Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guy Lafleur’s post-NHL antics are diminishing his HOF career


Well he’s at it again.

Montreal Canadiens legend, and Hall-of-Fame member, Guy Lafleur was spoken his voice yet again on his former team.

This time Lafleur, in an interview with RDS, feels it’s time for team captain Saku Koivu to move on.

“I think Saku’s time in Montreal is done. It is time to go play with his brother in Minnesota,” he said.

Koivu becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

While he has stated that he would likely not be returning if a contract was not offered by that time, it has to be a slap in the face to one of the franchise’s longstanding leader.

Oh but he’s not finished yet!

He went on to state, “When Rejean Houle (a former team mate of Lafleur) was the general manager, I had suggested to him to get rid of Koivu, but he did not listen.”

Granted, Guy Lafleur is never afraid to speak his mind.

He recently criticized the teams woes 2008-09 performance woes back in February.

His most noted criticism prior, came early in the 2007-08 season, after a 3-0 loss to Buffalo, when he stated that the Canadiens had four 4th lines on the ice.

Ironically it was Koivu who responded, “We didn't play well on Saturday, we didn't score goals, but when a team is number one on the powerplay in the National Hockey League, I think you have more than four fourth lines. Obviously, everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Koivu is correct that we are entitled to our own opinions.

Guy-LafleurHeritage-Classic_medium Lafleur during the 2003 Heritage Classic

The problem with Lafleur’s opinions that he is not only a team legend, but also represents the team as an ambassador.

It would be like the U.S. or Canadian ambassador criticizing their own leader or population, you get the idea.

Seldom do we hear critiques from other Habs’ ambassadors such as Yvon Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Rejean Houle and the great Jean Beliveau.

They have the class and reputation that an team’s ambassador should exemplify.

It’s a given that Lafleur’s off-ice reputation, away from hockey, nearly matches his on-ice history and was most recently exploited in a criminal issue.

520x Lafleur, his son and lawyer after his conviction of obstruction of justice – May ‘09

It’s bad enough that he has that on his plate. But to go out and lambaste the franchise you represent that put bread on your table and booze in your glass for over a decade is a different thing all together.

Ken Hitchcock on the Oilers’ new coaching duo

quinn-sm_47693 Columbus Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock thinks the Edmonton Oilers have a very solid combination with the hiring of Pat Quinn and Tom Renney.

Talking to the Edmonton Journal, Hitchcock knows both coaches very well and feels the young Oilers team will greatly benefit from the duo.

“The thing that I learned most from working with Pat is he creates this culture with his staff and his players that you don't want to let him down,” said Hitchcock.

“I believe that will come out in Edmonton.”

51250818 Ken Hitchcock and Pat Quinn during the 2006 Olympics

Hitchcock knows this first-hand from serving under Quinn as an assistant coach on the 2002 and 2006 Canadian Olympic teams and the Canadian 2004 World Cup of Hockey team.

“He treats you so well, his coaches and his players. He treats the players with so much respect. He gives you lots of rope, and in some cases he gives you enough to hang yourself if you don't co-operate.”

2939665 Quinn and Hitchcock named to Canada’s 2004 World Cup coaching staff

Hitchcock then mentioned that Quinn “expects it back in spades” in regards to the players effort on the ice and the work of his staff.

Hitchcock had some memorable coaching battles against Quinn when he was behind the Philadelphia Flyers' bench and Quinn was the Toronto Maple Leafs' coach.

He views Quinn as "a big picture guy" who likes to delegate and has a history of defending his players to the hilt.

Hitchcock's history with Renney goes back almost two decades.

Hitchcock had a say in the hiring of Renney as his successor to coach the Kamloops Blazers (WHL) when Hitchcock left for the pros.

He feels Renney will definitely complement Quinn, feeling that he will focus more on the tactical and teaching aspects to go with Quinn’s uptempo puck-movement strategies.

“Tom is one of the best strategy guys in the league,” Hitchcock said.

"I think they'll be a great pair. He'll enhance Pat's program there."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Russian media filling the week’s rumor pages


2006 Russian Hockey tribute game in Red Square, Moscow

It’s hard to believe that just over 25 years ago, one got little or no news of any kind out of the Soviet Union.

Back then, Pravda was the official paper of the Kremlin.

What was stated in that paper was all the western world, and the eastern world for that matter, got to read about.

Turning the clock forward, the media flood gates have opened.

With today’s communication tools, hockey rumors flood the internet from Russia just as fast as they do in North America.

In just 48 hours, it was revealed through Russian sources, that Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov will make the jump to the KHL next season.

In a reverse trend, they also revealed that Alexei Yemelin is looking to negotiate with the Montreal Canadiens.

Now it’s revealed, by Sovietskiy Sport , that the Montreal Canadiens have offered Alex Kovalev a one-year, $6 million deal.

One of the stipulations of the deal is that Kovalev would be named captain.

That would indicate that negotiations are off with current Captain Saku Koivu.

Interesting to note that the post also indicates that Mike Komisarek turned down a $4 million offer by the Canadiens and is looking for $6 million.

The reverse defection of Fedorov and Kozlov can hold water, but both the Kovalev and Komisarek stories will stay afloat as well as the Kursk did.

russiancartoon The way Russian journalism once viewed the NHL. This cartoon appeared in the Russian paper Pravda after the Flyers-Russia game in 1976.

Monday, May 25, 2009

May 25, 1989: MacInnis leads the Calgary Flames to their only Stanley Cup


It was a rematch from three years prior.

The Calgary Flames would square off again with the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup, looking to avenge their defeat in 1986.

It would be a meeting of the regular season’s No. 1 teams from the Campbell and Prince of Wales conferences.

Montreal, led by rookie coach Pat Burns, had lost just three games in the three playoff series they had been in leading up to the final.

Terry Crisp, in his second season as coach, and his team would battle Vancouver to seven games in the first round.

Flames fans will vividly recall Mike Vernon’s glove save, off Stan Smyl, in overtime of game seven leading to Joel Otto’s winning goal.

They would then crush Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in a sweep, and take Chicago in five to get to the Cup final.

The series would be a defensive battles and goaltending from Vernon and Montreal’s Patrick Roy.

The two adversaries would split the first two games in Calgary, with the Flames winning game one 3-2 and Montreal taking the second game 4-2.

Moving to the hallowed Montreal Forum, Ryan Walter would score for the Canadiens at 18:08 of the second overtime giving them a 4-3 game three win before the Flames won game four, 4-2.

The series returned to the Saddledome with the home team winning the fifth game 3-2.

The Flames were up three games to two going back to Montreal.

In the first period, Colin Patterson capitalized on a shot that had deflected off the Canadiens’ Chris Chelios, and snapped the puck past a surprised Roy at 18:51 of the first period.

Claude Lemieux responded for Montreal, at 1:23 of the second period, when his blast from just inside the blue line handcuffed Vernon and trickled over the goal line.

The Flames co-captain, Lanny MacDonald, scored his only goal of the playoffs in the second period at 4:24.

Coming in hard on a four man rush, after serving a penalty, the veteran took a pass from Joe Nieuwendyk to beat Roy on the glove side.

Despite each allowing a soft goal, both goaltenders played at the All-Star level into the third period.


The turning point came for Calgary in the third period, when Russ Courtnall took a boarding after he ran Vernon over behind the net.

The Montreal bench felt that Vernon was clearly away from his crease, and was an open target.

On the power-play, Doug Gilmour cashed his own rebound, that Roy had difficulty handling, at 11:02

Pat Burns was seen clapping his hands after the goal sarcastically in response to referee Denis Morel’s call on Courtnall.

Rick Green would respond for Montreal at 11:53 on a screen shot that clearly showed Lemieux interfere with Vernon.

An interesting event occurs at the 15:51 mark of the period.

With the Canadiens still trailing andon the attack, the Flame’s Al MacInnis scoops the puck with his glove and stops the play in the Calgary end.

Being on the opposite side, referee Morel can’t see what occurred so no delay of game penalty is called.

MacInnis carries his “trophy” to the Flames bench, during the stoppage in play, and flips it to a trainer.

Gilmour would score an empty net goal with just over a minute to play, and the Flames had won their first ever Stanley Cup.

What makes it equally significant is that, in their history, the Canadiens had never lost a Cup clinching game at home.


Montreal fans gave a standing ovation for the Flames and remained in their seats to watch as the visiting team paraded the Stanley Cup around the Forum ice.


Though he didn’t score in the final game, MacInnis had five goals (two game winners) with his booming slapshot in the series.


His 31 points in the playoffs, including a 17-game point streak, would earn him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

MacInnis became the first defenceman to lead the playoffs in scoring.

lannymcdonald For Lanny MacDonald, it was an exclamation point on a Hall of Fame career.

Having capped his regular season career with an even 500 career goals and 1006 points, his final goal in the NHL would be on a Stanley Cup winner.

"I scored my first goal ever in the National Hockey League in the Montreal Forum. And I scored my last goal in my final game, again, in the Montreal Forum. I was part of the on-ice lineup for that winning game and we were the only team other than the Canadiens ever to win the Stanley Cup on Forum ice. All those things added up to me thinking, 'Boy, it's a sign! It's time I was outta here.' What a great way to go!

"To come back and eventually win the Cup playing for a team close to your hometown (Hanna, Alberta), wow! It doesn't get much better than that,"

This Stanley Cup final would also mark the last time that two Canadian teams have faced off.

The complete game can be viewed here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remembering Rangers and Blackhawks HOFer Clint Smith


This past Tuesday, the hockey community lost another of it’s legends.

Clint Smith was a Hall of Fame center with both the New York Rangers and the Chicago Blackhawks, as well as an icon in the Vancouver area hockey scene.

He was the last surviving member of the 1940 New York Rangers Stanley Cup team, and passed away at age 95.

Born in Saskatchewan, Smith’s hockey career began with Springfield of the CAHL and Saskatoon of the WCHL.

He then moved on to the NWHL where he became a star for the Vancouver Lions. Smith would lead the league in goals, as a rookie, with 25 then lead in points the following two seasons.


In 1936, Smith played with the Philadelphia Ramblers in the I-AHL (now known as the AHL).

That season, he would see two games with the New York Rangers, scoring his first career NHL goal.

In his second full season with New York (1938-39), Smith led his team in scoring and was the recipient of the Lady Byng Trophy having just two penalty minutes all season.

When asked decades later how he managed to go 48 games with just two minutes in penalties Smith replied with a wink, "Ah, it was nuthin’. I knew the referees."


In 1939-40, Smith would help bring a Stanley Cup to New York by defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in six games.

“I can't explain the feeling of winning the Stanley Cup. It's the ultimate,” Smith said.

“It's something you always strive for—just to get into the Stanley Cup Final. And then when you win, it's something you always remember.”

The Rangers would not bring another Cup to the Big Apple for another 54 years.


In September of 1943, Smith found himself as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.

On a line with Hall of Famers Bill Mosienko and Doug Bentley, he tallied 23 goals and set an NHL record with 49 assists.

It would also see a second Lady Byng Trophy for the star center.

He would lay claim on another NHL record the following season, scoring four goals in one period against Montreal on March 4, 1945.

Smith would leave the NHL after the 1946-47 season with 161 goals and 236 assists in 483 regular season games.

More astounding is his miniscule 24 minutes in penalties accumulated in that span, which included a four year span without even a minor call.

He joined the Tulsa Oilers of the USHL the next year, leading the league in scoring and winning the league’s MVP.


For the next three season’s as a player coach for the St. Paul Saints.

He would play two games for the Cincinnati Mohawks of the AHL in 1951-52, becoming a full time bench boss.

Smith then returned to his adopted home, playing old timers games in the NWHL.

Building support for the game of hockey in the British Columbia area, Smith founded the British Columbia Hockey Benevolent Association and held several positions in the organization, including president.

His dedication helped build a solid hockey market in Vancouver and led to the formation of the Vancouver Canucks.

The association that he founded is now commonly known as the Canucks’ Alumni.


Smith was finally elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and was the oldest living, Honored Member at the time of his death.

Ever lyal to his NHL beginnings, Smith participated in the Rangers' 75th Anniversary celebrations at Madison Square Garden in 2001.

During the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, the league made a practice of sending the Stanley Cup to past members of winning teams.

Unlike the present day, players on a Cup winner did not get to take the Cup home for a day.


That opportunity came for Smith on July 26, 2005. Fans, friends and family (his daughter was flown in from Florida) made the visit to North Vancouver to honor him. "

Smith was as proud then as he was 65 years before when his team claimed the Cup.

“Howie Meeker brought the Cup out to Vancouver Island, and while it was out here, they phoned and asked me if I would like it for a day,” Smith said. “And of course, I said I'd be glad to take it for a day.”

“We had a pretty good display. It was nice. But I had to laugh -- the Cup was so small, you could carry it around. You couldn't carry the Cup that we won around. I think we had 13 rings on that Cup -- I think they have five now.”

Funeral arrangements were still pending as of Thursday.

The family has requested in lieu of flowers that donations be made in Clint Smith’s name to:

The British Columbia Hockey Benevolent Foundation
Registered Charity: #0738021-23-27
#104 – 2433 Bellevue Ave.
West Vancouver
V7V 1E1

Photos: Hockey Hall of Fame

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21, 1979: The Montreal Canadiens close out the ‘70s Dynasty


The most dominant NHL team of the 1970’s was closing out the decade in style.

Having defeated their rival Boston Bruins in a seven game series, climaxing with the “Too many men on the ice game”, the Habs were on the path for a fourth straight Stanley Cup.

The New York Rangers were looking to spoil Montreal’s party, and had momentum coming into the series by upsetting the, regular season champion, New York Islanders in a six-game semi-final.

That momentum did carry into game one with a 4-1 Rangers victory, stunning both the Canadiens as well has the Montreal home crowd.

The general consensus, amongst many Canadiens fans and critics, that spring was that the team was not the same as it once was just a year ago, and game one seemed to prove them right.


The Canadiens proved them wrong the rest of the series with a dominant 6-2 victory in game two.

Home ice advantage was just the opposite for the Rangers as they lost game three 4-1 and were beaten in overtime of game four, 4-3, by the defending champions.

The stage was set back in Montreal and coach Scotty Bowman had no intention of letting the series return to New York.

Canadiens’ defenseman Rick Chartraw opened the scoring in the first period of game five and the Rangers replied with a goal by Carol Vadnais late in a period.

Unfortunately for the Rangers, Canadiens’ goalie Ken Dryden decided that one goal was all his opponent would score against him that night.

Jacques LeMaire would pot two goals in the second period, and Bob Gainey would add one more to put Montreal up 4-1.

With no scoring by either team in the third period, the Canadiens would clinch their fourth straight Stanley Cup Championship.

It would also be Montreal’s sixth Cup in the ‘70s and the 22nd in the franchise’s long history.

Serge Savard, filling in for the team’s injured captain Yvon Cournoyer, would lead his team as they carried the Cup around the Montreal Forum ice.

Gainey, who was better known for his defensive abilities as a forward, scored 16 points in the playoffs to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.

It was the first time since 1968 that Montreal had clinched the Cup on home ice, a fitting end to one of hockey’s great dynasties.

This was also the last time two Original Six teams have met in a Stanley Cup Final.

tre_langway05 In the aftermath of the Cup victory, three key player elements (Cournoyer, LeMaire and Dryden) all retired and ended their Hall of Fame careers as winners.

Coach Bowman would jump ship, to the Buffalo Sabres, after being looked over by the Canadiens for their GM position in 1978.

His legendary coaching career carried on for 13 more years, bringing him Cup success with Pittsburgh (1992) and Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002).

In light of their coaching and roster losses, Montreal would win their division in the 1979-80 season only to be upset in a seven game quater-final series by Minnesota.

Their next Stanley Cup would not come until 1986, when a 20 year-old rookie named Patrick Roy led them to victory.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'll take "Why is there a team in Phoenix?" for $500, Alex.


OK so get this,

I'm watching Jeopardy the other night.

The category is “Team Players”

The Answer for $1000: From 1942-1960, Maurice "Rocket" Richard

None of the contestants got it! Arrrgh!

Canadian-born host, Alex Trebek looked a tad unimpressed.

May 19, 1974: The Broad Street Bullies earn their first Stanley Cup


1974 Stanley Cup Finals were set up the way they should have been.

The Boston Bruins, the best team in the East Division in the regular season would face the West Division leaders, the Philadelphia Flyers.

On paper the Bruins were heavy favorites, having owned the Flyers in their last nineteen meetings at home with a 17-0-2 record.

Boston also had the NHL’s top four scorers (Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Ken Hodge and Wayne Cashman), as well as home ice advantage in the final.

Philadelphia entered the finals with a rough, aggressive playing style that gave them the nickname, The Broad Street Bullies.

Led by captain Bobby Clarke (fifth in scoring), Dave Schultz’s 345 penalty minutes and coach Fred Shero, the Flyers battled the New York Rangers in a seven-game semi-final and would not be intimidated by the Bruins offensive might.

Philadelphia also had an ace in the hole between the pipes, named Bernie Parent, who was coming off a then record 47 regular season wins.

After Boston won game one, Clarke’s goal in overtime of the second game gave the Flyers a 3-2 win tying the series at a game apiece.

Philadelphia dominated the favorites, in the safe confines of the Philadelphia Spectrum, with scores of 4-1 and 4-2 in games three and four respectively.

The Bruins rallied back at home in game five with a 5-1 victory.

The series would return to Philly.

Before game six, Shero wrote the following on his blackboard in the Flyers dressing room,

"Win together today, and we will walk together forever."

After Kate Smith got the 17,007 fans in the Spectrum fired up with her singing of ‘God Bless America’, the Bruins appeared to have an early edge.

Boston outplayed the Flyers in the first period and outshot Philadelphia 16-8.

But on the power-play, Rick MacLeish tipped in an Andre Dupont shot at 14:48 mark of the period to put the Flyers ahead.

At 17:38 of the third period, with the score still 1-0, Orr hauled down Clarke on a breakaway.

To this day, Orr maintained that is was a clean takedown.

The penalty, and Parent’s 30 save night in net, would lead to a 1-0 victory and a Stanley Cup for the Flyers.

As the seconds ticked down, Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart said the now legendary words, "Ladies and gentlemen, the Flyers are going to win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup! The Flyers win the Stanley Cup!"

Philadelphia would become the non-Original Six team, since the 1967 expansion, to win the Stanley Cup.

Parent would win the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP and Shero’s pre-game blackboard statement is forever etched in Flyers’ lore.

The Flyers would repeat as Cup Champions the following season.

Despite five Cup Finals appearances since, the Flyers have been unable to return championship glory to Broad Street.

May 19, 1984: The end of the Islanders Dynasty and the beginning of the Oilers


It’s already been a quarter century since Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers laid claim to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

Led by Gretzky’s 205 points in 1983-84, the Oilers set a league record 446 goals in the regular season. That record still stands today.

Their opponents were the four-time defending champion New York Islanders, and they were not about to relinquish the crown easily.

New York, led by captain Denis Potvin and sniper Mike Bossy, had won their last nine Finals games, sweeping the Oilers in the previous season and outscoring them 17-6.

This season, the schedule for the finals format had been altered by the NHL with a two-three-two games format.

Opening the series in New York, a lone goal by Oilers tough guy Kevin McClelland, was all goaltender Grant Fuhr needed to blank the Islanders 1-0 in game one.

The Islanders countered in game two with a 6-1 shelling of Edmonton as the Nassau Coliseum fans chanted “Drive for five”.

However, gaining a split in the first two games gave the young Oilers a boost of confidence and a three game run at home.

The Oilers’ offence took advantage of their home arena, the Northlands Coliseum and pounded the defending champions in successive 7-2 victories in games three and four.

Defenseman Kevin Lowe recalled how Gretzky stood up in the Oilers dressing room, before the start of game five, and said, "I've had a lot of individual honors and personal recognition, but nothing I've ever done, won or received means as much to me as winning the Cup."

Led by their captain’s words ,Edmonton was determined to clinch the series at home and opened a 4-0 lead in game five after two periods.

Proving they were not done, a young Islanders rookie named Pat Lafontaine answered back with two goals in the first 35 seconds of the third period.

With Fuhr injured in game three, Andy Moog kept the relenting Islanders attack at bay.

Dave Lumley added an empty net goal late in the third and the game was over with a score of 5-2.

The Oilers were the new Stanley Cup Champions.

"I hope we're an influence on the game," said Gretzky during the team’s dressing room celebration.

"We proved that an offensive team can win the Cup. We showed you can win by skating and by being physical without having to fight all the time," he added.

"The first thing that sticks out in my mind from that first Stanley Cup was the team that we beat," recalled Oilers’ defenseman Lee Fogolin.

"The Islanders were such a great team and they were great champions. They had a never-say-die attitude and playing against them, you could never trust any lead you had.”

With eight goals and eighteen assists in nineteen playoff games, Mark Messier emerged from Gretzky’s shadow and won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP.

"We had a great teacher in the Islanders," said Edmonton general manager and coach Glen Sather.

Edmonton’s patterned forechecking and disciplined play in front of its own goal were crucial to the team’s success, and was a key element missing in the previous season.

The Islanders dynasty was finished and the Oilers dynasty was about to begin.

Edmonton would repeat as champions the following season as well as in 1987, 1988 and add a Gretzky-less Cup victory in 1990.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sean Avery is back in a New York Groove

The New York Rangers' Sean Avery made a return to New York this city, making a stop at NHL HQ.

This time, instead of paying a visit to commissioner Gary Bettman and "truant officer" Colin Campbell, the Rangers forward had an enjoyable visit at the league's NHL Powered by Reebok store located next to the league's headquarters.

He had stopped in to make an appearance on the weekly Sirius-XM radio talk show Ice Breakers, hosted by ex-NHLers Ron Duguay and Ken Daneyko.

Avery has been critical of the NHL's marketing tactics in the past, suggesting the league focus on villain-like players as well as well-known stars.

He has since appeared to have softened his stance, and even though he was right in the shadow of NHL headquarters it wasn't because the league chose to focus a promo on him.

"All of that stuff is out of my hands at this point," Avery said after his radio appearance.

"If I come in and do an interview, I represent the Rangers and represent New York. I'm not concerned about who is doing their job or who isn't doing their job. I did enough worrying about that and it didn't really get me anywhere. They can go in whatever direction they feel like."

The 29-year-old reflected on the Rangers dismal playoff performance, where they blew a 3-1 series lead and still lost in seven games to Washington.

"Usually for a couple of days you're bummed out about it and you play over all the games in your head three or four times, but I went away and it's kind of out of my system," Avery said.

"I'm more excited about next year than dwelling on last year."

After taking a week's vacation in Jamaica, he returned to New York for the radio appearance and also to open a new downtown bar and restaurant called Warren 77.

Apparently the restaurant opening had more people attending than the"Save the Coyotes" rally in Phoenix.

With his early season critic, John Tortarella, now behind the Rangers bench, Avery had nothing but positives for his new bench boss.

"One of the most important things that has happened to me in my career so far, and I'm extremely grateful, is Tortorella," Avery told Duguay and Daneyko on their talk show.

"It was funny, because he was on me right from the get-go, checking in on me. Torts would check in and just make sure I'm there. That's what makes a good coach."

With some undisciplined penalties in game four, Avery found himself sitting out game five.

The winger had no arguments with his coaches decision.

"I knew after that game, if he didn't scratch me, it would be a mistake for our team, not this year but next year and the year after that," he said.

"Whatever he's instilling now is something that had to be done. It was in the middle of the playoffs and I put myself and the team in jeopardy, but he had to do it."

Avery admitted he played less aggressive in game six, but was back in form for game seven.

"No way would I ever go into a game being gun-shy again," Avery said.

"The worst thing you can ever do as a player is to question yourself, and I did."

Tortorella has sternly told the Rangers squad to be in top condition before they report for what will be an intense training camp in September.

Still having three years to go in his contract, Avery is eager to get back in the game next season.

"I'm excited about it," Avery said.

"All of the stuff that happened this year is just going to help me to become a better player. With Torts thrown into the equation and (general manager) Glen Sather, these guys are all here to help me and it feels good to have that support system and have an organization behind you.

"That's what makes being a Ranger so special. Moving forward, that is going to be emphasized so much more."

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10, 1979: Cherry's one too many costs the Bruins a chance for the Stanley Cup

Pro hockey has always had its share of odd moments and endings in playoff games.

May 10, 1979 is clearly one of the top five, if not No. 1.

It's Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Semi-Final between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.

The Canadiens are in search of a fourth consecutive Cup victory and had defeated the Bruins in the last two Cup finals.

After Montreal had won the first two games handily, Boston has battled back to take the series to a deciding seventh game.

The Bruins would spot a 3-1 lead going into the third period and looked to be on the verge of victory.

Canadiens captain Yvan Cournoyer gave his team a talking to during the second intermission.

"We came into the room after the second period and the mood was definitely down," said former Canadiens player Doug Riseborough.

"We expected to be doing a lot better at that point. We were down two goals and everybody was pretty quiet, but then Yvan said a few things."

"Words mean a lot, but if they aren't carried onto the ice, they don't mean a thing," Risebrough added.

"We knew if we could get one goal, we'd get another."

Montreal responded with goals from Mark Napier and Guy Lapointe to tie the game at three apiece.

Boston was still as resiliant as they had been all series.

With just under four minutes remaining, Rick Middleton managed to get a puck off the arm of goaltender Ken Dryden and into the net to regain the lead.

But with 2:34 to go, the Bruins were caught in a line change for too many men on the ice.

"It was my fault," Bruins coach Don Cherry later told the Globe and Mail.

"The guy couldn't have heard me yell. I grabbed two other guys trying to go over the boards. That would have made eight on the ice. Might as well have let them go."

Not wasting an opportunity, Montreal coach Scotty Bowman put out his elite power-play unit of Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Serge Savard, Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire.

All five players are in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

LeMaire carried the puck into the Boston zone before dropping it back to Lafleur at the top of the circle.

Lafleur produced a spectacular shot to beat goalie Gilles Gilbert with 74 seconds remaining in the game.

The Bruin netminder would comment after the game on the moments between Middleton's go-ahead goal and Lafleur's tying one.

"You want the buzzer to go. You want it to be over ... but it goes on ... and on ... and on."

After regulation was over, Cournoyer's words of wisdom to his team during the intermission proved beneficial yet again.

"We knew all the things he was saying," defenceman Brian Engblom said,

"But it still felt pretty good to hear them. What he said was something like: 'You guys may be tired, but they're just as tired as you are. More, maybe.' "

The Canadiens and Bruins had multiple opportunities to clinch it during the extra period.

Middleton, who had factored in the scoring of all four Boston goals on the night already, was determined to bring victory for his team. Dryden wouldn't let it happen.

Gilbert made 47 stops in the game for Boston.

In overtime, however, it's the save you don't make that you want back.

Having gone 9:33 into the overtime, Savard intercepted a Middleton pass, passed to Rejean Houle, who gave it to Mario Tremblay who gave it to Yvon Lambert.

Lambert was not about to give it to Gilbert.

"The first time I had the chance to score," Lambert recalled, "I went in too deep. The puck got mixed up in my skates."

"This time, when I saw Mario with the puck, I put my head down and said: 'I don't care ... I'm getting there.' I wasn't thinking about anything else. The pass was a perfect one. The goalie had no chance. It was over."

The series was over.

"I've lost before, but this is the toughest ever," a dejected Gilbert said after the game.

Montreal would go on to face the New York Rangers in the Cup Final, defeating them in five games.

Later that month, Bruins GM Harry Sinden fired Cherry.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Patrick Roy talks to the Colorado Avalanche

Is Canadiens Legend Patrick Roy on his way to a coaching position with the Colorado Avalanche?

It was reported today that the Hall of Fame goaltender was in Denver this week and met with Av’s president Pierre LaCroix.

Read more here in my Bleacher Report article.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Teen posts online death threat against Alexander Ovechkin

This afternoon, it was revealed that the Pennsylvania State Police are investigating a death threat against Alexander Ovechkin.

You can read about it here in my BleacherReport article.

The threat allegedly came from a 17-year-old boy.

What is the world coming to?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

May 4, 1969: Canadiens "Forgotten Dynasty" wins Cup Number 16

On May 4 1969, the Montreal Canadiens defeated the St. Louis Blues to sweep the Stanley Cup Finals in four games.

It was the 16th Stanley Cup in the franchise's history.

Having already set then league record for wins -46- and points -103- in the regular season, Montreal swept past the New York Rangers and took six games to get past the Boston Bruins and into the final.

It would be the second straight year that the Canadiens faced the Blues in the finals, having swept them in the previous season.

Montreal goaltender Rogie Vachon allowed just three goals in the four games, recording his first career playoff shutout in game three of the series.

Head coach Claude Ruel, who replaced the legendary Toe Blake, became the eleventh rookie coach to lead his team to victory.

Montreal defenseman Serge Savard won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after racking up fourteen points in ten games.

Savard became the first blueliner to win the award since it's inception.

The victory was the Canadiens second consecutive Cup and fourth in five years for what is known by many as the "Forgotten Dynasty".

Fourteen Canadiens players took part in all four championships that closed out the sixties.

Does New York Islanders Owner Charles Wang Regret Buying The Team? YES!

The owner of the New York Islanders, Charles Wang has gone on record that if given the chance to buy the team again, he would not do it.

In an article in Newsday on Saturday, it was reported that Wang has spent $208.8 million -an average of $23 million per year- to keep the team operating.

Wang also spent $74.2 million when he and Sanjay Kumar bought the club and responsibility for it's estimated $97 million in liabilities.

The NHL's deputy commissioner, Bill Daly, confirmed the numbers stating, "Yes, we’re aware the Islanders lose money, a significant amount of money. And it goes back to the team’s need for a new arena.”

Wang, 64, said he initially assumed Nassau Coliseum would either be renovated or replaced within a few years, as part of his $3.7 billion Lighthouse Project.

The project, that also includes a five-star hotel, condominiums, an Athletic Complex featuring four ice rinks, basketball facility, a state-of-the-art health club that will serve as the Islanders’ practice facility that will be open to the public, a Sports Technology Center, open air plaza, and conference center.

The go ahead on the project has been held up and is still under review by the Town of Hempstead.

“Never in my life, would I have anticipated this thing could be dragged out for seven, eight years,” he said.

Wang, the co-founder of Computer Associates and Kumar - former CA CEO- bought the Islanders in 2004.

Kumar, was bought out by Wang in 2004 and is serving a 12-year prison term for a $400 million accounting fraud scandal.

Wang grew up in Queens after immigrating from China at age eight.

He was determined to keep the franchise in New York, after acquiring it, but has threatened to move the club if the project does not go through.

"I knew going in that I was going to lose money," Wang said.

“I’m not saying I’ll move, I’m saying I’ll explore all my options.”

Wang's ownership tenure has brought a mash of controversial player trades, draft choices, managerial or coaching hirings/firings and contract signings in the past nine years.

A Forbes Magazine article investigated why certain NHL franchises could remain profitable despite poor attendance and overall league profit loss.

They found that several league owners under reported their cable broadcast revenue.

The magazine specifically accused Wang of excluding half of the $17 million paid to the Islanders for the 2003 cable broadcast season.

In Oct 2008, Forbes listed the Islanders along with the Nashville Predators and Phoenix Coyotes in their top-ten list of pro sports franchises expected to move.

Later that month, the magazine ranked the franchise 29th on it's list of the 30 teams in the league with a value of $154 million.

Wang bought the team for $170 million.

The Islanders have made the playoffs just once in the last four season and finished dead last this season.

In April, the franchise won the right to draft 1st overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Since that, Islanders representatives claim that their ticket sales department has seen a 300-percent increase in phone calls and e-mail inquiries over last year at this time and also is on pace to renew 90 percent of its season tickets.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Montreal Canadiens Legend Guy Lafleur Guilty of Obstruction of Justice

A Quebec court has found NHL Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur guilty of obstructing justice.

The charges stem from contradictory evidence given by Lafleur at a Sep. 2007 bail hearing for his son Mark.

Lafleur's son was out on bail on several charges at the time, including assault.

Mark Lafleur was staying at a halfway house, but an investigation learned that he had violated his sentencing conditions when he spent two nights with a girlfriend in a hotel.

The 24-year-old is now serving 15 months house arrest on several drug, drunk driving, and assault charges after pleading guilty to 23 counts, including 13 involving an ex-girlfriend.

It was discovered that the elder Lafleur drove his son to the hotel.

At the bail hearing, Lafleur denied the allegations, but a paper trail that included credit card receipts in his name proved that he had.

Guy Lafleur stood without emotion as the verdict was announced.

The maximum penalty for perjury is 14 years in jail.

Crown Prosecutor Lori Weitzman is seeking a conditional sentence for Lafleur to be served in the community, saying he doesn't pose a danger to society.

Weitzman stated that just because Lafleur is a public personality he shouldn't be treated any differently than anyone else who lies to the court.

"Justice has to be applied equally," she said.

Lafleur's attorney, Jean-Pierre Rancourt, requested an absolution to the court, arguing that a criminal record would hinder Lafleur's frequent travel to the United States.

Rancourt felt that Lafleur has suffered enough, given the large volume of publicity the case has attracted, and is seeking that his client just pay a fine.

Lafleur has previously filed a $3.5 million civil suit against the police and prosecutor involved in issuing the arrest warrant for him after his charges gained international attention.

Lafleur's sentence will be rendered on Jun. 8.

The 57-year-old won five Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and is the team's all-time leading scorer.

After retiring in 1984, he made a successful comeback in 1988 with the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.

He is only one of three players to return to playing in the NHL after being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.