Dennis Kane’s Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog

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

Pittsburgh and Detroit Go For The Cup. This Is Good, I Suppose. May 19, 2008

Two real good teams are going to tangle for the Stanley Cup. I’ve got no complaints about this. It’s not like it’s the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricane, or Tampa Bay Lightening. Or even, dare I say, the Anaheim Ducks.

No, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings are a solid matchup and two good hockey towns to boot. Pittsburgh had an NHL team in 1925, the Pirates, which lasted until 1930, and the city’s had the Penguins since league expansion in 1967.

Detroit’s been in the league since 1926 when they took over the Victoria BC franchise. The city and team like to call itself Hockeytown, which is a little off. If Detroit’s Hockeytown, then Montreal and Toronto must be Hockeycities.

And if the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit doesn’t start getting more fans in the seats, the nickname might have to be changed to ‘Used to Be Hockeytown.’

This leads me to my second complaint. It’s fine that Gordie Howe is called Mr. Hockey, but isn’t that for others to label the man? My personal opinion is, he shouldn’t be signing autographs as “Gordie Howe, Mr. Hockey.” Doesn’t that make him just a little bit full of himself?

Gordie Howe is considered by not all, but many, as the greatest ever. Greater than Gretzky, Orr, Richard, and Lemieux. It’s a judgement call. Hall of Fame goalie Glenn Hall told me Howe was the best there was.

He doesn’t need to blow his own horn. Let others do that for him. Let others call him Mr. Hockey.

And I say this with the utmost respect for Mr. Howe.

Am I wrong for thinking this? I’m pretty sure Mario never signed as Mario “The Magnificent One” Lemieux, or Orr as Bobby “The World’s Greatest Defenceman” Orr, or Maurice “Hero of a Province” Richard.

This year’s final is a sexy affair because of so many stars involved. Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, Staal, Malone, Zetterburg, Datsyuk, Franzen, Lidstrom, Draper. And the guy who played on the original 1926 Wings, Chris Chelios.

It’ll be good. I may even watch some of it.

The thing begins Saturday in Detroit.

 

Psychedelic Pucks, Ilya Kovalchuk, And Gary Bettman’s Erotic Dreams May 18, 2008

Ilya kovalchuk scored in overtime against Canada to give Russia the gold medal in the World Championship.

Wasn’t Ilya Kovalchuk The Man From Uncle’s cool sidekick?

Remember when Kovalchuk, in the World Junior’s a few years back, skated in on a breakaway to Canada’s empty net and waved one arm as he went in?

I’ve always wondered why someone hasn’t smashed their stick across his face since then in payback for such a showboat move.

In other news:

Did you know that Versus TV is thinking about bringing back the tracking puck? Remember it? It was around for a season back in the 1980’s, or maybe it was the 1970’s, when NBC, or ABC, or CBS, decided that American fans couldn’t see the puck very well, so these pucks had a coloured flare on it on TV for these blind Americans.

It was horrible, distracting, and ridiculous. A survey at the time showed that Canadian hockey fans couldn’t figure out why any of this was necessary. The common consensus was that Canadian hockey fans had no problem at all seeing the puck, so why couldn’t Americans?

I read back then that when one of these pucks went into the stands, ushers went looking for them and made the fans give them back because they cost over $200 each.

People still make jokes about these tracking pucks. And now they might be coming back. Imagine.

In other news:

Pittsburgh has taken out the Philadelphia Flyers in a lopsided 6-0 game in a lopsided five-game series. Good riddance to the Flyers.  Flyer fan Frank the Tank says the Flyers are the most exciting team in hockey.

So all we need now is for Detroit to finish off Dallas so we can see Crosby and Malkin take on Datsyuk and Zetterburg.

Anyway, it’s summer, and I’ll watch if it doesn’t get in the way of me going to the beer store, or working, or cutting the lawn, or playing with the cat. I’m still recovering from the Habs.

Cripes, where are those damned Expos?

Pittsburgh and Detroit are exactly what Gary Bettman has dreamed about when his wife rolls over and goes to sleep.  Wouldn’t want a Canadian team in the final.

Heaven forbid. 

And the blog carries on.

 

Mike Bossy Does It Well, Alex Ovechkin Doesn’t May 17, 2008

Watching Henrik Lundqvist get yanked in Sweden’s 5-4 loss to Canada in the World Hockey Championship reminded me of something. Lundqvist speaks English with no accent whatsoever. At least that’s what my ears have heard in the couple of interviews I’ve seen of the Ranger goalie on TV.

Speaking perfect English is an amazing thing when it’s not your mother tongue. It’s very admirable. Some European NHL players have mastered it. For most, of course, it’s impossible.

Detroit’s Swedish star Nick Lidstrom speaks English almost perfectly, but you can detect that Swedish tongue in there just slightly. And it’s a little more so with Mats Sundin and Daniel Alfredsson. You can definitely here the Swedish way of talking in their speech, although their English is excellent.

But not at all with Lundqvist. In those two interviews I heard, he could’ve been the guy in the pool hall, Or the Canadian goalie in the beer league. I need to hear more from Lundqvist. I’m curious about this.

The NHL Russian guys’ English is basically all the same, ranging from pretty good to lousy.  Alex Kovalev speaks English pretty well, with the obvious Russian accent,  but Alex Ovechkin is still a work in progress, and Evgeny Malkin is only beginning. Igor Larionov, on the other hand, spoke excellent English back in the days when Soviet players couldn’t play over here, and so had very little exposure to English. Somehow, though, he got great at it.

Larionov even snuck away from the Russian camp to Wayne Gretzky’s parent’s house in Brantford during the 1987 Canada Cup and partied with all the Canadian guys.

Remember the 1972 Summit Series? We got the odd interview with some of the Russian players including Valeri Kharlamov, and they were interviews using an interpreter. But at the end, the few Russian players managed a meek “thank you” in English, and it was both surprising and wonderful.

The Finnish players pick it up pretty well, like Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, but you can hear the Finnish accent in there, even though their words and grammar are perfect.

The Czechs, it seems, have a little bit of a harder time of it. Jaromir Jagr’s English is terrrible, after all these years in North America. Tomas Plekanec, however, looks promising as a speaker of English. But the Czechs, like the Russians, use their throats and tongues differently, so there’s many English words they’ll never master properly.

Some of the English guys speak French really well. I can’t learn French, but they speak it with almost no accent. Mike Bossy wins by a landslide on this front.

Henri Richard was so quiet in the early days of his career, that when Toe Blake was once asked if Henri could speak English, Blake replied, “I don’t even know if he can speak French.”

French guys like Daniel Briere, Martin Biron, Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux, and Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault speak English with only a trace of an accent. It’s very impressive.

It’s just a good thing there’s no heavy-duty Scotsmen in the NHL. Their accent can be thicker than lumpy gravy. I worked with a Scottish guy in Calgary who had been in Canada for years, but he could talk to me for fifteen minutes and I wouldn’t have a clue what he was saying.

Compared to this guy, Alex Ovechkin sounds perfect.

 

 

Ted Lindsay Means Well, But Vlad Konstantinov Was No Bobby Orr Or Doug Harvey May 14, 2008

I’m sorry, but Ted Lindsay’s 82 years old now, and so some of his reality must have packed it in. Vladimir Konstantinov was a better defenceman than Bobby Orr?
Sorry, Ted. No one was better than Bobby Orr.
And he says Doug Harvey was the greatest ever before Konstantinov but didn’t have the bodychecking ability Konstantinov had?
Sorry again, Ted.
Harvey could not only bodycheck with the best of them in an era when bodychecking was much more prevalent than in the modern game, but players from the other original five teams knew they’d better not mess with Harvey because he was big, strong, mean, and an amateur boxer.
Good for Ted Lindsay for testifing during the accident lawsuit. He means well. But Konstantinov was no Bobby Orr, and no Doug Harvey. These two controlled the game. Everyone else comes in second.
The following are excerpts from Lindsay’s testimony, published in the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. 

Lindsay delivers emotional testimony at Konstantinov/Mnatsakanov lawsuit

Posted by George James Malik May 12, 2008 17:33PM

The Detroit News’s Paul Egan says that Red Wings legend Ted Lindsay testified that Vladimir Konstantinov was perhaps the best defenceman in hockey when he was injured in a limousine crash that’s resulted in a federal lawsuit by Konstantinov’s family and the family of Sergei Mnatsakanov against Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury, which the Konstantinov/Mnatsakanov suit alleges had defective seat belts:

May 12, Detroit News: “He was the greatest machine in the world,” Lindsay told the jury of five men and three women. Today, “I see this vegetable and to me it just kind of makes me sick (compared) to what was the greatest hockey player in the world. It’s a shame.”Lindsay said he continued to work out in the Red Wings weight room following his hockey career and became good friends with Konstantinov and other team members.

He described Konstantinov as “a gifted person,” a skilled bodychecker who was a magnificent skater and had the ability to go up ice and act as a fourth forward and still get back across his own blue line in time to defend.

Lindsay said Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens was the greatest defenseman he ever saw before Konstantinov, but “Doug didn’t have the gift of Vladi with the bodychecking.” The only other defenseman he compared Konstantinov to was Bobby Orr of the Boston Bruins, whom Lindsay said was a great skater who again was not as physical as Konstantinov.

Lindsay said he understood the chauffeur had been unable to keep the limousine on the road. “People like that, they should be shot,” he said.

 

The Detroit Free Press’s Bob Swickard confirms:

May 12, Detroit Free Press: Hockey Hall of Famer Ted Lindsay testified today that the Red Wings easily could have won at least two — and perhaps five – more Stanley Cups if Vladimir Konstantinov hadn’t been disabled by 1997 limousine crash.”That’s how good he was,” Lindsay, 82, told a federal jury in Detroit considering a claim against Findlay Ford, the Ohio dealership that sold the limo to a metro Detroit company.

“There was none better,” he said, adding that Konstantinov topped even the legendary Bobby Orr as a physical body-checking defenseman.

“He was best in the world. No doubt about it”,” Lindsay said

 

Mike Ribeiro Two-Hands Detroit Goalie. Maybe He Was Using Sidney’s Stick. May 12, 2008

It’s an interesting study, this Mike Ribeiro.

Let’s first start in the here and now, and work our way backwards.

 

In game two against Detroit, Ribeiro, the Dallas Stars offensive threat, while skating past the Wings’ net, received a butt-end from Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. Ribeiro then turned around and gave Osgood a two-hander across the chest of Osgood. It was, for lack of better words, selfish and stupid on Ribeiro’s part.

 

Now let’s back up a little. Ribeiro was an underacheiving forward for the Montreal Canadiens, and was sent packing to the Dallas Stars for defenceman Janne Niiniman and 5th round draft pick, and he blossomed into a big point-getter and an important piece of the puzzle in Dallas.

 

Habs critics had a field day with this. Gainey was an idiot, they cried. How could he make such a bad decision to practically give Ribeiro away and now the guy’s a star in Dallas? What a mistake Gainey had made, they decided.

 

But Gainey traded him for a reason. There was talk that he was a person who helped separate the dressing room into cliques. He was a yapper on the ice who never backed up his tough talk.

And the instance that showed me he was no Montreal Canadien came when they did a close up of him one night in a game against Pittsburgh, and the the Habs were losing by a goal late in the game. And was Ribeiro all business and focused on the task of tying the game up? No. Instead, he skated over to Sidney Crosby and asked him if he could have one of his sticks.

 

To me, this is no Montreal Canadien. The Rocket and Doug Harvey would be rolling over in their graves about this Crosby stick thing.  Jean Beliveau, I’m sure, never asked Gordie Howe for his stick in a closely-fought battle. Toe Blake would’ve benched him for a month if he did.

 

I was glad when Ribeiro was traded. And I could care less how many goals he went on to score with Dallas. He was never going to be a Montreal Canadien, plain and simple.

 

Sure There’s Interest In The NHL Playoffs. You just Have To Go Looking. May 8, 2008

The NHL conference finals begin tonight when Dallas clashes with Detroit, and tomorrow, when Pittsburgh and Philadelphia get at it. I’m sure there are still a few fans left who care.

Folks on the Canada’s west coast stopped watching hockey more than a month ago, when their Vancouver Canucks imploded and missed the post season.

Folks in Alberta got a few games of excitement in before the Flames bowed out to San Jose, but Edmonton fans could’ve cared less about that anyway.

Folks in Ontario started checking out cricket and full-contact knitting a long time ago, when the Leafs and Senators did what they do best, and that is look feeble when spring rolls around.

And Habs fans in Quebec and elsewhere are still recovering from the disappointment of not seeing their team march on toward the big prize. (me, for example).

A few people in Nova Scotia will continue to watch because local boy Sidney Crosby is still at it.

Fans in Russia will have to work hard to see their boys Evgeny Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk perform because if you’ve ever been to Russia, you’ll know what I’m talking about when it comes to getting games on TV.

Fans in Sweden will see Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterburg, but only if they set their alarm clocks for the middle of the night.

Probably, though, hockey fans in Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Finland are more excited about the World Championships than they are about round three of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And people in the US don’t like hockey, or at least that’s what I keep hearing. You know, on the popularity lists we hear about from time time based on TV ratings, hockey is just after badmonton, bowling, ping pong, tiddly winks, and marbles in most states.

However, Philadelphia has their big-time fans. I know this because I heard from most of them during the Montreal series. Pittsburgh fans will also like what they’re seeing, as do folks in Detroit and Dallas.

Detroit is a big-time hockey city, and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have a long and healthy history of the game.

Dallas is a curious one, though. This is football and basketball country. And barrel racing. But somehow, a couple of hundred thousand Texans embraced the game of hockey.

Of course, hockey’s been around for years in Texas, mostly in the form of minor league teams like the Dallas Blackhawks and Austin Ice Bats, or the Houston Aeros of the long-defunct World Hockey Association. So love of the game is there, but how much?

I suppose, when you think about it, when you have a state with a population of 22 million, you’re bound to find a couple of hundred thousand hockey fans, many of whom go to actual games.

Even when the rodeo’s on.

FOOTNOTE:

I know exactly that’s there’s rabid fans in New York state. Faithful reader (which I appreciate so much)Danielleia in Buffalo, for example, loves her Sabres. And years ago, I mentioned the Rangers on a subway in New York City, and some guy who thought I was saying bad things about his team wanted to punch me out.

( I wasn’t saying bad things about the Rangers. I only said I wouldn’t mind going to a game. You have to be careful on New York subways.) 

 

 

Other Habs May Be Resting In The Off-Season, But I Can’t. Also, Sean Avery Gets A Little More Light-Headed. May 5, 2008

  Although the players will be saying their goodbyes and heading back to the cottages in Sainte Leonard and Sault Ste. Marie, or the dachas in Novopolotsk and Togliatti, I, however, will be continuing my workouts and strict discipline in preparation for when I’m called up as flag guy next season at the Bell Centre.

One thing I don’t need is an injury, so I’ve decided to sit when I’m drinking beer, and also to do as little as possible at work. Can you imagine when they call me to be flag guy and I have to tell them I pulled a muscle while dancing at the Moose Hall, or I’m too exhausted from doing too much for the Man at work?

Also, the photo above isn’t really me. But it kind of gives you an idea of what I’ll look like in my Habs uniform on flag night. In real life, I have legs and a neck.

IN OTHER NEWS:

Sean Avery spent his last playoff chances of the year in the hospital, and missed his team’s (New York Rangers) elimination.

There’s no truth to the rumour that the reason he was hospitalized was for the removal of his ego, which was growing at a dangerous rate.  There might be, however, some truth to the rumour that Avery was the least popular patient in the New York hospital.

TEAMS I HATE THE MOST IN THE NHL:

That would be the Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Leafs, Senators, Panthers, Hurricane, Lightening, Islanders, Rangers, Avalanche, Canucks, Wild, Stars, Sharks, Kings, Blues, Blue Jackets, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Oilers, Thrashers, Capitals, Penguins, Flames, Ducks, Predators, and Coyotes.

I like the rest, though.

WHO WILL WIN THE STANLEY CUP?

Oh, is hockey still going on?