Tag Archives: Sam Pollock

Training Camp For Them And Us

So far it’s been two days at rookie camp and three at the big one with more to come. And then there were those several days last year doing the same after just moving here.

If you’re a Habs fan and a Montrealer, you may have been to many of these things over the years. I’m sure you still appreciate it greatly. You’re not a jaded bastard, are you?

It’s the kind of thing I’d never done before but had always wanted too. Now here I am checking it out on most days and getting emotional just talking about it.

Plenty of Habs fans elsewhere would also like to be in Brossard right now. I can say that with complete confidence. And those who live in the Montreal area can do it every year if they’re able to call in sick on work and school days, or aren’t forced to go to Walmart on Saturday or Sunday morning.

Is there a better way to spend a morning and early afternoon?  Drills, intrasquad games. Watching the way they fly full-tilt around the ice, reminding me that it is indeed the world’s fastest game. Sixty-four guys all wearing the CH, with the number slowly getting whittled down.

For the players it’s all business, that’s for sure. And for those who don’t ever make the big club, who end up riding buses in the minors or junior and never get to hear the roar of the crowd or be threatened by Milan Lucic, it must be an unforgettable experience anyway.

Something to be proud of and talk about forever. That time they took part in a Montreal Canadiens training camp.

Yes, I remember it well.

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Marc Talks About Things

Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the press on Monday and didn’t say a lot  but mentioned the core players are maturing but the team in general isn’t mature yet like Chicago and Los Angeles are.

He said there will be more ups and downs, but the team is well on track.

Nice to hear. And we already knew all that. Ups and downs, on track, good core players.

He said Dale Weise was allowed to return and play after getting thumped by John Moore because all the tests looked to be normal, and it wasn’t until the next day that they realized he was concussed.

He looked pretty concussed to me on the TV screen. Wobbly and goofy, just like George Parros, Travis Moen, and Michael Bournival looked when they got clocked. PK had to give him a bear hug to hold him up.

If the test machines said he was fine, I’d be looking to buy new test machines. If the doctors and trainers said he was fine, I think Weise paid them off.

One of the guys Bergevin did single out as playing hard was Brian Gionta, which must be some sort of sneaky ploy. Make Gionta feel wanted and want to stay, and then cut the salary in half. Or something like that.

He played hard, he just didn’t make much of an impact. I’d rather have an impact guy. Put me in a uniform and I’d play hard too. Harder than anybody. I wouldn’t get anything done and I might fall down a lot, but I’d play hard.

For me though, it’s much different about Gionta. I think either Gionta should go, or if he stays it’s for a bargain rate and the captain’s ‘C’ comes off.

Why do I want the ‘C’ off? I don’t even know the guy. Maybe he’s a great captain. I don’t care about that. I don’t want a non-productive wee little guy leading my team.

If I’m going to have a small captain that I can be proud of, I want one like 5’7 Henri Richard or 5’7 Yvon Cournoyer. Guys who play with burning fire and also produce.

Otherwise, I want a bigger captain. Crazy eh?

Really though, at this stage of the game, I think the one big change I’d make sooner than later would be the announcing of the new assistant to the assistant to Head Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais.

Stick boy.

Binder Bunch

Before I do the binder bunch, I want to mention that Darth and his terrific lady Lydie came to visit last night. Our first visitors in Montreal, and we were so happy to have them.

I was also proud to show them my old Canadiens scrapbook, something I’ve been doing with friends since I was seven years old.

Darth, as you might know, checks in here with his comments and fab artwork. Great people, these two, and it was a pleasure.

Now, more from the binders on a hot summer day, which includes – Charlie Hodge, Lloyd Gilmour, Harry Neale and Steve Armitage, old Forum passes, Pete Mahovlich, Rangers, Reggie Jackson, Sam Pollock, Sparky Anderson, and old Forum ticket stubs and envelope.

Charlie

Lloyd

Neale

Passes

Pete

Rangers

Reggie

Sam

Sparky

stubs

 

Briere A Hab

5’10”, 181 pound free agent Daniel Briere has signed a two-year deal with the Habs and I suppose it’s possible this could be fine as he’s been a bit of thorn in the Habs’ side over the years. Scored the odd big goal against my team. Made me curse at my T.V. screen several times.

Now he’s on our side. I hope I won’t be cursing him for completely different reasons.

He had a chance to become a Canadien a few years back but wasn’t interested, even though he’s a good Quebec boy. And since he was recently unemployed and hoping a team would have him, now he’s happy to be coming to Montreal. It kinds of burns my ass slightly.

Does he have much of a downside? Not really, other than he’s a shrimp and the team needs to get bigger, not smaller. And he’s almost 36 years old. And he’s not the player he once was.

But other than these few things, it’s all upside.

Prime Time Sports talk show host Bob McCown wrote in his book “100 Greatest Hockey Arguments” that hockey is probably the only sport where three fans can watch the same game at the same time and all three can disagree with what they saw. And the same holds true for speculation involving players coming to teams.

You can disagree with me completely on this, but I don’t like this signing. The same as I wasn’t crazy about the prospect of Vincent Lecavalier coming to Montreal. I don’t want guys on their way out, even if they did burn the Habs in a big way over the years. Because much of their former burning has been snuffed out with a wet blanket owned by Mother Nature’s old man, Father Time.

Of course I hope I’m wrong and you call me on it seven or eight months from now when Briere shows he’s the perfect fit and Marc Bergevin once again looks like Sam Pollock. But for now, I feel the Canadiens already have their quota of small forwards, and adding another, who happens to be almost 36 years old, isn’t going to make me run down the streets of St. Hubert whooping and hollering.

A Letter For Michel Lagace

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Michel Lagace would report to the Quebec Aces training camp in 1962, as requested by Sam Pollock, and would suit up for five games, collecting one assist along the way.

Previously he had played seven playoff games for the Montreal Royals in ’59-’60 and managed 27 games with the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens, both of the Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL).

That would be it for his pro hockey career.

Making it to the American Hockey League has always required serious talent, and even though it was only for five games, I say congratulations to Mr. Lagace for getting a lot further in hockey than most of us.

I would have loved getting a letter like this. I’d show all my friends, report to camp, work harder than everybody else, and eventually get called up to the Habs in a year or two. Then I play right wing with Jean Beliveau at centre and John Ferguson at left wing. I’d be on the cover of Hockey Pictorial, make the all-star team, make more money than my dad, and eventually end up in the Hall of Fame.

But first I needed one of those letters. Like Michel Lagace got.

 

 

Scouring The Countryside

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Joe Delguidice was a Montreal Canadiens scout in Northern Ontario from the early 1950s until the mid-sixties.

I wonder if he had anything to do with Kirkland Lake’s Ralph Backstrom joining the Canadiens organization.

$250 wasn’t much, but most of these guys had normal jobs and scoured the area only in the evenings or on weekends. Their honorariums would cover gas, coffee and hot dogs, and yes, they were expected to drive to see hotshots like Backstrom regardless of winter storms and such.

Of course the odd perk would come along, like a free team jacket, or tickets to the Forum, but all in all, I think it was done mostly out of love of hockey.

My friend Gary Lupul was a full-time scout for the Vancouver Canucks, up until his passing almost six years ago, and he would drive from town to town throughout much of Ontario, living on junk food and spending most of his days either on the road or in arenas. He loved it but it wasn’t something he wanted to do for a long time.

It’s not a glamorous job, but an important one. They’re the ones who keep the league stocked.

I can remember when I played bantam and midget hockey, and from time to time we’d hear rumours that scouts were in the stands. Of course this is when I’d play like a bum and could barely stand up.

Dryden Quirks

Dryden

Goalies apparently are a different breed. We’ve heard that forever. So why would Ken Dryden be any different?

In Gerry Patterson’s 1978 book “Behind The Superstars,” (which I talked about a few posts back – Anne and Gordie ), Patterson writes about Dryden’s legendary unwillingness to open his wallet. (And to sign autographs).

After five hours of new contract negotiations with Sam Pollock, Patterson finally got Dryden what he was asking for. Dryden then asked to speak to Patterson privately, saying he’d decided he wanted another $10,000.

After Patterson had managed to get him his raise, plus the extra $10,000, Dryden invited Patterson to lunch and bought him a cheeseburger and coke.

Whenever Dryden phoned Patterson, whether it was from Toronto, Los Angeles, or Vienna, he always phoned collect.

One year it was decided that Dryden needed a new winter coat, so he searched second-hand stores in Montreal for a good deal.

Every time Dryden visited Patterson at his office in downtown Montreal, he always seemed anxious to leave. Patterson later learned that the goalie would always park in a no parking area to save paying for parking, and he was worried he’d get a ticket.

Dryden and his wife lived in a nice high-rise, but the apartment was furnished with card tables and folding chairs, “in case I’m traded or we have to move for some reason. It’s really very practical.”

Dryden has always hated signing autographs. “People believe that an athlete should be compelled to sign autographs. Well, I am not compelled to sign. Autographs are a complete waste of time for both parties.”

 

 

 

Gun Shy About Size

Take your mind back, back to the summer of 2009, when Bob Gainey ruined our team?

June and July of that year were when Montreal traded for Scott Gomez and brought in UFA’s Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri. I was excited at the time, mainly because the Canadiens needed fresh blood, and I’ve been an optimistic bugger for pretty well every move the Habs have ever made, beginning when I was a kid. I’m always so hopeful, and maybe because I’m a Libra, I come up with all kinds of positives.

I thought fire-wagon hockey was back. I figured it would be a lightning-fast team of new Henri Richards and Ralph Backstroms, swirling around the ice and causing many a headache for lumbering forwards and defencemen of other teams. I was so hopeful

Did these three, who were immediately coined “The Smurfs,” improve the team a great deal? Hah! Montreal, in the blink of an eye, got smaller, became the laughing stock of the league, were mentioned everywhere by everyone as too small (I got so sick of that), and got pushed around in the playoffs like a grade one kid playing with grade fivers. We can only thank Jaroslav Halak for that beautiful run in the 2010 post-season against Washington and Pittsburgh.

We know how Gomez has turned out and I don’t want to get into it now. I’ve just eaten. Gionta and Cammalleri had their moments, Cammalleri shone at times, especially in those Caps and Pens games when he was a gunner-extraordinaire, and Gionta, although talented, is way too small at 5’7′ and his best days are behind him. Even more unfortunately, his best days were with New Jersey, not Montreal.

I hated that Montreal had gotten so small almost overnight. I cringed when I saw teams like Boston manhandle them. I knew that to win a Stanley Cup, it helps to be big and strong.

I say all this because I’m feeling bad. In the 1970s and 80s, I was one of Bob Gainey’s biggest fans. I loved his work ethic, his strong skating, his quiet and intelligent demeanor, his leadership, his penalty killing, his goals, his huge role in all those Montreal Stanley Cups. Never in a million years would I think I’d be joking about him, calling him down, and almost ridiculing him for what I think was basically destroying the team instead of improving it.

But I find myself doing these very things now. What was he thinking? Not just taking on the sinful Gomez contract, but making the team so small in almost one fell swoop. He played against tough Bruins squads, and the Broad St. Bullies. He knew muscle is usually needed to succeed. He learned under people like Scotty Bowman and Sam Pollock, who envisioned the proper mix of muscle and skill. But he turned the club into a laughing stock, Pierre Gauthier coming in turned the county fair into a circus, and Montreal every year remains the favourite team for predictors, along with the Leafs, to not make the playoffs.

Hopefully the black cloud is beginning to move away, everyone has woken up, and the team is now being gradually corrected under Marc Bergevin and the other new leadership boys. I know that whenever I hear that someone small, like Brendan Gallagher, is on the cusp of making the team, my heart sinks a little. Gainey has made me gun shy for the little guys, and I know I’m not right.

I admired Gainey so much as a player, and when he became management, I remember, when others were beginning to question him, my stock answer would be, “In Bob we trust.” And I did trust him. I trusted him as a player and from what I heard from him in interviews, and I saw no other reason not to when he took the reins. So I guess it comes down to two questions. What was he thinking? And what was I thinking?

Galchenyuk And Co. Blast Germans

It’s been two games for Germany in this year’s World Championships, and the hardest working guy so far has been the goal judge behind the German net.

First, 9-3 Canada, and today, the Americans handed the beleaguered bunch an 8-0 spanking, with Montreal’s future star Alex Galchenyuk scoring a goal and adding two assists. Galchenyuk was told a couple of months ago by Montreal brass to shoot more, it’s been working like a charm with the Sarnia Sting of the O.H.L., and it was his quick wrist shot today that bulged the twine.

By the end of the tournament, look for Galchenyuk to be at, or as close as can be, the top of the list of leading point-getters.

I can’t say anything bad about Germany. All German fans have to do is remind us of how lousy Canada’s men’s national soccer team is, while their boys are world-class. So I’d better keep my mouth shut.

Once again, you could land a helicopter in the empty seats at the Ufa arena. (If there was no roof on it, of course). Attendance for the U.S.- Germany game was 1378 in the 8250 seat joint.

The Americans have a nice young defenceman in 6’4″ Seth Jones, son of former NBA player Popeye Jones. Seth goes in the the 2013 draft, and it’s too bad Sam Pollock wasn’t around to wrangle this fellow into a Habs jersey. Maybe it’ll happen anyway! One thing’s for sure – this guy’s going to be up or around the first pick overall.

Team Canada meets Slovakia early tomorrow morning, and several hours later, Galchenyuk and the US squad take on the Russians.