Friday, October 27, 2006

RC's Siesta - Burnout or Boredom?

Seems to me I haven't posted in almost a week. Maybe more.

I'm not totally sure of all the reasons why, but it does have to do with a multitude of tasks demanded by increased activity involving the kids hockey team. Games in and out of town. Practices. The articles needing to be written that go along with it. Catching up on the website and keeping it up to date has also commanded a certain amount of what used to be my free time for myself.

Work has also changed somewhat - I am receiving my fair share of daytime shifts on a steady basis, as opposed to rotating weeks of opposite shifts. Hitting the sack soon as games are over for the sake of getting up at 4 a.m. have also robbed me of what used to be spare time.

And then there is burnout!

There surely has been lots to write about and comment on from other blogs. There hasn't been an absense of subject matter to be sure but rather an upswing in the number of interesting things I want to get into. While the Leafs and Sens fortunes have turned lately, the Habs roll along precariously. I just finished a great book on Alan Eagleson and would love to quote a dozen passages. Malkin's debut, Clarke's resignation, and Chicago's fall of luck are all tempting - but how does one keep up?

There is also boredom. With myself! The need to reinvent and rediscover writting passions. Finding the creative juices are just not up to snuff when I want them to be.

I haven't even found an interest in checking out any others blogs in the last while. I have checked my mail on occasion without being too inspired. For whatever reason, the replies just aren't there for now.

It all adds up to the need for a siesta.

How long I'll be away remains to be seen. I actually thought of just calling it a day. I still might.

In the event I do blogoff, my friends, it has been nice!

Take care,


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Charles Wang's Proof of Dementia (Looking for Bobby Orriental!)

Yes, we all know by now that Islanders owner Charles Wang isn't exactly astute when it comes down to hockey thinking. His latest brainwave is further proof of dementia. I must give him due credit, he does have wild ideas. He is definitely some kind of trailblazer.

Many are of the opinion that when it comes to Wang, the lights are on, but nobody's home. My slant is that the wheel is spinning, but the hamsters dead!

Wang's latest excursion into the realms of Star Trek mottoism has the renegade thinking owner going where no man has gone before looking for evidence of hockey. I can't even begin to put it into words, it's so far fetched. Slapping down this press release is by far the easiest of ways. It goes:

New York Islanders owner Charles Wang has a bold vision for hockey in the People's Republic of China. Wang, the Shanghai-born American citizen, has launched a massive plan, called Project Hope, to create a viable infrastructure in a nation with untapped hockey potential. The program also provides educational opportunities in the United States to young Chinese players and cultural exchanges between East and West.

Although there has been organized hockey in China dating back to at least 1945 and there are two Chinese entries in the four-year-old Asia Hockey League, the sport has yet to truly take off. There are only a few hundred registered hockey players in the country today, and the number of training programs has dropped from about 20 in the early 1980s to three today.

Even if only a tiny percentage of China's 1.3 billion people take up hockey, China could someday develop a deep talent pool. By way of comparison, there are 77,000 registered players today in Russia -- a staggering number, but less than one percent of the country's 142 million citizens.

Okay, I've had enough of this. If you are completely enthralled by this wacked out notion, the remainder of this Chinese acid trip is at this link.

God nows what inspired this leap of insanity. Did Wang see the Sumo face celebrating Evgeni Malkin's first NHL goal? Did he purchase Jim Paek's (Bobby Orriental) Rookie card?

Wang does have all the money to buy up any inner city's Chinatown and put up a franchise. I'll be looking for a want ad in the back pages of the Toronto Star that reads: "Chinese Backup Goalie Wanted For GM Position - knowledge of the entire untapped crop of future Tokyo sharpshooters and knowledge of the CBA an asset, candidate must be willing to surrender all integrity in exchange for a 15 year contract"

Hawks Nip Habs 2-1 (Or I Stand Accused of Being Deceived!)

The Canadiens finally succumbed to regulation time tonight, falling 2-1 to Chicago. The Black Hawks, primed by the additions of Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski, and a return to form by Nikolai Khabibulin, are off the one of their better starts in recent memory.

In all honesty, other than those three names, the Hawks didn't impress me much in this game. Neither did the Habs for that matter. It was obvious that they didn't have all that much in the tank, in this second of back to back games. Still, they outshot, outhit, and outchanced the Hawks. Trouble is, they forgot to outscore them.

Khabibulin robbed Higgins, again the Habs best player on the night, from a couple of sure goals. At the other end, David Aebischer was rather ordinary in letting both goals find his five hole with ease. Hopefully, this Swiss cheesing won't continue. He was particularly weak on the Smolinski goal, having already dropped to his knees when the shot skittered between his pads.

Mike Komisarek made a great play late in the game, showing lots of speed and agility in catching a Hawks forward who had slipped in behind him on a break. Just as the shot was to be taken, Komisarek smoothly lifted the stick and the puck slid to Aebischer. He is one of the more improved Habs this season and so far has begun to justify his high draft selection.

The habs continued to do well on the penalty kill, shutting down all 7 Chicago chances.

Not much more to say on the game itself other than that.

My rant for today is on that old nemesis, the back to back scheduling of games.

My question is simply this. If the NHL seriously wants to improve the quality of each contest, why don't they do away with games on consecutive nights. Hockey is such a physical game, that teams playing the second of two are always challenged for energy. I won't use this as an excuse for the Habs loss tonight - I did mention I felt they outplayed the Hawks! It is the reason behind dozens of snorefests still hampering the quality of games involving all 30 teams, hindering especially those on the coast. Montreal shifted time zones slightly for this game - not that much of a big deal. Imagine the West coast teams, already playing out of their usual zones and having to play back to back. Though one may argue that it evens itself out over a seasons course, that is hardly the point. The price of a ticket is still the same for the fan paying it, why should they suffer an inferior product. And that is exactly what game 2 usually turns out to be.

Now it is time to take myself to task somewhat. The subject - the Habs (and Leafs) great starts.

So far this season, much has been written about Montreal and Toronto's sprint from the gate. I stand accused to a point of hopping onto the excitement bandwagon some in heralding a slight Habs resurgeance. Their record after 6 games is 3-1-2, good for 8 points. They pointed in the first five games due to the extra shootout point gained by a pair of losses. Taken in context, they are merely 3-3. As for Toronto, by the same methods after tonight's loss to the Avalanche, are also at 8 points after 7 games. Their record is 3-2-2 or in pre lockout speak, 3-4, a game under .500, if you will. In this light, I must ask, what are we so excited about again?

In the crooked mirror that is today's NHL standings, are we perhaps fooling ourselves as to our teams prowess. Deceived may be a better term!

The awarding of that dubious point may be the illusion behind the so called parity. It has many hockey folk debating the merits of a 3 point system. The placing of the overtime and shootout losses in its separate column create the mindfuck that your team finishes the season 12 games above .500 and still misses the playoffs. Go figure!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Alice Cooper - A Master Showman

My second visit to the House of Alice!

It is was kind of crazy, bizarre night in Cornwall and an awesome show - way better than Ottawa '88.

The Coop was killer tonight and his band kicked ass high and mighty. Any show that plays itself over in your head hours later, is one you will always remember.

The show was played almost in two parts. Alice the rocker kicked out close to a dozen tunes before the theatrics were rolled out. He hit No More Mr. Nice Guy on the second number
and by the time the show was an hour old he'd nailed Be My Lover, Billion Dollar Babies, Dirty Diamonds, I'm Eighteen,Woman of Mass Distraction, Is It My Body, and You Drive Me Nervous, to name but a few.

During "Babies", he teased the front rows with a sword of shishkebobbed dollar bills, which slashed and swayed over the crowds heads as they flittered off the blade to awaiting hands. In "Diamonds", he flung pearl necklaces to all corners of the floor. The 58 year old Cooper never uttered the words "I'm Eighteen" once during the song of the same name, instead pointing the mic at the rows to have it shouted back at him. The shock master toyed with notion of an aging rocker all through the song while ironically perched and hanging from a walking crutch. Alice looked anything but his age all evening, stalking the stage like a possessed madman, parading with a leather whip in hand and fists in the air.

A the midway point, Alice's excellent band (which included sometimes KISS drummer Eric Singer) took a breather in the form of the acoustic I Never Cry. With both guitarists strumming from stairs at the foot of the drumkit, it was the closest the night came to a tender moment.

The production then changed gears as Alice walked to center stage shaking maracas to open the funky and devilish Go To Hell! This would begin a song set documenting the Alice character's descent into Hades and the stage props began rolling out. Midway through the number, a dancer (Alice's daughter Calico) began sashaying a black cape to the beat of the song while enveloping and wraping around him, as if some form of exotic Grim reaper seduction. While dry ice billowed from every area of the stage, and with the cape completely hiding him, Alice disappeared into hell via a stage trap door. A series of songs detailing the descent played out while Calico Cooper stole the show with character embodiments, wild dancing, slapstick comedy, mock violence and subliminal torture. One by one, Only Women Bleed, The Awakening, Steven, Feed My Frankenstein, and Ballad of Dwight Fry told the tale while Cooper was led from straightjacket to guillotine. During the climax scene, the mistress of revenge lifts Alices head and prances the stage displaying it for all to see while the band flexed its muscles around an instrumental version of The Black Widow.

The band left the stage as Singer pounded out an impressive solo before the band rejoined him for the grand finale. The last notes echoed off the arena's walls and were about to fall silent when a school bell rang. On cue, Alice returned from the stage to pronouce Schools Out to the delight of the crowd. Cooper's 1972 hit, remains his signature tune.

The group took the stage for a three song encore of Poison, Wish I Were Born In Beverly Hills, which featured a great mock sendup and thrashing of Paris Hilton (played by Calico), before finally ending with Under My Wheels.

In true Cooper tradition, he asked the gathered crowd "What's My Name?', and a loudest shout of the night came back "Alice!" Cooper quickly introduced the band while getting the crowd to pour it on heavy for his daughter. In sly misfit fashion, the forever showman had one last word before leaving.

"Happy Halloween, you sick things!"

Habs 5 Flames 4 - What A Game!

Tonight's Habs - Flames tilt had all the makings of an intense, high tempo playoff game.

Before I took off to catch the Cooper show, I got to watch most of the first period, leaving in a haste with no time to set the VCR. I just finished watching it on "Express", which is RDS's (French TSN) 60 minute wrap on the game, making the fast paced action even faster.

The game was wildly contested from start to finish. Unfortunately I missed the Regehr hit on Downey both times I watched it. I just caught it on highlights now, and it doesn't look as blatant as it had been described. Downey did have his head down when Regehr caught him square. If anything made it look worse than it was, it was the speed at which the Flames defenseman came at him, and Downey doing the dazed and confused tango on rubber legs afterwards. At worst, the officials could have assessed a charging call - but I'd be picking at straws to suggest anything more.

That hit, and Radek Bonk's shorthanded goal minutes before, set the tone for battle.

The officials handed out a total of 50 minutes of sin bin sittings and special teams ruled the game. The Habs were 3 for 7, while the Flames, hurting of late on the PP, went 2 for 8.

It has to be said that for all the calls made, as many were missed. They could have shopped them out like parking tickets and played 60 minutes 3 on 3.

Sheldon Souray and Radek Bonk each notched a pair to lead the Canadiens to the win. Both players, who have been much maligned in the past, are off to better starts this year. Bonk seems absolutely transformed under Carbonneau's coaching and pairs extremely well with Mike Johnson. Johnson is no Jan Bulis, he never takes a second off, and has clicked communicatively with Bonk from the get-go.

Both Souray's point blasts found the back of the net thanks to Chris Higgins giving Kipprusof an outstanding view of his ass. I noticed that Higgins doesn't seem to park himself there on a constant basis, he just scoots there with great speed whenever the puck heads to the point. Smartly, his move is hard to defend done this way, as it brings along the D and adds to the screen. I'll go out on an early limb and boldly predict Higgins is in the All-Star game this year. He's a treat in all facets of the game.

Despite the high score, neither Huet or Kiprusoff played that badly. The game winner by Kovalev practically ripped out Kipper's armpit as he got a piece of it. The Souray goals were never seen, the second bouncing off the Flames goalie before ricocheting back behind him.

The Flames line of Lombardi (2 goals), Kobasew, and Tanguay was the Flames best. They will gel it seems and only get better. The Flames record is terribly deceiving. They are a scrappy and talented bunch of workers who never quit. Flames fans shouldn't be all that worried about what looks like a so-so record at this point.

The Habs did a mildly decent job neutralizing the Iginla line. Iggy had some chances, especially when Huet stoned him on a clear cut break. He drew the best of the Habs coverage tonight, and the criticism directed his way is unfair, as far as I witnessed this evening.

This was the first game that I can say I was happy with the Habs overall effort. They'd better have left something in the tank for the high flying (can you believe the use of this adjective on this team?) Blackhawks.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Cross Canada Battle - Canadiens Vs Flames

A great matchup tonight at the Bell for all canadian hockey fans.

A team I learned to love two years back against my Habs - should be a dandy!

I enjoy watching the Flames play. I belive they have three future Hall Of Ffamers in their lineup - Iginla, Kipprusof, and Phaneuf. These guys will still be great players in ten years and this contributes to the big game atmosphere of this evening tilt.

I'll be watching the last two periods from the VCR because of Alice being in town.

An interesting stat I came across earlier today is that the Habs currently have the leagues best penalty killing unit while the Flames sit dead last on the PP. Trends don't usually hold much water with me,but it is an interesting setup for tonight. All that I've read on the Flames is that they are struggling. Things can turn around rather quickly in this game, as both Carolina and Nashville seem to be getting it together in the last few games.

Seems the Carbonneau coached Habs, who haven't lost in regulation yet, are well guided by the mass of penalty killing specialists in the organization and behind the bench. Hopefully, this one trend holds water.

I'll be pretty late posting on the outcome of tonights game. I'll be screaming "School's Out" like some cheese eating high school kid until 11!

Oh yeah, one more thing! About the girl in the Hab gear - she's hot and puts out like all good female Hab fans. Big time!

A Slice Of Alice Cooper

After I catch the 1st period of the Habs - Flames contest tonight, I'm off to see the legendary Alice Cooper, who is treating this off the map community to his brand of theatrics and rock. The city is quite buzzed over this - we usually get second tier acts the likes of Blue Rodeo and Colin James, so a major (even if his prime is long gone) act like this is quite a treat for many. I saw the Coop 20 years back in Ottawa and was awesome. I'll post a quick review tomorrow, after I wash all the blood and chicken guts off me.

Musical Plagiarism At It's Worst

If you think the Red Hot Chilli Pepper's "Dani California" did some some sly thievery at the hands of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers "Mary Jane's Last Dance", check this holdup by guitar and pen. The Offspring steal every nuance from "Ob La Di, Ob La Da" imaginable, right down to the between verse phrasings. Yes, the Beatles song kinda blows, but I've always enjoyed it for the barely audible Lennon mockeries in the background at the end of each McCartney verse.

Here's a short clip of the Beatles demo version.


Phaneuf Teaches Hamel To Fly

Kovalev and Samsonov better lookout tonight. Thank God Kovalev already has his pilots licence. You Tube has dozens of Phaneuf hightlights worth checking out.

A good friend of mine is employed by Bell Express View as a calling agent. On the last saturday prior to the season starting, he gets a call out of the blue from Phaneuf, who orders the UBC boxing match from PPV. My buddy said he checked out what Phaneuf had for programming, and it included 4 differents dish packages. Nice to have the bucks.

Too bad his call didn't come after this monster hit. George Ramone may have gotten fired for seeking out autographed memorabilia on the job.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Creepy Canada Cornwall Jail Death Scene

Last December, I was offered a chance to participate in the filming of a Creepy Canada episode filmed at our local jailhouse. The Cornwall Jail has a long reputation of being haunted and the location was chosen to re-enact stories from the past surrounding the myths of such hauntings.

My part, playing Father Rudolph Villeneuve, was quite small. I had one brief scene where a murder suspect kills himself at my feet rather than confess to me. The crew shot it three times from 3 slightly varying angles. They then filled a pair of closeups. The spoken dialogue between the murderer and the priest, we were told, would be narrated over.

It was a fun and intersting night. The actors, of which I hardly consider myself one, sat about for 6 hours while waiting for our scenes to be shot. I was fitted for a wardrobe after 4 hours wait and commuted back and forth from my wife's Christmas party that night.

For my talents, hold your laughter, I was paid the grand sum of fifty bucks flat - I made a little over $8.00 an hour. I haven't been paid that little in ages. We were supposed to receive a DVD copy of the show, which was called Episode 10, season 3. I never received it! Creepy Canada airs on OLN at various times during the week, with schedule changes every other month. I filmed this clip off my own VCR copy from the TV. It is my simple scene, my so called 15 minutes. I come in it at around the 22 second mark. Have a laugh!

Way To Go Mats!

Now, I'm no Leafs fan - no one will ever accuse me of that! I would be totally off base, however, if I did not aknowledge the achievement of Mats Sundin this evening.

I'll say he did it Jean Beliveau style!

Back in 1970, Beliveau was in his final season as a Montreal Canadien when he notched a hat trick in victory along the way to getting his 500th career goal.

Beliveau was a leader and captain of a Canadian team, as is Sundin, in perhaps a quieter manner (I'm being nice!) .

On Febuary 11th, 1970, Beliveau slipped three pucks by Minnesoata North Stars goaltender Gilles Gilbert to become only the 4th NHLer to achieve the 500 goal plateau. Before him were the legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard, Gordie "Mr. Hockey" Howe, and Bobby "The Golden Jet" Hull - elite company like no other.

I remember the night like it was yesterday, as it was one of my earliest hockey memories. My father's favorite player had been Beliveau, who I'd had the pleasure to watch for only a few years. I was all of 8 years of age he when he scored that goal.

My father, and Beliveau were both born on August 31, 1931. I met "Le Gros Bill" once, at an autograph signing in town. The words "class" and gentleman don't even begin to describe the man. It was a pleasant and unforgettable encounter. I wish Dad could have been there.

If Mats Sundin were to become one tenth of what Belveau means, to Leafs fans, it would be awesome.

The often maligned Leafs captain has never enjoyed a supporting cast the likes of the 50's and 60's Canadiens Beliveau had to enhance his reputation. Nonetheless Sundin has been a leader for the Leafs for a decade and often deserves a better fate.

Many has critcized him through the years. I have often questioned his desire, despite his surrounding team, in his quest to be the best he can be. I have maintained that he has Jagr like talent, minus the desire. As the Leafs were floundering late last season, and as they are challenged quite heavily to make the post season this year, I am now seeing the Sundin I always believed was there.

Some may question how I can lump someone who I claim has underacheived, with a 10 time Stanley Cup champion.

It has all to do with the manner in which he leads. Despite not getting his mits on hockey's Holy Grail, Sundin has been to battle for the Leafs, year in year out. While new Leafs coach Paul Maurice has stated that Sundin is not as quiet a leader as most assume, the swedish centerman has always been there for the Leafs cause.

Quite honestly, Sundin and Beliveau may wll be cut from a similar mold. It's called talking on the ice. Saying an abundance, in a simple word!

Should Toronto resign him? I think it would be a scar on the organization if they didn't. His play this season tells me he has lots left in the tank. He should retire a Leaf and be spared the treatment given another great Leaf, Doug Gilmour.

If some can't quite picture the Buds minus Tie Domi, imagine life without Mats. Who leads then?

Sign him now!

Ask Me Again, If I Like Shootouts? / Habs and Sens Tonight

Okay, the Sens did to the Habs tonight what the Habs did to Leafs last Saturday!

Point blank, I hate the fuckin' shootout.

It solves a hockey game like a whore cures a hardon! It's cheap, sleazy, and a giving in to easy thrills.While I may have pumped to that outcome in younger days, it hardly settles the score while giving two points to the better team. I realize being a fan of tie games leaves me in a minority. Mistake me not, I was never a fan of ties either, I just found it a better reconsilliation of a sporting result than an individualistic competition.

Would you settle the Super Bowl with field goals?

How about the World Series with a home run competition?

The masters with a round of mini putt, anyone?

Then tell me, die hard hockey purist, why does this fly?

This is the Miss America of hockey thinking. No brains - don't matter! Nice tits - you win!

Just like you, I get sucked into the excitement and endorfins of the moment! Like my analogy to tits - it's alluring! Gimme my pussy and beer and to hell with the ugly morning! The whole deal is pandering to the lowest commom denominator in all our senses and priorities.

Wipe that grin and whatever else off your face!

I have made my ideals on how to solve deadlocks very clear in the past. More conclusive ways of ending a game are within reach of the NHL. You like the 4 on 4 overtime? Play until a winner is decided. Hate back to back games where your favorite teams drags their asses icing the puck the entire third period to preserve a win? Abolish them completely and enable playoff style OT in the regular season. It beats the far fetched 3 point game scenario proposed by some hockey thinkers.

At worst, propose a ten minute OT, 4 on 4 style, and then live with the tie.

Last year, both the New York Rangers and Dallas Stars had inflated regular season point totals due to shoot out wins. They inevitebly collapsed, as they should have, in the playoffs first round. Do we want to repeat the scenario year in and out. It falsifies a teams standing, big time. It may even render an unworthy team playoff bound. Maybe your team - this season.

Imagine the shootout goes ten rounds deep on the seaons 82nd game, and Wade Belak or some non playoff team's 7th defenseman knocks your team from the post season. It's bound to happen!

Right now, we are paying the slut whore, to buddy up to our love ones and tell all! Enjoying the shootout is akin to letting your load fly on your cheap pickups face, only to land as a J-peg in your wife's e-mail on payday! Can I the make the danger more clear!
It sucks and swallows bukkake style!

Okay, I'll lighten up now!

As for the Habs loss to Ottawa tonight by shootout, I am within my usual 24 hours analysis period, where I get to watch the game over on video, with a pause button as my best friend.

Home openers are bastards to analize. Tonight, without benefit of a second viewing, I found neither team worthy over the other, of victory either way. Ottawa tightened up their play on a night where the Habs obviously sought to entertain with some fancy play. Samsonov's tying goal will be a highlight reel feature for sure. Coming back for the Habs, twice in the game, merits a good word or two - especially the Habs PK duo of Higgins and Koivu stripping the usually defensively incompetant Spezza at his own blue line for their first goal. Ray Emery looked like a #1 goalie to me, while Cristobal Huet, solid most of the night, was weak on the Sens second tally.

A funny scrum broke out between the Habs Aaron Downy and the Sens Chris Neil at the end of the first. It was long, slow, and the refs let both endure a handful of cranium bruising knucklers before the participants tired each other out.

Radek Bonk is a helluva penalty killer. If he scored 10 this year, he's almost worth his millions!

An even game in many regards despite the shootout declaring a winner!

Seven more matchups between these two? Bring 'em on. We'll win five of 'em!

Habs Leafs and Sens Overview

I have been asked by a local weekly to come up with something based on my hometowns sharing of affection, split three ways between the Maple Leafs, Senators and Canadiens.

Not trying to show my sometimes obvious Habs hand, I came up with this as an intro article. Do I get the job? Have I maintained journalistic restraint? Balancing fact with opinion is always tricky business. From your perspective, how did I do? Here's the piece, written without thought to tonight's S.O. loss to the Sens, which I will soon tackled, barring a sobriety challenged Saturday night!

Hockey's Best Three Way Rivalry

Ask any three hockey fans in Cornwall who their prefered NHL team is and you are likely to field three different responses. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens have a longstanding tradition of supporters in town whereas the Ottawa Senators have sewn roots here in the last decade as they have come close to being Stanley Cup contenders. A bevy of former local players have lined up for both the Habs and Leafs. Doug Gilmour, Mathieu Schneider, Dan Daoust, and more recently, Chad Kilger have all enjoyed time with both teams.

All three NHL clubs are currently being viewed under distinctly different miscroscopes as the leagues last collective bargaining agreement has tended to level the playing fields somewhat. Ottawa, who has been a perenial but failed contender of late, is trying to mold a gritty post season squad while dealing with important losses to the teams overall makeup from the last season. The Maple Leafs, after missing the playoffs for the first time in six years, have quickly retooled and spent large, hoping the scenario does not repeat. The Canadiens are on a slow upward curve, patiently improving the team by pieces, while young talent grows into prime time roles.

Should the three make the post season and meet in different rounds it would surely ignite local passions and transform itself into an even more intense rivalry. It could very likely happen this season.

While many experts (myself included) called on the Leafs to once again miss the spring classic, it appears that the Buds may surprise the predictors. Buyoed by a fresh coaching system courtesy a new bench boss Paul Maurice, the Leafs have played desperate hockey from the get go so far, highlighted by a 6-0 thrashing of the Senators in just their second game that sent the Ottawa club into a short tailspin. Free agent goaltender Andrew Raycroft, without being spectacular, has gotten the job done in goal. Veterans Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, and Tomas Kaberle have been the leaders they were expected to be while a crop of youngsters fill in the depth chart and an injury depleted defensive corps. Kilger is off to his best ever start. I have always maintained that if Chad were given regular linemates and an assured role on a team he would prosper as he did in his first half season with the Canadiens.

Maurice has an intense, puck pursuit coaching style that ought to bring out the best in the Leafs more marginal talents. Gone, is the country club atmosphere players enjoyed under former boss Pat Quinn. The Maple Leafs now become a lunch bucket crew whose work ethic will be their calling card. Expect ups and downs as the year progresses. What the Leafs will have to weary of, due to thinning talent on D and the lack of third and fourth line depth, are injuries and overuse of star players. If they can reap contributions from the supporting cast and remain clear of the infirmary, the Leafs will eak their way into the playoffs in the seasons final weeks.

The Senators, as is becoming custom, may fall victim to their own high expectations. Having lost a fair chunk of talent to the demands of the salary cap, the Sens have been forced to retool at discount prices. After losing defensive pilar Zdeno Chara, offensive star Martin Havlat, and a useful role player in Bryan Smolinsky, the Sens are counting on improved play by their core players to get them over the hump. Having passed on the Dominik Hasek experiment, Ottawa are throwing their goaltending hopes at Martin Gerber, who has so far looked more like the goalie who failed against the Habs in last seasons playoffs more than the stopper who led the Carolina Hurricanes to a first place finish in the Southeast division last season. Projected backup Ray Emery may find himself once again thrown into the starting role as Sens net savior. The Sens off season aquisitions have so far failed to breed confidence among the veterans. Alexei Kaigorodov has squeaked his way onto the team on reputation alone while his play has disappointed. Defensemen Joe Corvo (injured) and Tom Preissing will be hard pressed to fill Chara's size 16's, while forward Dean McAmmond is a speedy and versatile addition upfront.

A major stumbling block in the Sens progression, is a shift in attitude regarding team defensive play. As a team with an obvious offensive thrust, the Sens challenge revolves around their play away from the puck. Against tighter checking teams, the Sens simply get picked apart due to a perceived lack of intensity in close games. Coach Bryan Murray does not appear to have the resume, the wherewithall, or the experience in lifting teams over this hurdle. The Sens markee line of Spezza - Heatley - Alfredsson will tear apart teams of a lower order, but when the top line is spread out for depth concerns, it exposes the Sens more glaring weaknesses. Coach Murray will be swimming with sharks, his moves questionned daily, if the team continues to hover near the .500 mark come December.

In Montreal, off season tinkering and a coaching change have many fans expecting a higher finish than last seasons 7th placing. The Canadiens should be up to the challange as the teams youngsters are gaining experience. After a good opening week it is becoming appparent new coach Guy Carbonneau is having a profound effect on the team. Carbonneau was always seen as an ideal coach one day, as far far back as when he was winning three Selke Trophies in his playing days. He will be given more leaway in the Montreal press, always an issue in La Belle Province, compared to his predecessors, as was GM Bob Gainey. The Canadiens will ride two solid goaltenders in Cristobal Huet and David Aebischer, until one emerges as a starter. The Habs have a rising star and future leader in left winger Chris Higgins, and the upside on younsters Tomas Plekanec, Alexander Perezhogin and Mike Komisarek is beginning to pay dividends.

During the offseason, Montreal added wingers Sergei Samsonov (Boston) and Mike Johnson (Phoenix) to the mix, and so far the results have been interesting. Samsonov adds another second line threat to go with the enigmatic Alex Kovalev, and if the skilled line manages to control the play more often than it turns the puck over, they will be remaining intact longer than most suspect. Johnson has so far teamed up well on the third trio with Perezhogin and center Radek Bonk, a formerly overrated first line pivot in Ottawa who now becomes an underrated thirid line checking center in Montreal. The addition of Bonk last season came under much criticism, as he played injured through the teams first 50 games. So far this season, the Habs penalty killing unit has doused all but one of their opponants first 30 powerplay chances, and much of the credit for this is due to Bonk and his positioning play similar to a Carbonneau game. Should the veterans continue to lead and the youth grow on schedule, the upper rankings of the Eastern conferance may not be out of reach for the Canadiens.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Boss Live in Montreal - January 23, 1981 (This is Freaky!)

At this show, seat were sold behind the stage as there was no backdrop. Springsteen did not ignore the cheap seats and strode behind Mighty Max's drumkit all night. During "Tenth Avenue Freezout", the third song, he went back there for the first time. My friend and I brought along a cheesy little Kodak camera to take some really bad pics. It was the first time I'd ever attempted to sneak a camera in not knowing that a good picture cannot be taken from 20 rows up behind the stage. At the 1:05 mark in the video you'll see a flash - that was me! Too bad we can't enlarge these things. I'll try to add some pics from the show in a later blog.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Who'll Stop The Rain - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - January 23,1981

This was my first Springsteen show (of 17,so far). Five songs into a 34 song set, he pulls out this CCR classic and drives it home with a classic ending. My friend at the show turned to me and "I never thought any band could be this good!" The show had a great effect on my life. A month earlier John Lennon had been shot and killed in NYC and I felt my innocence had been zapped from me along with my spirit. This concert brought my soul back to life, big time.

A lot of people don't get, or refuse to understand Springsteen. There's not much flash to the man, he's pretty straightforward. He writes for the underclass with reality and vision. His music is almost religious in nature. Odds are there is a character in a Bruce song who would remind you of yourself. He has dabbled in all kinds of music and has never made the same record twice or made the record that fans expected of him.

Live, he simply rules. In his younger days, as in this video, it wasn't unlike him to pull off 4 hours shows. I hope you enjoy this, because I will be adding more from this night when I find them.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Great Blogsite Backgrounds

Hey Zan! Try this one!

This would make a great backdrop to your site as it contains every Stanley Cup won by the Leafs and Canucks combined since 1967. Good luck with it!

One thing before you post it, sign your spell check into Al-Annon - I think it's hooked!

Habs Win and I'm Still Cranky, Loose Leafs, and the Kilger Family Tree

Hey! Ho! Let's Go!

Big woop, the Habs beat the Leafs 3-2 in SO.

I hate the shootout! My feeling on it, is kinda like this - if a dog were licking your balls, and you had your eyes closed, you might enjoy it. In short, the cheap thrill is still wrong!

I will always much prefer it if they would eliminate games on back to back nights, book team flights out of town in the A.M., and let them play until it's won fair and square - simple as that!

I don't find the Habs played the better of two games tonight, although they may have made less mistakes. Aebischer in goal was solid and Raycroft at the other end wasn't too bad either. I was again impressed by Kyle Wellwood on the Leafs side. If only the leafs had more prospects of this calibre, the future would look brighter.

My beef with the Leafs will always be that their goals are so short term. Spend all they can, get in the playoffs, make it look like there's a plan. The sad thing is, it works in the sense of fooling Leaf fans into thinking something positive is at the end. The message is never about rebuilding, stockpiling draft picks, creating competition on the team, or grooming players.

I was disgusted to see Justin Pogge in some faggot ass clothing ads last week. Hey, you wanna be a male model, fine, by all means. But you're a hockey player, concentrate on the job at hand first. Check out Jose Theodore and see where off ice distractions will get you.

Nobody in the Maple Leafs organization has the wherewithall to advise the youngster of what is expected of him as far as goals and behavior. The sound of Pogge bragging about easy money and all he was going to spend it on would worry a competant GM. Thank goodness the Leafs don't have one!

About the games, it is still so early on that cementing long term opinions on anything seems fruitless. Teams looking good one night, look confused the next. Players have multi-point nights and then have quiet disappearances. Maybe that's the nature of back to back games and a crowded schedule, who knows?

Tonight, Micheal Ryder had the good sense to shoot, rather than deke in the shootout. Hell, if Chris Higgins can rifle one by Raycroft, why not. Kovalev rang another off the crossbar on a quick as lightening backhander. The goalposts were good to the Habs as well.

Lastly, my biggest irritant when the Habs meet the Leafs, are the sight of Darcy Tucker and Chad Kilger. Not because I hate them, I just hate them in that jersey.

Tucker was originally a Habs draft pick steal, taken 151st overall in 1993, by good GM Serge Savard. Sideshow Bob, was following in the worthy bootprints of superpest Claude Lemieux, a player Montreal never quite replaced. He went on to win his second and third Memorial Cups with Kamloops before getting the AHL rookie award with the Fredricton Baby Habs. Making the big club the following year, he had a decent rookie season and looked to be on his way to a good career. In 97-98, the Habs got all attitude on him, as he some pine and never stopped bitching about it. Hey when a player wants to play that badly, it's a good thing isn't it. The Canadiens tried to keep the boy down by giving him Kibbles and Bits icetime, and after the kid unsurprisingly gets all of one goal in 39 games, Habs GM at the time, Rejean Houle lengthened his string of consecutive trade catastrophies by shipping Tucker, another decent prospect and 1st round pick David Wilkie, and the second non-coming of Stephane Richer to T Bay for all of Patrick Poulin, Mick Vukota, and Igor Uglyanov. Ask me again, why am I pissed still?

As for Kilger, I found him a very valuable and versatile Hab in the three years spent in Montreal. When he was first aquired from Edmonton his play made him into a media darling. He had lots going for him. He had a decent shot, killed penalties, went to the net intelligently, hit like meanass bastard, and spoke french to boot - which made him a handy billingual interview, win or lose. At the time, the Habs were setting an NHL record for man games lost to injury (over 500 that year - cue Hodge comment!), and Kilger worked his way to the top line and primo ice time very quickly. He set career highs for himself in a half season. In the following years, his ice time dwindled as players returned from injuries and he succumbed to a few himself. In his final Hab year, he was waivered twice when the Leafs snapped him up wisely. I been griiting my teeth ever since.

Chad is a Cornwall boy, and the first local kid to suit up for the blue, blanc, rouge since Newsy Lalonde. He was a polite and well liked kid about town as he starred for the Cornwall Colts before going off to Kingston, where he had a great year. He was drafted into the NHL, 3rd overall by Anaheim, only to become an NHL journeyman. I always thought the kid had all the tools, and is a long time coming late bloomer. Everybody's interest in his career peaked when he landed in Habland, and he's just as popular around town as a Leaf. He does all kinds of charity work in the summer, including bringing some big names to town for his annual golf tournament.

His father, whom I cannot stand, is also of some reknown in these parts. Bob Kilger was a half assed NHL referee in his younger days until problems with his eyesight cut his career short. Rather than become a scout for the Leafs (No, I'm not joking!) he took on the task of coaching the Cornwall Royals in 1981. The Royals were so loaded in the day (Hawerchuk, Gilmour, Marc Crawford) that Kilger rightly proved any idiot could lead them all the way to a second straight national championship. His bench time was short and a decade later he emerged all polished and high as a local politician. He spent close to a decade as our local federal MPP and was in fact Speaker of the House of Commons his last six years. Bystander Bob, as I call him was finally and thankfully ousted two elections ago prior to the big Liberal purge of last year. Kilger was a Liberal. I have voted Liberal all my life - except for when Mr. Bystander ran - I'd vote PC.

Bob Kilger is currently running for Mayor of Cornwall. The big election issue this time around, is where we will be placing our planned 4 pad arena. Yikes!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blogger Vs Blogger - Season Predictions (A non-update, really!)

With the 2006-07 season all of three nights old, I thought it high time to shove my nose out into the corner boards and bring up the predictions I made weeks ago at the urging of a few overzealous bloggers. As every team has now played a game or two, and I haven't looked at my predictions since posting them (I will not update or change them, as some people did!), we'll take another look at them to see if I want to swallow my words any where yet.

For a refernce point, I will tie in the offseason players transactions blog I posted round about the same time. Note that it has not been updated since a month ago, as very little roster changes have been made since then.

Below is quick recap of how I saw each division ending up. Teams in brackets are missing the playoffs. To link to the details why I've made these choices, click here.

Northeast - Mon, Buf, Ott, (Tor, Bos)
Atlantic - NJ, NYR, Phi, (Pit, NYI)
Southeast - Car, TB, (Atl, Was, Flo)
Central - Det, (Nas, St.L, Chi, Clb)
Pacific - SJ, Ana, LA, Pho, (Dal)
Northwest - Cal, Edm, Min, (Van, Col)

Rankings by conference went like this. The added italics are how I feel about certain predictions at the moment.


Carolina - May be more Cup hangover than I first thought!
Montreal - I'm not buckling on this one, not yet anyway!
New Jersey - I'm impressed enough by Lamouriello's moves to beleive they are again a contender.
Buffalo - Can you admire and hate a team all at once?
Ottawa - A Jekyl and Hyde year all the way! Major weakness is behind the bench.
New York Rangers - If they put in a better month of March, they may get scary!
Tampa Bay - Jury is out on this pick. Depth is in question.
Philadelphia - I might have rated them too high. They've gotten slow and it will be up to the kids, Forsbergs health and answering the eternal net question.
Toronto - Will be a tough opponant some nights, but tired and thin on too many others.
Boston - Much improved but not enough. Core is strong but D is thin.
Atlanta - Four number three centers and six annonymous defenseman.
Pittsburgh - Will be a surprise due to Crosby's growth. A year away from the post season still.
New York Islanders - Should have a noose for a logo!
Washington - A competitive team defensively with only one line that can score.
Florida - Maybe not this low on second thought, but still not playoff bound. I'll re-evaluate at the 20 game mark!


San Jose - Still my pick for the Cup!
Calgary - If Tanguay can adequately center Iginla, the sky is the limit.
Detroit - 1st place due to playing in the weakest division still. No illusions, but still solid lineup.
Anaheim - Will battle it out with SJ right down to mid May.
Edmonton - The D took a hit, but they remain young and fast.
Phoenix - Unrecognizable from last year. A dozen positive changes.
Minnesota - Vastly improved and well coached. Additions of Demitra and Johnsson makes lineup come to life.
Los Angeles - Just a hunch here - I could be way off! Lots of freshness and youth combined with a coach who hates to lose.
Dallas - A mystery! Dubious additions detrimental to team chemistry. Could sink or swim.
Vancouver - All rides on Luongo. A strong start will change everything.
Colorado - Theodore and rookies hold the cards.
Nashville - Lost half of lineup over the summer and D is harmless.
St.Louis - Rebuilding with seniors makes for nice window dressing.
Chicago - Has promise and may be a big surprise, but maybe we've seen this all before.
Columbus - Could go all the way to eighth or drop like an anvil. Some good additions, but always in turmoil.

Here are my predictions for the top 10 scorers and where I see the individual awards going.
TOP 10 Scorers
1- Thornton
2 - Jagr
3 - Crosby*
4 - Ovechkin
5 - Cheechoo
6 - Marleau
7 - Iginla*
8 - Richards
9 - Alfredsson
10 - Spezza

AWARDS ( 1-2-3- finish)
Hart Trophy - Thornton/Huet*/Neidermayer
Art Ross - Thornton/ Jagr/ Crosby
Calder - Malkin/ Wolski/O'Sullivan*
Norris - Phaneuf*Neidermayer/ Pronger
Vezina - Brodeur/ Huet*/ Kiprusoff
Byng - Kariya/Sakic/ Whofuckincares
Selke - Iginla*/Richards/Madden
Smythe - Thornton*/ Cheechoo*/Marleau*
Jennings - Kiprusoff/Brodeur/ Huet*
Adams - Laviolette/ Carbonneau*/Wilson

The asterisks are my "out on a limb/has he f*ch*ng lost it" picks!

Just being a total shitster here, but I must take a swipe at Zandstrom at WFS for updating his predictions. In the course of five weeks, he's been all over the place. Check it out. I predict he'll be dead on by the 81st game!

The changes made are in brackets. Notice how the Habs and Devils have switched spots! Can't tell if he liked Ribeiro or Lamouriello more! He's also backing off some on his bold Florida pick. Don't worry, after his Panthers kicked the Bruins butts, he'll have them winning their division for a week. But where does that leave the Teddy Bears, Zan? At least he hasn't he hasn't bailed and upgraded the Canucks yet. It's okay man, I'm expecting any day now! Giver!

Buffalo (NYR)
Montreal (NJD)
Florida (Buf)
NY Rangers (Fla)
New Jersey (MTL)
Tampa Bay
Atlanta (Tor)
Toronto (NYI)
NY Islanders (Atl)
Anaheim (Cal)
Calgary (Ana)
San Jose
Vancouver (Min)
Minnesota (Van)
Los Angeles
Phoenix (CBJ)
St. Louis
Columbus (Pho)

Tapeleg at JAHL has been bullied into making some Western Conference predictions. What happened to the East where all the good hockey is played? Should we wait?

Finally, the Hab hating Raking Leaves site did their thing on the eve of the season. Check out their predictions here. If me and Zan were smarter (and less bored in mid summer) we'd have waited it out longer. Credit to Ninja for sticking with his original picks - as wrong as they will be!

All told, we can't do worse than Sports Illustrated or THN!

Game #1 October 6, 2006 Buffalo 5 Montreal 4 (SO)

I'd call tonight's 5-4 SO loss entertaining and enraging all at once.

While I have long admired the Sabres tenecity, I've hated them for having the nasty habit of uprooting whst looks like a sure Habs win with devious third period comebacks. This one was almost a carbon copy of a late season game from last year, when the Habs needed a point to qualify for the playoffs near the final weekend, and the Sabres came from behind by three to zap them. This contest had it's fair share of strange moments and great plays nonetheless. Regardless, any game this early in the season is no reason to panic, get excited, slit your wrists or buy season tickets.

Opening night home games have the usual pre-game ceremonies that drag on and stutter the home team slowly out of gate and this one was no exception. With Buffalo already having one game under their belt, they didn't exactly come out pumped.

Unfortunately, and I hate like mad to bring it up, the officiating was it's usual NHL brutal. When you could make a hightlight reel of questionable calls, it's never a good sign. Yeah, I miss the days when the refs just let the teams play the game. Nowadays, a refs arm goes up and no one in the building has much of a clue as to what is being called half of the time. By the middle of the third period, the fans in Buffalo were ready to lynch some zebra's they were so frustrated. Add in that the Buffalo powerplay is somewhere near 0 for 14, and it makes for rising temperatures at HSBC.

What had the home crowd boiling was three calls against the Sabres in a 74 second span, with the first call (goalie interference on Novotny) and the third (hooking on Drury) being marginal calls at best. Novotny had cut to the net from a sharp angle after beating Souray to the outside, and skated through the crease and bumped Huet naer the head as he tried to sneak one past. Drury never seemed to touch Samsonov, who tumbled over himself like he had caught a rut near the boards. Koivu's second of the game on the ensuing 5 on 3 made it 4-2 Habs.

Earlier in the game, the Canadiens were called for too many men, while not even in the process of a line change. Coincidently, Buffalo had the puck and appeared to throw a player over the boards right before the call was made. The most enfuriating moment of the game occurred with about 6 minutesd to play when the ref blew a play dead in the Buffalo zone. It appeared a call was being made on Daniel Briere, who had clearly hooked Radek Bonk. A close-up replay revealed that Briere had actually speared Bonk with the blade of his stick in the stomach. While a referee skated to the penalty box with the door open on the Sabres side, Briere began vehemently arguing and the door was closed. An official then skated across the ice and a door to the dressing room corridor was opened and it was assumed Briere was getting five and a game. Meanwhile the Sabres captain was still jawing away with the officials and Souray present listening in for the Canadiens. Finally, and strangely enough, both doors were then closed, no call was made, and Briere remained on the ice to the total confusion of all Habs present. If no call was being made, why then was the whistle blown with the Sabres in possesion of the puck?

Off the ensuing faceoff, Briere found himself on a breakaway and beat Huet to make it 4-3. If that's not a turning point, I don't know what is!

The Sabres then had the Habs playing on their heels for the final five minutes of the game. It's always a bad sign when you can see a defensemans numbers - your blueliners should be facing the opposition and not their own goal! When things were souring last year for the Habs in late November, I recall this scene playing over and over like a bad movie. It was always 44 and 52 with their asses pointed the wrong way! They were the culprits again on this one.

Some notes about the game:

No worries about Saku Koivu's eye injury. The Habs captain was the best player on the ice tonight.

The Sabres outshot Montreal 37 to 27, with a good half of the shots from the perimeter.

Huet stood on his head, as he did last season. He was questionable only on the Briere goal, but it was a helluva shot. On two goals, the D failed to clear. The second goal was a deflection and hardly his fault.

Three of the four Habs goals came on passes from side to side that beat Miller on the blocker side. He couldn't be blamed for any of them and he also played a strong game.

The trio of Koivu-Ryder-Higgins had a 8 point night. Higgins actually seems faster than last season and I predict a great year for him.

The Kovalev-Plekanec-Samsonov line also had it's share of dazzling moments. When those guys cycle the puck, defenders will be getting dizzy. To think they are no even in sync yet!

Newcomer Janne Niinimaa lived up to everything that is being said about him - good and bad. He took in some PP and PK time and played alongside veteran Mathieu Dandenault. He is useful with his reach and made some good poke checks early on but disappeared to the bench for the latter half of the second after a couple of brain dead clearing attempts. When is Boullion coming back? No later than November I hope.

Rookie Guillaume Latendresse (that's GHEE- OME-LATT-UNDRESS for you non-frogs out there) played about 8 minutes on the 4th line and did well. He had a couple of good scoring chances while throwing his weight around some.

Habs D Mike Komisarek threw the games best hit on Sabres tough guy Andrew Peters.

Sabres F Paul Gaustad impressed me alot tonight. His crash and bang style gives Buffalo a 4th line that can alter a games outcome with some gritty and inspired play.

New Habs coach Guy Carbonneau did well in his first game. The Habs controlled most of the play during the games first 50 minutes thanks in part to Carbonneau rolling 4 lines all night and forcing Lindy Ruff to match. The Sabres prefer to roll 3 with extra time for the Briere trio. Carbonneau got the matchup he wanted with Bonk on Briere all night and keeping the Koivu line away from the Sabres top line. It paid good dividends.

In the shootout, Kovalev wrung one of the cross bar before Vanek sealed the win with the Sabres second shootout goal.

Question: Why does Michael Ryder, whose bread and butter is a wicked wrister, go for the backhand deke on the SO when Miller offers him a gaping five hole? I don't know either!

All in all, a decent start for the Habs against my pick for tops in the Northeast. A point gained on the road is never a bad thing. It's never anything to brag about when it should have been two.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The life of Brian "Spinner" Spencer has been termed turbulent, fast and tragic. The movie "Gross Misconduct", released in 1993, detailed a classic downward spiral of an average NHLer, who bounced back and forth from the minors to the pros. It documents his troubled upbringing, his rise to the NHL, his bouts with incredile circumstances, and finally, his desperation to make sense of his life after hockey.

If you have never seen it, I highly recommend digging it up. It is essential for any hockey fan to see. I'd go so far as to call it "life altering" in it's perspective. It is the flipside of "Slapshot" - a composite of every dream come true, harshly balaced by the worst of life's grimmer realities.

After viewing it myself years ago, I must say that I never looked at an NHL career the same way again. From a Canadian boy's standpoint, the story of "Gross Misconduct" is simply chilling and stark.

Growing up poor in the British Colombia backwoods, Spencer dreamed as every Canadian boy dreams, of beating life's doldrums by making it to the big leagues. Oddly enough, the first NHL game Spencer witnessed, was his own debut in 1970 with Toronto. His energetic gung-ho style was appreciated by his junior teams and coaches. The "Spinner" nickname, was derived from a spinning top. If ever you'd seen him play, Spencer simply pinballed from board to board bouncing off anyone in an opposing uniform. He was a treat to watch.

Brian received an invitation to the Maple Leafs training camp in 1969 but didn't make the final cut. He did impress enough to be assigned to the farm team in Tulsa where he played most of the season. He got his first recall to the Maple Leafs on December 9, 1969 but didn't play. He had to wait until March 14, 1970 before he making his debut.The following season season Brian was a regular in Toronto for most part of the season.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck Brian, that would haunt him for the rest of his career and his life.

Brian told his parents that he would be a second period guest during Hockey Night In Canada's telecast of the Leafs game against Chicago on December 12, 1970. Brian's parents were extremely proud to have a son in the NHL, especially his father Roy, who had recently purchased his first black and white television for the occasion.

When Brian's father discovered that the CBC affiliate near the family's Fort St.James home was carrying the Canucks - Golden Seals game instead of the national telecasts, he became enraged. He furiously drove two hours to Prince George Television station CKPG and held employees hostage with his pistol and forced them to cut the transmission power. Soon after, the RCMP arrived and a shootout followed. Roy Spencer was shot and killed at the age of 57.

The death of his father in this manner scarred Brian. It marked his off ice disposition and composure as well as hindering his relationships with friends as well as marriage. It was his father's dream to have his son playing hockey in the NHL. After Roy's death, much of Brian's motivation and spirit were sapped as his energetic free will spilled over into uncontrollable anger and unfullfillable needs.

Brian split the next season between Toronto and Tulsa and was left unprotected in the 1972 expansion draft. Picked by NY Islanders, where he spent the next 18 months, he began to toil as a fringe player, used mainly for his aggressive tactics moreso than his hockey skill. He was traded to Buffalo in 1974 where he peaked offensively for 41 points, including 12 goals. He became a fan favorite in the Sabres uniform and seemed to prosper while enjoying his own renaissance of sorts. His hustle and ability to deliver a crunching hit were rounding him out into a complete player.

After three years on the Island, Brian was traded to Pittsburgh where his offensive production dropped off and he became specialized as a checking forward. His NHL career trickled awat from his as he appeared in only 7 games with the Penguins in the 1977-78 season before hanging on in the AHL with Binghamton, Springfield and Hershey. He retired after the 1979-80 season.

The story about Spinner Spencer should have ended there, but unfortunately his life after hockey became a mess
Upon annoucing to his wife that he was hanging it up, she immediately left him to dry. As the movie details, she was excruciatingly forthright in letting Spencer know the reasons for the split - goodbye to the money and glamour of being married to a big leaguer.

Looking to piece his life back together, Brian moved to West Palm Beach, Florida right after he retired. He fell in with the wrong kind crowd in Florida, involving with drugs and crime to make ends meets and numb his troubles. He moved in with a prostitute who worked for an escort service. Brian was never happy with this and after a falling out she accused Brian of committing a 1982 murder against a Palm Beach Gardens restaurateur, in a drug deal gone bad.

Brian was arrested for a first degree murder in January 1987 but was acquitted after a 10-month trial. The experience left Spencer reeling in self doubt and pity. He stooped low in attempts for street survival with little to no income. As everyone knew him as a former NHL player, he picked up quick cash by forging Bobby Orr's signature onto hockey memorabilia.

Former Leaf team mate Jim McKenny later said, " He thought he was the only bad person in hockey, he felt he was the only person who failed. But I told him there were 200 other guys who messed up worse than he thought he had. I told him he shouldn't feel guilty. It's really tough to re-establish yourself after hockey. He was all alone. He was surprised people still cared about him. He thought he was the scum of the earth.

In June of 1988, Brian and his friend Gregory Scott Cook cruised around Riviera Beach in search of cocaine. After the purchase they stopped their car a couple of blocks later to consume the drug when a stranger approached the vehicle`s side window in a holdup attempt. Brian surrendered the last three dollars he had when the assailant fired a bullet into the 38 year old fomer NHLer`s heart.Cook, who had escaped uninjured, rushed Brian to paramedics. They sped Spencer to St. Mary's hospital in West Palm Beach where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Spinner's hectic life came to an abrupt end just as many believed he was turning his life around. The curly haired Spencer was survived by his twin brother Byron, mother Irene, his two ex-wives, Linda and Janet plus his five children, Andrea, Nicole, Kristin, Jason and Jarret.Hockey fans will always remember that curly hair and wide smile on his face when he hustled down the ice to nail somebody to the boards.

Be sure to hit the links I`ve referenced for a more detailed look at his life and times. It`s worth more than a glance.

Both the movie and book on Spencer`s life are best found for purchase online at bargain prices. Do yourself a favor and pick it up. You can thank me later!

Stuff Always Goes Down When I'm Out Of Town

Holy crap!

Gainey has pawned off low intensity forward Mike Ribeiro to the to the Lone Star State for defenseman Janne Niinimaa. My spellcheck is confused beyond repair but I'm delighted.

This isn't the first time I return from out of town fun to discover the Habs have made some moves.

Last year, Poke Check and I were in Brampton for a tourney when Gainey axed the coach and slid behind the bench to breathe some life into the skidding Habs.I watched the press conference from a silent TV wondering WTF? I was on my honeymoon in August of 1992 when they aquired Vincent Damphousse, throwing a split second hiccup into a toast to my wife's beautiful eyes, lips, and curves. I was somewhere in the Laurentian mountains of beautiful Quebec in the early 1980's when Guy Lafleur dropped the bomb of his retirement. By time I was home, my Yamaha 250 XL had more dents in it than Tie Domi's face. I wasn't happy!

You'd think I'd be used to this. With deals like this one tonight, I could!

Hey, I liked Ribeiro, but I was well aware of his faults as well as his potential. With the right team, and I don't see it being the deep at center Dallas Stars, Ribeiro is a point a game guy. Hell, he had a 100 assist season in his final year of junior. The guy has undeniable talent burried beneath his chicken shit squirming corner play, his weasel like backstepping, and his cockiness before having achieved anything meaningful attitude.

He often looked like he was on the verge of better days, but how long can you wait.

Habs GM Bob Gainey stated that he felt he pulled the trigger on the deal from a position of strength (center) to fill a need where depth was a concern (defense). Obviously he was not wrong! Sophomore center Tomas Plekanec stepped into Ribeiro's slot as second line center between Sergei Samsonov and Alexei Kovalev and ignited the line to a 7 point night in a come from behind win over the Senators.

It's hard not to like that result. Especially when you have Pleks in your hockey pool as a longshot!

Niinimaa immediatly steps into the Habs D's top 4 in games played. When you figure in that the Habs already had 7 defenseman with primo NHl experience, it sure does look good on them.

My reference point would be last years Sabres squad who were thinned out on D nearing the last two games of their quarter final against Carolina. Gainey made a point to underline the fact that D men of any depth evaluation are harder to come by than centers of Ribeiro's like.

On another note, I was thrilled beyond a defribulator boost that 19 year old homegrown prospect Guillaume Latendresse has made the team. Few have cracked the Habs lineup at that young age. If my Molson drenched memory has the proper recoil, I can count only Petr Svoboda ( hated him! ), Mario Tremblay ( in 1974 ) and a ten game stint for Ribeiro, as the only underage Habs to accomplish such a feat. The 6' 2", 230 lb Gui can score and hit. All he needs to succeed is icetime. The good news is Habs rookie bench boss Guy Carbonneau has faith in him. I'm a Habby camper on that! ( Last time I use that worn out pun - gimme a break, the keyboard is blurry as hell! )

As for Poke Check's trip to Oshawa - it was a lot of good minus an unhappy ending.

Our Typhoons are coming together as a team sooner than anyone expected. The tourney was an 8 team affair with us never having faced any of these opponants. The 8 teams were split into 2 pools of 4 and we had 3 games in our round robin to qualify as a top 2 seed in our pool. After we lost our first game by a goal, we won the next one. It was a huge boost - our first win of the year. In our third game, we needed a win or a tie to move on to the semi finals. We were trailing by two after 2 periods but we rallied to get the tie - on a shorthanded goal no less, with two minutes to go in the game. The Durham Lightning, who we were fighting against, needed a win to move on, and yanked their goalie right after we scored. The Typhoons held them off and went on to the next round. A bigtime achievement so early in the year for us.

We earned the right to get maced by a Kingston powerhouse who really ought to be ranked as a "AA" team rather than the lower level "BB" in which we participate. These things happen - I could rant, but hey, what's the point?

Ours kids overachieved, gelled as a unit, and got better in so many aspects. They left the ice smilling nonetheless!

That's always the bottom line with kids!