The Coach with the Killer Instinct

The man started to coach me in Pee -Wee. He was a big man.

Kirkland Quebec

Over six feet tall and easily weighing in at 240 lbs. Imposing at first sight but seemingly a pussycat under the rough body builder surface.A chesire  smile went along with a receding blonde hairline. He had rosy – pink cheeks.

Our coach did not know much about coaching. That was the irony. Everyone loved the man who stood part stoically and part animated behind our bench. He would yell at referees and moments later – tell off-color jokes to our team as we sat on the hardened bench. Riddles that were inappropriate for our age. Thirteen year olds loved that about him. He was a man-child. An overgrown teenager sporting a gaping fur coat and a foot-long cigar pertuding from his smiling lips.He was our Peter Pan and his wife – Nicole , hockey’s version of Tinkerbell.

Our coach was originally from Philadelphia. His wife was a native Quebecer. They met somewhere and settled into Kirkland, Qc – a quaint Suburbian paradise west of Montreal. The duo had three kids. Billy Jr. was the oldest and one of my teammates. Paul was in the middle and Tiffany was the youngest – six when I first met her . As bombastic and outgoing as Bill Sr. was – Nicole and the three kids were polar opposites.

Nicole was a gentle Mom. Her blonde hair angelic in it’s appearance.Blue eyes gazed lovingly at her children and husband. The very same blue eyes that glanced downward when she spoke to anyone else. A shy woman. A gentle woman with a comforting smile who became our team’s adopted Mom.

The first time we fell in love with our coach was approximately two weeks into the season.There were several players on my team ( myself included ) who did not come from a rich background. Not all of us could afford great equipment. Escpecially not the fancy Tuck blades that had just hit the market. Plastic – covered gems. The ultimate treasure for a young boy dreaming of Stanley Cup glory.

Our coach arrived at one of our practices one morning. In his hands he carried twenty sticks. Brand new , top-of-the-line sticks. Sherwood PMPs. He informed us that if were going to win – we must have the best equipment money could buy. It was Christmas in September . The Easter Bunny had arrived early and never have there been fifteen -odd children more happy than to enjoy the chocolate. Once the practice was over , our coach then informed us that we were all going to McDonalds – his treat ! Off we went. A minor -league hockey team invading the famous restaurant chain. A Pee-Wee team acting like the NHLers we were – if only for that day.

Stomachs were full and hearts fuller. We sat around our Santa Claus. He made us laugh and he made us proud to be part of his team.In the background , our Moms and Dads shook their heads in disbelief of this generous man. Bill then informed me and three of my mates that we were now headed to the sports store to be fitted with the best skates. ” We must look like a team !” Exclaimed the man with the gigantic chest and heart to match. Off we went. To be fitted with skates. Ice-cutting machines fitted with Tuck blades.

Rich Man – Poor Man

We found out , as the season progressed , that our coach was a chemist. A rich man. Bill and his family had the best of everything.

Big Screen Television

Bill Jr. , Paul and Tiffany had the best toys. Nicole the best appliances. Bill Sr.? The best electronics on the market. Everyone on the team jumped at the chance to visit our coach and his home. Visits that were encouraged by our gentle giant. Nicole would roll her eyes at her husband ‘s generosity yet the petite woman seemed more than happy to play Mom for her adoptive family. Paul ( who was ten at the time) rolled with the punches and Tiffany loved us all. What little girl would not be happy to have all these big brothers playing with her? Bill Jr. was the only one who was not happy.

Our coach’s son was a skinny guy. Not like his Dad at all. He seemed sickly. A nervous type that seeked approval from all of us. A kid who seemed annoyed by his Father and all his gifts. I remember thinking once that Bill Jr. did not care about his wealth. He seemed lonely. I could not understand why this young version of Barney Fife – was not the happiest kid in the world. Perhaps it was because my Father had died when I was twelve that I could not perceive the young Bill’s unrest. I tried to be-friend him and did hang out with him. I would be lying if I said that I enjoyed his company. More times than not – after school was boring until Bill Sr. came home driving his silver Trans-Am.

The Plane

One week-end in December , our team along with our cousins ( the Kirkland Bantam and Midget teams ), were headed to Toronto to play in a tournament. We would all be meeting at the Kirkland arena on Friday afternoon where a bus would take us to the airport. We were flying and for some of us – it would be the first time in the air. I was terrified at the prospect of my two feet leaving the safety of Mother Earth.

As the day drew nearer – my nerves became more frayed. I never told anyone how afraid I was. I did not want anyone to laugh at me. All the kids on my team seemed unafraid and happy to be leaving the ground. My fears left me feeling like an oddball. I pretended to be excited and none knew of the terror and panic that was building each and every day .Until the yellow vehicle  left for the airport.

The bus had arrived at the arena. The teams had been standing around for about a half hour. Everyone was laughing and joking inside and outside the front door. All of our bags lay in the vestibule . I tried to hide my nervousness , trips to the bathroom became more and more common. I ate chocolate bars and drank cokes. Slowly I withdrew from the crowd and toward the rear. Everyone was excited and they grabbed their equipment and headed to the bus. Everyone except me. Knowing the confusion would aid – I grabbed my bag and my stick. Instead of the front door , I went out the back. I picked up my pace for fear that someone would see me. I went as fast as I could and dove over the top of a snowbank. Hidden from view , I waited for the bus to depart. Calm for the first time in weeks.

As I arrived home about two hours later – soaked-wet and freezing , I knew my Mom would be furious. I wondered if I may be better off freezing to death than to face the wrath of my Mother and probably my coach.

Sheepishly I opened the door and stepped in. My frozen equipment sounded like a rock hitting the floor. My Mom came out of the kitchen. She looked at me. Instead of anger – a look of confusion was the mask she wore. After an explanation was given and a hug delivered – my Mom made me some tea and we sat at the table. She understood why I did not want to tell the team but was hurt that I did not confide in her. After a warm bath , I settled onto the couch with my dog Barney and a blanket. My Mom scolded me a little.Apparently the bus waited as they looked for me. I said I was sorry.

An hour later , there was a knock on the door. It was my coach – William ‘Bill’ Layer. He walked into the den and looked at me. That chesire grin of his lighting up the room like a fire on a cold evening. ” C ‘mon ‘ Keene Get Green’ ( his pet name for me ) – we are going to Toronto ! ” He then turned to my Mom and said ; ” You too ‘ Mrs. Keene Get Green’ , pack your bags ! You are coming too !”

I was supposed to be billeted with one of the Toronto players and the parents that were making the trip – staying at hotels. ” I can’t ! ” Said my mom somewhat embarrassed. ” I can’t afford it !”

Bill Layer looked at my Mom. His smile growing bigger than life. ” Mrs Keene Get Green …pack your bags ! You are going to Toronto ! Bring a nice dress – you may meet a man !” My coach looked at me and gave me a big wink. We both started laughing and moments later – my Mom joined in …

Shoot to Thrill

Bill , my Mom and I drove to Toronto in a Trans Am. My coach paid for my Mom’s hotel room and all of her meals. My Mom had not done much in the two years since my Dad died. She had a great time and was even asked on a date by former player agent Alan Eagleson ! (luckily for her and me – she said no ). My coach was already a great guy. Now he was superman to me and my Mother.

AA Hockey

The following year I was a better player. Good enough to move up from A hockey to AA. I had mixed emotions. I wanted to play inter-city and improve my chances ( so I thought ) to make the NHL. On the other glove – I wanted to stay with my coach.

I played AA and visited with my coach from time to time. I still hung round with his son Bill once in a while yet my displeasure with his contempt for his father made it difficult. The following season I played Bantam hockey and found myself on the A team with Bill Layer as my coach once again. The same thing happened my second year of Bantam – to AA I went and was once more away from Layer. The following year – for the final time it turned out , I was back in A with Bill my coach once more.

It had been three seasons of gifts , laughter and generosity beyond belief. In between there were no championships ( with Bill ) yet a couple of first place finishes. There were many times that myself and my teammates would shake our heads at Bill’s hockey sense. One time – I had been so mad at this fellow , I refused to speak to him for three games. I was furious because it was the end of a game and he had not put our best scorer onto the ice when we were down by a goal. Time after time he would tell me a joke or offer me a drink of coke in an attempt to make up. A trifecta of games and I was so irate  – I would turn my head or walk away. Just before the fourth game – I was sitting in the stands and watching the game being played before my game. Bill came up and sat down beside me. Without saying a word , he reached into his pocket and pulled out one of his patented cigars. He handed it my way and said with that big voice of his ; ” Keene Get Green ?” I broke out in laughter and that was the end of the feud …

Keene Get Green !

During the summer – Bill called all of us and informed the team that he was moving to Glens Falls , New York. He said he was moving because he did not like the drugs and the bad influences that were making their way into the West Island. We were sad yet we knew also that the end of our minor league playing days were also drawing near. We were happy because he asked if we would all help him move. A week-end in Glens Falls , a pretty picturesque village in upstate New York.

Most of the team went to help him. Probably eight of us including my best friend Denis. It was during the move that Bill said something that we laugh at to this day.

Denis and I were in the truck and were attempting to put this big barrel onto a dolly. It was huge and awkward. We were cursing it and finally we had hold of it – wheeling it into Bill’s garage. On top of the barrel , written in ink , was the word Hanflock . ” What the f*ck is Hanflock?” We wondered …

At that moment , Bill came by – carrying a box. We asked him the obvious question. ” Bill – what the hell is in here …? ” He paused for a second , peering at us through the big horned -rimmed glasses he wore and replied with his chesire grin: ” Hanflock ….! ”

The End

Bill Layer was a big part of my teen years. He taught me a lot about life. He showed me compassion and generosity – the likes I have not seen since. The man left a lasting impression on everyone he met. We all missed him as the years went on. We all grew up and apart from our coach, his wife Nicole , Billy Jr., Paul and Tiffany.

On September 7 1989 ( my birthday )  – Bill Layer shot his daughter Tiffany ( 15 ) in the leg and went on to kill Nicole with a shotgun. He burned her body afterwards. Paul and Bill Jr. were both away at college at the time.

All those years amid the generosity and the kindness , Bill Layer was an abusive father and husband. Pistol -whipping Nicole on several occasions and  beating Bill Jr. almost daily.

Bill Layer Jr. was my teammate starting in Pee-Wee. He was not a big man.He tried to speak to me. I wish I heard what he had to say …

Read the newspaper report 

See what Knuckles has to say about the Coyotes Hallowe’en party  and his Habs – Bruins recap !

Read Kevin ‘s always informative Habs site – Eye on the Prize 

Don’t forget – check out who I think is the Habs’ best and worst player of the week …


Habs Throw Party at the Morgue

Dead bodies were piling up everywhere on the airwaves …

Jacque Martin , Pierre Gauthier , Erik Cole and Scott Gomez were sentenced to death. To be buried many places. Next to Ghadafi ; under Le Centre Bell and a burial at sea for Mr. Gauthier. When all was said and done – it was the Habs’ assistant coach , Perry Pearn , who walked the plank.

Pearn - A Pirate ?

Someone – I suppose , should pay for the Canadiens worst start on home ice in franchise history. Why Pearn and not Martin? Time will tell. One day ( presumably when George Laraque writes another book ), all information regarding the ‘ behind-the -scenes ‘ scene that took place 90 minutes before yesterday’s game will come to the forefront.

You Gotta Move Like Jagr …

Ten minutes into the game against Kate Smith’s Flyers , all indications of a Hab team playing in turmoil seemed true. The Pronger-less Flyers appeared like Men to the impish ‘mice ‘ in the Canadiens line-up. The Habs chased the Flyers in their own zone, in neutral territory and in the other end of the ice. Philadelphia were vultures and Les Habitants a wounded animal – laying on a desert landscape . The Flyers and the Habs knew it was a matter of time before the end was near. The Canadiens were the keystone cops and the entire game would be written in the Daily Bugle.

Jaromir Jagr – fresh from Siberia ( literally ), took a beautiful pass from Carle at 10:43 of the first period and buried the puck past Carey Price. Jagr gave his trademark salute and all indications pointed towards the floodgates being opened . Another loss seemed imminent for the Habs and their net minder. Price would have to wait to reach his 100th win in the NHL. Another salute seemed real. Then , something funny happened away from the Forum …

Philadelphia did not want to win. They displayed their indifference by hitting not one – two goal posts before the first 20 minutes were up. Simmons’ chance the most apparent as he had time and space to put an easy goal past Price. The Flyers soon learned that if you play with fire – you will burn your chances. With three seconds left in the initial frame and Montreal on a power play – Yannick Weber blasted a shot from the point and in a wink of Patrick Roy’s eye , the score was tied heading to the middle period.

Maybe there is something in the Habs’ water bottles ? Perhaps being tied with a good team on the tails of a losing skid lit the team’s spirits …? Whatever the recipe – Martin must bottle it and feed it intravenously to his players every night.

The Habs came out like their Flyin’ French predecessors. Despite messing up on a 3 on 1 that came across as a bad Marx Brothers skit ( and in turn – making Cammalleri appear selfish ), Montreal kept coming. Since the start of the season – the Habs have not been lucky. Pucks have not bounced their way and the injury bug has taken it’s toll. Last night – the ghosts of the club’s past were on hand to lend a stick.

Andrei Kostistyn started the party mid-way through the period. A scramble around Philly’s net ended with the puck flying in various directions. Thankfully for Andrei and the Habs – the final direction was the back of the net as the disc bounced off the Belarusian’s leg. Max Pacioretty ( a game time decision due to pulled ligaments in his wrist), proved that after suffering a broken vertebrae last season – nothing will stop him now. He received the gift of the night when his teammate , Josh Gorges fired a shot at the Flyers’ net minder Bryzgalov . The puck went off his pads and landed directly on Max’s stick. An easy goal for number 67 and in the space of two minutes , it was 3-1 for a Canadien team looking for only it’s second win in eight games.

Nervous Nellies

If a fan at home , a fan at the game , Jacques Martin or any of his players said they were not nervous heading into the final segment – they would all be liars. A 3- 1 lead for a team that three times let the Toronto Maple Leafs catch-up is minimal against a much better Flyer squad. If the Habs were to win – they needed their veterans and Carey Price to step -up.

Erik Cole played the best game of his Canadien career last night. He demonstrated speed , skill and determination on every shift. He bullied his way to

Pronger - hit in face !

scoring chances for himself and teammates. Price – who has struggled at times so far , also played complete for sixty minutes. By far – his best outing this season. Together along with another goal from Max ‘ Patches ‘ Pacioretty and Mike Cammalleri – the Montreal Canadiens made a victory seem easy against a bigger and stronger Philadelphia team.

On occasion, with backs to the wall – a person or a team can reach deep within and come out on top. It does not mean the Canadiens are out of the woods. Their defencemen are having a hard time with the transition game. The forwards are as inconsistent as Marlon Brando was in choosing his movie roles. Last night proved part luck , part character and part chance. Chance in the fact they did not have to put up with Chris Pronger. A player that instills fear in his own zone. A player with a mean streak.

A player that can pile dead bodies very high …


Please see what Knuckles has to say about the game ! He also has a great story about a dog .

Habs are in Beantown tonight. It will be the first game that Pacioretty faces the criminal Chara. Both squads are not playing well with Boston being slightly above in the standings. Still – it is Montreal – Boston !!!!!

The Top Ten Scariest Moments in Montreal Canadien History

Halowe’en is comin’  boys and ghouls …

There have been a few hair-raising moments in the history of the team – here are the worst of them as judged by the GHOSTS OF THE FORUM …

10. Patrick Roy telling Ronald Corey that he had played his last game as a Hab.

9. Ronald Corey naming Mario Tremblay head coach and Rejean Houle General Manager of the hockey club.

8. Guy Lafleur driving into a fence and almost decapitating himself.

7. Pierre Mondou being hit in the eye by Hartford’s Ulf Samuellson’s stick during the 1984-85 season.

6. Sahu Koivu getting hit by Carolina’s Justin Williams stick in the eye during the 2006 play-offs.

5 . Jean Hamel taking a puck to the eye against the Bruins in 1984.

4. Saku Koivu battling cancer.

3. Max Pacioretty being pushed into the sanction by Zdeno Chara. Breaking his vertebrae and knocking him unconscious for what seemed an eternity to the Habs and their faithful.

2. Trent McLeary getting a puck in the throat off of a Chris Therien snapshot – the Flyers’ shot crushed his larynx and collapsed his lung.

and the Scariest Moment in Habs’ history … ?

1.. The ‘ Stratford Streak ‘ aka Howie Morenz – crashing into the boards , getting his skate stuck and having the Blackhawks’ Earl Seibert fall on him. Morenz broke his leg in four places along with his ankle. Legend says that Morenz died due to a broken spirit when he thought he would never play hockey again.

The Habs play the Flyers tonight … talk about scary !!!!!

And now for something completely different …

Hitler did not kill all the Jewish people during the second world war …

– A young child who tragically lost his parents in a horrifying car crash – went on to live and fall in love. Creating generations of laughter and memories so a scrapbook could live forever.

– Hank Aaron’ s 755 home runs make him the home run king for those who know right from wrong.

– For every Celine Dion – there is an Arcade Fire.

– A homeless man is still alive.

– Micheal Jackson’s voice and feet have been forever silenced. Try to stay still when ‘ Billie Jean ‘  plays on the radio.

– A tree – naked by the season , returns more beautiful than ever in the springtime.

– For every Gaddafi there is a Jack Layton.

– In London , a poor boy can play for a rock n roll band.

– A dog with three legs can still wag it’s tail.

– A man and woman with no food  in the cupboard – can spend an entire evening making love.

and finally

The Montreal Canadiens are four points removed from a play-off spot with 74 games left to play.

Please check out Chris Nilan’s take on the Habs loss to the Panthers.

Craig Ludwig and the Woman with One Boob

In 1989 the sports landscape in Montreal was painted with a different brush.

Sliding for dollars

Tim Raines was the highest paid member of the city’s baseball club. The Expos paid him just over two million a season – a bargain in today’s market. The Alouettes were non – existent and Anthony Calvillo was starting his career at Mt. San Antonio Junior College. Professional soccer in the city lay smack dab in the muddle of the Manic and the Impact – forcing soccer fans to peer elsewhere to get their ‘ kicks’ and in turn , stuffing the pockets of the local pubs.

However , the most profound change may be in the attitude  of the Montreal Canadiens.

Pat Burns was the coach and Serge Savard was the general manager. The two men ruled the team with passion, toughness and smarts. Burns would ask Savard for the type of players he wanted and Serge would comply. If Shayne Corson , Chris Chelios or Claude Lemieux stepped out of line – Pat Burns would kick their butt from Montreal to Hull. Along with the likes of Skrudland , Carbonneau and Mike Mcphee – Corson et al knew it. Respect was a two-way word in the dressing room and because of it , Mr. Savard and Mr. Burns built a passionate and competitive team. What would have happened if a player from another team ran Patrick Roy or Brian Hayward during that season ? Regardless if the player was penalized or not.

Lyle Odelein may have launched the player onto Ste. Catherine Street. Tom Chorske

Passion in Montreal ... !

would have then picked him up and sent him horizontally to get hotdogs on blvd. St. Laurent. If the player took his time getting back – he would have received a good talking to by Todd Ewen  and Mike Keane. Mathieu Schneider may have said a few things and Eric Desjardins definitely would have given the player a slap with his stick. All this just to be nice to the poor soul. Nice because these guys saved the guy from Chelios and Roy himself. Two men with mean streaks longer than the Champlain Bridge. The players in 1989 were tough and not many chewed nails as much as the Habs’ number seventeen – Craig Ludwig.

Wisconsin to the NHL

The Montreal Canadien rearguard was known for his fearless approach at blocking shots. Brett Hull was winding up in the slot … ? There was the blonde-haired Ludwig launching his patented larger – than – life shinguards in it ‘ s path . Al Macinnis blasting his (then) hardest shot in the NHL toward the Habs’ goal ? No problem for the former Fighting Sioux from North Dakota as he laid down in front of the potential life – ending bullet . How many goals did Ludwig save over a career ? Over one hundred for sure.

Craig Ludwig

Ludwig was a gentle giant. Not a dirty player. Someone who was fair and tough. Opposing players did not want to awaken the beast within. Stir the dormant animal that lay just below the surface of the 6′ 3 – 210 pound player. Noone wanted to mess with the guy. Until one early December evening in downtown Montreal.

Visions of  Marie Therese Forget Casgrain

Along with a former girlfriend Liz , her brother Whitman and his fiancé Cathy  – the four of us made our way to the city and found a place to have a few drinks. The nightclub was named Cheers and was a popular establishment on rue Mackay  just west of the famous Crescent street. The four of us were standing in the middle of the club with our beverages in tow. The music was pulsating as the beautiful men and women of the city danced around us. Some were talking – others were flirting. An entirely normal evening in a bar. A normal outing until 10pm …

Two hours before the witching hour –  members of the Montreal Canadien hockey team entered.

Cheers - Montreal

Chelios was there along with Brian Hayward, Claude Lemieux , Brian Skrudland , Mike McPhee and Craig Ludwig. It was not uncommon to witness the city’s hockey stars out and about. The patrons who were used to it smiled and kept on doing their thing. The ‘ rookies ‘ of the bar scene were sometimes overwhelmed by the close proximity of their heroes. Autographs were sought , conversations seeded and general excitement ruled for the first hour after the arrival of les bleus , les blancs et les rouges.

Minding our business yet keeping an eye on our Habs – my foursome had met and were speaking to a few other people. At this time , the fuss had died down over the Montreal players and everyone was going about their business. Cathy was the center of attention in our group as she held court. A soapbox the only thing absent as the future 5’ 5″ Mrs. Whitman orated a joke to whoever lay interested. Previous to the punch -line and following the set-up , Craig Ludwig had wandered into earshot of Cathy’s hilarious tale. This evening took place almost twenty -two years ago. Sadly I do not recall the joke.

There is one thing to be known about Cathy. She was feisty and probably still is. Although not a feminist – a Gloria Steinem tattoo on her left arm would not come as a surprise . As the crowd that had gathered neared closer to hear the final words of the joke – Craig Ludwig was among them. As silent as a group could be in a bar , ears leaned forward and eyes widened as everyone waited in anticipation of Cathy’ s deciding words. Following a few anxious moments – the words were ejected ; ” She only had one breast ! ”

One or two ?

Ludwig , in all fairness – probably had too much to drink. On top of that – he entered the joke a little on the late side. Whatever the reason – his next move proved a little risky . Right in the middle of a school of laughter – Craig Ludwig reached through the crowd and in one swift voice yelled ; ” You mean like this … ? ”  The Habs’ shot blocker then reached over and grabbed Cathy’s breast.

Sometimes things happen very fast in life. The following events were precisely one of those moments. Amid shock and some laughter – Cathy reared back and with one powerful motion … kneed Mr. Ludwig right square in the testicles. With Ludwig doubled over and not missing a beat ,Cathy replied at the top of her voice;”He only had one ball ! ”

I sincerely do not recall much of what happened next. Ludwig wandered off . Some talked about it and some did not. None of us were threatened nor were we ejected from the premises.

Saturday Night ‘s Allright for Fighting

Every Saturday night – a good Canadian boy or girl gathers around with family or friends and tunes into Hockey Night in Canada. It is tradition. It is to Canadians what capitalism is to Americans. The following Saturday night after what is now referred to as  ‘ the scrotum incident ‘ was no different.

Cathy and Liz made supper , Whitman and I drank beer. Cathy and Liz served supper – Whitman and I drank beer. Cathy and Liz did the dishes …. ah – you get the idea … ( by the way ladies – I am single ! )

The four of us sat down , got comfortable and watched as the starting line-ups were announced for the up and coming match. All of our Montreal Canadiens were ready to go. All of our stars were primed to beat the opposition ! All of them with one exception . There was one scratch for Le Club de Hockey Canadien. It was one of their defencemen. It was Craig Ludwig and he was out of the formation with a ‘ groin injury ‘.

An injury that painted a picture onto the canvases of our memories. Forever …

Better late than never … check out Chris Nilan’s take on the Habs’ loss to the Leafs.

My Goalie and your Goalie were Hanging Out the Clothes …

The referees in the NHL are adding to the ferly.

Constance Keene ( sitting ) , Rick Keene ( Habs sweater ), Three brain-dead cousins

During the course of last night’s losing effort against the mighty Maple Leafs – the Habs were victims once again to what appears as an anti – Canadiens blanket. A comforter that is not only keeping the heat on the Habs , a duvet that appears as transparent as the Forum ghosts that have never really made the transition to the Bell Center.

The Canadiens’ captain  – Brian Gionta, skated in front of the Leaf net minder James Reimer. The Leaf goalie was clearly rubbed the wrong way by the Habs’ diminutive forward. The goalie’s mask went one way while his head moved in an entire different direction. Two minutes for goalie interference. No problem. A punition is a punition ( unless of course you are involved in Montreal’s construction industry). Gionta went to the box to ‘ feel shame ‘ for two minutes.

Fast – forward as if someone pushed the simulate button in Playstation 3 ‘ s popular NHL video game. The former Hab – Mikhail ( why did we trade this guy ? ) Grabovski , bowled over Carey Price with much more force than Gionta ‘s family could muster. Price’s bright pink mask flew into the air faster than a Scissor Sister’s leg during a video shoot. To worsen matters , Grabovski decided to sit on the Habs’ first – round pick longer than it took Liberace to fix his hair. Two minutes right ? An eye for an eye and a mask for a mask ? Not in Bettman’s league . A league that somehow is mad at Les Canadiens and the trend shows no sign of ending.

Doug Wickenheiser ?

Rewind to last season . Zdeno Chara practically sent Max Pacioretty’s head into the expensive seats and received nothing but a Stanley Cup in return. During this season’s pre- season game against the Lightning of Tampa – the Habs’ newly acquired Chris Campoli was almost left as headless as Ichabod Crane’s horseman. The play was reviewed and the distributor of the hit (Ryan Malone) received nothing. Nada. No suspension . Not even a miniature version of Lord Stanley’s chalice. What’s wrong here? What did the Montreal Canadiens do to the hockey Gods?

Is Maurice Richard skating on thin ice in the great rink in the sky …? Have Boom – boom Geoffrion and John Ferguson given too many elbows to the noted official St. Peter ? Perhaps Jacques Plante ‘s bizarre ways have had him sent to the Devil’s playground ( Hell not New Jersey )? It seems more likely that it is what the Habs’ organization has not done. Right here. On frozen earth …

Doug Wickenheiser was the Habs’ first – overall pick in 1980. The big forward was chosen over Denis Savard . Through no fault of his own – Doug never panned out in the NHL. As a superstar. He netted 25 goals with the Habs before being traded to St. Louis where he evolved into a decent checker. Doug ‘s career seemed on track when he was hit by a car. Wickenheiser was not a lucky man. After battling back from a broken leg among other things sustained when hit – Doug was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly he passed away in 1999 at the age of thirty – eight.

The Montreal Canadien organization paid homage to Doug as did all the teams in the league with a moment of silence. Perhaps Wickenheiser is the one ghost that is missing among the other ghouls that haunted the Forum. Les Canadiens should add Wickenheiser’s name to their Ring of Honor. He was a first – round pick who displayed more courage than most. An example to young and old hockey players. A man who fought more than he should have to play in the NHL. Maybe the curse and the wrath of the NHL will be lifted against the Habs as Doug Wickenheiser takes his place in the line-up in heaven’s version of the Montreal Forum.

Fifteen Games Remain in Martin’s Hab Career ?

The red , white and blue clock in Jacque Martin’s office is starting to tick pretty quick these days. Les Canadiens are not functioning as a unit. One game the defense appears on a slant while another game brings ineptness from the offense. Last night , it was the defence’s turn to lose the game.

Price was left alone on too many occasions as the Leafs fought back three times.

" Hmm ... I don't know where the Defence was ..."

Eventually they would win 5 – 4 in overtime after Grabovski won it for Toronto with a pretty individual effort. An effort that left twenty-one thousand spectators wondering ; ” Where’s the defense ?”

Something unusual in Jacque Martin’s scheme of things …

* Habs play Florida Monday .

They also traded Brock Trotter along with a seventh round pick to Pheonix for Petteri Nokelainen and Garret ( I don’t like spiders and snakes ) Stafford. Nokelainen was the 16th pick overall in 2004 , has had four knee operations and has been traded three times. Along with giving announcers fits trying to pronounce his name – Petteri will fade away … 

Palushaj was sent to Hamilton to make room for Micheal Blunden– at 6′ 4 the Toronto native is a tougher player than Aaron will ever be.

Scott Gomez is Hurt ( and Gaddafi Don’t Feel So Good Himself ).

A two hundred pound gorilla was lifted off the backs of an entire city last night. Hopefully it will be placed onto the hides of the people in Hamilton, Ontario. Hey ! Like the Canadian – born members of the pop band Barenaked Ladies once sang : ” Haven’t you always wanted a monkey ?”

A verbal exchange took place moments before the Habs ‘ Scott Gomez was injured. A conversation that was caught on tape by a tiny microphone ( okay – it was heard by Brian Gionta ; same thing ). The trading of words went something like this ;

” There ‘ s no skating allowed !” Said a powerful voice. Seemingly out of nowhere.

” Who said that ? ” Answered Gomez as he made his way around the perimeter of the Penguins’ zone.

Nothing. No sound . No response. At which point Scott continued his inept play.

Without warning – the voice boomed once more. Louder than before.

” There ‘s no SKATING allowed ! ” The Canadiens’ forward was the only one to hear the voice.

” God ! Is that you … ?” Replied number eleven.

” No ! It’s the zamboni driver … there’s no skating allowed ! ” The voice was fiery with it’s tone.

” The zamboni driver ? Gomez responded with a smile on his face. ” I think you have the wrong guy. You are supposed to be in the joke where you yell at the newfie who is ice-fishing on the hockey rink!”

There was a pause as Gomez figure – skated toward a loose puck.

” Same thing !” Replied the voice.

At which point the Habs’ seven -million dollar man ‘s focus left him and he was drilled into the boards.

“That’ll teach ya …” Answered God as he flipped the keys to the zamboni driver.

A Cancer Removed

Yesterday – Colonel Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi  was

Gaddafi - In the morgue.

eliminated and dragged through the streets of Libya. His face was bloodied as he was beat up by the very people he tormented for decades. A grisly end to a tyrannical reign.

Hmmm … wait a second ?

Perhaps this is not a bad way to end Gomez’ days in Montreal ? He could be dragged down Ste. Catherine Street and put to his death in front of the shell of the Montreal Forum. Wait a minute …! Have I gone mad ? What gruesome thoughts have entered my brain …? That cannot be done in a democracy such as Canada. It is inhumane and barbaric ! Besides – how could we possible inflict that type of pain on the people of Montreal. Imagine – carrying the Alaskan native through the streets. What a job that would be …!?

Like Gaddafi to his people – Gomez has been a cancer to the Montreal Canadiens. Head-to-toe. Helmet to skates. Management through stick boys have been inflicted with a heaviness as Scott’ s woes have burdened the club with sickness . A fatigue that could not be fought with any form of chemotherapy or trade bait. A tiredness that can be cured soley on the beaches of Hamilton ( Yes – they have beaches ).

Room for Palushaj ?

Whether or not Scott Gomez returns to the line-up in a few days , weeks or never at all – his absence is what the doctor ordered for a limping Canadien squad.

The team is off to it’s second worse start in the history of the organization. One win , one shoot-out loss and four real losses in six games. A honeymoon without a bride to commence the new season. Where’s Ronald Corey when needed ? If the former president of the Habs were around – Martin and Gauthier would be fired by now. ( It took four games for Corey to remove then G.M Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers from their posts during the 1995-96 season). Martin and Gauthier deserve the plank. Savard and Demers did not.

Put me in coach - I'm ready to play ...

As Gomez wanders around the corridors of Le Centre Bell or the shores of Ontario – his absence will allow young skaters such as Aaron Palushaj or Barney the Friendly Dinosaur to enter the line-up for a sustained period of time (either one would be an improvement ). This will enable Martin or whoever is at the helm of this ship to get a good look at the former St. Louis Blue or the purple reptile. The ‘dead wood ‘ would be removed from the frozen pond on LaGauchetiere street and allow the team’s skaters breathing room.

Some of them may shed their green dresses and begin producing like they can.

But not real green dresses … that’s cruel ( and sexist ) !

* The Habs lost to Pittsburgh last night 3 -1 . Read Chris Nilan’ s take on the game …

Top Ten Signs the Habs are Struggling

Oops …

Three straight losses at home to start the new season – say it ain’t so Joe Malone

The Habs have plenty of time to turn things around yet there are signs that panic maybe setting in ….

Here now are the Top Ten Signs the Habs are Struggling …

10. Martin spotted buying a book written by Gretzky . The title ? F*CK defense . SCORE BABY SCORE  !

9. Scalpers outside the Bell Center seen eating peanut butter and jam sandwiches.

8. The Toronto Maple Leafs have more points !

7. P.K Subban booked a plane ticket to Haiti … for the third period on TUESDAY NIGHT!

6. T – shirt sales ain’t what they used to be …

5. Gomez one of the more popular players !

4. Carey Price ‘ s horse is keeping the neighbors awake with his moaning.

3. Geoffrey Molson is secretly speaking to George Gillette.

2. Hal Gill will have to settle for a ‘ My parents went to Hal Gill’s 1000th game and all I got was this lousy t-shirt ‘ t-shirt.

and the number one sign the Habs are struggling … ?

1. The Winnipeg Jets are the only team they can beat !

TSN Radio 990 Drops the Puck with Marinaro on Board.

Tony Marinaro maybe ‘ living the dream ‘ yet to many – he ‘ s a nightmare.

Marinaro - your worst nightmare !

It is very rare that I tune in to the former Team 990. Which is a shame. Mitch Melnyk and Randy Tieman are two of my favorite sportscasters . Randy for his down – to – earth personality who comes across as a normal fan and Mitch for being the type of guy who lives in the trenches. Unlike Marinaro et al – Melnyk is out in the city among the true fans. This enables him to give an insight far removed from the armchair , video – loving views that the rest of the TSN Radio guys cannot.

Following the 3 – 1 loss to the Sabres on Tuesday night , I tuned in at lunchtime on Wednesday to get a pulse on the the Habs ‘ loss. What I heard reminded me why I do not listen to this station.

Randy Tieman - Gimme a beer and some chips please ?

Marinaro and Tieman were taking phone calls. Tony commenced the proceedings by asking a question. “Who was responsible for the Sabres ‘ second goal of the previous evening’s match ?”Caller after caller( with Marinaro and Tieman offering their opinions in between),phoned in and for the next hour – the GM ‘s of the city deciphered the weaknesses of the Montreal Canadien defense. That is fine. The two men were doing their job and supplying a demand for the fans of this hockey – mad city. Or were they ?

Perhaps Tieman and Marinaro are as delusioned as most people in this city when it comes to our skating heroes. I fear the bar in this city has dropped further that Paris Hilton‘ s values when it comes to assessing the real problem of Les Habitants. Instead of feeding the topic or bringing it into play – the question Marinaro should have flipped the listener’s way was a complete 180 from the question that ruled the airwaves for sixty irritating minutes.

The question that a true Montreal Canadien fan should have asked was ; ” Who is responsible for the Habs ‘ inability to score more than three goals a game ? “

A Sad State of Affairs

Buffalo net minder Ryan Miller played well. He is among the top five goalies in the NHL.

A Game - breaker !

If not for him on Tuesday night – the Montreal team would probably have won.Why pick on Carey Price and the defense ?

In a galaxy far , far away ( the Montreal Forum circa the 197o’ s) , the city ‘s hockey team faced many formidable goaltenders. Bernie Parent , Gerry Cheevers and Tony Esposito to name a few. Guy Lafleur , Pete Mahovolich and Steve Shutt were stymied time and again.The team was left deflated on the bench on numerous occasions heading into the third period down by a goal or two. Yet somehow – Doug Risebrough , Gilles Lupien or John Van Boxmeer made sure the Habs ‘ were able to come out victorious.

Was it the players ‘ character that enabled a positive outcome ? Was it their Captain who was able to say a few choice words when the team ‘ s ears were left deafened with a possible defeat ? Sure it helped. However , the most important factors on that team or any team that has the ability to come up big are a game – breaking player and a good coach. Two elements the 2011 – 12 edition of Les Canadiens are lacking. A pair of ingredients that have been awol for two decades.

The Montreal Canadiens have the firepower. Even without their power play quarterback Andrei Markov. Gionta, Cammalleri , Kostisyn , Cole and Pacioretty. All these players are goal scorers. Add Subban to the mix along with up and comers Eller and Desharnais – this team should be easily netting three or more goals a game. This element along with Carey Price allowing just over two goals a game should add many wins to the Habs’ schedule. Sadly it does not. Every season ( this year will be no different ) , the Canadiens claw their way into the play – offs. Something that would not occur if the offense was feared by the other teams in the league.

Cut from the Same Cloth ?

The Habs need a superstar.

You guys have kids that can skate ?

A creative offensive player who would free ice for the rest of the forwards. Someone who is able to elude three checkers on every second rush. A player that makes opposing defencemen ‘s heart skip a few beats as they back peddle in a state of panic. (How old is Stephane Richer ? How is his back … ?)

Year after Stanley Cup missing season – the Habs’ management draft defencemen using their top picks. Year after year the team thrives on a defense – first mentality. Hello ? It has been eighteen years since a championship fellas – THE SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING !

It is one thing to make sure the defense is strong and the goaltending is stronger. It is a great idea to compliment that end of the ice with nine competent speedy forwards who can score goals. However , it is somewhat absurd to take such a team and put a defensive – minded coach in charge. The Elfin Martin knows not how to get into the heads of his forwards. He hasn’t a clue how to light fires under their red , white and blue ‘ butts. Geoff Molson or Pierre Gauthier should take Martin by his ears and place him as the defensive coach on this squad. Jumpin’ Jacques could do his thing and an offensive – minded person with passion could lead the team to glory as the head coach.

Unless moves are taken to remove Martin and to forego the ‘ defense – first ‘ mindset at the annual draft , the Montreal Canadiens will continue to allow an armchair fan such as Marinaro to drown the airwaves with nonsense and put everyone to sleep.

A Tony Marinaro Fan

Which is a nightmare. Any way you look at it.

A Phone Call …

The setting ; A dim  – lit office in the wee hours of Sunday morning .

A slim gaunt – faced man is sitting behind an oak desk. The moon ‘ s light enters from a window directly behind him .Long thin shadows are rolled across the surface of the desk and into the darkened corners of the man ‘ s lavishly decorated room.

As the clock ticks – the figure sits still. His eyes focused on the iPhone 4 that rests in the palm of his right hand . His skeletal fingers reach out – tentatively they discover the contact list . Beginning with the letter A , slowly the man scrolls down. Stopping at the letter H .

” It is now or never ” . The man thinks – his head spinning with a mixture of pride and remorse.

His delicate fingers push the green symbol of a telephone. The familiar tone of a ringing sound commences . The man leans back into his chair and he waits for someone to answer. On the fourth ring – the intended receiver responds.

” Hello ? ” The voice answers with a hint of annoyance.

The man hesitates as if he was asking the object of his affections on a first date.

” Hello … ? ” The voice repeats. The annoyance much more pronounced.

” Um …yes …um … hello ! Is this Jaroslav … ? ” It is done. There is no turning back now .

” Yes – this is Jaroslav Halak. Who is speaking please ? ” The voice is not happy.

” Jaroslav … this is Pierre Gauthier. The GM from the Montreal Canadiens . How are you ? ”

Momentarily – Gauthier thinks Halak has hung up on him as there is deafening silence for almost three uncomfortable minutes. Finally – just before the Habs ‘ G.M gives up , Halak’s voice comes to life …

” Yes Mr. Gauthier – what can I do for you ? ”

” How’s St Louis Jaro ? May I call you Jaro ….? I hear thy have a wonderful arch in that city and the blues are everywhere … Do you enjoy blues Jaro ….? ” The tone in Gauthier ‘s voice resonates with awkwardness.

” Yes – the arch is very nice. I’ m not much of a blues guy – I prefer classical … you know – Mozart , Bethoven … that sort of thing. Oh and please call me MR . HALAK – I prefer that. Thank you. ”

Gauthier leans forward in his chair. He realizes with Halak ‘s tone – the puck is no longer in his corner.

” Oh … okay …sure Mr. Halak … that ‘s not a problem … ” Gauthier laughs nervously. He never should have picked up the phone.

” How are things with you Mr. Gauthier ? I received a call the other day from Roman Hamrlik. He loves it in Washington ! He says he has never felt so free … ! Oh and Sergei Kostitsyn sent me a text message … Guess what ? Him and Mikhail Grabovski are great buddies now … imagine that ! I gotta tell ya Pierre – may I call you Pierre – I never would of seen that coming …. ha, ha …”

” Yes … er … that is pretty funny Mr. Halak and please – call me Mr. Gauthier if you do not mind … “.

” Sure thing Pierre ! Not a problem … Hey – I also hear that Lars Eller is not exactly lighting the league on fire . What about that other guy – Ian Schultz … how is he doing ? ”

” Um .. well … Mr. Eller will be fine. He is just a kid after all. Schultz too will be fine … ” . Gauthier ‘s tone leaves doubt .

” Sure – whatever you say Pierre … ! ” Halak struggles to keep his laughter to himself. ” Say … Pierre ? ”

” Yes Jaro …um … I mean MR. Halak …? ”

” How ‘s Carey doin ? I was speaking to Alex Auld the other day and Alex told me that Carey called him. ”

” Oh … and what did he say ? ” Suddenly Gauthier ‘s interest is piqued.

” Not much … he told Alex that he misses him and that this Budaj fellow is annoying … aside from that , not much else … ”

” Oh … I see … ”  Gauthier responds . His tone trailing off as if he was falling into a canyon.

” Pierre ? ”

“Yes Jarosl …I mean Mr. Halak … ?”

” What was the reason for your call ? ”

” Never mind … Mr. Halak . Never mind … “

Should the Habs Retire Koivu ‘ s Number ?

The first time someone enters the Bell Center – nine out of ten times , he or she faints . Ten dollar hot dogs will do that to a sound minded individual.

In any other hockey rink , this occurrence would be frowned upon. Fortunately for the fallen , Le Centre Bell is no ordinary arena. Once the vertically challenged open their eyes – the first items that come into focus are the retired sweater numbers that hang so elegantly from the rafters of the building . An edifice that has never held a Stanley Cup party. Hey – nobody’ s perfect eh ?

As splashes of the contents of fifteen dollar beer cups rain down in an attempt to revive the weakened hockey fan – visions of Patrick Roy ‘ s number 33 may become the focus of their new – found sight. The very same Patrick Roy that ripped the door off one of his rooms at home during an ‘ altercation ‘ with his wife. The three-time Conn Smythe winner who , in a fit worthy of admiration from an eight year old child in the middle of a tantrum – skated off the ice and declared himself unworthy of the Habs ‘ brass ‘ incompetence. Patrick Roy – the very same coach who could be seen directing his son ( also a temperamental goalie ) to skate the length of the ice to pummel his unwilling victim senseless.

If the fallen fan steers his head in disgust – he\ she may discover the retired number of Guy Lafleur. Le Demon Blond. The Flower. Number ten. The same right-winger who is the all time scoring leader in the Montreal Canadiens long history. The very man who almost decapitated himself driving home one evening after one too many drinks in a downtown nightclub. The skater who was known for his legendary two pack – a – day smoking habit and his frequency of the Montreal night life. An alleged womanizer whose tales of conquest are supposedly well-known in the western part of the city. The Babe Ruth of the Montreal Canadiens.

A Different Type of Hero

Enter a 5 ‘ 10 ” hockey player from Turku , Finland.

The Koivu Family

A player who would skate on to become the first European – born player to captain the Montreal Canadiens . A post he would hold for a decade. Number eleven. The Same player who was leading not just the Habs yet the entire NHL in scoring before a knee injury sidelined his season and slowed his career. The forward , diagnosed with cancer and after beating the terrible disease – returned for the play – offs to lead his team in scoring. Ten points in twelve games during the 2001 – 2002 run to the Cup. Koivu. The little guy with the heart of an engine that could move that rubber tree plant. Saku . The same player who took an errant Carolina stick to the eye which left his team without its captain and void of its heart. The Habs lost the next four games to the eventual Stanley Cup champs after being up by two with Koivu in the line – up. Saku Koivu. The same player who created a foundation and donated one million dollars so a Montreal area  hospital could buy a PET scan machine. A machine that studies physiology or function and not the imaging duties of a CT or MRI scan. This enables doctors to diagnose cancer earlier and begin treatments before the dreaded enemy has a chance of spreading.  In other words – this machine has saved and continues to save many lives. Each and every day.

Look Up – Is it a Plane … Is it a … ?

Saku Koivu scored 641 points in 792 games as a Montreal Canadien. Good enough to place him tenth among the all – time scoring leaders of the franchise.

Twenty years down the road , my son or daughter could be at the Bell Center with their children. When he\ she or they faint at the sight of a fifty dollar hot – dog , it would make my heart proud if they opened their eyes and the first thing they saw was a banner blazoned with Saku Koivu ‘ s name and number.

Number 11.

Gomez – A Lonely Boy

Scott Gomez ' Motto ....

If you can ‘t beat ‘ em – join ‘ em …

Pierre Gauthier could have been thinking exactly that when he signed Erik Cole to a three year deal with his hockey club. After – all , Scott Gomez needs company.

The Habs G.M probably figures that Erik Cole could be the goal scorer that Montreal needs and if not – Cole could keep Gomez company in the ‘ Zamboni house ‘ . If Cole evolves into the second coming of Sergei Samsonov – the ‘ rouge , blanc and boo birds at the Bell Center will be louder than the bad songs that play on game nights at the hockey rink. Bieber anyone ?

The Right Cole

Which Cole didl Montreal receive ? The 22 goal forward from last year or the 15 ‘ net bulger ‘ from two seasons past ? If  Cole can make Gomez’ output seem high , then Gomez may play better with all the pressure now firmly planted on the shoulder pads of Cole. The hairless one is in a good situation – noone expects nothing from the Habs’  number eleven . All Scott must do is score twenty goals and obtain fifty points. Those fifty points would almost match the fifty – two point output  by Cole last season. If  Gomez can actually place better numbers on the board , the pressure on Cole would be relieved as long as the former Hurricane matches his output from last year.  ” You do my murder –  I do yours …”. Alfred Hitchcock would be proud with this criss – crossing of events.

No ‘ Cole ‘ in my stockings please …

If the American – born Cole continues his assent up the NHL goal scoring ladder , Gauthier is keeping his hockey sticks crossed the New York State native somehow lifts Gomez with him. Last season – no matter if a twenty year old Wayne Gretzky had played with Gomez , it appeared Scott was doomed for failure. Given his dismal season , the Habs are stuck with Sarah Palin’ s neighbor. The storied franchise must build with him in mind and not around him. Unlike the world according to George W Bush – you can still be America’s ( and Habs fans’ ) friend if you are Scott Gomez…

In the off – season , Gauthier signed a few forwards . Is he using his imagination ‘ au bout ‘ to make up for Gomez’  potential upcoming  career – ending season ? The more – the – merrier is true when it involves a party , an orgy or Scott Gomez’  spot in the line – up. After two games in this new season – Gomez appears on a pace that would match his lows of last season. Hey – two games do not make a career yet a less hairy version of  the 1984 – 85 model of Guy Lafleur is not promising.

What ‘ s Up Jacques ?

Hello ?

Someone please take the post – it note down the hall and slip it under the elfin Martin ‘ s door. Which post – it note ? The one that informs the coach that the Habs acquired Cole as their prize free agent during the off-season. Where was Mr. Cole during the five man advantages against the current incarnation of the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs ? Was the addition of Cole not part of the grander scheme of things to instill more offense on an anemic Montreal squad ? It is early in the season and Jumpin’ Jacques is attempting to learn who is competent on the power play. When your team is down 2 – 0 to a team that boasts a bunch of young relatively unproven talent – it is time to throw caution to the Lake Ontario wind and toss your new power forward into the mix.

Cammalleri Replaced

The Habs ' Ned Braden ?

Aaron Palushaj looked very good in the pre – season last season and was pretty much worse this year. The former St . Louis Blue is high in the pecking order on the Hamilton Bulldogs so an opportunity to replace the injured Cammalleri is his. The knock on Palushaj is his inabilty or his abilty rather – to do a very good impression of the former Bruin Craig Janney. Aaron has great hands and excels as a playmaker. His weakness ? Once the tough get going – Palushaj literally gets going … down the hall and into Don Cherry’s Swedish hall of fame. All of this will not matter if the former Peoria Rivermen ( Man ? ) uses his graphite paddle for good and not evil.

Hey if Palushaj can ‘ t beat ’em … ah never mind !

Don Cherry ; Listen to your Grandfather !

Everyone has a Grandfather they adore. However – they would like to keep him in the attic when visitors arrive for a get together.  Don Cherry is that man and the CBC network are the relatives that cannot hide him. Why should they ?

Listen to what he is really saying ...

Recently Cherry has caused an uproar with his ill – timed comments of the fighters in hockey and their roles in society.On and off the ice. Ill – timed because three of the league’s fighters passed away during the summer under unusual circumstances.

“The ones that I am really disgusted with … are the bunch of pukes that fought before: Stu Grimson, Chris Nilan and Jim Thomson. (They say) ‘Oh, the reason that they’re drinking, (taking) drugs and alcoholics is because they’re fighting.’ You turncoats. You hypocrites,” Cherry said.

“If there’s one thing I’m not it’s a hypocrite. You guys were fighters, and now you don’t want guys to make the same living you did.”

First and most important – Cherry”s largest mistake was pointing the finger at the wrong people. Chris Nilan was quoted as saying his problems off the ice had nothing to do with his role as a fighter in the NHL. Stu Grimson – a former enforcer with the Chicago Blackhawks , also denies saying anything along the lines of which Cherry has accused him of.

“I challenge Don to point to the news article – or any other kind of journalism – where that comment is attributed to me,” continued Grimson. “Nothing could be further from the truth. If you’re going to say things like that on national television, show me the article where Chris (Nilan) or I said something like that. And if you can’t prove that, let’s hear an apology from Don…because that’s pretty strong language, pretty offensive language. I’m awfully offended.”

Doing his job ?

Like Grimson and Nilan – Cherry”s job on Coaches Corner is to rile his opponents . Ruffle the feathers of his fans and detractors alike. Keep “em coming back for more.If Cherry is as disliked as much as Grimson and especially Jim Thomson believe – it is likely that the CBC would have dispatched the coach to the farm team years ago when Cherry provoked the wrath of all the French – Quebecers. They were incensed to learn that their NHL home boys were cowards when Cherry remarked  that the Francophones in the league hid behind their visors and were essentially ” pussies ‘ by doing so.

The Swedes win the Cup !

What about the Europeans – especially the Swedes ,harassed by the old coach for being ladylike as they did cartwheels to avoid the corners and in turn – the thunderous body-checks by hulking defencemen. Did they take their ” meatballs ” and go home ? Did they call for Cherry”s resignation? Were the CBC ‘s phone lines lit up for the same amount of time it took former Capital and Canadien Rick Green to score a goal ? The answers are no – yes and yes. Don Cherry does his job with patriotism and passion . He has done so for many years now. He is a throwback to the days when men were men , hockey was hockey and Russian women were also men. The more things change – the more things do not stay the same. Especially in Russia’ s women’s’ tennis program and Gary Bettman”s shoot – out world.

There was a  point that Don Cherry was attempting to make. His age and passion intervened. I believe the wrinkled instructor was irate for the simple fact there are many guilty people involved in the game on a professional level. Coaches , owners and G. M ” s . Mothers and fathers. Zamboni drivers , popcorn vendors , scalpers and souvenir shop owners. Let”s not forget the players themselves ;  John Ferguson , Gordie Howe , Maurice Richard and Ted Lindsay. Bob Probert , John Kordic , Wade Belak and Chris Nilan. Everyone of these players had – at one time , a choice to make. Most of the tough guys in hockey would not have a job in the NHL if they chose not to fight. No job equals  no millions of dollars. No sports cars. No women throwing themselves at the players as if they were Mick Jagger. There lies the problem in the greatest game on ice. There lies the problem for all professional sports where big bucks make winners of cheaters.

Duty comes first

Players get a taste of the ” rock star life ” in the minors. One step removed from the ” show”. How does one tell an eighteen year the right thing to do is to give up the game they love and become a sales rep or a blue-collar guy. In doing so –  bypassing all the riches and gratuities that go along with being a professional hockey player.  Many times a boy comes from a family where the dad was a blue-collar guy himself. It is the father and the mom that may turn a cheek from the right thing. They may tell their son that being an enforcer for a few years will feed the pockets of not only their offspring yet the family itself. Does a good son fulfill his duty or does he do the right thing ? Duty overcomes the right thing. Ask any war veteran or the family of a dead soldier if they or their relative made the wrong decision. Unlike war – hockey has millions fewer victims that are buried in a grave somewhere.

Following a summer of tragedy in hockey and on the ‘ coattails ‘ of too many blows to the head , everyone involved in the game of hockey have suddenly developed a conscience. Publicly at least.  ” No more fighting ” they cry from the armchairs of Dallas through Edmonton. ” Hockey is too violent ! ” says a Mom as she corrals her eight year old son to her side in an interview in suburban Pheonix. Guess what ? The season has started. The two biggest ovations at a hockey game remain the same.Ear rupturing body-checks and two men squaring off to beat the snot out of one another.

The Rocket " s red glare ...

It is part of hockey. Period.

Mothers and  fathers , G.M ‘s , coaches , owners , peanut vendors , Zamboni drivers and souvenir shop owners know it. They all benefit from it .

Including Stu Grimson , Jim Thomson and Chris Nilan to this day.

Is it any wonder Grandpa  is upset … ?


The Top Ten Signs NHL Hockey Has Returned

After a long summer filled with tales of Libya , Tsunamis and overpasses falling down – Montreal and North America have received the good news that the millionaires of winter have returned to shoot vulcanized pucks our way.

Here now are the top ten signs that yes – hockey has returned.

10. RDS is covering the Canadiens twenty hours a day compared to the nineteen and a half during their summer schedule.

9. Once again – fashion gurus are scurrying around to fight for the job as Don Cherry” s tailor.

8. Welcome to our hockey  ool. Notice there is no Modano in it ? Please – keep it that way !

7. It” s September ! That means more trouble for Guy Lafleur” s son Mark …

6. Zdeno Chara keeps damaging the Cup by hitting ceiling fans – over and over …

5. One irritating word ; Milbury !

4. Wayne and Janet Gretzky are taking bets on how long Rick Tocchet stays out of jail.

3. Winnipeggers now have something to do !

2.Dr. Murray hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs to give Propoful to all of their fans.

and the number one sign hockey is back …

1. No more dead hockey players !    

To Y or not to Y …That is the Question …

Alexei Emelin or Alexei Yemelin ?

You say tomato – I say tomata …

Y - Emelin ... ?

As the Montreal Canadiens commenced their season Thursda*  in Toronto , the Doors song ‘ People are Strange ” must be the tune on ever  member of the organization”s IPod.People are strange and in Montreal – things are getting stranger everyda* .

First , after acquiring forward Blair Betts from the Fl*ers , the Habs learned that Mr. Betts was not of sound shoulder. In a b* law – without paraphrasing Mr. Bettman or one of the NHL suits , Betts was returned to the Fl* ers because a skater must be deemed health*  when claimed off waivers. A collective ” phew ‘ could be heard loud and clear from GM Gauthier “s office .A sigh of relief so loud – Benoit Pouliot awoke with a thud in his new digs of the Boston Gah – den press box.

Strange … ?  Wait a sec.

The Habs finall* persuaded their prize Russian defencemen – Alexei Yemelin , to come out to skate at the Bell Center. Good news right ? Sure except  Mr. Yemelin lost his place on the depth chart to a man with a Spanish name who made his mark in Switzerland. Strange ? Wait – it gets better.  It appears Yemelin is not Yemelin at all. The seventh defenceman on the depth chart is now Emelin. ” Y ” you ask ? Perhaps Blair Betts has the answer … except Betts is in Phill*  so he is not available to the mass of Montreal media. Did Betts arrive in Montreal as a special agent for the Fl*ers? Was he put here for a few hours just so he could pilfer the Y from Yemelin” s sweater ? Does the departure

Y Betts Y ?

of Richards and Gagne require a ” Y ” for Fl*ers” fans … ? Y not ? They have a goalie for the first time in decades at the expense of their offense.  Y indeed ? That “s correct – there is no Y in Holmgren or Clarke. There is also no Y in team…

Strange … ? Wait a sec.

The Habs start the season in Toronto. If ever there was a place in need of a Y it is Hogtown. The might* Habs with Jumpin”  Jacques leading the wa* and their Y – less player in the press box, lose to Burke”s bo s … Notice the missing letter ? Emelin did not have it . The Toronto pla*ers did not have it. Wilson”s squad pla*ed like men even though the* are one of the *oungest teams in the league. A missing Y skates around and again nips the Habs in the Betts …er … um butts. HOW COULD  Les Canadiens de Montreal lose to a Leaf team with a rookie netminder , one bona-fide sniper and one qualit* defenceman ? Remove the Y and it is relatively eas* . Pierre ( have you ever heard him speak ) Gauthier made some off – season moves that equaled the strange moves b* the entire organization in the past three *ears.

M*  Montreal Canadiens would have taken to the ice on Thursda*  a far different squad than the one guided by the elfin Martin. Dominic Moore would have set up Hamrlik for the t*ing marker just previous to the Wiz notching the winner on a feed from Eric Cole. Gu* Boucher would have been behind the bench and congratulated by Kirk Muller for the win. Alex Auld coming off the bench to give Price a pat on the butt. M* Habs would have won in Toronto by a score of 4 – 1. Y ? Don”t ask … don”t tell.

As simple as x , , z

Strange ? Wait a sec.

Nos Glorieux lose ( for the second time ), their off-season defensive pick-up – Chris Campoli for two weeks as the former Senator and Blackhawk injures a knee.(Chris almost lost his head in a pre – season game with the noted goons of Tampa) No problem. Y ? Alexei whats-his-name to the rescue. Emelin was inserted to the line-up against the new/ old Winnipeg Jets to pla* his first ever game in the NHL. Emelin played 16.21 , had one shot on goal and achieved his first penalty of his NHL career. It was a hooking penalt* . Emelin or Yemelin and the Habs then learned Mike Cammalleri will be lost to the team for two weeks as the Canadien sniper”s leg was sliced b* a skate. There is no Y in eeks as the Habs misfortunes keep on piling up. Someone please tell Markov to sta* awa* and at the same time – lift the curse of Serge Savard. The Habs have not been the same since Le Senateur was given his walking papers by hocke*”s version of Claude Brochu.

Strange ? Y do you ask … ?

Habs 5  Jets 1 – Cammalleri, Weber , Plekanec, Moen and Pacioretty

Habs 0 Leafs 2 – Nobody

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