Tag Archives: Sudbury

The Sudbury Gig


In early 1972 I was a dazed and confused 21-year old living with a few friends and strangers in a rented house on Edith St. in Toronto. It was a fine party house, where we got our kicks from drinking wine, cranking up the music, and making immature wisecracks to the couple in the nearby bedroom who just wanted be alone.

It was also a serious dead end. I was a high school dropout with a pathetic grade 10 education, with no car, no girlfriend, no money, and no future. I had pretty well nothing, except for maybe a cool jean jacket and several face pimples.

One day, while walking along Bloor St., I saw a sign in a window that read ‘Toronto Bartenders School’, and within a day or two I was enrolled and shaking, stirring, and pouring like crazy. It was almost like going to college. A two-week long college. One that accepted bums.

We learned how to make about a hundred and twenty different drinks and cocktails, which seemed ridiculous, but that was the course and I was in it to graduate. But there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d remember more than about twenty in the real world. There was a reason I was a dropout.

It was a couple of interesting weeks, though. Our teacher added egg whites to the coloured water so it would make a foam head on drinks, and he dazzled us with the way he would demonstrate, because he’d been a bartender for decades and we were raw rookies.

When the course ended, I was asked if I was interested in working at the Holiday Inn in Sudbury, where a job had just opened up. I said sure, and away I went. Just like that.

One moment I was down and out on Edith St., eating cereal for supper, and the next, off to a job up north where I wasn’t going to get dirty, and with drunken females all over the place!

In Sudbury I rented a room at the YMCA across the street from the Holiday Inn, and soon after reported for work at the two bars in the hotel – Dangerous Dan’s, a raunchy and incredibly busy hard rock joint, while on the other side of the wall was Flanagan’s, an Irish pub that featured lounge acts. I wore a red vest with sparkles, a white shirt, black tie, and black pants with a red stripe down the sides.

The first thing the bar manager had me do was pour two pints of beer from an automated push button draught dispenser, and I confidently grabbed two mugs, held them under the taps, pushed the buttons, and checked out the ladies. Several seconds later the manager bodychecked me and grabbed the glasses, because I had them upside down and beer was all over the place.

That fall the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series unfolded, and through some serious switching of shifts I was able to see all eight games on various TVs. I bought my first car at this time, a second-hand Toyota Corona, and on my first date with the lovely Joanne from Flanagan’s, we got in the car and the piece of shit wouldn’t start.

Joanne was magnificent, with a body to stop traffic, but she ended up living with the bar manager for some reason. I still have scars.

I was eventually fired from my job after a carload of buddies from Orillia came to visit me, rented a room in the hotel, and caused so much commotion that the hotel manager, who was Italian, showed up with security, knocked on the door, and when one of my buddies answered, he shouted “Holy &%^$, it’s the Mafia!” I happened to be in the room at the time, which the manager wasn’t crazy about.

Months later, after being forgiven, I was back at it, but not for long. The hotel chef and I suddenly quit, hopped in his car, and for whatever reason, drove to Vancouver.

I came back (to Orillia) in a year or so and was busted for possession of marijuana, but remembered what a fellow bartender and his wife had said while in Sudbury. They were moving back to Ottawa and told me that if I was ever there, I’d have a place to stay.

So right after my court appearance, where I was given a conditional discharge, I hopped on a bus to Ottawa, stayed with my friends for awhile, and eventually found a job and a wife, helped produce two kids, became a tractor trailer driver (which I ended up doing for a big part of my life), and stayed in the nation’s capital for 17 years before moving on.

It all seems so long ago.

I wonder how Joanne is doing.







If It’s Friday, It’s Sudbury

We’re in Sudbury on our way to the Coast, and I realize we haven’t exactly made great time but that was the plan anyway. First off, our cat is under the weather and isn’t able to give her usual 110%.

And secondly, Wacky Wings, which has 107 different wing sauces, was closed yesterday so there was no point going all the way from Montreal to Sudbury in one shot if Wacky Wings was closed.

I was a bartender in Sudbury in 1972, only days and weeks shy of my 22nd birthday, when the 1972 Summit Series was played.

A year after the ’72 Series, when I was still there, I saw Red Army play a team at the Sudbury Arena, probably the Junior A Wolves but it could’ve been a university team, with  the Soviets boasting mostly those who suited up during the legendary ’72 tourney.

But I’m cloudy about the details. I’m cloudy about yesterday.

I remember I went to that game with a waitress I worked with, a good-looking gal with big big breasts who ended up having an affair with my boss. My buddy from Orillia, Bruce Traviss and his girlfriend, who later became his wife and then ex-wife, went to the game with us too. Other than that it’s a fuzzy mess.

I know I liked Sudbury though, and it’s interesting to be back.

Tomorrow we’ll probably reach Wawa, a place where my girlfriend (not the waitress) and I got stuck for about 30 hours when hitchhiking across the country in 1970. And it wasn’t just us who did the stranded thing. There was a telephone pole near the highway back then, filled with names carved on it and how long they were stuck there.

When we eventually got picked up, it was in a semi hauling brand new cars and the driver let us ride in one of the cars on the back, which of course is completely illegal.

Not long after, my girlfriend latched on to another trucker who had picked us up and that was the end of her and I. After that I had to start figuring out how to get laid again.

Wawa remains famous for hitchhikers getting stuck back in the day, and if there’s a snowstorm in that area tomorrow, it’s going to be deja vu except for a different reason.

Below, Wacky Wings, with the Sudbury Arena behind it.


Penguins Time

Game day, with the Canadiens in Pittsburgh to play a team that’s won 12 straight games. Obviously it’s way overdue for the Pens to come crashing back to earth, and the Habs are just the team to spoil what’s been a big party for Pittsburghers. Like every good bash, eventually the sun starts to come up and birds begin to chirp, and it’s time to say goodnight and prepare for the hangover.

I love when the boys are party poopers. Go into the other team’s barn and ruin 18,000 home team fans’ big night out.

We need the guys going, though. Carey Price has to be sharp. Scorers need to score, special teams need to be special, and if guys don’t want to be in Michel Therrien’s doghouse, bad penalties have to be avoided. The Penguins are already gearing up for a long march and it’d be nice to have a cold bucket of water tossed on this premature dream.

I’ve tried to come up with something personal I can relate about the Pittsburgh Penguins and all I can think of is when I was a bartender in Sudbury in 1972-73 and the Pens, in Sudbury for an exhibition game, stayed at the Holiday Inn where I was working. I delivered room service beer to one of their rooms and Ron Schock was the guy who answered and gave me a tip. Looked like an excellent party going on.

I’ve searched the internet trying to find something about the Penguins in Sudbury in the fall of 1972 or ’73, but I’m having no luck whatsoever.


Summit ’72 – Tuning In From Sudbury

I was a month shy of 22, living and tending bar in Sudbury, Ont. when Team Canada and the Soviet National team met in 1972. The news of this series had swirled in the wind for months, and I’d been on pins and needles waiting for it to begin. When it did, I managed to see every game, usually by myself, and except for the devastating losses involved, of course it didn’t disappoint. It was scary, nerve-wracking, surprising and frustrating, but it didn’t disappoint. Drama like this doesn’t come along very often.

I remember travel ads in newspapers for plane fare to Moscow, tickets for all four games, plus hotels and sightseeing, for $1000, but I was barely paying my rent in Sudbury, so such a trip was of course out of the question. How I wish I would have found a way to come up with the money. The 3000 Canadian fans who actually did go, saw and became part of magical hockey history, all for a lousy thousand bucks, which was probably about $900 more than I had at the time.

I wasn’t any different than several million other Canadians before we had our eyes opened. I had watched our amateurs lose on a regular basis to the Big Red Machine, but I always told myself, like everybody else, that it was because those Russians employed their best while we didn’t. It was simple. It was one thing to obliterate our amateurs, but meeting our NHL stars would be another matter altogether. I rubbed my hands with glee and prepared for a Cold War slaughter.

The Russians, as you know, came, saw, and conquered. Valeri Kharlamov was poetry in motion. Vladislav Tretiak was like a cat. The tall, lanky Alexander Yakushev was far too dangerous, probably the most dangerous of them all. The whole damn bunch of them were magnificent. They played as a definitive team, nothing haphazard, everything in order, always moving, always circling, and it was extremely beautiful to watch. Disheartening but beautiful.

What a team, these Soviets, and the Canadians quickly found out they were the fight of their hockey lives. The training camp smiles and good cheer vanished for our boys after game one, replaced by guts and fear and heart. But they dug deep, gradually found themselves in better shape, and finally in Moscow they pulled it out in the end when things didn’t look at all promising.

I was alone in my apartment in Sudbury for game eight, watching on a small black and white television, and my sigh of relief might have been felt all the way to the Inco mines on the other side of town when Paul Henderson broke the tie with 34 seconds left. It was a giddy moment, but I also knew the Canadians were fortunate, and that the Russians were absolutely world class and NHL calibre to say the least.

Something new was in the air. These strange cyrillic-writing, vodka-drinking creatures were to be admired and respected. We had just found out that people played hockey in another country as well as they did here. They  had learned their craft in only a handful of rinks across their frozen country, and how could that be?

Immediately after the series, Alan Eagleson and Hockey Canada officials boldly announced that these mysterious players would soon be competing for the Stanley Cup, even as soon as the following year. It wasn’t to be, but I suppose the Eagle and others meant well.

Hockey changed after 1972. Gradually the NHL’s doors were thrown wide open, and stars now fill the ice from distant ports. I feel extremely fortunate to have seen things from the beginning, to have witnessed the historic Summit Series as an adult, and I became a lifetime student of what had transpired during that September of forty years ago.

I met a few of the Soviet players while I was in St. Petersburg years later and they were quite pleasant, although Boris Mikhailov seemed to have cared less when he learned I was Canadian. But he was a rotten bastard on the ice too, one who enjoyed kicking with his skate blade, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. I will say this about this excellent forward and yapper. Mikhailov was his team’s true leader. He was the Phil Esposito of the Russian squad.

I’ve put some things together on this 40-year anniversary, and I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ll be posting throughout the next several weeks. It was great to witness this once-in-a-lifetime event. See, there are some good things about being old.



Canadian Boys Down Russians In World Juniors Opener

Team Canada Juniors doubled the Russian 6-3 in Buffalo to open their tournament, and unless you’re a Russian or maybe an American, this is a great result on this first day of play.

As we all know, the tournament picks up steam as it progresses, we get to know the players much better, and by the time the thing begins to reach its climax, most Canadian hockey fans are on the edge of their seats and longing for the day NHLers play with the passion of these young fellows.

Heartwarming is the story of Marcus Foligno, son of ex-pro Mike Foligno who toiled in the NHL from 1979 until 1994, playing for Detroit, Buffalo, and Toronto. Young Marcus, with US – Canadian dual citizenship, was told by his mom just before she passed away due to cancer in 2009 that he was going to have his choice on what team he would lace ’em up with – Canada or the US, but she reminded him that he is Canadian and left it at that.

Imagine how proud she’d be to see him wearing the Team Canada unform now.

Young Foligno is also a Sudbury, Ontario native which is special to me because I have a connection to Sudbury myself. I was a 21 year old bartender at the Holiday Inn there and watched, as they unfolded, all eight games of the 1972 Summit Series in this city.

Sudbury gets a bad rap because some of the rock landscape in the area that many compare to the moon. But in reality, it’s a fine place to live and I enjoyed it very much. Great people live in Sudbury.

Canada plays next on Tuesday against the Czech Republic. So far so good.

Go Canada!!!!

This One’s A No-Brainer (As Reported In Sudbury Northern Life)

By: Bill Bradley – Sudbury Northern Life

Montreal Canadiens fans may recall that Hector “Toe” Blake was the coach of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s and 1960s, until his retirement in 1968.

Blake, who died in 1995, was also a native of Coniston.

On July 14, the Coniston Community Action Network (CAN) will ask city council to rename the Coniston Arena the Toe Blake Arena.

Blake, a former Canadiens player himself, coached his team to eight Stanley Cup victories. He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1982, he was made a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to Canadian hockey.

The Coniston CAN have written support from Blake’s family, as well as several Coniston community organizations, including the Coniston Lion’s Club, Coniston Minor Hockey Association, Paroisse Notre Dame-de-la-Merci, St. Andrew’s United Church, Club Allegri and All Saints Anglican Church.

Ward 9 Coun. Doug Craig also wrote a letter in support of the arena being renamed in memory of Blake.

“I understand that this request has broad community support and has met all of the requirements,” Craig wrote. “I wish to advise that I fully support this request and hope it will be given favourable consideration.”

The following is a summary of Blake’s life and his accomplishments, as written in a city staff report:

-Hector “Toe” Blake was born in Victoria Mines in 1912 and was raised playing outdoor hockey in the town of Coniston

-Blake played junior and senior hockey in the Sudbury area and was part of the 1932 Sudbury Cub Wolves who were Memorial Cup champions

-He played for the Hamilton Tigers of the Ontario Hockey Association before joining the Montreal Maroons of the NHL in 1935. They won the Stanley Cup that year. Financial troubles caused the Maroons, who appealed mostly to the anglophone community, to suspend operations in 1938-39.

-Blake left the team for the second Montreal NHL team, the Montreal Canadiens, in 1935. He continued with them until 1948.

-He scored 235 goals and had 292 assists, for a total of 527 points in 577 games, and was team captain of the Canadiens from 1940 to 1948.

-During playoff games he scored 25 goals and had 37 assists, for a total of 62 points in 57 playoff games.

-In the 1938-39 season he won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player and the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion.

-While playing for the Montreal Canadiens, Blake was part of a trio called the Punch Line, also featuring Elmer Lach and Maurice (the Rocket) Richard.

-After retirement, as a player, he coached several of the Canadiens minor league teams for eight years until being named head coach of the Canadiens in 1955.

-Blake coached the Canadiens for 13 years with a total of 500 regular season wins, 18 out of 23 playoff series wins, and eight Stanley Cup victories, including a record five wins in a row from 1956 to 1960-the most for any coach in the team’s history and second best in the history of the NHL.

I Had No One To Hug When The Goal Was Scored


It’s possibly the most important hockey item ever up for sale, and I’m thinking if I sell my house and live in a tent until I die, I can get in on the bidding war now going on at Classic Auctions, the Montreal-based hockey auction house that sends me their catalogue before every auction and I sit and drool and slobber and complain that life isn’t fair because I can’t have anything in the book.

 But I’m a realist and know I have to save my money if I’m going to buy the Habs.

The jersey, worn by Paul Henderson in the four games in Moscow during the 1972 Summit Series, including game 8 when he scored the winner with 34 seconds left, is now closing in on $100,000 and will be at least double that when the auction wraps up in slightly less than a month.

Will it sit in some rich guy’s rec room beside the dart board?  Or in  a safe, or an office somewhere? Or will the winning bidder loan it to the Hockey Hall of Fame so much poorer people like you and I can look at it?

When the series was on, I was a week or two shy of my 22nd birthday and working as a bartender in Sudbury at a busy Irish pub called Flannigan’s in the Holiday Inn. I saw all eight games, mostly by myself in my little apartment with a lousy old TV, although I was working during the game-four tilt in Vancouver. But it was on Flannigan’s TV so I saw most of it when I should have been doing other things, like working. 

But that game eight. Wow! Such stress. The Russians were going to claim series victory if it was tied because they’d scored more total goals, but as you all know, Henderson solved the problem. And when he did, I’m pretty sure I yelled and jumped and afterward sat exhausted, and in my lousy little apartment had no one to hug and raise a glass with.

What a thing to see this jersey now up for bids. But really, it should be in the Hockey Hall of Fame where it belongs. As for Henderson, he never had the numbers to be in the Hall, but maybe, because of his many heroics in that wonderful series, he should be.

I’ve also learned, from asking the question dozens of times over the years, that most people feel he doesn’t belong. I think, though, there should be a section reserved strictly for him.

On This Day 36 Years Ago, We Celebrated. But What About Those Russian Players?

On this day, September 28th, exactly 36 years ago, Team Canada and Team Russia played their eighth and final game of the historic 1972 Summit Series. Paul Henderson pulled it out with 34 seconds to play on kind of a broken play, and the Canadian players, coaches, and most of the entire country of Canada breathed a huge sigh of relief.

This is a ticket stub from this game. I wasn’t in Moscow, but I watched every game, glued to the TV, in Sudbury, Ont. where I was working as a bartender.

A year or two ago, I had a chance to buy this ticket, along with the fan’s travel itinerary, Moscow bus tickets, and various other souvenirs from this guy’s trip to Moscow. I have no idea why he wanted to sell it. It was done through a collectables organization, so maybe he’d passed away and the family just wanted to get rid of everything.  I paid $200 for the lot, and the ticket now sits in a handsome frame on my wall.

This series changed hockey.  We saw the way the Russians trained in 1972, the way they began and finished plays, and the way they could skate. And we knew that Canada was very lucky to win this series.

Almost everyone benefitted from this series – the NHL, fans everywhere, and hockey in general, even today. Everyone, that is, except many of the Russian players. In the eighth game, the Russians players not in the lineup were not even allowed to go to the game unless they could buy a ticket somehow. Some ended up standing outside Luczniki Arena while the game went on inside.

And most tragically, many of these innovative and beautiful skaters ended up destitute or dead. They got absolutely nothing from this series except a free trip to Canada.

Vladimir Vikulov, one of Russia’s most skilled forwards, who played in six of the eight games, became a serious alcoholic and from all reports has struggled for years.

Evgeny Mishakov ended up broke, living in pain with arthritis in a small apartment, collecting a few bucks a month from the government.

It’s rumoured that Valeri Vasiliev joined the Russian mafia to make ends meet.

Team manager Valentine Sytch somehow made many enemies in the years after, and was eventually gunned down by the Russian mafia.

And even the successful players from the Russian squad didn’t come out smelling like roses. Alex Maltsev had his apartment broken into in Moscow and all his gold medals, trophies, and various mementoes from 1972 were stolen.

Valeri Kharlamov and his wife died in a car accident in 1981 outside of Moscow.

And others died prematurely as well, such as coach Vsevolod Bobrov , Vyacheslav Solodukhin, and others. Alexander ‘Rags’ Ragulin ballooned to well over 300 pounds before he passed away four years ago.

But of course, many have done well and made lots of money. Vladislav Tretiak, Boris Mikhailov, and Alexander Yakushev all became outstanding Russian citizens, both at and away from the rink.

Vyacheslav Anisin’s daughter became a gold medal figure skater.

But it’s the ones who found vodka and poverty, the ones the hockey world forgot, who should be helped by the NHL. These people are owed. They helped make the game what it is today.

To the NHL owners and Players Association, throw a bunch of money their way. They need it.

And it’s never too late.





Part Two: Gaston Continues With The Tour Of Powell River.

I thought on day two of our tour of Powell River, I’d show you one of my palm trees in my yard, and a few other things to give you more of an idea about this place. For me, coming from Orillia, Toronto, Sudbury, Ottawa, and Calgary, this place is definitely a different change in lifestyle. The only downside I feel is that people in Powell River are kind of stuck because you can only drive 30 kilometers either north or south. After that, it’s an hour ferry ride, then a second one, which is a 40 minute one down by Vancouver. So it’s not easy to go for a Sunday drive.

But it’s a beautiful little west coast town, although I’m still waiting for summer to arrive.


If you really don’t want to drive and take ferries to get to Vancouver, you can fly in a small 12 seater that takes 25 minutes and costs about a hundred bucks. I’ve done it a few times and it’s excellent. This photo shows the view of Powell River fron the air. Gaston never has to pay because he just hides in a suitcase.

  Gaston and his ’56 Chevy sitting by the monkey tree with a palm tree in the background. Monkey trees are named monkey trees because they say it’s the only tree a monkey can’t climb. The limbs also look like a monkey’s tail.


 Gaston and shot of the ferry docked over in the distance, with the paper mill further back. Way up that way about 30 kilometers is a little fishing village called Lund, and people in town still talk about the celebrities that stopped there for gas and supplies for their yachts. People like Elvis Presley, John Wayne, Walt Disney, Kevin Costner. And I just heard that up in Toba Inlet, Michelle Pfeiffer has a place. And Colin James has a place over on Savary Island, just off Lund.

 In part three, Gaston and I go for beer and natchos at a local pub and discuss the draft.