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 2 of 5) May 23, 2008

Jacques Plante, with wife Jacqueline and boys Michel and Richard, singing and forgetting about flying pucks that hurt when they hit your face. Plante also liked to knit, and made his own socks and toques.

 

Dickie Moore and his lovely wife playing with their little baby. Such a fine looking couple. One of Moore’s daughters, and it could be the one in this photo, is dating one of Doug Harvey’s sons right now.

 

Bert Olmstead showing his beautiful family his scrapbook, just like the Rocket did. Scrapbooks were all the rage back then, and probably very cool when the scrapbook was about yourself. A few years back, I looked up Olmstead in the Calgary phone book, phoned him and asked him if he’d mind talking about the old days with the Habs. He hung up on me.

 

Philadelphia Steals Game Three. Carey Price Struggles And Provides Serious Drama For Game Four April 28, 2008

 GAME 3

Kate Smith singing God Bless America didn’t win the game for the Philadelphia Flyers. She hasn’t since 1975. No one on the Flyers won the game for the Flyers.

Montreal won the game for the Flyers.

The Habs were ineffective during an early-game two man advantage. They held a big edge in play in the first period. They hit three posts. Carey Price, looking shaky, was replaced by Jaroslav Halak in the third, and the team responded by outshooting Philly 16-2. But it wasn’t enough, losing in the end 3-2, and the team is now down two games to one. They need game four so badly, there’d better be focus, concentration, commitment, no late-night dinners, no over-doing the beer or wine, and a good, reasonable curfew these next two nights.

They couldn’t score. Mind you, they got two on the power play when slow-poke Derian Hatcher took a five minute major in the third. And they stormed the Flyers net for most of the third. But they had gotten behind early in the game, and it was too much to come back when Biron is playing like he is. 

And most disturbing of all, Carey Price, for far too many games now, has been only pretty good at best. Not great. Not Ken Dryden, or Terry Sawchuk, or Roger Crozier, or Jacques Plante. He’s just been Carey Price, which, in this playoff year, has not been outstanding. It’s a concern because we need Price to be the second coming of Plante and Dryden, and no one less.

So the question is. Can Carey Price make his name this year in the Stanley Cup playoffs, or are these chapters yet to written?

Game four is Wednesday night, and will the questions be answered. Is the power play back? Will the Kostitsyn’s play better. Where is Mike Komisarek? Will Martin Biron look human? And will Carey Price rebound and deliver? 

Game note:

Kudos to Robert over at Eyes on The Prize. Robert has a fantastic Habs site which he continues to tweak, and the photo of him sitting at the Habs press conference table is brilliant. (You can click on Eyes on the Prize over in my blogroll).

 

 

 

It Sure Wasn’t Hard Becoming A Habs Fan April 5, 2008

I’m asked from time to time why I cheer for the Habs and not the Toronto Maple Leafs, seeing that I grew up only an hour north of Toronto, in Orillia. The answer’s easy. The Montreal Canadiens were a gift from my dad.

My dad’s 87 now, and of course, still watches hockey. He’s been a hockey fan all his life, followed the Leafs when he was young, and he once wrote a letter in the 1930’s to Ace Bailey who lay in a hospital after Boston’s Eddie Shore clubbed him over the head, ending his career, and nearly killing him.

Bailey’s wife wrote a thank-you note to my dad in return.

But slowly, my dad began to turn. The Toronto Star and Telegram both plastered their papers with Leafs stories and my dad began to wonder about the almost invisible other teams. It was always “Leafs, Leafs, Leafs” as he used to say. Foster Hewitt was the definitive homer, and this rubbed dad the wrong way. And dad, being the introverted type, cringed when he read or heard about the goings-on of brash, loud, and arrogant Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

In the fifties, with television entering households, it was only Leafs game shown, and when the Montreal Canadiens played in Toronto, my dad liked what he saw on his TV. There was the Rocket, Beliveau, Harvey, and Plante. Stanley Cups began to be won by the Habs on a regular basis beginning in 1955, and the Leafs just kept plodding along. The Canadiens had something the Leafs didn’t.

When I was a boy, my dad started a big Montreal Canadiens scrapbook for me. He helped me write fan letters to the the Rocket, and at one point, the Rocket sent me a Christmas card. He took me to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of times, and once, when we were early and stood at the gate, the entire 1958 Montreal team walked right by us.

He bought me a hockey book which he mailed to Montreal asking for autographs in, and it was mailed back signed by the entire 1958-59 Habs – Richard, Plante, Toe Blake, Beliveau, Geoffrion etc, and the only one missing was Doug Harvey. When we went to a game at the Gardens, he brought the book with him, took it down the the Montreal dressing room corridor, saw Toe Blake standing there, and asked Blake if he would take the book into the dressing room and get Harvey to sign it.

Believe it not, Blake did just that. My son has the book now.

So of course I became a Habs fan. They’ve been magical for me, and the magic has never gone away. It’s been a lifelong love affair.

And it’s all because of my dad.

 

Remembering Doug Harvey March 6, 2008

The following is my column in the Powell River Peak, published March 3, 2008. doug.jpg                           

Unless you’re very young, or have never paid particular attention to hockey, you probably know who Doug Harvey is. You might know only that he was a hockey player a long time ago. But maybe you know he’s rated as the sixth greatest player of all time, and it’s between him and Bobby Orr as the game’s best defenceman ever.

He played for the Montreal Canadiens alongside Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, and the rest of the cast of iconic 1950’s characters, and he was, with the Rocket, my boyhood hero. When I was a kid, my dad even corralled coach Toe Blake one night at Maple leaf Gardens in Toronto to go into the dressing room and get Harvey’s autograph for me.

Doug Harvey’s gone now, but I still think about him, so a few weeks ago, I did what I had to do. I phoned his son in the Maritimes.

Doug Harvey Jr. is 57 years old, is proud of his dad, and he was happy to talk about him. What was it like, I asked, being the son of such a star? “It was probably just like you and your dad,” he said. “We were just a family like everyone else. Kids at school didn’t treat me any different, and when I played hockey, there were no names on the sweaters, so no one gave me a hard time at the rink. “I guess one thing that might be different was that players would come over to the house quite often – Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau, Jacques Plante, the Rocket a few times. When dad was building our house, most of the team helped him.”Even the kids of the Montreal Canadiens found a connection, probably because they had so much in common. “We lived near a lot of the players,” continued Doug Jr., “and I was a good buddy with Toe Blake’s son. And it’s funny too, my brother has been dating Dickie Moore’s daughter for a few years now, and dad and Dickie were best friends.”Doug Jr. remembers too how sometimes his dad’s job interfered with a family trying to have a normal life. “My mom would get upset with dad because we’d go to games on schools nights from time to time, and for an eight o’clock game, he’d be at the old Forum at 5:30 and stay for a couple of hours afterward signing autographs for people. We wouldn’t get home until after midnight and we had to get up in the morning for school.”

Doug Harvey was a genuine free spirit, a practical joker, a fun-loving guy, a kind-hearted person, and a supremely gifted hockey player. He dominated on the ice in the old ‘original six’ NHL, controlling the game, slowing it down or speeding it up, making precise passes, setting the pace, and was a leader among men.

He was a general on the ice, and won the Norris trophy for best defenceman a remarkable seven times.

Slowly though, over the years, his health began to fail, and then, in 1989, at 65 years of age, the great Doug Harvey passed away.

“I remember visiting him in the hospital and he was usually in good spirits,” said Doug Jr. “One time I was in the corridor and I heard laughter coming from his room. Inside, Bobby Orr and Don Cherry were there cheering up my dad.”

And I’m sure, after all I’ve read, and after talking to Doug Jr., the man with the big heart was cheering them up too.

 

Carey Price, Cow Testicles, And The Big Hollywood Blockbuster February 27, 2008

price.jpgplante.jpgcow.jpgBob Gainey must have balls like a cow for dealing the more experienced Christobal Huet and deciding on young, 20 year old Carey Price as his starting netminder heading into the playoffs.

But in Price’s very first start as the uncontested number 1 goalie for the Montreal Canadiens, he allowed only one goal as the team trounced Atlanta 5-1. This is the way the script should be written. This will be a chapter in the book that will come out someday about young Price, the Habs 21th century version of Jacques Plante, with the theme, “Young Goalie Given Top Job. And Comes Through In Dramatic Fashion.” 

Imagine if the score was reversed. Price has already this year dealt with shaky confidence, and a big, lop-sided loss might have sent him to the asylum. And Montreal fans, including me, might have tarred and feathered Bob Gainey.

Montreal has let in far too many goals lately, so tonight, allowing only one, is reason to feel good. And along with the book, if a movie is someday made about the dramatic events of this day revolving around the Gainey, Price, and Christobal Huet saga, I’m hoping to play Red Fisher.

Good start, but it’s only just begun. Next up – in Buffalo Friday night, and then back home Saturday for a huge clash with New Jersey. Hey, what am I saying? They’re all huge clashes.

And one last thing. Ottawa lost 5-0 the other night to Toronto, and 4-0 tonight to Boston. What’s up with that? Could it be that Montreal had too many goalies, and Ottawa has none?

 

Trade Deadline in Montreal. Please Carey Price, Don’t Lose Your Confidence Again February 26, 2008

Montreal traded Christobal Huet to Washington for a 2009 second round pick?

 And that’s it?

That’s the extent of movement in Montreal as the team’s in a playoff race and maybe just a small piece of the puzzle is needed to complete the picture? 

There’s no Marian Hossa. No Brad Richards. No Alex Tanguay. There’s no one. Only a 2nd round Washington draft choice.  So I’m sitting here trying to figure this out and all I can think is that Bob Gainey is trying to save money and Huet has been quite mediocre lately. Maybe Gainey likes the chemistry with the team and didn’t want to play with fire. It’s all very strange. And I’m very confused.  

Christobal Huet becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, so he may have gone elsewhere, or may have asked for a great big raise from the Habs. But Montreal has extra dollars in their piggybank, and it’s not like the organization’s in trouble as they sell out 21000 plus seats every single night. So they could have afforded Huet next year if they wanted to.

The answer must be that the brass has lost faith in Huet’s ability. He’s been pretty soft lately, that’s for sure.

And then there’s Carey Price. He was sent down to Hamilton recently to get his confidence back, which he seemed to do, and has played pretty well since returning to the big club. But what if he loses his confidence again? Is Jaroslav Halak, the new backup, good enough to pick up the slack?

It’s all a lot of unanswered questions. Maybe Price, now realizing he’s the big guy, will play like Jacques Plante from here on in. Maybe Gainey knows something about Huet that we don’t. Maybe Michel Ryder, on the trade bubble for weeks now, will relax and fill the net. Maybe everyone will relax, get down to business, and go on a tear.

All I know is, I’m confused. And Pittsburgh, with Marian Hossa now in the lineup beside Sidney Crosby and Evgeny Malkin, scares me. 

 

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