Dennis Kane’s Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog

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

Lovely Habs Wives In The 1950’s (Part 1 of 5) May 21, 2008

This is Maurice Richard, of course, just sitting around with his wife Lucille and the family. The kids are Maurice Jr., Hugette, Normand, Andre, and Suzanne. In the left photo, the Rocket shows his Rocket scrapbook to Normand and Andre. Most kids don’t have dads with a personal scrapbook. However, my dad was probably a much better sign painter than the Rocket.

Henri Richard and his lovely wife Lise, being happy and healthy at home in Montreal. We would see Lise often over the years in camera shots at games with the Pocket. She’s always looked great. Quite a handsome couple, don’t you think?

Henri was just a little kid when his older brother was becoming a star with the Canadiens.

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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.

 

 

The Night We All Said Thank You To Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard April 20, 2008

I feel just a small break from the stress of the Boston-Montreal series is needed right now.  Montreal fans were so optimistic going into round one, but the team hasn’t played well, and going into game seven Monday night, Boston carries all the momentum and good feelings.

So I feel we need a change of pace, go back to our roots, and check in with the maestro,  the hero of so many, the man who wore the CH not just on his sweater, but also on his heart, the great Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard.

On March 11, 1996, following a game between Dallas and Montreal, the Canadiens and fans said goodbye to the Montreal Forum. The lights were dimmed, and Montreal Canadien captains from over the years walked onto the Forum ice. Emile Bouchard, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Yvon Cournoyer, Serge Savard, Bob Gainey, Guy Carbonneau, Pierre Turgeon, and of course, number nine, Maurice Richard.

A torch was lit and was passed to Butch Bouchard. Bouchard then passed it to the Rocket, and the emotional fans in the beautiful old building, the wondrous Forum, erupted in an explosion of cheers, tears, memories, and thank you’s to the greatest Hab ever. Fans weren’t only saying goodbye to the old building, but were also saying thank you to the Rocket, who had done so much to create the mystique that is the Montreal Canadiens, a man whose deeds, fire, passion, success, and humility continues to make all Montreal fans, young and old, proud of the team, and a man the emotional Quebec Habs fans embraced and clung to through rocky political and cultural times in the province. 

The Rocket was my boyhood hero, stayed that way long after he retired, and remains my hero even today. I met him once, but that’s a story for another day.

Here’s a small clip of that night in 1996, when Montreal Canadiens fans, in a 16 minute standing ovation that left most in tears, said thank you to The Rocket. And he wasn’t even sure why. Because he would always say, “I’m just a hockey player.”

Enjoy. 

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1FvJzhg2nE

 

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.

 

The Montreal Canadiens Might Be Calling Me Up! March 14, 2008

To:

Bob Gainey – General Manager, Montreal Canadiens

Pierre Boivin – President

Dear Sirs,

The other day, the New York Yankees allowed comedian Billy Crystal to not only work out with the team in full uniform, but to also take a full at-bat during a spring training game against the Pirates. The Yankees are a world-class organization and know what they’re doing.

But the Montreal Canadiens are also a world-class organization, and therefore, I’m taking this opportunity to request the chance to dress for an exhibition game next fall.

Although I haven’t had skates on in ten years, and am almost as old as Billy Crystal, I haven’t smoked in quite some time, and I feel I could contribute on right wing, possibly in place of Michael Ryder. Or, if you need me on defence, I’m sure there will be a few openings in the fall (Patrice Brisebois, Mathieu Dandenault etc.) You could even schedule me for when you meet the Senators. I know I could stop Jason Spezza. No one seems to able to do this job now, so why don’t you let me try. I can’t be any worse.

I’m not asking for much, just an exhibition game. However, if I own the puck the way Henri Richard did in his initial season, you may feel free to keep me.

When I was about 13 years old, I wrote to Sam Pollock asking to be stick boy for a game at the Forum, and Mr. Pollock promptly wrote back saying that if he let me do it, he’d basically open up a can of worms, and I must be content to watch my favourite players from a distance.

I’ve stewed over this for decades, as I feel I would have been exceptionally fast in giving a new stick to Mr. Beliveau or Mr. Rousseau if they had broken one during the action.

I sort of feel I was cut from the team.

So now’s your chance to make good and clear my mental issues that came from rejection all those years ago.

If the Yankees can do it, so can you.

Oh, and if you don’t mind, can I please wear number 6 for the game? I’ve always felt I was a Ralph Backstrom-type player, smallish but speedy, and I’m sure Mr. Kostopoulos wouldn’t mind sitting out, as he does it quite often anyway.

Thanks a lot.

Dennis Kane.

 

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

 

Wearing The Sweater With Pride, And Beating Philadelphia February 15, 2008

Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and Yvon Cournoyer have come out in public and said young guys coming up now with the Habs don’t understand what it means to wear the jersey. This follows on the heels of the Ryan O’Byrne nightmare. The three have said that you have to wear the CH with honour and dignity, or words to that effect.

Honour and dignity was the second thing I thought of after the incident came out in the news. The first thing I thought of was about how they’d just got slaughtered by Ottawa and now they’re probably going to lose to lowly Tampa Bay because they’ll be sluggish from partying. Which they were, and did.

But enough said. Now we turn to the dastardly Philadelphia Flyers for a home and home Saturday and Sunday. Philly has 65 points, maybe 67 depending on tonight’s clash with Tampa Bay, but they’ve been in a bit of slump recently. Montreal has 69 points and have also been in a slump. So they’re close.

And Montreal may be better drinkers but there’s no way of knowing, really.

I also have a confession to make. I’ve been quite hard on Flyers rookie Steve Downey in previous posts, but I heard a story about him lately that has made me change my thinking a little. When Steve was eight years old, he and his dad were driving home from a hockey practice and were in a car accident. Steve’s dad was killed.

So I’m going to let up on him from now on. As long as he doesn’t run someone else in a game and cause an injury.

Evening update!  Philadelphia just lost 5-3 to Tampa Bay, their fifth straight loss. This can mean one of two things. The Flyers will suck Saturday night, or they’ll break out and play like crazy. Or both teams will suck. Or both teams will break out.  Or…..never mind.