with good hands as a bonus.

P. K. Subban was once again sensational in notching a goal and an assist and moving the puck like a guy who’s been around for years. I don’t see a lot of other d-men around the league, but if someone is playing better than our guy right now, I’d like to know who he is.

Alex Galchenyuk scored his team’s second goal and it’s five games now with at least a point. This is a story in itself. Galchenyuk busted out of the gate in the beginning of the season, but somewhere along the line began to struggle. We chalked it up to a young guy learning his trade and the team and fans have been patient. It can’t be easy.

But wouldn’t you know it, this nineteen-year old has come alive again. He’s got a second wind, with the postseason just around the corner. The timing is impeccable.

I thought David Desharnais played a fine game, and he and Max assisted on Gallagher’s goal. Desharnais came close several times and his playmaking often proved dangerous, but until he lights ’em up, he’s going to hear his critics. Maybe even rightly so. We’re a demanding bunch.

Andrei Markov was in charge on this night, adding a power play goal and an assist and quarterbacking like he’s done so often. Although with him being caught up ice, the Sabres were able to score a shorthanded marker and ruin Budaj’s shutout. But aside from this one little pothole in the road, Markov was solid.

It’s a write-off season for the Buffalo Sabres, who, with a 30th-ranked power play and dismal play all-round, remind me a lot of last year’s Habs. So I kind of feel for them a bit. Then I get over it real quick.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens outshot the Sabres 42-15, and it was basically a nice, easy night for Budaj. But he stopped them when he had to, except for one, and what more can we ask?

Michael Ryder posted two assists, as did Max.

On to Toronto for a Saturday night special. With the very real possibility of the Habs and Leafs squaring off in the first round of the playoffs, it would be so great to see the Canadiens thump the bastards and take no prisoners. Montreal plays these guys not only on Saturday but also on the last day of the season, which is coming up fast. We need a serious statement made on both nights.