Hockey, Montreal, Montreal Canadiens, News, Sports

Ground Hog Day: Patrick Roy to Colorado … again?!?

Roy informs Corey he’s had it!

If the rumors are true, former Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy will soon be introduced as the new head coach of the Avalanche. It seems it’s just a matter of crossing Ts and dotting Is. For some long-suffering Canadiens fans this is a wee bit like Ground Hog Day.

For some long-suffering Canadiens fans this is a wee bit like Ground Hog Day

It feels like only yesterday, although it was December 2, 1995 when then Habs head coach Mario Tremblay hung Roy out to dry on a night when the wheels came off and he allowed nine goals. When Roy finally was relieved, he made it clear he wasn’t happy by telling then team president Ronald Corey he had played his last game in Montreal; and he had. Four days later he was traded to Colorado and would go on to win the Stanley Cup a few months later.

In the Patrick Roy sweepstakes the score was Colorado 1; Montreal 0!

Fast forward to last spring. The Habs are doing some housecleaning and are in need of a head coach after several disappointing years. Once again Patrick Roy’s name is mentioned; he’s got some coaching experience now at the Major Junior level; he’s a proven winner; he’s kissed and made-up with the Habs (his number is retired); he’s a true, old-fashioned Montreal Canadiens’ fan favorite. Sure he can be a bit of a hot-head, but that’s his style. Other coaches have been known to fly off the handle but if they win …

(Roy)’s a proven winner; he’s kissed and made-up with the Habs (his number is retired); he’s a true, old-fashioned Montreal Canadiens’ fan favorite

The Canadiens announced that recycled but much improved Michel Therrien would be the new head coach, again. Not to take anything away from Therrien who did a great job this season getting the most out of a superstar-less team (at least until the last two weeks of the season), but with Roy’s name being bandied about it seemed odd to go back and re-sign a former coach.

Now that the Habs head coaching position is filled, you can’t blame a  fan for feeling as though this is a bad recurring dream. It’s a simple theme: Patrick Roy is what you need; he’s mistreated/overlooked; Patrick Roy goes to Colorado and wins. Is this Ground Hog Day?

Colorado 2; Montreal 0!

 

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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, 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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Back when I was young, Canada, History, Humor, Montreal, Montreal Canadiens, Sports

Back when I was young: The Montreal Canadiens were expected to win

They say that one of the signs you’re getting old is that you find yourself, more and more often, using phrases such as: When I was a boy/girl, Back when I was young, In my day, When I was a kid. Well, you get the idea. Rather than fight this tendency I’ve decided to embrace it by posting, on occasion, blog entries the title of which will begin with “Back when I was Young”.

I welcome others to post similar pieces and let me know so I can link to them here.


Back when I was young, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team was expected to win. It was a foregone conclusion in many Montrealer’s minds that the Canadiens would win. The story goes that, so confident was he, long-time Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau, in his annual planning briefing, would state “…and the Stanley Cup parade will take its usual route”. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the  Canadiens’ last Stanley Cup; a phrase I, at one time, never thought I’d hear, let alone write. (Currently the team is playing much better than hoped for, and an exciting, albeit truncated, season is providing Montreal fans with a taste of what used to be.)

MIKE BLAKE , REUTERS

Mike Blake , Reuters

Spectators didn’t go to the Montreal Forum to see the team play, root for them and hope for a successful outcome to the game. Nope, they went to see them win, much like an opera buff attending a performance at La Scala doesn’t hope for a stunning performance: he or she expects it. And God forbid anything less than stellar should be presented. Perhaps the stereotypical Montreal season ticket holder was a man who, sitting in the expensive red seats, wore a jacket and tie to every game. He brought a newspaper to read during stoppages in play and during the intermissions. He took wins in stride but was angry, not disappointed, on those occasions when the team lost.

In 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Had you told a celebrating Toronto fan on that day that before the Leaf’s would win another Cup, the Toronto MLB franchise would win two World Series,  you would have been taken for an idiot.

The franchise was often compared to the New York Yankees and the word “dynasty” was never far away. Until 2001 the team had never gone more than seven years without a championship.

In 1967 the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Had you told a celebrating Toronto fan on that day that before the Leaf’s would win another Cup, the as yet non-existent Toronto Major League Baseball franchise (the Blue Jays) would win not one, but two World Series (’92 & ’93) you would have been taken for an idiot. However …

1966 Stanley Cup parade in Montreal

As I’ve explained elsewhere, the picture at right shows, by pure chance, the six-year old me attending the 1966 Stanley Cup Parade (or at least it shows my left ear). During my formative years, let’s say through my teens, the Montreal Canadiens won 11 Stanley Cups. That’s eleven championships before I had turned twenty. The year I was born, 1959, the Canadiens won the cup for the fourth time in a string of five – from 1956 to 1960.

During my younger years watching the Habs, they had some outstanding teams, but perhaps none so much as the 1976-77 version of the team that won 60 games out of an 80 game schedule. Even more impressive was the team’s home record of 33 wins, one loss and six tied games. Other than the Boston Bruins’ 4-3 victory over the Canadiens on October 30, 1976 the team did not lose another home game that season!

This is what I grew up with; this is what influenced my approach to the NHL and the Canadiens in particular. So now, with the Canadiens just another team – certainly no longer a dynasty, I can only wonder what went wrong? Maybe I should spend less time looking at the banners that hang above the ice in the BELL Centre and more time watching what’s on the ice.

But it’s just not the same.

MeDCMontreal 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 Freans 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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Canada, Montreal, Montreal Canadiens, Nostalgia, Sports

1966 Stanley Cup parade and me!

Today while reading Montreal City Weblog I was interested in a post leading to a series of photographs from the 1966 Stanley Cup parade through the streets of Montreal. At the time I was six years old. I have a vague memory of attending a Stanley Cup parade during the mid-sixties (let’s face it, there were many!) so I was drawn to the shots of the parade moving north on Atwater beside the Montreal Forum. Then lo and behold, there I was! I attended the parade with my aunt and remember shaking hands with John Ferguson – who would become my favorite player as a result. You can make out my aunt with me in front of her, unfortunately Claude Provost is blocking the actual handshake.

Makes you wonder how many pictures there are of yourself out there that you don’t even know about. I fear that in this era of hyper-privacy the photo would have been pixelated.

StanleyCup1966

 

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Montreal, Montreal Canadiens

NHL lockout; lots of losers

The Canadian Press

The NHL lockout is only hours old but one thing is certain, if it continues for any length of time neither the league nor the players will be the big losers. The people who will really take a hit are those who own small peripheral businesses.

Take a walk around Montreal (I am sure this is true of all NHL cities) on a home game night and you will see bars, restaurants, parking lots, souvenir sellers and even the odd ticket scalper all providing services to hockey fans attending the game. These are the people who can least afford to have games cancelled while millionaires on both sides scrap it out.

This is only a simple economic view, the ultimate losers are hockey fans. Will they return if and when a settlement is worked out? Of course, that’s why they’re called fans.

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Montreal

Chris Nilan’s charities and causes

John Mahoney , THE GAZETTE

From anti-bullying to the Children’s Hospital and now Action Centre, a day centre for handicapped children, Chris Nilan is the ultimate community volunteer. Bill Brownstein has a great piece on him in today’s The Gazette.

Nilan has a had love affair with this city since he played he played here. “I never wanted to leave town, but my wife at the time wanted to go back to Boston to be with her family,” said the still-fit Nilan, a father of three and grandfather of two who has been living with his current companion Jaime for the past three years.

“It took a while, but I finally made it back here. I’ve always loved the Canadiens.” Pause. “Okay, I hated them for a while growing up in Boston. But the Canadiens have since become so much part of my being. The team has always supported me on the ice, and off the ice in my post-career transgressions.”

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Montreal, Sports

Habs glory days driven by Francophone stars

MIKE BLAKE , REUTERS

This The Gazette  op-ed by Vincent Lubrano really hits home. The glory days of the Montreal Canadiens were, sadly, some time ago and the make-up of those teams included a nucleus of Francophone players. Many great Anglophone players made up those 24 Cup winning rosters as well, but it was the flair of the likes of Lafleur and the Richards that made them special.

Unfortunately old style Habs fans the league has changed and we no longer can draw the Francophone players like we once did.  That’s not to say there aren’t good players available from a vast array of cultural backgrounds, but just that what Mr. Lubrano points out is very true, it just isn’t the same anymore.

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Montreal, Sports

Everthing old is new again…Michel Therrien

Michel Therrien, Penguins Head Coach. (39 Chri...

Michel Therrien, Penguins Head Coach. (39 Chris Minard and 27 Georges Laraque in front) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Montreal Canadiens will hire…again…Michel Therrien as head coach. In this era of recycling the Habs are environmental if nothing else. And although M. Therrien has a flat regular season record (77-77-37) in his first go behind the Montreal bench, that was ten years ago. He’s made it to the Stanley Cup finals during that time and must have matured a bit. This isn’t the signing most wanted, but perhaps Patrick Roy just isn’t ready yet.

But this recycling does bring to mind a question: are there no other French-speaking head coach candidates out there? Is the pool that limited that the Habs have to go back ten years? A sad thought indeed.

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Montreal, Sports

Habs hire new General Manager

Montreal Canadiens Canadiens de Montréal

Montreal Canadiens Canadiens de Montréal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Montreal Canadiens have announced that Marc Bergevin has been hired as the new General Manager of the team thereby filling the second toughest job in the city – second only to Head Coach of the team which is tougher due to immediate pressure from fans and media.

I can’t say I know much about Mr. Bergevin but from what I have learned this morning:

 

 

Has NHL playing experience               Check

Speaks French                                            Check

Has NHL managerial experience        Check

Speaks French                                            Check

Passed interview process                      Check

Speaks French                                            Check

Has Patrick Roy’s phone number

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