Dennis Kane’s Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog

Changing Daily, And Full of Stuff You May Or May Not Remember

Montreal Shoots For The Stars, While Ottawa Shoots For The Bars April 1, 2008

It was a tremendous 3-0 shutout win tonight for the Montreal Canadiens over the unbelievably struggling Ottawa Senators, and it could have been ninety years ago in Ottawa, at the old Auditorium, when Aurele Joliat, Howie Morenz, and Pit Lepine came to town to battle it out with Cy Denneny, Frank Finnigan, and Punch Broadbent. It was good old hockey then, and it was good old hockey tonight. Rough, tough, feisty, ill-mannered hockey.   finnigan.jpg     joliat.jpg

Years ago, my ex-wife’s mother’s uncle used to tell me stories about when he was a kid and used to crawl in through a window at the Auditorium and watch Morenz and Joliat, Clancy and Finnigan, in action. It was good stuff.

I wonder if Ottawa kids climb in windows now at Scotiabank Place to see Chris Neil and Anton Volchenkov.

The big differences between then and now are, tonight (April 1st) there were about 14,000 more fans at Scotiabank Place than at the old Auditorium. Ottawa wears a Trojan Condom sweater now instead of the old stripes. Beer then, if it was sold, was probably about a dime. Now it’s about eight bucks. And the officiating was probably better back then. The amount of chintzy penalties called tonight was staggering.

And back then, Ottawa, from time to time, were champs. Nowadays, Ottawa, most of the time, are chumps. Now, they’re going to fight it out to make the playoffs, with Washington, only two points away, breathing down their backs. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

And then we get to Montreal. With tonight’s impressive win over the Senators and two referees, the team reaches 100 points to tie with Pittsburgh for first over-all in the east. They win the Northeast division. Carey Price notches his third shutout. The team played great after a couple of sleepfests in Buffalo and Toronto. And my Ottawa friends who used to be Habs fans but are now Sens fans, are at this very moment, really pissed off and quite concerned about the state of their team.

LITTLE PIECES OF INFO: Two of Montreal’s five wounded soldiers were back – Mark Streit and Guilliaume Latendresse, leaving now Koivu, Komisarek, and Bouillon still on the shelf.

Ottawa’s top line of Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley, and Jason Spezza actually did play. Although you’d never know it.

Advertisements
 

I Was Only $28,500 Short Of Getting The Sweater March 16, 2008

Johnny ‘Black Cat’ Gagnon played for the Montreal Canadiens, (and also the NY Americans and Boston Bruins) from 1930 to 1940. He wasn’t a big star (120 goals, 141 assists in 451 games) but enjoyed success playing alongside Howie Morenz and Aurele Joliat.

Just a few days ago, Classic Auctions in Montreal, which is the foremost hockey auction house on the planet, sold Gagnon’s Montreal sweater #14 for $28,551. I really wanted this sweater, and I thought I had a chance. But then it went past fifty bucks so I had to bow out.

Here’a few other Habs items that sold in the auction. It must be nice to be a collector who happens to be a rich bastard. Must be lawyers snapping these things up.

Here’s what I mean:

Carol Vadnais’ 1993 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup Championship ring – $23,102.

Jean Beliveau’s 1969 Montreal Canadiens game-worn sweater – $22,013.

Beliveau’s 1972-73 Stanley Cup ring – $32,211.

Henri Richard’s ’73-74 jersey – $13,500

Original 1978-79 Stanley Cup banner which hung from the Forum – $6000.

Player’s sweater worn during the 1937 Howie Morenz Memorial game – $7,150

Guy Lafleur’s 1981-82 game-worn sweater – $11,000

None of Dennis Kane’s Byer’s Bulldozers Orillia Midget team items were available, but I’m sure they’re worth quite a bit. 

Classic Auctions is unbelievable. Two or three times a year they hold these amazing auctions that always include things like letters from Lord Stanley, important sticks that belonged to Morenz and the Rocket, for example, and just about anything else you can think of that is worth more than what you and I can afford.  Classic is the Sotheby’s or Christies of the hockey world. I wouldn’t mind getting a job there.

 

Pre-Game Rituals Before The Big Game in Buffalo. And Then The Big Win Happens March 1, 2008

It’s 2:20 pm Pacific time and the boys are in Buffalo sharpening their skates, blow-torching sticks and drinking umpteen cups of coffee and a Red Bull or two, while ticket takers and ushers and hot dog vendors slowly drift in to ready themselves for when the Habs trounce the Sabres.slum.jpg         more-slum.jpg

                                            (Here’s a couple of pictures of some of the nicer parts of Buffalo.)

I’ve got my pre-game ritual in motion too. Head over to TC’s pub for some drafts, eat lasagna for energy, and today, as an extra little ritual, laugh my head off because rental Marian Hossa got injured in his first game with the Penguins and will be out a week or longer!

Pittsburgh gave up some crazy talent (Christensen, Armstrong, and Angelo Esposito, AND A FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK!) for Hossa, who may be gone again in a couple of months because unlike Toe Blake and the boys, it’s all about money. This deal might come back and bite Pittsburgh in the ass.

4:30 Pacific time  – Game time. If all reports are correct, not one Montreal player got mugged on his way to the Buffalo rink.

5:00 Pacific time – Montreal jumps out to 2-0 on goals by Pekanec and Streit. Not sure if Montreal fans who made the trek to Buffalo have started to sing the ‘olay’ song just yet. Many though, are having a riot and drinking lots of beer. 

5:07 Pacific time – Just thinking that Buffalo used to have some good teams in the days of the French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. You know, it’s sad that Perreault didn’t play for the Habs. With him and Lafleur together, it would have been historic. People would still be talking about them. It could have been Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Lafleur, and Perreault.

6:08 Pacific time – Tomas Plekanac just scored for the third time tonight as the good guys are beating the bad guys 4-1. The ‘experts’ say there’s too many small guys on Montreal for them to be dangerous. But Plekanek, who’s only 5’10, one of those small guys, looks pretty dangerous to me.

Do you know that TSN guy Pierre McGuire picked the Rangers and Minnesota as two of the five teams he thinks will win the Cup. Montreal didn’t even get a sneeze. But McGuire and his fellow ‘experts’ like Bob McKenzie and Dave Hodge all picked Montreal to finish 14th and so far out of the playoffs you’d need a telescope to see them.

7:01 Pacific time – Holy smokes. 6-2 Montreal over Buffalo. What a big win. It was 5-1 over Atlanta, and now 6-2 in Buffalo since the Habs made Carey Price their number one goalie. And this win catapults them over Ottawa for top spot in the north-east!

I’m sure the team flies back tonight, so guys, get home, have a midnight sandwich, relax, and get ready for another big game Saturday night against the Devils. But leave your wives alone. Eddie Shore, Victor Tikhonov, Punch Imlach and Toe Blake all believed there should be no sex the night before the game. So it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.

 

Again, When You Least Expect It, More Fascinating Facts! February 28, 2008

mtl_2007.jpgmtl_white.jpgsweater5.gifsweater4.gifsweater3.gifsweater2.gifsweater11.gif

Fascinating Fact # 1   I owned a sports bar for awhile in Powell River, and during this time the infamous Hanson Brothers came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, they came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

Fascinating Fact #2  A small scrap of paper signed by Bill Barilko, who scored the Cup-winning goal for Toronto against Montreal in 1951 and died later that year in a plane crash in northern Ontario, recently sold on ebay for $750.

Fascinating Fact #3   Frank Mahovlich came into my pub after an NHL Oldtimer’s game with his niece, who lives in Powell River. I had to tell customers who clamoured all over him to cool it so the guy could eat his meal.

Fascinating Fact #4   When I was 12, my pee wee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers was the umpire.

Facsinating Fact # 5   Years ago, when I was about 11, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, then, because he was in a deep discussion with some other guy, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my older sister had to get it for me.

Fascinating Fact #6   Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Fascinating Fact # 7   Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

Facinating Fact # 8    I collect old Montreal Canadiens kid’s wool sweaters. Not like some of the old ones in the photos above as these are extremely early Habs sweaters,  but like the one in my photo at the top right, and other’s similar to that. They’re all from the 1940’s, ’50’s, and ’60’s but I’m still looking for ones from the ’30’s and ’20’s. I saw some in old Eaton’s catalogues recently, so I know they were around at that time. But are they around now?

Fascinating Fact #9  In the early ’60’s when I was about 13 or so, my buddy and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave us both sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester.

The final Fascinating Fact goes to Toe Blake, who said this: “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

(For more delicious and delightful facts, just click on ‘Fascinating Facts’ over in the category section and get a whole bunch of stuff.)

 

A Blown Opportunity, And A Big Night Coming Up February 22, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are:morenz.jpg

1. Jacques Plante

2. Doug Harvey

4. Jean Beliveau

5. Bernie Geoffrion

7. Howie Morenz

9. Maurice Richard

10. Guy Lafleur

12. Dickie Moore and Yvon Cournoyer

16. Henri Richard

18. Serge Savard

19. Larry Robinson

29. Ken Dryden

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

 

Drinking Beer With Aurele Joliat January 14, 2008

Ottawa’s Prescott Hotel, in the mid 1980’s, was the classic (and maybe still is) old beverage room with a Ladies and Escorts door, and a regular entrance. It smelled of stale beer, cigarettes, and body odour, and the trays of beer were served by guys in white shirts who looked like they were on day parole.

It was my kind of a bar.

It was also the Wednesday night bowling team’s kind of bar, a place where the members, which consisted of a bunch of young guys and one really old guy, got together after a big night out at the bowling lanes.

I’d just read about the bowling team and the really old guy, in the paper, so I went down to the Prescott. Because it’s not every day that you get a chance to drink beer with Aurele Joliat, star player of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1920’s and 30’s, and good buddy of Howie Morenz.

In the Prescott, I spotted Joliat right away.  It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out, as he was about 50 years older than the rest of the bowling team. So I went over and asked him if I could buy him a beer and he grumbled something and said the f word a few times, but he joined me and we ordered our beer.

For the first fifteen minutes or so, he was just an old grouch, like so many geezers. He pooh poohed the Rocket when I asked him what he thought, saying Richard couldn’t lace Morenz’s skates. He grumbled about today’s hockey, saying they were all a bunch of pansies who would never had cut it in the old days. And on it went.

But then he started to change. I think he could feel that I was genuinely interested in the hockey of his day, and in his team, the Montreal Canadiens. He became soft-spoken and kind, and he showed interest in me and my life.  He grew sentimental when talking about Morenz, and signed a photo I had brought of him and Morenz arm in arm, and wrote, “To my pal, Howie Morenz 1924-37.” I had a broken wrist and he also signed a book I had brought, “To Dennis and his broken arm. Aurele Joliat.”

The evening began with an old man who was testy, not really nice, and almost belligerent, and it ended with a man who was a kind and caring gentleman.

I drove him home and he thanked me and said goodbye, and I wish now I would have continued this new friendship. I would have loved to have seen his old photos, and maybe that little touque he wore when he starred for the Montreal Canadiens, all those years ago.