Ned Braden and the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals ( Parental Guidance Suggested ).


It was as a miraculous  a run that would ever be written in the Montreal sports‘ pages …

The Montreal Canadiens defied logic and kept the bars and restaurants deep in prosperity as they dove deeper into the play- offs. They did it with a combination of luck,determination and a mindset not usually heard of when it comes to victory.

As each series progressed ,whether it was Quebec, Buffalo or Les Islanders de New York – the players who skated for les bleu,blanc et rouge,willed their way to overtime and a chance to win.

Overtime is a scary time. One shot – a backhand,a snapshot or perhaps an errant pass,can win the game in a second. It does not matter to the puck who has the edge in the extra time. The vulcanized disc cheers not for Wayne Gretkzy or Patrick Roy. It goes along for the ride, regardless of who is favored or who is wearing the colors of the underdog…

Overtime is relentless …

After coming back from a two game deficit against their Quebec neighbors – les Habitants started a trend that had not been seen before or since. Eleven overtime victories carried the team to their 24th Stanley Cup and made even the most un- superstitious black cat believe in miracles.

Once the Sabres were dispatched in round two – the Canadien players almost to a man,wanted each game decided after sixty minutes. ‘ They were more comfortable’ they would say. ‘Something was in the air’ was the type of words that escaped their mouths just before they yelled victory to the cameras.

Was it Voodoo ? Was it karma ?

It may have been the simple fact the Habs opponents in the finals did not remove their clothes and dance on top of their nets … How could they … ?

Ned Braden was in Montreal

Slapshot 101

Ned Braden was a character in the movie Slapshot.Micheal Ontkean, the actor, portrayed Ned Braden .Ned Braden was a pussy …

Slapshot is on everyone sports fans’ top ten list of best sports movies of all-time. It is a yarn scripted by Nancy O’Dowd .Surprising a woman wrote the screenplay considering the foul language and sexist jokes. O’Dowd followed her brother’s team around and used her notes to write the screenplay for the movie.

The film follows the exploits of the Charleston Chiefs – a hockey team that could not win a game if their skating lives depended on it. Guided by their player-coach, Reg Dunlop ( played by Paul Newman),the team is bankrupt in the goal scoring department, the stands and the pocket-book of  a mysterious owner…

Enter the Hansons

A trio of brothers named Steve, Jeff and Jack . A threesome of terror ! A terrible mixture of ‘ how not to play hockey’ !

The Hanson Brothers

The Hansons , after riding the bench and playing with their toy cars in hotel rooms for the first weeks after joining their new team – are given the opportunity to play by coach Dunlop. It seems , the Hansons have their own idea on how to play hockey …

They fight, they hit people over the head with their sticks and cause havoc in the hockey rink ! All this before the game starts sometimes ! In the words of Chiefs sportscaster Jim Carr ; ” The fans are standing up to them! The security guards are standing up to them! The peanut vendors are standing up to them! And by golly, if I could get down there, I’d be standing up to them! ”

Paul Newman ( aka the coach), decides the Hansons’ way is the right way and the team starts winning with abandon. Suddenly the seats in the arena are filled, the team has its own booster club that follows them on road games and for once – the team is making money. Everyone is happy right ? Nope . Ned Braden, the team’s star forward is miserable and he is causing coach Dunlop to have fits.

Ned Braden is the only guy on the team who went to college. Ned Braden does not believe in fighting or goon tactics. Ned Braden refuses to play dirty and Dunlop decides to bench him on several occasions. Ned Braden is called a pussy by Jim Carr and even his teammates start questioning his sexual orientation because of his non violent nature.

Braden ... A Fag ?

Reggie Dunlop: Well, maybe Braden’s a faggot, you ever think of that?
Denis Lemieux: No way, he got a big c*ck, like horse.

The Chiefs continue their winning ways and end up in the championship game amid all kinds of humor and sub-plots. When their opponents for the top trophy in the Federal League , the Syracuse Bulldogs, stockpile their team with goons to counter the Chiefs’ one-two-three punch – Dunlop decides to play old-time hockey.

Newman’s squad attempts to win by playing Toe Blake’s way. They try to beat their opponents by skating, passing and scoring. Given the nature of their ways – the Bulldogs pummel the Chiefs and the Charleston squad does not fight back. Enter Ned Braden …

The Chiefs’ leading scorer and resident ‘pussy ‘- takes matters into his own hands while his teammates are in the middle of a bench- clearing brawl.

A Victory Lap - dance ...?

Much to the delayed delight of the home crowd – Braden( with the help of the team’s marching band ), commences to remove all of his equipment. Ned Braden commits one of the most bizarre strip teases in sports and cinematic history. Finally – kicking his shin pads in the air from atop the net in his own zone.

The referees , fed up with the nonsense carried on by the Bulldogs – award the Chiefs the championship and Braden ( stripped to a jockstrap) carries the trophy in a victory lap in front of the appreciative, crazy crowd. A memorable conclusion to a memorable movie…

Celebrating the Habs’ Victory

A friend and I were downtown in a Montreal bar celebrating the Habs game two victory over the Los Angeles Kings at the Montreal Forum. A game which included the famous stick measurement call by the Montreal coach Jacques Demers. Marty McSorley was penalized for using an illegal stick and the Habs went on a power play down a goal with under five minutes to play in the third period. The Canadiens tied the game on a goal by Eric Desjardins and eventually won their 9th straight overtime game. A string of improbable victories which concluded with eleven overtime wins and a Stanley Cup championship.

1993 Stanley Cup Champions

The bar was filled to capacity and erupted in pure joy when the home team scored to even the series at one game apiece heading back to L.A. Everyone was having a great time – a terrible feeling lifted as our heroes gave hope once more …

My friend and I were caught up in the moment and the pitchers of beers flowed quite well. We were sitting on two stools next to the dance floor when my friend pointed out a movie star. Forgetting momentarily about the film Slapshot, my friend said ; “Hey ! Look ! It is Micheal Ontkean from the television show Twin Peaks !”

Micheal Ontkean ( Ned Braden ) played sheriff Truman in the David Lynch series Twin Peaks. A favorite show of my friend.

“You mean Ned Braden …?” I countered as a hockey fan .

“Yes …! ” Said my friend. ” It’s Micheal Ontkean !”

They say television adds ten pounds to an individual. If indeed it was Ontkean – that statement was true. He was a lot slimmer than his screen appearances and much older looking. “Slapshot was filmed in 1977 – this was 1993 …” ! I reminded myself …

Sherrif Harry S Truman

We argued for a while whether or not the man on the dance floor – obviously drunk and hitting on a girl half his age,  was Ned Braden / Truman . I concocted a plan. A way to discover once and for all if this guy was a hockey hero …

” When he goes to the bathroom …” I told my friend. ” I’ll find out ! I will ask questions that only Ontkean will know ….!” Several moments later – sure enough, the Chiefs’ leading scorer look-a-like stumbled off  towards the bathroom.

He was swaying to and fro at the urinal when I took up residence to his left . Exiting my own private part and waiting a few seconds – I said in a drunken firmness ;

” Do you have a big c*ck like a horse…? ”

“Excuse me …? ” The man replied with befuddlement.

” My friend thinks you have a big c*ck like a horse – I am not sure so I followed you in here to find out …!? ” I knew my approach was wrong.

” Um…um….?” The man fumbled with his words. Alcohol and confusion the two important factors at the moment.

” Can I see some I. D …? ” I asked.

” My hands are kinda tied up at the moment…” He replied.

” Because you have a big c*ck like a horse …? ” I laughed with curiosity.

The guy tried to laugh yet nervousness was his closest friend. He finished doing his thing and we both walked toward the sink. The man reached into his pocket and withdrew a wallet. His hands shaking with nerves and booze. He handed me a driver’s licence…

Micheal Ontkean was the man’s name and he resided in California. Upon discovering he was Ned Braden – I peppered the poor soul with questions.

He was here to watch the Kings play the Habs. He was playing semi-pro hockey when a casting call went out for the movie Slapshot. Paul Newman could not skate when filming commenced yet learned quite well. The Hansons were crazy in life and he was enjoying his role on Twin Peaks.

Ontkean - Much older

“I gotta get your autograph …!? ” I said with enthusiasm.

We exited the bathroom and asked a barmaid for a pen and paper. Ontkean asked how i would like it signed. I did not care and told him to write what he wanted …

Several moments passed and he handed me the piece of paper …We shook hands and he went back to the dance floor to join his ‘ friend’. I opened the paper …

To Rick – Like a horse … Ned Braden

———————————————

The Habs try to extend their winless streak to six tonight against the Wild ….

Best wishes to Jean Beliveau as he recovers from a stroke ….

Need a magician ? Contact Kid Mercury – Montreal’s Most dynamic entertainer !

 

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2 Comments

  1. Chris Bellman

     /  March 1, 2012

    Great stuff especially the bar scene celebrating and meeting the guy from ‘Slapshot’. St Patrick was phenomenal that spring, but that spring as a Leafs fan brings nothing but sheer agony.

    What a matchup for the ages it would have been had the Leafs defeated L.A., but they somehow managed to come back from a 3-2 deficit and take out Toronto in seven. The rest is history. Toronto teased Leaf Nation with three more conference final appearances over the next eight years in ’94, ’99 and 2002 but despair each time.

    Great story here, fun read, very enjoyable. Just not for this Leafs fan for the horrific memories it evokes. This bitter Leafs fan still contends the Leafs would have smoked the Canadiens had they managed to get by Gretzky, Hrudey and his Kings that spring. Sigh. Will wonder forever.

    Hope to see the Leafs and Canadiens in a playoff matchup someday. Won’t be happening this year as neither team is going to make the playoffs it would appear. Le Sigh #2.

    Reply
  2. Gretzky beat the Leafs that Spring ….

    Reply

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