Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Other Habs vs. Red Army New Year’s Eve Game

New Page 1 Bob Gainey is thwarted by Vladislav Tretiak – 12/31/79 – Globe and Mail photo

Ever since the game was played, on December 31, 1975, many have stated that the 3-3 tie between the Central Red Army and the Montreal Canadiens was the best game ever played.

It was the first meeting between the best Russian League team and the best in the NHL. It didn’t disappoint.

Four years later the two teams met again, but at the time only one team was currently the best in it’s league.

Central Red Army, barring one or two players, was essentially the Russian National Team. It was a squad that dominated it’s league, primarily due to the fact that they could basically have any player they wanted.

The Russians had proven to the North Americans that they were no pushover amateur team since 1972, and were the dominant force in international competition.

chall Central Red Army was the core of the Soviet National team, seen here after winning the 1979 Challenge Cup vs. NHL All-Stars

Over a dozen Red Army players were part of the National team that had won the Challenge Cup, earlier in 1979, against the NHL All-Stars. They also had two new young stars emerging in Sergei Makarov and Viacheslav Fetisov. The latter was originally drafted by Montreal in 1978.

The Canadiens were the defending four-time Stanley Cup champions, but in December 1979, they appeared to be far from a championship team.

Gone were veteran forwards Jacques LeMaire, Yvan Cournoyer and goaltender Ken Dryden. Perhaps more important was the departure of coach Scotty Bowman.

Bernie Geoffrion had taken over the reigns as the Montreal’s bench boss at the start of the 1979-80 season. As charismatic a man he was, he had a nonchalant coaching style. It was a far contrast from Bowman’s hard line approach, and it left his team vulnerable.

The Canadiens were struggling through the fall, despite a 6-2-2 October, and considered a team in crisis. From November 25 to December 21, the Canadiens went 2-7-3, earning just seven of a possible 24 points.

Geoffrion resigned, midway through the slump on December 12. Things didn’t get any better, when assistant coach Claude Ruel took over, as the Canadiens lost the next four games.

Ruel started to get the team turned around after that, going 3-1 to close out December and had his squad at a respectable fifth overall in the league standings.

The new head coach always had a tendency to favour the young players over his veterans. Before long the “Big Three” of Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe, was the “Big Two”.

Lapointe, who would slowly get less playing time in favour of second-year Canadien Rod Langway, was also battling the flu and sat out the New Years Eve game.

Red Army came into the Montreal Forum on December 31 having already rolled over the New York Islanders 3-2 and the New York Rangers 5-2.

Many expected it would be the same fate for the Canadiens, with call in shows asking listeners “How many goals you think the Habs will get wiped out by.” They would be in for a surprise.

image image

Vladislav Tretiak, arguably the best goalie on the planet a the time, between the pipes at one end, Ruel called on rookie Richard Sevigny (ten career NHL games) to play goal for the Canadiens.

Despite low expectations of their team, the fans greeted the Canadiens with a standing ovation.

With Vladimir Petrov serving a hooking minor, the Canadiens got on the board first, with a power play goal from Yvan Lambert at 16:36.

Montreal’s defensive pairings clogged laneways, blocked shots and the aggressive fore-checking, led by Bob Gainey limited the Red Army to just three shots in the first period.

Montreal managed to get 13 on Tretiak. The score could easily have been 3-0 at that point, if not for the 27-year-old netminder’s brilliant play.

The Canadiens thought they had a second goal from Steve Shutt, but referee Bruce Hood ruled it a high stick.

“I saw the replay three times,” Shutt said. “My stick was on the way down, rather than being above my shoulder as the referee indicated.”

With only six shots In the second period, Red Army battled their way through a Canadiens defence, that had started to loosen up a bit, and managed to score twice on Sevigny.

Viktor Zhlutkov found the back of the net first at 6:51, and Helmut Balderis fired a shot from the blueline, that beat Sevigny between the pads at 12:02.

Helmut Balderis puts the Red Army ahead 2-1.

“It was hard to keep my concentration with only one shot in 19 minutes (of the first period),” Sevigny said. “When you come out in the second period, you feel like you need another warmup. It’s tough for a goalie.”

“In the second period, they came out in a completely different style,” Gainey said.

“They spread their five guys out pretty well over the ice. It threw our game off for a while. All of a sudden it feels like you are chasing something you can’t catch.”

With Tretiak performing at his typical goaltending level in the Montreal Forum, the Canadiens knew they would have to come in hard in the third period.

“We knew we let down in the second period,” Shutt said “Between periods, we told ourselves that we had to play the same kind of game that we did in the first period.”

They did just that. Robinson, Savard, Langway and Brian Engblom shut down any Russian rush that tried to get to the net, allowing just 14 shots to reach Sevigny all night.

Gainey and his band of forecheckers that included Doug Jarvis and Rejean Houle,continued to harass, while the rest of the forwards began to put on the pressure.

Shutt tied the game up at 3:38, when he fired a behind the net pass, from Guy Lafleur, low glove side behind Tretiak.

Six minutes later, Gainey rushed up the right side and beat Tretiak on a wrist shot that just squeaked inside the goal post.

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search Rejean Houle wathces Bob Gainey’s winning goal beat Tretiak in the third period. 12/31/79 – Montreal Gazette photo

Shutt would add his second goal of the night, after a giveaway in front of the net by Sergei Gimaiev.

Red Amy coach Viktor Tikhonov, never afraid to criticize, harshly scolded his player for the error.

Gimaeiv responded post-game in a way seldom seen by the Russians.

“It’s not my mistake.” he said. “A coach is right, and the players wrong if we win or lose.”

Gimaev’s comments were foreshadowing the dissention between, Tikhonov and his players, that became more clear two months later and over the next decade

The Canadiens would be victorious with a 4-2 victory.

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search two Bob Gainey, who’s defense and offense thwarted the Russians, was named the player of the game.

“That’s as good a game as we’ve played all year,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we can go out and beat the Soviets every day because when two teams like we have meet, no one is going to dominate.”

Tretiak stopped 31 of the 35 shots he faced for Red Army, but showed displeasure in the overall team performance.

“I wasn’t pleased with half the team,” he said. “We could have played much better, but they played for all three periods.”

“That’s the best team we’ve played against.” added Tikhonov. “If there was any team ready to beat us, it’s the Canadiens. We made a lot of mistakes out there, mistakes the Canadiens forced us into.”

Tikhonov also went on to praise Gainey, citing him him as the best all-around player in the world.

It was clearly a strong moral victory for the Canadiens. The team played like the defending Stanley Cup champions should play.

“You can’t call this the championship of the world,” said Larry Robinson. “They’re in first place in the Soviet League, but we’re certainly not running away with things in the NHL right now. But one thing I know for sure, it’s a great morale booster.”

Lafleur, who had always been critiqued that he could not play against the Russians, proved that he was still the star of the team. Le Demon-Blond had two assists and at least five decent scoring chances on Tretiak.

Shutt felt the team’s success came from his coach, “I give the big credit to Claude Ruel because if we played them three weeks ago, they would have kicked the crap out of us.”

There are many who feel that this Canadiens-Red Army game was as good a game as the ‘75 standard, and maybe better. From a one-team side, you’d have to strongly agree.

Montreal dominated at both ends of the ice and proved that without key future Hall of Fame players in the lineup, they could still compete against the best Russia had to offer.

The victory clearly was a momentum builder as the Canadiens regained their form from that point on.

They would finish the regular season with 107 points, third best in the league, and capped it off with a 22-game unbeaten streak to close the season.

Their bid for a fight straight Stanley Cup would fall short, after they dropped a seven-game conference semi-final to the Minnesota North Stars.

Montreal Canadiens vs. Russia/Soviet Union All-Time record

12/31/75 Central Red Army (CSKA) 3 Canadiens 3

01/06/78 Montreal Canadiens 5 Spartak Moscow 2

12/31/79 Montreal Canadiens 4 CSKA 2

12/31/82 National Team 5 Canadiens 0

12/31/85 CSKA 6 Canadiens 1

01/02/90 Canadiens 2 Kryia Sovetov 1

09/12/90 Canadiens 5 SKA Lenigrad 3

09/14/90 Canadiens 4 Dyanmo Riga 2

09/16/90 Dynamo Moscow 4 Canadiens 1

09/18/90 CSKA 3 Canadiens 2

12/10/90 Khimik Voskresensk 6 Canadiens 3

Another piece on this historic night comes from Habs Eyes on The Prize, and includes more video clips from the game.

I also received photos from the game program from one of my readers. More on that is available here.


Special thanks to Joe Pelletier, Jean-Patrice Martel and Todd Denault for getting me in the right direction in researching this game.

News Sources:

The Montreal Gazette, January 2 1980

The Globe and Mail, January 1 1980

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Montreal Canadiens Holiday Goodies: 2009 edition

OK time to share all the cool Habs swag that I got under the tree this Christmas.

P1060003 Off the top is the awesome CCM/Vintage Collection Maurice Richard jersey.

The jersey is patterned after the 1955 model, and has the captain’s “C” and fighting strap.

The story to it is that I came across it, at a Play-it-Again Sports in Brampton, a couple weeks before Christmas.

It was on sale at the time but I resisted temptation to grab it.

About a week before Christmas, my fiancée was out shopping, for yours truly, and sent me a text that she was having difficulty finding me something.

I humorously suggested the jersey, but did not expect to find it under the tree. She was actually looking at a Patrick Roy jersey when I mentioned it, did the price comparison and went with my suggestion.

Nor did I expect the autographed Guy Lafleur puck and card (to the right of the ice bucket). When I first unwrapped it, I totally missed the fact that it was signed until she mentioned the certificate of authenticity.

Rounding out the gift stash are some Habs PJ’s an Canadiens license plate and seatbelt cover, the ice bucket set, beer stein and a car-coin bank. I think I’ll use the coin bank to save for season tickets.

Obviously I wasn’t the only one to get a Habs jersey this season. Robert at HabsEyesOnThePrize picked up his during the Boxing Day sales and wrote about his unique experience.

What was your best Habs gift this season, or all-time?

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Rocket’s Eight Point Night, Vezina’s Assist and the Habs 20,000th Goal

image On this day in 1944, Maurice Rocket Richard scored eight points, then an NHL record, in the Canadiens thumped the Detroit Red Wings 9-1.

Richard scored five goals and three assists in the game.

There is a couple variations to the legend behind this historic moment.

Both are correct that Richard was given the morning off to help move. After spending a day of moving furniture, one would suspect that he would be rather tired from the busy day.

This is where the story splits into fact and fiction;

In a fictional variation, was made famous on the Histori Canada commercial below, which has it that Richard was going to be given the night off to move, but then called in to play.

The real story was that Richard was given permission to have the morning off, but would play that night, despite being tired.

Richard got onto the scoreboard with a goal early in the first period, and added an assist before the first 20 minutes had ended.

He added two more goals, in an eight second span, early in the second period and added another goal and assist before the end of the period.

Richard’s fifth goal came in the final period, and his third assist found the stick of Elmer Lach, who redirected the pass beyond the reach of Harry Lumley.

The moment was again captured in the 2007 feature film “The Rocket”. A humorous clip from the film is when his brother-in-law was betting against him and the Canadiens, then sits stunned in the back seat of the car on the ride home.

The record would be tied, by teammate Bert Olmstead in 1953, and is still a Canadiens scoring record.

It would not be broken until Darryl Sittler’s ten point night on February 10, 1976.

First assist by a goalie: Georges Vezina became the first goalie credited with an assist on this day in 1918 against Toronto.

Vezina had stopped a Toronto shot and Newsy Lalonde picked up the puck,rushed back to the other end and scored.

Goal 20,000: Scored by Mike Cammalleri just this evening against the Ottawa Senators. Assists went to Andrei Kostitsyn and Andrei Markov.

Halak-a-mania Storms Into Ottawa

imageWell OK, we won’t likely see many Habs fans in muscle-cut Halak jerseys or headbands, but the fans of the Bleu-blanc-rouge will be a plenty in Scotiabank Place Monday night.

The Senators home rink essentially becomes a Bell-Centre east when the Montreal Canadiens roll into town. Tickets are still available as this is put together.

Robert Lefebvre, at Habs Eyes on The Prize, had his first insight into a Canadiens road game in the nation’s capital earlier this month and posted it on his blog.

Anyways back to the man of the hour, the man with the power, to sweet to be sour, Jaroslav Halak.

A few weeks back, after it was learned that Halak and his agent had requested a trade, I expected to see some good performances out of the young goaltender to increase his value and/or establish more playing time in Montreal.

But did anyone expect what we have seen in the last four games?


The Slovak-born netminder has been stellar in all four games of this seven-game road swing in which he has faced Halak has faced an average of 46.5 shots on goal, making 180 saves on a total of 186 for a .968 save percentage. His goals-against average during that stretch is 1.48.

Halak was named the NHL’s First Star of the week, after posting three wins and stopping 140 of 146 shots he faced. His GAA now sits at 2.53 and has a save percentage of .926

"It just shows the focus he's had," centre Scott Gomez said of Halak. "What can you say? He's in a zone. It's almost like you're scared not to give him that many shots because we don't know what will happen."

image Halak gets the start (his fifth straight) Monday against the Senators.

Three questions come to mind:

1. Can the Canadiens get the shot total against reduced to a more reasonable number for Halak to face?

Chances are unlikely given the Canadiens tight schedule in December that has limited their practice time.

2. How much longer can Halak, and the Canadiens for this matter, continue this pace?

Halak is clearly an NHL level goalie, but how much longer can he face a multi-shot barrage day in and day out. Also consider the teams he has faced are not the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, San Jose Sharks, or Vancouver Canucks.

3. What to do with Carey Price?

Even though Price had some soft goals in his last few starts, the losses were clearly not his fault. Jacques Martin will eventually have to give Price a chance to prove himself again, likely in one of the two games in Florida.

So far, when Halak runs the table for four or five starts, Price has remained in support of his fellow goalie and team. How long can that last though?

image Power surge: The second big story as the Habs continue their road swing, has been the meteoric surge in the Canadiens power play, thanks to the return of Andrei Markov.

In four games, since his return from a season opening injury, Markov has eight points and the Canadiens top the NHL in the man-advantage category, with a mark of 25 percent.

Gionta set to return?: Scott Gomez is picking up the pace he’s paid the big bucks for with five points in his last two games.

Gomez could get a boost to his numbers as he could be re-united with the injured Brian Gionta as soon as Monday night. The pair practiced Sunday on a line with Benoit Pouliot.

Gionta has not seen action since breaking his foot, on November 17, and will be a game time decision.

But as the Canadiens medical ward is finding some empty cots, Roman Hamrlik still remains out with a lower-body injury.


The Bad Guys: The Senators sport one of the best home records in the NHL, but are missing some key components to their offence.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson is expected to be out four to six weeks, with a shoulder injury, and Jason Spezza is not expected back until after the Olympics with a torn MCL.

Nick Foligno is also on IR until late January after having arthroscopic knee surgery and was expected to resume skating this week.

This is the third meeting of the season between Montreal and Ottawa. The Senators won the first match-up, 3-1, on Oct. 17, and the Canadiens earned with a 4-1 victory, with Halak, on Dec. 8 in Ottawa.

image Kov-a-nyet!: Over the summer Alex Kovalev reportedly blew off the Canadiens’ contract offer in search of something else, didn’t get it, settled on a deal from the Senators and still claims he pines for his second home in Montreal.

Earlier in the month, the Russian Ice Hockey Federations’ GM, Vladislav Tretiak, bypassed Ottawa on a tour of NHL cities, and made it clear he wanted the best players at that moment.

With 20 points this season, at the time the selections were announced, the 36-year-old was not one of them.

Kovalev responded that he could use the time off, to go with the two and a half months he’s already had off this season, I guess.

Guess the 20,000 goal scorer and win tix!: Just less than a century after Jack Laviolette potted the first goal in Canadiens history, the team’s 20,000 could come tonight, barring a Senators shutout.

Dave Stubbs of HabsInsideOut is offering up a pair of VIP tickets to the Canadiens Jan. 3 game vs. Buffalo for the HIO member that picks the winning goal scorer.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Remembering Canadiens Legend Doug Harvey

DougHarveyHockey4448 I remember sitting at home, on Boxing Day 1989, when I heard the news that Canadiens legend Doug Harvey had passed away at the age of 65.

Harvey had retired from playing almost a year before I was even born, but I was well aware of the Hall of Fame blue liner, and what he brought to the game.

While many legends, that I grew up watching, relied on speed and physical play, Harvey’s ability to control the tempo of the play is what set him apart from the rest to this day.

Many still debate who was the better defenseman, Orr or Harvey.

Harvey would slow the pace of the game down, looking up ice to see who was on the ice and where they were going.

HIs style of play actually frustrated not only the opposition, but also his teammates, and coach Dick Irvin, when he first began playing for the Canadiens in 1947.

Soon they realized the benefits of his tactics. Harvey knew that he wasn’t necessarily the fastest player on the ice, but that a moving puck could get up ice faster than most skaters.

Combined with his defense, vision and stick-handling abilities, Harvey made it a habit of drawing in forecheckers, then setting up and odd-man rush with a quick up-ice pass.

Doug_Harvey4549 "I'm not throwing any pucks away," he said. "I'm trying to do what's best for the team. That's why I take my time and make the play."

Though not a hard-hitting defender, he did play a very physical game and a tremendous ability to free the puck from opposing attackers.

With his forwards able to play up ice in a transition game, and rely on Harvey, Emile Bouchard, and later Tom Johnson holding court on the blue line, fire wagon hockey was born.

Harvey’s play would help the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup in 1952-53.

It was interesting to note that after Elmer Lach’s overtime winner, in game five, Harvey did not stay on the ice to shake hands with the Boston Bruins.

"I'm running them into the boards and banging them around one minute and because we win the Stanley Cup, that's going to change? I don't really like them anyway. Why should I shake their hands?"

19-team-semi-51 The following season, the Canadiens were back in the finals, where Harvey was the victim of his own-goal in the game seven overtime against Detroit.

He didn’t let the error affect him though, as the following season he won the first of seven Norris Trophies as the NHL’s top defenceman.

“When I joined Montreal,” said Jean Beliveau, “He was the best defenceman I’d ever seen.”

As the Canadiens began their dynasty of five straight Stanley Cups, Harvey was the quarterback of one of the most dominating power play units in NHL history.

It was so effective that the NHL had to change the rules, in 1956, to allow a penalized player to return to the ice once the team with the man-advantage had scored.

Harvey had run of four Norris Trophy’s from 1955 to 1958. His defensive partner, Tom Johnson, would win it in 1959 before Harvey reclaimed it yet again the following season.

With the retirement of Maurice Richard after the 1959-60 season, Harvey was named captain of the Canadiens.

It would be a short tenure however. Despite being known as a good team leader on the ice and in the room (many felt he should have been named captain over the popular Richard), his relationship with management began to diminish.


Along with other players, Harvey had been attempting to form a players association when they learned that the owners were not matching the players pension contributions.

The attempt went without success and Harvey was essentially blacklisted, as he put it, by the league.

The rift between Harvey and Canadiens GM Frank Selke was further escalated by his alcoholism and bi-polar disorder.

Harvey was notorious for being the last player to get on the bus or on the train, according to assistant GM and former defenseman Ken Reardon.

He also appeared at a formal event in a Tuxedo and running shoes and once skipped a team dinner to go drinking.

“I’m my own man,” Harvey said. “This is who I am.”

Reardon and Selke felt otherwise and something had to be done.

“As a front office man, you don’t want him as captain,” Reardon said.


At the end of the 1960-61 season, after winning his sixth Norris and ninth First Team All Star selection, he was traded to the New York Rangers.

"It had to do with union activities," Harvey said on the trade. "I was a First Team All-Star and won the Norris that year. You don't give away a player like that!"

He has a valued point as Ted Lindsay, another involved in the players association attempt, was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks three years earlier.

“I would have been traded earlier,” Harvey once said. “But we kept winning all those Cups. Selke knew if he traded me then, the fans would riot.”

Harvey fought to stay in Montreal but realizing that he had no choice in the matter, reported to the Rangers.

As the last player-coach in NHL history, he won his final Norris trophy and First-team All-Star awards while leading the Rangers to their first playoff birth in three seasons.

He stepped down as coach to focus on playing with the Rangers for two more seasons.

“I liked playing best,” he said. “Being with the boys, having fun and tossing back a few after the game. I never really liked coaching that much.”

Left unprotected by the Rangers in the 1963 intra-league draft, he signed as a free agent with the AHL Quebec Aces. Harvey would play for Quebec, Baltimore and Pittsburgh over three seasons before resurfacing in the NHL, for two games in 1966-67, with Detroit.

With the NHL expanding to a dozen teams, Harvey became player-coach of the St. Louis Blues’ AHL affiliate in Kansas City.



He would be called up by the Blues in their playoff run during the 1967-68 season, and played all 70 games for the Blues in the following year.

At age 44, he retired from playing.

Harvey stayed in hockey as an assistant manager for the WHA’s Houston Aeros. He is credited with convincing the Aeros to sign two underge brothers, Mark and Marty Howe, to pro contracts.

Once they were signed, their legendary father, Gordie Howe, came out of retirement to play with his sons.

The question of being black listed comes into play once again in 1972. With his credentials, Harvey should have been elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame that year, but he wasn’t.

It was the same year that Howe and Jean Beliveau were exempted from the three-year waiting period.

“They don’t want me in there because I’ve been known to hoist a few,” Harvey said never afraid to speak his mind. “And they’ve never forgiven Ted Lindsay and I for helping for the NHLPA. We were blackballed when we did that.”

For the record, Ted Lindsay was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966 and also was exempt from the three-year wait.

On July 5, 1973, the Hockey Hall of Fame sent a letter out to Harvey congratulating him upon his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Fifteen days later, Harvey’s wife Ursula replied to inform the Hall of Fame that Harvey had refused to accept his election, despite talking to him over the phone the night before in hopes of changing his mind.

Instead of spending the day when a player has achieved a pinnacle of personal success, Harvey spent the day fishing and drinking.

During retirement, Harvey went into a nomadic lifestyle, travelling across the country.

Many believe he was homeless and living in a boxcar. Truth of the matter was, it was a mobile, and rather elaborate, unit once owned by John Diefenbaker for visiting dignitaries. Harvey’s home-base was set up on a raceway, just outside of Ottawa.

One of hockey’s greatest players had virtually vanished into obscurity.

In 1984, Harvey had stopped drinking. At the same time, on their 75th anniversary, fans of the Montreal Canadiens selected an all-time All-Star Team.

1habs_harvey_50082 Jacques Plante was chosen as goaltender, the forwards were Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard while the blueliners selected were Larry Robinson and Doug Harvey.

The group, along with all-time coach Toe Blake and Aurele Joliat made a memorable appearance in uniform before the Forum crowd.

On October 26, 1985, his No. 2 was retired by the Canadiens and he was hired on as a part-time scout.


Harvey was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in 1988 and died a week after his 65th birthday in Montreal General Hospital in 1989.

“I feel very,” said Maurice Richard on his passing. “We had a lot of fun together. Doug was great, always willing to help.”

"If I had to do it over again," Harvey said shortly before his death. "I wouldn't have changed a thing."

He truly was his own man.


Did you know?:


Doug Harvey began playing hockey as a goalie, but was moved to forward.

He was a multi sport athlete in high school and played hockey for the school throughout his years at the school, although somehow was excluded from the 1941 Senior team.

In 1942 he was moved from centre to defence by coach Jack Black, and in 1943 his school won the city championship.

He was touted by the Boston Braves to play baseball, and also had a chance to play pro football, before signing on with the Royal Canadian Navy, where he won the Navy boxing title.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Greetings and Vintage Footage from Ken Dryden and Family

image Thumbs up to Erle Schneidman and his tireless efforts at

Erle’s site is a tremendous archive of all things collectible that relates to the Montreal Canadiens.

It’s always exciting to get weekly updates on the site, and this week was no exception.

Erle has a stumbled on a set of greeting cards issued by the Dryden family dating from as far back as 1959 and right up to the brothers’ NHL days and beyond.

The cards primarily feature brothers Ken and Dave as well as sister Judy. Other cards feature the kids with other family members.

dryden2 001 imageFor anyone who was in the mailing list, and is in possession of one or two of these and curious to their value, Erle has an estimated individual card value of $40 to $50 range.

Vintage CBC Archive feature on Ken Dryden

On a related note, I was thumbing through the CBC Digital Archives and came across this vintage piece on Ken Dryden from October 1972.

The feature includes commentary from legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt, journalist Milt Dunnell, Dave Dryden (check out those sideburns) and, of course, Ken Dryden as only he can put it.

Keep in mind this is just after his first full season with the Canadiens when this was originally aired.

Dryden Christmas 001

Friday, December 18, 2009

Habs Need Shots on Goal and Commitment Markov Back Saturday?

image“How can you score, if you don’t shoot?” – Bernie “Boom-Boom” Geoffrion

Thursday night’s loss by the Montreal Canadiens, to the Minnesota Wild, is clearly a disappointment as their losing streak mounts to five games.

It was another one of those games when the team showed up for two periods.

While first period was a mess for the Habs, the final forty minutes was a much better story.

The Canadiens managed to get a dozen shots, in each of the final periods, at Niklas Backstrom and 31 on the night along with 18 blocked shots, and 15 that missed the net.

Unfortunately a hot Backstrom, combined with a defense that can clear rebounds, spelled a loss.

For the first time in ten games, Montreal actually outshot their opponent.

Outside of the injury factor, the lack of shots on goal has been one of Montreal’s biggest problems in 2009-10.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin addressed the situation last week after his team’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Martin noted that the Penguins find ways to get the puck to the net and that “If it’s good enough for the Stanley Cup Champions, then it’s good enough for the Montreal Canadiens.”

Montreal currently ranks 29th in the league in shots-per-game with 26.8. Conversely the injury depleted team is 9th in shots against at 31.1.

That’s just under a five shot differential. Five more opportunities for the opponent to score, not including misses or blocks.

Once you realize that 22 of the Canadiens’ 36 games this season have been one-goal games, that differential could make the difference to a team that is 9-9-2 in those situations.

The Canadiens, notably the second and third lines, need to try not to use set plays as often as they appear to be doing and just get pucks on the net.

Do that, and the probability of a goal, and a win, is clearly much better.

image Another factor, which demonstrates a team’s commitment to playing a full game, is their record when scoring first.

Montreal is 4-15-2 when their opponent scores first. That’s fourth worst in the league.

Add to that their record when trailing after 40 minutes is 2-14-1, and 8-0-0 when leading, and you get the picture.

Get the shot totals up, keep a full pace, and the remaining 46 games should be much better.

The Canadiens now embark on a seven-game road trip to close out 2009. All seven are against Eastern Conference teams.

Markov and Gionta Updates: Andrei Markov has been cleared for contact play by team doctors. It will be Jacques Martin’s decision whether to start him on Saturday against the Islanders.

Brain Gionta continues his rehab on his broken foot. The left winger skated in Brossard Friday, for about 30 minutes, with the Canadiens head athletic therapist.

There is still no updates on defenceman Roman Hamrlik’s injury.

Back to the Hammer: Forward Tom Pyatt and defenseman Yannick Weber were returned to the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday morning. This is Weber’s second call-up and return, without playing a game, in two weeks.

With Markov’s potential return, and Pyatt’s demotion, Marc-Andre Bergeron could be moved to forward during the road trip.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest Results


Congratulations to Steve D of Sherbrooke Quebec, winner of the Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest.

Steve was but a handful of many entries submitted with all twelve correct answers. Many got the first eleven, but the last one was a bit of a toughy.

Steve wins a Habs prize pack valued at over $50!

Answers to the 12 questions:

1. This Canadiens Hall of Famer was the first ever recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy, name him?

A) Jean Beliveau

2. Multiple Choice: Doug Harvey won seven Norris Trophies with the Canadiens. In which of the seasons listed below did he not win it?

A) B

3. Who is the Montreal Canadiens all-time leader in penalty minutes?

A) Chris Nilan

4. Who was the first recipient of the Vezina Trophy?

A) George Hainsworth

5. True or False?: Maurice Richard led the NHL in penalty minutes twice in his career.

A) False. He led the league once

6. Maurice Richard and Jacques Plante both were head coach for what WHA team?

A) The Quebec Nordiques

7. Who were the first two Canadiens goalies to share the Vezina Trophy in the same season?

A) Charlie Hodge and Gump Worsley

8. What was the nickname of Canadiens legend Aurel Joliat?

A) The Little Giant or The Mighty Atom

9. How many times has a member of the Montreal Canadiens won the Hart Trophy? A) 16

10. What two Canadiens players share the team’s record for most points by a rookie with 71 points?

A) Mats Naslund and Kjell Dahlen

11. Multiple Choice: Who did the Montreal Canadiens defeat, on December 29, 2008, for the franchise’s 3000th victory?

D) None of the Above – It was against the Florida Panthers

And finally…

12. Who was the goalie for the Canadiens in their last 0-0 tie?

The key word in the question was tie, which takes out any overtime or shootout games.

The goalie was played his junior hockey with the Granby Bisons, and was on the Canadiens Stanley Cup winning roster in 1993.

But it’s not Patrick Roy…

image It was Andre “Red Light” Racicot, who accomplished the feat against Philadelphia on February 11. 1993.

Thanks to all who submitted their entries. I was overwhelmed with the responses so I will be doing another contest in January.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Halak-A-Mania Trade Rumours Running Wild, but Becoming a Reality.


Well two years of speculation and rumours, surrounding the future of Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak, may finally be coming to a conclusion.

Halak’s name has been mentioned in trade deals since 2007-08. To start that season, Carey Price took the role as the number two goalie in Montreal to Cristobel Huet. Despite an admirable performance the season prior, Halak found himself in goal for the Hamilton Bulldogs.

That changed once Huet was shipped off to the Washington Capitals. GM Bob Gainey decided to go with two young goalies and continued that through 2008-09.

Carey Price was always anointed as “The Franchise”, by many in the media and fans alike, since the day he was drafted in 2005. I can’t recall any Canadiens goalie that was given so much hype since maybe Jacques Plante. Roy didn’t get it, neither did Dryden.

Halak, in the meantime, remained quiet and avoided any goalie controversies. He let his actions on the ice speak that he deserved to be in the NHL, and possibly as a number one goalie.

With both netminders becoming restricted free agents come July, many feel something will have to give, but who?

Things began to develop as the 2009-10 season took form.

In late October, when Price rode the pine, in favour of Halak, for four games, he spoke in a positive manner and acknowledged his coach for playing the hot hand at the time.

Price soon after had another mediocre start which launched the “Tweet Heard ‘Round the World” by Halak’s agent Allan Walsh.

Halak quickly downplayed his agents comments, citing that he wasn’t speaking on his client’s behalf, and was made unaware of it until the next day.

The goalie controversy seemed to be back, spawning one the most detailed, comprehensive and equally impressive statistical analysis of the two goalies at


Price meanwhile, began to climb back and was quickly playing in games at the level he was expected to achieve and in multiple succession.

Halak has had three starts in the last twelve days and went 1-2-0

More trade rumours circulated in the last two weeks, notably out of Edmonton and Philadelphia.

Well those Philadelphia tidbits gained more steam on Tuesday once Bob Gainey confirmed that Halak had requested a trade.

“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t,” Halak said after Tuesday’s practice. “That’s between me and my agent.”

He also said that despite being happy to be in Montreal, he would like to see more ice time.

“I’m always been a team guy,” he added. “If I play, I play, but I want to win. My contract is up after this year, but if they want to move me, it’s up to them.”

Gainey, who has been known to accommodate players trade requests in the past (for the most recent see: Begin, Steve) also made it clear that the Flyers were not the only team he talked to.

"I took this step because it is Jaroslav's wish to have his chance to play," Gainey told "He feels ready to play a more important part."

The Philadelphia Daily News also confirmed the story, but talks with Philadelphia could be off now, as the goalie-strapped team picked up Michael Leighton off waivers late Tuesday.


The NHL’s roster freeze kicks in on December 19, and remains in effect until the 27th, so any trade deal seems unlikely in the coming three days.

In any event, one has to think that with the Canadiens compressed schedule, leading up to the Olympics, that moving Halak right now may not be beneficial.

An injury to Price could spell disaster, to an already injury laden team. Keeping Halak until then might be a wiser move.

At least now he knows that he is being accommodated and will be wanting to perform at a top level, as scouts watch more feverishly as the trade deadline approaches.

In any event, one thing is most definitely certain now. Jaroslav Halak will not be a member of the Montreal Canadiens in 2010-11.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest: Day 12


OK here it is, the final day of my Twelve Days of Habs Trivia!

Each day, from December 1 to December 12, I will post a trivia question about the Montreal Canadiens.

Don’t worry, they won’t be too difficult.

Once all the questions are posted, send me an email with all twelve answers.

Entries must be received by December 14, 2009.

All correct entries will be placed in a hat, and the lucky winner drawn.

The Prize pack will consist of:

  • A DVD copy of the original series of “Peter Puck : How to Play the Game”
  • Five packs of cards from the Canadiens Upper Deck Centennial Set
  • A set of reusable Montreal Canadiens Stickers
  • A Montreal Canadiens bumper sticker
  • A die-cut indoor/outdoor magnet
  • A collection of four 1/64 Die-Cast Canadiens vehicles
  • An assortment of 50 Montreal Canadiens hockey cards with some nice surprises in them

The prize pack will have an approximate value of $50.00

Good Luck to all!

Here’s trivia question number twelve:

Who was the goalie for the Canadiens in their last 0-0 tie?

OK that one might be the toughest of the dozen.

Now, EMAIL ME all twelve answers and good luck!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Habs Mixed Bag: Markov Skating, Gionta’s Hospital Visit, and Chris Nilan’s Demons

image Some more positive news, on the Habs injury report Friday, with Andrei Markov on the ice for almost an hour of intense workouts.

The All-Star rearguard is yet to be cleared by team doctors for contact practices, but is travelling to Atlanta as the Canadiens prepare to meet the Thrashers.

Markov is expected to be re-evaluated by team doctors on Monday and appears to be making good on his anticipated early return.

Another injured Hab who scheduled to meet the doctor’s office Monday is Brian Gionta.

The left winger has been on IR since November 18 and could be permitted to take to the ice in non-contact workouts by the end of next week.

#21 pays a fan a visit: Gionta did have time, on Thursday, to pay a visit to a 15-year-old midget player at Montreal’s Children’s hospital. Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette has the story.

Habs tough-guy finds a vicious foe: Another touching story from The Gazette’s Red Fisher has a moving piece on former Habs enforcer Chris Nilan’s battle with addictions.

In the days before testing for PEDs: has a feature on Ken Dryden’s secret elixir to help his indigestion problems during the ‘73 playoffs.

On this day in 1973: Guy Lafleur scored his first career hat-trick during the Canadiens 4-3 win over the Minnesota North Stars.

Lafleur would have two more hat tricks, during the 1971-72 season, becoming the first rookie to record three in a season.

The Hockey Sweater Author Appearing Saturday in Old Montreal

image Roch Carrier, author of the “The Hockey Sweater”, will be reading from his famous short story/children’s book, this Saturday, December 12 at 11 am, at the Avenue Art Gallery in Old Montreal.

The reading is part of the gallery’s “Hockey, Our Love Affair” exhibition celebrating Montreal’s love of hockey
and the Montreal Canadiens. Hot chocolate and snacks are being provided for the kids.

The exhibit includes the works of celebrated Canadian Artists Sheldon Cohen, Terry Tomalty, Marc Tomalty and Janet Nash, who are known for their hockey images.

Original cells from “The Hockey Sweater” and Cohen’s animated film “The Sweater” are also on display.


Proceeds from sales of these pieces are benefiting the Montreal Canadiens’ Children’s Foundation.

The exhibition runs until December 24.

Avenue Art is located at 10 King in the Multimedia City area of Old Montreal (514) 489-4888.

A map can be found here.

Dave Stubbs’ story on the event’s November 26 opening from the Montreal Gazette.


Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest: Day 11

It’s day eleven of my Twelve Days of Habs Trivia!

Each day, from December 1 to December 12, I will post a trivia question about the Montreal Canadiens.

Don’t worry, they won’t be too difficult.

Once all the questions are posted, send me an email with all twelve answers.

Entries must be received by December 14, 2009.

All correct entries will be placed in a hat, and the lucky winner drawn.

The Prize pack will consist of:

  • A DVD copy of the original series of “Peter Puck : How to Play the Game”
  • Five packs of cards from the Canadiens Upper Deck Centennial Set
  • A set of reusable Montreal Canadiens Stickers
  • A Montreal Canadiens bumper sticker
  • A die-cut indoor/outdoor magnet
  • A collection of four 1/64 Die-Cast Canadiens vehicles
  • An assortment of 50 Montreal Canadiens hockey cards with some nice surprises in them

The prize pack will have an approximate value of $50.00

Good Luck to all!

Here’s trivia question number eleven:

Multiple Choice: Who did the Montreal Canadiens defeat, on December 29, 2008, for the franchise’s 3000th victory?

a.) New York Rangers

b.) Tampa Bay Lightning

c.) Vancouver Canucks

d.) None of the above

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest: Day 10


It’s day ten of my Twelve Days of Habs Trivia!

Each day, from December 1 to December 12, I will post a trivia question about the Montreal Canadiens.

Don’t worry, they won’t be too difficult.

Once all the questions are posted, send me an email with all twelve answers.

Entries must be received by December 14, 2009.

All correct entries will be placed in a hat, and the lucky winner drawn.

The Prize pack will consist of:

  • A DVD copy of the original series of “Peter Puck : How to Play the Game”
  • Five packs of cards from the Canadiens Upper Deck Centennial Set
  • A set of reusable Montreal Canadiens Stickers
  • A Montreal Canadiens bumper sticker
  • A die-cut indoor/outdoor magnet
  • A collection of four 1/64 Die-Cast Canadiens vehicles
  • An assortment of 50 Montreal Canadiens hockey cards with some nice surprises in them

The prize pack will have an approximate value of $50.00

Good Luck to all!

Here’s trivia question number ten:

What two Canadiens players share the team’s record for most points by a rookie with 71 points?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In Case you Missed It: Habs News and Blogger Views for Dec 9

image Reflection by Andrea Lavoie

I came across a couple good articles online tonight while nursing a scratchy throat and after an afternoon of shoveling.

First up, Dave Stubbs (Montreal Gazette) on my all-time favourite Hab Ken Dryden’s reaction to the Canadiens Centennial Ceremony.

I agree with Mr. Stubbs that not seeing Dryden, in his trademark pose, last Friday was a bit of a disappointment. But the fact that #29 appeared in pads for the first time in 30 years was reward enough.

OK a little shameless self promotion: Jessica Murphy’s look at Canadiens fans making the pilgrimage to Montreal. Just to note, I am not from North Bay, just drove through it once.

More on the slumping former Canadiens right winger, who now plays elsewhere.

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy looks at backup goalies thrust into the lead role this season, including Jaroslav Halak.

And speaking of the Habs #41: Oh Canadiens looks at a possible trade  rumours, with the Oilers, involving the Slovak netminder

One Down, One Up: The Habs sent Ryan White back to the Bulldogs on Wednesday, was he really here? ;)

With injuries to defencemen Paul Mara and Jaroslav Spacek, the Canadiens called up Yannick Weber Wednesday afternoon.

On the Air Waves:

Bob McCowan and John Shannon (PrimeTime Sports/Fan590) talked to Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s new VP for Hockey and Business Development.

Earlier in the day, Daren Millard and Nick Kypreos (Hockey Central/Fan590) caught up with HOFer Mark Messier on his new roll as Team Canada’s GM for the 2010 World Hockey Championships.

Who Wants to Tell Him the Answer Was No?: Dennis Kane, a guy can dream I guess.

Hainsworth, Connell and Hall’s Records Will Likely Remain Unbeatable


Congratulations to Martin Brodeur, who tied Terry Sawchuk’s career shutout mark of 103 earlier this week.

Brodeur is showing no signs of slowing down, as he gobbles up NHL goaltending records, as the New Jersey Devils workhorse.

There are however a few records that not even Brodeur, or in all likelihood anyone, will ever break.

George Hainsworth has three of them.


Most Shutouts and Lowest GAA In a Season:

The legendary Hall of Fame goaltender notched 22 Shutouts as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in 1928-29 and set a single season GAA record of 0.92 along the way.

Hainsworth had shattered his own records of 14 Shutouts and 1.06 GAA that he had set in 1926-27.

image image The closest goalie to approach the shutout record, in last 30 years,  was Tony Esposito with 15 in 1969-70.


Consecutive Minutes Without Allowing a Goal (Playoffs):

In 1930 Hainsworth set an NHL record that still stands, going 270 minutes and 8 seconds without allowing a goal during the playoffs, leading the Canadiens to the first of two straight Stanley Cups.

image As a member of the Habs, his 75 shutouts, career 1.78 GAA, 11-game consecutive winning streak and playing 343:05 without relinquishing a goal all remain team records.

Note (as of Dec. 8, 2009): Hainsworth had ten shutouts as a pro in the WHL. Combined with his 94 in the NHL, he still retains the most for a professional with 104.

Career Goals Against Average and Longest Shutout Streak:

Hainsworth’s career GAA of 1.93 is just a hair shy of Alex (or Alec)Connell, who holds the honour at 1.91 while playing for five teams in his career.


Connell also holds the NHL record for the longest shutout streak at 461:29, by recording six consecutive shutouts, from January 31 to February 18, 1928.

The argument for Hainsworth and Connell’s remarkable numbers can be handed to the NHL rules at the time.

All of the the top ten single season GAA marks all happened between 1925-26 and 1928-29, an era that disallowed forward passing in the attacking zone until 1929-30.

The list features Hainsworth and Connell, along with Hall of Famers Tiny Thompson, Clint Benedict and Rory Worters.

Note: Some sites have Hainsworth ahead of Connell in career GAA by 1/1000 of a goal, but all statistic sites, including the NHL, have Connell at 1.91 and Hainsworth at 1.93

Mr. Goalie’s 502 Consecutive Games:


The goaltending mark that clearly cannot be debated, regardless of the era or rule changes, goes to Glenn Hall

"Mr. Goalie" would get sick from stress before games but that wasn't enough to keep him out of the lineup.

Hall, who pretty much created the butterfly technique, appeared in every game from the end of the 1954-55 season with Detroit until a back injury, incurred during a game against Boston, sidelined him on November 7, 1963.

By then he was a member of the Blackhawks and considered one of the most accomplished netminders of his era.

It should be noted that he did not miss a single minute of play in those 502 games.

Hockey fans and historians will consider this hockey's most unbreakable record.

Considering today’s goalies are considered workhorses if they play 70-plus games a season, there's really no doubt.

Habs Twelve Days of Trivia Contest: Day 9

It’s day nine of my Twelve Days of Habs Trivia!

Each day, from December 1 to December 12, I will post a trivia question about the Montreal Canadiens.

Don’t worry, they won’t be too difficult.

Once all the questions are posted, send me an email with all twelve answers.

Entries must be received by December 14, 2009.

All correct entries will be placed in a hat, and the lucky winner drawn.

The Prize pack will consist of:

  • A DVD copy of the original series of “Peter Puck : How to Play the Game”
  • Five packs of cards from the Canadiens Upper Deck Centennial Set
  • A set of reusable Montreal Canadiens Stickers
  • A Montreal Canadiens bumper sticker
  • A die-cut indoor/outdoor magnet
  • A collection of four 1/64 Die-Cast Canadiens vehicles
  • An assortment of 50 Montreal Canadiens hockey cards with some nice surprises in them

The prize pack will have an approximate value of $50.00

Good Luck to all!

Here’s trivia question number nine:

How many times has a member of the Montreal Canadiens won the Hart Trophy?

Called out Sens Clearly Didn’t Listen to Their Boss

image Hal Gill takes out Alex Kovalev during Montreal’s 4-1 win over Ottawa - Reuters

The Ottawa Senators fired 46 shots at Jaroslav Halak on Tuesday night, one went in during the Canadiens 4-1 victory.

On Sunday, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk called out his superstars, though not naming names.

"It's obvious what we need," Melnyk said Sunday. "The elite players have to start to play their best. Once they do that, I think we can be as competitive as ever. Hopefully that happens fairly quickly and we're back to where we were at the start of the season."

Jason Spezza and Alex Kovalev are clearly two of the elite players that he is referring to.

It's the whole group," Melnyk continued. "Some show up some nights and some don't. It's the elite players, that's basically it, but I'm really pleased to see guys like [Mike] Fisher step up to the plate as well as he has."

Well Mike Fisher continued to impress, scoring the Senators lone goal Tuesday and registering seven shots to earn second star honours.

Kovalev and Spezza on the other hand managed just two shots each in the game.

Mike Boone of made this notable comparison, “Marc André Bergeron will earn $750,000 this season. He has seven goals. Alex Kovalev makes $5 million. He has four.”

And Kovalev wonders why Russian Olympic GM Vladislav Tretiak didn’t pay him a visit two weeks ago. Sorry Alex, it wasn’t the travel schedule. Mr. Tretiak wants the best Russian players now, not from two or more years ago. Enjoy your two-week break in February.

As for Spezza, this quote after Tuesday’s loss makes you wonder if he even read Melnyk’s comments, “We got a lot of pucks at the net, but just didn't do a good enough job of getting pucks in the net.” We?


Cammalleri, Plekanec, Bergeron and Hamrlik celebrate Kostitsyn’s goal - Reuters

Meanwhile, Kovalev’s former line mates in Montreal, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn, have certainly found a groove with their new winger Mike Cammalleri.

Plekanec had three assists on Tuesday, while Kostitsyn scored on the power play and set up another. Cammalleri had his fifth goal in three games.

The trio combined for six points and now has seven goals and eight assists in wins over the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and the Senators.

"Plecks is playing really well. He's creating a lot and we're getting a lot of production as a result," Cammalleri said.