Tag Archives: Toe Blake Tavern

To The Forum, Bus Driver

Twice I saw games at the old Forum when a buddy and I took a bus charter from Orillia. This was the Forum before the renovations in 1968, when there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views, and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

The first time I went I was 13 when the Habs hosted Chicago (Feb. 22, 1964) but I remember almost nothing about this trip, including who I went with. I only know the date and my age because of my ticket stub I show here.

But the second time, with the game on February 26, 1966 against the Rangers as you can see in the other ticket stub and on the Forum marquee, was when I was 15 and I went with my friend Bernie Rivard.

I took all these pictures that also include Toe Blake’s Tavern on Ste. Catherine, which is now long gone (the tavern, not the street), McNeice’s Sporting Goods, which was located on Atwater St, at the Forum, and my two ticket stubs from both trips which are pasted in my scrapbook.

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station in the middle of the night, I was completely drunk. But he didn’t say one word about it.

A Kid At The Forum

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When I was about 13, I took a bus from Orillia to Montreal with a friend to see the Canadiens for my first time. It was the original Forum before it was renovated in 1968, and I remember there were pillars throughout that caused obstructed views and I remember thinking that I was glad I wasn’t sitting behind one.

I also took a picture of Toe Blake’s Tavern on Rue Ste. Catherines, which is now long gone. (The tavern, not the street.)

On the bus ride back to Orillia, older guys were passing booze around and when my dad picked me up at the bus station, I was in rough shape.

A thirteen-year old kid with a hangover.

 

Rebounding From L’Affaire Carl Wetzel

Recently, out of the blue, most of the right side of my site disappeared. This included the picture of me as a kid, the twitter link, CBC links, quote of the day, map, the whole enchilada. There was no reason for it to happen. I’ve tried to be good. I’m kind to animals and I love babies. But it happened anyway.

So I phoned HostGator in Texas and the technicians there worked on it and finally got everything restored, but only up to that particular Sunday, which meant my posts from the few days after that were gone forever. And which also means my little story about Carl Wetzel, a guy who was the backup goalie for Charlie Hodge on a night I was at the Forum, vanished into thin air and is now probably twirling and swirling in cyberspace.

But I’m not taking this sitting down. In that particular story, I included a photo of the lineup from the program that night that showed Wetzel’s name, and then I went on to talk about how many minor league cities he had played in over his career (about 15).

Now I’m coming back with a vengeance, and not only am I including the lineup page again, but I’m showing the whole trip, which includes the program signed by Jim Roberts that evening after the game when I walked down to ice level to see the big CH’s at centre ice, plus the lineup page again, along with my ticket stub and photos I took of the Forum and Toe Blake’s Tavern.

Take that, computer gremlin bastards.

 

I’ll Have A Quart, Please. And Where’s Toe?

You were served your cold quarts of beer by middle-aged men in white shirts, at plain tables with ashtrays and cigarette burns, with framed artwork of different Canadiens’ players lining the walls around you. A thick haze of smoke lingered in the air, and people huddled at tables and talked and solved world problems.

Except for the pictures on the walls, it could’ve been just another plain and slightly rundown beer parlour in any town or city, filled mostly with men who took their drinking and hockey talk seriously. But of course it wasn’t just any old tavern. It was Toe Blake Tavern, where many went before the short walk to the Forum to see the big game.

I’ve read that Toe Blake himself would come in often, although it was never when I was there. It’s too bad I missed him. I could’ve said, “Toe, Sam says I can’t be stick boy. What’s up with that?”

Canadiens Didn’t Put On A Show, But Bruce Blake Put On His Dad’s Fedora And Cardigan Sweater

I’m not going to go into great detail about tonight’s 3-2 shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes, other than it was a bit of a sloppy affair, with the Habs being outshot 33-25 by the quick-skating Canes. The boys also took several bad penalties, including a puck over the boards by Carey Price with two minutes left, that almost cost them the game.

But Saku Koivu pulled it out in the shootout.

My feeling is, the homestand was too long, and a little road trip, beginning Thursday in Minnesota, then back east for stops on Long Island, Columbus, and Toronto, can’t come soon enough.

There’s things to be worked on, that’s for sure. Yes, I know, it’s only October. I’m an impatient man.

But they got their two points, and that’s what we see on paper when all’s said and done.

What I really want to talk about is something that happened before the game began. The Canadiens honoured their three most successful coaches – Dick Irvin, Toe Blake, and Scotty Bowman, and when I saw Toe’s son Bruce, my heart did a little dance.

Bruce Blake came out for the ceremonial faceoff wearing what probably was his dad’s old team cardigan sweater. And if that wasn’t good enough, he put on a fedora which also probably belonged to his dad. So there he was, dressed like his dad dressed in the good old days of the 1950’s and ’60.

It was a tremendous moment, and I hope the younger generation picked up on this.

Last year I had a nice long talk, for about an hour, with Doug Harvey’s son, Doug Jr., and he told me that when he was growing up in Montreal, his best friend was Bruce Blake. Imagine being young kids with dads who were members of the famed Montreal Canadiens of the late 1950’s?

Bruce and Doug Jr. were. (Although Doug said it was like growing up the same as any other family, which is hard to imagine.)

And Doug Jr. told me that Bruce still has all those huge players’ murals that hung in the old Toe Blake Tavern, which sat just down Ste. Catherines Street from the old Forum.

Coming Up:

Thursday’s game in Minnesota should be an interesting affair. Montreal’s record after eight games is 6-1-1 for 13 points. The Wild’s, after seven games, is 6-0-1, also for 13 points.