Habs and Leafs clash tonight in Toronto.
A most splendid old 8 minute film.
Carey Price is under the weather and may not play in the season opener Thursday night in Toronto. C’mon Carey, shape up. Up and at ’em. Eat six raw eggs and drink a half pint of cod liver oil.
Or if all else fails, smoke a doobie. But not too close to game time.
It goes without saying that Habs and Leaf fans love when these two play each other. The rivalry between teams is an old one, a great one, and for those who don’t know, many years ago, many, many years ago, the Leafs were a force to be reckoned with.
I know. I read it somewhere in the Old Testament.
I have my mom’s diary beside me that she wrote when she was a teenager, and the entry for April 18th, 1942 is: “The Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup tonight for the first time in years.” She was right. It had been ten years since they’d won it before that, in 1932. Overall though, the team in blue has captured the hardware 13 times, which is better than anyone else except our guys, of course. (Detroit has won it 11 times, the Bruins five).
And imagine the Stanley Cup playoffs ending on April 18th.
My mom knew the Leafs’ Bucko McDonald when she was growing up in Sundridge, Ontario, where he’s from, and it’s entirely possible she liked the Torontonians as a young girl. Maybe all those times she helped me type letters to the Montreal Canadiens at the kitchen table, she was secretly a Leaf fan and never mentioned it. (Bucko is known for another reason too: he coached Bobby Orr in nearby Parry Sound when Orr was a wee lad and McDonald can certainly claim some responsibility for helping Orr grow as a player in his formative years).
As a hockey fan, I have great respect for much of the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Conn Smythe and Frank Selke building the team in the early days; Turk Broda, Syl Apps, Hap Day, the Kid Line, Bill Barilko. Later, Tim Horton, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Johnny Bower.
The Eddie Shack – John Ferguson battles that usually led to bench-clearing brawls. Backstrom and Keon lining up for a faceoff. Punch Imlach with his fedora and arrogant smirk. Harold Ballard saying and doing the outrageous, often distastefully and lacking a certain amount of grace and decorum. But he was a fixture and mover and shaker at the Gardens for decades.
All those many nights when the Canadiens and Leafs went toe to toe at the Forum and Maple Leaf Gardens and fans got their money’s worth in spades.
The story of hockey in many ways is the story of Montreal and those dastardly Toronto Maple Leafs.
But I’m a Habs fan, and so I do what I always do – hope for a Montreal slaughter, a gigantic take-down of the boys in blue. I want a demolishing, a trouncing, a slaughtering, a one-sided embarrassment. It’s not too much to ask.
Bring ’em on. Bring on Komisarek with the bad passes and bad penalties, bring on the unlikable duo of Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel. In fact, on the subject of Grabovski, here’s a lovely little read in case you missed it; Couple sues Maple Leaf.
Roman Hamrlik is still nursing his sore knee but seems almost ready. Andre Markov says it’s a secret when he’ll return, and Mike Cammalleri stays in civvies for one night only for getting down and dirty against the Islanders in pre-season. Hey, you don’t mess with Cammy.
A recent poll conducted by the Ipso-Reid research company has found that one-third of the 1015 people surveyed say the Montreal Canadiens are Canada’s Team. I thought that was already decided. Taken for granted. A no-brainer.
But it’s only a third of the people. And if you’re wondering about the Toronto Maple Leafs, wonder no more. They garnered 25 percent of 1015. That means 253 people, a lot of people, think The Leafs, who haven’t won anything in 42 years, should be called Canada’s Team.
I’m thinking Ipso-Reid did part of their survey in a couple of retirement homes. They spoke to old fellows in wheelchairs with blankets over their legs, and the old guys, God bless ’em, talked about the days of Charlie Conacher, Busher Jackson, Syl Apps, Hap Day, and Turk Broda, and they wept and blurted out as the nurses came running that the Leafs are Canada’s Team.
Then I think the Ipso-Reid bunch went to a Jefferson Airplane reunion concert, and between tokes, the now-aging baby boomers said the 1967 Stanley Cup was like, totally far out, and yes, the Leafs are Canada’s team.
Either that or the other thing. Of course anyone who happens to be a Leafs fan isn’t going to suggest that the Montreal Canadiens, the team they wish would get run over by a bus, should be Canada’s team. You’re a pretty bad fan if you’d do this. Imagine a good Habs fan talking to the guy from Ipso-Reid and saying,”Yes, I feel the Toronto Maple Leafs are Canada’s team.”
Ain’t gonna happen. It goes against nature, like Bob Probert trying to figure skate.
Ipso-Reid didn’t stop there, although that’s the big one. They also found out that 62% of Quebecers feel Maurice Richard is the greatest Hab ever, while only 44% of Ontarians thought that to be the case. People in Ontario prefer Jean Beliveau for “the best” label.
I think it’s the Rocket, but I know lots of folk who say Beliveau. Either way, you can’t go wrong. I’m just glad neither of them ever became a Leaf.
Office of the schedule maker. Good morning.
Hello, this is Mr. Bettman. I need to speak to the schedule maker.
Yes, schedule maker. We have a problem. I’m sure you’re aware that there’s a few good Canadian teams up there, especially the Montreal Canadiens, and I’m sure you’re aware of what that means. Can you imagine a Canadian team in the Cup finals, schedule maker? Do you understand what that would mean for American TV audiences? No one would watch. We can’t have this. It’s happened before and I’ve decided to put my foot down.
So what would you like me to do, boss?
See what you can do about giving Montreal at least a bunch of big spaces between games early in the season. Maybe it’ll affect their timing, make them rusty, maybe they’ll lose a bunch of games, fall behind in the standings and never catch up. You know, whatever you can do. It’s important.
Later on that summer…
Hello, Mr, Bettman? This is the schedule maker. How about this? I give them almost five days off in October when they’re in Florida on a Monday, and then don’t play Anaheim until the next Saturday! And then, sir, I think you’ll like this! I have them in Long Island in November on a Saturday, then don’t have them play in Columbus until the following Friday, even though the two places are only 400 kilometers apart and about an hour plane ride?
How do you like that?
Schedule maker, you’re a genius. That should take any wind out of those Montreal sails. It’s perfect, and I’ll make sure you have a job next year.
Thank you, Mr Bettman. And by the way, if you decide to move any more Canadian teams to a place like Acapulco or Rio, please think of me for a front office job? Thanks.
This is the other little ad I have. It also came from an old 1940’s newspaper and it’s good because it gives all the different prices.