Canada, History, Hockey, Humor, Sports

Chris Hadfield or Toronto Maple Leafs

800px-Canada_flag_halifax_9_-04It all ended yesterday. A glorious five month long excursion among the stars came to an end with a return to earth and reality. For those with an interest in such things it was wonderful while it lasted, often uniting a country that watched breathlessly via TV, computers and even Twitter.

… this was something they had never witnessed in their lives

School children were abuzz with chatter about the magnificent photographs and exciting possibilities. Just like a tale out of a storybook, this was something they had never witnessed in their lives. Surely this was something that will not be seen again for many years to come, adding to the aura of the event. With that in mind, parents were known to let young children stay up to watch things unfold, telling them they would one day be able to tell their children about it.

The excitement began late last year with the news that, after a few delays and much frustration, things would finally get going. And get going they did! Surpassing all expectations right across the nation and holding many spellbound right up to the very last moment. Canada is a big country made up of people of numerous backgrounds but all were surprised, enthused and rapt by this episode in our history.  On a daily basis newspapers were full of the details and analysis of every move made; on television, experts explained the minute details and commented on what to expect next. Small glitches were explored and fixed and the mission rolled right along while a nation held its breath.

Shooting stars, speed, all on a beautiful blue background

Right up to the very last minute the country and the media were totally consumed by the splendor of this great Canadian story. Shooting stars, speed, all on a beautiful blue background all came crashing down late yesterday and all folks can do is say they enjoyed it while it lasted and hope for another chance soon.

You didn’t think I meant the return of Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield did you? I’m referring to the Boston Bruins ending the Toronto Maple Leafs playoff dream by bringing them back down to earth with a stunning overtime victory in game seven!

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Canada, Hockey, Humor, Montreal Canadiens, Sports

NHL 2013; a year of halves and Hab-nots

Stanley_cup_Half

NHL Stanley Half-Cup

In an effort to have future hockey fans not refer to the 2013 season as the year or the Asterisk, the NHL Board of Governors has done some math and come up with the following solution to this truncated season as it relates to other years. This season all teams played 48 games; a usual regular season is made up of 82 games.

 If the Governors had used Canadian-penny logic they would have rounded that up to 60% (Canada no longer uses the one-cent coin and rounds prices up or down as required)

This year’s 48 represents 58% of a full season. If the Governors had used Canadian-penny logic they would have rounded that up to 60% (Canada no longer uses the one-cent coin and rounds prices up or down as required). But no, to make life simple they have rounded down, and consider this season to be half of a regular season. The 2013 NHL Half Season was born.

Let’s face it, the NHL isn’t really all that big on accuracy: sometimes it’s a kick, sometimes a redirection, sometimes it’s icing, sometimes it’s not, sometimes the face-off is to the left sometimes … well, you get the idea.

“No matter how we do it, Montreal cup winners get cut, they’re everywhere, we just can’t work around them. Keeping all the Toronto and Boston teams on the Half-Cup was easy.”

So, in fairness to those teams who have been champions in the past, and did so by playing a full season, this year teams are vying for the Stanley Half-Cup. Silversmiths have been working diligently to create a suitable trophy. The design of the Half-Cup called for the names of as many teams as possible to be retained. However the silversmiths could not possibly keep all of the Montreal Canadiens teams on the half-Cup. Said one frustrated artisan “No matter how we do it, Montreal cup winners get cut, they’re everywhere, we just can’t work around them. Keeping all the Toronto and Boston teams on the Half-Cup was easy.”

Banner Half

So next year some lucky team will raise a shiny new Half-Banner at its first home game. And the players will be presented with their half-rings.

Let’s face it, the NHL isn’t really all that big on accuracy: sometimes it’s a kick, sometimes a redirection, sometimes it’s icing, sometimes it’s not, sometimes the face-off is to the left sometimes … well, you get the idea.

Looks like the 2013 NHL season is one of Halves and Hab nots!!

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Canada, Hockey, Humor, Montreal, Sports

Habs eliminated in round one of NHL playoffs; something went wrong long ago

Come on in from the ledge Habs’ fans, it was over before last night’s loss, the fight has been missing from this team for some time. Now that the unthinkable has happened, and the Montreal Canadiens have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, there will be postmortems aplenty. imageLet’s face it, it was an odd season all round with the lockout delaying the beginning until January and then a truncated schedule. It will be a season marked by many asterisks. But it was the same for all teams so that’s no excuse for Montreal’s early departure at the hands of seventh place Ottawa. To find out what’s wrong with the once legendary franchise – and there is something wrong when you compare the current team to older, glorious versions – that has now gone 20 years without a championship, you have to look way back to April 17, 1997.

Come on in from the ledge Habs’ fans, it was over before last night’s loss

On that night at the Meadowlands in New Jersey the Habs were playing game one of the Conference Quarterfinals against the Devils. They trailed 4-2 with time running out so they pulled their goaltender for an extra attacker. Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur handled the puck at the side of his net and shot it the length of the ice and into Montreal’s empty net. Yep, it’s not enough you’re beating a team, but to rub their nose in it by having your goalie score is a bit unprofessional to say the least. When you do it to the 24 time Stanley Cup champs it’s deplorable.

I tip my hat to the Ottawa Senator players for their decisive series victory; however I can’t extend the same courtesy to their coach Paul MacLean

As you can well imagine the hallowed Montreal Canadiens weren’t going to take this humiliation without letting Brodeur know what they felt about it. Immediately the red light went on to indicate a goal, several Montreal players converged on Brodeur to drive home the point. Other players came over the boards and a series of fights broke out as the Habs made it clear there is a price to pay for humiliating them. Sticks and gloves littered the ice as frustrated Canadiens players delivered the message. Devils players came to Brodeur’s protection, and the final seconds of the game ticked away with verbal jousting going on and promises to even things up next game.

John Ferguson RDS

If only that is what had actually happened; sadly what did happen after Brodeur scored was … almost nothing. The box score for the game indicates a minimal amount of penalty minutes. There was a tussle between Dave Manson and Lyle Odelein, and Craig Rivet got a misconduct after the goal.  They were a dejected, beaten and humiliated team. As I’ve written before, I grew up watching the Montreal Canadiens when they were the class of the league. Can you imagine John Ferguson letting a goalie get away with that? Chris Nilan? Serge Savard?

Can you imagine John Ferguson letting a goalie get away with that?

This one incident convinced me that the era of greatness of the Montreal Canadiens was over, the torch had been dropped and the pride was gone. I wish I had the answer as how to regain that pride, but I fear that in this era of greed, trying to rekindle the glory of the past is a fruitless endeavor.

I tip my hat to the Ottawa Senator players for their decisive series victory; however I can’t extend the same courtesy to their coach Paul MacLean who, with a comfortable 6-1 lead in game three chose to show no class and take his time-out with 16 seconds left. Just to prolong the misery. (Some have said he did it to tell his players to keep out of any fights as the game ended, but he could have done that without taking the time-out, as coaches did for decades before there were time-outs in the NHL.)

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Canada, Hockey, Humor, Montreal, Sports

NHL Face-offs: drop the damn puck!

 

Edmonton Journal

Edmonton Journal

It seems that every year some unheralded aspect of the game comes to light during the NHL playoffs. This year is no exception with much discussion, debate, and even letters to editors about the testy subject of face-offs. No doubt other topics have been written about and game analyses have been produced but this topic has many scratching their heads.

As teams make their way through the first round of the play-offs, meeting up every couple of days, they often develop what is referred to as a “good hate” for their opponent. Spats on and off the ice occur, wars of words in the media and more physical battles in the corners take place. But a quick scan of media indicates that fans are more irked by what they perceive as a waste of time at best, and a manipulation of the game at worst. Namely the frustrating yet simple face-off.

According to NHL Rule 76.4

The sticks of both players facing-off shall have the blade on the ice, within the designated white area. The visiting player shall place his stick within the designated white area first followed immediately by the home player.

That sounds simple enough and even if you allow for players being keyed-up and anxious and perhaps encroaching for time to time, there shouldn’t be too much trouble. Most players admit that a little cheating takes place on most face-offs, and those who cheat best win most face-offs. Watching from home on TV or even at the game, the subtleties are lost on the fans. What one player gets turfed out of the face-off circle for, another seems to get away with. However the biggest problem appears to be hesitation on the part of the officials. Drop the damn puck!

Linesmen holding the puck in front of players while waiting for them to be precisely in position is a wee bit like teasing a Doberman with a cookie, sooner or later that dog is going to take the cookie on his terms. I’m still waiting for a player to knock the puck out of a lineman’s hand.

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Canada, Hockey, Humor, Montreal

Sunday in Montreal; sunshine, cold beer and Anthony Bourdain

What more could a Montrealer have asked for yesterday? A beautiful, warm Sunday under a clear blue sky, as the photos below attest; CNN’s Anthony Bourdain absolutely gushing over all things Montreal in the latest episode of his Parts Unknown. The 60 minute show was allegedly about Canada, but Bourdain made it clear from the outset this would only be about Quebec, and primarily Montreal.

“I love Montreal,” said Bourdain, “It is my favorite place in Canada.”

“I love Montreal,” said Bourdain, “It is my favorite place in Canada. The people who live there are tough, crazy bastards. Toronto, Vancouver, I love you too, but it’s not the same.” Ah yes the day was near perfect … except of course for that 6-1 drubbing our beloved Habs suffered. Did I mention it was sunny?

Grafit

A fine example of an urban mural on Roy Street East by Parc Lafontaine

MovieShoot

Lights, camera, action – a small budget film crew at work.

Lane1

Lane running north from Rachel Street.Lilac1

Rachel Street

BikePath

Bicycle path along the west border of Parc Lafontaine.

Church

Roy Street East

Fruit

Fruiterie Du Plateau Roy Street East

Yoga

Yoga studio on Rue St. Denis

Lane2

Yet another lane

Lilac2

Rue Rachel

MontRoyal

Facing West on Rachel Street

Beer

Cold beer on the terrasse of La Marmite on Saint Denis. This photography stuff sure makes one thirsty!

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Canada, Hockey, Humor, Montreal, News, Sports

NHL gears up for playoffs; Lockout? What lockout?

StanleyCupTonight’s game in Boston between the Bruins and Ottawa Senators – postponed earlier due to the Marathon bombing – will settle the playoff pairings. According to the Toronto Sun, the options are as follows:

  • Ottawa wins in regulation – Bruins play Toronto Maple Leafs, Senators face the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Islanders take on the Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Ottawa wins in OT or shootout win – Penguins take on Islanders, Senators face Canadiens, Leafs meet Bruins
  • Boston OT win or shootout win – Bruins play Senators, Leafs face Canadiens, Islanders meet Penguins
  • Boston wins in regulation – Bruins face Islanders, Senators take on Penguins, Leafs face Habs

I’ve indicated in red the option I’d like to see. With  the old adage that anything can happen in the playoffs in mind, I’d like to see the Bruins and Leafs beat up on each other before the Habs face them (assuming they beat Ottawa). Both teams are capable of giving Montreal nightmares and the Leafs are more eager than ever coming off a nine year playoff hiatus.

In an ideal world the Habs would best Ottawa in four or five games while the Bruins and Leafs play a full seven-game series – with a whole lot of overtime, double and triple if possible!

In an ideal world the Habs would best Ottawa in four or five games while the Bruins and Leafs play a full seven-game series – with a whole lot of overtime, double and triple if possible! But I’m getting ahead of myself; there’s one more regular season game to go and the same logic holds true. Let the Bruins and Senators bang each other around for 65 minutes then have a 15 round shoot-out with the Sens winning.

However you slice it, all attention is on the upcoming playoffs, especially with Toronto back in the picture. There was a suggestion that the CN Tower in Toronto be used as a giant goal light, changing to red with each Leafs goal. It’s none of my business as a Habs fan, but I hope they don’t do that. Toronto fans are seasoned, long-time hockey people. Leave the tacky stuff for newcomers.

As we embark on the NHL playoff ride the thought comes to mind “Lockout, I don’t remember any lockout”

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