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Bruins, Leafs and Scorpions

Bruins-Leafs

It’s NHL playoff time. Much like The Masters and the Kentucky Derby the playoffs are a true sports-themed harbinger of spring. The weather is getting more pleasant, the snow has just about all melted under the warm sun. Bars and restaurants open their terraces and make sure that there are adequate big-screen televisions to accommodate hockey-loving patrons. Will this be the year the Montreal Canadiens finally snap their too-long championship-less streak?

No Canadiens in the playoffs and we are anticipating the arrival of a late-season ice storm. I’m not sure about Mudville, but there’s certainly a lack of joy in Montreal this year.

Well, no it won’t be. That is a certainty as the team failed to qualify for the postseason. No Canadiens in the playoffs and we are anticipating the arrival of a late-season ice storm. I’m not sure about Mudville, but there’s certainly a lack of joy in Montreal this year and lots to crank about.

On the other hand, all is not lost. You see, part of being a fan of the Montreal Canadiens is a deep-rooted dislike for their two old rivals, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. It just so happens that these two clubs are facing each other in the first round of the playoffs. Like scorpions in a bottle we, Habs fans, can sit back and watch the on-ice clash. Personally, if I have to select one over the other, I have to go with the Bruins.

Except now the hated-Bruins are up against the hated-Leafs. So, for perhaps the first time in my life, I find myself being able to side with the Boston skaters 

I like the city of Boston; I root for the New England Patriots (and have been doing so for many years, not merely jumping on the recent bandwagon) and in the absence of a Montreal MLB franchise I cheer on the Red Sox. But of course, the Bruins are a different kettle of clam chowder as they are usually in direct competition with my Canadiens. Except now the hated-Bruins are up against the hated-Leafs. So, for perhaps the first time in my life, I find myself being able to side with the Boston skaters as they take on Toronto. It’s a bit weird at first, but I’m getting used to it.

I’m even thinking of dropping my Rs when I speak, and debating the correct pronunciation of Faneuil Hall (does it rhyme with manual or Daniel).

I can’t say that I really care which team wins the series, but I have found a different angle from which to partake of the annual spring playoff viewing. I’d much rather be watching the Canadiens play of course, but for the next little while, I’ll have to make do with being a Boston fan. I’m even thinking of dropping my Rs when I speak (Pahk the cah in Hahvahd Yahd), and debating the correct pronunciation of Faneuil Hall (does it rhyme with manual or Daniel).

But before tonight’s game in Toronto, I’ll be cheering on all the participants in the Boston Marathon and hoping for a safe race.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Once Mighty Montreal Canadiens Now Just One of Thirty-One

Habs_Logo

If you are a sports fan in North America this is a very busy time of year. The baseball races are coming down to the wire. The NFL, CFL and college football are well underway. Hockey has begun preseason games and basketball is just around the corner. Phew!

In Montreal, the focus is primarily on hockey and the 2017 version of the Canadiens.

In Montreal, the focus is primarily on hockey and the 2017 version of the Canadiens. Several years ago I wrote a piece about the two distinct generations of Canadiens fans; those old enough to have experienced a Stanley Cup championship season and those for whom that joy has yet to be realized.

The team has won a total of 24 Stanley Cups, but coincidentally they have now gone 24 years since last winning in 1993. By the time I was eighteen, the Habs – as the team is often known – I had witnessed ten championships.

Alas, my once mighty Montreal Canadiens have become just one of 31 teams …

It occurred to me recently as I listened to a radio sportscast that the same holds true for journalists covering the team. The excitement is clearly evident as the young sportscaster discussed various line combinations used at practice and possible defense pairings. All in an effort to make the team competitive. When I was a kid there was never a thought given to whether or not the team would be competitive, but rather which other teams might give them a run for their money.

Alas, my once mighty Montreal Canadiens have become just one of 31 teams, albeit one with a very rich history. Maybe this year they will snare that elusive 25th Stanley Cup!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Montreal May 17, 2042

With so much excitement brewing this summer regarding Montreal’s 375th anniversary I thought it might be interesting to gaze into a crystal ball and get an idea of what our fair city may look like twenty-five years from now when, in 2042, we mark our 400th. Below is an article from The Gazette of May 17, 2042 (sadly but not surprisingly, available online only).

(Montreal, May 17, 2042) On this 400th anniversary of Montreal, the city council proudly and officially adopted a motion to change the name of the downtown Ville Marie borough to “Jazz” in recognition of the fact that the corporate entity known as the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, marking its 63rd edition this year, now owns more than 54% of the commercial real estate in the borough. However, the vote in council was close, as many considered a second option, to change the name to Sergakis, after the entrepreneur, now in his nineties, who owns the other 46% of the properties.

With so many terraces and Bixi stations, the number of available parking spots not buried is almost nil, leaving motorists and driver-less cars with no alternative but to take their business to the suburbs.

Montreal is living up to its reputation as a pedestrian and bike-friendly city. Council has been lauded by many cycling associations from around the world for clearing the downtown core of essentially all motorized vehicles. This was achieved serendipitously through the issuance of permits for the vast proliferation of street-sidewalk straddling restaurant and bar terraces which reduced several main arteries, including Ste. Catherine and de Maisonneuve, to one narrow lane of traffic. Unfortunately, most of these terraces, once iconic symbols of the city’s joie de vivre, sit empty. With so many terraces and Bixi stations, the number of available parking spots not buried is almost nil, leaving motorists and driver-less cars with no alternative but to take their business to the suburbs.

Actual Cohen mural

The Montreal Canadiens continue to sell-out every home game, as they pursue that elusive 25th Stanley Cup. This year the team made it to the third round of the playoffs only to fall short, going down four games to three to the Calais Burghers, winners of the NHL’s European conference. Speaking in French, English, and Arabic, Habs head coach Abdul Abboud stated, “We need to make a few off-season tweaks and we will come back stronger”.

A late-game home run into the right-field bleachers at Molson Jackie Robinson Stadium crushed all hopes of a Series appearance.

Montreal sports fans did have something to cheer about as the Expos, celebrating the tenth year since returning to the city, came within one pitch of advancing to the North American Series (once inaccurately called the World Series). A late-game home run into the right-field bleachers at Molson Jackie Robinson Stadium crushed all hopes of a Series appearance. A number of older fans felt sadness and a strange sense of deja vu when LA Dodgers’ Freddy Friday played long ball to dash the Expos’ chances.

The final phase of the Turcot interchange overhaul is expected to be completed by year’s end. The work has taken significantly longer than was originally planned some thirty years ago due to several inquiries and commissions that have resulted in a total absence of political corruption. Contractors blame a lack of hands to be greased, and a dearth of kickback recipients for the lagging work.

Proposed Cohen Mural on Crescent Street

The city and its police force are still at loggerheads over pension reform. Council recently adopted new camouflage police uniforms thereby provoking the union to order its members to wear black pants in protest.

And perhaps Council’s most popular action was to pass a motion that will radically alter the number of construction cones in the city. Henceforth only streets without resurfacing, water main repairs, or a festival will be marked by the once ubiquitous orange cones.

The secularization of the city continued with the removal of the cross from Mount Royal.  A new thirty-metre tall illuminated statue of Leonard Cohen has been installed on the same site, bringing the number of Cohen tributes, including schools, Metro stations, murals, streets, libraries, and parks to 163.

And perhaps Council’s most popular action was to pass a motion that will radically alter the number of construction cones in the city. Henceforth only streets without resurfacing, water main repairs, or a festival will be marked by the once ubiquitous orange cones.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

 

 

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Montreal Casino Opens New Upscale Restaurant

robuchon

On Thursday The Montreal Gazette ran an article about the new restaurant at the Casino de Montréal: L’Atelier Montréal de Joël Robuchon. Robuchon is a much decorated and world-renowned chef, including 28 Michelin stars. Evidently the gastronomic scene in Canada is about to be stood on its head. Will it be able to keep up?

Robuchon is a much decorated and world renowned chef, including 28 Michelin stars.

The money spent on the preparation of the new restaurant is certainly nothing to sneeze at. But I would ask detractors to bear in mind the daily profit realized by the Casino de Montréal and understand that this is but a drop in the bucket.

In fairness I must come clean and admit that I write this from the perspective of one who believes longtime mayor Jean Drapeau had the right idea. Having enjoyed as a young boy EXPO 67 and as an adolescent the 1976 Summer Olympics,I thought at last a world class establishment in Montreal, just in time for the city’s 375th anniversary.

But alas I fear next year’s anniversary activities will be hamstrung by bean counters.

While driving home from work on Thursday I heard Montreal Gazette restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman on the radio. She made the point that perhaps it would be more appropriate to have a local chef in the spotlight instead of Chef Robuchon. Maîtres chez nous as she mentioned. That is all fine and dandy, but do we have a local chef with 28 Michelin stars? Perhaps the Montreal Canadiens should abandon scouting in Europe and stick to local kids, regardless of skill level, a few lads playing shinny, but from here would be better. I agree with Ms Chesterman that a Schwartz’s outlet at the Casino would be great, but not necessarily as a main attraction.

As we approach our city’s 375th birthday I hope that this single step will lead to many more that will restore Montreal’s status to its once significant position on the world stage. It has been far too long without this recognition, and subsequent tourist-dollar input. But alas I fear next year’s anniversary activities will be hamstrung by bean counters.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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A Baseball Fight With a Real Punch Thrown; it Even Landed

 (Richard W. Rodriguez/Star-Telegram via Associated Press)

(Richard W. Rodriguez/Star-Telegram via Associated Press)

Last Sunday the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers rekindled their tetchy past with a good old-fashioned Donnybrook. Well, as good as baseball fights get. At least in this dugout-clearing brawl there was one real punch thrown. Unlike hockey scraps, baseball fights tend to involve lots of players grabbing and holding, pushing and shoving, hooting and hollering but very little actual fighting.

A smart-ass, unprofessional move that, not surprisingly, riled the Texas players

To understand what spurred the altercation you have to go back to last year’s American League Division Series. In the seventh inning of game five Jose Bautista smacked a three-run homer. He stood for a moment admiring the hit and watching the ball sail over the fence, then he cockily flipped his bat as he began his home-run trot.

A smart-ass, unprofessional move that, not surprisingly, riled the Texas players. Fast-forward to last Sunday. The Major League Baseball schedule had Toronto in Texas for a three-game series; the two teams would then not meet again this regular season. With the Rangers up by one run in the top of the eighth inning, rookie Matt Bush took advantage of Bautista’s potentially last at-bat to send a message: something you normally would not do in a one-run game, he threw at him. Not at his head, but a fastball to the ribs.

You want to talk the talk; now let’s see you walk the walk.

Nilan

Chris Nilan lands one

Bautista took his place at first base and Bush was tossed from the game. The next batter hit a double-play ball, Texas second baseman Rougned Odor touched the base for the force, then turned to throw to first only to have Bautista try to barrel into him. Odor dodged him, hopped over him, but naturally took offense and confronted Bautista, shoved him and, just like Chris Nilan or John Ferguson, popped him with a right that knocked off Bautista’s sunglasses and left the Blue Jay wondering what day it was.

That’s right, a baseball fight with a real punch not only thrown, but squarely landed. Bautista was peeved at having been hit (by a rookie at that) but surely he must have realized that his take-out slide was going to cause a reaction. Someone needs to explain to him that it is never a good idea to start a fight, and lead with your chin.

Someone needs to explain to him that it is never a good idea to start a fight, and lead with your chin.

Just as an aside, in my long career as a recreational pitcher, many, many rungs below the major leagues, it always seemed to me to be stupid to throw at a batter. The pitcher has a ball, the hitter a bat. If the pitcher throws at the hitter, he’d better kill or maim him. If not the pitcher finds himself facing an angry sore man who still has his bat, while the pitcher has thrown his only weapon and is left armed with a leather glove. I ever liked my chances with a glove versus a man with a bat. I’m no George Patton, but it is my humble opinion that throwing your only weapon is never a good idea. But I digress.

I was watching the game on Canadian TV with Blue Jay announcers Buck Martinez and Pat Tabler both of whom went to great lengths to state that Bautista was in the right. Huh? At least studio analyst Gregg Zaun implied that Bautista should not be surprised at the treatment he got.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Are the Toronto Blue Jays Canada’s Team?

The only thing better than September baseball is October baseball. If you have been following Major League Baseball you know that the Toronto Blue Jays hold a slim lead over the New York Yankees as we enter the homestretch.  Whether they win their division or a wild card spot, the chances of them making the postseason are good.

To watch the Toronto media coverage of the team you would think they had invented the game. That’s fine, the team is playing well and a little bravado is accepted.

If we were talking international competition, it would make perfect sense. But league play is a different kettle of fish.

Since Canada’s first MLB team, the Montreal Expos, left town, the Blue Jays have been the only team north of the border. But being the sole Canadian-based team is a whole lot different from being Canada’s Team.

Canada has hundreds of thousands of baseball fans; many go back long before there were Canadian teams. There are baseball fans in Halifax who have supported the Boston Red Sox for generations. Yankees fans are everywhere and longtime Twins and Brewers fans can be found across the prairies.

But with the Jays playing well in September evidently all Canadians are expected to shift allegiances and get behind them. Just as when a few seasons ago the Montreal Canadiens were the only Canadian team in the NHL playoffs and the entire country got behind them. Well, maybe not, nor would I expect them to.

By definition fans are loyal to a favourite team. Expecting people to rally around another is a bit over the top. If we were talking international competition, it would make perfect sense. But league play is a different kettle of fish.

This is not just silly Toronto-bashing; this is purely a sports team support issue.

Toronto has long tried to convince anyone who would listen that it is a “world-class city”.

In a special column in the Montreal Gazette recently Jack Todd lays out his take on what to do. He comes to the conclusion that he is ready to offer his “tepid, half-hearted, definitely maybe support to this year’s edition of the Blue Jays. So go get ’em, Jays. Maybe. Sort of.”

It is that ambivalence that best defines many fans’ feelings. Toronto has long tried to convince anyone who would listen that it is a “world-class city”. However they never seem to grasp the concept that world class cities need not herald their status, it is readily evident. If you have to keep pointing it out to people, well ….

So will the Blue Jays keep up their momentum and win it all, or will they implode and come up short? I have a hunch fans across the country are divided on which way they would like to see things go.

Me DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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MLB Must Act Now To Protect Fans

 (Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

(Charles Krupa/Associated Press)

During a recent Red Sox game at Fenway Park a woman, sitting in the expensive seats along the third base line, was struck by the business end of a broken bat. At this time she remains hospitalized in a ‘life-threatening’ condition. While I understand that being close to the action is a considerable draw for baseball fans, it is time Major League Baseball takes action to ensure fans’ safety before – fingers crossed – there is a fatality.

I hope MLB will not wait for a fatality before considering the installation of mesh behind the dugouts.

The National Hockey League used to have much lower glass ringing the rink. Officials regularly grabbed the top of the glass to hoist themselves out of harm’s way when players clashed along the boards. This is no longer possible as the glass is much higher and affords better protection for fans.

Then in March of 2002 Brittanie Nichole Cecil was struck by a puck while watching a game in Columbus, Ohio. She would subsequently die from the injury, the only fatality in the league’s history. But one too many.

Much like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted, the NHL made it mandatory that teams install mesh netting at the ends of the rinks. Some felt this would compromise visibility, but it has become accepted, albeit too late for Brittanie.

NHL_LowFor years the low glass and lack of mesh provided fans sitting behind the net with countless souvenir pucks. How the league went for 85 years without a fatality is a mystery to me. Imagine Bobby Hull with his banana-like curved stick and wicked slap-shot, or for that matter a man nicknamed Boom Boom, the Canadiens Bernie Geoffrion, because of the power of his slapper, having their shot tipped by an opposing player’s stick and up into the crowd.This happened literally countless times, yet miraculously without a death.

The recent incident in Boston, like all foul balls, broken bats, and lost grip flying bats, was an accident. There was certainly no intention. However MLB is intentionally not making netting mandatory, and must therefore be held accountable. I hope MLB will not wait for a fatality before considering the installation of mesh behind the dugouts. It only takes a few moments, maybe less than two innings, to get used to it. It may well save your life.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Dear Ottawa Senators Fans

Chris Beauchesne via Montreal Gazette

Chris Beauchesne via Montreal Gazette

A condensed version of this letter appears in today’s Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa_Citizen_April_15_2015

Dear Ottawa Senators Fans,

Let me begin by congratulating you on your team’s advancement to the playoffs. It was a hard fought battle right to the end, and you can certainly be proud of the way your guys turned it on down the stretch. I have a hunch that even while you were concerned about the Senators’ future, like many Montreal fans you took some joy in the pitiful season turned in by the Toronto Maple Leafs.  But now those snide small victories take a back seat to the ‘second season’.

The islands of Manhattan and Montreal are the only two places in North America where turning right on red is not allowed. Believe me, getting Montreal drivers to not go straight on red is tough enough.

While ours won’t exactly be a ‘subway series’, our cities are close enough to allow fans to make the trip to the opposition’s building. With this in mind let me provide you with some tips on how to enjoy Montreal as a fan of the visitors.

Our police are currently – and frankly they seem to always be – on the outs with the city. As an essential service, they can’t actually go on strike so they show their disgruntlement by refusing to wear the official police uniform. So those men and women you may see wearing baseball caps, bulletproof vests and camouflage pants are in fact really police, not thugs. Bear in mind that the only thing Montreal police like more than (insert doughnut joke here) is to pull over an Ontario-plated car that has just gone right on red and present the driver with a fat ticket. Can you imagine the problems should that vehicle happen to have a Senators’ flag flapping? The islands of Manhattan and Montreal are the only two places in North America where turning right on red is not allowed. Believe me, getting Montreal drivers to not go straight on red is tough enough.

Please enjoy your stay by partaking of my city’s countless bars and restaurants. But pace yourself. Keep in mind that closing time is 3:00 a.m.; they often say you can tell tourists in Montreal because they’re drunk at 7:00 p.m.  Remember you can buy beer and wine at corner stores without having to go to a special outlet as though you were having a prescription filled.

While other cities leave (the rafters) exposed, we prefer to cover them with Stanley Cup banners.

While attending the games at the BELL Centre many of you, particularly those with a background in engineering or architecture, will notice a significant difference in the rafters way up high in the building. While other cities leave them exposed, we prefer to cover them with Stanley Cup banners. Save your time, don’t count, there are twenty-four. (I understand a previous incarnation of your team won several Cups, but we both know that was then, and this is now …)

The Sens have sure had the Habs’ number this season, winning three out of four games. But the playoffs are a new start. Perhaps you have heard about the storied Forum Ghosts who allegedly helped out on a few occasions when the team needed it. A bounce here, an extra Bruin on the ice there. Some would have you believe the ghosts never made the trip from the Forum to the team’s new home, as evidenced by the lack of Stanley Cups. This year we lost three Montreal Canadiens greats, including Jean Beliveau and Elmer Lach. Could there now be some BELL Centre ghosts to take up the flame?

Enjoy your stay and may the Canadiens better team win.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Boston’s Never-ending Festival of Snow

Boston_Bridge

If I turn on my TV and there are not a bunch of CNN reporters up to their arses in Boston snow I figure something is wrong.

Boston is one of my favorite places, but what ever have you done to deserve this incredibly snowy fate? If I turn on my TV and there are not a bunch of CNN reporters up to their arses in Boston snow I figure something is wrong. (Interestingly these usually include Rosa Flores and Miguel Marquez – is there an assignment editor with a sense of humor who figures the Latinos should report on blizzards?) Like Montreal, you are a winter city, but even winter cities have their limits. Meteorological reports are calling for yet another substantial dump of snow for your area later this week.

Why Boston? You won the Super Bowl in a rather dramatic and much talked about manner. Could it be some sort of Seattle curse that has been visited upon your city? Nope, no worries there as that would most likely involve vast amounts of coffee and you have already handled both a Tea Party and a tsunami of molasses.

(is there a) Seattle curse that has been visited upon your city? Nope, no worries there as that would most likely involve vast amounts of coffee and you have already handled both a Tea Party and a tsunami of molasses.

Your Bruins have lost all four regular season games to my Canadiens, but that should not bring record snow as punishment, even if I frankly believe the Bruins are playing possum (opossum?) and will rise to the task (Rask?) should the teams meet in the playoffs, a virtual rite of spring for many of us.

We can debate why this winter has been so wicked in  New England until the snow melts – well, maybe no one could be expected to do that. But more important is how to deal with the situation. I saw on television that there are numerous “snow farms” around the city. Why with all that fallen snow you would want to grow more on farms is a mystery to me. Melting the snow must be done carefully lest flooding result. Dumping it in the river is one short-term solution, but remember all that urban snow that has been collected from the streets of Boston is far from pure. Salt and god knows what chemicals that are used to keep streets passable end up in the snow. We used to blow the snow onto lawns and parks until the grass started dying from the chemicals.

Boston_HydrantHydrant_Montreal

The mayor asked citizens to lend a hand by digging out fire hydrants. The first problem many of the well-intentioned citizens encountered was finding the hydrants in the first place so they could dig them out. This is where I felt a pang of disappointment. As a snow city Boston should know that even with an average amount of snow, hydrants will soon become buried. The solution is simple: long poles attached to hydrants allow for easy sighting even during a snowstorm.

These poles can be attached during the summer and left, providing a clear view of all-important fire hydrants even after a major snowfall.

Boston_Hydrant

Of course if there are no poles, a little improvisation goes a long way. Part of me wants to point out that by the end of April the Bruins will have no need of their hockey-sticks, and they could be put to use. But another part of me believes in hockey gods, and understands that would be tempting fate!

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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Montreal Canadiens Coach Snubs Rookie Reporter

Christopher Curtis Photo: Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

Christopher Curtis Photo: Dave Sidaway / Montreal Gazette

We no longer live in a world where fedora-wearing reporters, pencils and pads in hand, try to get a few words out of a coach in his office after a game. Teams have elaborate media rooms set up with lights, cameras and branding and advertising galore. This age of instant information just makes stubborn or ranting coaches look silly.

Last September Montreal’s The Gazette daily newspaper introduced a new member of its group of reporters on the Montreal Canadiens beat. Rookie sports reporter Christopher Curtis would join several other veteran journalists covering the fabled hockey franchise in a city where the game is often likened to a religion. This was a welcomed decision; an added new perspective on things is always a good idea.

Over the holidays Curtis wrote, and the paper published, a piece on his altercation with Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therrien. Curtis did what reporters do at news conferences, he asked a question. Therrien opted to ignore the question, so Curtis, being a journalist, asked it again. I imagine the room must have been immediately engulfed in thunder and lightening, with dervishes whirling madly about, lights flickering and other indicators of impending catastrophe. What part of my ignoring you did you not understand? seems to have been Therrien’s attitude as he and Curtis locked eyes in a staring match.

TherrienLet me say that I have never met Christopher Curtis, and my time spent with Michel Therrien amounts to one encounter with me lying on my back giving blood while the coach made the rounds of the donors at the team’s annual blood drive. He signed one of the pack of selfies he had and plunked it on my stomach. He looked as though he really didn’t want to be there, not surprisingly as I’m sure he had many things on his agenda even if it was an off-day. But being head coach of the Montreal Canadiens means doing more than just coaching, so there he was.

Too often modern-day professional sports coaches, and some at the college level as well, consider dealing with the media as an added chore. It’s time to make it abundantly clear to many of them that responding to reporters questions in a civilized manner is part of your job – regardless of whether you like the question or not.

We no longer live in a world where fedora-wearing reporters, pencils and pads in hand, try to get a few words out of a coach in his office after a game. Teams have elaborate media rooms set up with lights, cameras and branding and advertising galore. This age of instant information just makes stubborn or ranting coaches look silly.

I’m not saying a new reporter, like many other jobs, doesn’t have a few ropes to learn, and some dues to pay. But it seems to me it’s up to Curtis’ seasoned colleagues to point this out, not the coach.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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