Tag Archives: Yvon Cournoyer

Beatles, Habs, And Leafs

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On August 17th, 1966, the Beatles played two shows at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was at the afternoon concert, and I’m pretty darn proud of it.

In the summer of ’66 I was 15 and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that the DJ was going and asked if I would like to go with him.

I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, they were still available when I showed up at the Gardens, and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row on the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, including the Ronettes, the Cyrkle and Bobby Hebb, and the Beatles played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had kiddies. Yvan Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23, Jacques Laperriere 24, and Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs and Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

The Leafs continue to suck.

Not As Much Fun In ’80-81

The late 1970s were fine years for Habs fans of course, as the Canadiens chalked up four straight Stanley Cup wins and all was well in this crazy, mixed up world.

Even after the run finished, the 1979-80 campaign saw the boys finish first in the Norris Division with 107 points, but cracks and unrest had begun to show.

Unhappy coach Scotty Bowman had left town for Buffalo after the 1978-79 season , where he assumed the role of coach and general manager after being denied GM duties in Montreal.

And as Bowman bolted, aging stars Jacques Lemaire, Ken Dryden, and Yvon Cournoyer retired.

In 1980-81, any semblance of a powerhouse team was gone and it was very sad. We were used to much better.

Difficult to stomach was the gang being swept in ’80-81 by the upstart Edmonton Oilers, with a skinny kid named Wayne Gretzky emerging as a freak of nature in the Oiler’s lineup.

Shortly after the disappointing sweep, Montreal coach Claude Ruel resigned and was replaced by the unsuccessful Bob Berry (14 different coaches have followed since).

Berry, between his three years as coach of the L.A. Kings and almost three in Montreal, would never get his teams past the first round of the playoffs, and 63 games into year three, Jacques Lemaire took over the helm.

It just wasn’t a rosy time for all concerned.

These were the days that saw a New York Islanders dynasty rise, with Denis Potvin, Mike Bossy, Brian Trottier, Billy Smith and company winning their own four straight.

By then, the idea of the Habs winning four in a row as they once had was only laughable. It had become painfully obvious that the dynasty wasn’t just on life support, it was officially over.

The Flower’s greatest years were behind him, his 50-goal seasons would come no more. Goaltending was shaky, and Patrick Roy was still several years away.

Steve Shutt was the team’s leading point-getter in the 1980-81 season, recording 35 goals and 38 assists for 73 points. Mark Napier was next with 71 points, while Lafleur was third with 70 points.

The goaltending duties were shared by four guys that season – Richard Sevigny, Michel Larocque, Denis Herron, and Rick Wamsley.

Doug Wickenheiser, the Habs first-overall pick, chosen over fan favourite Denis Savard, suited up in this 1980-81 season and turned out to be not quite the player the organization and fans thought they were getting.

The much maligned (and initially much heralded) centreman recorded just 7 goals and 8 assists, and often found himself a healthy scratch.

Wickenheiser had been a huge star in junior with the Regina Pats and his big body at centre ice had folks wondering if they might have a new Jean Beliveau on their hands. But he never managed to become a major impact player (115 points in 202 games in Montreal), and was finally dealt to St. Louis.

And to add salt to everyone’s wounds, including Wickenheiser’s, the shifty and bilingual Quebecer from Pointe Gatineau, Denis Savard, had become the toast of the town in Chicago.

Rough times after those glorious late-1970s, and it would be five more years after ’80-81 before the Canadiens would become champs once again.

At that time, a handful of years in Montreal without Lord Stanley was unacceptable.

Now of course, it’s a bit more than a handful.

Bernie Geoffrion Was Born To Play, Sing, And Laugh. But Not To Coach

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Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion is well-remembered for many things – His slaphot he worked on when he was nine years old at a time when slapshots weren’t invented yet; His nickname “Boom Boom”, which came about when a Montreal Star sportswriter named Charlie Boire asked Geoffrion if he could call him that after hearing the puck leave his stick and then boom against the boards; His boisterous and good-natured singing on trains and in dressing rooms which led to a few television appearances; His marriage to Marlene, daughter of Howie Morenz; His terrific Hall of Fame career playing right wing on the Canadiens, and teaming up with Doug Harvey at the point to create terror on the power play. With these two firing cannons, no wonder goalies like Chicago’s Glenn Hall would vomit before games;

And of course, the heart-wrenching retiring of his sweater, number five, on March 11, 2006, only hours after he had passed away from stomach cancer. His family stood on the ice, watching the sweater being raised to the rafters, and their tears weren’t the only tears. The Bell Centre was swept away with emotion, and so was I 3000 miles away in my living room.

Geoffrion was one of the greatest Habs ever. Unfortunately, he just wasn’t a great Habs coach.

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Geoffrion had been promised the Canadiens coaching job after he retired by owner David Molson. Molson asked him to consider coaching Montreal’s farm team in Quebec for two seasons, then move up to the the Habs. It was all untrue. Molson simply wanted Geoffrion to move aside to make room for a youngster named Yvon Cournoyer. Geoffrion said later the coaching offer sounded good, but if he had known what was really going on, he would’ve stayed and made Cournoyer beat him out of a job fair and square. 0062

Geoffrion went up to Quebec and led the Aces to two first-place finishes, and was promptly fired. And Molson told him there was no room with the big club because Toe Blake wasn’t going anywhere. So he unretired himself and found himself playing for the New York Rangers and eventually coached there for half a season before calling it quits because of an ulcer acting up. Later on, he joined the Atlanta Flames and coached there for slightly more than two years.

And this is where the story of Geoffrion coaching the Habs begins.

When Scotty Bowman left Montreal to begin a new life in Buffalo, Montreal’s GM Irving Grundman picked up the phone and called Geoffrion. It was the offer Geoffrion had been waiting for for 15 years. But after only 30 games behind the bench, he called it quits. “I had three guys telling me what moves to make,” he explained. “Toe Blake, Claude Ruel and Irving Grundman. How can you coach like that?”

Geoffrion had other things to say too: “I’m sick and tired of them. Guys coming in at two or three in the morning, laughing and joking around. They’re not acting like professional athletes. I’m not going to stick around and let everyone in Montreal blame me for what’s happening.”

“(Pierre) Larouche walking through the airport, smoking a cigar, acting like we won the Stanley Cup when we’d lost a game. And I thought Savard would help me. But he’s more interested in his horses.”

But the players had their own thoughts: “He flunked out in New York,” replied Steve Shutt. “he flunked out in Atlanta. Why would he come here, where the fans are so demanding?” Another player said, “You’ve got 17,000 assistant coaches, and the fans are right behind you, win or tie.”

Larry Robinson admitted they came to came to camp out of condition and they knew, with Bowman gone, they wouldn’t be reprimanded for it because Geoffrion, as the new guy, was just trying to fit in. “Geoffrion didn’t want to push us,” said Bob Gainey, “but we needed it.”

“He was a lot more friendly than Scotty,” said Pierre Larouche, “and we took advantage. He just wasn’t made for the job.”

Geoffrion went back to Atlanta, a city he loved, to be with his kids and grandkids, make some funny Miller beer commercials, and to enjoy life. Claude Ruel replaced him behind the bench in Montreal, and the planet continued to spin on its axis as usual. 

 Bernie Geoffrion just wasn’t meant to coach. But he sure was meant to play. He was one of the greatest Habs ever. Number five with the big shot. The guy who loved to sing and laugh and keep his teammates loose. To coach in the NHL one probably has to be a bit of a rotten son of a bitch, and Geoffrion wasn’t that at all. He was simply just a great player. And fans said thank you for that when his sweater went up to the rafters.

But What Would They All Do?

Jacques Lemaire has quit the Minnesota Wild, GM Doug Risebrough was fired from the Minnesota Wild, and Serge Savard is interested in buying the Montreal Canadiens.

With Bob Gainey and Doug Jarvis already there, and Guy Lafleur and Yvon Cournoyer working as team ambassadors, Montreal could have a 1970’s team all over again. If they could somehow convince Ken Dryden and Frank Mahovlich to quit politics and come aboard, Pierre Mondou and Larry Robinson to ditch the New Jersey Devils, Guy Lapointe to forget about scouting for the Wild, and Mario Tremblay to follow Lemaire out of Minnesota.

Not sure what they’d all do in Montreal, but it’s a lot of combined Stanley Cups, for what it’s worth.

Looking Back To New Year’s Eve 1975. John Robertson Said It With Style

I could hardly wait for that New Year’s Eve of 1975 when the Russian Red Army team would show up at the Forum to play my team. I had been mesmorized by the events of the 1972 Summit Series, and we had seen what this far-away power could do. But this was going to be different. This time the foreigners would have to play the best team in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, with players like Lafleur, Dryden, Robinson and Cournoyer ready to strut their stuff. And this time, unlike 1972, Habs Ken Dryden, Yvon Cournoyer, Serge Savard, the Mahovlich boys, and Guy Lapointe, who all played in that historic series, would know what to expect.

I watched the game, which ended in a 3-3 tie, in a highrise apartment in Ottawa with friends, and although they didn’t win, I was proud of the Habs. They dominated this game, outshot the Russians 38-13, and it was only because of goalie Vladislav Tretiak that the Soviets were able to keep it close.

And I knew one thing. That I had just witnessed the greatest game I’d ever seen.

Three days later, on January 3, 1976, a column written by John Robertson apppeared in the Montreal Gazette, and I clipped it out and saved it. It’s an elequent overview of what transpired that night, and I’d like to share it with you.

It’s called “Torrid Tie Tempts Taste Of Things To Come.”

“I had picked the Canadiens to win and, like most of you, I suffered the agonies of the damned when big Tretiak chose this of all nights to come up with the most magnificent display of clutch goaltending these eyes have ever seen.

But as the game wound down to the closing minutes and I sat bathed in clammy sweat with my heart pounding like a jackhammer inside my shirt, I suddenly started dreading that either side would score.

A last minute-minute goal would have meant that there had to be a loser and somehow that would have spoiled it all……..either for the valiant Tretiak or for a Canadiens squad which left me limp with admiration for the way they devastated the myth that the Russians are invincible.

Had either side won, there would be less reason for a rematch and for purely selfish reasons I didn’t want the issue of which side was better clearly settled in just one game.

A rematch? Hell, yes! Let’s make it a best-of-seven, or a best-of-eleven. That was just the appetizer! Let’s bring on the main course and keep filling our plates until we burst with ecstacy because no other team can bring out the best in the Canadiens like the Russian’s did on New Year’s Eve and that’s what hockey’s all about, isn’t it?

Spare me those bleats that the Russians were lucky, that the Canadiens should have won by seven or eight goals, that it was no contest except on the scoreboard.

The scoreboard doesn’t lie.

And any team that can survive that kind of a performance by the Canadiens, claw back from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits and come within a goalpost of beating them deserves the same share of admiration we bestow upon the home club.

The beautiful aspect of the game is that it raised more questions in our mind than it supplied answers.

On one hand we saw a Russian team dominated territorially as it had never been in the last decade of international hockey. On the other hand, nobody has beaten them yet on this eight-game tour and if the Canadiens couldn’t do it, are Boston or Philadelphia capable of playing even better?

Lest we forget, the Russians have compiled a rather remarkable record in their jousts with Team Canada ’72, Team Canada ’74, and in this series. In 19 games they’be been beaten only five times.

But even these figures are by no means conclusive because of the variety of opposition they have played. The WHA All-Stars were no better than a good NHL team and even at that they were better than the Rangers or the Penguins.

So nothing has been resolved.

And I kind of hope that it never will be. It’s no disgrace for either side to lose any one game or any one series. The thing all good hockey fans should dread is the day either ourselves or the Russians become so clearly superior the outcome will be a foregone conclusion.

From a fan standpoint in both countries, NHL-Russian confrontations are like a visit to hockey heaven. Too much expansion has reduced most of the NHL season to a big yawn and the Russians have so dominated the World Hockey Championships they’ve run out of meaningful opposition.

A lot of myths have been destroyed since that epic confrontation in 1972 – the first one being that the Russians weren’t in the same class as the NHL.

The second myth which the Canadiens substantially destroyed in one brilliant evening was that superior training methods and rigid discipline had bred a brand of Russian hockey supermen who could beat us on conditioning alone.

The Canadiens proved that, with maximum effort, a club of their calibre in mid-season form can match the Russians stride for stride and thoroughly outplay them at their own game of firewagon hockey.

The most touching aspect of the New Year’s Eve game was the tremendous ovation our fans gave Tretiak as he skated out to bath in the glory of being chosen first star.

Among the things it proved to me was that good hockey fans aren’t letting fanatical patriotism get in the way of their appreciation of true artistry.

We can still take immense pride in being Canadians and be fiercely patisan in cheering on the home team but it is gratifying to see that these matches are becoming less and less political; that we now look forward to them as true sportmanlike competitions between two hockey systems, not mana-wars pitting the free world against communism.

The Canadiens proved the Russians can be beaten, simply by the way they tied them. But until they DO beat them convincingly, the issue of who is better remains unresolved.

So, instead of gloating over the way the Russians were outplayed, I suggest we celebrate the fact these two teams surely will meet again and that the big winners, no matter what the scoreboard says, will be all of us who are fortunate enough to watch hockey as it should be played.

We also can rest assured that in spite of those fat NHL salaries and luxury living, we have a team in this city which has proven beyond all doubt that it has all the old-fashioned ingredients of a champion….hunger, dedication, and pride.

All that has been lacking was a challenge of sufficient magnitude. Let’s play it again, Sam….and again….and again….and again. I’m sure Tretiak and company would relish it as much as we would.”

Guest Writer Has His Say About Roy’s Sweater Being Raised

A guest writer delves into the ‘Patrick Roy’s sweater being retired’ saga. 

 

Take it away, Jim.

 

“Pro sports are sexy for a variety of reasons, but perhaps their most attractive quality is that they are so readily apprehended. Things are pretty straightforward, excluding the usual geeky obsession with stats – God bless The Schwab, a brilliant trivia geek, but frankly I have to agree with Noam Chomsky here when he says in effect that the brains of such people could be put to much better use.

 

A simple concept that I’m interested in touching on here is that of the relationship between team and player and championships. In all team sports, WINNING CHAMPIONSHIPS is the ultimate goal, the ultimate measure not only of the team but of the individual player. Aguably, winning the Stanley Cup is the most demanding, most arduous, most difficult championship to capture, and being a member of a Stanley Cup championship team is the crown glory of any player. This simple fact is born out by the players themselves who to a man agree that they would trade any number of individual achievements, any amount of accolades just to win one cup – to my knowledge, no player has yet declared they preferred being a star to winning a cup.

 

In this respect, Lanny McDonald and Dave Andreychuk spring immediately to mind.

 

Are individual stats relevant?

 

Of course they are. For example, Marcel Dionne and Mike Gartner were great players and derserved to be in the Hall of Fame even though they did not win any cups. Conversely, many players such as Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle, who won several cups with the Habs, do not, in my mind, belong in the Hall.

 

In other words, membership in the Hall is very much a function of individual accomplishments in the game, although inductees who have won cups are, I believe, a cut above those who did not – the single most significant yardstick for measuring the greatness of a player is how many cups he has won. Period.

 

However, being inducted into the Hall is not the same as having one’s sweater retired by le Canadien. The Habs are not only the greatest team of all time, they are one of the greatest sports teams of all time. What this means is quite simply that the standards and expectations that apply to other teams and their players are not applicable to the Habs.

 

My point re Roy? Winning a mere two cups hardly qualifies Patrick Roy to be placed in the company of greats such as Beliveau, the Richards, Cournoyer, Plante, Lafleur, – who each has great stats as well as multiple cups. Note that they are all Hall Of Famers, unlike Houle and Tremblay. And the argument that Roy single-handedly won the two cups and therefore merits special treatment not only flies in the face of the win-as-a-team/lose-as-a-team maxim but it is insulting to the great players on those cup teams – look ’em up!

 

It’s a cliche, which doesn’t mean it isn’t so, to say that teams only go as deep into the playoffs as their goalies take them. Of course goalies are crucial components on any cup-winning team, but this sure doesn’t lead to the conclusion that all cup-winning goalies should have their sweaters retired. But if we assume that Roy did literally win the cup by himself, then, applying the same logic, it’s reasonable to to assume that he therefore lost many more cups than he won. Hey, isn’t Price getting heat for ‘losing’ to the Flyers? Never mind the goalposts and poor shooting of the rest of the team. Hmmm, makes Roy a big choker rather than a big hero, n’est-ce pas?

 

Put him in the Hall, sure. Roy was a good goalie and he did have an impact on the game. But he definitely did NOT accomplish enough as a Canadien to warrant having his sweater retired. It’s a cynical marketing play that diverts attention from the fact that we have not won a cup in 15 years! And please, spare me the bs about the modern game and parity.  The Wings have won 3 in 11 years and could easily have won more and we’re supposed to be happy to make the playoffs. What a shameful betrayal of all the great Hab players and builders who triumphed regardless of the era in which they played. Hell, mug shots of Sammy Pollock and Scotty Bowman belong up there, not Roy’s sweater.

 

In Habland, cups first and persoanl stats a distant second – gotta luv Gainey and Harvey and Robinson and Savard, eh? And yes, the criteria that qualify a player of Hall of Fame induction do apply. As well, intangible considerations other than cup wins are also relevant.: leadership (suck it up, dig down, and play even better), charisma (Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Lafleur), grit and determination (not a quitter among the sweaters up there now), loyalty (Roy? hmm..), et al.

 

Re Morenz, okay, I’ll be arbitrary here and say 3 cups is the minimum necessary to qualify to even be considered for having one’s sweater retired. I’ll also point out that Morenz, aka the Statford Streak, was called the Babe Ruth of hockey and as such he transcended the sport in much the same way Ruth did baseball, something that Patrick can not lay claim to. Morenz was a star whose brilliance far exceeded that of Roy. Also, unlike Roy, Morenz did not quit the Habs in the throes of a hissy fit over a chilish spat with a patently hostile and incompetent coach who would have clearly been turfed in favour of Roy. Morenz was a true Hab who died well before his time from an injury sustained while wearing the bleu, blanc, et rouge.

 

PS  No player will ever publicy say that other players do not deserve whatever honours team and league choose to bestow on them.

The Beatles And The Habs – A Winning Combination.

 On August 17th, in 1966, the Beatles played an afternoon show in Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens.

I was there.

I was 15 years old and had a summer job as a highway construction slave labourer, but the boss let me go early and I went down to Toronto from Orillia with a disc jockey my sister worked with at the local radio station. She had got word to me just that morning that he was going and asked if I would like to go with him. I didn’t have a ticket, but believe it or not, the show wasn’t sold out and I got a $5.50 ticket in the very last row of the floor.

It was madness, of course. There were about six bands in the lineup, and the Beatles in the finale played for about 40 minutes with girls screaming and fainting and carrying on.

That fall, hockey season began, and the next spring, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Habs in six games to win their last Stanley Cup.

The Leafs were an old team with guys like Terry Sawchuk, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, and Allan Stanley, but Montreal wasn’t that young either. Henri Richard was 30, John Ferguson 27, Claude Provost was 32, Dick Duff 30, Ted Harris 30, Jean-Guy Talbot was 34, Jean Beliveau was 35, and the goalies, Gump Worsley and Charlie Hodge, were 37 and 33 respectively.

Of course, Montreal also had the kiddies. Yvon Cournoyer was all of 22. Claude Larose was 23. Jacques Laperriere 24. And Serge Savard and Carol Vadnais were just 20.

John and Ringo were 26, Paul 24, and George 23.

The Habs have continued on over the years in mostly glorious fashion. The Beatles remain in the hearts of millions.

And the Leafs continue to suck.

The Night We All Said Thank You To Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard

I feel just a small break from the stress of the Boston-Montreal series is needed right now.  Montreal fans were so optimistic going into round one, but the team hasn’t played well, and going into game seven Monday night, Boston carries all the momentum and good feelings.

So I feel we need a change of pace, go back to our roots, and check in with the maestro,  the hero of so many, the man who wore the CH not just on his sweater, but also on his heart, the great Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard.

On March 11, 1996, following a game between Dallas and Montreal, the Canadiens and fans said goodbye to the Montreal Forum. The lights were dimmed, and Montreal Canadien captains from over the years walked onto the Forum ice. Emile Bouchard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvon Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Pierre Turgeon, and of course, number nine, Maurice Richard.

A torch was lit and was passed to Butch Bouchard. Bouchard then passed it to the Rocket, and the emotional fans in the beautiful old building, the wondrous Forum, erupted in an explosion of cheers, tears, memories, and thank you’s to the greatest Hab ever. Fans weren’t only saying goodbye to the old building, but were also saying thank you to the Rocket, who had done so much to create the mystique that is the Montreal Canadiens, a man whose deeds, fire, passion, success, and humility continues to make all Montreal fans, young and old, proud of the team, and a man the emotional Quebec Habs fans embraced and clung to through rocky political and cultural times in the province. 

The Rocket was my boyhood hero, stayed that way long after he retired, and remains my hero even today. I met him once, but that’s a story for another day.

Here’s a small clip of that night in 1996, when Montreal Canadiens fans, in a 16 minute standing ovation that left most in tears, said thank you to The Rocket. And he wasn’t even sure why. Because he would always say, “I’m just a hockey player.”

Enjoy. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1FvJzhg2nE

A Blown Opportunity, And A Big Night Coming Up

It could’ve been a beautiful thing, a Hollywood sequel, where the good guy in the white hat wins, grabs the girl, and rides off in to the sunset.

But it wasn’t to be. Montreal battled back against Pittsburgh, down 3-1 to grab the lead 4-3. But late in the game, the bad guys, the men with black hats, the Pittsburgh Penguins, scored twice quickly and got two big points.

So I’ve got nothing to say about this, except that Pittsburgh star Evgeny Malkin had a goal and two assists, and Montreal’s Michael Ryder scored again to make it four goals in three games, and is now either a little safer in his job with the Habs, or is much better trade bait for the team if they want to try and get someone like Alex Tanguay.

So enough about this blown opportunity. It’s time now to focus on Saturday night when Columbus comes to town. Montreal must win this game or they’re only another loss or two away from another slump, which can’t happen at this stage of the game.

And also on this same night, prior to the game, Montreal GM Bob Gainey gets his old number 23 retired to the rafters.

Gainey will join a nice long list of players to receive such an honour in Montreal. And because I want to take my mind off the loss tonight, instead I’m going to focus on giving you a list of the Habs stars who have their numbers retired.

They are:morenz.jpg

1. Jacques Plante

2. Doug Harvey

4. Jean Beliveau

5. Bernie Geoffrion

7. Howie Morenz

9. Maurice Richard

10. Guy Lafleur

12. Dickie Moore and Yvon Cournoyer

16. Henri Richard

18. Serge Savard

19. Larry Robinson

29. Ken Dryden

And this Saturday Night. No 23. Bob Gaineygainey.jpg

Wearing The Sweater With Pride, And Beating Philadelphia

Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and Yvon Cournoyer have come out in public and said young guys coming up now with the Habs don’t understand what it means to wear the jersey. This follows on the heels of the Ryan O’Byrne nightmare. The three have said that you have to wear the CH with honour and dignity, or words to that effect.

Honour and dignity was the second thing I thought of after the incident came out in the news. The first thing I thought of was about how they’d just got slaughtered by Ottawa and now they’re probably going to lose to lowly Tampa Bay because they’ll be sluggish from partying. Which they were, and did.

But enough said. Now we turn to the dastardly Philadelphia Flyers for a home and home Saturday and Sunday. Philly has 65 points, maybe 67 depending on tonight’s clash with Tampa Bay, but they’ve been in a bit of slump recently. Montreal has 69 points and have also been in a slump. So they’re close.

And Montreal may be better drinkers but there’s no way of knowing, really.

I also have a confession to make. I’ve been quite hard on Flyers rookie Steve Downey in previous posts, but I heard a story about him lately that has made me change my thinking a little. When Steve was eight years old, he and his dad were driving home from a hockey practice and were in a car accident. Steve’s dad was killed.

So I’m going to let up on him from now on. As long as he doesn’t run someone else in a game and cause an injury.

Evening update!  Philadelphia just lost 5-3 to Tampa Bay, their fifth straight loss. This can mean one of two things. The Flyers will suck Saturday night, or they’ll break out and play like crazy. Or both teams will suck. Or both teams will break out.  Or…..never mind.