Grigorenko is the new ‘Lemieux’


Remember when Mario Lemieux entered the NHL?

Little Mario

A big talented goal – scoring machine. He started scoring and racking up points by the dozens. There was no doubt of his talent. A big draw. Someone who not only filled the Igloo – a skater who filled seats around the NHL.

Mario was a star player with one knock against him. A label which haunted him for the first few years of his career. Until the moment he played alongside Gretzky in the Canada Cup in 1987.

Just like that – Lemieux’s reputation of being ‘lazy’ climbed from the bottom of the character ladder to the shelf above. A storage area marked forever with the word; respect.

In a Canadian kind of way … Mario Lemieux was a pre – cursor to the modern day Russian hockey player.

The New Guy

Grogorenko

Enter an eighteen year year old, six foot three – two hundred pound kid from Russia. A forward recently named the CHL’s player of the year. The award goes to the player who best exemplifies achievement, dedication and sportsmanship to the sport of hockey.

So why does everyone doubt his ability to make it in the NHL? The same reason people once upon an ice surface said Lemieux would never win a Stanley Cup.

“I just want to show them I’m a good guy,” said Grigorenko, a gifted offensive player who has been on the defensive since a poor playoff performance caused his draft stock to fall recently. “I had that question about my work ethic from one team.”

Sound familiar hockey fans?

Lemieux’s size and the way he skated, made him seem ‘lazy’ on the ice. Sometimes a player is cursed by the very God given talent he or she has been born with. A player such as Lemieux and now – Grigorenko, appear like lily pads floating on a frozen pond. It does not matter if the player averages two points a game. Somehow irrelevant if that player wins a scoring race. It’s all about the image. Throw a bit of jealousy into the mix – a negative way to attempt to play hockey and enjoy a love affair with the sport that comes easy.

Grigorenko led the Remparts with 85 points in 59 games during the 2011 – 2012 season. In Lemieux’s third season with Pittsburgh, a season in which the ‘lazy’ tag became the norm, ‘Super Mario’ tabulated 107 points in 63 games. It was the first time in Pittsburgh he finished on the proper side in the +|- column (+13). In three seasons, Mario managed to accumulate 348 points – a half a career for almost every forward to have played the game at a professional level.

Grigorenko is quite capable of obtaining the same numbers as Lemieux in the NHL. Especially since the game has opened up from Mario’s playing days ( imagine the points for Lemieux with no red line?).

First – the Russian has to forget about the naysayers. Guys like Craig Button. A TSN scout who dropped his opinion of Grigorenko. An insight which left the Russian rated twentieth in the upcoming draft ( Button had him sixth in December).Grigorenko must remember it is him and only him who knows what it felt like to play through the lingering symptoms of mononucleosis – an ilness whose effects diminished his play in the Remparts’ playoff collapse.

“They’ve been asking what happened in the playoffs,” Grigorenko said. “I don’t think I had a bad playoff because the first round was good. The first round I had seven points in four games. But after I got mono, I didn’t have lots of energy.”

Grigorenko, who developed a severe fever and had difficulty sleeping, said he probably should not have played. Now, his decision to play is haunting him with every stride. If he were not Russian and a big boy with so much skill – Button would be praising him. Grigorenko is a victim of two types of racism.

An anti – Russian rant caused by the likes of Alexei Kovalev and an anti – big man image brought on by the likes of Mario Lemieux.

As most are aware – ignorance breeds racism. In Lemieux’s time, Mario also dealt with an anti- French sentiment amongst his peers. A double whammy which Mario rose above and conquered to become one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

Grigorenko should give Mario Lemieux a call…

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Top Ten Reasons the Devils will Win the Stanley Cup


L.A. Vs. the Devils of Joisey …

A Stanley Cup party nobody would have predicted back in October unless they were at a party also. A few drinks every minute? Really strange stuff can be heard!

Tomorrow night, Le puck she drop to start the 2012 Final series.

From coast to coast in Canada, the States and the one hockey fan with unbelievable running skills in Indonesia; everyone – it seems, has a prediction.

Devils in five, Kings in six – on and on it goes until the spouses call out ‘dinner is ready’!

There is no doubt between this writer and the hamster with the red, white and blue jersey running in my head; the Devils will win. Here now are the Top Ten reasons why …

10. Jonathan Quick’s penchant for bleached – out, Hollywood- type, B actresses; a distraction.

9. How can L.A. possibly score with all the basketballs Jack Nicholson tosses on the ice?

8. The members of the Phoenix Coyotes bought tickets directly behind the Kings’ bench and to say they are angry is a bit of an understatement.

7. Marcel Dionne’s excitement? A hindrance to the skate sharpening guys …

6. The Kings’ home jerseys were bleached in error. Somehow, the pinkish new ones with the Justin Bieber patches? Not as effective.

5. Wayne Gretzky is in town giving coaching advice …

4. Suddenly … without warning … The Kings realize where they are!

3. Hello? It’s 130 degrees in Los Angeles! That’s not hockey …!?

2. Martin Brodeur and all his freaky voodoo karma is in goals.

And the number one reason the Devils will win the Cup?

1. Marty McSorley is in charge of the Kings’ sticks!

Habs Getting it Right ( for a change )


Scott Mellanby? Never skated alongside Guy Lafleur …

Rick Dudley? Never partied at Pete Mahovolich’s parents’ home as a teammate. Mahovlich made the rounds. Dudley and the ‘Little M’ may have crossed paths and rum and cokes somewhere as acquaintances.

Marc Bergevin? Not even an entrance into the Canadiens’ storied dressing room. Three hockey playing men; three non – Habitants.

On the dreaded day in 1995, when former team president Ronald Corey appointed Steve Shutt, Yvan Cournyoyer, Mario Tremblay and Rejean Houle to run the Montreal Canadiens – things were never the same since.

Amid a rah – rah press conference, a ‘garbage goal’ skater, a ‘roadrunner’ and two lunch pail plumbers were expected to resurrect a franchise that did not require resurrecting.

Just two short years removed from a Stanley parade, Houle et al were called in to ‘save’ a squad which commenced the season a (tongue-in-cheek) horrendous 0- 4. This on the heels of the team missing the playoffs for the first time in twenty- five seasons. For Jaques Demers, the writing was on the wall even if he could not read it.

Houle, the G.M, and Tremblay – the coach; had no experience in either position. Still, the bleu, blanc et rouge blood which pumped through their veins; enough to instill victory to their former club. Add the inexperience of assistant coaches Cournyoyer and Shutt – the worse foursome at any golf tournament around the NHL.

That tenure set Le Club de Hockey Canadien further from a parade than an eighty – two year old man with no patience. Players came and went amid so much panic, it’s a wonder the fire alarm did not summon the emergency workers daily. Add the fiasco with Patrick Roy – the Habs were going downhill and quick …

Same old Song and Dance

In years since, the Habs have tried in vain to bring in fresh faces. Attempts have been made with the likes of Vigneault, Therrien, Julien and Jacques Martin. Upstairs – Andre Savard attempted a coup and had moderate success. The common denominator of all these hockey people? French Canadians and Hab fans from the past.

When this did not work, back to the familiar ‘ex – ‘Hab’ drawing room.

Gainey and Carbonneau were set to carry the club to victory. Two former captains of the Canadiens. A pair of defensive heroes. A pair of hockey minds.

Carbonneau and Gainey were on the right track. A first place finish in the Eastern Conference for the first time in twenty years. Then, something funny happened away from the old Forum. The team (corporation), realized millions could be made with a centennial celebration worthy of kings. Everyone could get rich, the organization would receive attention and a chance to display feathers like a hockey – playing peacock.

Along the way, the team was forgotten …

A kindergarten class requires a teacher. If not, paint will adorn the walls and the sandbox will smell awful funny. Gainey and Carbonneau’s crew lost without the Skipper. Somewhere, Carbonneau lost his way also and was dismissed by Gainey.

Enter a Gauthier with ties to the French. Enter a Martin with ties to the Gauthier. A repetition worthy of not repeating. Plus ca change … Plus c’est la meme chose!

A New Beginning

Serge Savard, a man wronged by Corey in 1995, was given a shot at redemption. New owner Molson, a virgin at hockey affairs… Serge or – ‘Le Senateur’, brainstormed with the boss. In Savard’s views, hockey first – language second. By hiring Bergevin to run the show – an English ‘sheep’ in French clothing. Savard is savvy. Savard knew ex- Quebec Premieres Parizeau and Bouchard attempted to rally the French away from Canada while sending their kids to the States to learn. In English.

By hiring Bergevin, a response to the French call of duty. By hiring Bergevin, an insight into the real hockey world – en Anglais.

Rick Dudley – an Englishman straight from Toronto. Scott Mellanby – an Englishman straight from the land of Halak. The new coach … ? Straight from the land of versatile knives.

For all intensive purposes, Hartley is English with enough French to order breakfast and not be laughed at in La Belle Province’s La Belle Province.

Bob Hartley never skated with Guy Lafleur either …

Petr Svoboda and the Pizza Man!


One hundred and fifty pounds soaken wet …

That was Petr Svoboda when he arrived in Montreal. A defected Czech. Not defective.

Thrown onto the ice and into play barely able to stand against a stiff wind; weight-wise. Teams around the league took advantage of his skinny – ness. They hit him. They hit him hard. Time after time, Svoboda got up and skated away. Boy could he skate …

A ballerina on ice if their ever was one. Beautiful to watch for a Habs fan – a nightmare for forecheckers with grit and weak skating skills. Svoboda would spin, Svoboda would seemingly skate on one foot and lay elegant crisp passes onto a streaking mate’s stick. Svoboda learned to read the play and avoid the hits.

Petr Svoboda was here to stay.

It was a Friday night. An evening commonly reserved for the Montreal Canadiens to charter a short trip to Buffalo, N.Y. If it was the end of the week with Saturday nearer than a snowflake to the tip of a tongue in a bitter snowstorm – the Habs, more times than not – in the land of Perreault’s old club.

On one particular Friday, a delivery was ordered to a house in the suburbs of Montreal. A wealthy area by the name of Kirkland, Qc.

The order? Two large pizzas. One all dressed – the other; pepperoni with extra cheese. The delivery driver recognized the name on the bill. It was the name of a Czech defenceman. One of two brothers raised by a certain Mr. And Mrs. Svoboda. Petr was hungry, the delivery guy had a Honda and the pizzas were hot!

Svoboda of the Canadiens, not brother Karel ( although later, the younger sibling would have a sip of the water bottle in the Montreal organization), had been injured for about a week. A bum knee, not a lower body injury as they call it today. The delivery guy knew of the rearguard’s misfortune. Svoboda unaware of the delivery guy’s fortune. Number twenty- five of the Habs was about to find out.

Steaming hot pizzas on the passenger seat, jokers in the right hand lane – the Mikes Pizza guy was on his way …

At that time, a thirty- minute guarantee was in effect. The delivery guy snoozes? The delivery guy and his boss loses. Simple. To the point pizza rules. Part guarantee, part excitement got the pizza employee at the house on time. The boxes containing Petr’s pizzas prim, proper and priced at twenty bucks a piece. ” Two twenty dollar bills for Mikes – a ten dollar tip for the bearer of good eats” thought the driver as he grabbed the meals and headed toward the home.

There were two Cherokee Jeeps in the driveway. ” His and hers?” Wondered the employee. He glanced at the size of the home. A beautiful mansion – like edifice smack dab in an area of Kirkland named Timberlea. Just like that – the tip augmented to twenty in the full time student’s mind.

He approached the door. He grabbed the knocker and knocked. What else is a knocker for?

Several minutes passed. The door opened. To the shock and satisfaction of the twenty- two year old, a beautiful blonde stood before him. ( No – it was not Petr Svoboda, not that there is anything wrong with that).

The driver fumbled his words. In the space of three minutes, he had come upon three knockers – two if a set is considered as one …

The Mikes’ employee had always heard about the beauty of Svoboda’s wife. The Internet was not mainstream, nor was the Swedish beauty that stood before him. A photo of the defenceman’s bride uncommon. She had blue eyes like the sea on a clear day. Framed elegantly with blonde bangs spun from gold. A fantasy in many a man’s dreams.

“Um … That’s forty dollars please!?” The driver awkwardly stated / asked.

“Sure thing ‘Hun’ …” Her words floating through the air like rose petals in a summer’s breeze. ” Darling … Could you bring me my purse please? ” The arc of her back turning to the delight of the delivery guy.

Already aroused, the driver was now excited! Petr Svoboda was on his way. An autograph, a stick – maybe even a photo was in store along with a hefty tip from the wealthy player. As a young man, he was in the company of a goddess and a hockey player – right now, his life was very good.

He heard footsteps as him and the blonde shared awkward glances and weak banter. As the footsteps drew near, a relief was felt for both. What does a model say to a delivery boy and how does a delivery boy say the right thing! His hands lowered in front of his crotch to hide the truth …

If he were not happy before, the present moment made him down right giddy. There, just feet in front of him, side by side with ‘the fantasy’, stood another Swedish babe with a purse in her silky hands. He had not been drinking. Of that he was sure. He was not seeing double – he was seeing double. Two statuesque women stood in front of him with golden smiles. He needed a drink – a double.

“Heaven is a nice place …” He thought quietly.

Anti- climatic Crime?

“How much is it?” One blonde asked the next.

“Forty …” Replied one blonde to the next.

“There’s a joke in here somewhere …” Thought the delivery boy.

The ‘new’ blonde reached into her purse. Following a brief discussion over the payment which contained words such as ‘ my turn’ and ‘ no way’ – the new blonde handed two twenty dollar bills to the delivery dude. He accepted them, placed the bills in his pocket and smiled.

Blondie and blondette smiled. He smiled back. They smiled some more and on it went for a few minutes. No words – just a lot of teeth.

The delivery guy was waiting for a tip. He was also waiting for a glimpse of Petr Svoboda. Neither Czech ( cheque ) appeared.

” Um …is Petr Svoboda here?” He asked. ” I am a big fan, I was wondering if I could get an autograph?”

Blondie one responded.

” He’s in Buffalo!” She exclaimed, knockers knocking with intermittent giggles. ” If you are a fan you should know that …!”

The delivery guy took an immediate disliking to the blonde – goddess or not …

Rather than explain his reasoning, the pizza guy turned and grabbed the door handle. He turned it slow, giving the utmost opportunity for a tip to be delivered. He shuffled through the door. The entire time – hoping for a gratuity from the two ladies.

There he stood outside. Door closed. No tip, no kiss, no fantastical ‘menage a tri – color’s wife’. Not now, not never.

To say the delivery guy was mad is an understatement. A rich hockey player’s wife did not put out! Nor did her and her friend put out. Svoboda himself was not here, he had a fifteen minute ride to the restaurant with gas money that was brief. He started to walk away from the door, the knocker and the knockers …

He came upon one of the Cherokees. His own car keys in his hand. He was angry and what happened next can be directly attributed to the non – Swedish tip.

He took his keys. Starting fom the front of the green Cherokee – he placed the tip of his ignition key upon the paint. He looked around to see if anyone was watching. The coast was clear.

Walking on a downward slope, the delivery guy placed pressure on the front side panel. Slowly adding strength as he walked; the pizza guy commenced putting a scratch on the Svoboda’s family car (one of). Satisfaction replaced surliness in the boy’s heart. Rationality replaced the criminality of his actions. He was, in his very own way – stealing from the rich and giving to the poor!

He was all right with that …

Why the New York Rangers won’t Win the Cup and Rick’s Stanley Cup Final Pick


At the beginning of the playoffs, a giant Stanley Cup was erected in Times Square.

Was it karma that beat New York or was it the relentless Devils? Perhaps – it is the same thing …

Martin Brodeur is near the end of his storied career. The forty year old net minder holds many records. One of which – the shutout record, will not be broken. At least it may not be. Up in the air, high above the skating rink in New Jersey,in the great gondola in the sky, the hockey gods are watching.

And they smile …

The last of a generation of great net minders, Brodeur has earned the karma that was once reserved for ghosts of the old Montreal Forum. Since les Habitants have shrugged their shoulders at their own ghosts by a) not retiring Lemaire and Lapointe’s numbers b) Waiting too long to retire Geoffrion’s and c) turning the sacred legacy of Richard’s team into a money – making machine; the phantoms have found someone to help.

A Montrealer to boot!

In game five against the Rangers, the Devils deserved to win but not the way they did. Has there ever been a display of such poor goaltending displayed this deep in the playoffs? Martin Brodeur was horrible. He stood instead of stooping, he flipped, flopped and flew. The decisions he made injected hope to a Ranger squad that were down and out. An empty net would have done a better job …

The Devils won in overtime after abandoning a three goal lead. They won because the hockey gods deem Brodeur worthy of a helping blocker. A free pass for his years of service. A spectral thank you note from all the dead players, referees, managers and players who made the game great.

That giant Stanley Cup in Times Square did not hurt …

The Finals

It has come to this.

Two teams standing. A pair of battle weary opponents. Rocky versus Apollo Creed.

The Devils are Rocky. The underdogs. The team with so much promise that never showed until recently. The Panthers were the frozen meat hanging in the freezer. The Flyers – Mick’s incessant yelling in the ear. The Rangers? Running up the steps with energy to spare …

Los Angeles is Apollo Creed. They did not start that way until the k.o’s came. Vancouver in the fifth round, really a tko. St.Louis in the fourth – a knockout if ever there was one. Pheonix the same.

Now the teams meet for the heavyweight title of the world. Lord Stanley’s coveted Cup.

On paper, in many people’s eyes, the Kings have won before the puck hits the ice. Another sweep of the playoff dance floor. Problem is the paper is old. Yesterday’s news. The Devils have crumpled it and placed it to the recycle bin. The lid is closed and a wait commences for tomorrow’s paper.

L.A. has the edge in goaltending. Quick quicker than the aged Brodeur. L.A. has tougher defenceman and more depth up front. The Kings have more grit and more experience outside of the crease.

The Devils have karma.

Yo Adrian – Devils in six games!

Dudley Do – Right?


If things go wrong, don’t go with them.  ~Roger Babson

Are there any better use of words when describing the Montreal Canadiens’ hiring of Rick Dudley?

Montreal G.M. Marc Bergevin announced the club has signed Dudley to be an assistant G.M. He joins Larry Carriere who the club has announced has returned in the same role ( Carriere was an assistant to Gauthier last season before joining Cunneyworth behind the bench.Another of Gauthier’s ‘make Cunneyworth look like crap’ moves ).

Dudley’s appointment should raise alarms amongst the Habs faithful for several reasons.

If the former hockey playing Sabre and Jet is an astute hockey man as everyone from Stan Bowman to Mats Naslund’s niece’s boyfriend is saying; why in the name of Jocelyn Lemieux has the guy held more jobs with so many organization’s in his post – playing career.

Dudley’s Alma maters?

Is he unlucky? Is he a pain to work with? Does he consistently forget the deodorant at his home each workday … ? Questions that a Canadiens fan should ask. Last season was a disaster in Montreal – what the team and city require is a hose to extinguish the flames. Not a ‘hoser’ to light more fires …

Chicago, Tampa, Florida, Atlanta and Toronto. More stops for Dudley in management positions than an eight year old on a road trip. The most alarming aspect of his actions? Aside from his stint in Chicago under the tutelage of Dale Tallon,there are no banners on his resume. No replica Stanley Cups on his constantly moving furniture.

In this age of transient players, it seems upper and lower management are now joining the gypsy – esque movement. Where is Doug Jarvis at the moment? Anyone aside from his Mom know?

Jarvis – Where are You?

The bright side of the Dudley signing is much better than the dark side. Instead of dwelling on his Toronto team tanking as near as three months ago, Dudley is joining a man who has had success with Dudley in the past. Boss Bergevin and Dudley worked together under Tallon in Chicago.

Judging by Tallon’s success in Florida following one season and his turnaround of a Chicago organization – the man may be voted ‘as the man mostly likely to be Sam Pollock’ by his peers. If indeed the man is so bright and Bergevin is a quick learner – the Habs’ future is bright.

Montrealers can attest to that.

Several people with names like Savard, Lemaire, Robinson, Gainey, Risebrough, Sather and many more – learned by watching Sam Pollock. They watched, they listened and won.

Let’s hope Dudley and Bergevin are good students …

Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes hardest to bear are those which will never happen.  ~James Russel Lowell

Grab a Seat, Sip from the Stanley Cup and Admire Guy Lafleur’s Ring!


Among the featured items in Lelands.com current auction is a seat from the Montreal Forum, the 1968 Stanley Cup trophy given to Montreal Canadiens’ legend Henri Richard and the 1979 Stanley Cup ring of Guy LaFleur.


The Seat

 
Oh, Canada! If few teams in sports history have had the success of the Montreal Canadiens, then even fewer venues were as revered – and as intimidating – as the old Montreal Forum. This seat comes from the home of 24 Stanley Cup Championships, it has a red wooden back, red cushioned seat and silver-painted metal supports. The seat has “31” painted in stencil, and individual stickers spell out “Forum de Montreal – 1924-1996 – number: 31 – row E – section 111” with the trademark team logo sticker on the top right. Each support features the metallic logo from the Forum’s final season, the seat shows use and has scratches, and the metal beneath the cushion has some rust. VG-EX condition. Comes with Certificate of Authenticity.

See photo here!

The Pocket Rocket’s Stanley Cup

No player in league history has won the Stanley Cup as often as the 11 times that the “Pocket Rocket” Henri Richard hoisted the sport’s championship prize. This item is a mini replica of the Cup awarded to the players from the championship team. This trophy is from the 1967-68 season, when Montreal swept the St. Louis Blues four games to none, and features 26 names nicely engraved in two columns. This 13″ high trophy stands in excellent condition besides light age tarnishing and has the original green felt on the base. It comes with a Letter of Authenticity signed by Richard himself, and this stellar collectible is in EX-MT condition.

See photo here!

Lafleur’s Championship Ring

The Montreal Canadians have established themselves as one of the winningest professional sports franchises of all time. Guy Lafleur had his place in the annals of the “Flying Frenchmen” and this ring is in celebration of his team’s 1979 Stanley Cup Championship. While this is a replacement that Lafleur had made, it is in fact identical to the original. It sports real diamonds on top surrounding the image of the cup along with their championship years “76, 77, 78, 79,” and is stamped by Jostens inside. The left shank of the size 12 ring has the name “Lafleur” over the Habs logo and “Club de Hockey Canadien.” On the right is the year “1979” above the words “NHL Champions.” 10 Karat gold and NRMT condition. Comes with a letter of authenticity signed by Guy Lafleur.

See photo here!

Molson in Meetings – Roy Out?


Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or something like that …

According to a source, Montreal Canadiens’ owner Geoff Molson has spent almost the entire past two weeks behind closed doors.

High – security type stuff.

One man is conspicuous with his absence. That man’s name is Patrick Roy.

According to someone whose job allows a view of such comings and goings …Roy of Rempart fame has visited the least amount of times compared to other coaching camdidates. What does that mean?

Depending on a person’s passion, rational thinking and the amount of beers digested after dinner – Roy’s resting in Ste. Foy could dIctate a number of possibilities …

Molson and newly- appointed G.M. Bergevin, may have hired their coach a while ago. These ‘cloak and hockey stick’ meetings – an opportunity to solve different issues. Small matters such as what train to place Scott Gomez on, how to keep Grigorenko away from future KHL visitors and Carey Price far as possible from buckin’ broncos …

For argument’s sake, if Patrick or anyone else has been hired as the Habs’ new leader; why allow a distraction when important issues such as draft day approaches. Especially if their man is Roy. The phone would be ringing more often in Molson and Bergevin’s office than a pleasant pizza joint with a half- priced pepperoni pizza on sale.

Who needs that when Rene Bourque is AWOL and Tomas Kaberle added an offspring to the world who just may grow into another … well, Kaberle!

L’absence de Roy could also imply the team is still looking for the perfect candidate to raise the team to new heights. Although, no candidates have passed before Molson in person for at least a week.

Could Bergevin and Molson be smarter than your average Belarusian brother? Are they speaking to their new coach via Skype? Plotting strategy and making a draft plan to suit the new bosses’ needs … ?

Given the Montreal Canadiens’ recent success with a ‘tight- lipped’ mentality, a fan of the team can only hope for one thing;

Silence is golden …

Ovechkin to Montreal? Got a Light … ?


Everybody needs a pal in the sandbox. Montreal Canadiens’ star defenceman Andrei Markov – is no different …

Sure fellow countryman Alexei Emelin provides Markov with a comrade in chatter as opposed to arms. Sure Markov has been in Montreal long enough to feel at ease at Le Centre Bell. A talented polar opposite? Entirely something else …

“I think it’s possible (he gets traded),” one former NHL coach told the Edmonton Journal. “I think it would have to be a New York or maybe even a Montreal with the owner (Geoff Molson) there.”

Markov and Ovechkin are friends.

Close enough that the Capitals’ money- making forward almost turned into La Belle Province in lieu of Obamatown when he was looking for a new contract in 2008.

Ovie and Markov – Comrades in Montreal

Every time the Caps and Habs get together to play a little game called hockey, the press is forced to hang around a half hour while Alexander and Andrei trade tales. Catch – up first, cross- checks second …

Does the idea of Washington’s number one attraction leaving for the not- so- safe confines of Le Centre Bell make sense? конечно!

Here is why …

The Montreal Canadiens desperately require a superstar. Not a goalie- in-waiting- to- hit- their- prime type as they already have with Price. They require someone who can carry the torch, which – at the moment, lay somewhere between Thurso, Qc. and Jean Beliveau’s recently vacated hospital bed. Somewhere around Ste. Foy.

They need someone who will burn the bottom of the banners with it as they score goals with fire in their eyes. Passion in their strides and desire in their souls. Ingredients which Ovechkin has lost in previous years. Ingredients which can be found in the city of Montreal’s diversified cultural community. A city recognizable to not only Ovechkin – the love of his life as well …

The cold war is over.

Russia and the United States of America can bowl together without knocking down any political pins. In reality – a Russian alley is not an American one or vice- versa. When Ovechkin is not sporting his tinted visor and leaping into panes of hockey arena glass; he likes to feel comfortable.

In the arms of his Russian- born girlfriend is one place for a piece of his mind and a place for pieces of something else. Hanging with his Russian buddies is another heart- warming experience. All this with the backdrop of a Maryland Wall Mart haunting his psyche? No wonder the King is almost dead in The Verizon Center…

Montreal has WallMarts. Montreal has been eaten slowly over the years by America’s influential appetite. Montreal has something Washington cannot provide to the Russian superstar. Hockey passion, cold weather and Markov. Take that Wallmart – ians!

Ovechkin is rich, Ovechkin is dying …

A move to Montreal in exchange for anyone but Price, P.K., Markov and Pacioretty will revitalize two careers. Markov’s recovering knee will get an added boost and Alexander the Great’s soul will soar once more.

If Habs’ owner Molson and new G.M. Bergevin play their cards right in the upcoming draft, a young Russian will join the club. If Ovechkin departs – three generations of Russian talent will provide a hockey menage a trois. A wise, offensive- minded Markov placing the puck on the sticks of Ovechkin and a rookie named Grigorenko.

Add Radulov from Nashville and Montreal suddenly has an entire line or – at the very least, a potentially potent power play.

Need someone with passion to understand and guide Ovie’s game to the offensive heights that disappeared?

How about Grigorenko and Radulov’s old coach Patrick Roy?
He currently holds the torch in Ste. Foy and would probably be glad to pass it on …

Twenty years a little too long.

Kings – Coyotes; Die Another Day


Just over the halfway point of the second period in game four of the western conference finals – something happened.

A pivotal point in the Coyotes’ claim to stay alive.

Down 3-0 in games, captain Coyote himself hit the goal post. A ‘ding’ to his teammates’ hearts. If it was a goal – a confidence builder for his despondent mates. A three – quarter turn of the winning screw.

But wait

The team in Toronto had other ideas.

When an official is uncertain of small matters such as goals, their decision is passed on to the ‘men upstairs’. The dudes with devices that record plays. If and when the ‘boys of les buts’ witness a puck crossing the line – that message is parlayed to the penalty box.

No purgatory allowed. In this case, Shayne Doan had indeed scored. Placing the three hundred pound gorilla off the backs of the Coyotes. A heavy burden for desert dogs to tote in Tinseltown …

Up by two goals – Phoenix players start skating a little stronger with lightness in their strides. Passes suddenly seem easier than before. They are still behind the ‘eight puck’, yet for this game, the next thirty minutes – in their minds they are not.

Smiles replace grimaces on the visiting bench. Heads higher than they were before. Just like that, they believe once more …

All the dreams of winning the second oldest trophy in professional sports come flooding back. A glimpse of what the future could hold on the tip of their battered sticks. The nightmare of the past week; forgotten like a kiss in kindergarten.

L.A ‘s destiny in this game …? Up to their coach. Twenty minutes of motivation of the gentler kind. The Kings know they are close and at the same time – so far. Take away the past and forget the future. It is one game and the dynamics do not keep track beyond sixty minutes.

If they open up, Marcel Dionne’s old team risks the two-on- ones and the odd- man rushes of history. Play it safe? Three goals are not that easy against a cautionary Coyote defense. Not simple against Smith.

Penalties become an perplexing issue. Take one to save a goal, take one and you may be opening more than the penalty box door. The Kings cannot afford Coyote courtesy. They cannot allow a third goal while they are short by a pair. A return to Phoenix, no skate in the rink. No guarantees …

A bench is shortened in the regular season by the visitors – a bench is elongated by necessity in the playoffs. Each player, face drawn behind the surly beards with exhaustion. Each player’s loved ones, face drawn with exhaustion.

The Coyotes were kicked and left by a California highway to die. They picked themselves up and carried on. Now, they return to Phoenix to look for what every abused animal seeks; love.

And for something to happen once more …

Rangers Win! So what …?


The Rangers took a 2 – 1 series lead against the Devils this afternoon in New Jersey with a 3 – 0 victory. By no means does this mean anything in the big scheme of things …

The Eastern Conference is a tight place. Every team is almost the same as every other team. How do we know this? Look no further than the number of game sevens in the East compared to the West. Just look at the Kings …

Their opponents, les Coyotes de Phoenix – skated into the series filled with visions of ‘Brodeur’ as opposed to grandeur. The Predators, slapped away like the tiny mosquitoes they became in the last series. Did anyone think the series between Phoenix and L.A. would be easy? Raise your hand if you are lying by saying yes.

For that matter, did anyone truly believe the Kings would run over the Canucks like a tank over a squirrel? Once more, to the corner with your back against the wall if your answer is affirmative.

The West has been weird. The East? Weird but understandable. Seven games to dispatch Boston, Florida and Washington …? The norm in Norm Ullman’s original Western cousin’s conference.

The Rangers and Devils will go the distance. The Kings and Coyotes? Not so much as the dessert dawgs will be peering into other dunes aside from East L.A. to discover their winning bones. The East is tougher and the West will rest as they await their Stanley Cup final opponents.

‘C’est la vie’ and you never can tell what puck- shaped chocolates you may find …

Unless you are a fan of the Kings. This year

Stanley – Fit for a King?


`All good things come to those who wait … `

At least it is supposed  to be that way. For the Los Angeles Kings – it appears the wait may be over.

Forty – five seasons have passed since the team entered the league.  Four decades … count èm! So many great players have come and gone from L.A. without winning a cup, it seems improbable.

Charlie Simmer, Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor – a trio that was named the triple crown line; never had a dinner at Lord Stanley`s table.  No sippin`from the silver for these guys and – in the case of Dionne, a sad ending for the NHL`s second highest scorer ( at that time ). That was, of course, until a guy named Gretzky skated along and set the record books on fire. In turn – sending Dionne to third place as the league`s highest scorer ( Gordie Howe second ).

Two guys. A pair of skaters that had more in common than scaring goalies. A duo who donned the jersey of the L.A. hockey team.

Dionne skated almost invisibly in the city of Angels. If not for his scoring prowess and that of his linemates – most of the hockey world would never have heard of this guy. Gretzky, was the opposite. Everyone had heard the name Gretzky and the city of Los Angeles was anonymous in the hockey world.

Suddenly, people in L.A were not just attending hockey games in the city after Wayne was dealt there – they were breathing it!

Stars became literally `stars on ice `! Kids were on the streets and playing street hockey in the hot summer sun. It was cool to be a King and a King was cool.

Dionne did what he could to put L.A. on the map of kids`bedrooms walls in Chicago and Toronto. He won scoring titles at a time when a certain Guy, as in Lafleur – was not just scoring, winning Stanley Cups as well. It is documented, over the years, Dionne had opportunities to leave his adopted city and play in hockey markets. Citing his love for the city and loyalty – Dionne never budged.

Now that the 2012 edition of the Kings are one win away from advancing to the finals for the second time in their history – a phone call must be made … A very `quick`phone call …

” Hello Marcel? This is Jonathan Quick … Can you please call Mr. Simmer and Mr. Taylor?”

” Sure kid – why? What`s up?” Answers Dionne.

“Well sir … there is going to be a Stanley Cup celebration and Mr. Gretzky told us that the three of you deserve to be here! More than him …!”

” I see … Sounds good kid! When do we come? ”

” It`s hard to say sir …  in my gut – I believe we have five games left!”

” Okay see you there … oh and Quick …?”

” Yes sir …?”

” Call up Wayne and tell him to join us …!”

“Sure thing Mr. Dionne …sure thing …!”

Top Ten Ingredients for a Stanley Cup Winning Team


What does it take?

What does a team require to win the Stanley Cup?

Defence, offence and great goaltending will allow a bunch of guys to carry a shiny, silver chalice to their home towns. Glory and benefits …

The single dudes? Put it this way … a Cup in hand saves nine lines …!

Married with a few kids in the back of the SUV? The Cup a place to store the kids. A crib annotated with signatures from past victories.

What most people do not know – there are a few intangibles that every team that has toted Lord Stanley’s Cup high above their shoulders has owned.

Here are the Top Ten Ingredients for a Stanley Cup Winning Team …

10. Red Bull in the water bottles.

9. Satin – lined jockstraps to make the ‘in-between’ shift moments that much more pleasurable.

8. Earphones with Scotty Bowman subliminal messages pumped every period.

7. A dart board with Alan Eagleson‘s photo on the dressing room wall.

6. Skates equipped with staples on the toe.

5. A goaltender who has never heard of the Philadelphia Flyers.

4. T- Shirts imprinted with Maurice Richard‘s eyes …

3. Free foil!

2. Eleven pictures of the Pocket Rocket ironed on the inside of every jersey.

and the number one ingredient?

1. A  fabric softener that not only leave clothes soft and comfortable –  a fresh and lasting fragrance as well …!

Puttin’ on the Foil! Want some …?

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Hey! Blockhead…!


Suddenly, everyone is upset with the New York Rangers.

Why? Is the entire team wearing John Tortorella masks and scaring kids in the playground? Not quite. What the team is doing is blocking shots.

We already have goaltenders, we don’t need six. – Bobby Holik

Holik played for the New Jersey Devils – a team that was credited with ruining hockey as the entire on – ice squad would collapse to their zone. Their style was called a trap and helped the Devils win Stanley Cups.

New York is collapsing everyone in front of their net and the entire team appears to be blocking shots. According to Scotty Bowman, the winningest coach in NHL history; all this started with Roger Nielsen when Nielsen was coaching the Leafs.

” He ( Roger ) realized with guys like Lapointe, Robinson and  Savard on our points, if you covered them – they just passed quickly to our talented forwards. So, he left the points open and put all his forwards below. His goalie only had to concentrate on the shot from the point. ”

Holik concurs with Bowman that it was  not Lemaire`s nor the Devils`fault.

“The so called Dead Puck Era was not caused by the New Jersey Devils winning three Stanley Cups in eight years. It was caused by rapid expansion, diluting the talent pool, and the league’s refusal at that time to enforce rules already on the books.”

Strong words from a guy who should know. “We are in a different era now and it’s time to focus on today’s game and how to make it better. If you think everybody blocking shots, collapsing around net (creating a force field) and eliminating most scoring chances is the proper approach then you are winning.”

Holik`s words should be heeded by Montreal fans, the Montreal media and the Canadiens` management.  In 2010, a certain Jacques Martin coached the Habs deep into the playoffs. Two rounds following victories over Pittsburgh and Washington.

In those series, lead by former Hab defenceman Hal Gill – Montreal blocked more shots than any other team. Guys that would never put thier bodies in front of blistering slapshots, doing it at alarming rates. It worked …

Les Canadiens advanced to the Conference finals and were felled by their lack of sniping. Beat by Bobrovski – the worst shot blocker in the league.

As the Rangers block their way to a possible Stanley Cup, a Montreal Canadien fan should remember it was Martin who coached the Habs – not Cunneyworth nor anyone else.

It could have been Tortorella …

Why wasn`t everyone upset with the Canadiens?


Coyote Pretty …


Want to impress a girl in Montreal?

Pick her up and take her to dinner. Gas plus a decent meal? $50.00 minimum.

Want to really impress her? Take her to a Habs game before the second week of the season while the team is still in the playoff hunt.

Ticket prices? $200.00 for a pair of Not-so-prime. Minimum…

Thirsty? Beer?

$10.00 each and depending on the weight of your date … $100.00 to have a chance of switching sports and hitting second base later in the evening.

Wait … ! Food is good to demonstrate you are up on nutrition. How’s about a nice salad for her pretty palate? That’s another $8.00 and $16.00 if you don’t want to steal from her.

So. How is the debit card holding up? Need to mortgage your mansion by now?

The total is $116.00 and the players, don’t forget, appear like tiny mice from atop the CN Tower. This price does not include parking, programs, souvenirs and tips. Add the minimum to the $116.00 – an additional $350.00 to fornicate is not bad. After all, a high priced hooker kills an hour of your time. A hockey game, sixty minutes dragged into a three hour affair.

Condoms? The best deal of the night. Free from an ugly friend or two dollars from an ugly depanneur clerk. Away you go …

Another $10.00 in gas for the ride home. Total = $612.00

The solution?

A playoff ticket in Phoenix is $59.00 U.S. Your date in Arizona will pay the rest.

You are Canadian …

Dale Hunter Resigns – Great for Hockey!


Dale Hunter stepped aside as coach of the Washington Capitals.

The reason? Egos and politics …

Hockey – Too Political?

Dale Hunter as a player did not enjoy B.S.

To discover this – YouTube his hit on Pierre Turgeon. A horrible after-the-fact body check from the former Capitals’ player. Turgeon scored the winning goal and moments later, Hunter almost killed the Islanders’ sniper.

Why?

Because Turgeon was a sissy. A prima Donna. A man whose nickname was ‘tinman’ – a monicker given because of Turgeon’s lack of heart.
If there is one thing guys like Hunter do not enjoy, lack of heart is it.

When Hunter separated Turgeon’s shoulder and received a 21 game suspension, the Petrolia,Ont native saw red. Not only did Turgeon score against his team, in Hunter’s mind – Pierre scored against Hunter’s manhood. Anyone aside from Turgeon, anyone who carried a big stick and did not walk softly – would have scored and skated into victory. If a man scored, in Hunter’s view of things, all is good. If ‘Wendy’ tallied a marker … Into the boards and hospital she must go.

The Washington Capitals have a few Wendys. Far too many players do their ballerina act on the ice. The ones who bring grit on the ice – act like Wendy off the ice. Does Hunter need or want this?

As coach and co – owner of the London Knights, Hunter can form players into mini – me’s. Little Hunter- esque clones that may one day clobber little Turgeons. Something that is in his hands, something he may control.

The NHL, with it’s celebrity hockey stars, stratosphere contracts and me generation mentality – is not Dale Hunter’s Father’s league.

Hunter’s blood pressure must have rocketed to Ovech – kian heights behind the Caps bench. He could not bodycheck his players and he could not take the ice and body check the Rangers or the Bruins.

It is better for Hunter to return to junior hockey. The players can be formed and taught to be tough. Hunter was a great player and although prone to questionable decisions – a tough customer with heart …

In the NHL there are too many egos and politics. There are too many discrepancies with the officiating.

There are too many Turgeons …

Why the New York Rangers Won’t Win the Cup and Rick’s Picks – Round Three


Hockey is a funny game …

Just clear the track and ask Eddie Shack !

The first two rounds ended in surprising results.

  1. The Flyers and Pens scored more goals in one series than any two teams in the history of the NHL ( not counting the late 80’s and early 90’s Oilers  – combined with their one – ice goals and all the scoring they did off the ice ). By the time the Flyers did not get to Phoenix, the Philadelphia bunch were simply too exhausted to take on the Devils of Jersey. Add the ‘ Bill Clement curse ‘; the Flyers are home and the Devils are about to attempt a spell- casting on their cross – river rivals.
  2. The Caps did everyone in Montreal a favour and eliminated the Big, the bad and the ugly Bruins. The momentum from that series carried the team to a seven game defeat against the Rangers. A series decided by one goal in another game seven for both squads. A series that could have bounced either way.  The  New York team was surprised by the surging Senators and stuck to their game plan which now has allowed the team to ‘ squeak by’ two rounds.
  3. Le west is wild! No doubt about it as the eight seeded Kings have now upset the number one and two seeds. St.Louis was bit by the inexperience bug as well as the injury bug. Not having Halak to bail out Elliot – a blow to to the Blues chances. On the other side of the western coin, the Coyotes are doing their part to sell the team in Phoenix. Dumping the Hawks , then the Predators – a ‘Roadrunner’ feather in the Coyotes’ caps.

Rick’s picks after two rounds … Two wins – ten losses – zero ties ( wink, wink). On the bright side – I did not bet any money …

Round Three Picks

Devils – Rangers

                  Tough one. Boring but tough. Two teams – same system. A Caps – Rangers repeat. The exception? Goaltending. Will Brodeur’s age catch up to him or will his age help him. This should be the deciding factor along with the Rangers ability to corral Kovalchuk. The Devils have a better offence than people think and the Rangers have Lundqvist.  Devils in Seven

Kings – Coyotes

Quick and Smith… Sounds like a type of gun eh?  These teams are both in surprise mode and surprise  mode is relentless. No time to think as the two improbable teams are on a roll. The Kings are more rounded and if a goalie was to be chosen from the two … Quick is the pick. Shane Doan is on overdrive for the Coyotes. Problem is everyone is on overdrive for the Kings. The Montreal Canadiens of 1986 were on a roll and they won. Coyotes in six.

P.S   Kid Mercury put the hex on the Rangers !


 

Game On!


It has come down to this …

Winner takes all. For the loser – well, there really is no cryin`in baseball or hockey … 

The Capitals and the Rangers – two teams that may as well play against a mirror. The Caps, once upon a Halak were not like this. They were the wannabe Oilers of the 2000`s. A high – powered,  Ovechkin – led, scoring team capable of handing a team a big loss. Then – something changed.

They lost when it counted most. They peetered instead of puttering. They zigged instead of `’Jagr – ing’. Their goalies suffering at times, the curse of Pelle Lindbergh

Hello Dale Hunter – bye bye Boudreau.

Who would have thunk, a guy who was known for his fists rather than his Freudian mind would have taken a Washington team to the brink of the final four.  Hockey`s Conference finals …

The Caps bought in to the system, Hunter did not balk at Ovechkin`s stance. Alex and guys like Green and Semin, must have realized the Cup waits for noone and it certainly would not wait for them. Then there was Holtby

Would the Caps have ventured further than a boy on a first date without the heroics of their rookie netminder? Probably not. They would have died quicker than a fish out of water. Hunter`s system screams patience and for it to work, key saves need to be made.

No different than the Ranger team.

Talkin“bout the Boys from New York City

Defence -first, non- selfish play is what any team requires to make the dancefloor and compete for the pretty girl. In this case – the Stanley Cup.

Love him or hate him, Torterella convinced the Rangers of this fact before most other teams this year. The Rangers were playing the system before the system played teams like the Flyers and Canucks.

Lundqvist is being staunchy, Callahan is leading as a captain should and Ryan McDonagh is making Gainey queasy with his play. Who will win tonight and look for what is behind curtain number three?

The team who allows the least amount of goals …

It all comes down to that …


I need to know who is in coming – either the 28th of May or June 5th.

Rick Keene ' s Le Forum de Montreal

I want to thank everyone who reads my site and for making my endeavor to get hired somewhere, as pleasant and rewarding as possible.

To thank people, I would like to organize a hockey get together for the first game of the finals. Beer, food and my sense of humor – what could possibly go wrong?

For this to happen, I require at least 15 people to commit in the next week. If such an evening of pucks is close to your hockey heart; please leave me a message in my email. The National Hockey League has set start dates for the Stanley Cup Final.

If both conference finals end in sweeps, the Cup Finals will begin Thursday, May 28. If either series is extended past four games, the Cup Finals will start Friday, June 5.

If you would like to donate something as a prize or you have an…

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A Fly on the Wall …


The setting – a cozy den…

An elderly yet youthful man sits in a chair and thinks for a moment. Hockey souvenirs adorn the dim lit ambiance, creating a sparkling effect  as the light caroms off of gold and silver picture frames. 

The light also reflects off the balding man’s head as he gazes at the phone that lay just beyond his Stanley Cup – ringed fingers. The plush green chair on which he sits – providing comfort in an otherwise uncomfortable situation. He reaches for the phone and presses the digit one. Automatically – numbers are dialled. The man waits as the ringing commences.

It is 10:30 pm on a Wednesday evening …

“Hello … ? ” The voice responds curiously on the other end.

“Larry … ? It’s Coco … !” Says the man as he stands and starts to pace.

” Jacques? Is everything okay?” At which point a ladies’ voice can be heard in the background of the recipient’s home.  “It’s just Jacques – Jacques Lemaire … go back to sleep honey.”

” I hope I am not disturbing you?” Says Lemaire in a quiet tone.

” No – no problem Jacques. What’s up?” Asks Larry Robinson curiously.

” Larry, I was thinking of taking the head coaching job in Montreal. I would want you to join me as my assistant.”

For a few moments there is silence …

” Seriously Jacques …? ” I thought you did not like working in the fishbowl that is Montreal? Why the change of heart?”

“Well Larry – the situation in Montreal is bad. It pains my heart to see the organization that meant so much to me and millions of others suffering so much. I mean, you and I and guys like Kenny and Serge helped build a legacy. In the past few years – it has become a joke. Now that the Molson family is back and they hired Marc as the G.M – I believe we can win fairly quick with this team.”

Once again – there is silence. It is obvious to Lemaire, Robinson is thinking seriously.

” I agree Jacques …it hurts me too. But remember, Bob went back for the same reasons. He went back and turned that team into a playoff team and look what happened? The pressures and the insane media turned him into a different person. Suddenly, he was making all these poor decisions …?”

“Don’t forget Larry.. ” Lemaire pauses to cough. ” Bob had to deal with the craziness of the centennial celebrations, players like Kovalev and Komasarek and most importantly – the death of his daughter; Laura. Don’t forget, Bob gave the reins to Gauthier when he took care of the funeral and it was Gauthier who did not like McDonagh. Bob would never have thrown Ryan into the mix.”

” I realize that Jacques. What about the way the organization treated us …? ” Robinson excuses himself and takes a sip of something. ” They knew it meant a lot to me for my Dad to see my sweater number retired …! They could have done it while he was alive. I mean it’s not that they were not going to do it …?”

” Yes I know Larry. That was not nice on their behalf. C’mon let bygones be bygones – you can work with a great young core of defence men in Montreal. You can turn P.K into a Norris trophy winner for God’s sake!” Lemaire voice gets excited. ” They have a great first line with Cole, Pacioretty and Desharnais. Gionta is a great leader, Eller will be great and they have a number three pick in the draft! Add this to guys like Leblanc and White …White Larry …? You gotta love the kid’s spunk! He’s another Knuckles? Larry – we can do this!”

” Jacques …Jacques …calm down for a second.” Robinson says firmly.

” You are right Larry. Sorry – this team excites me with the possibilities!” Lemaire’s voice remains enthusiastic.

” Jacques. Do you realize the Montreal Canadiens retired Patrick’s number?

” Of course I do Larry – don’t be silly! Who doesn’t? ” Lemaire chuckles.

” Jacques, in your career you amassed 835 points in 853 games. You won eight Stanley Cups with the team. You are one of only six NHL players in history to score two Cup winning goals. You have won two Jack Adams trophies as coach of the year along with another Cup. Heck you won a Gold Medal in the Olympics as coach and for God’s sake Jacques – you even have an arena named in your honour in Lasalle?!” Robinson is obviously agitated.

” Um … thanks for the recap Larry!” Lemaire laughs. ” What’s your point?”

” Don’t you think the Montreal Canadiens should retire your number first?”

” Good point Larry …good point! Goodnight and thank you!”

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