Saturday, October 31, 2009

Canadiens Halloween Birthday Greetings

October 31 is not just a night for trick-or-treaters, but also a birthday for a few Habs player both past and present.

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A Happy 50th Birthday to former Canadiens great Mats Naslund.

The cup-winning winger, dubbed “The Little Viking”, ranks 11th in career points with 612 in 617 regular season games.

Naslund was also a member of the Canadiens 1985-86 Stanley Cup winning team and won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1987-88.

Already as star player in Sweden, before joining the Canadiens, he is in the International Ice Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame.

 

image Former center Phil Goyette turns 76 years old.

Goyette played in seven seasons with Montreal (1956-63), playing on the last four of the Canadiens five straight Stanley Cup teams.

He played nine more seasons in the NHL, amassing 674 points in 941 games.

 

image

Current Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec turns 27.

Plekanec is having a great start to the 2009-10 season with 10 points in his first thirteen games.

Hopefully Pleky can celebrate tonight by lighting up the Maple Leafs!

 

and most importantly…

image Though no longer with us, one of the Montreal Canadiens first superstars was born on this day in 1887.

Edouard “Newsy” Lalonde  was a member of the Canadiens in their first season (1909-10) and scored 16 goals in just six games.

He would be a member of Montreal’s first Stanley Cup winning team (1915-16), and was captain on three occasions.

He was a player-coach for seven seasons (1915-22).

After retiring as a player in 1928, he returned to Montreal four years later as the team’s bench boss for two full seasons and part of a third.

Lalonde was elected to the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 1950.

Blackhawks edge sleeping Canadiens 3-2

Canadiens vs. Blackhawks12.thumbnail Chicago celebrates Kris Vesteeg’s goal Friday night – Getty Images

Despite a strong effort by Carey Price, the Chicago Blackhawks kept coming at the Montreal Canadiens goaltender, firing 36 shots and skating away with a 3-2 win Friday night.

It was Price’s first start in six games, and his first against the man he replaced as Montreal’s number one goalie 19 months ago, Cristobal Huet.

Tensions ran high early when Chicago’s Andrew Ladd left his feet and elbowed Matt D’Agostini.

imageAndrew Ladd delivers a flying elbow to Matt D’Agostini Friday – Reuters photo

Ladd was given a five minute major, a ten-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for the hit. D’Agostini did not return to the game.

The Canadiens would only have a three minute power play as Kyle Chipchura was called for a double roughing minor when he got into it with Ladd.

Montreal wasted their opportunity however, only getting one shot on Huet.

Canadiens-vs.-Blackhawks-01.thumbnail Price makes a stop on John Madden – Reuters photo

The Blackhawks scored the only goal of the first period when a Kris Versteeg dump out, from behind the Canadiens net, bounced of the skate of defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron and in past Price at 13:46.

On a Chicago power play, in the second period, Cam Barker blasted a shot from just outside the faceoff circle, past a screened Price, to make it 2-0.

The Blackhawks outshot the Canadiens 27-17 through two periods, but Montreal began to show life and came back to tie it up before the 40 minutes were over.

Mike Cammalleri’s sixth goal of the season put Montreal on the scoreboard at 15:55. It was winger’s 300th career NHL point.

Travis Moen then slipped in a shot that squeezed between the goal post and Huet’s goal pad with 2.2 seconds remaining.

Despite a solid first 15 minutes in the third period by the Canadiens,  Patrick Sharp scored his sixth of the season, on a one-timer, to take the game for the Blackhawks.

Canadiens vs. Blackhawks11.thumbnail Cristobal Huet had a 20 save night Friday night. – Reuters photo

Montreal defenseman Roman Hamrlik summed up his teams lack of commitment to a full 60 minutes.

“We played better than in Pittsburgh, but the result was the same.,” he said. “We were not ready for first period. We showed character to come back in second. But in the third, the Hawks wanted it more than we did.”

The Canadiens return home to the Bell Saturday for a game with their longtime rivals , The Toronto Maple Leafs, who also lost 3-2 to Buffalo.

Mike Cammalleri hopes his team can rebound from two straight losses, and their fifth straight road loss.

“(Saturday) night we'll have no excuse,” he said. “I'd like to feel a sense of urgency on our team.”

The Canadiens will not have a pre-game skate on Saturday, after taking the red-eye home from Chicago.

Stats of the Game: The Canadiens power play was 0 for 3, and had just two shots. The Blackhawks won 69% of their faceoffs.

Three Stars: 1. Kris Versteeg 2. Patrick Kane 3. Mike Cammalleri

Game Stud and Dud:

Stud: Carey Price had a strong night in goal, despite the loss, making 33 saves and showed excellent stick work to move the puck up the ice.

Dud: Andrei Kostitsyn got some time to prove himself early,on the No. 1, but was ineffective and his crucial misplay led to the Blackhawks’ opening for the winner.

Notes: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed his fourth straight game because of concussion-like symptoms. Ben Eager has missed eleven games with somilar problems for Chicago.

Friday’s game was the Canadiens first to Chicago in over three years (Oct. 18, 2006).




Thursday, October 29, 2009

Canadiens losses are clearly not on the heads of the goalies.

price-halak-091027 Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak under the watchful fans eyes. Photo: Cdn. Press

Well it was a fun streak while it lasted, but the Montreal Canadiens got a reality check in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.

Sid the Kid and Co. proved why they were the Stanley Cup champs last season without Sergei Gonchar in the lineup.

During last night’s game I sat in on HabsInsideOut.com’s game blog as I regularly do.

OK up front it’s no secret. Montreal Canadiens fans are the most critical in all of hockey. When something goes wrong, they point fingers.

Last night was no exception. My problem, as it has been all season, was that most of the fingers were pointed at the wrong people..again.

The Canadiens have lost six games, but it baffles my mind as to how the play of both Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak has been criticized.

Everyone was on the “Price is Right” train after #31 carried the Habs in the first two games.

After Halak took in a start (A 4-3 loss that I still question the starting decision by coach Jacques Martin), Price returned to the nets only to get hung out to dry in a shelling by the Canucks. In light of losing the next three games, the 22-year-old played well and it was clearly offensive support that led to the slump.

I discussed this in a post from last week, on the Canadiens sputtering offence at the time.

So what happened next? Halak gets the call and the Canadiens win 2-1 and 5-1 over Atlanta and the Islanders respectively.

Suddenly, we have a “goaltending controversy”. Now debate begins as to who will start.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin goes to the “hot hand” and starts Halak in the next game. The team escapes two 2-goal Ranger leads to come out on top, 5-4, in OT and another OT win, two days later, against the Islanders.

So now Halak is the man in Montreal.

Even Price publically states that Martin should play Halak while the team is hot.

Then on Wednesday, the Habs hit the brick wall.

Crosby is left wide open at the side of the net for Bill Guerin to fire a pass, while surrounded by white jerseys, three feet in front of Halak for a one-timer.

Fans were on Halak faster than ever, claiming “he shoulda stopped him”. A “Jr. A” player? Sure. A beer leaguer No question. But hello! This is Sidney Crosby who, with the exception of one injury shortened season, has 30+ goals a year. He already had six going into the night’s game.

Clearly fans like this have no real concept of the position of a goalie.

To be in the NHL, you have to be in extreme shape to carry your body and a set of equipment much bulkier, that a skaters, back and forth across the crease.

They are trained to react accordingly to each situation, but one must realized that they can’t get everything right all the time. If they did, we’d see a lot more shutouts, right?

Add Crosby to the equation and voila.

Even Jacques Plante or Ken Dryden could have been beaten on a set-up like that.

Likewise on the second goal where a loose Crosby eluded everyone for a backhander.

The third goal was a lucky bounce off a skate, yet Crosby was still allowed to skate right on top of Halak.

Essentially, Halak was left out to dry like Price was in Vancouver. Martin did the right thing to put Price in for the third, but it didn’t help when Pittsburgh added two power play goals.

Sorry to disappoint you goalie bashers, but the real finger pointing should be made at the Habs defensive core that register just a single hit in 60 minutes and only five blocked shots.

As HabsInsideOut’s Mike Boone pointed out, “How can you beat the Cup champs – or the McGill women's team, for that matter – if your six Dmen total one bodycheck among them?”

By comparison Brooks Orpik had five blocks alone for the Penguins (15 combined) and three hits.

As for the Canadiens offence, it wasn’t there.

When 15 shots are blocked and you have 11 misses, most of the shots you do make probably won’t be quality ones.

Outside of a few tough saves in the first period, Marc-Andre Fleury had an easy night for Pittsburgh.

I would be wrong though not to say a goalie won’t have a bad game as they can/will happen to the best in the game.

Realistically, I’d love to watch the all the so-called “goalie experts” sitting in their La-Z-Boys put on the pads and experience what goes on between the pipes. Maybe when I win the lottery I’ll fly you all in.

But in the meantime, could you maybe take a look at the whole picture of what lead to the goal, rather than just the individual in the crease?

You might learn something.




Crosby’s Hat Trick leads Penguins over Canadiens

ALeqM5iNnuxGWRptlb0FGewQVvl3z2EpCw Sidney Crosby recorded his third career hat-trick Wednesday night. – AP Photo

They’re the defending champs. Wednesday night, the Montreal Canadiens learned that.

Behind Sidney Crosby’s three-goal night Penguins snapped the Canadiens four-game winning streak with a 6-1 victory.

Jaroslav Halak was seeking his fifth straight win between the pipes, looking to gain a decisive edge for a number one position over Carey Price.

He wouldn’t get it.

The Penguins opened the scoring, at 8:33 of first period, when Bill Guerin capitalized on a Montreal turnover making a slick pass to Crosby, who was sitting wide open at the side of the net.

“He can score,” said Guerin, who’s three helpers on the night brought his career point total to 820. “He usually has a pass-first mentality, but with the positions that he put himself in during the game, he can score a lot of goals.”

The Canadiens remained strong in the period, but Marc-Andre Fleury turned away all nine shots he faced.

ALeqM5jZUm9EZmt5fqh0o497ZzftHAUB3QMarc-Andre Fleury makes one of his 23 saves Wednesday night. – AP Photo

The Penguins unloaded in the second with a three-goal barrage. Just over five minutes in, Crosby scored his second of the night off a backhand that got over Halak.

Mike Rupp added to the lead, at 12:58, taking advantage of a delayed penalty against Montreal.

ALeqM5jCO5vNVcUkd32VFcq19TG2rqHS9g The dejected Canadiens wait for the hats to be swept away. – AP Photo

Less than three minutes later, Crosby picked up the hat-trick. Halak’s initial save off the Penguins Captain bounced off his skate and into the net. The goal was reviewed and it was determined that Crosby made no kicking motion.

It was Crosby’s third career hat-trick and ninth goal of the season.He only had three goals in October of 2008.

“I was in the right place at the right time," Crosby said. "I was standing all by myself a couple of times. (My line mates) did all the work, and I just tried to finish it off.

“When you get three goals in a game, that kind of changes the look of your (season) numbers early on. I'm trying to shoot the puck when I get chances and trying to not pass up good shots, but it's just been a matter of the puck going in early on.”

ALeqM5gk21wL01oPDhstHiJoabKGrToHsA Jaroslav Halak lifts his mask after allowing Sidney Crosby’s third goal Wednesday night. “If you give him a chance, he's going to score,” Halak said . - AP Photo

Halak would not start the third period and could not be blamed for the team’s performance in the first 40 minutes.

Fleury’s shutout opportunity was busted by Tomas Plekanec just over five minutes into the final 20 minutes.

Alex Goligoski and Chris Kunitz each scored on the power play to end the onslaught.

For Goligoski, it extends his point-scoring streak to six games. Crosby now has a five-game streak.

The Canadiens were outclassed by Pittsburgh in the final twenty minutes, outshot 14-5. Every player on the Canadiens lineup registered in the minus column.

“We made mistakes," said Montreal defenceman Hal Gill.” We had some turnovers and (Crosby) feeds off that. He waits for it and that's when he capitalizes.”

Before the game, Gill received his Stanley Cup ring from the team he played for the season before. He was in the penalty box for the Goligoski goal.

If there was a positive for the Canadiens, it could have been that the Penguins only capitalized on two of eight power play opportunities.

The Penguins record improved to 10-2, while the Canadiens slipped to 6-6.

Fleury made 23 saves for the Penguins and has won nine of his ten starts this season.

The Canadiens next game is Friday night, against the Blackhawks, in Chicago.

Three Stars: 1. Sidney Crosby 2. Chris Kunitz 3. Bill Guerin




Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Winning Streak takes pressure off Montreal Canadiens, for now.

4inarow

Well the Montreal Canadiens have taken their fans out of panic mode for the time being.

After picking up two wins to start the season, the Habs went on a five-game nose dive that had some fans screaming for GM Bob Gainey’s head.

Well what a difference four games can make. The Canadiens came alive and they are on a four-game winning streak.

Yeah OK two games were against the New York Islanders, but to lose just one of those games would spell disaster. A slumping team needs a big win over a lesser team to boost morale.

Montreal also dispatched a hot Atlanta Thrashers team and overcame two 2-goal leads against the offensively charged New York Rangers on Saturday.

Many fans and media feel the team will really come together at the 15 or 20 game mark. After all, this is a new roster that didn’t really play as a complete unit in the pre-season. You have to remember the camp was split into three squads in camp and two teams during the pre-season games.  So the final roster never formed until after the last pre-season game and their team bonding trip.

The Canadiens get some real tests to end October with games against the defending Stanley Cup Champs (Pittsburgh), an up and coming western conference team (Chicago) and their greatest rival (Toronto).

Who’s Number One?: Right now it looks like Jaroslav Halak is. Halak has been between the pipes in for each of the Canadiens’ last four wins.

Coach Jacques Martin seems to be going with the hot goalie for time being but said he is taking it one game at a time, confirming the team needs two goalies to be successful this season.

Carey Price clearly was not to blame in the Canadiens early struggles, but sitting out “The Franchise” four straight raises eyebrows. Some fans question his work ethic, which his something Martin takes seriously. See: Kostitsyn, Sergei.

I think this is the first time Price has missed four straight starts without being injured….. Hmmm maybe that is where the problem truly lies. Perhaps a minor injury is keeping the Habs No. 1 pick in 2005 on the shelf?

Coach Martin will announce his starter against the Penguins on Wednesday.

Andrei, Andrei where art thou?: Not the All-Star Markov, whose shoes the other five blueliners on have filled admirably in his absence.  I’m talking about the other embattled Kostitsyn brother.

How is it that Tomas Plekanec (10 points in 11 games) has been spectacular since the departure of Alex Kovalev, yet his former line mate has floundered?

A few takes on AK46 from Eric Engels and All Habs.

Speaking of Sergei: The younger Kostitsyn missed the Hamilton Bulldogs game on Saturday against Texas. He is nursing a shoulder injury from Friday’s game against San Antonio. He is listed as day-to-day and was also reportedly fighting a flu bug. The Bulldogs (6-0-1)play Tuesday night in Houston.

Notes from Tuesday’s practice: Scott Gomez took a day off from the ice for a therapy day, as did Georges Laraque. Glen Metropolit is fighting a virus and spent the day at home.

Thanks for the chat: A big thanks to CBC.ca for inviting me as a panelist for Tuesday afternoons online chat about the Habs.

A replay of it is available here.




Monday, October 26, 2009

Czech it out! Canadiens on four game winning streak

Habs-vs-Islanders14.thumbnail Roman Hamrlik celebrates his overtime goal against the Islanders

Travis Moen had a goal and an assist and Roman Hamrlik scored the overtime winner, as the Montreal Canadiens beat the New York Islanders 3-2.

It was Montreal’s second win over the Islanders in just four days. The two teams remaining two regular season meetings will take place on Long Island.

Montreal opened the scoring when Glen Metropolit found Jaroslav Spacek, for his first goal of the season, beating Martin Biron at 13:38 of the first period.

Metropolit had missed the Canadiens morning skate, and had been a game time decision. He would finish the night with two assists.

The Canadiens were caught with two many men on the ice, in the second period, and the Islanders capitalized as Jeff Tambellini beat Jaroslav Halak to tie the game at one apiece.

In the third period, Montreal took a lead, just under eight minutes into the third period, when Travis Moen scored one of those “right place at the right time” goals.

Habs-vs-Islanders11.thumbnail

“We didn’t play our best in the second period  but we found a way to win,” said Moen. “It’s nice to chip in (with a goal) once in a while.”

The Islanders battled back as Tambellini scored his second power play goal of the night.

In overtime, Tomas Plekanec freed the puck from the Islanders defense,made a little soccer kick and fed a saucer pass to fellow Czech Roman Hamrlik for the win.

“They were changing out there so I took the puck,” Plekanec said. “I kicked the puck out a little bit and it went well.”

Plekanec has 10 points in 11 games this season.

“So far I feel very good,” he said “I’m playing  with strong details and play a good defensive game this year. I feel good. I feel confident.”

“I knew Tomas was going to pass it to me,” said Hamrlik. “I had the empty net so it was easy for me to finish.”

Halak made 29 saves for the win and has been in goal for each of game of the Canadiens current four-game winning streak.

Habs-vs-Islanders01.thumbnail “I probably could have stopped the first one, but the guys rebounded back,” Halak said. “We kept playing at it paid off at the end of the game.”

“We’re going to take one game at a time,” said Canadiens coach Jaques Martin, who danced around any kind of goaltending controversy.

“I’m happy for how he (Halak) is performing, but we’re going to need two goalies to do the job.”

While the shot total was almost even throughout the game, the Canadiens showed they had better puck possession as 26 of their shots were blocked and 18 missed the net. The Islanders had 16 shots blocked and 6 misses.

The Canadiens improved their record to 6-5-0 and are 5-0 in overtime or shootout games so far this season.

They will embark on a two-game road trip to Pittsburgh, on Wednesday, and Chicago, on Friday, before returning home to face the Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Game Photos: HabsInsideOut/Montreal Gazette

Three Stars: 1. Travis Moen 2. Jeff Tambellini 3. Roman Hamrlik




Ya! The Habs Rule! joins CBC.ca for Canadiens online chat Tuesday 1-2pm



CBC.ca will host an online chat on Tuesday Oct 27 from 1 to 2pm on the Montreal Canadiens.


I was thrilled to receive an email last week from fellow blogger Robert Lefebvre, who asked if I would be interested and referred me as a panelist.


I was honoured to be given the opportunity and am looking forward to Tuesday’s chat.


Hope to see you there!








Canadian Hockey pioneer honored with grave marker 79 years after his death

james_creightonJames Creighton (1850-1930) One of the pioneers of organized hockey in Canada

It took almost 80 years, but the gravesite of one of the game’s early pioneers finally has a marker at Ottawa’s Beechwood cemetery.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper presided over a ceremony, on Saturday, to unveil a grave marker and plaque to honor James Creighton.

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Prime Minister Harper (l)  and SIHR founder Bill Fitsell unveil the Crieghton gravestone at Beechwood Cemetery in Ottawa. Oct 24, 2009

Creighton was an avid sportsman who excelled in hockey, both as a player and an innovative organizer during the formative stages of the game.

He helped introduce the sport to Montreal in 1875 and captained teams in every recorded game there during the development years.

Creighton is credited with the organizing the first indoor hockey game,in 1875, at Montreal’s Victoria Skating Rink.

His hockey interest continued in Ottawa during a distinguished career as Law Clerk to the Senate between 1882 and 1930.

It seemed peculiar that a man of his accomplishment’s, and noted civil service, would be buried in Canada’s National Cemetery with an unmarked grave.

It was learned later that no proper gravestone was erected for him at Beechwood Cemetery because his wife passed away shortly after him and the couple had no children.

Thanks to the work of SIHR (The Society for International Hockey Research), a campaign was made to recognize one of hockey’s early pioneers.

Led by SIHR’s co-founder Bill Fitsell and a committee chaired by honorary president Edward Grenda, a plan of action was made in co-operation with the Beechwood Cemetery.

A fundraising campaign was set up on SIHR’s website and by August of 2009, sufficient funds were in place for the monument.

The biggest donors came in the form of Ottawa Senator’s owner Eugene Melnyk and Calgary Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss.

A Melnyk spokesman said the Senators owner saw a front-page story in the Ottawa Citizen and was surprised to learn that Creighton was buried in an unmarked plot at Beechwood.

Melnyk wanted "to ensure proper recognition for Mr. Creighton’s contribution to modern-day hockey,” the spokesman said.

With the funds in place it was arranged that Prime Minister Harper be invited to attend the ceremony.

The Prime Minister is a member of SIHR and is currently writing his own book on hockey history.

According to a spokesman for the PM, he began research on his book as leader of the opposition and still takes a few minutes out of his busy day to work on it.

The Prime Minister unveiled a plaque in Montreal’s Bell Centre (home of the Montreal Canadiens) in May of 2008 to honor Creighton.

image A plaque honoring Creighton’s accomplishments in hockey was also dedicated at the ceremony on Saturday.

“It was with great pride that I named Mr. Creighton as a Canadian of National Historic Significance last year and I am delighted to be here today,” the Prime Minister said.

“This monument marks another milestone in honoring the legacy of one of our country's pioneers. Canada needed a sport that would call to its winter soul. Before anyone else, Creighton heard that call and defined the game that from coast-to-coast transcends French and English, East and West; urban and rural and defines us as Canadians.

“Future generations of Canadian hockey fans who wish to pay homage to this founding father of our national sport will now be able to do so. Canadians will find him at rest in Canada’s national cemetery, surrounded by notables of Canadian political, military, economic and cultural history.”

The Prime Minister noted that Creighton remained even played hockey in the fledging Parliamentary League as part of the Rideau Hall Rebels.

image Prime Minister Stephen Harper, at the new gravestone for James Creighton.

“Creighton is responsible for ‘Canadianizing’ the game of hockey,” SIHR’s Bill Fitsell said, “by incorporating elements from sports such as field hockey, hurling, rugby and lacrosse into the game.

He was key to getting the game underway.”

SIHR still wishes to take the work of Mr. Creighton to another level, as an honored member in the Builder’s category of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"He played a significant role and it's rather unfortunate, and somewhat inappropriate, that he has been ignored in that fashion," Edward Grenda said.

“The hall has yet to acknowledge the pair's nomination of Creighton,” Fitsell said.

“Hopefully,this event will spur that recognition of the hockey pioneer.”

__________________________________________________________

For his contribution to the project, Mr. Melnyk was acknowledged on the plaque. By the time Mr. Hotchkiss’ donation arrived, the plaque was already in production. A new plaque bearing Mr. Hotchkiss as a major contributor will be made and replace the currrent one.

More on the Society for International Hockey Research can be found on their website.

Author D’Arcy Jenish’s article on Mr. Creighton and the grave marker project from the January 2008 Legion Magazine




Sunday, October 25, 2009

How do NHL players fair on the golf course amongst other athletes?

I know, I know. The last thing hockey fans want to see in October is an article about golf, but the sport is pretty much played all over the world year-round these days.

This month, Golf Digest released it’s list of top 150 athlete-golfers for 2009.

The magazine took a sampling from several sports, including the big four (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL), to come up with their list.

The complete list can be found here.

The Top Five Overall

Rank Name Sport Handicap
1 Tony Romo NFL + 3.3
2 Craig Hentrick NFL + 2.8
3 Mark McGwire MLB + 2.2
4 Mike Schmidt MLB + 1.1
5 Jerry Rice NFL + 0.7

Sixteen present and former NHL players made the list of 150, and are shown below.

1980 Team USA captain Mike Eruzione is also included.

Rank Name Handicap
T-6 Brett Hull 0.0
11 Marc Savard 0.6
T-12 Jamie Langenbrunner 0.8
T-12 John-Michael Liles 0.8
16 Mario Lemieux 1.1
17 Mike Modano 1.3
26 Joe Sakic 2.3
44 Brenden Morrow 3.5
T-45 Mike Cammalleri 3.6
47 Cam Neely 3.7
T-50 Daniel Alfredsson 4
T-50 Alex Kovalev 4
65 Mike Eruzione 5.6
66 Bobby Orr 5.8
T-91 Mike Richards 9
105 Wayne Gretzky 10.6
T-125 Sidney Crosby 15
Handicap Indexes are from August and were determined from the USGA's Golf Handicap and Information Network, state associations, the athletes, PR directors, friends and playing partners. Handicaps without decimal points are unofficial estimates.

Former MLB pitcher Rick Rhoden was left off this year’s list as he is now considered a senior pro. Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr was not listed as he is going for his pro certification.

What really makes the list of NHL Players really interesting though, no Toronto Maple Leafs. You would think…

Notes on some of the Players:

Brett Hull was featured in Golf Digest’s “My Game” series for October 2009. He has won several tournaments including the Tillinghast Cup at Baltusrol in 2003 and the celebrity portion of the 2008 Wayne Gretzky Classic.

Marc Savard missed qualifying for 2008 Canadian Open by one stroke.

John-Michael Liles lettered in golf in high school.

Wayne Gretzky had a recent “My Game” article in Golf Digest and hosts an annual pro-celebrity golf tournament in Collingwood, Ontario. My coverage of the 2009 edition can be found here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sergei Kostitsyn picks up a point. Higgins returns to his old home.

Pratique des Bulldogs The next chapter of the Sergei Kostitsyn story had a positive start last night.

The embattled winger picked up an assist on Tom Pyatt’s goal in the Hamilton Bulldogs 3-0 win over the San Antonio Rampage.

Kostitsyn saw limited ice time (almost none in the third period) as he is battling the flu.

The Montreal Canadiens’ AHL Affiliate is 5-0-1-1 to start the season.

Once he shakes off the flu bug, it is hoped that Kostitsyn (5 points in 6 games with Hamilton) will turn his attitude around, after Wednesday’s “ghost suspension” incident, and can ignore other stories fueled by the media.

The most recent, of course, were allegations that Kostitsyn was demoted to Hamilton due to an off-ice fight with teammate Scott Gomez after their final pre-season game.

A Canadiens spokesman confirmed that the decision to demote Kostitsyn had been made after game and nothing to do with the alleged incident.

"It's kind of funny, but there's absolutely no truth to it," Gomez said after Friday’s practice. "But it's a good story. Everyone's calling about it. I guess that's what happens here in Montreal". Another day in the soap opera we call "As the Habs Turn".

Kostitsyn has yet to publically comment on the alleged incident or the suspension.

image 

Christopher Higgins will make is return against his former team Saturday.

Higgins returns!: Christopher Higgins will make his return to the Bell Centre, on Saturday, for the first time since being traded to the New York Rangers on June 30.

“It’s going to be a pretty strange experience, I think,” Higgins said after Friday’s practice.

“I played there (Montreal) for four years, and had my dream come true of playing in the NHL with that organization. So to go back there in an opposing uniform is going to be a little surreal.”

Higgins has yet to record a goal as a Ranger and avoided the media after Saturday’s morning skate.

Scott Gomez, who was brought to Montreal in the same trade, is playing it down more than his counterpart.

“It was different when I played against New Jersey for the first time because I’d been there so long,” said Gomez. “I was only in New York a couple of years.”

My preview of Saturday’s game for Fan Huddle can be found here.




Friday, October 23, 2009

In Case You Missed It: Habs news and Blogger Views for Oct. 23

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to highlight some of the daily best from my fellow bloggers, journalists, etc. so here goes.

The Fan590 (Toronto) talked to Habs forward Brian Gionta on Friday afternoon.

Free AHL streaming tonight: Thanks to On Frozen Blog for picking up on this. The AHL will offer free online steaming of all thirteen of tonight’s games, including Hamilton at San Antonio. Click here for details.

Canadiens president Pierre Boivin spoke Thursday on looking into improving the development of hockey players in Quebec.

Carey Price has updated his website, with an offer to attend a function to meet him and Alexander Ovechkin. Price will reportedly be adding a video blog to his site shortly.

A trio of pieces related to this week’s Sergei Kostitsyn saga:

Chelios turned down Rangers AHL offer: ESPN reports that former Hab Chris Chelios turned down an offer to join the Rangers AHL affiliate Hartford Wolfpack, choosing to play in Chicago to be closer to his parents.

An interesting article on MSN on ownership in pro sports in today’s economy.

Puck Daddy reports that Sean Avery will be joining the blogging world through his website.




Thursday, October 22, 2009

Canadiens 43 shots dominate Islanders 5-1

Habs06.thumbnail Glen Metropolit and Tomas Plekanec each had two assists, and Jarolav Halak made 21 saves as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the New York Islanders 5-1.

It was the Canadiens first regulation win this season , and first in 17 games dating to last season, as they improved their record to 4-5.

Montreal opened the scoring when Jaroslav Spacek foiled the Islanders attempt to clear their zone, feeding Scott Gomez at 7:55 of the first period.

Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his first goal, on the power play, in his second game with the Canadiens with a monstrous blast from the point past Martin Biron to close out the period.

“It felt great,” Bergeron said. “I had my family and friends (here). To get that goal for the Canadiens, with the reaction of the crowd, let's just say it was a little louder than I'm used to. I’m very proud to be with the Montreal Canadiens.”

Max Pacioretty scored his first goal since January 2009 at 3:34 of the second period, to give the Canadiens a 3-0 lead.

“I feel like I got the monkey off my back,” Pacioretty said. “Metro told me (in practice) that you got to want the puck. Hopefully I can build off that and I feel like I’m ready to go now.”

Montreal outshot the Islanders 30-12 in the first two periods and New York had 23 giveaways in the game.

Habs09.thumbnail Halak, perfect through two periods,  made his sole mistake, early in the third, when he misplayed the puck behind his net, allowing Josh Bailey to score into the empty net.

“I don’t like shutouts,” Halak joked. “Every time you lose a shutout it’s not easy, but the point is to win the game.

“It was a mistake that he (Halak) made,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “The key is he recovered and we won the game.”

Martin would not tip his hat as to whether Halak would get a third straight start on Saturday night.

Mike Cammalleri replied with a second power play goal and Maxime Lapierre later added a fifth goal for the Canadiens.

“We had to really get on them and make them work.” said Cammalleri. “It was nice to get five goals in instead of two goals.”

The Canadiens finished with 43 shots on the night.

“The effort has been there the last two games,” Scott Gomez said. “it’s good to get it at home.”

Metropolit had missed the last six games with a rib injury with the Canadiens. In that span, Montreal went 1-5.

He was a dominant factor in he faceoff circle going 5 for 7, and showed no signs of wear in eighteen minutes of ice time earning the games first star.

“I don't know if I've ever had that before, maybe once when I was with Washington,” said Metropolit who also saw time on the second power play wave.

“It was good to be back there. I'm just trying to make room on the ice in front of the net.”

Habs08.thumbnail For Islanders center John Tavares, his second visit to the Bell Centre was not as pleasant as his first when he was the first overall pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

New York’s star prospect went minus 2, and had no shots on goal.

“It was probably my worst game of the year,” he said after the Islanders got their first win of the season the night before.

“It’s tough after getting over the hump last night.”

The two teams will meet again, in Montreal, on Monday.

Three Stars: 1. Metropolit 2. Pacioretty 3. Bergeron

Official Game Summary and Recap from NHL.com

Game Photos: Montreal Gazette/HabsInsideOut




Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Jacques Plante biography: A must read for all hockey fans

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Fifty years after he changed the world of hockey, a complete biography of hockey’s most important goalie is set to be released.

Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey, gives a complete look into the life of one of the greatest men to stand between the pipes.

in his first book, author Todd Denault left no stone unturned in his research to give us insight into Plante’s life, from a prodigy teenaged player to the pinnacle of greatness in the NHL and well beyond.

Mr. Denault, a freelance writer and member of SIHR (The Society for International Hockey Research), realized that outside of a book Plante co-authored in 1971, that there was no full-scale biography on the Hall of Famer.

Denault spent countless hours researching books, interviews and newspaper articles devoted to the hockey legend. He also spoke to over forty individuals (a virtual whose who of teammates, coaches and journalists) who played with, or against him, coached or documented his career and game up with a fascinating biography.

Most of Plante’s story is publically known for his time and experiences with the Montreal Canadiens, but Mr. Denault captures his entire life in true essence.

From his first goalie stick, carved out of a branch by his father, to his first retirement from the NHL, his return to play with St. Louis, Toronto, Boston and Edmonton (WHA), and final retirement at age 46, the author covered all aspects.

While Plante’s worldwide claim to fame is donning a mask on a regular basis, after that famed day on November 1, 1959, the reader also learns of the legends other noted contributions that revolutionized the game and how the role of a goaltender has evolved.

Mr. Denault even looks into Plante’s post-playing career where he again changed the game as the first goaltending coach in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers and later returning to Montreal.

The book is a must read for any hockey fan (not just Canadiens fans) and the Mr. Denault is to be commended on bringing it to light.

Jacques Plante: The Man Who Changed the Face of Hockey will be available at all major books retailers (conventional and online), in both French and English, on October 27.

Online ordering info, and more information, can be found on the publisher  McLelland and Stewart’s website.

Other Book and related links:

Official Facebook page

Habs Eyes on the Prize’s interview with the author

SIHR (The Society for International Hockey Research)

Habs World (where Mr. Denault is a frequent contributor)

Hockey Book Reviews - hockey book reviews and interviews.




Canadiens beat Thrashers 2-1 in a shootout to end losing streak

Thrashers-vs-Habs09.thumbnail The Montreal Canadiens snap their five-game losing streak Tuesday night.

The Montreal Canadiens averted their worst start since the 1941-42 season with a 2-1 shootout win over the Atlanta Thrashers Tuesday.

The game began with the Canadiens nursing a five-game losing streak and Atlanta having their best start (4-1) since 1999.

Montreal came out strong, in the first forty minutes, outshooting the Thrashers 21-13.

Ondrej Pavelec was rock solid in goal for the Thrashers, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a losing cause.

“Pavelec was great and I thought the guy at the other end was pretty good as well," Thrashers coach John Anderson said. "You don't see goaltending battles like this very often. I just wish we could have won it for Pavelec.”

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Pavelec said he wasn’t overly disappointed to leave the Bell Centre with a single point.

“Every time you step on the ice, you're looking for a win. We got one point tonight,” Pavelec said. “It was up and down. They could have won and we could have as well.”

The “other guy” as referred to by Anderson, was Jaroslav Halak.

The Slovak netminder was in just his second start this season, for the Canadiens, but made 22 saves. Most of his stops came a well-timed moments.

Brain Gionta opened the scoring with the the lone Canadiens goal, with 2:16 remaining the first period, on a pass from Mike Cammalleri.

The Canadiens penalty killers were exceptional, shutting down the league’s top power play unit on all four opportunities.

Montreal’s power play units continued to struggle however, going 0 for 5. The Canadiens are 2 for 27 since the losing Andrei Markov to injury in their first game of the season.

Colby Armstrong scored his first goal of the season in reply for Atlanta at 6:06 of the third period.

Earlier, Armstrong showed his physical strengths with a thunderous hit, in the second period, on Canadiens newcomer Marc-Andre Bergeron.

The Canadiens defender got up, on his own power, but appeared a bit woozy. He remained in the game, but appeared to have concussion-like symptoms the rest of the way.

Many, including TSN’s studio panel, felt that Bergeron should have got out of the game as a precaution.

“I’m ok. I was hesitant at first,” Bergeron said afterwards. “Actually, I was hesitant pretty much the whole game. I kept my shifts short and focused on my defensive part of the game,” he added. “As more games are coming, my confidence and my offensive skills are gonna show.”

In overtime, Atlanta forward Victor Kozlov leveled a from-behind hit , on Scott Gomez, and received a five-minute boarding major, and a ten-minute misconduct. Kozlov will undoubtedly receive further disciplinary action from the NHL for the incident.

Unable to capitalize on the man-advantage for the remaining 2:45 of overtime, the Canadiens went into the shootout with Atlanta.

Thrashers-vs-Habs08.thumbnailGionta and Gomez each scored in the shootout, and Halak stopped Ilya Kovalchuk and Rich Peverley to preserve the win.

Kovalchuk has just three goals in his last fourteen games against the Canadiens. With an assist on the Armstrong goal, Peverley has registered a point in each Thrashers game this season. He received a two-year contract extension earlier in the day.

The win was Montreal’s first at the Bell Centre this season, and the first since March 31, 2009.

“We had a lot of great chances, and I think that's a good measure of how you're playing,” Gionta said. “If you're getting those chances then you're doing something right, so it's a matter of sticking with it and trying to be patient. Any two points is big because they have a good team there. They're 4-and-1 and rolling. so it's nice to get a win against an offensive-minded team”

“It was a game where we dominated, but didn’t show up on the scoreboard,” said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. “We kept coming, we didn’t panic, we showed some poise and in the end, we won it in the shootout.”

The Canadiens continue their home stand on Thursday when the welcome the New York Islanders, the New York Rangers on Saturday and the Islanders again Monday.

Three Stars: 1. Scott Gomez 2. Ondrej Pavelec 3. Brian Gionta

 

All photos courtesy: HabsInsideOut/Montreal Gazette




Monday, October 19, 2009

Radio-Canada airing series on the Montreal Canadiens

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Radio Canada currently has an eight episode series running on the history of the Montreal Canadiens.

Hosted by Claude Quennville and Richard Garneau, L'époque des héros is currently airing Monday to Thursday, over the next two weeks, at 10am and replayed at 9pm.

It is also available online as episodes are released.

The series features vintage radio clips from the era as well as player interviews.

Part one features the arrival of Maurice Richard and Frank Selke, the first televised games and the beginning of the Canadiens Dynasty of the 1950’s.




MLSE might actually go for this.

Ever watch a Toronto Maple Leafs game on TV and notice that the lower seats are typically empty, or soon vacated during the third period?

Thumb’s up to Toronto radio station Q107’s Ryan Parker for a humorous suggestion to how Leafs ownership might rectify the situation.

Check this out.

One can only hope that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the mega-bucks organization that relies on the marketing of it’s team over it’s success on the ice, doesn’t actually try this.

This other Q107 clip shows just how dumb some Leafs fans are ie: They don’t even know the names of their own players.




Friday, October 16, 2009

Carey Price’s toughest opponent so far: The Montreal Canadiens

0d67a7f462df10e47331410bf27f4e1b-getty-90955815rw006_aval_cana Carey Price’s non-All-Star start is more lack of team support. Photo: Getty Images

I know it’s just a few games in, and essentially to hard to evaluate long term, but so far this season Carey Price’s toughest opponent this season seems to be his own team, the Montreal Canadiens.

Looking beyond his 2-3 record, 3.42 GAA and .890 SvPct through his first five starts, one has to analyze the games a bit more thoroughly.

Game 1 vs  Toronto: Price stood on his head, stopping 43 Leafs pucks for a 4-3 Canadiens win.

Game 2 vs Buffalo: was a carbon copy, making 34 saves in a 2-1 victory.

Game 3 vs Vancouver: Price was let hung out to dry by his team for seven goals as the Canucks were getting highlight reel odd-man rushes. Only the last two could get little, if any, blame on the young goaltender as he appeared to be out of gas.

Game 4 vs Edmonton: Not a great outing, but acceptable after a humiliating loss two nights prior. Unfortunately Nikolai Khabibulin was better, allowing just two goals.

Game 5 vs Colorado: Two goals were a result of some bad bounces, one that Price let through his five-hole .The third was the result of his teammates being more preoccupied with Scott Gomez’s helmet rolling around on the ice over defensive coverage.

When a team does not play a full 60 minutes, mistakes will, and often do,  happen. When they do, goals get scored. It has been a pattern that coach Jacques Martin has seen in the last four games.

The biggest concern for Price and the Canadiens though is the lack of scoring.

When Carey Price has been in goal, the Montreal Canadiens have only scored eleven goals. That’s an average of just 2.2 goals per game. The League average through Thursday’s games is 3.03.

It reminds me of my days as a teen watching the Toronto Blue Jays. Pitcher Dave Stieb was considered one of the best in baseball in the early ‘80s, but his team’s lack of run support usually cost him more losses than him having a bad outing on the mound.

The Canadiens need to realize that they cannot rely on their goaltender to carry them for every minute of every game, especially with the current injuries to their defensive corps.

Goalies at any level can make a mental error, at any given time. It’s going to happen and has happened to the best in the game.

The Montreal offense needs to step it up, find the holes and strike often to keep the momentum going and give their young goalies confident.

If they don’t the pressure builds on your goalie and his confidence collapses. See Price, Carey 2008-09 season post Dec 31.

But as I said, this is just a small sample to an 82-game season. The bad thing is, the Canadiens don’t want the trend to continue.




Thursday, October 15, 2009

Je suis….découragé. Avs bounce past Habs 3-2

Habs-vs-Avalanche05.thumbnail Tomas Plekanec beats Craig Anderson Thursday night – Montreal Gazette photo

In a game that saw some bad bounces for both teams, the Colorado Avalanche came out with a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night, to crash their home-opener.

Instead of a more traditional introduction by Bell Centre announcer Michel LaCroix, the Canadiens players introduced themselves, in French, to the applause of the crowd. Injured Andrei Markov received the warmest reception.

Montreal played a strong first period, outshooting Colorado 11-6, and scored first,on the power play,when Roman Hamrlik moved in off the point and fired a Tomas Plekanec pass into the low corner past Craig Anderson.

The second period was not as effective for Montreal and goaltender Carey Price.

Playing four-on four, Milan Hejduk took a shot that bounced off of two Canadiens players and slipped through the five-hole on Price.

As the period wound down the Avalanche caught the Canadiens off guard. Kyle Cumiskey made a centering pass off the left boards that managed to hit the skate of Canadiens defender Shawn Belle and bounce up and over Price’s shoulder.

The Canadiens tied it up, in the third, when Andrei Kostitsyn fed a one-timer to Plekanec.

Anderson and the Avalanche protested, to no avail ,that an earlier pass behind the net went into the protective netting above the glass and should have been whistled down. The TV replays showed the Avalanche were right, but the goal counted.

Minutes later, a questionable missed penalty call, on a hit to Scott Gomez, and ensuing weak defensive coverage by the Canadiens enabled Ryan O’Reilly to find his own rebound and score his first career NHL goal.

Despite pulling their goaltender, and some good opportunities in the dying seconds by Montreal, Anderson shut the door to preserve the Avalanche win.

Habs-vs-Avalanche07.thumbnail Craig Anderson stood tall vs. Canadiens. - Montreal Gazette photo

The Canadiens have now lost their last four straight games, since winning their first two of the season.

Anderson’s 29-save performance moved the Avalanche to a 5-1-1 record to start the season.

If anything positive came out of the loss, it was the play of Canadiens’ winger Andrei Kostitsyn.

After being benched for the third period of Saturday’s loss to Edmonton and messing up the “Je suis” in his intro on Thursday, Kostitsyn played a solid game with two assists two hits, two shots and three missed shots.

In light of his misleading minus two showing, Shaun Belle also played a solid defensive game, his first as a Montreal Canadien.

The Canadiens next game is Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. It will mark the return of former Canadiens All-Star Alex Kovalev to the Bell Centre.

The Senators are coming off a 7-1 pasting of the Tampa Bay Lightning and would like noting more than to make their new teammate’s first visit to his former club a memorable one.




Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kostitsyns could learn from Patrick Marleau & Co

9d783baf6a3a569b266d7e56928e090a-getty-90955739es009_minnesota_wil Despite losing the captaincy, Sharks captain Patrick Marleau continues his exceptional play; something the Kostitsyns need to learn in Montreal.

Over the summer, the San Jose Sharks made a “house cleaning” in their dressing room as a way to send the message to the rest of the team.

After another unsuccessful playoff run, captain Patrick Marleau and assistant captain Joe Thornton were removed of their respective positions. Another assistant, Mike Grier, was not re-signed by the team.

It was an effort from coach Todd McLennan to shake things up, and maybe it worked.

It appears both players have accepted the transition. There was no pouting, no failing to show up for training camp, or no whining to the press.

The duo are taking their frustrations, if any, on the ice. After six games, Marleau has five goals and an assist for the Sharks (3-2-1). Thornton, who reclaimed his "A", has a goal and nine assists.

So off to the Eastern Conference we go, where les freres Kostitsyn, Andre and Sergei, are doing quite the opposite with the Montreal Canadiens.

After last season’s media crime scandal emerged in Montreal , the Belarusian brothers struggled in 2008-09 and the situation clearly disrupted both players. Sergei was demoted to the Hamilton Bulldogs and Andrei’s point production dropped slightly and his overall play was scrutinized.

Both Kostitsyns were found to have had no criminal involvement over the summer, with the Canadiens off-season shake up and coaching changes, it was expected the new look Canadiens would benefit the remaining players or at least get out a message.

For Sergei Kostitsyn ,it has so far failed. After being in coach Jacques Martin’s doghouse in training camp, he was sent back to Hamilton. Sergei refused to report and demanded a trade. He finally reported to the Bulldogs and claims a trade arrangement has been made. He was held pointless in his only AHL game as of Friday.

As for older brother, Andrei things seem to be just as bad having just registered a single goal after five games. That goal was against Vancouver and one that Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo would have 99 percent of the time.

In Saturday’s 3-2 loss Edmonton, he made a brutal cross-ice pass in his own end that led to the winning Oilers goal. Kostitsyn did not see any ice time in the third period.

Now granted the season is in it’s infancy and things can change. There’s an edge to Marleau and Thornton with their veteran experience on handling their situation. Or perhaps, they wanted to just stay quiet and be overshadowed by their teammate’s summer performance, see Heatley, Dany.

In any event, both Kostitsyn’s have potential to perform on the ice like their San Jose counterparts. Here’s hoping they can learn to find it, and fast.

Lots of Laraque: Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque reportedly requested to change his jersey number to 27. Laraque has worn No. 27 for most of his career but settled on No. 17 last season with the presence of Alex Kovalev. In light of Kovalev’s departure the Canadiens turned him down.

Laraque also got into some trouble over an alcohol ad he did this summer.

The internet-based ad shows the Habs enforcer playing street hockey with several scantily clad women, raising complaints from women’s groups and the NHL.

Article 25.1 of the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement states that no player can sponsor or endorse an alcoholic beverage.

The league did not comment on any disciplinary action, and Laraque has since apologized and regretted appearing in the ad. He also stated that any earnings he made went directly to an animal rights organization.

Belle tolls for Shawn: The Canadiens called up Shawn Belle form Hamilton on Tuesday, replacing the roster spot left with Yannick Weber’s cap-related demotion on Monday.

Belle will likely stay with the Canadiens through their home opener while Marc-Andre Bergeron continues his conditioning stint with the Bulldogs.

With Hamilton having three games in four days, it may benefit the free-agent blue liner to get another game or two in the AHL.




Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reader Poll results: Toe Blake's #6 should be retired next



A big thanks to all the readers who voted on this weeks poll to see which Habs legend should be retired next.
It was a close race but Hector "Toe" Blake's #6 got the nod with 31% of the votes.

Though he has 500 wins as a coach with the Canadiens and nine Stanley Cups, Hector “Toe” Blake was one of the greatest players of his era.

He led the NHL in scoring in the 1938-39 season and won the Hart Trophy as league MVP.


With just two penalty minutes in the 1945-46 season, Blake took the Lady Byng Trophy.


He played on the famous “Punch Line” with Maurice Richard and Elmer Lach, and scored at least 20 goals a season with his linemates.



In thirteen season as a player, Blake won two Stanley Cups and scored 527 points in 569 games.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966.


Blake is already honored in the Canadiens Ring of Honor as well as their Builders’ Row.
Emile "Butch" Bouchard was a close second with 25 percent, followed by Elmer Lach and Jacques Lemaire, who tied for third.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Oct 10, 1979: Dawn of the Great One

 wayne-gretzky-2 Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers made their NHL debut Oct 10, 1979

Hard to believe it’s been thirty-years since the debut of the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.

Despite a losing effort to the Chicago Blackhawks, the NHL got it’s first glimpse of an 18-year-old centre named Wayne Gretzky, who picked up a single assist on a first period goal by Kevin Lowe at 9:49.

Many NHL scouts felt that he was too small, too wiry, and too slow to be a force. Followers of the Oilers, however, were well aware of the young center’s talents, having seen him rack up 110 points as a rookie with the Edmonton in their last season in the WHA.

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He scored  his first NHL goal, on the power-play, four nights later in Edmonton’s third game of the season. Gretzky beat Vancouver Canucks goaltender Glen Hanlon at 18:51 of the third period.

He finished the 1979-80 season with 137 points (51-86-137) tying Marcel Dionne. The Kings forward’s higher goal total gave him tie breaker to claim the Art Ross Trophy over Gretzky.

Gretzky broke Mike Bossy’s record, from the previous season, becoming the youngest player to score 50 goals (19 years, two months). His prior season of WHA experience denied him the Calder as NHL Rookie of The Year. That went to the Boston Bruins Ray Bourque.

Despite being denied two major awards, he did pick up the Lady Byng Trophy (Most Sportsmanlike) and the biggest individual achievement, winning the first of eight consecutive Hart Trophies as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player.

GRETZKY_(44) Gretzky poses with the first of nine Hart Trophies and five Lady Byng Trophies.

He won nine in his career as well as taking home ten Art Ross Trophies (seven consecutive 1981-87), two Conn Smythe Trophies, four Stanley Cups and numerous other NHL and International awards.

Gretzky retired in April of 1999 with 61 NHL scoring records, with two since broken and one regained (PPG), as well as numerous unofficial records not included in the NHL Guide and Record Book.

More on The Great One’s career can be found on Legends of Hockey, Wikipedia , Edmonton Oilers Heritage and his own site.

But what if?: Before he was an Oiler, Gretzky played in the WHA for the Indianapolis Racers. A team bleeding money, Racers owner Nelson Skalbania was forced to trade his young prospect.

Skalbania gave Gretzky the choice of Edmonton or the Winnipeg Jets.

Similarily, ten years later, when Peter Pocklington made “The Trade”, the then-Oilers owner too gave his star a choice, Detroit or Los Angeles.

gretzky




Friday, October 9, 2009

New address and monument for Habs, and more.

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Former Canadiens greats, and other dignitaries admire the new Centennial Monument outside the Bell Centre. Photo – Monteal Gazette

While the 2009-10 edition of the Montreal Canadiens were practicing in Edmonton, in preparation for Saturday’s game against the Oilers, former Habs legends gathered at the Bell Centre for a special ceremony.

The City of Montreal made it official, on Friday afternoon, that a street along the location of the Bell Centre will now be known as avenue des Canadiens-de-Montréal.

The renaming of the street applies only to the section of De La Gauchetière West between de la Montagne and Peel streets.

A new sign was placed on the corner of the De La Gauchetière and de la Montagne streets.

A new monument, a tribute to the 761 players who wore a Canadiens jersey for the team’s first 100 seasons,  was also unveiled at the centre of the Canadiens’ Centennial Plaza.

The the monument features Canadiens players awarded NHL individual honors during their career, the team’s annual record since the it’s first season (1909-1910) and is completed with a list of all general managers and head coaches in team history.

Pierre Boivin, President and CEO of the Club de hockey Canadien, along with Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of the City of Montreal, presided over the ceremony.

Montreal Canadiens Ambassadors Jean Béliveau, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur and Réjean Houle were also in attendance, as were former Canadiens Elmer Lach, Dickie Moore, Phil Goyette, Don Johns, Jean-Guy Morissette and Yvon Lambert.

Lafleur was impressed to see even the single-game players honored by the Canadiens and that two of those players, Johns and Morissette, were invited to attend Friday’s ceremony.

"We always talk about the dynasties and things like that, but we're celebrating the 100th anniversary and everybody's part of it," he said.

"They proved it today by having guys here who only played one game with the team. I'm very happy about that."

A photo gallery, from the Montreal Gazette, can be found here.

A video montage of the ceremony, from canadiens.com is seen below.

 

Beliveau OK without a Habs captain: Habs Hall-of-Famer Jean Beliveau feels there is not need to hurry to find the team’s next captain.

"Since we have so many new players, give the organization a chance to know them better," Beliveau said. "There's nothing wrong starting with three alternate captains.

"Even if they have to wait until Christmas, by that time they should know. It's not only what they do on the ice, but it's also the way they face situations (that shows if ) they have the ability to wear the C."

Laraque’s new PSA for PETA: The Canadiens heavyweight has a new announcement for PETA. Warning: The content is a little graphic.

Ironic that I had a craving for a vegetarian dish before I read about this.

What’s everyone else doing??

Like the Canadiens this season, All Habs has brought some new faces to their writers to their team.

Robert at Habs Eyes on the Prize is always putting together numbers and finding new stories.

First up, he looks at the Canadiens inefficiency to rebound after a loss in which their opponents score six goals or more, a dismal 13-18-2 since 2001.

He also dug up a feature on ,YouTube, with Todd Denault, author of the upcoming biography Jacques Plante: The Man Behind the Mask.

Lions in Winter wonders if the acquisition of Marc-Andre Bergeron is the solution to the current hole in the Canadiens defense.

CJAD’s Rick Moffat talks on the comparison of a young Carey Price to a young Roberto Luongo and a recount from an ex-Hab on his own experiences after witnessing the Canadiens bag skate on Thursday.