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.

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Would Dave Nonis Really Like Cabbagetown? May 16, 2008

Dave Nonis might want to think twice about accepting the General Manager position from the Toronto Maple Leafs Leafs. And the Toronto Maple Leafs might want to think twice about offering the General Manager position to Dave Nonis.

Nonis has had about three interviews now with Leafs brass, so all concerned is definitely interested. But if one were curious, one would ask, “why would Dave Nonis be an upgrade from John Ferguson Jr?”

Dave Nonis is fine, intelligent man. I was at a talk he gave a few years back in Powell River, and he came across as a genuine, smart, young up-and-comer in the hockey world. He even gave away a bunch of primo Canucks luxury box tickets to lucky people. I wasn’t one of them.

But Dave Nonis’ downfall in Vancouver was that he believed the team there was basically a contender, with only a few minor moves needed to complete the package. And because he believed that in Vancouver, he’ll lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to nowhere fast.

Nonis couldn’t see at all that the Sedin twins are not fabulous stars, but only good, solid, non-stars who will probably never become anything more than that. Guys like Luc Bourdon and Nolan Baumgartner haven’t panned out for him and became more Manitoba Moose than Vancouver Canucks.

 He was a guy who seemed almost shy to make any kind of move at trade deadline. His biggest feat, landing Roberto Luongo, happened only because Mike Keenan in Florida didn’t like the all-star goalie and gambled on Todd Bertuzzi becoming a force with the Panthers, which he didn’t do, and Alex Ault doing a fine job between the pipes in place of Luongo, which he didn’t do either.

Nonis came out smelling like a rose for this trade, but indeed, he has never been the second coming of Sam Pollock. Now Sam Pollock! There’s a guy the Leafs could’ve used at some point over the years.

Nonis may have believed the Canucks were a contender, but newly-hired GM Mike Gillis doesn’t. And therein lies the difference between Nonis and the new guy.

So why would the Leafs want Nonis? After firing Ferguson, this would be a lateral move, not an upgrade.

TSN bigshot experts figure it’s a way to lure Brian Burke out of Anaheim. But for Chairman of the Board Larry Tanenbaum and President and CEO Richard Peddie, it could be better to get a less-than-crusty guy like Nonis or Ferguson, as it would be less a headache for them. Brian Burke or Scotty Bowman wouldn’t stand for the shit that would be hurled their way. 

And anyway, are the Leafs about winning, or just about making large wheelbarrows full of money for all concerned, especially the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, the majority owners of the Leafs?

Nonis is a smart guy, so he probably already knows all this. But he wants to stay in hockey, and he’s out of work right now.

But if he was the top guy, he’d be fed to the lions in Toronto, which basically means his bosses, who like to play a hands-on role in Toronto.

 He, like Ferguson before him, is too nice a guy for this job.

Note:

Canucks fans might cry foul at the criticism of their Canucks here, and I know what they’re going to say. Injuries, they’ll explain. The Canucks were decimated with injuries. Otherwise, they would’ve been a contender this year.

BC has always grown really good pot.

 

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Montreal Beats Philly On Hockey Night In Canada, And Dennis Breaks Down The Nationalities For Your Reading Pleasure February 17, 2008

Unlike their lousy performances against Toronto, Ottawa, and the two Florida teams recently, Montreal played a nice, tight game against Philadelphia tonight on Hockey Night in Canada, and won 1-0 with Carey Price earning his first NHL shutout. Ottawa lost to New Jersey, which puts the Habs just two points behind them, the closest they’ve been all year.

So life is good, for 24 hours at least, when they play the Flyers again, only in Philly instead. Imagine if Montreal wins this game too? It’d be like peeking through a keyhole at Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, and Sophia Loren cavorting in a hot tub. It’d be like Pamela, Angelina, and Sophia seeing me peeking through the keyhole, and waving me in.

It’d be that good!  Well maybe not as good as that, but pretty darn good.

On Coach’s Corner tonight, Don Cherry got into a rant about good Canadian players taking a back seat far too often to European players. This is the thing I like about Cherry. He defends the Canadian boys, says Canadians are the best, just like he speaks highly of our Armed Forces people. And for anyone from another country reading this, no offence. Don’s being patriotic. And good for him. You would be too.

Anyway, for your reading pleasure, here’s a breakdown on Montreal players and where they’re from:

Montreal has:

10 Canadians. ( Begin, Kostopoulos, Lapierre, Latendresse, Ryder, Brisebois, Dandenault, Gorges, O’Byrne, and Price.)

4 Americans.  (Higgins, Bouillon, Smolinski, and Komisarek.)

2 Russians.  (Kovalev and Markov.)

2 from Belarus  ( Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn.)

2 from the Czech Republic.  (Plekanec and Hamrlik.)

1 from Finland.  (Saku Koivu)

1 from Switzerland.  (Mark Streit)

And 1 from France.  (Christobal Huet.)

 

Toronto Beats The Habs. I Hate Hockey February 8, 2008

Things were going so well for me lately. I’ve had a few days off where I’ve just kind of lounged around. Twice in the last two days my wife has suggested we go out for some beers, and how good is that? My problem stepdaughter has found a nice apartment over on the island.

So things have been good.

But I knew it. I knew my good times were winding down when Toronto lost 8-0 to Florida the other night. I knew they were playing Montreal next, and I just knew these Leafs, who normally stink, were going to play like the 1972 Russian National Team against the Habs.

Bad news for me, and bad news for Montreal. Toronto wins 4-2. I’m gonna take up cricket. GO PAKISTAN!

It would’ve been better probably if the game was played in Toronto instead of Montreal. The Leafs would’ve felt crazy pressure at home, more than in Montreal. Instead, they got to get out of Dodge and play some pond hockey.

Frankly, Montreal hasn’t looked great in their last three games. They blew a three goal lead to the Rangers and lost 5-3. They barely hung on to win 4-3 against Ottawa after leading 4-1. And tonight, against Toronto, a team with about five NHL’ers and about 15 American Hockey Leaguers, they lost 4-2.

Kovalev was great again for the Habs. Carey Price, just called up from Hamilton, was good. A few others were pretty good.

The rest suffered from a bout of narcolepsy.

 

The Circus Is In Town: Montreal Takes On The Leafs February 7, 2008

This might not be good for the Montreal Canadiens. They play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, and because the Leafs just got pasted 8-0 by the Florida Panthers, of all teams, they won’t be feeling good right now. This is a team in turmoil, has been all year, all decade, all several decades, and we’ve seen this scenario before. A team gets embarrassed, humiliated, laughed at, and dismissed, and comes out next game and plays like gangbusters.

The Leafs usually play well against the Habs anyway, so when I think about it, this game could smell. 

But it shouldn’t. The Habs are hotter than Angelina Jolie in heat, and are 16 points better than the Leafs, who are as cold as cold can be.

If I had a say in this, I’d want another 8-0 loss for the Leafs. I always have great evenings when Montreal scores a lot.

The Leafs in turmoil is part of being a Leaf. Even in the ’30’s, ’40’s, and ’50’s, Owner Conn Smythe was hiring and firing and mouthing off to the press about players like Busher Jackson and coaches like Dick Irvin and Billy Reay. There were the fights between Punch Imlach and various players such as Frank Mahovlich in the 1960’s. And Harold Ballard took turmoil to new heights in the 1970’s and ’80’s when he fought with Darryl Sittler and had his ‘C’ removed from his sweater, and when he ordered coach Roger Neilson to wear a paper bag over his head. (Neilson refused, thankfully.) Or Ballard going on about hating European players and how he wouldn’t let the Russians ever play at Maple Leaf Gardens. (He did anyway.)

Then there was the boardroom backstabbing, with Ballard trying to make his girlfriend Yolanda, who knew nothing about running a hockey team, a principle shareholder.

Frankly, I’ve never understood why King Clancy remained so faithful to the miserable old coot all those years.

Now, this year, GM John Ferguson Jr. has been fired, (probably rightfully so), and Cliff Fletcher has been brought in to restore some sanity to the asylum. Coach Paul Maurice’s job is hanging by a thread, and the Leafs’ best player, Mats Sundin, is the only one in the free world who thinks he’s staying put and not traded.

It’s all wonderful stuff.  And it’ll be even more wonderful if the Habs clobber them Thursday night.

 

‘Big’ isn’t the word for the Habs win tonight. More like ‘Gigantic’ February 6, 2008

I lived in Ottawa for 15 years. I passed out from tequila at my bachelor stag there, I was married there, my kids were born there, I drank beer with Aurele Joliat there, I got thrown down the Club Chaudiere stairs by world famous bouncer Gerry Barber near there.

And all the time I was there, I was among Montreal Canadiens fans. At work, at play, in bars, at parties – the majority of hockey fans were Habs fans.

Then, in 1992, Ottawa got the Senators. They’d had them once before, but in the early 1930’s, they lost them. Now the team’s back, and wouldn’t you know it, all those Habs fans I used to know are mostly now staunch Senators fans. My friends have become turncoats, traitors, ratfinks.

Aren’t there laws prohibiting this?

Tonight, on a cold, wintry February night in Montreal, the Canadiens, with a huge 4-3 win over Ottawa, have now closed a season-wide large gap to a tiny little 1 point difference with the Senators.  Government workers at Tunney’s Pasture in the Nation’s Capital will be crying in their Starbucks Caramel Macchiato’s.

I’m proud, but the team has to keep it going. They need to overtake the Sens, widen the gap, and end up the season in first place with adenaline-rushing momentum. Then I might celebrate by drinking tequila and passing out again.

Then we’ll see what kind of damage can be done in the playoffs.

One team in the east I think I can stop worrying about catching the Habs now is Toronto. This is a team that continues to implode like the Brittany Spears of the north, and tonight, on a cold, dismal February night in Toronto, they lost 8-0 to the Florida Panthers. I’m gonna say it again  – 8-0 to the Florida Panthers.

And for Habs fans, including those who were Montreal fans, then changed to Senators, then came back to where they belong as Montreal fans, click on the National Hockey League in blogroll on the right-hand side here and see the game recap on the Habs link, where Kovalev had three assists, Andrei Kostitsyn had a goal and two assists, and Tomas Plekanec has two goals and an assist.

Man I’m feelin’ good.