Tag Archives: Vancouver Canucks

Gary Lupul

It was July 18, 2007 when Powell River’s Gary Lupul died of a heart attack at just 48 years old. I was shocked. He was a close friend of mine, and he seemed in good shape. It was a horrible time for many people, because Gary was loved by many.

There were those who didn’t love him quite as much as the rest of us though. Gary’s NHL career was cut short, mostly because he had a love for the good life, and there were some in town who felt he didn’t behave himself properly and blew a promising career. Gary heard these things, he felt bad that some felt that way, but que sera sera. He was simply an outgoing and fun-loving guy who was funny, great with kids, had no ego, and the ladies loved him, although some women in Powell River steered clear of him because of rumours of his struggles. That and I guess because he was often broke. It was their loss. He was an excellent fellow who looked like a stronger version of Hollywood actor Rob Lowe.

Below, Gary with the Canucks, fighting for the puck with Gordie Howe, and taking a faceoff against Marcel Dionne.

Big Night In A Small Town. A Tribute To Gary Lupul

008

Powell River, the little semi-isolated town up the coast from Vancouver, boasts a junior team, the Kings, in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), and one of the best senior squads in all of Canada, the Regals. It’s serious hockey played in these parts. But on Saturday night, the most important hockey game of the year will be a fun night, a great night, but also a bittersweet night.

Because on this night, the town, players and fans honour Gary Lupul.

Gary Lupul was my friend, as I’ve mentioned here before. We used to have great all-night talks. His mom, who recently passed away, was a lovely lady who oozed class and was the force behind the town getting a new arena. Whenever I see his dad at the mall or on the street, he always has something silly to say that makes me laugh. In fact, I just Vic at the mall a few days ago sitting with a bunch of women his age, and he had them all laughing and giggling.

The Lupul family is a family of warm and funny characters.

Gary began as a huge star in the Western Hockey League with the Victoria Cougars and went on to play 293 games with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 70 goals and had 145 points. He played against Gretzky, Lemieux, Cheevers and Lafleur, and although slightly small, was a tough cookie who stood up to everyone.

But he had troubles off the ice. Drugs and alcohol ended up shortening his career and although he regretted it, he also probably knew he couldn’t change. He was a fun-loving fellow who drove his coaches crazy but was loved by his teammates, who always speak of him now with a smile on their faces.

Happily, at a time when he really needed a break, he became a scout for the Canucks and was able to stay in the sport he loved. He would phone me sometimes when he was on wintry roads that took him throughout Ontario from rink to rink – Kitchener one night, Huntsville or Ottawa or Cornwall the next, even my old hometown Orillia, and he would tell me about young players he’d just seen, and you could tell he was in his element.

Just over two years ago, on July 17, 2007, while watching television, Gary suffered a heart attack and died, and we mourned and still mourn. He was a great, kind, funny, generous guy who could relate to a street person as easily as he could to a millionaire. He’d been through some hard times, and he kept a special place in his heart for the down-and-out.

Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks alumni are coming to Powell River to take on the Regals alumni made up of players who won three Allan Cups in the past fifteen years, and it should be a fun, entertaining night of great passes, slick plays, and smiling faces.

But it won’t really be about the game on this night. It will be about Gary, our friend, who we miss so much.

001 002

Yes, It’s True. There Are People Who Are Like This

This may surprise you. This even may shock you.

There are some people in this world who don’t like the Montreal Canadiens.

Yes, I know. We ask ourselves, how could that be? But I’ve heard through a reliable source that there are some who feel this way and so I’ve accepted it.

They hate the Habs even in this day in age, when the Habs aren’t exactly scaring the wits out of anybody. It seems to be ingrained in some.

You can bet that there were those in some corners of the world who smiled and chuckled with glee when Andre Markov went down for four months. They toasted their buddies when Ryan O’Byrne was added to the injury list. They whooped with glee when Vancouver trounced them 7-1. They giggled uncontrollably as they saw the Kostityn’s stink on a nightly basis. They loved seeing Nashville pepper Carey Price with 55 shots.

And when the team is in a slump, some think it’s the best thing since Viagra.

And believe it or not, there are people now anxiously waiting to hear if Brian Gionta will be sidelined for a lengthy time, and hoping like crazy that this will be the case.

It’s all very shocking.

A Win Over The Flames Would Be A Big Flaming Deal

It’s a big game for the Habs when the Calgary Flames visit Tuesday, if only for the fact that Calgary is sporting an excellent 10-4-1 record so far and is a fine test for the sometimes good, sometimes bad Canadiens.

Montreal has hovered around the .500 mark ever since game 1 when Andrei Markov went down, and they can bring it back to that, as they’re now sitting at 8 wins and 9 losses. So it’s time to pound the Flames and pay them back for handing the good guys their first loss of the year in game 3 of the season, a game Montreal could have won with a few extra bounces.

In fact, the loss was the beginning of a horrendous west coast swing that saw them destroyed 7-1 in Vancouver the following night. I’m still considering therapy for that one. And as bad as Habs fans felt that night, don’t forget those images of Carey Price’s dad and mom in the stands. 

After that, they capped it off with a 3-2 loss in Edmonton.

All in all, it was a really lousy road trip.

A big night by the Montreal Canadiens would go a long way in instilling a good, winning spirit before they take to the road to meet the Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators on Thursday and Saturday respectively.

And I suppose we can’t really complain about .500 hockey, considering the absence of Markov and Ryan O’Byrne, and the implosion of Andrei Kostitsyn. And half the team was replaced and it takes time to gel with new teammates, not to mention new coaches and new system. 

Many of us have said it would take until the new year to see the real Montreal Canadiens, so if they can maintain a solid win-loss record until then, then I’m reasonably happy. Although a .750 record would work better, but I’m trying not to be greedy.

Having A Look At The Fans

As you may already know, a recent survey was done listing the top ten sports teams with the most annoying fans. This poll was done by Spike TV, and I have no idea of what Spike TV is, or who decided these are the top ten. But here they are, and I’m including what they say about the two hockey teams involved.

Here’s the list;

10. Oakland Raiders
9. Montreal Canadiens
8. Duke Blue Devils basketball
7. English soccer fans
6. Dallas Cowboys
5. Vancouver Canucks
4. Philadelphia Eagles
3. Boston Red Sox
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
And the big number one?  Chicago Cubs fans.

This is what they say about Canucks fans, who came in at number five:

“It’s remarkable how arrogant the fan base of a team with zero Stanley Cups, no Hall of Fame players, and two homoerotic Swedish twins that seem physically afraid of the playoffs can act. It’s literally mind-boggling! These days, when they’re not too busy demanding trades on local radio shows or reminiscing about that year they almost signed Wayne Gretzky, you can usually find Canucks fans preaching about how hosting Jarome Iginla and the Canadian Olympic team will finally establish their city as a genuine hockey town (sort of like how marrying Lamar Odom made Khloe Kardashian a real celebrity – legitimacy by association).

Next time you see a suspected pyramid schemer in the corner of a trendy wine bar sporting a $200 hair cut, $900 suit, and emanating a distinct air of scumbag from his Drakkar Noir-soaked pores – go ahead and ask him about Kevin Bieksa, because odds are he’s a Vancouver Canucks fan and doesn’t want to cry himself to sleep again before throwing out obscene predictions about the Norris Trophy.”

Now, this is what they say about Habs fans:

“Imagine the most annoying French person you’ve ever met…Now picture 18,250 or so of them together under one roof, and you might get a vague idea of what the Canadiens’ fan base is all about. Years ago, Montreal fans decided that instead of supporting their team or bathing on a regular basis, they would prefer to torment their best players and effectively eliminate themselves from Stanley Cup contention every year. They made Patrice Brisebois, a homegrown blueliner who won community service awards, leave town in tears and recently decided the best way to foster their young, superstar goaltender (Carey Price) was to boo him relentlessly to the point where he looked like he was going to have a mental breakdown during the post-series handshake. There was even a prop bet in Vegas about how Price was going to kill himself after the game. Way to shatter your one young prospect’s confidence for years to come. Salut!”

And this is what I have to say about Habs fans:

Forget about the greaseballs who riot after games, who tip over cop cars, who burn things, loot, and puke on their girlfriends’ heads. These aren’t Habs fans. They’re using the team as an excuse to go insane, and hopefully, to jail.

And forget about the ones who boo Carey Price and others. These aren’t Habs fans. They’re just immature people who like to hear themselves, who’ve probably had a little bit too much to drink, and who really, when you get down to it, know very little about hockey.  They’re the ones who go to rock concerts and put their girfriends on their shoulders even though they’re in the first row, thus blocking those behind them. And they’re so busy booing their own team, they forget to boo the other. What kind of fan is that?  They think it’s very cool to have others see them showing their displeasure. It’s all about ego, poor upbringing, and difficulty with constipation.

Sure we love our past, when Stanley Cups were the order of the day, and we want it all back. I don’t understand the problem. I hear fans of other teams going on about this all the time. They say, “forget it, the Habs aren’t the Habs of of old. Those days are over.” Of course, all the while they’re saying this, they’re hoping their own team will win again, or for the first time. For some reason, they can think about past glory or new glory, but Habs fans aren’t allowed to.

I remember being on a subway in New York, and I said to my friend something about wanting to see a Rangers game. Some guy overheard me say “Rangers” and figured I was slandering them. He came up to me, put his face close to mine and said, “What did you say about my Rangers? You want me to kick your ass?”

If you ever get a chance to read some Bruins blogs, you’ll see that they are everything Habs fans are accused of being – slanted, biased, arrogant, and opinionated. And that’s okay. But for whatever reason, it’s okay to be a Bruins fan but not a Habs fans.

Leafs fans are Leaf fans. But good for them for sticking with their team. Of course, we’re not allowed to, but Leaf fans are.

Fans of every other team are allowed to go unchallenged at being crazy about their team, with dreams of winning, with sheer joy at winning. But not Habs fans. We aren’t allowed to cheer for our team without being accused of living in the past, of hoping with passion, and with love for a team that’s often not good enough, of living in some kind of altered state.

Many Habs-haters simply picked this up from their fathers who happened to be hockey fans when the Canadiens ruled the roost. The dads despised the Habs because the Habs beat their teams regularly, and naturally their kids learned to despise them too. And now, with the Canadiens not doing so well, many people are jumping for joy. Other people can be big fans of their team like the guy in the New York subway, but we’re not allowed to be Habs fans. All because the Canadiens had more success than other teams over the years.

I agree with Canucks fans being in this top ten list. But not all Canucks fans, not by a country mile. People like Jordy and Jan,who offer comments on this site, who grew up on the west coast and have a personal stake in their team. But they also appreciate hockey in general, and at times, even cheer for the hated Habs. But many aren’t in the Jordy/Jan category and are simply and tremendously annoying.

Like I say in my little bio on my site, if Canucks fans have no problem slandering the Habs to my face and telling me how much they hate my team, then how can they expect me to start cheering for their team? It’s a two-way street, and somehow, they don’t understand this.

“Hey Doug, Someday There Will Be A Team In Vancouver.” “Hah, That’s Funny. Good One, Gerry.”

Doug Harvey and Gerry McNeil share a joke at a time when Montreal played well almost on a nightly basis; when life was simpler, and when there were no Canucks fans yet. “Vancouver kids learn to skate on the frozen Pacific Ocean,” quipped Harvey, and they both chuckled.

harvey and mcneil

Habs Play Two Good Periods, But It Takes Three

Sadly, the Montreal Canadiens will not be challenging the 1979 Philadelphia Flyers’ astonishing record of going unbeaten in the first 35 games of the season. They were on their way, mind you, but got stalled at game three. One little game has screwed up the whole record-breaking process.

Montreal played a great game at the Saddledome in Calgary Tuesday night. Yes, they lost 4-3, and yes, they had a letdown in the second period, but overall, they skated hard. I was proud of them. Fans got their money’s worth. For many of the Saddledomians, there were times when it was even more exciting than chuckwagon races.

Jaroslav Halak was in goal for the Habs, and as an official armchair quarterback, I think Carey Price should’ve been in goal. This was a big game, Calgary’s a strong team, and it’s only game three for gawd’s sakes. Price could’ve played in both Calgary and Vancouver, and then Halak could’ve stepped in in Edmonton Saturday night. Why not go with Price? He’s young, he’s in shape, he’s not burnt out, and he’s been hot. Why change? You think Ken Dryden or Jacques Plante only played two straight and then sat?

Three players earned their first goals in this game – Scott Gomez, Guillaume Latendresse, and Tomas Plekanec. The Gomez line, with Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, skated miles. They were part of the reason the crowd got their money’s worth. There’s going to be lots of thrills and spills this year with these three. Some good old fire-wagon hockey. Stay healthy, boys.

The Flames wore their old uniforms and it looked like Patterson and Peplinski out there. But on closer examination, it was only Prust and Pardy. And naturally, Montreal fans were scattered throughout, as will be the case in Vancouver Wednesday and Edmonton Saturday.  It goes without saying that when the Habs come to these western cities, it’s a big night for their fans. It’s a beautiful thing.

Of course, it’s much more beautiful when they win.

Random notes:

The Vancouver game is now getting into my territory, with Vancouver only two ferry rides away. It’s one of my big nights, a game I check first when the schedule comes out. It’s very important the Habs win this one. Not just for them and the standings, but for me. I need to have some bragging rights for a change. I’m a goldfish in a sea of carp.

Montreal has done very poorly in Vancouver, at least since 1996, winning just four while losing nine to the Canucks. I can’t stand it. This needs to be changed and I can’t think of a better time to start than Wednesday night.

It’s Not Just In Montreal

Before the season began, fans of the Vancouver Canucks, and the media covering the team, were suggesting that the Canucks were a possible Stanley Cup contender and that Roberto Luongo was definitely the best goalie in the league.

Then they lost the first game. After that, people were wondering what’s wrong with the Canucks, the team’s in trouble and even washed up, and Mike Gillis should trade Luongo.

And now they’ve lost their second game.

The Show Comes To Terrace, BC, And Joe Has It Covered

Kraft Hockeyville is coming to Terrace, BC this weekend, home of my buddy Joe Pelletier. The highlight of course will be the Vancouver Canucks taking on the New York Islanders on Monday in this northern, working class BC town, and Don Cherry, Roberto Luongo, John Tavares and the rest, along with the Stanley Cup, will be there to take part in all the festivities that will be spread throughout the weekend.

Joe will be covering the entire big deal on his great site Greatest Hockey Legends. Stop in and have a look. It’s nice when small-town Canada gets big-time hockey.