Tag Archives: Steve Shutt

Guy Should Have A Blog

Guy Lafleur should have a blog. Imagine the insights we’d get!

Guy could tell us all about his troubles with Jacques Lemaire, about why the team hasn’t won the Cup since 1993, why Rejean Houle didn’t get enough in return for Patrick Roy, why Steve Shutt was hard on rookies, what he thinks Michel Therrien is doing wrong, why sometimes there’s not enough foam on the Bell Centre beer. All kinds of stuff.

Imagine the readership he’d get. We’d rush to open his blog to see what he says. It might be the most fascinating blog in the history of blogs.

“You can’t keep guys like Vanek and Pacioretty on the team,” Lafleur now says. “They should stay home if they’re not willing to pay the price. Your team won’t win with players like that who disappear under adversity.”

Guy would get a million hits for that story alone. Advertisers would flock to him. He’d be the king of bloggers.

Lafleur was basically talking about game six of the Rangers series that ended the Habs year. New York threw a blanket over the Canadiens and that was that.

The problem, I think, is that some of the true greats like Lafleur sometimes expect others to step it up in superstar fashion, and I guess lately he’s been stewing about the team, Max and Vanek in particular, not pulling out all the stops in that final game.

Max, however, had scored the winning goal in both the Tampa and Boston series which eliminated those teams, so it wasn’t like he was going through the motions. He’s enjoyed some fine moments. But Guy was focused mostly on game six of the Rangers series when all the boys, not just Max, were stuck in mud.

Vanek, I still don’t know. Guy might have a point there. The guy had helped kickstart the team into another level when he joined them, but was definitely a disappointment in the postseason, not just game six but throughout.

But he’s probably gone anyway so it doesn’t matter what Guy says about it.

Some guys think out loud like Guy, others don’t. Bobby Orr’s teammates in Boston said that if they weren’t playing well in big games, they’d look over at Orr in the dressing room and he’d be glaring at certain guys. No words, just two eyes. If Orr was glaring at you, it wasn’t good.

Lafleur’s very much like Maurice Richard in some ways. Rocket sometimes couldn’t contain himself either, and after too much criticism in his ghost-written newspaper column, sometimes about other players and teams but particularly about league prez Clarence Campbell, Rocket was told to forget the column or else.

But no one could tell Guy to forget his blog. He could carry about things and Gary Bettman or Geoff Molson couldn’t say a thing.

C’mon Guy, start your blog. Get it all out, right or wrong, and make some serious coin doing it.

 

 

Habs Spank Sens

It seems there are no normal games when the Canadiens and Senators play each other.

Friday night  in Kanata saw a wild 7-4 win by the Habs over the sinking Sens after spotting Ottawa an early 3-0 lead.

It had been a dismal beginning for the Canadiens to be sure, shockingly finding themselves in a deep hole in under six minutes of play, but soon enough, pucks started finding their way behind a shaky Craig Anderson.

And when the dust had settled, the Canadiens had scored seven straight goals before Ottawa would notch a late one.

This was the same Craig Anderson who stoned the Habs last year in the playoffs. On this night, the Sens might have had better luck with Pamela Anderson.

The DDs burned it up again, with Max getting three plus two assists. Thomas Vanek had three assists and DD two.

I heard recently that some who study advanced stats have decided that because the DD line isn’t great defensively, they could hurt the team and should be broken up.

Talk about throwing water on a beautiful thing.

Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt weren’t exactly defensive specialists either, but no one was complaining when they were popping 50 or 60 goals a season.

The way this game started, with three goals in under six minutes by Ottawa, it was certainly cause to be concerned. Was it one of those nights for Peter Budaj?

Were the Senators determined to pay back in a big way for being embarrassed at the Bell on March 15th?

Instead, Budaj was great. Tremendously sharp. The DD line would soon catch fire. And it all started when Andrei Markov bounced one in off Anderson from behind the line, near the side of the net.

Then it was off to the races, although the Sens would hit some posts and Budaj had to be sharp as a razor from time to time.

After Markov, the goals just kept coming, almost every second shot went in, and it became Weaver, then Max, Eller, Max, Max and DD, and it’s two big points and the Sens are basically screwed.

Random Notes:

Shots on goal – Ottawa 43, Montreal 23.

P.K. Subban rode the bench for most the first period after not being harder on checks during a couple of Sens goals. PK would see a very low 13:39 of ice time.

I truly disagree with Michel Therrien’s methods regarding P.K. A Norris trophy winner being treated like a raw rookie.

There were several scuffles throughout, including Galchenyuk and Karlsson, Tinordi and Gryba, and Gally and Neil, with a player scrum developing from it. But all in all, it could’ve been worse. It could’ve been a Canadiens-Nordiques type of affair.

George Parros played while Rene Bourque watched from the press box, and George not only almost had an assist on the night, but was also sent out to cool things down when characters like Zach Smith and Chris Neil were getting overly obnoxious.

Max scored his 36, 37th, and 38 goals of the season and when one looks at the top four goal scorers in the league, it’s Corey Perry with 41, Joe Pavelski with 39, Max with 38, and Sidney Crosby with 36.

How great is that?

Next up – Detroit at the Bell Saturday night. Should be a beauty, but more about that later.

 

 

 

Lineups Announced

The rosters for Saturday’s Habs-Leafs tilt have been announced, and as you can see, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is suiting up. It can’t hurt.

What a team the Habs had, eh?

This is from the 1977-78 season, a season that saw the Canadiens finish with 129 points, take home the Prince of Wales for finishing first, and end with their third straight Stanley Cup.

The Vezina went to Ken Dryden and Michel Larocque; the Hart, the Art Ross, and the Lester B. Pearson trophies were collected by Guy Lafleur; the Conn Smythe was awarded to Larry Robinson; and Bob Gainey won the Selke.

Peter Mahovlich would be sent to Pittsburgh after 17 games, in exchange for Pierre Larouche.

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Extra, Extra, Read All About It (Parts Two And Three)

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).

Part one was just a few days ago. This is part two and three -1976 and 1977

It was their 17th Stanley Cup, a beautiful, delicious four-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers. How sweet is that? Sweeping the Broad St. Bullies, the goons who had slashed and punched their way to the two previous championships. But this time, real hockey prevailed over thuggery.

All in all, it was the Canadiens plumbers who made things happen. At least for the most part. Bob Gainey, Jim Roberts, Doug Jarvis, and Doug Risebrough proved just how important blue-collar guys can be. The team had Lafleur and Shutt and the boys, but the lesser-lights shone. “Really, the plumbers did the job for us in this series,” said Steve Shutt. “But when we needed the goals, the two big guys (Lafleur and Perter Mahovlich) came through.”

Lafleur and Mahovlich weren’t having a sensational series up until the final game and the plumbers stepped up. But both Lafleur and Mahovlich scored goals in the third period to ice the thing and to prove that singer Kate Smith, the Flyers’ lucky charm, wasn’t such a lucky charm after all.

Kate was there in person that night to sing the anthem, usually it was a recording, but even her live and in colour wasn’t enought for the thugs from Philly. And in the dressing room, the Habs sung God Bless America in a good-natured jibe to the singer.

It had only taken Montreal 13 games from start to finish in these 1976 Stanley Cup playoffs, sweeping Chicago, taking out the Islanders in five games, and then the four-game dismissing of the Flyers.

Some Flyers fans thought it might have been different if their team had been healthy. Rick MacLeish didn’t suit up, and Bobby Clarke and Orest Kindrachuk played but weren’t 100%. And Wayne Stephenson was between the pipes instead of number one, Bernie Parent. But even coach Fred Shero admitted that his team, althought they might have prolonged it slightly, would have lost anyway. “If we’d had everybody healthy, I suppose we might have lasted longer, we might have made it close, at least.” said Shero. “But on the other hand, I imagine that if we had been able to play better, Canadiens might have played better too. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they could.”

And to make all Habs fans giddy, Shero also went on about how good the Habs actually were. “These are guys you can’t ride off the puck. They’re immune to normal forechecking. You put pressure on most defences and they fall apart. They cough up the puck or throw it away. These fellows never panic. They just won’t give up the puck. They’re always in control.”

And Shero wasn’t finished being nice. “And my God, they’re all like forwards besides. That’s what you’ve got to have on your defence in the NHL today. You can put Robinson, Savard or Lapointe up front and they don’t look out of place at all.”

The last word goes to Bobby Clarke. “We were beaten by one great hockey team, the best in many years.”

And now, 1977

In the spring of 1977, as I was on the verge of getting married for the first time, Jacques Lemaire scored the overtime goal to give his team their second straight Stanley Cup in this late 1970’s run, and it was done with a lovely four-game sweep against Don Cherry and his Boston Bruins. Is this one of the reasons you hate the Habs, Don?

It had been quite a year for this dominating bunch. Montreal only lost eight times in 80 games and racked up a record 132 points. Nobody was going to beat them in the playoffs. You didn’t have to be Kreskin to figure it out. In fact, the team swept the Blues, took out the Islanders 4 games to 2, and then swept the Bruins. Fourteen games in total, and very similar to the 13 it had taken them the year before.

Guy Lafleur won the Conn  Smythe trophy for playoff MVP and managed nine goals and 17 assists throughout. But he had this to say: “It’s my third Cup and it’s always nice, but it’s not the same excitement. I don’t think I’m the best player. It’s just that everything went well for me.”

Jacques Lemaire was the quiet hero on this ride. His teammates had told him to shoot more, and on this night, he delivered with the overtime marker. “Why shouldn’t I be happy,” said Lemaire. “I’m on a holiday. I’m on a holiday starting now. It’s about time. It still is Lafleur and Shutt, except tonight. Tonight was a mistake. They said, shoot the puck, you look good.”

Coach Scotty Bowman had this to say about Lafleur and Shutt. “They play more like Europeans. I’m not knocking the NHL style of play, but the Europeans make more plays on the move. That’s what Lafleur and Shutt do.”

And last word to Don Cherry. “It’s hard to believe we kept outshooting them and still can’t win a game. I still say the whole thing boiled down to those three defensemen.”

The 1980-81 Gang That Didn’t Quite Shoot Straight

Below, the 1980 Habs baseball team. Even though he’s not in the photo, Maurice Richard also played on the team.

The Canadiens just couldn’t get it done in 1981, being swept by the upstart Edmonton Oilers with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup. And shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by Bob Berry. (11 different coaches have followed since). It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days of the New York Islanders dynasty, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning four straight. They were good, I give the bastards that. But if you think I’m going to rave about the New York Islanders, you’ve got another thing coming.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four-straight as they did in the late 1970’s was only a pipe dream. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over. The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50 goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending had cracks. And Patrick Roy was still several years away.  

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points. The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player Montreal thought they were getting. He had been a star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But Wickenheiser never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis. And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, Denis Savard had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

It would be five more years before the Canadiens would become champs, and at the time, a handful of years was unacceptable. Nowadays, my calculator can’t count how long it’s been. It’s just ridiculous. But the slump may end soon.

 

 

Who’s On First?

A fun little contest is going on at Informed Bet that I think you might like. Try guessing which player on Detroit, Washington, Montreal, Philadelphia, LA, and Chicago scores their team’s first goal in the opening round and some cool autographed items can be won from Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Frank Mahovlich, Bernie Parent, Marcel Dionne, Kevin Hatcher and Pierre Pilote.

You need to also give some sort of time and period of the goals in case several people guess the same player.

I’m going to give it a shot and thought you might want to also. However, at this point I’m not sure I’ll be choosing Hal Gill or Scott Gomez to open it up for the Habs.

Just send them a message by clicking on the “contact” box at the top right of their page. Are you choosing Gill or Gomez? Maybe Gill?

Is That A Hockey Player In My Living Room?

If the Washington Capitals walked unannounced into your living room, would you know they were the Caps or at least recognize anyone besides Alex Ovechkin and Jose Theodore? Maybe Brendan Morrison because he’s been in the league for awhile? Or Mike Green because the camera follows him?

Of course on the other hand, if Kyle Chipchura or Matt’ D’Agostini walked in to a Washington living room, the police would be called. Heck, I wouldn’t know Kyle Chipchura if he walked in to my living room.

That’s one of the problems with 30 teams in the NHL. They’re almost a faceless bunch. Only the chosen few, the ones in the limelight, the ones with the good quotes or big noses and numbers are familiar for the public. Probably 500 of the 600 players or so can walk around in cities and no one will bother them. Few will be asked for autographs, and groupies won’t invite them up to their hotel rooms because for all they know, these are just guys with tiny bankrolls like the rest of us.

You could say the same holds true for football players, but football has the big television contracts and money flowing like Niagara Falls. And we know many NFL players because we get to see their mug shots on police blotters and crime shows.

Before helmets in the NHL, we saw guys with red hair or no hair or Elvis hair. Now, so many have shaved their heads and look like they’ve done hard time at San Quentin so it doesn’t matter that they wear helmets. They all look the same whether it’s on the ice or off. Gone are the days of greasy black locks like Phil Esposito’s, or Bobby Hull’s flowing blond mane as he danced down the left side, and all the great and now extinct individual looks the players had.

But mostly, because of the all-important helmet, we just wouldn’t know a lot of players if they walked in to our living room, and that can’t be good  when they’re trying to make in-roads in the southern states. People down there need something to identify with. And I need to know who’s in my living room before I call 911 or not.

I was in a Keg restaurant in Calgary once and a bunch of Philadelphia Flyers were sitting just across from us and I didn’t know it until an excited waitress told me. It certainly wasn’t Bobby Clarke, Rick Macleish and Moose Dupont sitting there. Them I would’ve known.

If the Habs walked in to my living room, I think I’d figure it out. I’m fairly sure. Although I might have to concentrate a little for some of them. Not like, say, if Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and Larry Robinson showed up. That’s a much different story.

And if it’s tough for someone who follows the sport closely, imagine what it’s like for those who don’t? The players are faceless creatures with only names and numbers on their jerseys to tell them. They’re like vanilla ice cream dropped in a snow bank.

Something should be done. What about painting their hair colour on their helmets? Or if they’re bald, just paint some on the sides. Or maybe the players could stand at the exit and thank all 20,000 for showing up? Or the NHL could pay for players’ faces on those little signs on top of New York and Las Vegas taxi cabs.

Alex Ovechkin wore a darkened visor, which is a bad idea. Sure, most hockey fans know this flashy Russian, but this type of visor must be restricted to him and him only. Imagine if the rest of them decided to do this? Then we’d never know what anyone looked like. It’d be like those futuristic space-age images we see of players with jet-propelled skates, playing to the death in headgear that hides the demon inside.. It would be the beginning of the end of hockey in the southern US if players wore darkened visors. These things would do more damage than Gary Bettman.

Of course there has to be helmets. Can’t be having anymore Rocket Richard/Hal Laycoe/Wayne Maki/Ted Green sticks smashed over heads. And there’s already too many head shots and concussions. Helmets and jock straps are vital pieces of equipment. It goes without saying.

But at least the guys could stop shaving their heads. It would be a start. Think of the fans.

Notes From An Important Visit

Cameron, the Montreal Canadiens’ first-round draft pick in 2027, not only celebrated his first birthday in Calgary on Wednesday, but also took his first steps on Tuesday. Judging from these first steps, the upcoming blue-chipper looks like his skating style will be short and choppy strides, possibly like Steve Shutt.

The Calgary Flames, who are about to celebrate their 30th anniversary of being in Calgary, have unveiled their third jersey which will be worn six times this year. The jersey, the old red ‘flaming C’ style, is the exact same as the one the Flames wore when they lost to the Habs in the Stanley Cup final in 1986. (It’s also the same uniform worn when the Flames beat Montreal to win the Cup in 1989, but nobody cares about that.)

Someone wrote in to the Calgary Sun saying that Flames rearguard Dion Phaneuf was an absolute prince of a guy when he did an autograph session recently in the city. Phaneuf signed and posed and smiled for hours on end, thus making the day for countless Flames fans. There are also no reports of any Edmonton fans in the lineup being bodychecked into the display table by the hulking defenceman.

Flames prez Ken King says the team should have a new rink within three years. He also says his Flames are one of the best organizations in the NHL. They’re definitely better than Phoenix at least.

My ex-wife, who was also at the birthday party of the 2027 Habs first-round draft pick Cameron, thinks I’m an idiot for having a Habs blog. When I showed it to her, all she did was roll her eyes. She then told me she runs marathons and climbs mountains.

2027 draft pick Cameron is absolutely delighted with the Habs boots, which should fit in three or four years, given by his grandpa. He then carried on playing with wrapping paper.
2027 draft pick Cameron is absolutely delighted with the Habs boots, which should fit in three or four years, given by his grandpa. He then carried on playing with wrapping paper.

Bernie Geoffrion Was Born To Play, Sing, And Laugh. But Not To Coach

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Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion is well-remembered for many things – His slaphot he worked on when he was nine years old at a time when slapshots weren’t invented yet; His nickname “Boom Boom”, which came about when a Montreal Star sportswriter named Charlie Boire asked Geoffrion if he could call him that after hearing the puck leave his stick and then boom against the boards; His boisterous and good-natured singing on trains and in dressing rooms which led to a few television appearances; His marriage to Marlene, daughter of Howie Morenz; His terrific Hall of Fame career playing right wing on the Canadiens, and teaming up with Doug Harvey at the point to create terror on the power play. With these two firing cannons, no wonder goalies like Chicago’s Glenn Hall would vomit before games;

And of course, the heart-wrenching retiring of his sweater, number five, on March 11, 2006, only hours after he had passed away from stomach cancer. His family stood on the ice, watching the sweater being raised to the rafters, and their tears weren’t the only tears. The Bell Centre was swept away with emotion, and so was I 3000 miles away in my living room.

Geoffrion was one of the greatest Habs ever. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t a great Habs coach.

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Geoffrion had been promised the Canadiens coaching job after he retired by owner David Molson. Molson asked him to consider coaching Montreal’s farm team in Quebec for two seasons, then move up to the the Habs. It was all untrue. Molson simply wanted Geoffrion to move aside to make room for a youngster named Yvon Cournoyer. Geoffrion said later the coaching offer sounded good, but if he had known what was really going on, he would’ve stayed and made Cournoyer beat him out of a job fair and square. 0062

Geoffrion went up to Quebec and led the Aces to two first-place finishes, and was promptly fired. And Molson told him there was no room with the big club because Toe Blake wasn’t going anywhere. So he unretired himself and found himself playing for the New York Rangers and eventually coached there for half a season before calling it quits because of an ulcer acting up. Later on, he joined the Atlanta Flames and coached there for slightly more than two years.

And this is where the story of Geoffrion coaching the Habs begins.

When Scotty Bowman left Montreal to begin a new life in Buffalo, Montreal’s GM Irving Grundman picked up the phone and called Geoffrion. It was the offer Geoffrion had been waiting for for 15 years. But after only 30 games behind the bench, he called it quits. “I had three guys telling me what moves to make,” he explained. “Toe Blake, Claude Ruel and Irving Grundman. How can you coach like that?”

Geoffrion had other things to say too: “I’m sick and tired of them. Guys coming in at two or three in the morning, laughing and joking around. They’re not acting like professional athletes. I’m not going to stick around and let everyone in Montreal blame me for what’s happening.”

“(Pierre) Larouche walking through the airport, smoking a cigar, acting like we won the Stanley Cup when we’d lost a game. And I thought Savard would help me. But he’s more interested in his horses.”

But the players had their own thoughts: “He flunked out in New York,” replied Steve Shutt. “he flunked out in Atlanta. Why would he come here, where the fans are so demanding?” Another player said, “You’ve got 17,000 assistant coaches, and the fans are right behind you, win or tie.”

Larry Robinson admitted they came to came to camp out of condition and they knew, with Bowman gone, they wouldn’t be reprimanded for it because Geoffrion, as the new guy, was just trying to fit in. “Geoffrion didn’t want to push us,” said Bob Gainey, “but we needed it.”

“He was a lot more friendly than Scotty,” said Pierre Larouche, “and we took advantage. He just wasn’t made for the job.”

Geoffrion went back to Atlanta, a city he loved, to be with his kids and grandkids, make some funny Miller beer commercials, and to enjoy life. Claude Ruel replaced him behind the bench in Montreal, and the planet continued to spin on its axis as usual. 

 Bernie Geoffrion just wasn’t meant to coach. But he sure was meant to play. He was one of the greatest Habs ever. Number five with the big shot. The guy who loved to sing and laugh and keep his teammates loose. To coach in the NHL one probably has to be a bit of a rotten son of a bitch, and Geoffrion wasn’t that at all. He was simply just a great player. And fans said thank you for that when his sweater went up to the rafters.

Steve Shutt Or Clark Gillies. Who Would You Take?

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They’re both Hall of Famers, both were left wingers, they both played 14 seasons, and both come from the same era.

One was a huge, tough player with great hands, and the other was smaller with great hands.

Both were extremely important players on their teams.

Who would you pick to play left wing on your team, Clark Gillies or Steve Shutt?

Shutt, 5’11”, 180 pounds, notched 424 goals and 393 assists for 817 points in 930 games. And he had only 410 minutes in penalties. In the playoffs, Shutt had 98 points in 99 games.

Gillies, 6’3″, 210 pounds, tallied 319 goals and 378 assists for 697 points in 958 games. He was sent to the penalty box for a total of 1023 minutes. In the playoffs, Gillies had 94 points in 164 games.

Gary Lupul told me once that of all the players he played against when he was with the Canucks, it was Gillies who frightened him the most. He was as strong as a bull who could also play the finesse game – a very lethal combination. Gillies also benefitted from playing alongside Brian Trottier and Mike Bossy and grabbing rebounds from a Denis Potvin slapshot.

Shutt on the other hand didn’t scare anybody except enemy goalies. He’d been a junior superstar with the Toronto Marlies, and continued his knack for scoring when he joined the Canadiens. Many times he simply cashed in after Lafleur or Lemaire had done much of the work, but regardless, if garbage goals were easy, then everyone would be scoring. Phil Esposito was the same sort of goal scorer as Shutt. And Shutt also grabbed rebounds from Robinson, Lapointe and Savard at the point.

Both were extremely valuable players on cup-winning teams, – Gillies with the Islanders, Shutt with the Habs. Their points are similiar, their size isn’t.

Who would you take?