Tag Archives: Scott Niedermayer

It Happened Like This

It was May when Brandon Prust called Senators coach Paul MacLean a “bug-eyed fat walrus”, not long before the Canadiens bowed out to the Sens in five games.

What does that mean? Nothing. I’m just babbling. And I like the quote.

In June, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, the Canadiens grabbed lanky forward Michael McCarron along with Jacob de la Rose, goaltender Zachary Fucale, and Artturi Lehkonen in the 2013 Entry Draft, Brendan Gallagher was edged out by Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau for Calder Trophy/rookie of the year honours, and P.K captured the Norris Trophy and rightly so.

And Luci and I hopped in the car and moved to Montreal.

July saw big George Parrros and little Daniel Briere signed by the Habs, I started my new job, Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Geraldine Heaney, and Fred Shero were announced as new Hall of Famers, and P.K. and Carey Price were officially invited to Canada’s National Team orientation camp which would ultimately become a ball hockey game.

In August, Douglas Murray was signed by the Canadiens, I bought Dylan’s Blond on Blond CD, my brother came to visit me, and hoodlum Whitey Bulger, whose ex-girlfriend’s daughter was once married to Knuckles Nilan, somehow ended up with a 1986 Stanley Cup ring. (Whitey’s about to get sentenced to life).

September saw rookie camp get underway at Brossard, a guy robbed a bank in Orillia wearing a Habs hat, the Canadiens pre-season exhibition games kicked off, Danno sent me a hockey card I didn’t have, and Michael Bournival and Jarred Tinordi got the news they were staying with the big club. (Tinordi’s down in Hamilton at the moment).

October began with a loss to the Loafs during which George Parros conked his head in a fight and was gone for a month, Ryan White shaved his long blond locks, Daniel Briere suffered a concussion, Max got hurt, Leaf great Allan Stanley passed away, the Red Sox won the World Series, Alexei Emelin signed for four more years, and the Hockey Inside Out Summit kicked off at Hurley’s on Crescent St.

In November, Parros came back with his mustache missing, I bought a sports jacket, Toronto’s mayor made a whack of headlines, a Michel Therrien/PK Subban soap opera picked up steam, Gaston’s still an asshole, and the Canadiens have lost all four games they’ve played this month.

 

 

Four Things

Congratulations to Chris Chelios, Brendan Shanahan, Scott Niedermayer, Women’s player Geraldine Heaney, and coach of the ’70s Broad St. Bullies, Fred Shero.

I remember reading the headline in the Montreal Gazette when Chelios was first called up to the Canadiens. “The Coming of Chris” it heralded, which I thought was a fun headline. Several years later when I was in Leningrad I mentioned that headline to a couple of Russians and they had no idea what I was talking about.

Good for the inductees. It’s a good crop, even though Shero was at the helm of those Broad St. maniacs.

I’m also one of those guys waiting for Paul Henderson to get the call.

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I’ve made it through a total of six days so far at Classic Auctions, which I think is a substantial number for a new guy. Today, among other things, I wrote about Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Claude Provost, and Ted Harris 1960s game-used sticks. And a rhinestone brooch given to players and executives’ wives after the Habs won the Cup in 1946.

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Georges Laraque talks too much, and I think him saying George Parros isn’t intimidating enough in a competitive division isn’t very nice. George should stick to what he’s good at – smiling and wearing tight t-shirts.

Georges told La Presse, “I’m sure that when the Canadiens signed Parros, the Bruins and Shawn Thornton were relieved. In Ottawa and Toronto, they were relieved.”

Yes Georges. And you weren’t exactly Attila the Hun when you were playing. Especially when you were a Hab. You were a peacenik, even though you weren’t supposed to be. You hated beating up people so you stopped doing it. But you were being paid to beat up people.

Stop criticizing the new sheriff. It’ll be tough enough trying to live up to the expectations of Habs fans without being trashed by peers..

“He’s a good guy, but in the NHL you have to intimidate,” Laraque continued. “He has a good technique, but he’s more like a wrestler than a finisher…Florida wouldn’t let Parros go if he was doing the job.

Georges wouldn’t stop.

“Knowing the Montreal market, people will begin to wonder why they got this guy after two or three beatings. I know the guy – I know them all. But those who don’t believe me will see for themselves.”

Georges, you’re not being nice. Be quiet and run for politics.

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I’m going to say this anyway. I hate cell phones. Bring back the phone booth.

Defending The Defence

Are the Canadiens fairly set on defence?

Seems like it. Sort of.

The boys on the blueline – Andrei Markov, Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, PK Subban, Roman Hamrlik, Ryan O’Byrne, and Jaroslav Spacek, are a fine group indeed, as long as everyone remains healthy for most of the season.

We assume that Markov and Subban will provide the offensive thrust, and we expect Hal Gill, Jaroslav Spacek, and Josh Gorges to do their jobs in workmanlike fashion.

But we might want to ponder, when we’re sitting in our easy chairs smoking pipes and waiting for the dog to bring the paper, if Roman Hamrlik may have lost yet another step after slowing down considerably last year. How many times will the veteran, who plays with smarts, not speed, get burned by some speedy forward who smells the net not far away?

But we know of course that Jacques Martin will use him properly.

Ryan O’Byrne has yet to become the player he hasn’t become yet. This is not a puckhandler, not a rusher, doesn’t seem to be overly anxious to crush bones into powder, and is an ordinary skater. But he’s still quite young (26), has great size, (6’5, 234lbs) and although it’s been three years with 125 games under his belt, we still wait patiently. Maybe impatiently. We see a bright upside, but it doesn’t want to break out, like a chick stuck in an partial egg.

We could look at Stanley Cup champs from the past few years to see what their defence was made up of, and Montreal stacks up, but only if Subban has a Calder Cup kind of year and Markov is a Norris Trophy candidate.

Chicago, in winning the Cup last year, had two great D’s in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, along with Brian Campbell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Cam Barker.

Pittsburgh, winning two years ago, enjoyed Sergei Gonchar, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, and our own Hal Gill.

In 2007-08, Detroit had Niklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, and Brett Lebda.

And in 2006-2007, Anaheim defencemen included Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Francois Beauchemin, and Sean O’Donnell.

All four teams, all Cup winners, had defencemen who were offensive threats – Keith and Seabrook, Gonchar, Lidstrom, Rafalski, and Niedermayer, followed by a cast who did jobs that put lovely smiles on their coaches’ faces.

Montreal, possibly, has the same sort of army. Markov and Subban provide the punch in enemy territory along with Spacek. And Gill, Gorges, Hamrlik and O’Byrne play a tough, no-nonsense game, although as mentioned, O’Byrne could step it up a little. Maybe fight more. Put the big hurt on. Make the enemy say ouch.

On paper the blueliners look fine enough. But it’s injuries that put players on the sidelines for months on end that spell disaster. It’s also taking into consideration that PK Subban will be a regular and blossom into a star as well.

It seems the defence is in good shape. Just don’t put Hamrlik out against too many speedsters, and maybe show Ryan O’Byrne old clips of Larry Robinson taking care of business.

Koivu’s Season Not The Way He Envisioned It

From the Orange County Register

March 24, 2010

By Eric Stephens:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Sitting out the Stanley Cup playoffs wasn’t something Saku Koivuhad in mind when he signed on with the Ducks as a free agent last summer after a long run as the face of the Montreal Canadiens.

That wasn’t the plan. The plan was to join forces with Teemu Selanne, create an explosive second scoring line to complement the club’s young scoring stars and take a reasonable shot at hoisting the silver chalice that has thus far eluded his grasp.

So much for the plan. The Ducks are staring at a long summer and just as Koivu is feeling like he’s been here for several years instead of several months, the 35-year-old center can again become a free agent on July 1 when his one-year deal expires.

Playing for a winner will be high on his wish list and the Ducks face an uncertain future with the very possibility that Selanne and, perhaps, Scott Niedermayer won’t be back. But Koivu is very much a believer and said he intends to have them in the mix when it comes to options he’ll look at.

“This team has tremendous potential,” Koivu said. “And obviously we haven’t been consistently effective. We’re out of a playoff spot right now. But my opinion about this team hasn’t changed one bit from how I felt a year ago.

“I’m even more confident that this team can do something. Obviously there’s going to be some question marks in the future.”

 

“When I came here, I knew that my role was going to be different from Montreal,” he said. “I knew that the adjustment period won’t happen in a week or a couple of days. It was going to take some time. But I didn’t expect how long, what with getting everybody settled in here and getting all the off-ice stuff the way it should be.

“It just took longer than I expected.”

It was an overtime goal against Dallas on Dec. 8 that seemed to get Koivu going but with just 15 goals and 27 points, it’s near certain that he’ll see his string of 50-point seasons end at six unless he finishes with a flourish.

One of the reasons Koivu signed for only one season was because he wanted to see how he fit with a new team. He said he hasn’t spoken to the Ducks about a contract extension but added that it was his preference to wait until the season is over.

The Ducks are eager to retain his services as they’ve spoken glowingly about the competitive fire and solid two-way play that he brings to the ice. General Manager Bob Murray met with Koivu’s agent, Don Baizley, last week and they agreed to talk again after the season.

But the one thing that could be in the Ducks’ favor is that Koivu has appreciated living in relative anonymity and having fewer media responsibilities, a radical departure from what he experienced in hockey-mad Montreal.

“The life and the part outside of hockey has been great,” Koivu said. “I think it’s exactly what we needed and we’ve been enjoying that a lot as a family.”

Canadians Crash Through German Lines

The Russian team, wherever they were at the time, watched Canada play their best game of the Olympics on this night, pummelling the Germans 8-2, and I’m sure Alex Ovechkin and company are now understanding the Games have begun for real. 

At this very moment, there will be Russian fingernails being bitten. This extra game, caused by the Canadians losing to the Americans on Sunday, very well could be the turning point for a Canadian team so scrutinized, so criticized, almost since the Games begun.

You saw a different team tonight, Russians. You saw a team finally playing as a team against the German squad. You saw Crosby step up, and you know your Ovechkin isn’t the only king of the hill in big-time hockey. You saw Joe Thornton come through and score, and you don’t know if he’s about to prove naysayers wrong about his ability to come through in big games. But he just might and you don’t like it. You saw Jerome Iginla score a couple, and you know he’s going to give you trouble. You realize your players are going to have to get in front of Shea Weber’s big shot, and you’re not crazy about that. And you understand now that Mike Richards and Scott Niedermayer love the sound of the puck hitting the back of the net, and it’s clear now that Canada has some underachievers making noise who have been quiet in the past.

It doesn’t make you happy.

And last but not least, you saw a big bear of a man, Rick Nash, with moves that befit a smaller player, finally score a huge goal, and you know he’s going to be trouble because you watched him dominate in the 2007 World Championships, you’ve noticed him come close recently, and it worries you to see him playing now like you hoped he wouldn’t. And you saw Roberto Luongo in nets and you know he’s on his home turf and will be brilliant.

You’re in trouble, Russia. Canada has a new sense of confidence, and it seems chemistry has reared its lovely head.

Wednesday night – Canada and Russia. For all of us armchair quarterbacks, get the TV warmed up.

Bob Gainey’s Really Weird Idea. And Brian Burke Is Probably Very Nice At Home.

Bob Gainey, at the GM’s meetings, proposed a change in the game that can be looked at as either brilliantly innovative, or completely laughable. Either way, it’s interesting.

 

Gainey’s idea is to make it illegal for a player to slide across the ice to block a shot, therefore creating more offence, more shots on goal. He wants to do away with exactly what he and Guy Carbonneau did on a nightly basis when they both played.

 

Players would have more teeth if this was implemented. There’d be less bruises, less chance of getting killed. I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.

 

Goalies would hate it. More blasts from the blueline getting through.

 

Players with less guts than players like Gainey and Carbonneau would love it because then they wouldn’t have to look silly by not diving in front of a Sheldon Souray shot. They could say to the coach, “I would’ve slid and blocked it but it’s against the rules so I couldn’t.”               

 

Don Cherry would hate it, because not doing this hard-core type of thing isn’t lunch-pail hockey.

 

Fans might like it because of the added offence. Fans might not like it because a good fan likes to see the brave and unselfish task of blocking a shot in the face for the good of the team.

 

IN OTHER NEWS:

 

It’s never good when a fairly good team starts slow out of the gate because eventually they’ll break out of it and there’s always that chance they’ll break out of it against your team.

 

You have to figure that the Anaheim Ducks, with players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, will figure things out eventually. Right now, before their game with Ottawa Friday night, the Ducks’ record stands at two wins and five losses, which is quite mediocre to say the least.

 

The Ducks certainly have one thing going against them – the incredibly stupid name, ” Ducks,” which is only slightly less stupid than “Mighty Ducks.”

 

And Brian Burke is probably an excellent front office-type, except he always looks like his boxer shorts have too much starch in them. And his “I’m smarter than you” attitude, his childish fights with Kevin Lowe, and his distaste of reporters’ questions makes you think he’d rather be doing something more important, like running the world.

 

I was told once by an ex-sports editor of the Calgary Sun that Burke and former league executive Brian O’Neill were the two most miserable characters he ever had to deal with in the NHL.

 

Habs and Ducks Saturday night.

 

Go Habs.

 

May the Ducks lose like they’ve never lost before.

 

 

 

 

Taking Care Of The Kings. Now Down The Road To Disneyland To Meet The Ducks. Plus: Grabovski Sulks

The Canadiens won the game in LA and got their two points, which is great because I’m a greedy bastard. But again, as has been the case the last little while, they played way too loosey-goosey, giving up 35 shots (39 in Phoenix Thursday night), and as the self-appointed west-coast Red Fisher, I’m not happy about this.

Anyway, they won and got their two points, like I said.

Carbonneau played Jaroslav Halak in goal and he was fine, and I realize it’s his style and all that, but he does the butterfly or flops on his knees whenever the puck’s within 10 feet. He reminds me of Cristobal Huet. And you can see he’s borrowed  from Patrick Roy.

I just feel more confident when the goalie stays a little more on his feet. But he won, AND AGAIN, WE GOT THE TWO POINTS WHICH IS GOOD BECAUSE I’M A GREEDY BASTARD.

Sunday evening, the team moves over to Anaheim to take on the Ducks (Quackers), once known regally as “The Mighty Ducks!”  They’re a fine team and got finer when Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne rejoined the club.  ducks1.jpg

But Montreal has the team to whip these Quackers. I mean, why not? They’ve got 85 points, and Anaheim 83. The only ones who wouldn’t give the Habs a chance are TSN and several CBC hockey analysts. In their eyes, the Ducks are the finest ensemble to ever lace on skates, and the Habs are a bunch of house-league slugs who don’t belong in the same league.

But what do they know. They wear makeup.

IN OTHER NEWS:  Habs rookie call-up Mikhail Grabovski left the team early in Phoenix after he found out he wasn’t playing, and ran crying into the arms of his LA-based agent. Grabovski is a rookie trying to crack the lineup, and this little move doesn’t help him one bit. Pay your dues, be patient, work hard, and be ready when called. Until then, shut up and quit sulking.

Carbonneau and Bob Gainey sat down with the young fellow and gave him the facts of life. Then, in a great move, Carbonneau sat him out for the Kings game also.