Tag Archives: Toronto

Face-Off

I went to see Face-Off in downtown Toronto when it was brand new in the theatres. It was sort of interesting. Some great players had cameos in this Canadian story of a folk singer and a hockey player having problems because of the difference in lifestyles, but without the decent hockey footage, I think the story would suck.

Rick Ley, a kid from the neighborhood in Orillia playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the time, was in it and I even think he had a one-line speaking role.

In the U.S. the movie is called “Winter Comes Early”. I don’t know why. Maybe the studio was worried that too many people, particularly in the warmer areas, wouldn’t have a clue what the title meant.

I like the last paragraph in the clipping below about Jacques Plante.

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Happy New Year!!!

Yes indeed, Happy New Year.

May 2010 be a great year for you, and may you not get arthritis. And if you do get arthritis, let me know, I have some ideas to make you feel better, some of them even legal.

And while you’re all partying and kissing your partner’s best friend and wearing a lamp shape on your head and whooping and hollering as the new year gets closer, I’ll be working. I’ll be making sure the ferry runs smoothly so we don’t have the problems they’re having at airports. Yes people, I’m doing it for you.

It’s all about you.

And it’s also about the Habs.

In 2010, may there be no more injuries. May both our goalies not have to face 45 shots anymore. May the team climb high in the standings and show Leaf and Bruins fans they were wrong when they said bad things about us.

May the Habs wives and girlfriends continue to look beautiful and experience peace and contentment when your guys are napping on game day instead of showing affection to you. And may he say sweet things to you and kiss you on the cheek and not complain about the coach or the lack of ice time he’s getting.

May we never see those striped uniforms in 2010.

May Canada’s Olympic team win gold, and our Juniors too, even though I was cut from the junior squad because I didn’t come to any practices and I’m too old. But hey, nobody told me all the rules.

May all the readers of this blog be healthy, wealthy and wise. A fellow wrote in to a hockey website recently about this blog, saying that the comments here are the liveliest and friendliest out there. At some point I’ll post this letter because I think he’s right. When things really heat up in the comment section here, it makes for terrific reading because everyone really knows what they’re talking about. Of course, these readers get to watch games while others are working.

And once again, soon I’ll be packing my dismal, meagre peanut butter sandwiches and trudging to work with my head down and a frown on my face while you are laughing and smiling and telling lousy jokes and watching the Habs and the juniors and the silliness in Time’s Square and eating cupcakes and I”ll be stuck making sure the ferry’s doing fine because it affects the economy and people’s moods and it’s all about you. I want you to get to your gawddamn, overrated, hangover-inducing parties safe and sound and on time.

Yes people, I’m working so you don’t have to.

Happy New Year to everyone!


I Get The Feeling Fans In Florida Weren’t Happy With Jacques Martin

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After the Canadiens played the Leafs and squeaked it out in overtime while being outshot about a thousand to 20, I asked this question:

“Why are we getting outshot like this? Our defence is an experienced group, and Andrei Markov is back to make it that much better. Jacques Martin’s forte as coach is to create a solid, defensive system. Habs forwards can play both ways, they’re not just an offensive team up front.

So why the inordinate shots on goal against every night? Help me, people. I don’t have any answers.”

The guys from a Florida Panthers blog, The Rat Trick, having had Jacques as the Panther coach in a previous life between 2005 and 2008, answered my question. And it’s not pretty..

“The System that Jacques uses is to have the other team take more shots than his team, but hope that his team scores more! Saw this personally here in Florida for three very aggravating years.
He preaches defence, but I’m not sure if it’s actually applied.
I feel your pain and continue to question his philosophy.”


What Are Those Leafs Thinking Before The Big Game

I’m not above using a picture I’ve used before, and there’s four reasons why I don’t feel bad about this:

The Habs play the Leafs tonight;

It’s Christmas and this is a Christmas picture;

This is a beautiful picture;

It’s my picture.

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Notice how the Leaf kids look scared of the Habs kids? The Leaf kids just seem more tentative, nervous, like they have quite a few less points than the Habs. They know the game will be difficult. They know there will be lots of Habs jerseys in the stands, and half the Air Canada Centre will be cheering for the visitors.

“Why, oh why do we have to play the Habs?” some of the Leafs in the picture were heard to say. “Why can’t it be an easier team – like Boston?”

“Maybe I’ll call in sick,” said one Leaf. “You can’t do that, I’m already thinking of doing it and I thought of it first,” said another.

“Maybe we can set fire to our equipment like what happened to the Wild in Ottawa,” offered another.

“You Leafs are ridiculous,” said one of the girls in the picture. “The Habs put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you. Get out there and at least try. Play those Habs. Sure you’ll lose, but it least you’ll be men about it.”


Bunny Larocque Played When Ken Dryden Didn’t

I remember clearly being at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto for a Habs game in the 1970’s, and as I settled into my seat, the announcer came on and gave us the lineup. He said Michel Larocque would be in goal tonight, and I was disappointed and thought, just my luck, Larocque’s playing, not Ken Dryden. 

That’s the kind of pro career Bunny Larocque had with the Habs. An understudy. A guy who didn’t get the respect or recognition he deserved. A guy who never became a number one goalie in his prime because he played behind Dryden. Regardless, he did his job, did it well, and won four Stanley Cups.

Bunny was a big leaguer. Without even looking at his numbers, you have to realize he was part of some of the greatest Montreal teams in history – in the 1970’s, when they won four straight and were the class of the league. He played about 30 games a year, averaging just over two goals a game, which is very respectable goaltending by any measure. The team didn’t miss a beat when Bunny was in nets.

If Ken Dryden had suffered a long-term injury, Bunny was ready, and the Habs organization knew that. They wouldn’t have settled for less. To keep the team a powerhouse, it must have two world-class goaltenders. And that would be Dryden and Larocque.

Bunny Larocque died way too soon, at the age of 40 from brain cancer. He was a goalie who did a nice job when called upon, and was a valuable part of some very solid teams, to say the least. His numbers, which are impressive, can be seen here.

Below is basically a Wayne Gretzky commercial, but Bunny’s there, and he lifts his mask and gives us a big smile and tells us he’s feeling up!

Three cheers for Michel ‘Bunny’ Larocque.

So Long, Mike. You And The Leafs Deserve Each Other

Mike Komisarek has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Good. Toronto can have him.

So many teams were interested in signing him. How come? He was one of the Canadiens’ worst defencemen last season. He has no idea what to do with the puck. He doesn’t score goals. He got pummelled by Milan Lucic. He made no impact whatsoever with Montreal. All he is is big and strong. It doesn’t make him dangerous, or a power-play guy, or a puck-handler. He doesn’t seem to be even a good fighter, and he was a liability in front of poor Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak, both of whom attempted almost nightly to bail him out after he gave the puck away.

Now he’s a Leaf. Ain’t it sweet? At least Hal Gill knows how to make the safe pass out of his zone, something Komisarek never figured out.

Everybody’s raving about Komisarek and how he’ll be big part of the re-building of the Leafs. I think it’s a joke. He’s tremendously overrated. He’s called an all-star, but we know how he became an all-star – when fans did their thing with the voting procedure.

Montreal had terrible problems on defence last year. Well, I’m here to say much of the reason was Komisarek, with his bad passes and brain-dead penalty-taking.

Toronto can have him. It’ll be funny when he passes up the middle, right on the stick of Scott Gomez or Mike Cammalleri or any other Hab, and we win the game because of it.

Through it all, through his bungling and costing the team in so many ways, he still felt he deserved a big raise. And somehow he’s managed to convince all the experts that he’s some kind of big-time star. That’s his biggest accomplishment so far. Fooling the experts.

Hey Leaf fans, don’t get too excited by this signing.

Patience, Bob Gainey? You Want Patience?

Although I think Bob Gainey is an intelligent, thoughtful man, I’m here to set him straight.

Gainey says Canadien fans should be a patient bunch. Doesn’t he realize who he’s talking to here?

You want patience? We haven’t won the cup since 1993. That’s about a hundred years ago.

We’re not Toronto Maple Leafs fans, Bob. They haven’t seen their team win the cup since 1967, and they don’t even seem to mind. They just keep buying tickets, for whatever reason. But we’re different. We want a cup every year. Every single year. We need it. It’s our right. And it’s been sixteen really shitty years.

And you want us to be patient?

The news seems grim. Gainey admits now that the pursuit of a big centreman is on hold, mainly because Tampa Bay seems to have no intention of letting go of Vincent Lecavalier, who pretty well happens to be the big centreman Gainey alludes to. And Bob says the pursuit of any big centreman could drag on for months.

But I also have news for Gainey, whom I admire and respect. The Habs need more than just a big centreman. Is Montreal ready to break the bank to get a big centreman and forget that they also need at least one dynamic defenceman, a second-line power forward, and maybe even a veteran goalie to come in and teach Carey Price how to become an NHL star?

Gainey wants to re-sign Alex Kovalev, Mike Komisarek, and probably Saku Koivu, Mathieu Schneider, and Alex Tanguay, and look to bring back others such as Chris Higgins, Tomas Plekanec, and Guillaume Latendresse.

This is all great news, this attempt at bringing back most of last year’s team. But you saw the way Pittsburgh and Detroit looked in the Stanley Cup finals, along with Washington, Boston and others in the playoff this year. All had much more to offer in their lineup than the Canadiens did. That’s why, even though a  big centreman like Lecavalier would be a beautiful thing, there’s also a few other holes that need to be filled.

Maybe Gainey’s right; we have to be patient. But doesn’t he realize who he’s talking to?

Can The Canucks Go All The Way?

Yes, that’s the question. Can the Canucks win the Stanley Cup?

Before the season started, I compared Vancouver with the Toronto Maple Leafs, except Toronto doesn’t have Roberto Luongo between the pipes. But I thought the Canucks were in their rebuilding stages. No one on the team had really accomplished much in the big leagues. The Sedin twins looked like they’d never become more than pretty good players, slow skaters who create nice plays from time to time, but could never be considered major stars. Ryan Kessler showed promise as a power forward, but hadn’t elevated to another level. Mason Raymond, Ryan Johnson, Alex Burrows? Who are these people, castoffs from the Bentley Generals?

Kyle Wellwood is a fancy playmaker, but small and unpredictable, and motivation is often questioned. Mats Sundin didn’t play for more than a year, and is older than Red Fisher. And in front of Luongo stands Willie Mitchell, Mattias Ohland, and the rest of the cast of defencemen, none of whom strike fear in to the hearts of men.

Can the Canucks win the Stanley Cup? They can because they have Roberto Luongo in nets. When you have the league’s best goalie, you automatically have a real shot at the big prize. It’s like having a garage band with Elton John as your singer. And they can because those no-name players I thought compared to the Toronto Maple Leafs are arising as young stars. They’re not acting like no-name players at all. Alex Burrows and Ryan Kessler are making NHL teams throughout the league wipe drool from their bottom lips.

The problem is, as a Habs fan living in Canucksland, I have to endure the car flags, the excited talk at work and in bars, and the smiles and the laughter, all the while knowing my team sits in the cracks in the floorboard while the Canucks live it up in the penthouse after sweeping the St. Louis Blues. This hurts me, this every day reminder.

But I will cheer for the Canucks, but it doesn’t come without a price. Canucks fans must tell me nice things about the Habs. That’s the deal. Because as soon as Canucks fan laugh at my team or say naughty things about them, I’m going for Calgary.

Don Cherry Conservative? Go Figure.

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Don Cherry says it should be a Boston-San Jose final, that Vancouver should go quite a ways, and Boston is the best in the east. “I don’t see how Montreal has a chance,” he says. “They had nobody in the top 40 scoring, and they had 50 more goals scored against. Boston in five, maybe six.”

Don still holds a grudge because his Bruins, for the most part, couldn’t handle Montreal when he was coaching. And predicting Boston and San Jose isn’t exactly going out on a limb, considering Boston won the east with 116 points, and San Jose the west, with 117 points. I never thought Don would be so unimaginative. 

And regarding the photo, Don belonged to the Leafs for a good part of the 1960’s but didn’t quite have the tools to crack the lineup. But he probably ended up with more money than all the players put together.

(Photo borrowed from the pages of  ‘Forever Rivals – The Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs – James Duplacey and Charles Wilkins.)