Here’s what Cole Porter’s saying about tonight’s game (warning: he had a few drinks so it’s not up to his usual standards, so do cut the old boy some slack)
[Instrumental, or you can join in right off the bat when the band starts playing. You might get some dirty looks, though.]
The game tonight the whole town’s talking Will the boys in blue do something shocking Well, everyone knows – anything goes!
A team of goons and their nasty overlords They only use four letter words, on their foes – anything goes!
Hab fans have gone mad today, All have had their say Now they want their way Who the team will play While others will stay Safe from harm today From those oh-so nasty pros
Try their best to win the division But be sure to make provision For what’s in store – anything goes
[Instrumental, and then chime in with the following at 2:12, or head out to the dance floor right now and show off those new steps you've been practising at home]
Carlyle’s gang will try to lay a beating on But here’s what we will be tweeting on: 'No Hab woes – Toronto blows'
The team stayed cool, and gave not a quarter The Habs prevailed, even tho’ they’re shorter More Leaf lows – and so it goes.
It's April 16 - the day after.
Utter humiliation. On home ice. Flyers 7 Canadiens 3. The universe is unfolding. The Habs? Folding. Meh. It's just two losses in a row -- two utterly ignominious losses -- not the end of the world. But check in at the end of the week. What we fans could use is something to take our minds off the team's horrendous play, something like this from the Vault.
Thanks for the ... the ... what was it again? (Dec. 2011)
Are you depressed? Suicidal? A Montreal Canadiens fan? Climb down from the bridge, get your head out of the oven – it’s electric, you idiot! – and hurry down to your doctor’s office to ask her about a radical new procedure that will put an end to your misery. Developed by the makers of SlumpBuster, MemoryDelete surgically removes all recollections of the Canadiens’ team history, including the glory years. Especially the glory years! Researchers have determined that Canadiens’ fans over the age of 25 have been in a prolonged state of depression since 1993, the last time the team won the Stanley Cup. The memory of that incredible championship drive – including 10 overtime victories! – has created expectations the club has been unable to fulfil, although it came close two years ago. But that appearance in the Eastern Conference Final only deepened the despair that now has Canadiens’ fans in a vise-like grip. The results are disturbing: a rise in sick days, reduced productivity on the job, internecine squabbling on fan websites, failed marriages, broken romances, and rampant impotence. Fantacy was the first to address this modern malaise with SlumpBuster, an under-the-counter medication that enabled users to enter a perpetual state of bliss. Critics and some legal authorities argued the drug rendered them unfit for human activity of any kind. Fantacy and its lawyers are vigorously disputing that allegation but to demonstrate its corporate heart is in the right place, the company has developed a surgical procedure that guarantees its patients will continue to be productive citizens. Simply put, MemoryDelete removes all data stored deep within the brain having to do with the Habs. Just those memories, and nothing more, unlike TML (Total Memory Loss), developed by a rival company for fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs (TML), which allows them to think their team has a chance to win the Cup every year but also renders them useless at home and at work. It also requires follow-up surgery once a week. Memory Delete includes the insertion of a micro-device – a spacemaker – that erases each new memory involving the Canadiens within 24 hours of its creation. What it doesn’t remove is the fans’ desire is to see the team win, so they can approach each game with a profound sense of hope and an enormous amount of positive energy. Should Montreal ever win the Cup again, it will blow their mind! For 24 hours.
MemoryDelete – living the dream. One day at a time.
It's April 14, a day of national mourning. The Canadiens lost 5-1 to the Leafs Saturday night. Hab fans are either pointing fingers (at Price and his teammates who played horribly) or rolling their eyes (at Hab fans who point fingers at Price and his teammates wh0 played horribly). Leaf fans are walking around with goofy grins. It's an improvement. It's time MT shook up his lines. I mean, really shook 'em up, by taking a page from The Vault playbook.
X-it strategy will do wonders for team (Dec. 11, 2011)
I think the team and fans should divorce themselves from thinking in terms of line combinations because, let’s face it, the only time three players actually play in a linear way is when they line up for a faceoff (or, in the case of the Canadiens, when they congregate behind the opposition’s net). After that it’s the System that takes over. The line, however, doesn’t operate in a vacuum. In theory, the line works with the defence at both ends of the ice. The Russians had it right when they thought of five-man unit combinations. The Habs should do the same, in an X configuration. A————————————————-B ———————–C————————– D————————————————-E Some might say this is nothing more than a 2-1-2 deployment but if we draw a line diagonally from A through C to E, and D through C to B, you end up with an X and a new way of looking at the game. The X factor — the unknown — can be a much more intimidating force than the System, which sounds and is boring and bureaucratic. X is a System with attitude. Opponents would panic, not knowing what to expect, especially if the unit advances up ice in a rotating fashion, with D moving into A’s spot and A over to B, etc, while C holds down the centre. The stratagem has been tested in scrimmages conducted in seclusion and the results have been promising, drawing praise from myriad xperts: “Xcellent” (Monte Burns). “Thumbs up!” (X-Men). “—” (Harpo MarX). Here are my X combinations: Cammalleri —– Gionta ———-Plekanec——– Gorges———–Subban Xcuse me, the phone just rang, I’ll finish this later.
You Can Play -- but keep your head up (April 13, 2013)
NEW YORK – Several hundred people picketed outside the head office of the National Hockey League Friday morning, one day after the league and players’ union announced they are partnering with an organization that targets homophobia in athletics. ‘Hypocrites, that’s what they are,” shouted one of the more vocal protesters visibly upset with the league and NHL Players’ Association for joining forces with You Can Play Project. “Our motto is ‘Hockey Is For Everyone,’ and our partnership with You Can Play certifies that position in a clear and unequivocal way,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “While we believe that our actions in the past have shown our support for the LGBT community, we are delighted to reaffirm through this joint venture with the NHL Players’ Association that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker-rooms and in the stands.” But the league and union appear to have opened up a can of worms they never expected when they linked arms in a politically correct stance that asserts a fundamental human right. Here’s what the spokesperson for the picketers had to say when questioned about why they would protest the NHL becoming the first professional sports league to publicly express its support of athletes and fans who are homosexuals. “Why do we hate gays? What are you talking about!!!? I’m gay. Dozens of us here are either gay or lesbian. But all of us – All. Of. Us – are huge supporters of hockey – the way it should be played,” said Tony Ambercrombie Highsmith (not his real name; he requested a pseudonym because he works in a profession that’s widely known to be biased against gays). “We endorse what the NHL and players’ association did yesterday – in principle. Our beef is that they didn’t go far enough. You Can Play Project is all fine and dandy but you can’t play if you’re injured, or realize your full potential if you’re in fear of your health every time you take the ice,” Highsmith said. “It’s why we’ve started a You Can Play Safely Project that takes aim at the goons who are ruining the game. The league doesn’t need to concern itself with players’ sexual orientation, but it should be concerned about their problems with orientation, after they’ve had ‘their bell rung.’ Most of the time they need help to find their way back to the bench.” Highsmith scoffed at the NHL motto, ‘Hockey is for Everyone’, and Bettman’s assertion the league’s official policy is one of inclusion. “In practice, it’s one of concussion for everyone,” he said, “which does make it non-discriminatory. Superstars and pluggers are equally at risk of getting dinged in the head and having their career cut short.” Highsmith said You Can Play Safely Project members hope to shame the NHL into doing more to protect its players by wearing head bandages to games, and creating a website that spoofs director of player safety Brendan Shanahan’s videos explaining why little or no supplementary disciplinary is administered in cases that clearly warrant severe punishment. “We fear that won’t be enough, however,” Highsmith said. “What we need is a high profile player of talent to step forward and openly admit he’s afraid for his well-being every shift he plays because of the headhunters out there. A player who’s respected by his peers and by the fans who’s willing to toss aside the sport's bluster of machismo and expose his vulnerability. "Like when he’s facing the boards trying to corral a puck.” The NHL and NHLPA issued a joint statement saying players have nothing to worry about because their disability insurance plan is one of the best in the world.
It's April 12. I'd start working on that tax return if I were you. (But then if I were you I wouldn't be wearing that orange cardigan with purple slacks. Missed laundry day?) Ooooh, the excitement is building for tomorrow night's tilt with the Maple Leafs at the Airhead Canada Centre. No, the game isn't a measuring stick on where the two teams stack up against each other heading into the playoffs. It's not even a litmus test. I prefer to think of it as a citrus test. If the Canadiens lose they're a lemon. If they win they're sublime. PK's playing so well, so much like a seasoned veteran that it's easy to forget it wasn't that long ago he joined the team. We pulled this file out of The Vault to remind us. And you, if you choose to read further. (Spoiler alert: He was misunderstood right from the start.) And I still don't understand why my five-man unit proposal never was implemented.
What goes on in the dressing room doesn't stay in the dressing room (Dec. 8. 2010)
Uh oh, WikiLeaks is turning its attention to the sports world, and the Montreal Canadiens are among the teams whose secrets are being exposed. Here’s a few excerpts from transcripts currently circling the globe ...
(From the taping of a promotional video never released by the team showing the Habs’ new captain Brian Gionta speaking directly to French-speaking fans):
Gionta: Bone joor, maize amee. Je swee tray happee ettra la captaine de la Moan Royale Ka-na-dee-ins. Je swee glad ettra waring le sacre bloo-blanq-rooj. C’est toot sweet. Riel cool. Vous avay mon mott le team ill-way in-way le up-kay ... How’d I do, guys? PR person: Fine, Brian, just fine. Those lessons you’ve been taking at home are paying off. Now let’s try it just once more, with OUR cue cards.
(Two players were caught in conversation on a security camera in the dressing room)
Josh Gorges: Well, PK, glad to have you aboard the team full-time. After what you did in the playoffs, this season should be a real breeze for you. I didn’t have it so easy when I got traded here. I had to make a name for myself by just being steady, doing nothing flashy. It took awhile. People spelled my name Georges. It doesn’t have two E’s, you know. Just one, as in Gorges. And you have to pronounce it a certain way. Like this. Hear it how sounded? Did you hear an E near the start. No, you didn’t, cuz there isn’t one. Not that I wouldn’t mind another E. Wouldn’t bother me. Wouldn’t have to correct all the people when they spelled it wrong. But I’ll never my change my name. That would be an insult to my parents. You should never insult your parents. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for my parents. Hah, how many times do you hear people say that, PK. Of course, none of us would be here if it wasn’t for our parents. It’s like saying a player gave 110 per cent. Not possible, PK. 100 per cent is the best you can do, didja know that? Now you can give 50 per cent, 60 per cent, 70 per cent ... you get the idea. But 110 per cent, no way. But just imagine if you could, unh, wouldn’t that be somethin’? Think of what kind of player you would be. Or person. All that energy you’d have. You could find a cure for diseases. I’ve never had a serious disease but I did have athlete’s foot once. See the scar? Had it so bad I had to spend a week in rehab. Hey, I just made a pun, get it. ReHab. I had to take some time off so I could return to being a Hab. Pretty funny, eh, PK? Sometimes I come out with a good one. I remember last year me and Gilly were playin’ crokinole between periods when
PK: Will you shut the $*#@ up!
(Just then Hab coach Jacques Martin walks by, stops and points his finger at PK): Pernell Karl, that’s no way to talk to a veteran! See me in my office! Gorges shouts out as the coach and rookie leave: Don’t be long, PK. I’ll stick around so I can finish my story. You’re gonna laugh your head off.
A high five for five-man units (Dec. 13, 2010)
I personally -- but entirely objectively -- believe in five-man units. It really simplifies things. But my system also adds the element of juggling lines on the fly. When the starting five leave the ice they enter the bench at one end and the five at the other end take their places. The players would then proceed to rotate in this fashion for the remainder of the game.
Naturally this will result in multitudinous line combinations and defence pairings, which will be sure to throw off the opposition and at the same time build team chemistry and versatility. It would also help the team cope with adversity such as is now the case with the loss of two defencemen. Knowing AK and Laps could man the blue line in a pinch couldn't help but put coach Martin's mind at ease.
And we fans would have a field day watching the various lines unfold, hoping against hope that even one of our fantastical creations would at some point see the light of day. ("Didn't I tell ya Gill centering Gionta and Halpern would light it up!") Of course, tremendous debate would follow as to how the players should be seated before the opening whistle. ("That idiot Martin, why did he have Pyatt, Hammer, Gorges, Picard and Subban sittin' in a row? I woulda had ...")
I realize this proposal might come across as being unorthodox, heretical – okay, even harebrained – which is why I suggest the experiment be limited to 30 games. That should be sufficient time to establish its worth or candidacy for the dustbin.
The only caution I would add, as if it needs saying, is that the backup goaltender not be considered part of the rotation. Auld's not that fast -- the pads, you know -- and I hear his backhand is pretty weak.
It's April 10. Are you getting enough fibre? Well, the word's out. Budaj starts against the Sabres tomorrow night. Let's see what we can drag up from The Vault that's appropriate for the occasion. Oooooh, two!
Backup goalie gets his back up (November 5, 2011)
MONTREAL – Backup goaltender Peter Budaj has threatened to leave the Montreal Canadiens if he doesn’t get more playing time. Budaj, whose only start was a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers, delivered the ultimatum to coach Jacques Martin while placing towels in the players’ stalls and cleaning up around the dressing room. Reporters cut short their scrum with Mike Blunden to confront Budaj and confirm what they had overheard but Martin quickly ushered the 29-year-old goaltender into his office. They remained behind closed doors for 47 minutes. A grim-faced Budaj was the first to emerge, carrying Martin’s suits to be dry cleaned. He initially brushed aside reporters’ pleas for a comment until it was pointed out his goalie mask bears the image of the famously polite Simpsons’ character, Ned Flanders. “Okely dokely,” he said. Budaj made clear he adores the city of Montreal and embraces its love affair with the hockey team. He said he’d like to return the love but he feels like he’s been “castrated, pearnloined. I’m even more useless than an eunuch in a harem – I don’t get to guard anything!” Budaj, who makes objets d’art on a miniature wood lathe during games, said he longs for the days when he was “numero uno” in Colorado. “Now I’m dos – Don’t Often Start.” Martin appeared a few minutes later to remind Budaj his Carey Price massage had been moved up an hour so he’d have less time answering Price’s fan mail. Budaj stormed out of the room, without bothering to wash the floors. Martin tried to snuff out the goaltending controversy that had flared up. He told reporters Budaj is “very much in the team’s plans as it moves forward” and that he can expect to start “20 to 5 games” this season. “We wouldn’t have signed him if we didn’t think he could do the job and had known Voukon would be available so cheaply,” Martin said. The coach was pressed to name his starter for tonight’s game, with Price having played 17 straight games despite being diagnosed with malaria and a touch of scurvy. “That will be a game-time decision,” Martin said. “If Budaj looks sharp in the pre-game skate, and has all the laundry done and folded, I like his chances.
Budaj, ya da man! (July 5, 2011)
Here’s a thought (no, no, you keep your penny, I have one just like it at home): Montreal is stockpiling goalies in the system to make the team tougher. It all starts with Budaj. He’s currently attending orientation/makeover camp that will turn him into a modern day Billy Smith/Ron Hextall. No need to trade for a goon who gets little ice-time. Pencil in Budaj, his TOI is 60 minutes. And when he plays, his goal — besides preventing goals — is to chop down any opponent that comes near the Habs’ net. Hack, slash, spear — send a message, better yet, send a foe to ER. Another team takes liberties with a Hab, retribution will follow in swift order, administered by the most heavily padded player on the ice. Sure, Budaj might draw a few suspensions – one game, three games, five games, heck, even eight games — who cares, he wasn’t going to be playing them anyway. And should it ever happen that he’s suspended for the remainder of the season after adding 27 notches to his goal stick (or tombstones on his mask), well, that’s why we have a dozen or so goalies all lined up, ready to go, ready to rumble. I don’t care what their GAA ends up being, it’s the BAA — Bad Ass Antics — I’m checking out. Same with shutouts. Big deal. Knockouts — different story. The Budaj Assassin. Has a nice ring to it.
It's April 8. This just in ... from 18 months ago, when the NHL actually showed concern for the well-being of its players.
NHL to bury players' heads in sand (Sept. 1, 2011)
NEW YORK – The National Hockey League has announced it will try to reduce the risk of concussions among players by introducing new headgear. The league issued a statement today saying it is working with hockey equipment manufacturers to develop a helmet containing granular material to absorb the impact of a hit to the head. “We’ve kept our heads in the sand for years and the league has never been in better shape,” said a league official who requested anonymity. “The NHL is confident there is a technological solution to the rash of concussions that, unfortunately, has taken place of late.” The official said the league is also taking a non-technological approach to the problem, in the event a state-of-the-art helmet doesn’t prove as effective as hoped. It’s working on an educational program to encourage players to think twice about delivering hits to the head that could cause short- and long-term harm. “Have a Heart, Spare a Brain is aimed at the ‘softer’ side of players that might have got submerged over the years while moving up through the ranks of organized hockey,” the official said. “It’s an effort to help them reconnect to their empathic self and realize there are consequences to rough play.” The official said the program will include animated segments featuring celebrity voices, word searches (‘trauma’, ‘nausea,’ ‘convulsions’, ‘vomiting’), connect the dots (which, apparently, is more difficult than one would think), subliminal messages, hypnotism, anti-machismo arm patches, spiritual guidance, and videos that provide object lessons (featuring Don Cherry’s Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em, Chalk ‘Em series). According to a source in the NHL Players Association, the union will study the league’s initiatives in depth before making a comment. While somewhat in favour of what the NHL is attempting to accomplish, the NHLPA is concerned about the impact it could have on the ability of some of its members to make a living, the source said. “Remember, we represent ALL players, even those with minimal skills,” he said. “We can’t pick and choose which ones we go to bat for. Superstars, pluggers, they’re all under our tent, they all pay union dues. “What would it do to our credibility if we came out in favour of measures that protect the game’s superstars but resulted in a loss of jobs for enforcers?” the source said. “They have the right to earn a livelihood, too, which NHL teams have made clear they’re all too willing to provide them.” The union official said the NHLPA will send out a directive later this month telling its members “to play nice with each other” to show that it cares about their welfare. He said the union is also in the process of developing its own behavioral modification program in which players can earn points for every period they play without a penalty. At the end of the season they can make use of their accumulated Byng Bling and More bonus points to acquire a variety of goods and services from NHL sponsors at discounted prices, even for free if they’re especially good at not taking penalties. If the Min Sin Bin program had been in effect last season, Lady Byng winner Martin St. Louis, who finished second in league scoring, could have purchased a Honda Civic for $59.
It's April 6. Tonight the Habs square off against the Bruins. This morning we take a look back to when the Habs were looking to bolster their scoring -- in an unorthodox way. From theVault some vintage Brew-ha-ha
Molson adds some pre-game muscle (April 2, 2011)
MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens will attempt to kickstart an anemic offence by serving beer to its players before each game, team owner Geoff Molson announced Friday. “This city expects a lot of its Canadiens, justifiably so, but it puts a lot of pressure on the players day in day out and it’s beginning to affect their game,” Molson told reporters. “They’re way too tense. And the tension gets worse as the game wears on.” Molson said he consulted sports psychologists who told him the players need “to lighten up” and relax, if they want to play to the best of their abilities. “And nothing relaxes a person more than Molson Canadian 67®, a premium beer with just 67 calories but with enough alcohol content, 3%, to take the edge off any stressful situation,” Molson said. “Made from Canadian water, the finest Prairie barley and no preservatives, Molson Canadian 67® delivers a clean, crisp, fresh taste. I’m confident two bottles before each game will put the players at ease and they’ll take to the ice with the right frame of mind: to go out there and have a good time. The wins will follow.” Molson said the coaching staff will be offered a complimentary beer before each game as well. “Jacques might need a six-pack to loosen up,” he quipped. The players welcomed the new tact the team was taking to energize an attack that has been feeble for much of the season. “We could use some Molson muscle to go into the corners,” said one player who refused to give his name. Molson said the team will closely monitor the success of its Drink and Drive (To The Net) initiative. If it produces the expected results, the Canadiens will consider serving beer in the first and second intermissions to keep the players loose. Molson was asked if the team wasn’t risking turning its prime assets into alcoholics. “I’m not worried. The players will sweat out most of the alcohol,” Molson said. “Well, most of them. If we find any nodding off on the bench, we’ll make the appropriate adjustments. But, really, all we’re doing is time-shifting their consumption of beverage, from after the game to before and during.” “If they really wanted the offence firing on all cylinders, they’d be serving Samuel Adams Utopias,” the player said.
Kristo's a keeper, let us count the ways (April 3, 2013)
Montreal’s newest Hab sat down with sportswriter Alexandre Dumas today for an exclusive interview. What Danny ‘Monte’ Kristo had to say will delight Canadien fans and give them reason to be optimistic about the team’s future.
AD: Well, Danny, a lot of Canadien fans are breathing a sigh of relief, now that you’ve finally signed a contract. They feared you might end up elsewhere. But you told reporters they shouldn’t have worried, and you thanked the fans for their patience. What did you mean? DK: All human wisdom is contained in these two words – Wait and Hope. AD: That’s one way of looking at it. At the press conference a little while ago, you were asked about the pressure of playing in Montreal where fans are so passionate about the team, that some of them get caught up in the fantasy of being coach and GM, making up lines and engineering trades. They can be demanding. But you shrugged it off and said you understood where they were coming from. Explain. DK: When you compare the sorrows of real life to the pleasures of the imaginary one, you will never want to live again, only to dream forever. AD: Wonder what the wives think. It was also mentioned how fierce are the rivalries the Canadiens have with the Bruins and the Leafs. When asked about them, you said you have less of a problem with the Leafs than you do with the Bruins. Why is that? DK: Rogues are preferable to imbeciles because sometimes they take a rest. AD: No argument there. Danny, there have been whispers about your character as a result of a few incidents at university but you’ve never lost faith in yourself and it’s clear you fully expect to be playing regularly in the NHL a lot sooner than most people think. How can you be so confident? DK: A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. AD: Your confidence is refreshing. Canadien fans haven’t had much lately, with the team not having won the Cup in 20 years. Many have given up of ever seeing the Canadiens win their 25th championship. What do you say to them? DK: We are always in a hurry to be happy... for when we have suffered a long time, we have great difficulty in believing in good fortune.” AD: So? DK: Remember that what has once been done may be done again. AD: They’ll love you for saying that, Danny. Okay, one last question: A lot of folks know you’re incredibly fast and have a great shot but they don’t know what your mindset is. What would you say is your philosophy when it comes to playing hockey? DK: All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.
Well, gang, there you have it, sounds like Danny boy's a perfect fit for the Canadiens.
BIGGEST TRADE EVER!!!! (Nov. 29, 2011)
MONTREAL – In a Blockbuster™ trade involving 21 players, seven teams and two trainers, the Montreal Canadiens have overhauled their lineup to make a run for a playoff spot. The Canadiens sent Andrei Markov, Yannick Weber, Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez to the Anaheim Ducks who sent Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, a second round draft pick, a third-rate trainer, and Scott Gomez to the Carolina Hurricanes who dispatched Eric Staal, Tim Gleeson, Anthony Stewart, $43,000 and Scott Gomez to the St. Louis Blues who showed David Backes, Kevin Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie, trainer By Goshie and Scott Gomez the way to the San Jose Sharks who dispatched Dan Boyle, Joe Pavelski, a player to be named Later (by his cash-strapped expectant mother) and Scott Gomez to the Winnipeg Jets who airmailed Andrew Ladd, Alan Ladd, the Man from Ladd, season’s tickets to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Scott Gomez to the Columbus Blue Jackets who dealt Rick Nash, Fedor ‘Damn’ Tyuten, Derrick Brassard, future considerations, and past regrets (Scott Gomez) to Montreal. The Canadiens also acquire Gomez’s frequent flyer points and considerable baggage. “We had to do something, the team was floundering,” general manager Pierre Gauthier wrote on a chalkboard in response to questions directed his way at a press conference. “Bob Gainey had nothing to do with this at all,” he added for no apparent reason, using semaphore flags. “And we’re not done,” he tapped out in Morse code, fueling rumors Andreas Engqvist’s days with the organization will soon be over. The massive player exchange, concluded overnight by means of a video game conference call, stunned the hockey world, but drew widespread praise from most general managers who didn’t get in on the action. “I’d make that deal in a second,” bellowed Leafs GM Brian Burke. “Incredible,” said awed Senator GM Brian McMurray. “The Jets gave away too much,” said odd Islander GM Garth Snow. Montreal coach Jacques Martin said he’s looking forward to “plugging” Nash, Brassard and Gomez into the lineup to generate some much-needed offence for the goal-strapped Canadiens. “We got a bunch of pluggers now but these guys, these guys are sure to be electrifying,” Martin quipped, breaking up the gaggle of reporters with another witticism that has made him a fan favourite, and the bane of referees around the league.
Fans turn against Gomez (Dec. 7, 2010)
MONTREAL – Scott Gomez showed up at today’s practice accompanied by three bodyguards, fuelling speculation he has received threats from disenchanted fans. Gomez poured water on the notion, saying the three heavily armed men who surrounded him as he entered the arena were members of his “posse.” The centre has drawn the ire of many Hab loyalists for failing to put many points on the board despite being the team’s highest paid player. Although his detractors have been vehement in denouncing his play, there’s been no groundswell of resentment calling for his head, although the sudden appearance and growing popularity of the website diegomezdie.com, suggests that is about to change. Gomez’s defenders say the two-time Stanley Cup winner is well worth the $7.3 million he is being paid this season, in ways that can’t be measured by goals, assists, plus-minus, face-off wins, shots on goals and other ephemera. They say the intangibles he brings to the team, such as devilish good looks and impish charm, help create a winning environment. His supporters also argue that Lefty Gomez, as he is now affectionately known, because of his penchant for port-side rushes, has been saddled with wingers insufficiently talented to profit from his creative play-making. Even so, they say, he makes those around him better. A reporter who attempted to approach Gomez was confronted by the player’s three “posse” members. One, who appeared to be talking into a communications device on his wrist, sneezed, prompting a reflexive defensive reaction by his arm in the form of a karate chop that knocked him out. A second member, seeing his fallen comrade, pulled out a handgun but the weapon got caught in his jacket, causing him to pull the trigger and send a bullet into his left foot. No sooner had the handgun landed on the ground than Gomez kicked it to the third member of the threesome but it was a bit behind him. As Moe – according to his name tag – tried to reach back, he lost his balance and hit his head on the ground. Team officials said afterward the concussion will keep him from possing for three weeks. His two companions were said to have suffered upper and lower body injuries. Gomez was spotted later in the company of Maxim Lapierre who appeared to be talking into a communications device on his wrist.
Canadian teams swing massive trade (Dec. 4, 2010)
TORONTO – Mired in slumps and in danger of missing the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators and the Calgary Flames have engineered a three-way trade they hope will turn their seasons around. The deal reached late last night sends coaches Brent Sutter to Toronto, Ron Wilson to Ottawa, and Cory Clouston to Calgary. “ I love Ronnie, but he just didn’t have the proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence that I look for in a coach,” Leafs general manager Brian Burke said. “I also didn’t care for his ties.” Sutter waived his no-smile clause and gleefully agreed to the move, saying he was looking forward to being reunited with Dion Phaneuf. “The Flames haven’t been the same since he got traded, another one of those questionable moves made by the GM,” Sutter said. “When Olli Jokinen was brought back, I knew my days were numbered.” Wilson, on the other hand, said he was surprised by the trade, saying the Leafs had showed “incremental signs of improvement” in every one of the 116 losses the team has recorded in little more than two seasons under his coaching. “But being traded to Ottawa is the best thing that could have happened,” Wilson said. “I’m leaving a team whose top two offensive threats, Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri, worry more about getting points than backchecking, and don’t show up for every game. That won’t be a problem in Ottawa, where you have veteran players like Alex Kovalev and Jason Spezza as role models, playing two-way hockey and never stinting on effort.” Clouston could be reached for comment but the offer was declined. Burke and Flames GM Darryl Sutter – the other Darryl – said it’s conventional wisdom to fire the coach when teams aren’t doing well, but how can you fire your best friend, Burke said, or your third-best brother, Sutter added. Trading them maintains their dignity – and the teams don’t have to pay out the remainder of their contracts so they can sit at home doing nothing, the two general managers said. That was critical, agreed Sens GM Bryan Murray, who said his team needed a shake-up after it became obvious Clouston “had lost the locker room.” “Clooey’s a good guy but when the players, even the towel boy, started looking him in the eye and calling him “Woody” because they think he looks like that cowboy in Toy Story, I knew I had to act,” Murray said. “A coach has to have the players’ respect – at least to his face. Which, I gotta admit, does resemble that cartoon guy.” Burke said the coaching change fits in with his nine-year plan to restore the Leafs’ glory days. “Letting Ronnie go and shedding draft picks allow us to focus on getting this team ready to win it all in 2017 – the 50th anniversary of the last time Toronto won the Cup,” Burke said. Sutter – the one still with the Flames – said Clouston is the ideal person to have at the helm at a critical time in the team’s history. “I’m confident Woody can lead the team to the ultimate victory in 2014 – the 25th anniversary of the only time the Flames won the Cup,” Sutter said. Murray said Wilson will look good in a Senators jacket.
Furious fans want Fonzie fired (March 29, 2013)
NEW YORK – Five hundred season ticket-holders have filed a class action lawsuit against New York Ranger coach John Tortorella, saying his behaviour is causing the team to lose and them to suffer. Group spokesman Bob Schmo said the fans are not asking for much in the way of compensation – refund of their season passes and Tortorella’s dismissal, to prevent further losses. “The guy is a nutbar, even New Yorkers find him obnoxious,” Schmo said. Although suing a coach for his failings as a bench boss is unprecedented, one law expert says the plaintiffs, who call themselves Fonzie’s Foes, could very well win their case. “Tort law deals with situations where a person's behavior has unfairly caused someone else to suffer loss or harm,” Internet legal scholar Ricky Pedia said. “A person is liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress when he intentionally or recklessly engages in extreme and outrageous conduct that is highly likely to cause severe emotional distress. “I’d say Fonzie’s Foes have a better than 50-50 chance of winning ... which is more than you can say about the Rangers these days.” The Rangers currently sit in eighth place in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference and are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, following last night’s 3-0 loss in Ottawa. Tortorella sneered when asked about the fans’ lawsuit following the game. “It’s $&^%$, the &$^%# fans don’t *%&%$ know &%$@&@,” he told reporters. “Ask me about the %$^#@ game! Did you ^&%%#$@ guys even !@&^% watch it?” But the news media were more interested in his pending legal battle than the team’s on-ice issues. “Torts, aren’t you worried this tort could tortorally ruin your career?” New York Post columnist Larry Brooks asked. “Broo%$^#&$ksie, you’re a ^&%#^ idiot,” Tortorella retorted. “And &^$^(^ make &^$&%$$ sure you &!#@$% quote me right this !#*%@ time, you !#@!^ moron.” The combative coach then elbowed his way out of the scrum, prompting talk of lawsuits alleging assault and battery among the heap of reporters. Tortorella’s legal woes have, in fact, got worse. Schmo sent out a press release just before midnight announcing several Rangers have joined Fonzie’s Foes as plaintiffs. “Let’s just say the Blueshirts are feeling really blue these days,” Schmo stated.
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale ... (March 28, 2013)
Watched most of Gallagher’s Island, episode 33, last night. I stayed with it until near the end, after Gallagher and the crew had taken a 2-0 lead only to have the brain-addled natives score four unanswered goals, and then go ahead later 5-3.
Gallagher: Skipper, wha’ happened? We were up two and now we’re down two. Gionta: Don’t know, little buddy, but we gotta do something fast. Gallagher: I got an idea!! Gionta [groans]: I hope it’s better than the last one. The screwy diet you came up with those weird looking plants made me lose weight AND height! Gallagher: Skipper, I’ll always look up to you [looks down at him, with soulful eyes begging the Skipper to ask for his idea]. Gionta [sighs]: Okay, let’s hear it. [Gallagher whispers into the Skipper’s ear] Gionta [incredulous]: You’re gonna do what??? [Gallagher whispers into the Skipper’s ear again] Gionta [disbelief written all over his face]: You’re gonna fire the puck at the defenceman’s head, pick up the rebound and then put it behind Rask? [shakes his head in exasperation] Where do you come up with these idiot ideas? Gallagher: Where most idiots do [points to his head as he leaps over the boards laughing]
Well, at that point, I turned the TV off. Some plot turns are just too ridiculous to accept. Like replacing a key character in the middle of the show. Unbelievable. And yet the show still gets good ratings. In the top four I’m told. Go figure.
Foundation's goal: find cure for stone hands (Dec. 10. 2010)
Habs announced they're forming a foundation to address a serious medical problem. Here's the story, courtesy of Heuters ...
MONTREAL – Tom Pyatt was lightning on skates growing up in Thunder Bay. His blazing speed earned him a spot with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit where he scored 43 goals in his final campaign. Significantly, his scoring totals steadily rose over four seasons and his future looked bright. Pyatt seemed as healthy as ever when he began play in the AHL but then signs began cropping up indicating something was wrong. None was troubling enough, however, to prevent the Montreal Canadiens from adding Pyatt to their roster. But the tell-tale signs that all was not well grew more pronounced this season, and the Canadiens were forced to take action. They sent him to specialists who confirmed the club’s worst fears: Pyatt has stone hands. Alarmed, the team has set up a foundation to find a cure for a condition that’s often fatal to players’ careers, unless you’re a defenceman. “We started to take notice last season, when he scored only two goals in 40 games,” general manager Pierre Gauthier said Tuesday. “We knew something was amiss when he kept amissing the net, but we put it down to first-year jitters playing for a storied franchise.” But it’s clear now that jitters weren’t the reason “He hasn’t scored in 22 games this year,” Gauthier said. “The team’s statistician tells me that projects to zero goals for a full season. That’s not good. We pay our forwards – except in exceptional cases – to score goals. Tom’s a nice guy but we’re not a charity. We had to act and because he’s such a decent fellow we decided to invest in finding a cure.” Gauthier said that when the foundation is fully operational, it will tackle other medical conditions prevalent in the NHL: the Philadelphia flu, slew foot, cement head (first recognized by the medical profession early in the career of former Edmonton Oiler Dave Semenko), D-men-tia (peculiar to rearguards with booming shots but no ostensible defensive skills; also known as ”stark raving MAB” around the league), and MRSA, of which there are two kinds. Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus is a super-bug that’s been linked to sweat. A more virulent infection is Maniac Ranger Steve Avery, a super-pest associated with slime. Pyatt was prepared to answer questions from reporters but the press conference was cut short when the microphone developed a malfunction. Pyatt dropped it when it was handed to him.
For Hab fans who are hard on their 'heroes', here's a song by Hank Williams tribute artist, Dusty Butts. (March 27, 2013)
The news is out All over town Hab fans despair, Their sorrows drown But drink won’t help Remove their pain Their heroes suck They lose again.
Two in a row Is a disgrace Another loss There goes first place The Habs are toast They’ll break not bend Against the Bruins They’ll lose again
I’m sorry that You feel this way Why do you watch Your ‘favourites’ play? They try their best But when in vain You crow to all ‘They lose again!’
You have no heart You have no shame You take delight In giving blame A win or loss You still complain No matter what You’ll whine again
Jacques gets no respect (Nov. 23, 2010)
MONTREAL – Hab coach Jacques Martin says the constant harping of critics drove him to seek help for depression but even then he couldn’t escape criticism. “I called Suicide Prevention. They tried to talk me into it,” Martin said today at a press conference called hastily to announce the team’s latest line combinations. When he revealed his new No. 1 line – Lars Eller, Tom Pyatt and Yannick Weber, none of whom has scored this season – reporters peppered him with questions about how his sanity was holding up. Not well, Martin admitted, revealing he’s been troubled with dark moods since he was young. “My parents sent me to a child psychiatrist. The kid didn't help me at all,” Martin said. “When I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. Even my boomerang never came back!” Family life got so bad that when he told his mother he was going to run away from home, she replied, “On your mark.” Martin said that when he became coach of the Ottawa Senators, he relied on counselling to keep depression at bay and it worked for awhile until Patrick Lalime signed on with the team. He tried a new form of therapy by agreeing to coach the Florida Panthers and the diminished expectations gave him freedom to explore the full range of his psyche. Martin emerged a new man and put his stamp on the club, which missed the playoffs three straight seasons. Martin said being chosen to coach the Montreal Canadiens was a dream come true and when the team advanced all the way to the Eastern Conference finals, he figured he had left his emotional baggage behind for good. The Habs’ quick start this season gave him more reason to feel upbeat. But instead he’s getting beat up in the press, on talk shows and on websites over his line juggling. Even joggers have joined bloggers in letting him know how unhappy they are. “Last week my tie caught on fire, and some guy tried to put it out with an axe,” Martin said, tugging at his tie and glancing back and forth around the room for possible assailants. Martin made it clear that he intends to stick with the new lines – Gomez has been relegated to making pre-game end-to-end rushes – until the second intermission, when he’s scheduled another press conference.
A Habs nation divided (Nov. 23, 2010)
Being a Hab fan, especially the kind that bleeds bleu-blanc-rouge, is an either/or proposition:
We lost to the *^&$*# Flyers. Gave up a two-goal lead. Got badly outplayed in the second. Wasted another fine effort by Price. And an unexpected two-goal performance by Lapierre. Ugh. But, hey, the team that was expected to fight for a playoff spot, leads its division, stands third in the conference, is getting phenomenal goaltending from Price and outstanding two-way play from Plekanek, and has the best penalty-killing unit in the league. Gawd, just imagine how good this team will really be when Gomez finally gets untracked, the offence develops consistency, Eller sheds the goose egg and the power play starts producing the way it used to.
We’re leading the division and stand third in the conference when we were supposed to be fighting for a playoff spot, Price is giving us phenomenal goaltending and Plekanek has been outstanding at both ends of the ice, and the penalty killing unit is the best in the league. Hooray. But, geez, we lost to the *^&$*# Flyers. Gave up a two-goal lead. Got badly outplayed in the second. Wasted another fine effort by Price. And an unexpected two-goal performance by Lapierre. Gawd, just imagine how bad this team will really be if Gomez continues to play as he has, the goal scorers remain inconsistent, Eller can’t find the net and the penalty-killing unit starts to weaken.
They say of certain places in Canada that if you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it’ll change. The Habs fans weathervane always gets a good workout. I guess I'm one of those helping to make it spin
PK to NK: Tone it down, fella (Nov. 20, 2010)
MONTREAL – PK Subban has a few words of advice for fellow rookie Nazem Kadri of the Toronto Maple Leafs: Don’t disrespect his Montreal Canadiens. The star defenceman warned the Leaf forward he would “rue the day” should he show some flair in trying to help his team to victory. “The code is pretty clear about cocky players who play with confidence,” Subban alliterated. “Our team won’t stand by – okay, maybe Hal will – while some upstart tries to beat us with fancy passes and dipsy-doodles. If Kadri does those things (tonight), he can expect a few glove washes, high sticks, cross-checks, face plants and bad language. And that’s just from Gomez.” The ‘code’ is an unwritten set of rules of unknown origin that governs how players should conduct themselves on and off the ice. It covers such areas as spitting (when, where and how), scrums (mandatory after a whistle blows if opposing player is within two feet of goalie), fighting (the use of shivs is frowned upon) and celebrations after goals (pats on the bum good; pecks on the cheek bad). Efforts to include a headhunting ban have so far been unsuccessful but the wearing of ties entering arenas is now optional. Kadri’s play since being called up to the Leafs this week has caught the eye of Subban and he doesn’t like what he sees. "It's just frustrating to see a young guy like that come in here and think he's better than a lot of people,” Subban said. “You can't just come in here as a rookie and play like that. It's not the way to get respect from other players around the league.” When told about Subban’s warning he could be roughed up if he continues to play as he has, Kadri responded with two words. And then two more: Colton Orr. To which Subban replied, Maxim Lapierre, before breaking up. The Leafs are riding a two-game winning streak on the strength of three assists by Kadri that has his team talking up his Calder Trophy credentials.
Is new award for KO specialists OK with you? (Nov. 18, 2010)
If fighting is such an important part of hockey, why isn’t there an award for outstanding pugilist among the 20 individual awards the NHL hands out each year?
Think about it, the league recognizes the top scorer and best defenceman, the most outstanding goaltender and defensive forward, and the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey (Bill Masterton). Heck, they even give out yet another award for sportsmanship – combined with gentlemanly conduct.
But isn’t the flip side of the Lady Byng the player who’s hardnosed, willing to scrap when provoked – and scores goals to boot. There’s been a few players over the years who would fit such a description – the kind most commonly described as power forwards. These guys should have an award as well. They’re every bit as important to a team’s success as a Lady Byng-type player.
We could call the award the Fergie or Probie, the Neeley or Shanny - guys good with their fists but had soft hands around the net.
Obviously we’re not talking goons here, the one-dimensional Derek Booregards and the Jody Shelleys, whose sticks bear the label: This Side Up. No, this award would go to the player who exhibits outstanding sportsmanship ... to a point ... and ungentlemanly conduct when the situation demanded it, but without resort to cheapshots. And a high standard of playing ability.
I can’t think of a candidate for such an award on the Habs right now. Or on the Flyers. But I’m sure there are a few out there in the league. Any favourites?
PK, MT on the same page
MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens star defenceman PK Subban tweeted today he now has a Jack Russell – and then had to defend himself against criticism he doesn’t like his coach. “Look, I called him Terriern because I thought it was cute,” Subban told reporters. “He’s a terrier and I have a coach whose name is Therrien. It seemed amusing. Terriern, Therrien. Geez, guys, it’s a play on words, okay?” Many on Twitter saw if differently, saying his choice of name for an animal not averse to licking itself was clearly intended to damage coach Michel Therrien’s reputation. “I don’t even know why you people bring that up, I’ve never seen Coach lick himself,” Subban said. “ But I have seen him lick this team into the best shape it’s been in a long time.” The young rearguard, who was uncharacteristically moody meeting reporters as he stepped out of the shower at his condo, stressed he was not calling his coach a dog. “What I’m really saying is my dog can be my at-home coach. Having him around will make me a better person. Which is what all pets do with their owners, make them better people.” Asked if that was a not-so-subtle jab at Therrien, comparing his coaching style to the behaviour of a dog that barks a lot, a clearly exasperated Subban explained: “One’s a canine, the other’s canny. Do I have to tell you which?” Pressed for clarification, Subban emphatically stated Therrien is the smarter of the two. “By leaps and bounds,” he said, as Terriern – the dog – leapt and bounded about the room. “T-H-E-R-R-I-E-N,” Subban spelled out, seeing the atypical knowing looks among the reporters. Subban said he enjoyed playing for Therrien because he demands his players to play to the best of their ability. He didn’t mind being benched to improve his performance. “It’s like having someone nip at your heels to steer you in the right direction,” he said. “He digs deep down to find what he’s looking for in a player. And he always gets what he wants.” Therrien was a jovial mood when reporters arrived at his place as taping was finishing for the next broadcast of CH24. “PK has responded well to the message we sent him, during the game, and by registered letter the next day,” he said. “He’s a smart, young man who has the potential to be a dominant defenceman in this league. We want him to be responsible with the puck, and responsible without the puck. We also want him to be responsible with his backside, and not go trying to ram an opponent into the boards with it, especially in overtime.” Therrien laughed when he was told Subban had bought a Jack Russell and named it Terriern. “That’s funny,” Therrien said. “I just got a dog, too. It shows we’re on the same wavelength.” He whistled and a little ball of fur came racing out from the kitchen, yipping with excitement at the sight of its master. “It’s a Shih Tzu,” Therrien said. “I call it Soobie-Doo.”
A role model for PK (Nov. 17, 2010)
We’re all in agreement: Richards is a jerk, that’s why the Flyers made him their captain. Badmouthing PK is entirely in character and for him to say “something might happen” to Subban but not necessarily by him is also playing true to form. The only way he would dare to stand behind his words would be to stand behind PK when he said them ... and then use his stick. But why, WHY is PK is even putting himself in situations that only encourage acts of goonery and threats of retribution. The incident that set this all off was a dispute between AK and Richards. AK is a big boy and has been in the league long enough to defend himself. PK didn’t need to step in. Or is the plan to have a superstar-in-the-making also the team’s enforcer/pest? What a waste of a talent and a surefire way to increase the odds of his getting injured. Yes, Bobby Clarke was a superstar who was vicious and yappy, but he never had to fight his own battles. Schultz looked after that (and is this the role that awaits our own Schultz ?) Crosby is mouthy but it’s whine to the refs about missed fouls and to yap to players who commit them, not to get under their skin for strategic advantage. Ovechkin lets his hitting make a statement. Jarome Ingala is a superstar who can handle himself when provoked. I just don’t see him being the one who does the provoking. PK is too valuable a player to make himself a larger target. My advice: Stay away from the fray and try not to create any -- but don’t back down when challenged. Look at the brilliant careers Nick Lidstrom has had and Scott Niedermayer and Ray Bourque before him. PK could easily join their ranks but his career runs the risk of being sidetracked or shortened with this other dimension – the need to generate friction where there isn’t one – that the others lack(ed). Somehow it didn’t lessen their abilities. Let Lapierre be the resident pest and have the team step up his boxing lessons so he can be the team’s enforcer as well. Until we groom one in the system who can score. PK is multi-talented; being a mouthy pest shouldn’t be one of those 'talents'.
Here's a thought, PK (Nov. 15, 2010)
With Markov gone, more responsibility will fall on Subban’s shoulders and the rookie is easily up to the challenge. However, that will make him even more of a target than he already is. Markov at his best didn’t seem to attract the same kind of attention that PK does from forwards eager to slam him any way they can. But then Subban plays with much more exuberance than Markov does and is certainly more vocal in getting in the other players’ faces. He would benefit in the long run if we were to adjust his on-ice attitude which seems to have a knack for inciting others to try to foul him. They appear to make an extra effort to ‘finish their check’ when coming up against him. Star players, I realize, get that sort of treatment but the wiser ones are adept at not adding to the frequency of the attacks by their volubility and chippiness, especially after the whistle has blown. Subban at this stage is far from being a Scott Niedermayer, whose superior skating ability and hockey savvy translated into a long and productive career. His play, in retrospection, seemed relatively free of generating undue friction with opposing players. Subban has the makings of being every bit as accomplished as Niedermayer, but he needs to show consistently that he can remain level-headed in the face of provocation. No doubt PK will be tested often tomorrow night against the Flyers, just as he was in the playoffs last season. He can demonstrate how much he has grown as a player by sticking to his game and not getting sidetracked by the Carcillos of the world.
All the information you kneed to know about AM (Nov. 16, 2010)
The Montreal Canadiens have been issuing frequent updates on the status of Andrei Markov’s injured right knee. Here’s a summary of the most recent status reports, minus the webcam images:
7 a.m. Nothing to report 7:05 a.m. Nothing to report 7:10 a.m. Markov reports knee feels itchy and scratches irritated area. Team physicians confirm diagnosis and applaud method of self-treatment. 7:15 a.m. Nothing to report. 7:20 a.m. Nothing to report. Halak gets bombed in 6-3 loss to Avalanche. 7:25 a.m. MRI test results in. Markov scores 87 per cent on multiple choice, but only 52 per cent on short essay questions. Doctors express concern. 7:30 a.m. Sudden swelling in knee prompts team trainer to abort insertion of mini-cam and cancellation of contract to provide exclusive video for HIO subscribers. 7:35 a.m. Nothing to report. 7:55 a.m. Exploratory surgery reveals surprisingly hardly any damage to the anterior cruciate ligament, the posterior cruciate ligament, the lateral meniscus or the medical meniscus. Team says Markov could be ready to play by Thursday. 7:56 a.m. Team retracts statement after learning surgery was performed on left knee, as a result of a poorly handwritten note and a calculated gamble by surgical team advised they were dealing with a lower body injury. 8 a.m. Team announces Markov could be out until after Christmas as a result of complications arising from exploratory surgery on left knee. The right knee, on the other hand, er, leg, is doing fine.
Habs make plans to protect prized asset (Nov. 15, 2010)
Here’s an update on Markov’s status, courtesy of Heuters, the news agency blah blah blah
MONTREAL – As the Montreal Canadiens prepare once again for life without their top defenceman, the team has devised a plan to protect Andrei Markov’s health when he returns to action. Markov injured his right knee Saturday when he collided with Carolina’s Eric Staal and could be out for three months. It’s the third time the star defenceman has been sidelined with a leg injury in the last 13 months. “We’re not sure when Andrei’s going to be ready to play again but when he is, we want to make sure he stays healthy for a long time,” Hab coach Jacques Martin told reporters Monday. Assistant coach Perry Pearn explained how the team intends to protect its top asset: “We’ve told Andrei that when he returns he is NOT to play anywhere near the end boards or around our net as these seem to be workplace hazards for him.” Pearn said the restriction should not hamper Markov’s effectiveness. “You can’t score a goal from behind the net, and he does have a partner to clear away opponents from in front of the goal, which, let’s face it, Andrei doesn’t do much of now anyway,” Pearn said. “It will still allow him to make those great outlet passes.” The team has modelled its deployment of Markov after the tabletop hockey game, in which defenders move along a track on their side of the ice in their own end. The Canadiens already employ a similar system with one of its other defencemen, Hal Gill, based on an older version of the tabletop game, in which the players are stationary but swivel. Pearn explained Markov will still be allowed to jump into the play in the other team’s end. “We don’t want him to become a player with a one-track mind,” he said.”Those kinds of players we trade.” Pearn said bad luck might have been a factor in Markov’s injuries so the team also intends to supply him with a lucky rabbit foot and implant a horseshoe. At least one reporter was skeptical the Canadiens would limit the movements of their most valuable player and directed his questions to Markov, who sat in a wheelchair with both legs in a cast as a precaution. “Andrei, I’m finding this hard to believe: You won’t be allowed to play in front of your own net? “Nyet,” Markov replied, nodding his head. “Yeah, net. That’s what I’m asking. Are you okay with being told not to go anywhere near your own net? “Nyet,” Markov replied, shaking his head. “Yes, net, you dumb Russkie! What are you, hard of hearing? I said net! NET!” The press conference was quickly ended before the two men came to blows. It appeared Markov might have broken his arm as he tried to wheel away.
What the frack? They didn't call Shack? (Nov. 14, 2010)
Habs play the Leafs Saturday. Here’s a ‘scouting report’, courtesy of Heuters, the news agency that keeps readers abreast of world affairs:
TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs have dipped into their past in hopes of putting an end to their losing skid. The team announced Monday that it had signed short-term contracts with Red Kelly, Rick Vaive, and Lanny McDonald. “Kelly’s versatility gives us many options and Vaive, who scored more than 50 goals three times, knows how to put the puck in the net,” said Leaf GM Brian Burke. “McDonald’s also a scorer and, just as importantly, he will serve as an inspiration for all our players involved in the Movember charity fundraiser.” Burke said the surprise move was an attempt to strike a balance between the team’s youth movement, which has yet to pay dividends, and experience. He denied suggestions the signings were driven by panic. “Bringing back Eddie Shack, now that would have been panic,” Burke said. Should the three players pass their medicals, they are expected to be uniform when the Leafs play the Canadiens this Saturday in Montreal. The trio will spend the next few days familiarizing themselves with rule changes since they last played in the NHL. Kelly said he was looking forward to playing in the Forum again. “I have a lot of fond memories of those days, which is nice, because a lot of days I don’t have any.” Coach Ron Wilson said he might experiment partnering Mike Komarisek with Kelly, who won the Norris Trophy the first time it was presented, in 1954. “As long as Mikey can keep up, I think he will benefit from playing alongside a veteran,” Wilson said. Reaction to the signings was mixed among current Leaf players. Most praised the move but a few expressed skepticism. “These guys are ancient,” scoffed one Leaf who wished to remain anonymous. “And one of them is delusional. He said the Leafs HAVE won the Cup – and he was on the team! Yeah, right.” Burke admitted he had been interested in resurrecting the careers of three other prominent ex-Leafs – Charlie Conacher, Harvey "Busher" Jackson and Joe Primeau – but was forced to abandon the idea when a team official informed him all three members of the Kid Line were deceased. “Too bad,” remarked one wag at the press conference. “The Dead Line would have fit right in with the other zombies on the team.”
Feeling low? Get better one word at a time (Nov. 8, 2010)
Tempers are becoming somewhat frayed as our beloved team goes through a rough patch. Fingers are being pointed at certain players – mine too, but sometimes they stay curled up in a fist as I wave it at the television – and the situation will only get worse if we don’t take a timeout to look at things positively. My therapist tells me allowing one’s stream of consciousness to flow freely on occasion can release pent-up anger and frustration and lead to a better outlook on life.
It’s easy. All you have to do is say the first word or two that comes to mind when prompted with the object of one’s ire. If you make the effort and continue long enough with the word association exercise, you’ll end up finding something good to say about a person. Guaranteed.
Spacek: slow ... old ...yeller ... dog ... man’s best friend ... Jesus Christ ... Saviour!
Gomez: Alaskan ... baked ...dessert ... calories ... energy ... crisis ... catastrophe ... doomed ... extinction of species ... Cap space!
And maybe the Bruins would take the Rocket off our hands (March 16, 2013)
Don’t get mad, but I really believe the Canadiens should trade Henri Richard while his value is so high. He’s just coming off a season where he scored 18 goals and 36 assists, to finish fourth in team scoring, so he’s worth a lot on the market. Why trade him, when the team just won its second Cup in a row? Because we’ve got three players whose careers are winding down and we’ll need to replace them sooner rather than later. The Rocket is 35 – 35, can you believe it?!! – and what are the chances of his having another 33 goal, 39 assist season again, like he just did? Age will catch up with him. It already has with Floyd Curry, who’s 31, and managed just seven goals in 70 games. And Bert Olmstead’s no spring chicken either at 30. So that’s three wingers right there the team will need to replace in a year, two at most. Why wait? For a team to stay on top, it makes changes for the better when it can, not when circumstances force it to and weaken its hand. And Richard could land us a plum for the wing. We have a logjam at centre, with Jean Beliveau, Don Marshall, Phil Goyette and Ralph Backstrom. Now, Marshall, Goyette and Backstrom aren’t the player the Pocket Rocket is NOW but they have great potential – and they’re all at least three inches taller than he is. Richard’s good but at his height, I can’t see him lasting long in the league, with all the pounding he’ll take. Who could we get for him? Well, last-place Chicago’s got a pair of right wingers, Ed Litzenberger and Eric Nesterenko, who are over six feet tall who would look good in a Habs uniform. Toronto’s badly in need of a centre – Ted Kennedy’s 31 and the Leafs’ top point-getter in the position is Rudy ‘Migawd’ Migay – so it will leap at the chance to get a star player like Richard. I’d take a prospect like Frank Mahovlich, who’s a year younger than Richard but six inches taller and, I’m told, has quite a shot. Of course, we’d have to get a second player to make the trade fair, so I’d be pushing for someone like Bob Pulford. I think Pulford will have a better career than Mahovlich because he’s also good defensively. The Canadiens would be wise to make it appear like he’s just an add-on and not arouse the suspicions of the Leafs’ general manager, Howie Meeker. Well, CanFor, there you have it, that’s what I’d do if I were the Habs’ GM. I really enjoy these exchanges. I only wish there was a faster way to communicate than letters and it wasn’t so expensive to make phone calls from one side of the country to the other. My fingers get cramped from writing all the letters to members of the Habs’ fan club. By the way, what did you think of HabinVerdun’s suggestion teams play a five-minute sudden death overtime so there wouldn’t be as many ties? What’s he been drinking? Yeah, three of the teams had 12 ties last season, one had 14 and two had 15 but what’s wrong with that? Why keep teams longer on the ice when there’s a long train ride waiting for them after the game? I don’t know where some of the guys get their ideas, but it’s always fun to read what they have to say. Talk to you later, bud. Snoozy Lalonde
A sure-fire way to cream the opposition (March 15, 2013)
Are you a goaltender whose team appears headed to the playoffs and there’s a really good chance you could wind up in the Stanley Cup final? Sure, there are flaws in the team’s game – no team is perfect – but they’re no worse than any your opponents have. Except for one. Your defence is undersized or plays small. It has trouble keeping the other teams’ forwards out of your face. Rivals block your view, and get in the way while you’re trying to make a save. When you’re winning, the problem’s nothing more than a minor irritant but as the season draws to end and the pressure mounts, that pimple could burst your dream of a championship. Incredibly, your GM is doing nothing to get rid of the blockhead (or two) in the lineup. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Act now. The answer is clear. The answer is ClearACrease®. Liberally apply this noxious cream to your uniform and equipment and watch your foes scatter. Remove that welcome mat they’ve placed at your doorstep. One whiff of you and they’ll start whiffing their shots. ClearACrease® is the ideal solution for a porous defence that doesn’t clog up the lanes and allows opposing teams into your crease, increasing the odds of a goal being scored. When blueliners aren’t doing their job, it’s up to you to plug the holes. Nose holes, in particular. ClearACrease® is guaranteed to fill the nostrils of opponents with a stench so powerful few, if any, will venture anywhere near your ‘workplace’. Those who dare to try will be instantly overcome with nausea and collapse, providing an additional barrier to shots along the ice making it into the net. But won’t ClearACrease® overpower its own user, you ask. Yes – if applied all at once. But when applied in small increments over a four week period, the cream causes the user to lose his sense of smell. Then he can lather it on as much as he wants. The results are impressive. “I’ve been using ClearACrease® for decades and I’ve won more games than any other goalie, three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies,” says Martin Ordure, who hasn’t been able to smell roses in 25 years. ClearACrease®’s active ingredients include dried skunk scent glands, baby poo extract, shredded Conservative campaign literature, and Brut. In addition to removing filth and grit from goalmouths, ClearACrease® also melts show showers before they reach your face, and discourages annoying head bumps from teammates after a victory. ClearACrease® does have its limits. Its makers cannot guarantee unblemished performances by goaltenders. Shots from centre ice that bounce in for a goal and other ‘softies’ are beyond the cream’s powers to make vanish. Side effects may include extended periods of loneliness, loss of hair and shrunken testicles.
League places large order for spittoons (Nov. 13,2010)
NEW YORK - The National Hockey League has ordered its players to quit spitting, citing a newly released World Health Organization study that warns the longstanding habit constitutes a public health risk.
The study said copious amounts of spit are so prevalent in the league’s 30 arenas that anyone entering the buildings are at risk of contracting infectious diseases. Ice surfaces, in particular, held the greatest potential for making people sick. The study determined that ice in the rinks contained 10 per cent saliva (trace amounts of excrement were also found at the Air Canada Centre).
“We are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for the public and for our players,” the NHL said in a statement. “Effective immediately, players are banned from expectorating while on team property.” The league issued a second news release providing a definition of expectorate. Air lines and bus companies have asked to be added to the list of prohibited areas.
A league source said the NHL directive wasn’t triggered by health concerns alone, however. A recent ugly incident between a player and a spectator contributed to its urgency to take action.
According to a police investigation, the player was headed to the dressing room when he responded to a heckler with a liquid rejoinder. “That’s when the spit hit the fan,” the source said. The alleged victim has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the player of uncivil behaviour. The player told police it’s an accepted practice among athletes “to relieve themselves of stress-induced saliva in the most expeditious manner possible. Eh.” “Spit happens,” the player said.
The WHO study of the 30 arenas bears this out. It found evidence of saliva in dressing rooms, showers, washrooms, walkways, lobbies, stairwells, elevators, and escalators, as well as on door handles, handrails, fake plants, referees and linesmen. A full list can be found at www.WHO.ugh. A check of the DNA database maintained by the NHL determined that 97 per cent of the spittle belonged to players and a few beat reporters.
The National Hockey League Players Association has said it will fight the league’s ban. “We’re just salivating at the chance to take this to court,” said an NHLPA mouthpiece. The association said it would be willing to consider a compromise that would place spittoons at benches and on top of nets and equip referees with spit jars.
A WHO spokesman acknowledged in an interview that people would have to lick the surfaces on which the spittle was found in order to become infected. “Remember, though, we’re talking hockey fans,” he said.
If NHL insists on having shootouts ... (Nov. 11, 2010)
As entertaining as shootouts can be, I’m not a fan of them. It reduces a team sport to a one-on-one skills competition, nailing to the bench the different strengths teams bring to play to win games: airtight penalty killing, potent power play, hardnosed defensive play, aggressive forechecking, line matching ... you get the idea.
Why not borrow an idea from the CFL, where each team is given the opportunity to score starting from the opponent’s 35-yard-line?
If, after regulation, two teams in the NHL remain tied, why not give each a power play, with a coin toss to decide who will be given the choice of going first or second. Then go to a shootout, if necessary, if the score remains tied. You could make things really interesting, and increase the chances of breaking the tie, by making it a 5-on-3 power play.
I suggest doing away with the OT simply because the teams already played 60 minutes at even strength without resolving anything.
Prolonging a short player's career, etc (Nov. 10, 2010)
With Montreal’s offence continuing to struggle – the team is now relying on its defence to score – the argument will be revived that the forwards are too short. Stand tall, play tall is the thinking.
To remedy the problem, the team could resort to using the rack – wait, that’s the fans’ suggestion, and for different reasons. But that’s just soooo medieval when fixing the problem demands a modern approach.
It’s too late for today’s roster to be augmented by genetic modification and Viagra produces length rather than height, although it might do wonders for the players’ poke checking.
The answer is much more subtle: skate inserts. It could be done incrementally, by millimetres, over the course of a few months. As was done gradually with goaltenders’ equipment over seasons to much more dramatic effect.
Take Brian Gionta. He’s listed at 5'7". Now. But you keep adding inserts in his skates, one wafer-thin insole at a time, game by game, by the end of the season, he’s cross-checking Pronger in the face.
The change in height would be glacially slow so as not to attract league attention. To those few who might detect something different in Gionta’s appearance, team spokesmen would explain he had switched to a new diet to add bulk to his frame. Fans would be accepting of such an explanation as it would confirm their own powers of observation (“You know, Bob, I thought Gio had put on height.”).
Naturally, certain routines would have to be followed to maintain the CHarade. Le Gros Brian would have to enter and exit arenas by the back door so as not to reveal his true height to the prying eyes of television cameras. The sad fact, however, is that he could never be seen in public again without his skates on.
A small price to pay, perhaps, for a small player wanting to step up his game. Of course, after retirement, Gio could resume his normal appearance, much like Bonds did after his career ended. The unfortunate part is, he also would be hounded by whispers he had been on stair-oids.