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.

 

 

 

And All Along I Thought Winnipeggers Were Nice May 15, 2008

Geez, I thought people in Winnipeg were nice people. But it turns out they’re no different than a couple of people in other cities. Surprisingly, some Winnipeggers don’t like the Habs.  I don’t understand it, but it’s the way of the world, I suppose. Who would’ve thought?

So I say to these Winnipeg Hab-haters, may one of your smaller mosquitos land on your head, pick you up by the hair, and drop you into a haystack with a pitchfork in it.

Here’s what I mean.

Recent letters to the Winnipeg Sun:

 

From GM Ross.

This message is directed to the most overrated, over-hyped and probably whiniest bunch of sore losers, along with their fans. To the Montreal Canadiens: Na, na, na, na, hey, hey, good riddance. And take your homer referees with you. Ole, ole.

 

From Jeff Morris:

Nigel Gauvreau needs to calm down and take a look outside the real world (Mail Bag, May 3). No one cares about Montreal winning the Cup, and all Habs fans have to show for during the past 15 years is that they nearly burned down the city when they beat Boston. Since the same thing happened back when Rocket Richard was suspended, that’s nothing new. Besides, at least the Leafs are looking for a GM who will turn them into a Stanley Cup contender.

 

From Chris Maher:

 

The best thing about the Montreal Canadiens being knocked out of the playoffs will be not having to listen any longer to the Chairman of the Carey Price fan club, CBC’s Greg Millen.

Don Cherry got ripped for pulling for the Leafs or Bruins, but at least if you’re annoyed with Grapes’ views, one has to hear him for only a few minutes at a time.

But Millen goes on for 60 minutes about the Canadiens goalie and his great positioning and rebound control and seems to be over the top with gushing compliments on simple wrist shots from the blue line.

Even without high-definition, one could see the No. 31 Habs sweater under his CBC blazer.

Don’t get me wrong, Price is a great young goalie with potentially a great future ahead of him, whom 29 other teams would covet. But Millen, having been only an average NHL goaltender himself, seemed to be living vicariously through the young Montreal netminder. And when Price began contributing more and more to the Canadiens’ losses and eventual elimination, Millen only then realized the real star of the series was the Flyers’ RJ Umberger, a fourth-line player who almost didn’t crack the playoff roster, and then began to sing his praise deservedly.

Someone help me out here?

Does Ole, ole, ole, when translated mean, “hey Mats Sundin! We see you didn’t come to Montreal and are there any good tee-off times left?”

 

(Note from Dennis: What the hell does the last two sentences mean?)

 

 

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?

 

 

 

 

Fascinating Facts Are Back! Will Your Heart Handle It? April 27, 2008

Fascinating Fact #1  I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once, when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time.  The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a lttle, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.

Fascinating Fact #2  Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away last year, introduced me once to goaltender Richard Brodeur. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh, I don’t want to talk to you.”

Fascinating Fact #3  I was once introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.

Fascinating Fact #4  A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970’s and to crack the Habs line up, you pretty well had to be a Guy Lafleur, so French decided to sign with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.

Fascinating Fact #5  Rick Ley lived around the corner from me growing up. We sometimes skated on the big outdoor rink near us, before school. Ley also pitched a ball to me one summer which the batter fouled off into my mouth and knocked my front tooth out. 

Fascinating Fact #6  The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge. This was in the late 1970’s.

The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at one end. 

Most games I’ve gone to, however, were usually way, way up. 

Fascinating Fact #7  Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.

Fascinating Fact #8  Gary Lupul told me once that the guy he made sure he didn’t piss off on the ice because the guy was simply too big and scary,  was Clark Gillies of the Islanders.

 

 

 

Rick The Trucker Is Back, With More News From His 18 Wheeler April 16, 2008

Sorry about the small print. I don’t have a clue why this happened. Please read anyway, because Rick the Trucker is back. Just get closer to the screen, that’s all.

 

Rick the Trucker, who spends are a large portion of his life truckin Highway 417 between Ottawa and Montreal, is back with more on the what’s happening on the front. Rick’s been on these pages before, he’s like my roving reporter, and he’s always got this great perpective because while he’s truckin, he’s got the late night sports talk radio blasting in his 18 wheeler.

Rick’s a Senators fan, but he’s still a great guy anyway.

Here’s more from life on Highway 417:

“So I’m driving back from Montreal tonite and get into Ottawa radio range just at the end of the second,,tie game, announcer says Ottawa held their own, killed off some penalties blah blah blah,,so I got the hammer down to try and get home and maybe catch some OT on the tube or something and then BAM, game over in the first 90 seconds of the third, back off the pedal, cruise home while listening to the remainder and dream about watching cricket with my Habs friends by the end of the week,,JUST KIDDING bout the habs fans.I,unlike some other people,do not pick on people for the teams they cheer for,unless it’s the blue team of course,,jab jab!!!

Anyways,heard some good stuff on Montreal radio 2day,,,Lot’s of calls from people who made the trek to Boston for game 3,,some rough stuff in the stands but sad to say,tickets were very easy to obtain, it wasn’t a sellout. It’s sad to see the glorious Bruins tradition slowly sliding down, it wasn’t a sellout and a good percentage were Habs fans. Funny thing,when the Habs fans sang oley oley, Bruins fans sang back “your gay, your gay.”

Chris ‘knuckles’ Nilan has been on the radio everynite in Montreal during this series,always a good chat,was real happy to see fans from his old team showing a presence in his home town,,,forgot to tell you,,that ignorant prick on that 110% show who made that Kostfuckupolis comment was fired after that comment last month.

Don’t know if you get Vancouver radio where you are or even if you do, are the Van.fans as commited to hockey as much as Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal fans?  I’ll tell you, spending all my time between here and Montreal is hockey overload. Same stories,same predictions,same excuses, just different cities but it’s still a blast,,,,,,I’m ordering tickets for cricket matches,,when are you available??????

ENJOY the ride!!!”