Tag Archives: Ryan Walter

Habs And Leafs

Just like the old days. Habs and Leafs on a Wednesday night. I grew up with this type of thing. But back then, the Leafs were almost good.

Toronto’s in 7th place in the East with 24 points, which is ridiculous. It’s almost March and they’re sort of still in it. Must have something to do with the short season.

Starting tonight, the Leafs begin their annual spring collapse. It’s the way of the world.

Random Notes;

Michael Ryder’s number will be 73, which means Brendan Gallagher, because he’s a snot-nosed rookie, forfeits it and takes on number 11. Previous Habs number 11 guys include, of course, the legendary Scott Gomez, along with Saku Koivu, Kirk Muller, Ryan Walter, Yvon Lambert, Marc Tardif, Rejean Houle and so on, all the way down to Clayton Frechette during the 1912-13 season.

Approximately 73 Habs in all have owned number 11, which is more than any other.

Number 11′s a nice low number and I feel Gally’s lucky to have it. Same with Brandon Prust with number 8. Considering numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, and 12 are all hanging from the rafters.

 

 

Those Lousy Edmonton Seats

I remember it clearly. I walked in to a Calgary Ticketmaster and asked about available tickets for the Habs in Edmonton. The lady looked at her book and said yes indeed, she had four, right behind the Edmonton bench. I don’t need to tell you that this was pretty well the best thing anyone has ever said to me. “Four seats right behind the bench.”

How could everyone have missed this? Poor suckers. Poor unfortunate and unknowing suckers who must sit higher up.

So my wife and I and the kids hopped into our minivan and drove up to Edmonton to see the boys play the Oilers, and we were going to be so close I could probably talk about the weather to Russ Courtnall or Ryan Walter as they skated nearby, and almost hear Patrick Roy chatting with his goalposts. It was going to be a terrific evening, a splendid evening, maybe the best evening of all the evenings ever spent.

We arrived at Northlands Coliseum during the warm up, and our seats were spectacular. Players were skating around and getting loose just a few feet away. I felt sorry for those other fans higher up. They weren’t privileged like us, because we had the best seats in the house. Everyone was probably wishing they had seats like us.

How could I be so lucky? I patted myself on the back.

Close to game time, Oilers’ backup goalie Bill Ranford took his seat right beside my son, and I think my son looked at me like I was greater than Superman and Hulk Hogan. I’m sure I was. What other dad would find seats like this?

I immediately patted myself on the back again.

Then it happened. It all came crashing down. It still hurts when I talk about this, and when I think about it, it could have been different. Edmonton coach John Muckler, assistant coach Ron Low, and then a trainer all walked to the bench and took their places. Right in front of us. They even stood shoulder to shoulder so there wasn’t even a gap to look through. We had a great view of the stitching on their jackets. It was at that moment I think my kids stopped thinking I was Superman, and my wife started making divorce plans.

We didn’t see a thing except when play was far down at each end. I just think the coaches didn’t have to be so close to each other. A little space between them and we could’ve seen a few things in the middle of the ice.

Tickets were $35.74 each, along with restaurants and hotel. And I’m blaming the coaches. I figure Muckler owes me about $500.

Here's the sad evidence. I never noticed the part at the bottom that says "obstructed view" until about a month ago. Don't you think the coaches could have spread out a little?

Here’s the sad evidence. I never noticed the part at the bottom that says “obstructed view” until years later. Don’t you think the coaches could have spread out a little?

Extra, Extra…..Part Six in ’86

For the last eight Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup wins, from 1971 to 1993, I managed to save the front pages and laminate them. (Although one, from 1977, is an inner page).

This is part six – 1986

David Desharnais was born in 1986. Time marches on.

Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey, both well past their prime, called the 1986 Stanley Cup win the sweetest of all their championships. It was a team without snipers, a team full of hard-working grinders, and a team oozing heart and soul. And with Robinson and Gainey’s leadership, grinders grinding, and Patrick Roy in goal, the Canadiens took out the Calgary Flames in five games and Cup number 23 was in the books.

Patrick Roy was named the Conn Smythe trophy winner, a feat he would repeat again in 1993, and talk in the dressing room afterward was about the stop Roy made with just 14 seconds left, a stop that ended a Flames rally in dramatic fashion. In fact, the Habs almost blew it and who knows what would have happened in the series if Calgary ended up winning a game that was in the bag for the home team.

Montreal was leading 4-1 midway throught the third period and they were beginning to lick their lips at the thought of drinking from the Cup. But the Flames had other ideas. They made it 4-2, then 4-3 with Mike Vernon pulled for an extra attacker. Smiles and backslapping stopped on the Montreal bench. The Forum grew nervous. And then the Roy stop happened.  

Here’s Roy explaining the play. “The Flames were all around the net, and I had made the first save on Mullen, but the rebound went to (Jamie) Macoun, who was right beside me. I made the split and got my pad on the shot and then covered the puck with my glove. I was really lucky on that play, but you make your own luck, right?”

“Roy” muttered Chris Chelios. “Patrick Roy. Whew!”

Young Claude Lemieux scored ten goals in these playoffs, including four game-winners. Ryan Walter played with a half-healed broken ankle. Rookie Brian Skrudland, who had his jaw broken early in the game by Calgary’s Nick Fotiu, never missed a shift, and scored Montreal’s second goal.

Skrudland also notched the game winner in game two in the shortest overtime ever…just nine seconds in.

Linemate Mike McPhee, who became a household name in these playoffs, said of Skrudland, “He showed me what I could do when I saw him, at 175 pounds, playing like a 205-pounder every shift.”

Guy Carbonneau, called “the defensive Gretzky,” continued on even with a serious knee injury. Craig Ludwig played with a back so bad he had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Claude Lemieux, a favourite target of the opposition, played like he was possessed. “I like it fine when everybody’s after me…I am an inspiration to every player in the AHL.”

Chris Nilan couldn’t suit up for the last two games because of a damaged ankle, was bittersweet in the room during the celebrations. “I wanted to be wearing the colours,” he told reporters. “I’m glad it gave (Steve) Rooney and (Serge) Boisvert the chance to get their names on the Cup. They deserved it because they worked like hell and never opened their mouths.”

Rick Green, a whipping boy to the public was he came over from Washington with Ryan Walter in the unpopular trade that sent Rod Langway, Brian Engblom, Doug Jarvis and Craig Laughlin packing, was considered the best defenceman of all in the ’86 playoffs. And Gaston Gingras finally showed he was a bonafide NHLer by having a fine series and scoring three big goals.

Montreal had reached the final against Calgary by first taking out the Boston Bruins in three games  (a best of five), then Hartford in seven games, and finally the Rangers in five.

And the last word goes to Mats Naslund. “We needed a lot of things to go our way if we were going to win. We had a lot of problems during the regular season, and while we were having them those problems, anybody who said we’d win the Stanley Cup had to be out of his mind. But when things started to fall into place, we felt we had a chance. We had the feeling we could beat the teams we faced, and this,” he said with a wave of his hand at the celebrations around him, “is the payoff.”

Don’t You Think The Coaches Could Have Spread Out A Little?

I want to tell you a very sad story, a story of pain and suffering, of heartache and frustration. I’m hoping this doesn’t ruin your day, but it probably will. Please be strong.

It was a while ago now, but I remember it clearly. I walked in to a Calgary Ticketmaster and asked about available tickets for the Habs in Edmonton. The lady looked at her book and said yes indeed, she had four, right behind the Edmonton bench. I don’t need to tell you that this was pretty well the best thing anyone has ever said to me. “Four seats right behind the bench.”

How could everyone have missed this? Poor suckers. Poor unfortunate and unknowing suckers who must sit higher up.

So my wife and I and the kids hopped into our minivan and drove up to Edmonton to see the boys play the Oilers, and we were going to be so close I could probably talk about the weather to Russ Courtnall or Ryan Walter as they skated nearby, and almost hear Patrick Roy chatting with his goalposts. It was going to be a terrific evening, a splendid evening, maybe the best evening of all the evenings ever spent.

We arrived at Northlands Coliseum during the warm up, and our seats were spectacular. Players were skating around and warming up just a few feet away. I felt sorry for those other fans higher up. They weren’t privileged like us, because we had the best seats in the house. Everyone was probably wishing they had seats like us.

How could I be so lucky? I patted myself on the back.

Close to game time, Oilers’ backup goalie Bill Ranford took his seat right beside my son, and I think my son looked at me like I was greater than Superman and Hulk Hogan. I’m sure I was. What other dad would find seats like this?

I immediately patted myself on the back again.

Then it happened. It all came crashing down. It still hurts when I talk about this, and when I think about it, it could have been different. Edmonton coach John Muckler, assistant coach Ron Low, and then a trainer all walked to the bench and took their places. Right in front of us. They even stood shoulder to shoulder so there wasn’t even a gap to look through. We had a great view of the stitching on their jackets. It was at that moment I think my kids stopped thinking I was Superman, and my wife started making divorce plans.

We didn’t see a thing except when play was far down at each end. I just think the coaches didn’t have to be so close to each other. A little space between them and we could’ve seen a few things in the middle of the ice.

Tickets were $35.74 each, along with restaurants and hotel. And I’m blaming the coaches. I figure Muckler owes me about $500.

 

Here's the sad evidence. I never noticed the part at the bottom that says "obstructed view" until about a month ago. Don't you think the coaches could have spread out a little?

Here's the sad evidence. I never noticed the part at the bottom that says "obstructed view" until about a month ago. Don't you think the coaches could have spread out a little?

The Habs In 1986 – Getting Noses Dirty, And Winning It All

It’s certain the Montreal Canadiens of 1986 weren’t a dominant team in the league, or a great team like the Habs of other years. Heck, they weren’t even as good as several other teams in these playoffs. But they won the Stanley Cup and the rest didn’t. And they did it through a blend of old, new, and a goalie who stood on his head.

Montreal’s 1986 Stanley Cup win over the Calgary Flames was the 23rd time the team had drank from the old mug, and surprising as it was for all the armchair quarterbacks and hockey experts of the world, there were actual reasons why they were able to do this drinking.

Patrick Roy standing on his head was a very good reason. The rookie won the Conn Smythe for his performance in these playoffs, and one stop in particular may just have saved the day for the Habs. Coach Jean Perron had called a timeout with the game winding down and Montreal leading 4-3, when just 30 seconds after the timeout and only 14 seconds left, Jamie Macoun thought he had it tied when he fired and waited for the red light. But Roy pulled out the most important big stop of the series to maintain the lead. “I wasn’t on the ice when Roy made that save,” grinned Bobby Smith.  “When he made it, I was on my feet yelling: ‘Roo-ah! Roo-ah!’ This smile is going to be on my face until September.”

But Roy wasn’t the only reason the Canadiens came through. It was simply an amazing and unheralded bunch.

Ryan Walter for example, who played with a half-healed broken ankle, and played like a demon. Team doctors said with astonishment that if it was the regular season, Walter wouldn’t have even skated for another three weeks. Walter later explained, “Adrenaline is an amazing healer with a Stanley Cup in sight.”

Guy Carbonneau, playing with a serious knee injury.

Chris Nilan, who sat out the last two games with a damaged ankle, said of journeymen Serge Boisvert and Steve Rooney, who had filled in, “I’m glad it gave these guys a chance to get their names on the Cup. They deserved it because they worked like hell and never opened their mouths.”

Brian Skrudland, who was knocked out cold early in the final game, put the Canadiens ahead, 2-1, for good in the second period and never missed a shift. Later, in the dressing later, he blurted out, “You don’t know how much being a part of this means to me.  Since I can remember, I’ve always cried when the Canadiens and Saskatchewan Roughriders lost.”

Gaston Gingras, a player who was made fun of in previous years because of miscues and a big shot with no control, was a big-time player in the finals, scoring three large goals. No one made jokes about Gingras after this series was over.

Craig Ludwig, a solid defenceman, with a back so bad he could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

Claude Lemieux, the target of every player in the league, losing two teeth and creating havoc and playing like a man possessed whenever he stepped on the ice.

Rick Green, who performed so well on the blueline he was considered the best defencemen in all of the 1986 series, including those from the other teams. And Green had been a scapegoat because he and Walter had come to Montreal in an unpopular trade that saw Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin sent to Washington.

Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson, thinking their time may have passed and wondering if they would ever win another Stanley Cup – and they played big and won again. 

Coach Jean Perron saying this 1986 team was the best defensive team in Montreal history. “When you don’t have great scorers you have to be great defensively. When we hang up that banner in the Forum, it will be screaming ‘defence…defence.’ ”

And there were others who made their mark too; Mike McPhee, Smith, Mats Naslund, Lucien Deblois and Mike Lalor to name a few, and Chris Chelios in just his second full year in the NHL.

Montreal would win again in 1993 and that would be it. Until this year, when they get solid efforts from the unexpected, and Carey Price comes through like Patrick Roy did back then.