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They Tore Down Paradise and Put up a Parking Lot …


No more plaques, no more statues, no more teachers’ dirty looks …

The profs in question will be shoving their disconnected looks the Habs ‘ way instead.

For a franchise whose image lies somewhere between Jeffrey Dahlmer and Mario Tremblay, the announcement of the team tearing down Centennial Plaza in lieu of a condo project is suspect. Sketchy …

Not only are ‘ the corporate Habs ‘ ripping up a celestial cemetery, the accountants are subtracting the hearts of the many fans who aided in the construction of the plaza – brick by brick …

According to Molson – the bricks, bought by fans with personalized messages to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the
team’s final Cup win … ( digress shall we ), will unequivocally be placed in storage until further notice.

Was there a disclaimer involved in the sales receipt when the partisans parted with their pennies to purchase pieces of the plaza? A note stating the bits of nostalgia written from the souls of people from Gaspe to Chilliwack can be moved by the Club de Hockey Canadien …?

If yes – cool!

If the response is no, nada – ‘watcha talkin’ bout Willis?’ – then, in the words of the disco band Shirley and Co.; ‘Shame, shame, shame – shame on you! ‘

Well – watcha goin’ to do?!

The Canadiens used to be the hockey equivalent of ‘ Hey Jude ‘ , ‘Stairway to Heaven‘ or ‘ Satisfaction’. Publicly anyways.
In the days of the typewriter, before the internet made porn a cause for divorce – all the seedy and suspect business or hockey decisions were kept in secrecy.

Guys like Red Fisher were the sole bearers of bad Habs’ moves. More times than not – the news was kept behind closed penalty box doors. If guys like Mr. Fisher wanted access to the team, anything out of the ordinary was kept out of the ordinary press if Fisher wanted to keep his privaleges privileged.

Times have changed. Soooo much!

Loyalty,tradition and honor has been jettisoned from the ship of society so often, the ship sails on filled with greed as the captain and inconsiderate as the first mate.

The majority of the men whose numbers hang from the targets of so much love and adoration at Le Centre Bell, skated a different ice surface. A mirrored canvas, a reflection of a different time. They painted historic statistics with paint brushes filled with the true colors of red, white and blue.

Not the dollar store purchased acrylic colors which the modern – day team has utilized far too often in the past ten years.

The University of Montreal Hockey, the glory and the tradition of the franchise appears to have closed.

School’s out. Forever …

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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?


Savard as Vice President of Hockey Operations ? Grooming Roy ?


If a report from Radio – Canada is true , Serge Savard will be named as Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Montreal Canadiens.

If indeed this is correct – does that mean Patrick Roy is ‘ close but no cigar ‘ away from being a G. M in the National Hockey League ? More specifically – the Montreal Canadiens’ G.M ?

Welcome to the Twilight Zone … Otherwise known as day-to-day life in the soap opera that is Montreal hockey …

Submitted for your approval ;

– Serge Savard is too old to travel from city to city as most G.M ‘s do. As a G.M in training – Roy can coach the team and fill Savard’s worn – out shoes away from the Bell Center. Savard can accompany the squad when he chooses so . The rest of the time , Serge can smoke his cigars a la Glen Sather and ( a la Glen Sather ) trade the Scott Gomez‘ of the world away while seated in his guilded office on La Gauchetiere.

– When and if Saint Patrick decides to have a tantrum , his actions will not lead to a Price or Pacioretty being dispatched to Colorado. M. Savard and his around- the- block wisdom will pause the problem and parlay the solution for Roy’s future use. Savard a mentor to the maniacal.

Of course , this being the Twilight Zone and all – Savard has denied the report and Roy has dispelled rumors of an up – coming appointment as coach.

Two negatives make a positive … ?

Damphousse Out

Former Hab Vincent Damphousse has removed his name from the back of the vacant G.M ‘s sweater and Serge Savard was disappointed. A troubling turn of events ? A sign of a Savardian slip in his old age ?

Damphousse may be intelligent as all signs are indicative of such . To be named as G.M of the Habs in another place , another time – bet the house on it. Right now , after one of the most disastrous seasons since Malakhov went skiing on a bum knee ? Not a good idea for several reasons.

– Damphousse is in the middle of an upcoming domestic violence court case with his ex – wife.

– His experience in the NHLPA should not give him the key to the executive bathroom at the Bell Center.

– He sits with Mario Tremblay on RDS . Given how the Canadiens ‘ image has taken such a blow recently , the last thing the team needs is any reason for skeptics to be skeptics.

Damphousse has far too much baggage. A carry – on bag is enough for the new G.M . My cousin Vinnie should look on from the outside as a media guy right now or – if serious about his future aspirations , drop – out from the media . Kudos to Damphousse for withdrawing his name . Anti – kudos to Molson and Savard for considering it .

Not the best time for Damphousse

Let us hope , the Habs have not committed a foul by appointing Savard as the VP , if that be the case. In a way – Savard’s appointment may limit the number of candidates for G.M .

Some men want to be the boss – period. With Savard as V.P , it makes the former Hab defenceman the boss of all bosses. The new G.M will have an asterix next to his decisions. In all his memos regarding trades – it will have to read ;

Submitted for your approval …

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And Then There was One …


Wow … !

What a season it has been …

Starting in the pre – season , things did not appear happy in Hab – land. A losing record to start the season to go along with a losing record as the season progressed.

Assistant coaches let go , head coaches fired and newly – appointed coaches dismissed before they started to coach . A veteran presence traded for a veteran potato head and a diva dismissed to a vacant hotel – during the course of a game , no less.

A pre – deadline deal sending a giant for a bloodline by the name of Geoffrion. A Russian exodus to a Stanley Cup contender in return for a return to sender. For the love of Mary – has anyone checked on the health of Youppi … ? Following the death of Gary Carter , the poor mascot must be suffering from the shakes …

It has been – that type of year .

Oh and …

All this with Andrei Markov and his missing knee. At one point , the Habs’ doctors , the Habs’ brass and the Habs themselves knew not where their defenceman was … Let us give the Russian the benefit of the doubt here . With all the pollution that circled the club like a Toronto Maple Leaf cloud – Andrei got going while the going was bad ! ?

An AWOL amongst the AWOL …

The Last Supper

On Saturday , April 7 – 2012 – the Montreal Canadiens will play the final game of their season. A game which finds their opponents , the Maple Leafs , above them in the standings. Not that this says much of the Toronto team as they held a playoff spot not that long ago. Think of the Boston Red Sox of last season , add a few skates and less pine tar – voila … ! I give you the bunch that Brian Burke broke …

Les Canadiens are better off than a Leaf team that arrives limping into town. Montreal has better goaltending , better defence and … um … how about those Cubs ?

In reality , Montreal and Toronto are in different sorts of messes . The Habs need secondary  scoring and the Leafs need some people to stop the opposition’s secondary line from scoring. Heck – the Leafs require someone to stop the opposition’s water boy from scoring !

As the puck drops , visions of top picks in the lottery will be dancing in the eyes of Brian Burke and ( insert name here ). The draft lottery is on Tuesday . Unless a miracle ensues and the Montreal consortium of Savard / Molson hires a fit G.M before – all indications point to a Savardian – spin on things as the season ebbs into spring.

Brian Burke should be looking for goaltending as James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson have proven the team would be better off with a one – legged and in turn , a one – padded goalie protecting the Toronto twine. Then again – it is Brian Burke. Only the blue and white hamster that rides the wheel inside of Burke’s head is aware of how the man thinks  ( or doesn’t ).

The tandem of Savard and Molson , on the other skate – should be looking at a forward. Forget the past and a collection of first round defencemen that would make Doug Harvey proud. If Bobby Orr‘s second cousin is available , great ! Pass him by boys and let Burke bring him on a boat ride on Lake Ontario to sign him. Twenty years of defensive picks in Montreal have proven that Stanley is fed up ! Stanley adored Lafleur – not Komisarek !

The Leafs and the Habs will be skating on  a Saturday soiree for the final time this season.

The next time we see the two teams compete against one another – it will be different . A guy with the name of Yakupov may streak down the right wing at the Bell Center , elude Leaf Captain Dion Phaneuf with a quick inside – outside move and then rifle a quick snap-shot toward the Toronto net. Suddenly , out of nowhere – a glove grabs the puck like a frog’ s tongue trapping a fly.

The glove may belong to a goalie with the name  Subban …

Wow … !

What a season that would be …

And the First Star is …


Must have been a lot of rich people attending the match between the Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning last night at Le Centre Bell

What other explanation can there be for the selection of the three stars ? The crowd was obviously drunk  and to be inebriated at the home of the Habs requires cash … and lots of it !

Erik Cole as one star ?  Why not ? Two goals in a game in a season that has been one positive note after another . Pacioretty or Desharnais as one of the other two stars … ? Yup  … ! After all , one musketeer follows the other …

If the Hab faithful were not drinking like a duck on a dry day – they would have noticed the game’s first star was as obvious as a Kenny Roger’s facelift . There was one guy on the ice who contributed to his team’s defence and was one of the largest contributors to the offence. Perhaps that is the reason the throng of people were exempt from the on – ice antics of le premiere etoile . The best player on the ice for the home team is not obvious on most occasions …

It was a work of art . A drawing – forever implanted in the sketch book of the Canadiens’ history. Pure finesse on the part of a player who is not known for such things. If a chalkboard was placed in the dressing room of a hockey team consisting of eleven year olds  – a coach would describe the play as one of perfection ;

  • Cradle the puck on your blade as if it were an egg.
  • Shoulders squared – keep your head up as you maintain constant motion with the puck.
  • Pick a point to where the intended receiver will be …
  • Give a quick head fake to the opposite direction and fire a crisp pass .

The above is precisely what the Montreal Canadien player did. Beautiful to watch and beautiful to explain to your wife , husband or friends over breakfast . At least an attempt could be made – after all , the Mona Lisa must be seen to be appreciated .

I give you …

The first star of last night’s match for his beautiful pass to V. Lecavalier of Tampa Bay …

Mr. Peter Budaj !

( Click on Peter’s Name to Watch )

Meet the New Guy … ?


Les Canadiens de Montreal will not finish the season as the worst team in the National Hockey League.  Geez – they can ‘t even get that right … ?

They will however , conclude the current campaign – among the futile four. Thus guaranteeing a top pick in the upcoming draft.

The team , historically ,  opts for talent in the defensive scheme of things . Given the current situation which borders on bad to worse – things should be different this year.

A top offensive guy may be packing his suitcase with a CH sticker as the destination for 2012 – 13 and beyond. Below – in no particular order , are the boyz-to-men that may be suiting up for the Habs in the near future. One of these guys will make Mathieu Darche ‘s job obsolete as number 51 gets pushed from the pecking order .

( Sorry Mathieu – if the Habs had done things right – you would not be here at all. Count your blessings …)

Here now are the players who will take $ 250.00 from your pocket if you want to see them sweat  , close – up !

C, Mikhail Grigorenko6-3. 192 lbs. 

2011-12 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 57 39 45 84 12 36

Mikhail

At 6-foot-3 , 192-pounds – the talented Russian appears to be the real deal and one of the most coveted players in the upcoming draft. The Habs have been lacking a big , skillful centerman for many years and Mikhail , barring a Kovalev mindset , is the player the team can build around. He plays in the same mold as San Jose ‘s Joe Thornton although a little tougher. Most scouts agree – he may be better than Thornton as the years progress . The Habs probably will not land him unless management pulls a Sam Pollock and trades for a number one or two pick.  We can always dream …

 RW, Nail Yakupov, 5-11, 180 lbs.

Clous ! Clous ! Clous !

Sarnia Sting OHL, 65, 49 G, 52 A, 101 PTS

Yakupov is an explosive offensive player. He plays like a Guy Lafleur. He is a right winger like Lafleur. Speed and skill is what he brings to the rink with pure instinct. Given the Habs ‘ poor record of drafting big centermen – Yakupov is probably the best choice. Montreal fans love speedy guys , the type that can pull people from their seats. Russ Courtnall is the perfect example of that and Nail is the prototypical Courtnall with more talent. And seriously – how can a guy named Nail not be popular …?  The Bell Center crowd will chant … Clous ! Clous ! Clous !

 D, Ryan Murray, 6-0, 191 lbs.

Everett Silvertips WHL, 70 GP, 6 G, 40 A, 46 PTS

Murray

Okay – if the Habs must choose the best possible player available when it comes time to pick ; Murray is a smooth-skating defenseman who skates with  poise .The 17-year-old already has two solid WHL campaigns under his gloves and is a plus-51. Ryan captained Canada’s entry to a gold medal-winning performance at the 2010 Ivan Hlinka tournament . He is the type of guy who can control a game  and is compared most often to Scott Niedemeyer. If the Habs pick this guy – please someone tell them to stay away from Glen Sather. One Gomez for Ryan McDonagh is enough … thank you very much !

 

D, Griffin Reinhart, 6-4, 210 lbs. D,

Edmonton Oil Kings WHL, 45 GP, 6 G, 19 A, 25 PTS

Reinhart

Okay – if they must choose a defence man ?! Ugh …. Griffin Reinhart has it all , size and skill. He does so many good things on the ice. He moves incredibly well for a big guy , has a cannon-like shot , makes clean crisp first passes, never panics with the puck, and loves getting physically engaged. Now – will he marry my daughter ? The Habs need offence yet a guy like this can and will replace Markov sooner or later depending on Markov ‘s knee.  If they must choose a defence man – they must …

 C, Alex Galchenyuk, 6-1, 185 lbs.

Sarnia Sting OHL, 68 GP, 31 G, 52 A, 83 PTS

Alex

Galchenyuk may be the next power forward of the future. Not flashy like his teammate Nail – Alex is the hammer ! He is an all round player who can score and hit . Think of Andrei Kostitsyn when brother Andrei was not on the moon. Alex is also a very strong skater who is not afraid to use that speed when approaching the corners of the rink . He is beyond his years in defensive responsibility and can see the game with eyes on the back of his head . A player with an attitude to kick Bourques ‘ behind ? We will see …

Happy St . Patrick ‘s Day !

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The Five Missing Elements to a Stanley Cup


They are That close … Dem Habs !?

Close to what ?

Close to a golf course …? Close to a top pick in the 2013 draft ? Of course they are close to a course. Of course they are close to a hockey version of a closer !

The Montreal Canadiens are also close to either a championship or a winning season. Once they ditch their G.M., Scott Gomez, their coach and all the little coaches that hang close – by;  the Habs can be very good if they heed the words from the band Simply Red . What is that you say Mick Hucknall ?

‘ Do the right thing … ? ‘

Gomez – ‘ Hair ‘ today …gone tomorrow !

What is the proper process to pimp this red, white and blue ride back to a prime piece of provincial pie ? Five moves. Count them … 1, 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 … Easy eh ? Five steps closer to Stanley Supremecy.  Simple stones in a structure that is strong with a core of youth. The mortar – the one absentee in an anarchy of a season …

Sit down , grab an Oreo cookie and dunk it in a drink . Decipher the decisions that will place les Habitants higher than this season’s disaster …

In order for Les Glorieux to become Glorieux once more ; Monsieur Geoff Molson should do the following ;

1. Place Serge Savard in the position of G.M.

Savard has stated publicly he does not want the job. Geoff Molson stated publicly he would not fire Jacques Martin. So much for publicly…

Serge is absolutely the right man for the job – right now !The organization is in turmoil and there is no one around from the team ‘ s storied past to settle things down. No one except Savard. His nickname is the Senator for a reason.

Savard led his team – this team, to victory as its captain. Serge led his team – this team, to victory as its G. M. Serge Savard accomplished these feats with respect. He was respected by his teammates and his fellow G. M ‘s. Mr. Savard is also a smart business man who has created a very wealthy chair in which to sit while he smokes his Cuban cigars. Who better to repair the cruise ship Canadiens than Captain Savard.

A G.M from another team will think twice before trying to pull the hockey sweater over Savard’s eyes. G.M ‘s did it to Houle ( too many times to count), they did it to Gainey ( Gomez ) and they have done it to Gauthier ( Dustin Boyd for Sergei ). They may try it on Savard yet Serge is no dummy. He may get fooled but his batting average is much better than the men who followed his tenure.

Savard also hold the respect of the current players , something that Gauthier does not. One visit from Savard in the locker room – one of the only things that may make Bourque score again. Savard also has the respect of the man who should coach the team …

2. Patrick Roy

St. Patrick has passion. The hall of fame coach of the Quebec Remparts is a winner. Who better to teach the young kids on the Habs how to sip from Stanley ‘s chalice ? Patrick Roy will instill something behind the bench that has been AWOL since Pat Burns scared referees with his red, white and blue glare. Roy has learned the ropes as a coach in the past five years and although subject to irrational outbursts ; Savard , the G.M will keep him in check . Roy would also need to surround himself with adequate coaches …

3. Larry Robinson.

Big Bird has shown interest in returning to the Habs. His contract is up in New Jersey and a return to his old stomping grounds appears immediate. ROBINSON also has the respect of players , Roy himself and Savard. Robinson is a winner and is also the best available candidate to teach the Habs ‘ young defencemen. Down the line – P. K , Emelin and Diaz would prosper under Robinson’s wise eyes. Larry ‘s presence would alleviate the pressure from the older guys. Markov and Gorges’ souls have more freedom to concentrate on their games . The other assistant coach should be …

4. Chris Nilan

Knuckles is no knucklehead. He has coached in the NHL as an assistant with the Devils for one season . He was also the head coach of the Chesapeake Icebreakers in the ECHL for one season. Nilan’s troubles off the ice were well documented which de – railed his coaching aspirations. Since returning to Montreal – Chris’ passion for the Habs is obvious. The man bleeds bleu , blanc et rouge. Again – like Roy , Serge Savard is the only man who would be able to bridle Nilan ‘s passion. A passion that is sure footed in his knowledge of how to play the game and what it takes to win.

The final piece of the puzzle is so obvious – it may be flying under the radar of everyone including ;

5. Martin Brodeur

The winningest goalie of all time is on his last goal – padded legs. Two seasons are left in this future hall of fame goalie. His contract is up in New Jersey. He was born in Montreal. Finishing his stellar career as a back – up to Price would add a spring to his step and in return – add knowledge to Price. A win – win situation echoed by the French Canadian fans who will have a Bona Fide star to carry the torch. Brodeur has worked with Robinson and again will have the respect of Roy and all the players on the team. Martin would be a ‘ fourth coach ‘ .

There. Easy as 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 …

Five simple signatures on a Stanley Cup note . Dem Habs are dat close …

© Rick Keene Le Forum de Montreal 2012

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</

Something for Nothing …


Waiting for the winds of change
To sweep the clouds away
Waiting for the rainbow’s end
To cast its gold your way
Countless ways,you pass the days

Neil Peart

At the trade deadline and in a sane world- Geoff Molson tied Pierre Gauthier to a chair and placed duct tape over his mouth. The Habs’ G.M should be shown the door in less than a month and a half. No point in Molson allowing ‘ the ghost’ one last chance to ruin his club de hockey …

Alas …

The world in which we live is crazier than placing Gomez on the power-play. Reality dictates the Montreal Canadiens remained relatively placid on trade day to keep up with tradition. Either that or the organization was so snake – bitten by the ‘ Gomez for the kitchen sink ‘ deal in 2009 – they hid their heads in the tri – colored sand.

Let it be known,the once proud organization has now deployed two Kostisyn’s into cowboy country(Nashville) and received nothing in return. First, the younger of the brothers Belarusian was sent packing for two players. One forward who Mr.and Mrs. Boyd named Dustin and a goalie named Dan Ellis.

The boy named Boyd spent ten games in the same uniform as Rocket Richard. Danny boy – d scored one goal during that time and was quickly dismissed to Hamilton. This moved him closer to Mr. And Mrs. Boyd in their home of Winnipeg which pleased the parents but not
Pierre. Boyd is now skating in the KHL – further from Winnipeg yet just as cold.

Ellis, the net minder , was in the Montreal organization long enough
to taste a poutine and get a gander at the gals at Chez Pare. Ellis was signed as a unrestricted free agent by Tampa in July,2010 and went on to incense fans with his twitter feed. Mr.Ellis is now skating with the Ducks in Anaheim and is no longer tweeting anyone …

Which brings us to Andrei Kostisyn who probably thinks tweeting is something that birds do while they fly in the sky. Soaring with a head in the clouds is something Andrei knows well as he spent the majority of his time in Montreal doing just that. A change was needed.

The Habs did what they needed to do and sent the bigger Belarusian to be with his brother in Tennesee – the home of Ernie Ford. In theory – Montreal received a 2013 second round pick ( along with a fifth round pick in the same year)for their former Russian rogue. Given the team’s history of drafting – the team will get nothing.

Nada. Zilch. Zero.

Why do the Montreal Canadiens continue to delete their extras into the trash cans of the NHL for less than the price of a good quality Pez dispenser ?

In 2008, the Habs traded Cristobal Huet to the Capitals for a second round pick. That pick went to Atlanta along with a conditional one for a over- the- hill Mathieu Schneider. Schneider, in his return to Montreal – was formidable on the power play yet floundered in the defensive zone and was finished as a Hab at the end of the 2009 season.

Would it hurt, just once , for the team to land a skater with youth in his skates and stars in his eyes? It it that difficult to trade a competent guy who has ruined his welcome for a player of the same caliber? The Habs have been bit by the Pouliot bug when they shipped Latendresse for the Ontario native with the French name. In fairness – Pouliot changed lines more often than Al Pacino in the movie Scarface. In Pouliot – the Habs knew what the guy was capable of in the NHL. In trading brother Andrei for a second round pick, the team is taking a chance. A risk bigger than Latendresse and Pouliot together.

Could Kostisyn have not been packaged with someone to collect a sure- skated player? Maybe Pierre tried. I guess it is difficult when you are tied to a chair and have duct tape over your mouth.

Yet – whose fault is that ?

Well,you don’t get something for nothing
You can’t have freedom for free
You won’t get wise with the sleep still In your eyes
No matter what your dreams may be

Niel Peart – from the song Something for Nothing

Non – Wing Night / Roy vs. Lafleur


An educated person would have estimated perhaps 1.5 % of the people at the Wings – Habs game Wednesday night had ,at one point in time, experimented with LSD. At the end of the first period – twenty thousand plus spectators must have felt they were on the illicit drug and all that was missing was a purple elephant offering chips at a discounted price.Enough about me …

The Detroit Red Wings , the league’s top team, commenced the All Star break the same time as the rest of the league. The only team playing on Wednesday were the Canadiens. Fitting, since the Hab players ( save for Price), have been on break since mid – November.A combination of the Wings absence and a little bit of luck – torpedoed any chance of what most people thunk – a domination by the Babcock – led Wings.

Instead of Price skating to the bench and instructing Geoff Molson that he had played his last game as a Hab, it could have been Howard telling Mike Illitch that he had downed his final pan – pan pizza regardless if it was free.The Detroit net minder was bad yet his defense much worse in a period that saw the Sawchuk wannabe allow four goal on twelve shots. A dozen shots were what Mike Babcok insisted he was having at the end of the game. Twice in the month of January – the coaches’ team has been ridiculed by bottom tier teams. The lowly Islanders embarrassed the Wings 5 – 1 on the 5th. That defeat along with the 7- 2 massacre in Montreal would make anyone want to drink.

” Where…” Babcok must be wondering. “Is that purple elephant when you need him?”
—————–

Patrick – Guy , Guy – Patrick

As the Habs stumble, skate and stumble some more during this bizarre and disappointing season, it is interesting how two former hall of famers and former Habs have entirely different opinions on the Canadiens recipe for future success.

Guy Lafleur was a man who played the game by instinct. A trait that continues in his post hockey career. Anyone who has followed Guy over the years knows well the former superstar could never coach in the league. Everything he did , all of his good and bad was done with feeling. When he snuck into the arena in Thurso,Qc ( his boyhood home)to practice his skills, there was a good chance the possibility of arrest never crossed his mind.

Lafleur( in response to Roy), is adamant about the Canadiens NOT tanking the season thus assuring a top draft pick. Guy states that if the current inclination of his former club had pride – finishing out of the playoffs would be one of the seven words you do not say on hockey t.v. Roy , on the other glove, is saying the exact opposite.The former Conn Smythe winner says there is no point competing for a spot in Bettman’s dance. Roy cites an early departure from the post – season which invariably would bring a middle of the Pack pick in next season’s draft. So. Who is right?

Both men played the game with pride and prejudice. The pair’s drive for winning landed both of them on the pedestal and in trouble – on and off the ice. Roy is taking an analytical view while Guy is speaking on instinct and , in typical Guy fashion, from th heart.

Both are right and if a combination of the two paths could be ordered – an extra large pizza box would be required.

If the current team had heart, it is quite possible they would not be in this position to begin with. If the owners and Gauthier had analytical skills – the team would not be in this position to begin with. If Roy and Lafleur were running the team and could play nice in the sandbox, this team may win.Roy and Lafleur could not run this team because of the simple fact they are both passionate in what they do and fights between the two men would be common.

The team needs Roy and Lafleur’s attitude. They need someone who thinks like Roy upstairs and someone who thinks like Lafleur behind the bench.

Two ingredients.Two opinions.

One winner.

As usual – Habs Eye on the Prize , the Hockey Writers and Knuckles  will keep you informed.

Four – score and Six Years Ago


The Four Goals of Life

The four major aspects of Hindu dharma known as purushartha are:

  • Kama: Seeking physical (sensual love) or emotional pleasure within the limits of dharma.
  • Artha: As kama pursuit has a limiting satisfaction after while, artha or seeking power, fame and wealth will be complementary.
  • Dharma: With age and maturity, one will have the joy of living in harmony with dharma.
  • Moksha: To beat the Winnipeg Jets

Lars Eller accomplished the final goal on the list by completing four goals … Go figure eh ?

Long Time Comin’

Eller is the first Hab to score four goals in a game since Jan Bulis potted four in 2006. After scoring his first career NHL hat- trick – Lars completed his night on a penalty shot at the half way mark of the third period.

What a goal it was …

Eller skated in from the right side and veered left about a foot in front of the Jet net minder. The peanut venders, the ushers , the callgirls outside working the street corner and Jet goalie Chris Mason all slid to their right. Eller stopped briefly and did his best impersonation of Serge Savard – pulling an admirable spinerama and popping the puck into the recently vacated net.

Eller’s fourth of the evening was one of the most exciting goals
scored at the Bell Center since Alexei Kovalev pulled people from their seats when the urge struck him to do so.The Montreal Canadiens as a team are hard pressed to score three goals in a game , let alone four. When one player does it – there is ample reason for Hab fans to go nuts. The problem with Eller’s goal ? It was  illegal.

The penalty shot rule states that the puck must be in constant forward motion. Lars ‘ improbable move – returned the puck toward Carey Price albeit briefly.

Did the refs notice the glitch or was the game considered out of reach  at this point ( 6-2 ) ?  Perhaps the goal was so pretty …  Why ruin a good party ? There is already a conspiracy theory skating through Montreal . One that states the refs are to the Habs what Bin Laden was to the U.S.  Maybe the refs were not going to take a risk at being on the wrong end of a nasty crowd. Clarence Campbell may be the only ghost that occupies the Bell Center right now and the officials were not going to wake him up. Not on Eller’s night.

French / Danish Translation

It's Eller time !

The French fans and media make up that crowd and are ornery these days over the appointment of an English – only coach. Eller’s command of the French language lay somewhere between none and zilch. Funny how the majority of the fans at the game showed their disapproval of Eller’s language issues by giving the Danish skater the longest ovation since the return of Saku Koivu in a Duck uniform.

Talk about ‘quackers ‘ …

Not since Inspector Clouseau’s nose was painted with cold cream have French people seemed so silly … Montrealers may be nuts yet is there a better building to skate in when things move in the proper direction ?

Somehow , things are special in Montreal…

It is not Eller scoring four goals ! It is Lars , Lafleur, Lemaire and Lapointe – all time warped into one special moment. If Carey Price completes a string of five shut – outs , Bill Durnan and Gump Worsley share the ovation with the young net minder. It is the uniform that matters. By scoring four goals , Eller has added to the myth of Les Habitants. Adding another moment to the team’s history.

Moments such as the young Danes’  – have been passed onto generations of hockey fans in the city. A ten year old boy is aware the team , his team , mounted a five goal comeback against the New York Rangers. The young man well knows of the exploits of Mats Naslund and Gilbert Dionne. Eller’s glorious moment may now be passed onto their children and so it goes. Moment after monumental moment. Passed on for one hundred years. A centennial of clippings to add to the arsenal of  young francophone  mens ‘ four goals of life …

  • Kama – Learn to skate
  • Artha -Learn to pass
  • Dharma – Learn to shoot
  • Moksha – Play hockey for the Montreal Canadiens

Maybe the French are not so ‘ quackers ‘ after all …

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Habs Eye on the Prize , The Hockey Writers and Knuckles are great to read !

The Father, the Son and the Holy Grail


The following story was published last year . I have been fortunate to gain many followers on this site so I decided to re – print this story to start the new year !
Please enjoy …!

Every Saturday night after a home cooked meal, my Dad and I would settle down on the floor in front of the television set and get ready to watch Hockey Night in Canada.

Saturday was our day.

David Henry Keene – my Dad , owned a transport company and long hours prevented him from spending much time with me during the week. Somehow, he managed to find the time on the first day of the weekend as the two of us left the house just before noon and spent the day shopping. We shopped for guy stuff, we shopped for food and we always stopped somewhere ‘cool’ and had an afternoon snack or a drink.

Sometimes my Mom would come,  even if she did – my Dad and I always found ourselves alone at one point. I do not recall any conversations we had but to a young boy , being with Dad was the most amazing thing in the world and it did not matter what was said or where we were. I was with my Dad and I was proud.

Saturday Night

As the familiar theme from Hockey Night in Canada exited the speakers from our ‘state of the art ‘Hitachi console television, my heart would speed up because I knew that in mere minutes I would be seeing my Montreal Canadiens take to the ice and – more times then not – beat the opposing team. My Dad was not a Canadiens fan. He was not a fan of any particular team, he was a fan of any team that was playing against Les Habitants. The two of us would argue constantly over the course of a game, all the while our bodies as one as my head lay upon his chest.

“Beliveau and the Pocket Rocket were the greatest!” I would tell him as he countered with “Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr” on a night the Habs were playing the Big Bad Bruins.” No better goalie than Rogie Vachon.”  I would say countering my Dad’s ‘”Tony Esposito” as the Black Hawks attempted to beat my team.

The year was 1970, I was five years old and growing up. Maturing along with Les Canadiens as Dryden, Robinson,Shutt and Lafleur were emerging as stars. Others such as Savard, Lapointe and Lemaire were entering their prime. As the team ended a brief Bruins’ dynasty and traded cups with Chicago, my Dad was not around as much. He was battling heart problems. More times than not , I found myself alone in front of the television observing the on-ice exploits of  the ‘Big Three’ and the amazing performances of Lafleur, Cournoyer, Pete Mahovolich and the wise Henri Richard. It wasn’t the same without my Dad.

Bobby Orr Plays The Habs

I was not allowed to play ice hockey due to the operations I had on my ears so I studied the game like a scientist. Every Wednesday and Saturday night,I was glued to the television observing arguably the greatest hockey team to ever play. Savard’s Spinerama, Robinson’s combination of grace and toughness, Lemaire’s uncanny playmaking ability and Guy Lafleur with his speed, shot and unexplainable feints.When I discovered that not only did I share the same hometown as Jacques Lemaire, but the same birthday – there was not a person in LaSalle, Quebec that was not aware of that particular fact.

During those years, every boy played street hockey. It didn’t matter if it was Summer, Spring, Fall or Winter. It did not matter if you were French or English – skinny or fat. Les Canadiens were the glue that connected everyone. Kids, teenagers and parents took to the ice or pavement and for the next few hours – became Guy Lafleur, Doug Risebrough or Murray Wilson. It was rare to see anyone sporting the blue and white of the Maple Leafs or the Red and White of the Detroit Red Wings. Everyone respected the likes of Gordie Howe, Stan Mikita and Jean Ratelle. They somehow did not have the mystique the players who suited up for the Montreal Canadiens had – they were ‘human’.

If you took the frozen tennis ball on a street-long rush you were The Flower. If you made a save with your baseball glove you were no longer Rick Keene, you now became Ken Dryden or on occasion Michel ‘Bunny’ Larocque. The game would start at 9 a.m. and, aside for two half-hour breaks for unimportant things like lunch or supper, the games would continue into the night. The game and the day would end with one player practising a wrist shot in between two large rocks that transformed into goalposts for a day.

Sad Times

Just as the Habs were beginning their journey into hockey history with a first of four consecutive Stanley Cups, my Dad succumbed to a third heart attack bringing an inevitable double bypass operation to help prolong his life and in return, a longer relationship with me. The operation was successful and more importantly to me – my Dad was home all the time while recuperating. It was at this time, upon completion of a third operation on my ears, I discovered that I was allowed to play organized hockey come Fall.My Dad and I went on a shopping trip to the local sports store. I was equipped form head to toe with all the tools I needed to become the next superstar of the Montreal Canadiens.

I’m sure many people were surprised to see a 10-year-old boy walking around in mid – July wearing a full Canadiens uniform. To me it did not matter. Much  to the chagrin of my Mom and Dad. For the first couple of weeks I ate in that uniform, slept in that uniform and – aside from the problems of re-positioning my jockstrap when I went to the bathroom – I adored that uniform. I could not wait for September. It was my birthday on the seventh, the 20th was my very first hockey practice, the Canadiens were taking to the ice once more and my Dad was alive and healthy. School was the only negative, but with everything else being so exciting – it appeared as a minor detail.

Two weeks after school started, one week after my birthday and a few days before my first hockey practice – my Dad passed away from a massive heart attack.

 He would never get to see me play hockey.

(more…)

A Christmas Gift


The boy was just doing his job …

Delivering newspapers through sleet , snow and whatever Mother Nature tossed his way.

The weather was a minor inconvenience to the money that filled his pockets. It had been two years since his Dad passed away and his job helped to keep his mind off his pain. It also eased the monetary burden from his Mom. His task allowing the fifty – two year old woman more freedom to pay bills and buy food. That way – all of his earnings could provide the cool clothes and kid stuff that would allow him to keep up with his friends.

The boy and his Mom resided in an affluent community .It was not easy keeping up with a two – parent working neighbor. Kids could be cruel and as his Mom discovered –  adults could be just as cruel or more so.

The year was 1991.

David had started delivering print to the doors in his neighborhood shortly after the death of his Dad. On occasion – the job was tedious.Especially those cold wintery dawns when the wind would cut through him like a knife. Still, each morning without pause, the soon- to – be teenager carried out his duties with dignity. Banking whatever money that was available for a car when the law allowed.

Along the way , certain things happened which made his early morning
tasks seem worthwhile. One of those things was having a professional
hockey player as a client. Not just any hockey player. David had the good fortune to be able to place a paper on the porch of a Montreal Canadien. A particular player who was one of the hardest working skaters in the Habs modern era.

Brian Skrudland of Peace River, Alberta

A Hero

Skrudland was one of the lucky ones.One of a handful of players that earn something quickly.A prize that eludes the majority of professional
hockey players for eternity. The Stanley Cup

Skrudland arrived in the NHL in time for the 1985-86 season. Along with Mike McPhee – the duo evolved into a latter-day Doug Risebrough and Mario Tremblay. A pair of water bugs who – not unlike the 70’s version of themselves, provided grit and determination with each and every shift. Skrudland and McPhee were determining factors in the Habs’ unlikely 1986 Stanley Cup run. The duo hooking up to score the game winning goal in game two of the finals. Skrudland netting the winner just nine seconds into overtime on a nifty pass from McPhee. The two – on – one providing lore for many Montreal fans for years to come. David was seven when Skrudland sent the puck into NHL history. Age has no boundaries when heroes are formed …

David was delighted to discover that number thirty – nine ‘s home was one of his destinations. It seemed imperative for him to stop by and introduce himself. He was the liaison between Skrudland and the world ‘s events. In doing so – David was able to boast of a conversation and an autograph to his envious classmates.A gesture by the Canadien forward that somehow lifted the weight off David’s delivery bag. One small step for Skrudland evolving into giant leaps for David as he made his rounds through the neighborhood…

In the course of the following year and a half , David was able to carry out several conversations with the blonde – haired , six – foot Skrudland. The Habs’ defeat at the gloves of the Calgary Flames in the 1989 finals – the thorn in their normally rosy conversations.

One day – near the start of the 1992- 93 season, Skrudland informed David that he would get all of his team mates to sign a stick for him. A Christmas present for David’s work ethic and for being an all – around good kid. David thanked him and deemed the gesture unnecessary. Skrudland had, after – all, been very generous every Christmas and had even given tickets to a game. The fourteen year old was not able to alter the Hab forward’s thinking.

David did not mind …

A Boy ‘s Life

The young man continued delivering papers to Skrudland and never spoke of the signed stick. He figured when the Habs’ winger got around to it – the wooden piece would be delivered to his waiting arms. The season played through Christmas with the year ending in Calgary on New Year‘s Eve – a tradition between the two teams that somehow has lost it’s way as the years have passed.

On January 28, 1993 – David awoke to shocking news. His hero, one of the men responsible for bringing the Stanley Cup ‘home’ – was traded.

Brian Skrudland was dealt to the very team that he helped defeat for hockey’s most coveted prize. The thirty year old forward was sent to the Calgary Flames for a former fifty goal scorer whose fortunes had fallen on hard times. Skrudland himself had fallen out of favour with Canadiens management so the move that delivered Gary Leeman to Montreal was not a total shock. To David it was … His hero and customer left town to join his new team.

In a boy’s travels – life is fast. School, peer pressure and the normal growing pains of evolving from boy to man can make things appear skewed. Just the realization of puberty and the mixed hormonal messages alone can alter everyday perspective. To David – one of his favourite hockey players exchanging jerseys was but one of many trials and tribulations along the bumpy road of adolescence.

1992 – 93 Season

The Montreal Canadiens finished the season behind their division rivals – the Quebec Nordiques. The two teams met in the first round of the play-offs with the Habs’  Eastern neighbors favored to win. Down two games after a pair of Nordique victories on home ice – les Canadiens
limped into Montreal. Hockey sticks between their legs. In David’s mind – this would not be happening if  Skrudland were on the team . Gary Leeman , after a dismal start with his new club – discovered his game and was one of the Habs best players in the final section of the regular schedule. This did not ease David’s pain of losing another male role model in his life.

The Canadiens were victorious in their next four games and commenced a winning streak dotted with improbable exclamation points. A winning streak with ten overtime wins that inevitably led them to their twenty-fourth ( and final) Stanley Cup championship. The team’s victory eased David’s aches as Patrick Roy evolved into a new – found hero.

David never forgot Skrudland . He  pursued  Brian’s career as it
passed through Florida and  New York –  eventually landing in Dallas. It was during Skrudland ‘ s first season in Texas ( 1997 ) , David learned what integrity was all about.

‘Tis the season …

It was a few days before Christmas and David returned home to discover a note in his mailbox. It was a message from UPS instructing him to
pick up a package the delivery company was unable to leave due to the absence of him or his Mom at his home.

Not expecting anything – David’s mind wandered as he drove to the depot.All of his relatives lived close by so a Christmas present seemed unlikely in the form of a UPS package.  Leaving his car – the young man entered the building and gave the pleasant young woman
behind the counter his note. The dark- haired beauty took his memo and disappeared to another room leaving David alone with his thoughts.

Minutes later, the girl appeared with a package wrapped in brown paper. A package that could be only one thing. No wrapping on this planet could mask the contents of David’s ‘ gift’. David signed a paper to acknowledge the reception of the tan – colored item. He thanked the woman and wished her Merry Christmas. In the parking lot – he noticed there was an envelope attached to the long article. Someone had scribbled ‘ To David ‘ on the front. Placing the package against his car – David ripped open the envelope as a young kid would open a present on Christmas morning.

Inside was a card with a depiction of Santa Claus on the cover. He opened it and inside were a few words penned in ink. Words that made the hair on David’s body stand to attention …

” To David – sorry it took so long to get you the hockey stick . It was hard tracking down all of the guys I played with in Montreal. I hope you have a nice Christmas !”

Sincerely,

Brian Skrudland.

_____________________________________

 

Check out The Hockey Writers for league information , Eye on the Prize for Habs’ stuff and Knuckles Nilan for entertaining thoughts from a former Canadien de Montreal …

 

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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.

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