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 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.) 

 

 

Footnotes From The Day After The Night Before. Being Especially Proud of The Montreal Canadiens Today March 2, 2008

I’m in first place this morning. Actually, the Montreal Canadiens are in first place, but because me and Mike Williamson and scores of other fans have stuck with them through thick and thin over decades and decades, we’re part of the team too. We’re team members, we just don’t lace on the skates. 1st.jpg

When the score was tied 1-1 last night, my wife was laying on the couch, very tired from getting up early. I jokingly said to her we should go for a beer after the game. Surprisingly, she said if Montreal won, we would. They did and we did! What a wife!

I got an email from Rick the trucker informing me that cows don’t have balls, bulls do. (Feb. 27 post). Hey, if it stands in a field and moos from time to time, and eats and shits at the same time, it’s a cow even if it is a bull.cow-power.jpg

Martin Brodeur would have been a fine Montreal Canadien. He was born and raised in Montreal and his dad, Denis, was the Habs official photographer for years and years. I’m sure young Martin was a big Habs fan growing up. Just like Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, and Vladislav Tretiak. But we’re doing just fine without him, thank you very much.

When I heard the fans at the Bell Centre chanting ‘Go Habs Go’ it brought me back to another time. Unlike the past several years, I could hear real passion in last night’s chant. It felt like it was during Montreal-Boston, or the Nordiques, etc. playoff games at the old Forum. It was dramatic. It was spine-tingling. It was music to my ears.game-photo.jpg

The New Jersey Devils are a contender every year because they never change the way they approach their game. They smother the other team with checking and don’t worry a great deal about scoring. It’s effective, and really, really boring.

The Devils also blamed the officiating for the loss.

I hope Bob McKenzie, Pierre McGuire, and all the big-shot television experts learn something from this. They, in their wisdom, picked Montreal to finish out of the playoffs, in about 14th place. Maybe next year they should just say that there’s no way of telling.

During this weeks’ west coast swing, it’d be nice to see the Habs new backup goalie Jaroslav Halak, get some work. Maybe Carbonneau could start him against Phoenix, and if he plays well, let him go again in Los Angeles. It’d be a nice little breather for Carey Price, who could play in San Jose Monday and Anaheim next Sunday.

 

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. 

 

Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby: Who Would You Choose? January 30, 2008

They’ve both been in the league since the 2005-06 season, and both, in their own distinct ways, have been fabulous. Any General Manager, if asked who he would pick from these two to build his team around, would have to think long and hard. Crosby is the successor to Gretzky and Lemieux’s mantle, and is The Next One. Ovechkin plays with abandon, and several of his many goals have been described as some of the prettiest ever. Both fill rinks wherever they play, both genuinely love the game, and both have the big numbers.

SO HOW DO THEY MEASURE UP? LET’S TAKE A LOOK.

Sidney Crosby is 20 years old, and Ovechkin is 22.

Crosby is a centreman. Ovechkin plays left wing.

Crosby is 5’11”, 200 lbs.  Ovechkin is 6’2″, 217 lbs.

Crosby, in 206 games, has 95 goals, 190 assists, for 285 points. (with 207 penalty minutes.)

Ovechkin, in 213 games, has 137 goals, 126 assists, for 263 points. (with 126 penalty minutes.)

THE QUESTIONS THAT REMAIN TO BE SEEN ARE:

Who will prove to be the bigger winner. Crosby’s on a better team and may wear a Stanley Cup ring soon. Ovechkin may never wear the ring. Winners create more of a legacy than non-winners.

Who will have more longevity. Both are good sizes, but both go kamikaze to the net. Crosby already is in the midst of a serious ankle injury. Ovechkin has dodged the bullet so far.

Crosby’s a Canadian, so his love of hockey is built in. For him, hockey’s as natural as eating and sleeping.

Ovechkin’s Russian. And you can tell by the smiles that he finds sheer joy in playing the game. It seems his love of hockey is built in too.

Crosby’s a better playmaker with all the hockey smarts. Ovechkin just plays with natural instinct and has a colourful knack when scoring. 

Crosby is the new Gordie Howe. Ovechkin is the new Maurice Richard.