Monday, May 31, 2010

Habs John McCormack stopped Mr. Hockey at 49


John McCormack isn’t one of the standout names in the history and lore of the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950’s, but he had a key hand during the team’s 1953 Stanley Cup run.

A Memorial Cup winner, with the St. Mike’s Majors in 1945, McCormack got his break in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 1947-48 season. He only played three games that season, and just one the following season.

McCormack spent a pair of part-time seasons between Toronto and the minors after that. Playing 46 games, during the 1950-51 season, was enough to get his name on the Stanley Cup, despite being in Pittsburgh (AHL) during the playoffs.

His demotion had been a result of a mid-season marriage to his pregnant girlfriend. It was something that enraged Leafs owner Conn Smythe.

"I was playing with Pittsburgh and we were in Cleveland that night,” McCormack said, in 2005 interview with the Hockey Hall of Fame. “We lost that night and they (Toronto) won that night with Billy (Barilko) scoring the goal. I was very pleased for him.”

Despite the Leafs adding his name to the Cup roster, Smythe sold McCormack’s rights to the rival Montreal Canadiens the following summer. One could argue for Smythe that McCormack’s offensive numbers never lived to expectations he had in Jr. and in the OHA.

In Montreal, coach Dick Irvin found good use for McCormack’s other talent as a defensive specialist.

In his second season with the Canadiens (1952-53), the gritty centre found himself in a pivotal role on the last game of the regular season.

Montreal would be in Detroit to face Gordie Howe and the Red Wings. Sitting on 49 goals, Howe needed just one to reach the illustrious 50-goal mark, something only the Canadiens Maurice Richard had achieved to that point.

McCormack and linemate Bert Olmstead were in charge of checking Howe. Whenever “Mr. Hockey” was on a shift, one or both of the Canadiens forwards was out there on him.

The prominent checking pairing off, as Howe had only one decent and unsuccessful scoring chance on the night. It was the closest The Red Wings legend ever came to 50 goals in his career, and it would be another eight years until Bernie Geoffrion became the NHL’s second 50-goal scorer.

“The Rocket always had that competitive fire,” McCormack said during brief chat with me at a recent Toronto autograph signing. “Afterwards, he came over to me and Bert and thanked me for not letting Howe get to 50.”

The Canadiens would go on to win the Stanley Cup, with McCormack seeing action in all seven semi-final games and the first two of the Finals.


John McCormack with the Stanley Cup on his 80th Birthday in 2005 –Photo: Walt Neubrand HHOF

He would have one final season with Montreal, while spending 16 games with their AHL affiliate in Buffalo, and was in the bizarre seven game Stanley Cup Final against Detroit.

“Let’s see, 1954,” McCormack said as he began to sign a puck.

“Oh no sir,” I said. “You won with Montreal in ‘53. You might have won in ‘54, but Doug Harvey “threw it” into your net in overtime.”

“That’s right,” he replied with a smile. “Thanks for re-educating me.” I failed to note he signed his Leafs number (20) instead of the No. 17 he wore in Montreal.

In the summer of 1954. McCormack was left open to the Intra-League draft, and would play one last NHL season with the Chicago Blackhawks. He retired from hockey, after a season in the WHL with his hometown Edmonton Flyers,at age 30.

Article Sources

Montreal Gazette – March 23, 1953

Hockey Hall of Fame - “Stanley Cup Journal #21”

Legends of Hockey – Player Profile

Greatest Hockey Legends

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ab McDonald's bridged Cup run between the Habs and Blackhawks

Alvin Brian "Ab" McDonald would probably be considered a power forward of his era. Standing a very solid 6'3, the now 74-year-old greeted fans and collectors at a Toronto appearance this weekend. For a man 35 years removed from the playing the game. he still looks to be in the best of shape.

McDonald joined the bably bruised Canadiens roster, at the end of the 1957-58 season, after a successful year in Rochester (AHL) that saw him score 30 goals. Despite injuries to several key players, he only appeared in two games of the Stanley Cup Finals, against the Boston Bruins. McDonald just had a had a single hooking penalty to show for his efforts, but nonetheless his name was etched on the Stanley Cup for his contribution.

The next season, McDonald was playing full time, and began to show his offensive abilities with 13 and nine-goal seasons. Not bad for a third-year player on a team stacked with future Hall of Fame players.

With another pair of Cup wins in his pocket, McDonald was looking forward to another season in Montreal. It didn't happen as he would be traded to the Chicago Blackhawks in a multi player deal.

Though disheartened to be going from a team that had just won it's fifth straight Cup to a team that hadn't see one since 1938, McDonald wouldn't let that stop him. The Blackhawks had a team of young and eager players, led by Stan Mikita, Pierre Pilote and Bobby Hull, and an iron man goaltender named Glenn Hall.

The Blackhawks would face the Canadiens in the semi finals that year, and led by Hall's brilliant goaltending, would oust Montreal in six games. Nursing a skin infection McDonald didn't see action until Game Five, but recorded a goal and an assist against his former team.

Chicago would square off against the Detroit Red Wings in the Finals. The Blackhawks had the Red Wings in a predicament by the sixth game. Down 3-2 in the series, Detroit would be without goaltender Terry Sawchuk, who had been injured in Game Five. Chicago put the pressure on the Red Wings and backup goalie Hank Bassen after a Reg Fleming shorthanded goal tied the game at one apiece.

McDonald's goal at 18:49 of the second period, when he cased a reboun off a Hull rush, would be the Cup clincher in a 5-1 Blackhawks win. McDonald was named the game's first star and he now had four straight Stanley Cups to his name.

He would go on to have successive 20-goal season the next two years, with the Blackhawks, reaching the finals again in 1962, but losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After a season in Boston, McDonald found himself in the finals again in 1966 playing with Detroit. however he was on the losing end as the Canadiens defeated the Red Wings in six games, in light of a Conn Smythe performance from the Wings' Rogr Crozier.

Expansion brought personal success to McDonald, first scoring 22 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins, then 21 and 25 the following years with the St. Louis Blues. In St. Louis, he was back in the Stanley Cup Finals but again fell to the Canadiens and Bruins in succesive seasons.

By 1972, McDonald was names captain of his hometown Winnipeg Jets in the new WHA. He would go on to score the franchise's first goal on October 12, 1972, retiring after two seasons with the Jets.


More on the Blackhawks '61 win at Habs Eyes on the Prize

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Remembering the Rocket and other post-playoffs Habs notes

Ten Years Ago Today, we bid adieu to Maurice “Rocket” Richard.

Below is a clip from CBC’s “The Magazine’s” coverage of Richard’s State Funeral, held four days later, with some retrospective on Richard from Jean Beliveau, Gerry McNeil and Elmer Lach.

It’s followed by a clip that really needs no introduction.



The Montreal Canadiens season may be over playing-wise, but there’s still lots of talk on the team as well as tidbits on and from other former players.

A signing already?: No it’s not Halak, Price or Plekanec. The Habs signed defenseman Kyle Klubertanz to a one-year deal.

Price’s lesson learned: Marc-Antoine Godin had a great piece in today’s  La Presse on Carey’ Price’s learning experience sitting on the bench. Robert Lefebvre offers an english translation on his site.

More on Carey: Dennis Kane submits his thoughts on keeping Carey Price and/or Jaroslav Halak at Hockey54. His choice is…

The Flower weighs in: Guy Lafleur spoke to the Montreal Gazette’s Arpon Basu about the Canadiens season after an awards ceremony in his name at the Bell Centre. You’d be surprised to hear what he had so say.

Habs make playoff profit, but tickets going up: Canadiens owner Geoff Molson spoke to the Montreal board of trade on Wednesday. Despite profits from the playoffs, ticket prices for next season will rise approximately 3% on most seats.

A video retrospective:  A collection of video highlights of the Habs 2009-10 season,including the one below, has been compiled by Shauna Denis at

Russ Courtnall figure skater:  Former Habs forward Russ Courtnall and Calgary Flames star Theoren Fleury are the first two hockey players confirmed to compete in season two of the popular CBC program “Battle of the Blades”. The news came as part of the CBC’s fall lineup release. The remaining competitors have yet to be announced.

I am Iron Man: Ok I’m not, but Kyle Roussell has a great piece assigning superheroes to the Habs roster. Kyle actually has a good choice for Iron Man.

Habs Sale this weekend: The Canadiens are having an end-of-season and game-used equipment sale this weekend at the Bell Centre. I was at one of the game-used equipment sales in November, and saw some great deals not just for collectors but even for the beer-league hockey player all under $100. Well worth the trip if you’re in town.

If that’s not enough for you to spend: Classic Auctions has it’s latest up for grabs through June 22. The highlight is the jersey worn by Paul Henderson when he scored the winning goal in the ‘72 Summit Series.  Dennis Kane weighs in on this as well.

Unless the LottoMax kicks in, I won’t be bidding, but I’ll be perusing through the under $200 stuff, and still dreaming.

More Habs signings: Again, not Price, Halak or Pleks. A trio of former Cup-winning Habs from the ‘50s and ‘60s will be at an autograph signing in Toronto on Saturday. Ab McDonald, Albert Langlois and John McCormack will be signing from 12pm onward at AJSportsworld.

Ab McDonald has an interesting tie in to this season’s Stanley Cup Final. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks after the 1959-60 season, and went on to score the Cup-winning goal for Chicago the following year.

The Great One’s dad meets my dad: My dad has his brush with hockey greatness this afternoon, when he ran into Walter Gretzky at a Cambridge, ON bank promotion. He reports he had a lengthy and  memorable chat with the “World’s Number One Hockey Dad” and was really impressed with how gracious a man he is.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Habs season review: Who stays, who goes?


With the Montreal Canadiens season behind us, I’m taking a quick look at the roster that concluded the season, and where their future lies with the club.

Before I begin though, I want to congratulate the Montreal Canadiens on a fantastic season. Nobody expected this team to even make the playoffs.

Yet beyond a complete blowup of the team, a new coach, new ownership, eventually a new GM and a mass of injuries, they did the impossible.

Down three games to one to the President’s trophy winner, they fought back and won. Down three games to two to the defending Stanley Cup Champions, they fought back and won. They battled in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final, but just couldn’t connect in the dying minutes.

Only the Eastern Conference winning Philadelphia Flyers and West-winning Chicago Blackhawks will finish with more games played this season. That’s nothing for the Canadiens to hang their heads over.

Bravo gentlemen on a fantastic season! My one regret is that it didn’t get to a sixth game for a chance to give a proper good-bye to the Bell Centre faithful. Just imagine the welcome at the home opener in October!

Now, keep in mind this is merely my own opinions on what could happen, as my name is not Pierre Gauthier. Nor do I get Pierre Gauthier’s salary

Unlike last season, where the Canadiens had 11 unrestricted free agents (UFA), there isn’t an overabundance of free agents this summer.

Players signed for 2010-11 are; Jaroslav Spacek, Mike Cammalleri, Ryan O’Byrne, Brian Gionta, Josh Gorges, Travis Moen, Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Kostitsyn, Ben Maxwell (Hamilton), Hal Gill, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Scott Gomez.

There are the two or three obvious players to focus on, and we know who they are, but here’s a quick breakdown of the full roster. Keep in mind again, that this is the roster that finished in Montreal and does not include those currently on the payroll on Hamilton (Subban and Maxwell are exceptions)

6. Jaroslav Spacek: Spacek may not have put up the offensive numbers he had in his last two years in Buffalo, but he is one of the Canadiens’ best all around defenders. Spacek is one of those “won’t quit” defenders and well worth just under $4 million per year. Contract Status: signed through 2011-12

13. Michael Cammalleri: Before he even set foot in the Bell Centre, Mike Cammalleri was already cast as a leader on the Canadiens. A great benefit in the dressing room, he seldom turned back questions from the media.

Offensively, he quickly silenced any critics, that felt he relied on Jarome Iginla the previous season in Calgary, scoring 25 goals in just 65 regular season games. Cammalleri then added another 13 in the playoffs.

The only problem is he can’t be expected to carry the offense alone, so ironically the Canadiens proabably do need a solid discount power forward to compliment him. Contract status: Signed through 2013-14

14. Tomas Plekanec: Easily the Canadiens best two-way forward in the regular season, Plekanec had a career year with 70 points in 82 games. His playoff performance was deemed less than spectacular, going pointless in the Eastern Final, which could affect contract negotiations in the off season.

With the Canadiens on a tight cap margin, and both goalies RFA, the team may not be willing to shell out the higher-end dollars the pending UFA may be seeking.

15. Glen Metropolit: Not a bad deal at $1 million a season. Metropolit scored a career-high 16 goals in the regular season with 10 coming on the power play and was an effective faceoff man that brought some depth. Another UFA, he could be let go with the eager young guns waiting in Hamilton, or if they can re-sign the younger Dominic Moore first.

17. Georges Laraque: Well he’s still on the payroll.

20. Ryan 'O’Byrne: After a great training camp, O’Byrne found himself on the injured list, and later took some personal time that limited him to 55 regular season games.

He had some double-digit playing times in the playoffs, but surprisingly saw bare-minimal time in the Eastern Final, playing in just the final three games.

Injured? Perhaps, but expect O’Byrne to fight for a top-four spot come training camp. Contract Status: Signed through 2010-11 (RFA)

21. Brian Gionta: Is he the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens? If there was a player who brought his game every night, it was Brian Gionta.

HockeyBuzz’s Steve Hindle tweeted Monday that Gionta had played a combined 80 games for the Canadiens and scored 35 goals (61 points). That total put him ahead of the 60 points he had the season before in New Jersey.

Though small in size, he is pound-for-pound the best forward on the roster. Contract Status: Signed through 2013-14 at $5 million per.

22. Paul Mara: An affordable $1.675 million, but despite battling injuries had a –16 rating in the regular season. A UFA come July, he’s never reached the numbers he had in Phoenix pre and post-lockout, so chances are he’ll be cut loose.

26. Josh Gorges: Remind me who the Canadiens traded to get this guy again. What a steal the BC native has been. If any defenseman needs to be signed to a contract extension, it is Josh Gorges. The 25-year-old literally will take a bullet for his team, and he’s got the puck  mark on his helmet to prove it.

The team will certainly get their $1.3 million worth from him next season. With Andrei Markov out until November, and a UFA at the end of his contract next season, Montreal needs to solidify their future on defence with this young man. Contract Status: Becomes a RFA after 2010-11

31. Carey Price: Once touted “The Franchise” just a year ago, it now comes into question. Price lost the starting job to Jaroslav Halak and had just one start in the playoffs.

With both goalies becoming RFAs in July, and Price’s stock value slipping, the Canadiens would clearly not get full value at this point in a trade involving Price though many who see it coming.

Price’s advantage is that he is only 22 and seems to understand his roll more at this point, as opposed to Halak who is more vocal on wanting to play. If the team can sign both goalies, they could move Price pre-deadline if he shows improvement. Price cites he is a team player and could be willing to take a lower paycheck, over a short term, and play it out.

32. Travis Moen: Here’s another one of the gritty leaders on the team. Moen had his best second-best point total this season, was willing to fit any roll on the club. He even found himself on the top-two scoring lines. Can’t go wrong bringing size and heart at $1.5 million Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12 (UFA)

40. Maxim Lapierre: Another RFA that will easily find himself with a new extension at a reasonable price back in Montreal. Lapierre has established himself as the team pest and is just getting better and better. More on Lapierre can be found on this recent post.

41. Jaroslav Halak:You think player-agent Adam Walsh isn’t seeing dolar signs right now?

Halak was brilliant in the playoffs and cannot be blamed for the five-game exit in the Eastern Conference,despite his human bowling ball exhibition in Game Five.

As with his afore-mentioned counterpart, the Canadiens seem likely to try and sign both goaltenders. It will clearly fall on how much team Walsh asks for his client or if any comparable offer sheets fall their way.

If any goalie were to be traded over the summer, Halak’s trade value could be at it’s peak. But to the Canadiens risk a deal and put all their future clearly on Carey Price?

This will be the off-season story to follow.

42. Dominic Moore: The Canadiens didn’t do much at the trade deadline, but picking up Dominic Moore before the Olympic break was a genius move by Pierre Gauthier. Another give-all forward, Moore fit well into coach Jacques Martin’s system. He will be another UFA in July, but signing him for up to $2 million gives the Canadiens a solid third line player.

44. Roman Hamrlik: When most of the Canadiens defensive corps went down early in the season, Roman Hamrlik was called on to step up at the blueline. He did just that, but by the playoffs showed signs of fatigue. Does he have enough for another season, with Markov already expected out until November?

Hamrlik’s age and contract makes him virtually unmovable, so expect him to be called on in a leadership roll yet again for the young defencemen. Contract Status: Signed through 2010-11 (UFA)

46. Andrei Kostitsyn: Granted he’s only 24 and missed 23 games primarily due to injury, but Kostitsyn’s performance in the playoffs was far beneath expectations. With one year left in his contract and little brother already in the coach’s doghouse, it would interesting to see how he responds next season. Contract Status: Signed through 2010-11 (RFA)

47. Marc-Andre Bergeron He’s got a booming shot, after that…It became clear why no teams picked him up before the start of the season. With the Canadiens desperate for help on the blue line (remember Jay Leach?)and the power play, they were left with little choice.

With the team again stricken with injuries on the blueline, the torch was passed to Bergeron. What a disaster that was as there were countless times, in the playoffs,where MAB bobbled the puck or gave up the offensive zone. Good-bye and good riddance!

52. Mathieu Darche: Another UFA forward who helped fill the void, Mathieu Darche’s days in Montreal are again numbered. With a crop of players 8-10 years younger, and a playoff game that saw him log zero ice-time, it’s just a formality come July 1.

57. Benoit Pouliot: Picked up in the Guillaume Latendresse deal in November, Pouliot played a bit of “Whatever you can do, I can do.” with Latendresse on his return from a wrist injury. Eventually that wore off, and come playoff time, he registered just two assists with 22 shots. A pending RFA, Pouliot should be re-signed at close to the league minimum.

61. Ben Maxwell: The 22-year-old had a great 2008-09 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs. He was called up as an injury replacement this spring and barring injuries on the big club, Hamilton is where he will be again come next season. Contract Status: Signed through 2010-11 (RFA)

74. Sergei Kostitsyn: Started the season in Martin’s doghouse, and ended it there. An RFA, do you really think the Canadiens are going to make him an offer, or that any other team takes him off their hands? He’ll tear it up in the KHL, maybe.

75. Hall Gill: So we’ve all figured out why Bob Gainey signed him now, right? Criticisms of being a slow moving pylon quickly vanished when he anchored the Canadiens defense in the first two rounds of the playoffs. His ability to move opponents from the net and sacrifice his body for a shot inspired most of his fellow rearguards. And he only costs $2.25 million. Contract status: Signed through 2010-11 (becomes UFA)

76. P.K. Subban: Fans got a sneak peak at the charismatic blueliner in this years playoffs. He’s got a 99% chance to crack the starting lineup come 2010-11.

Subban has the speed, he has the shot and he’s proven he has the hockey sense. His biggest flaw is getting overcommitted on the rush, which winds up in odd-man rushes the other way. He’ll likely get ample time on the PP and will compliment Markov once he returns in November. Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12 (becomes RFA)

79. Andrei Markov: “What if Markov had been closer to the boards on the Matt Cooke hit?”  Answer is, playing in the rest of the playoffs. We all saw what happened when he was injured in the first game of the season. Markov is the puck mover and heart of the Canadiens defence. With him out until possibly November, the remaining rearguards will have to step up and stay healthy.

Next question will be how he performs  after two serious injuries in less than seven months. A UFA after next season, all eyes will be watching to see how he responds.

91. Scott Gomez: One has to imagine what kind of a season Scott Gomez could have had with a healthy Brian Gionta. His offensive numbers were close to his previous season in New York, but unless there’s a dramatic spike, fans will be screaming for blood.

Granted Gomez is a warrior on the ice and showed that in the playoffs, scoring 14 points

Problem for many fans is that it’s hard to accept someone, with a current $8 million salary, who negated two Canadiens power plays in two successive Eastern Final games. They all remember what happened on the resulting Flyers man advantage. Contract Status: Signed through 2013-14

94. Tom Pyatt: Considered a minor player in the Scott Gomez deal, Tom Pyatt took advantage of his season call-ups, totaling 40 games, and quickly showed that he could be an effective defensive forward. The 23-year-old pending RFA carried that work ethic into the playoffs and will easily be signed to an extension in the off-season.

Team Salary sources:

Game 5 Photo;Jim McIsaac (Getty Images)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

John LeClair: Not picking sides in the Eastern Conference Final


Former Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers forward John LeClair was in Toronto, over the weekend, for a rare autograph session at AJSportsworld.

Leading up to Game Four of the Eastern Conference Final between two of his former teams, I had a chance to sit backstage before public the signing to chat him up on his career and playing on and against his two teams.

“I don’t do many of these at all,” LeClair said as he finished up the back room signings. “I’m in town for this one and another project, then I fly home later today.”

LeClair’s most notable highlight with the Canadiens came during Games Three and Four of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, where he score the overtime winners in both games.

By the time the 1994-95 got underway, the Canadiens were struggling. Having played most of his career on the Canadiens second or third lines, the team even tried moving LeClair to centre in a desperate attempt to boost the offence.

With things still not working, Montreal traded LeClair and Eric Desjardins as part of a package to the Flyers for Mark Recchi on February 9, 1995.

“The team was struggling at the time, especially on offence,” LeClair said. “It was hard to leave the team, because I had some great friends and good memories there, but it turned out for the best.”

At the time, the Flyers had been five years removed from the playoffs and were looking for a defenceman. In giving up Recchi (93 goals over the last two years) in the deal, they needed some scoring to fill the void.

“We had to get an experienced NHL defenceman,” said then Flyers GM Bob Clarke at the time of the deal. “With the two forwards (LeClair and Gilbert Dionne) we hope that we can compensate for the goals that we gave up.”

Dionne never panned out and was out of the NHL by the end of the 1996-97 season.


LeClair’s career on the other hand took off. Put on the Flyers’ top line. a line with Eric Lindros and Mikael Renberg, he scored 14 points in his first seven games. He  also surpassed his previous career single-season goal total of 19 with 25 in just 37 games.

I asked LeClair if the pressure of Montreal affected his play. Surprisingly he didn’t think that made much of a difference, “I enjoyed playing in both cities, but it was a real good chemistry between us that worked in Philadelphia.

“We also played a more offensive oriented style than in Montreal and that helped.”

When it came to playing his former team, LeClair certainly tore up the score sheet.

In 34 games with the Flyers, he scored 28 goals and added 17 assists. He also had a plus-23 rating and the Flyers were 20-10-4 against Montreal with him in the lineup.

One thing LeClair never got to do was play his former team in the playoffs. “I had some good success against them,” he said in a modest tone. “Things never worked out for us to meet in the playoffs.”

Despite his great personal success with the Flyers, that saw him score three straight 50-goal seasons and ranked fifth all-time in Philly with 333, he never got to hoist another Cup.

That’s not to say the Flyers tanked in the playoffs, because they certainly didn’t. In his first season they reached the Conference Finals before bowing out to the, eventual Cup winners, New Jersey Devils.

Two years later they were swept in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Detroit Red Wings and would see two more Conference Finals (2000, 2004) where they took the eventual Cup champions to seven games.

“We had some chances, but we came up against some really good teams,” LeClair said. “Detroit had a great team and the (two) series against New Jersey were really tough.”


Now 40 (he’ll be 41 in July), LeClair hasn’t suited up in an NHL game since being released by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006. He still looks to be in great shape for a player nearly three years removed from the game.

“No one’s called me yet,” he laughed when I asked about him being “unofficially retired” and still classed as a UFA in the NHL. “I get out on the ice with my kids once in a while but that’s pretty much it.”

LeClair was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame last December. He is the first American-born player in the NHL to record three straight 50-goal seasons.

The question asked by myself and nearly everyone who was at the signing was who he felt was going to win this year’s Eastern Conference Final. LeClair was very diplomatic in his responses, not conceding to either team.

“It’s been a great playoff run and both teams have shown that they’re not going to give up. We saw that in the last game (Game Three),” he said. “This series will go six or seven.”

How good against Montreal was he?: John LeClair had four  games with three or more goals in his career against the Canadiens. His first came in his first game back against his former team, on Patrick Roy, in a 7-0 Flyers win.

Most difficult goalie to score on: Without looking at stats to back it, LeClair felt Dominik Hasek was the toughest goaltender to play against. “He was so unpredictable,” LeClair said. “You never knew what he was going to do.

Most aggravating opponent: Surprisingly LeClair never had many issues with opposing players getting into his face, that unenviable task fell to his longtime center. “Eric (Lindros) was almost always the target,” he said. “Their guys were always going after him. It made things a lot easier for me to do my thing.”

Friday, May 21, 2010

Habs Lapierre can be a real pain when he plays smart


The Montreal Canadiens Maxim Lapierre has been a genuine thorn in the side of the Philadelphia Flyers and other playoff opposition in 2010.

To me, Maxim Lapierre has always been the player on the Canadiens roster that has the potential to set the emotional tone of a game. He’s the pesky forward that can draw that advantageous penalty or just frustrate to the point the opponent loses focus on the game plan.

He doesn’t have the shooting skill of a Mike Cammalleri, or stick handling ability of a Brian Gionta, but he does bring the aspects of a solid third line player.

His exceptional speed, ability to deliver a hit and occasional scoring touch (15 goals in 2008-09) is often overlooked by his best talent, chirping the crap out of the opposition. In this year’s playoffs, he’s brought all of that to the table.

Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final against the Philadelphia Flyers was no exception. Granted he’ll never drop the gloves, to the frustration of many, but he can sure get under one’s skin when he needs to. But that’s just what a pest does, ask Dan Carcillo.


I first noticed Lapierre’s knack of annoyance while attending a Canadiens/Senators game in March of 2007. There was this rookie getting right in the face of Ray Emery. Still green, he spent the early part of the next season in Hamilton to work on his discipline. It paid off, and he’s been with the Canadiens ever since.

Lapierre’s  one flaw that often exposes him, is getting careless or taking it that one step beyond that usually draws a penalty against him at a bad time in the game.

Lapierre has clearly gained a bit of a reputation of a shit-disturber in his short NHL career. The referees know it, and they are watching him.

His infamous boarding hit on the Sharks’ Scott Nichol, and two arguable diving calls, in one playoff game against the Washington Capitals, are the most recent infractions of notoriety fuelled by his reputation.

Fortunately Lapierre is one of those learning players that can make adjustments to his style without sacrificing much. It’s evident with the fact he has stayed in the 60-80 PIM range in the last few seasons. The discipline is there, it’s just the timing that needs tweaking.

That aside, he has played some of the best defensive hockey of his career this season. If he can continue to curb his mental errors, and  compete and irritate at the level seen in recent weeks, the Canadiens could have a very solid third liner for years to come.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Canadiens/Flyers Game 3: Habs solve the Leighton puzzle


The Montreal Canadiens fired 38 shots at the Philadelphia Flyers goal, put bodies in front of the net and played a solid 60 minute game on Thursday night.

Backed by the loud Bell Centre crowd, the end result was a dominant 5-1 win in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final.

Montreal finally solved Flyers goalie Michael Leighton’s shutout streak, when Michael Cammalleri banked a rebound off the Flyers netminder’s backside at 7:05 of the first period.

Jaroslav Halak had his easiest night of the series thus far, with a 25-save effort, but came up big on several Flyers scoring chances when called upon.

The Canadiens took a two-goal lead when Chris Pronger coughed up the puck in his own zone. Dominic Moore’s ensuing shot hit the post and bounced off the foot of Tom Pyatt and into the goal at 16:52. The goal was reviewed to clarify whether Pyatt kicked it in.

The home team continued to mount pressure, throughout the second period, and finally found the back of the net again when Moore shot’s beat Leighton five-hole at 11:33.

Brian Gionta added his eighth of the playoffs at 2:00 of the third, slipping past the Flyers defense deking out Leighton to put the Canadiens up by four.

“I thought we played well from the start,” said Gionta. “Obviously we were executing much better than we did in Games 1 and 2.”

Simon Gagne finally got the Flyers on the board at 8:22, when his shot bounced off Canadiens defenceman Hal Gill, and the post before crossing the goal line.

Marc-Andre Bergeron added a fifth goal for the Canadiens, during a 5-on-3 power play, after things got rough between the two teams. A minute earlier, the referees handed out twenty minutes in penalties to the two teams.

"It was a good old-fashioned ass-kicking," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "They handed it to us right from the get-go.”

It had been clear the Flyers frustrations hand been building throughout the game and ultimately led to the team’s breakdown. The question will be whether coach Peter Laviolette can get his squad back to the disciplinary level they had in the first two games.

“We need to regroup tomorrow and understand that they’re a team that plays a lot different at home,” said Pronger. “They played a lot better and skated a lot harder. We need to be a lot better and understand what it’s going to take to be successful.”

The Canadiens Roman Hamrlik had two assists, with a plus-4 rating, earning the game’s First Star. “In the first two games we didn’t do things as a team,” he said. “We don’t have any superstars, so we have to play as 20 hard-working guys who compete every shift.”

The Flyers now hold a two games to one lead in the series. Game Three goes Saturday afternoon in the Bell Centre at 3pm.

Three Stars: 1. Roman Hamrlik 2. Dominic Moore 3. Tom Pyatt

Game Photo: Allen McInnis (Montreal Gazette)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Bob Sauve’s playoff double whitewash ended Habs Grundman era.


Michael Leighton, a journeyman goaltender that’s been passed around the NHL and AHL like a used copy of Led Zeppelin I, pulled off the near unthinkable. The Philadelphia Flyers goaltender has pulled off back-to-back shutouts earlier this week, in the Eastern Conference Final.

For the Montreal Canadiens, it’s only happened to them five times, during the playoffs, in their 100 year history.

The most recent was in April of 1983, during the best-of-five Adams Division semi-final, at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. The pair of whitewashes led to the end of an unpleasant era in Canadiens management.

During the regular season the Canadiens finished second in the NHL in goals with 350, while the Sabres had a respectable 6th place ranking in goals against.

The two teams had split their eight meetings with three wins apiece and two ties. The Sabres held the edge in goals with a 32-31 margin.

On paper it looked to be an evenly matched series. But as it goes in  the playoffs, nobody expected what happened at the Forum in the first two games, played on back-to-back nights.

Game 1 was a 24-save night for Sabres’ netminder Bob Sauve, who had been the team’s number one goalie that season.

The Canadiens tried an ineffective dump and chase style that allowed the Sabres defense to chase down the puck easily.

Conversely, Sabres coach Scotty Bowman was playing a conservative offense, not allowing for errors, which was evident by just three shots on goal halfway through the game.

The series would prove to be a “getting-back” measure for Bowman. It was the first time the two teams had met in the post-season since Bowman resigned as Canadiens coach a year after being looked over for the GM position vacated by Sam Pollock in 1978.

“We don’t go looking for chances against this team,” Bowman said. “We have worked very hard on the game in our end. You can’t take chances  trying to create opportunities against Montreal. You have to wait for them to come.'”

Bowman’s strategy and patience began to show. By the end of the second period, Montreal held a 20-10 shot advantage with the Sabres gaining momentum.

Brent Peterson scored the lone goal on the Canadiens Rick Walmsley, at 2:30 of the third period, and by game end, the Sabres had 26 shots and a 1-0 win.

In Game Two, the Sabres killed off penalties and aggressively checked the Canadiens, keeping them to just 22 shots on Sauve.

“They outhustled us, outworked us and outplayed us,” said Canadiens defenceman Larry Robinson.

The nail in the casket was a pair of second period goals just 36 seconds apart from Gilles Hamel and Mal Davis.

Forum fans and players alike were in shock to see their team leave the Forum with not a goal to show in two games. As one report put it, “The blanks on the Forum scoreboard were only matched by the looks on the Canadiens faces.”

“It’s a shame to be shutout twice in your own building,” said Canadiens coach Bob Berry. “But give credit to Buffalo. They checked us really well.”

“The most amazing thing is I have two shutouts in a row,” said Sauve. “I still can’t believe it.”

Making it more surprising was the fact the Sabres had not recorded a shutout win all season.Their only one came in a 0-0 tie against the Quebec Nordiques.

The series would end after a 4-2 Sabres win in Game Three, backed again by Sauve’s 30-save performance. Buffalo moved on to be on the losing end of a seven-game Adams Division final.

For Montreal, it was the third straight season being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. They had only advanced to the second round only once (1980) after four straight Stanley Cup victories.

In less than a week, changes would be made on the Canadiens organization. GM Irving Grundman, who’s appointment prompted Bowman to leave the Canadiens, would be fired by team president Ron Corey.

Berry was demoted to scout and Ron Caron, the team’ director of scouting was also let go. Howard Grundman, the Canadiens director of hockey administration resigned.

Two weeks later, Corey gave the Winnipeg Jets a third-round pick and $50,000 to have them release Serge Savard from his playing contract, and become the new Canadiens GM.

The other three times the Habs were shutout back-to-back:

1929 Games 1 & 2 Semi-Finals vs. Boston (Tiny Thompson –G)

1952 Games 3 & 4 Stanley Cup Finals vs Detroit (Terry Sawchuk –G)

1961 Games 5 & 6 Stanley Cup Semi-Finals vs Chicago (Glenn Hall –G)


Article resources

Ottawa Citizen – April 7, 1983

UPI – April 7, 1983

AP- April 14, 1983

UPI - April 28, 1983

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Canadiens/Flyers Game Two: Didn’t we see this Sunday?


Save for the Philadelphia Flyers being short three goals, Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final was essentially a carbon copy of Game One.

The Montreal Canadiens outshot they’re opponents Tuesday night 30-23, but couldn’t solve goaltender Michael Leighton in a 3-0 loss.

It was just the fifth time in Canadiens history that they have been shutout in back-to-back playoff games. The last time came in 1983.

As with Game One, the Canadiens got the first power play of the evening, but found it quickly negated by a Scott Gomez hooking call.

On the ensuing man advantage, the Flyers Daniel Briere cashed his ninth of the playoffs, backing up Hall Gill, then cutting right to beat Jaroslav Halak top-shelf.

Montreal gained a couple more power play chances in the period, but Leighton came up with some big saves, notably off the sticks of Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri.

But as good as the saves were, the Flyers defense gave their goalie a clean line of sight throughout the game to make them.

The Canadiens maintained strong possession throughout the period and held a 16-6 shot advantage, but were still down a goal after the first twenty minutes.

The next forty minutes were very lack-luster for either team.

The Canadiens just seemed unwilling to chase down a puck and create scoring opportunities. Any chances they had were straight into the Flyers defense and quickly turned back.

Simon Gagne scored the lone second period goal, again on the power play, when he snuck in from the side of the net to tap in a loose puck.

Frustration seemed to be the Canadiens motive in the third period, which forced more mental errors and aggravation. The end result of that was Ville Leino’s 3rd of playoffs at 10:24 on a weak shot out of the corner that seemed to mystify Halak.


“I thought that we competed good tonight,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “We played a much better game and our level of competition was better, but we still have to make some changes.”

Those changes could start with playing the more physical Ryan O’Byrne on the Canadiens blue line to thwart the Flyers from screening Halak.

Martin’s strategy to play doghoused Sergei Kostitsyn seemed counter productive. Kostitsyn logged just 4:56 of ice time and had no shots on goal.

Improvement is one thing, but when the primary result of scoring a goal is not yet accomplished, one has to question how “improved” they Canadiens played.

“I thought we did a lot better job, but he(Leighton) has stopped everything,” said Cammalleri. “When a goalie has back-to-back shutouts he’s doing something right.”

Special teams were another area of concern for the Canadiens. While the Flyers have four of their nine goals in the series with the man advantage, the Canadiens have been 0-for-4 in both contests.

“We did some good things, but they had two power play goals,” said Canadiens winger Brian Gionta. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances.”

The Flyers now hold a 2-0 series lead going to Montreal for Game Three on Thursday.

"We gotta find a way at home.” added Gomez. “We gotta find one and keep going at it, even if it’s an ugly one off someone’s ass.”

Leighton now has a shutout streak of 165:60 and also became the first to record back-to-back playoff shutouts for the Flyers since Bernie Parent.

“It’s not over yet,” said Leighton. “I’m happy the way things are going and I hope we keep winning. We’re looking forward to Game Three.”

1. Michael Leighton 2. Simon Gagne 3. Kimmo Timonen

Game photo: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

Monday, May 17, 2010

Flyers fans take one huge step back for fankind


Dan Carcillo’s sister-wife is scheduled to perform at Chez Paree during Games Three and Four while the Canadiens take on the Flyers

I have to admit something. I’m really disappointed in Philadelphia Flyers Fans. It seems like they’ve lost their edge.

I think the days of the “Broad Street Bullies” Flyers fans are long now gone. Where are the days when they taunted, or even fought, the opposing players? It just seems to have vanished.

While watching Game One if the Eastern Conference Final, I noticed very little energy from the Wacovia Center crowd for the full 60 minutes. Now granted, I’m only limited to what HNIC chooses to show.

When the Flyers scored they got excited, then sat down. When the period/game ended they got excited, then sat right back down. They even mimicked the Habs to no avail with their low volume Ole-Ole-Ole chant. Didn’t work.

Other than that, there wasn’t very much throughout the rest of the game. The Flyers schooled the Habs 6-0 and the home town faithful hardly let them have it, even when Halak got pulled. Instead they sat in their seats, in their Orange Crush t-shirts, for most of the game.

Maybe it was a bitter-sweet night for Flyers fans, seeing the Habs handed Philly their asses on a platter 34 years to the day with a four-game sweep in the ‘76 Cup Final.

Even Montreal can fill their home arena, while their team is on the road, and blow you guys away in terms of decibel level.

It’s as if Flyers fans have pulled a Sami Salo and lost a testicle. Have they become civilized, leaving the “rude,anthem-booing” Canadiens fans to fend for their own? Say it ain’t so!

Mind you they feebly attempted some redemption by slashing the tires and stealing the license plate of a Montreal journalist’s car. Wow, you really showed him!

But at least they proved their lack of intelligence is still intact by insulting the French-Canadian RDS TV crew, while wearing Flyers jerseys that had French-Canadian players’ names on them! Genius!

I think Flyers fans need to get their killer instinct back. It’s like someone needs to tell them how lame it is that they rely on a video of a long-dead Kate Smith singing “God Bless America” to get them riled up because their anthem singer can’t get through the whole song on her own.

By the way, Ms. Smith sang at the afore-mentioned May 16 game in 1976. Some good luck charm.

C’mon Flyers fans, show us what you’re made of.

Habs system needs a change of direction for Game Two


A failure by the Habs in the direction of their strategy, and they could find themselves at the end of their playoff rope.

Ok, so it’s only Game One. There’s no need to panic. Jaroslav Halak got chased out in Game One against the Pittsburgh Penguins too, don’t forget.

But to lose 6-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers with Michael Leighton in goal, was clearly the Montreal Canadiens worse game of the playoffs.

There were several costly mistakes across the board. Foolish penalties, bad defensive plays and sloppy point play, especially with the man advantage, were the biggest of them.

The most concerning issue though might be the style the Canadiens are trying to play against the Flyers.

An east-west/dump and chase style is not going to work against a Flyers defensive quartet led by Chris Pronger, plain and simple. It didn’t work in 2008 either without Pronger, you think it will work now?

The Philadelphia defense clogged up lanes. blocked shots and had an easy time fetching pucks out of their own zone. The Canadiens 11 giveaways and Flyers 12 takeaways reflects that.

In essence, the Canadiens made it too easy for the Flyers, and their goaltender who had no problems seeing the puck Sunday night.

The Canadiens attackers also have to be patient and not try to do it alone. Many a time, the Flyers forwards would wait, circle back inside the blueline and allow their teammates to attack the net. We basically saw a clinic on that.

A key example of how not to do it came on the sixth Flyers goal. P.K. Subban attempted a one-man rush and got shut down, leaving Maxim Lapierre to play defense and hung out to dry.

It was interesting too, on Coaches Corner, how they centered on Subban and how he’s been playing the same way since Bantam. You think Flyers scouts figured that out, or noticed it in the playoffs?

Philadelphia knows how to shut down a team’s offense if they come right at them, the Boston Bruins will tell you that. Leighton does have to come up with some big saves, but he’s not stealing games like Halak has in the first two rounds.

To be effective against the larger Flyers defense, the Canadiens have to play more north-south against the Flyers, playing them off the boards to open those scoring lanes. Do that and they wear the defense down and expose the weaker pairs.

If they don’t and continue with the Game One offensive strategy, this could be a quick series. You can expect Jacques Martin and Kirk Muller make the adjustments required on Tuesday.

The Canadiens other problem lies in the size department in their own end.

Of the four Flyers’ goals that beat him, how many clean shots did Halak actually see? Hal Gill and company were blocking their share of shots (20 in total) but they have to get the bodies out of Halak’s way. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ryan O’Byrne back in the lineup for Game Two to help nullify this problem.

Failure to get the Flyers behemoths out of their own crease will make it a shooting gallery for Danny Briere and the like, and a Sunday afternoon tee time at Le Club Laval Sur-le-lac for the Habs.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Canadiens vs. Flyers: A look back at the regular season.


The Montreal Canadiens will face off against the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Final starting Sunday night.

The Canadiens are coming off seven-game upsets of the top two teams in the east.

The Flyers meanwhile, pulled off the improbable. Down three games to none, to the Boston Bruins, and down by a 3-0 score, the Flyers rallied back to take the series with a 4-3 win Friday night.

During the regular season the two teams split their four-game series, with each team winning a game in the other’s barn.

Here’s a look back at the four games, with a video highlight compilation and notable Habs injuries. A link to the full boxscore and recaps from are also included.

Interesting to note who was in goal for the Flyers in their two wins.


December 7, 2009: Canadiens 3 Flyers 1

Carey Price made faced just 15 shots, and Brian Boucher saw 13, as both teams set club records for fewest combined shots in a game.

MIke Cammalleri scored the game winner for Montreal.

Notable Habs injuries: Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov

Boxscore and full recap.


February 12, 2010: Flyers 3 Canadiens 2

The Michael Leighton made 31 saves, and Jeff Carter scored two goals, to give the Flyers their first home win against the Canadiens since March of 2006.

Despite being down three goals after forty minutes, Montreal battled back with two quick goals but could not manage to tie it up.

P.K. Subban made his NHL debut with the Canadiens, earning an assist on a Glen Metropolit goal.

Notable Habs Injuries: Mike Cammalleri, Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn

Boxscore and recap


February 13, 2010: Flyers 6 Canadiens 2

The Flyers swept their home-in home series with Montreal prior to the Olympic break thanks to a three-goal night from Daniel Briere.

Jaroslav Halak allowed five goals on 17 shots through the first forty minutes, and was replaced by Carey Price.

It didn’t help that the Canadiens were playing their fifth game in eight days, and came out flat.

Leighton made 26 saves for the win in the Flyers goal.

Notable Habs Injuries: Cammalleri, Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn

Boxscore and recap

April 2, 1010: Canadiens 1 Flyers 0

Halak rebounds from his February flop and makes 35 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, with 14 of them coming in the third period.

Brian Boucher stopped 20 Canadiens shots in a tough loss.

Tomas Plekanec pots the lone goal of the game for Montreal.

Notable Habs injuries: none

Boxscore and recap

Flyers impact player to watch: Easily their anchor on the blueline Chris Pronger, who can pretty much do it all on defense. He averaged just over 25:30, in the four games against the Canadiens, with his lowest TOI in the four games came on February 13, where he saw 22:45.

Pronger played 31:42 on Friday night to lead a Flyers defensive corps of just four players.

Danny Briere and Claude Giroux have 15 and 11 points respectively so far in the playoffs.

In terms of clutch players, it has to be Simon Gagne who scored game-winning goals in games four and seven against Boston.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Let’s get “Feels like ‘93” in the Bell Centre


Annakin Slayd’s 2010 version of “Feels like ‘93” saw a huge spike upon it’s re-release just over a week ago. It now sits at over 58,000 hits on YouTube. Shortly after the Montreal Canadiens Game Seven victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was at 46,000!

Popular? Hell yes it is! It’s getting airplay across Montreal and as this is written, Annakin is going nationwide on CBC Radio.

So wouldn’t this be a great video to see on the Bell Centre Jumbotron during the pre-game of the Eastern Conference Finals?

That’s where the fans need to help out. Annakin has reached a dead end so far in getting the Canadiens organization to use his song/video.

Time for the fans voices to be heard in this online petition. There’s no registration required. You just leave your name, email and a comment if you choose.

Hopefully the Canadiens brass will listen to the fans. Besides, it’s his birthday today. Let’s give the guy a great gift and throw him some support.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Canadiens/Penguins Game 7: Habs oust the champs!


On thing is for certain now in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs, there will be a new Stanley Cup Champion.

The Pittsburgh Penguins were ousted after Wednesday’s 5-2 Game Seven loss to the Montreal Canadiens.

The defending champions opened the game with a rather weak first period, while the Canadiens played their best period of the playoffs.

Montreal got on the board first after the Penguins Sidney Crosby took a roughing call right at the start. On the ensuing power play, Brian Gionta tipped a PK Subban shot, that snuck past Marc-Andre Fleury at 0:32.

Dominic Moore put the Canadiens up by two when he ripped a shot past Fleury at 14:23.

The Penguins found themselves being booed off the ice, by their own fans, at the end of the period. Meanwhile the Canadiens had a packed Bell Centre cheering them on at home.

"We played well together," said Canadiens defenseman Hall Gill, who returned to the lineup after missing Game Six with a cut to his leg.

"We got guys to step up at the right time, and that's what you need. In the playoffs, it's not about your star players. It's about everyone."

The Canadiens momentum carried into the second period when Mike Cammalleri one timed his 12th goal of the playoffs at 3:32.

It continued to get worse for Pittsburgh. On a penalty kill, Travis Moen got the puck out of the Montreal zone, and chipped the puck past Sergei Gonchar to beat Fleury at 5:14.

Having allowed four goals on 13 shots, Fleury was pulled in favour of Brent Johnson.

The home team responded to the goaltending change when Chris Kunitz squeaked a rebound past Halak at 8:36.

It started to look like a game when Jordan Staal deflected an Alexei Ponikarovsky point shot past Halak, at 16:30, to get the Penguins within two.

Pittsburgh out shot Montreal 13-7 in the second period and carried a 4-on-3 power play into the third.

The Canadiens came up big on the penalty kill, thanks it part to a spectacular save by Halak, off the stick of Crosby, that was easily the game-saver.

The Montreal netminder was called upon again on a second Pittsburgh man advantage minutes later, and had 37 saves on the night. The Penguins also had 26 shots that were blocked and 17 that missed the net.

Gionta added his second of the night, on a Canadiens power play, batting a saucer pass from Cammalleri out of mid-air past Johnson at 10:00.

"It just means we get to keep playing," said Cammalleri. "We might be changing some minds. We've had that underlying confidence. It's been good so far, but we have to get better."

"They came hard, created some chances and capitalized on every one of them," a disappointed Crosby said. “They find ways and you gotta give them credit for that.”

Montreal fans spilled out of the Bell Centre and surrounding taverns and into the streets in a massive, but peaceful, celebration.

The Canadiens will return home to await the winner of the second Eastern Conference Semi-Final between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. That series goes to a seventh game on Friday.

Games Three Stars: 1. Jaroslav Halak 2. Brian Gionta 3. Michael Cammalleri

Notes: Mike Cammalleri becomes the first Canadiens player with a dozen goals in the playoffs since Guy Lafleur in 1975.

The series win comes as an early birthday present for the Canadiens’ Jaroslav Halak and P.K. Subban, who celebrate their 25th and 21st birthdays respectively on Thursday.

The game marks the final one at Pittsburgh’s Mellon Arena. The Canadiens bookend the arena’s history with wins at it’s opening in 1967 and on Wednesday night.

Game Photo: Dave Sanford (Getty Images)

An open letter to the Toronto Star’s Cathal Kelly

Dear Mr. Kelly,

Re: Your article “7 reasons Torontonians can’t root for the Habs tonight.”

Either you were attempting to be funny, or this is just further proof as to why print media on the verge of collapse.

At first I thought that the Toronto Star had a sharing deal with Bleacher Report.

I will be honest with you. Unlike yourself, I do not hold a degree in journalism from, based on what I read, the Devry Institute. I just write for my own enjoyment.

It’s clear that Toronto sports writing, notably hockey, has long since passed it’s glory days when Jim Proudfoot, Jim Hunt and George Gross graced the pages of the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun.

With the exception of Damien Cox, the Star’s hockey section is next to nothing of significance anymore.

So let’s look at this masterpiece. Your synopsis is that Leafs fans should not cheer for the Montreal Canadiens despite their playoff success. So you hate the Habs, that’s nothing new in most of the GTA.

If you don’t want to cheer for them, that’s your prerogative and I have no argument who you cheer for. Your reasoning on the other hand is where the problem lies.

So lets look at that.

The first issue is fairness. Well clearly you’ve never seen construction or bridgework disrupting Montreal traffic, so let’s call that a draw. I don’t think one night of “possible” rioting in Montreal can be compared to will more than likely happen in Toronto. My question is will the rioters be political or Jays season ticket holders jilted out of the Phillies series.

On to the next issue. This is where you fail to realize that there are actually huge numbers of Habs fans living in the GTA, present company included. They just stay out of site until the playoffs. I don’t understand why they do, but that’s just their way.

As for Leafs fans in Toronto, well I can’t understand why people living in a city, with such a winning tradition in the Canadiens,would even want to be one. Maybe they’re the ones at the “24-hour-disco” during the playoffs.

Now it’s on to P.K. Subban. Great player, eh? Did you know his dad lived in Montreal, when he came to Canada from Jamaica, and immediately fell in love with the Canadiens? He brought that heritage and taught it to his son. What a smart boy, and an even greater father!

Subban was picked in the second round of the 2007 Draft, so maybe the Leafs should have got him in the first round instead of… Oh wait, Toronto didn’t have a pick in the first two rounds of that draft.

By the way, the Leafs First Round pick in 2009, Nazim Kadri, and his family were also Habs fans. Maybe the Leafs should trade him where he belongs.

On the mortality comment, I just think it’s plain tasteless that that you compare the Habs/Leafs rivalry to that of a serious issue going on at the OSPCA. Shame on you!

As for Celine Dion. Yeah that would be sad, I’ll give you that. Then again that’s what the volume button or changing the channel is for. Works for me when HNIC airs a Leafs game or Joe Bowen’s voice graces the airwaves.

Moving on to unity. First off trust me when I say, drivers in Montreal are far better than those in Brampton! Personally I do like to see a Canadian franchise succeed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, or an underdog. This year the Canadiens are both of those elements.

I will admit that pre-lockout, when the Leafs had some chances, I had some hope for the blue and white. I do have feelings you know. Nobody should suffer a long painful life of suffering through 47 years without seeing their team win a Cup. Do you think I typed that with a straight face?

Which leaves us to one Sidney Crosby. He’s talented yes, he scored “The Golden Goal”, he’s won a Cup. Outside of that he’s one of the biggest whiners I’ve ever seen the NHL. Have you watched any of this series? Oh that’s right, your a Leafs fan. Why would you, right? Well if you had, you’d have seen that. If you want to cheer for

I wouldn’t be surprised to see the referees have enough of “Sid the Kid’s” tantrums. But if you want to cheer for Gary Bettman’s meal ticket, be my guest.

Judging by the comments on the article you wrote, it’s clear I’m not the only one who feels this way. Surprisingly, not all of them come from Habs fans either.

Perhaps it’s best that next time, you think it through before you write it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to write something on the Toronto FC/Montreal Impact rivalry. You know, something I know nothing about!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Calling on Habs fans and friends to lend a helping hand


Well Ya!The Habs Rule! is unofficially a year old (This site first popped up sans domain name last April) and over the months it’s grown in popularity and I’ve made some great friends and contacts over that span.

You will now notice that I am adding some pages across the upper navigation bar. These will gradually be filled over the coming months as time allows.

The one page that is up and running is the CHARITIES page. I’ve already added some links to some popular charities, amongst the Canadiens organization, along with some others that I am personally involved in.

As the world’s financial situation is in one of it’s most unstable moments in history, times can be tough for many to lend a helping hand. But if you can, donating to any of these events or organizations is greatly appreciated.

Don’t forget, you can always donate your time to some of these as well as other organizations. If you have another one to suggest, please send me an email.

I want to pass on another great organization that came to my attention today.

The MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Foundation is holding it’s third annual golf tournament on June 2 at Le Club Laval-sur-le-lac.

The Foundation’s goal is to continue to fund excellent rehabilitation services and programs offered at the MAB-Mackay Rehabilitation Centre that are not presently covered by Government grants. The Centre's programs and services enable and empower clients of all ages with vision and hearing impairments, and to children and youths with motor, communication, vision and hearing impairments.

CJAD’s “Voice of the Habs” Rick Moffat is this year’s Honourary Chairman. It could be a bitter-sweet moment for Rick as a continued Habs playoff run means he may not make it. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to miss it.

More information on the tournament, including  sponsorships and player registration,  or just how do donate or sponsor a kid for camp can be found here. You can also contact them by calling 514-488-0043 or via email: