Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The First Stanley Cup Champions - the 1893 Montreal AAA

The Montreal AAA were awarded the first Stanley Cup even thought the Montreal Hockey Club, which had recently become affiliated with the AAA, formed the basis of the team. The MHC, in fact, first refused the awarding of the Cup unless it was the acknowledged winner, but the players were later placated by gifts, most notably rings (engraved MHC), recognizing their achievement. The Montreal AAA's motta was "Jungor Ut Implear" - "I am joined in the club in order that I may compete." today, the Peel St. club has a thriving membership of 2,400 and is one of the more popular centers for exercise and entertainment in the city.

The AAA were awarded the Cup based on a first place finish of an 8 game schedule. Their record was 7-1 and they competed with the Ottawa Generals (6-2), the Montreal Crystals (3-5), the Quebec Hockey Club (2-5-1) and the Montreal Victorias (1-6-1) of the AHA.

The final game was played Febuary 18, at the Victoria Skating Rink in Ottawa.

Once the AAA had been declared the official holders of the Stanley Cup, under the rules laid out by Lord Stanley, any Canadian hockey team could challenge for the trophy, but no team dared.

Consequently, the silver bowl donated for hockey supremacy remained in Montreal. Members of the team were: Tom Paton, James Stewart, Allan Cameron, haviland Routh, Archie Hodgson, Billy Barlow, Alex Kingan, George Low, and Alex Irving.

Paton led all goalie with a 2.30 GAA, allowing but 18 goals in 8 games. By day, Paton was a manufacturer's agent and by night he was active in the MAAA. He was credited with introducing quoits (a sport resembling horseshoes) to the club.

Stewart played point, similar to modern defense. He scored no goals in 7 games.

Cover point Allan Cameron was a tea and butter merchant for the makers of "Lieblings liquid extract and tonic invigorator."

Haviland Routh led the league in goals with 12 in just 7 games. Hodgson had eight goals in six games.

Hodgson had eight goals in six games.

Billy Barlow was outstanding in the AAA's late season victory over Ottawa to secure first place and the Cup.

Alex Kingam was a book keeper, a seldom used sub at forward.

George Low, a bank teller, and Alex Irving, also a book keeper, were substitute forwards for the club.

Here is an article from the May 16, 1893 Montreal Gazette:

The annual meeting of the Montreal Amateur Athletic association took place last night. It was and encouraging sign of the times to see how enthusiastic were all those who attended, and how thoroughly they approved of the work done by the directors in the past year. A preliminary board meeting was held at 8 o'clock, and an hour later the big room gradually filled. Then Mr. W. L. Maltby led a handsome looking elderly gentleman to the platform, accompanied by a mahogany box. The gentleman proved to be Sheriff Sweetland, of Ottawa and the box contained the Governor-General's hockey trophy. President J. A. Taylor took the chair, and on the platform were Messrs. W. L. Maltby, Ed. Sheppard, J. G. Ross, F. C. A. McIndoe and W. S. Weldon.

The opening business was the introduction of Mr. Sweetland to the meeting as the representative of the Earl of Derby.

Mr. Sweetland said it gave him the greatest pleasure to meet the members of the M.A.A.A. for the first time. He quite understood the courtesy of the president in suspending the regular order of business, and he did not want to trespass on their time. He would simply remark that His Excellency took great interest in hockey and had frequently made known his intention of giving a trophy. The only conditions attached to the cup would be submitted officially at the annual meeting of the Hockey association, and it was expected that the conditions would be agreeable to all clubs concerned. The last season, however, the Governor-General thought that the Montreal was justly entitled to the championship trophy. For many years the athletes of Montreal and Ottawa had had the pleasure of meeting each other. And the Ottawa people were always satisfied that they had always received fair play.

Hockey game at the Victoria Skating Rink in Montreal in 1893. Teams not known.

Of course Mr. Sweetland would much sooner see the cup in Ottawa, but after the Capital he preferred to see Montreal hold it. The only thing he was not certain about was how the Montreal people managed to win all the decisive games. He then presented the cup formally to Mr. Taylor, as president of the association. Mr. Taylor then accepted the cup in a brief but very appropriate speech. After a couple more congratulatory speeches the audience wanted to know if there was anything the matter with Mr. Sweetland, and finding out to their own satisfaction that there was not, the regular business of the meeting was proceeded with.

When the minutes had been adopted the report of the secretary was read. It was a little long, but most satisfactory. The treasurer's statement, which has already been published in the GAZETTE, was also confirmed.

Then came the presentation of souvenir rings to the members of the Montreal Hockey team, who have held the championship for seven years in succession. The lucky names on the list were: Messrs. Lowe, Barlow, Routh, Paton, Stewart, Hodgson, Cameron, Kingan and Irvine.

Rating The Trade Deadline Deals

Here's a breakdown of the deadline deals from today and my take on each. Most of the 25 trades made were frivolous in nature. Other than the "why even bother" variety, I estimate that possibly only 5 of these deals might impact a Cup champion. Half of the 44 names included are unknown quantities. Several of the draft choices traded are so far back in the rounds they will be inconsequential, with an odd exception. First round picks are the prized wild cards of these deals. In roughly 100 days, many of the GM's who pulled off these deals will likely wonder why they got caught in the frenzy.

Anaheim Ducks acquired LW Brad May from Colorado Avalanche in exchange for G Michael Wall.

May is a decent checking winger, Wall brings depth in goal for a team who badly needs it.

Atlanta Thrashers claimed F Jason Krog off waivers from the New York Rangers.

Krog can light it up at the AHL level, it cost the Thrashers nothing to bring him back.

Buffalo Sabres traded G Martin Biron to Philadelphia Flyers for 2nd rd 2007 draft pick.

Biron could have fetched a better return earlier. Why the Sabres even bothered with this one baffles me. Was it cost related? A Cup contender now has no backup goaltending. A brain scratcher for sure!

Buffalo Sabres acquired G Ty Conklin from Columbus Blue Jackets for 5th rd 2007 draft pick.

Conklin is a rattled cage - dumb move!

Buffalo Sabres acquired F Dainius Zubrus and D Timo Helbling from Washington Captials in exchange for F Jiri Novotny and first-round 2007 draft pick.

Zubrus will fit in nicely with the Sabres style up front. Novotny had some upside for the Caps.

Buffalo Sabres acquired D Mikko Lehtonen from Nashville Predators in exchange for 4th rd 2007 draft pick.

A depth defenseman for the Sabres fearing a repeat of last seasons injuries pilaging their D.

Calgary Flames acquired D David Hale and 5th rd 2007 draft pick from New Jersey Devils in exchange for 3rd rd 2007 draft pick.

Good depth pick up for the Flames.

Colorado Avalanche acquired RW Scott Parker from San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 6th rd 2008 draft pick.

Parker should put the Avs over the top...Oh nevermind! A pointless deal.

Columbus Blue Jackets claimed G Brian Boucher off waivers from Chicago Blackhawks.

Perfectly replaces the uselessness of Conklin.

Detroit Red Wings acquired RW Todd Bertuzzi from Florida Panthers in exchange for C Shawn Matthias and two conditional draft picks.

A chemistry killer. The thought of this thug hoisting a mug in this sacred jersey makes me want to retch. For one post season anyway, I'll be cheering against the Wings for this one.

Edmonton Oilers traded F Ryan Smyth to New York Islanders for prospects Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra and a first-round 2007 draft pick.

The biggest deal of the day! While the hallucinogenic Isles will be dreaming of a fifth Stanley with this one, Kevin Lowe has fleeced Garth Snow big time.

Los Angeles Kings traded D Mattias Norstrom, F Konstatin Pushkarev and 3rd and 4th picks in 2007 toDallas Stars in exchange for D Jaroslav Modry, the rights to D Johan Fransson, 2nd and 3rd rd 2007 draft picks and 1st rd 2008 draft pick.

Norstrom makes the Stars a contender of sorts. All the bit pieces of this deal are dust in the wind other than the Kings getting a first round pick.

New York Rangers trade D Aaron Ward to Boston Bruins in exchange for D Paul Mara.

A slight upgrade for the Bruins, Mara moves closer to the journeyman tag without much resume

Montreal Canadiens claimed G Michael Leighton off waivers from Philadelphia Flyers.

Leighton could be the next "Red Light Racicot!" A pickup for the Hamilton Bulldogs only.

Nashville Predators acquire C Dominic Moore from Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for 3rd rd 2007 draft pick.

Moore, as a Ranger, was a Habs killer. Too bad the teams won't meet for another three years.

Ottawa Senators acquired F Oleg Saprykin and a second-round 2007 draft pick from Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for 2nd rd 2008 draft pick.

With the Sens farm system virtually depleted, why deal a 2nd rd pick for a 4th round has-been?

Philadelphia Flyers claimed F Denis Hamel off waivers from Atlanta.

The Thrashers will never replace Hamel!

Pittsburgh Penguins acquired F Gary Roberts from Florida Panthers for D Noah Welch.

Roberts is used down to the bones. He'll be long gone once the Penguins win a Cup. Welch will become a top 4 D-man one day. An odd move at the price.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquired F Georges Laraque from Phoenix in exchange for F Daniel Carcillo and 3rd rd 2007 draft pick.

Sidney's new bodyguard isn't as eager to drop them as he once was. Has 2 years remaining on current deal. A smart move with little risk.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquired D Joel Kwiatkowski from Florida Panthers in exchange for 4th rd 2007 draft pick.

Helps the Penguins depth at the position.

Pittsburgh Penguins acquired G Nolan Schaefer from San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 7th rd 2007 draft pick.

Insurance for Wilkes-Barre.Phoenix Coyotes claimed F Niko Kapanen off waivers from Atlanta Thrashers.

Replenishes losses from recent trades, nothing else.

San Jose Sharks acquired F Bill Guerin from St. Louis Blues for 1st rd 2007 draft pick, LW Ville Nieminen and F Jay Barriball.

A big move! Combined with the aquisition of Rivet days earlier, Guerin adds veteran presence to the Sharks hopes. Might be one of the deals that actually turns into something.

Tampa Bay Lightning acquired RW Jason Ward from Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 5th rd 2007 draft pick.

Ward is better than average PK man, a Lightening liability.

Tampa Bay Lightening acquired RW Karl Stewart from Chicago in exchange for RW Nikita Alexeev and 6th rd 2008 draft pick.

More promise on the the Chicago side of this one.

Tampa bay Lightening acquired D Joe Rullier from Anaheim in exchange for D Doug O'Brien.

Unknown quanity for unknown quantity. Somebody knows who these guys are!

Toronto Maple Leafs acquired C Yanic Perreault and 5th rd 2007 draft pick from Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for D Brendan Bell and 2nd rd 2007 draft pick.

A smart move by GM Ferguson should the Leafs make the playoffs. Bell is easily surrendered and replacable.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Habs Send Rivet To Sharks For Josh Gorges And First Rounder In 2007

Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey announced today the acquisition of defenseman Josh Gorges and the San Jose Sharks first round pick in 2007, in return for defenseman Craig Rivet and a 5th round pick in 2008.

Gorges, 22, is currently playing in his second season in the National Hockey League. This season with the Sharks, he played in 47 games, registered four points (1 goal, 3 assists) and 26 penalty minutes. He averages 17:47 minutes of ice time per game. In 96 career regular season games, the 6’1’’, 195-pound defenseman registered 10 points (1 goal, 9 assists) and 57 penalty minutes.

In his rookie season in 2005-06, he played in all 11 playoff games with the Sharks and collected one assist.Gorges, a native of Kelowna, British Columbia, joined the Sharks as a free agent on September 20, 2002. In his first season as a professional with Cleveland in the AHL in 2004-05, he was named the Barons’ Rookie of the Year.

Gorges played his junior hockey in Kelowna in the WHL, from 2000 to 2004. He totaled 152 career points in 245 regular season games with the Rocket (33 goals, 119 assists). As team captain, he led Kelowna to the Memorial Cup Championship in 2004, receiving the George Parsons Trophy (Tournament Most Sportsmanlike Player). He helped Team Canada capture the silver medal at the 2004 World Junior Championship. He was also named to WHL All-Star Teams twice (2004 and 2003).

Rivet is currently playing in his 12th season in the NHL. He was the active player with the most games played in the Canadiens uniform with 692, including 653 regular season games (27th rank in team history). In regular season, the North Bay native registered 151 points (39 goals, 112 assists) and 795 penalty minutes (16th rank in team history).

Josh Gorges was born August 14, 1984 in Kelowna, British Columbia. A free-agent signing of the San Jose Sharks in the summer of 2002, Gorges is a graduate of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets.

A steady defenseman who can contribute offensively, Gorges spent four seasons in Kelowna, helping the club capture the 2004 Memorial Cup. In his four seasons with the club, Gorges registered 152 points (33-119-152) before going on to make his professional debut with the AHL's Cleveland Barons in the fall of 2004. In his final two seasons with Kelowna, Gorges playoff totals are 36-5-30-35.

A member of Canada's silver medal winning World Junior team in 2004, Gorges went on to make his NHL debut with San Jose during the 2005-06 season while seeing limited action with the clubs AHL affiliate.

Eric Duhatschek in The Globe and Mail writes that "faced with the prospect of losing him anyway as an unrestricted free agent, the Montreal Canadiens traded defenceman Craig Rivet to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenceman Josh Gorges and a 2007 first-round draft choice. The Canadiens also surrender a fifth-rounder in 2008 in the deal."

I see this move as GM Bob Gainey making the statement that he will focus on resigning Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov come July 1, 2007. The Habs GM essentially took care of the least of his priorities and freed up a couple of million in the process. Rivet has long been rumoured to be part of a divisive dressing room clique and his benching for a game back in january clearly spelled the beginning of the end for the longest tenured Canadien.

GM's Gainey and Doug Wilson analyse the transaction.

The Red Wings First Stanley Cup

The roots of the Detroit Red Wings go all the way back to the old Western Hockey League, where the Victoria (British Columbia) Cougars were members until their roster was sold to a group from Detroit on September 25, 1926. The Detroit group had been awarded an NHL franchise on May 15, 1926.

The team began to play as the Detroit Cougars in the fall of 1926 while playing its home games in Windsor, Ontario. Despite the fact that the Victoria Cougars had won the Stanley Cup in 1925 and were Cup finalists in 1926, the Detroit Cougars finished 12-28-4; the NHL's worst record for the 1926-27 season.

Help came, the following season, in the form of Jack Adams as the team's new coach and GM. Adams had played in the old Pacific Coast league and in the NHL with the Toronto St. Pats and the Ottawa Senators. Adam's tenure as coach and GM would last until the 1962-63 season, when Sid Abel took over.

The team also moved into the brand new Olympia Stadium for the 1927-28 season. A Detroit and professional hockey landmark, the Olympia would serve as the home for the franchise through the midway point of the 1979-80 season. With Adams at the helm, the team made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history (1928-29).

Willing to try anything, Jack Adams changed the name for the 1930-31 season to the Detroit Falcons.

After the depression, the team went into receivership and Adams was forced to use his own money to make payroll. It was so bad financially, that Adams joked if the Montreal Canadiens superstar Howie Morenz were available for $1.98, the Falcons still couldn't afford him. Things weren't much better on the ice as the team had only made the playoffs twice in its first six seasons.

In 1932 the financial problems ended when grain millionaire and shipping magnate James Norris Sr. purchased the team. Norris, like Adams, was a Canadian turned American. He had once played hockey for the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association's Winged Wheelers.

When the two men met, Norris and Adams agreed that the team's new logo would be a winged wheel and the club's nickname changed to the Red Wings.

James Norris

Even though the Red Wings missed the playoffs in 1934-35, Jack Adams knew his recipe for success was nearing completion.
The Detroit Red Wings manager moved to add the final ingredients before the 1935-36 season commenced. His bold step to deal all-star center Cooney Weiland to Boston for Marty Barry, inserting Barry as his No. 1 pivot between Larry Aurie and Herbie Lewis, paid huge dividends when Barry’s 21-19-40 totals left him second in NHL scoring. Linemate Lewis (14-23-37) finished ninth in the NHL points race.

Role players Hec Kilrea and Pete Kelly were also picked up and would make huge contributions. Ralph (Scotty) Bowman, a late-season acquisition in 1934-35 and heavy-hitting Bucko McDonald, who finished second in the voting for NHL rookie of the year, solidified the defense, while Normie Smith matured into a front-line NHL goalie.

The Wings finished atop the tough American Division, in which all four teams collected at least 50 points during the 48-game campaign. The Canadian Division champion Montreal Maroons provided opening-round playoff opposition, with the winner of this first-place showdown advancing directly to the Stanley Cup final.

Syd Howe

The first game of that series is still talked about today. It lasted an NHL-record 176 minutes and 30 seconds on the game clock and nearly six hours in real time before rookie Mud Bruneteau tallied the only goal on a pass from Kilrea.

Blasting their way to the final with a three-game sweep of the Montreal Maroons, only arch-rival Toronto stood in the way and Detroit set out to make short work of the Maple Leafs, whipping them 3-1 and 9-4 in the first two games at the Olympia. The nine goals were a single-game playoff record for the Wings.

Kelly’s goal at 9:48 of the third period in Detroit’s 3-2 win in Game 4 stood as the Wings’ first Cup-winning tally.

"Winning the Stanley Cup was the one ambition of my life," Wings owner James Norris said as he filled the mug’s bowl with champagne. Everyone took a sip, including Adams, who had never before taken a drink of alcohol in his life.

Herbie Lewis

Toronto rallied from a 3-0 deficit with 6:50 to play in regulation time in Game 4, winning 4-3 on Buzz Boll’s overtime marker, but the setback was temporary. The Wings overcame a first-period goal by Leafs center Joe Primeau, racing to a 3-1 lead. They held on for a 3-2 verdict and the first championship in franchise history.

"Every player on the team has taken a turn at bringing the house down in these playoffs," Adams said. "I never saw anything like it."

An overflow crowd at Michigan Central Train Station greeted the team upon its return from Toronto the next day and a police escort helped Adams carry the Cup to safety through the revellers, but not before he promised them there would be more to celebrate next spring.

Ebbie Goodfellow

"Don’t be surprised if the Wings make it two in a row," Adams boldly predicted. "I hope they make it a habit."

The Red Wings went on to repeat as Cup Champions in 1937, winning three games-to-two over the New York Rangers in the finals.

Normie Smith

Scores from the historic final were as follows:

April 5, 1936: Detroit 3 Toronto 1
April 7, 1936: Detroit 9 Toronto 4
April 9, 1936: Toronto 4 Detroit 3 (Buzz Boll 0:31 OT)
April 11, 1936 Detroit 3 Toronto 2 (Pete Kelly 9:45 3rd)

The first two games played at the Detroit Olympia, the final two games at Maple Leaf Gardens.

After the final bell, the Leafs players all dropped their sticks spontaneously and skated over to the Red Wings players to offer their congratulations. This was a remarkable victory given that Detroit's first playoff game lasted 116:30 into overtime against the Montreal Maroons, the longest game ever (won 1-0 by the Wings). Detroit had finished in last place the previous season.

The Stanley Cup was not presented to the Red Wings on the ice, but later that evening at a ceremony held at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto by league president Frank Calder. The Cup was first handed to owner james Norris and was filled soon after with champagne.

Each player was given a ring to commemerate the victory. On April 18th, the festivities continued with a lavish banquet at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.

Syd Howe's (2-3-5) name is spelled "Sid" on the Cup, he later changed his name to "Syd". Howe was the first player in the NHL era to score six goals in one game on Febuary 3, 1944.

John Sorrell (2-3-5) was in his sixth season with the Red Wings and did not play in the league until he was 24 years old. Sorrell was a slim 5' 11", 155lbs.

Marry Barry (2-2-4) was aquired from the Bruins for Cooney Weiland and played on a line with Larry Aurie and Herbie Lewis. After the war, Barry coached St. Mary's junior team in Halifax. He died of a heart atack in 1969.

Gord Pettinger (2-2-4) spent four seasons with Detroit, winning two Cups. His brother Eric was a brief NHL'er from 1928 to 1931.

Bucko McDonald (3-0-3) was a lacrosse pro in his late teens while playing minor league hockey. A big, solid defenseman, McDonald had not played in a year when the red Wings offered him a contract. He surprised many by making the team on his very first try. McDonald is just as well known today for being Bobby Orr's coach when the budding phenom was just a young lad.

Hec Kilrea (0-2-2) was called "General" on the original Cup band. Nine Years prior, he had teamed with GM and coach Jack Adams in winning the Cup with the Ottawa Senators.

Wally Kilrea (2-1-3) , Hec's brother, just missed playing with another brother by two seasons. Retiring in 1937-38, Wally's sibling Ken Kilrea joined the Wings in 1938-39.

Modere "Mud" Bruneteau (1-2-3) scored the historic 1-0 goal in the longest game ever played against the Montreal Maroons in the opening round. The morning following the game, Maroons goalie Lorne Chabot presented Mud with the historic puck. It was a terrific gesture of sportsmanship the Bruneteau remembered for the remainder of his life.

Herbie Lewis (1-2-3) played in the Ace Bailey benefit game in 1934. According to coach Adams, "Lewis is a sportsman of the highest type. I defy baseball, football, or boxing to produce an individual who can eclipse Herbie Lewis as a perfect role model for what an athlete should stand for."

Ralph "Scotty" Bowman (1-1-2) was claimed by GM Adams for the St. Louis Eagles, who disbanded prior to the start of the season. Bowman played his youth hockey with teams in the Parkdale and Niagara Falls areas. He is of no relation to modern day coach William "Scotty" Bowman.

Pete Kelly's (1-1-2) Cup winning goal came quite serendipitously. "It wasn't my shift", he admitted. "But Larry Aurie, who was the right winger on our scoring line, was limping to the bench at the end of a long shift and i jumped over the boards without waiting for Jack Adams to tell me to go. I got a pass from Herbie Lewis and I just shot it in the top corner of the net." The victim was Leafs goalie George Hainsworth.

In a game on Febuary 24, 1935, Wings captain Doug Young (0-2-2) swung at a puck near the boards and missed, instead hitting a fan named Mrs. Doris Geldhart. The stick broke the ladies nose and blackened both eyes. She sued him, unsuccessfully, for the sum of $25,000.

Ebbie Goodfellow (1-0-1) spent six years as a forward before suiting up as a defenseman for the Red Wings. Equally skilled in both ends, he tied the final game at 1-1 in the second period on a Sorrell pass, before splitting the D for the goal.

Larry Aurie (0-1-1) broke his collarbone in a game on Febuary 18th. Seemingly gone for the season, Aurie missed o nly four games before returning.

Goaltender Normie Smith played all 48 games during the regular season, allowing only 103 goals. During that time he had a shutout streak that lasted 248:32. In the final, he posted a 2.74 GAA with 11 goals allowed in 241 minutes of play.The Montreal Maroons gave up on Smith, but he refused to give up anything to them. Smith’s original team provided Detroit’s opposition in the opening round of the 1936 playoffs and in Game 1 of the series, which lasted an NHL-record 176:30, the Detroit goalie threw a brick wall up in front of his cage, blocking 89 shots for a 1-0 win. He also blanked the Maroons 3-0 in Game 2. Backstopping Detroit to a four-game decision over Toronto and the first Stanley Cup in club history, Smith led all goalies in wins (six) and shutouts (two) during the playoffs.

Coach and GM Jack Adams began his career as a player with Toronto in 1917, winning the Cup in the NHL's inaugural season. He joined the Red Wings in 1927 and the affiliation lasted 35 years and produced 7 Stanley Cups.

Red Wings team president James Norris made his fortune via the Norris Grain Co. of Chicago. He had wanrted to buy an NHL team for that city, but when rebuffed he settled for Detroit in 1933. He changed the teams name from Falcons (previously Cougars) to Red Wings and based the logo on that of the Montreal Winged Wheels hockey team of his youth while growing up in Montreal. Later, in an era where conflict of interest bylaws were a foreign concept, Norris held power in the Detroit Olympia, Madison Square Garden, and the Chicago Stadium. It gave rise to jokes that NHL actually was an acronym for the Norris Hockey League.

(Note - It may be purely coincidental that as I am posting on the Detroit Red Wings, that they currently sit atop of the NHL standings. It's not entirely odd, however, as they have tended to be there for the better part of the last decede. In those ten years, I have often found myself cheering for the Wings in the post season, calling them my second favorite team. While my favorite Montreal Canadiens have had a decade of dubious achievements, the Wings have hauled in three Stanley Cup wins and given me many thrills along the way. My liking the Winged Wheels goes back to my youth. I guess I just had a thing for red hockey jerseys - the Blackhawks sweaters are still, in my eyes, a most beautiful sight. As the 1995 playoffs approached, a pool bar that I frequented at the time was selling almost 50 hockey jerseys one night - real cheap too! Seems that the bar's owner also dealt in bankruptcies and purchased stock in a failed sporting goods store. Above a rack of sweaters read a sign that said "75% Off", and all the jerseys were priced between $10 and $15 - I went hog wild and bought three on the spot. Unfortunately, there were no Canadiens jerseys available for me to grab, while more than 30 of them were home and away Leafs replica's. Small wonder the dude went bankrpupt! I walked away with a Sharks and Blackhawks away jerseys, and a shining white Red Wings home jersey. Total price - $36.00. The only bad news was, I was out of beer and pool money. Had I been smarter, I'd have bought three Maple Leafs sweaters, resold them for a quick profit, and gone back the following morning to clean up even better! Oh well, you live and learn. Wearing the sweater for a day or two, oddly helped me win a bet. I had gotten the number 95 ironed onto the back as that would be, in my esteem, the year the Wings Cup drought would end. Why I didn't get Stevie Y's 19 on it, I'll never know, but it seemed a cool idea at the time. These days people wonder why I am a Denny Markov fan. As the '95 final drew close, the best team to me seemed to be the New Jersey Devils. Wearing the Wings jersey one day, I was asked by a Wings supporter, how I thought the final would play out. Feeling slightly foolish inside the 95, my hockey mind spoke against my heart, as I claimed the Devils in 5. Greeted with roaring laughter and a wager, I explained that since the strike shortened season meant the opponants had not met all season, my money was on the more defensive team. As history recalls, a 4 game sweep made me look brilliant, while my heart broke and I pocketed $20. Two years later, I was almost wearing the thing out!)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hurricane Carter And Other Canuck Suitcase Kings

The Carolina Hurricanes have relieved the Columbus Blue Jackets of underperforming forward Anson Carter.

For Carter, the deal will be a refreshing change of pace from an also ran team to a playoff contender. He also qualifies as the new poster boy for Samsonite. An endorsement deal with a luggage manufacturer may not be far from Carter's mind.

The deal slips completely under the trade radar of rumoured deals in the past few. Canes GM Jim Rutherford did well to obtain a player with experience and upside to his team for a mere song - a 5th round pick, two season away.

While it isn't likely to be the blockbuster move that trickles a domino effect among prospective trading GM's nearing the deadline for deals on Tuesday, the move is a smart one for Carolina down the stretch. Carter is just one season removed from scoring 33 goals with the Vancouver Canucks, and shores up the Canes depth at forward. For Carolina, the move is similar to deals the team made last season in aquiring experienced forwards Mark Recchi and Doug Weight.

Carter, who has now been traded 7 times, joins his 9th NHL organization. The player sometimes known as the "Chocolate Rocket" was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the 10th round of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.

It remains to be seen whether hockey fans in Raleigh tag the much travelled vet with the "Hurricane Carter" moniker of former boxer Reuben "Hurricane" Carter, the murderer made infamous by a great Bob Dylan protest song in 1976 that proclaimed his innocence.

The trade does made a little extra work for Joe Pelletier at the Legends of Hockey Network. Joe recently put together an all encompassing post on the little known history of Black Hockey. He will now need to touch up the Carter entry to include this latest trade. He might do well to keep the file open!

Carter might be reluctant to recognize that he is becoming one of the most traded and travelled players in the game. It could be that he is much sought after. It could also be that he wears out welcomes quickly and becomes unwanted soon after. His resume reads like this:

Rights transferred to Colorado after Quebec franchise relocated, June 21, 1995.

Traded to Washington by Colorado for Washington's 4th round choice (Ben Storey) in 1996 Entry Draft, April 3, 1996.

Traded to Boston by Washington with Jim Carey, Jason Allison and Washington's 3rd round choice (Lee Goren) in 1997 Entry Draft for Bill Ranford, Adam Oates and Rick Tocchet, March 1, 1997.

Signed as a free agent by Utah (IHL) with Boston retaining NHL rights, October 20, 1998.

Traded to Edmonton by Boston with Boston's 1st (Ales Hemsky) and 2nd (Doug Lynch) round choices in 2001 Entry Draft for Bill Guerin and future considerations, November 15, 2000.

Traded to NY Rangers by Edmonton with Ales Pisa for Radek Dvorak and Cory Cross, March 11, 2003.

Traded to Washington by NY Rangers for Jaromir Jagr, January 23, 2004.

Traded to Los Angeles by Washington for Jared Aulin, March 8, 2004.

Signed as a free agent by Vancouver, August 17, 2005.

Signed as a free agent by Columbus, September 13, 2006.

Traded to the Carolina, Febuary 23, 2007 for a 5th round pick in 2008 Entry Draft.

Carter is fast approaching another, lengthier NHl tour of duty.

This player's travelogue detailed below, belong to the league's all time most travelled player, now with his 12th franchise.

Traded to Anaheim by Detroit with Jason York for Stu Grimson, Mark Ferner and Anaheim's 6th round choice (Magnus Nilsson) in 1996 Entry Draft, April 4, 1995.

Traded to Vancouver by Anaheim for Roman Oksiuta, March 15, 1996.

Traded to Philadelphia by Vancouver for Philadelphia's 5th round choice (later traded back to Philadelphia - Philadelphia selected Garrett Prosofsky) in 1998 Entry Draft, February 5, 1998.

Traded to Tampa Bay by Philadelphia with Chris Gratton for Mikael Renberg and Daymond Langkow, December 12, 1998.

Traded to Florida by Tampa Bay for Ryan Johnson and Dwayne Hay, March 14, 2000.

Traded to Ottawa by Florida for future considerations, March 13, 2001.

Signed as a free agent by Columbus, July 7, 2001.

Traded to Dallas by Columbus with Columbus' 2nd round choice (Johan Fransson) in 2004 Entry Draft for Darryl Sydor, July 22, 2003.

Traded to Phoenix by Dallas with future considerations for Teppo Numminen, July 22, 2003.

Traded to St. Louis by Phoenix for Brent Johnson, March 4, 2004.

Traded to Nashville by St. Louis for Timofei Shishkanov, January 30, 2006.

Signed as a free agent by NY Islanders, July 2, 2006.

This "feuille de route" belong to none other than Mike "Suitcase" Sillinger, a halfway decent all around player, who despite midling success at several destinations, was never quite able to call anywhere home.

I'm not sure if it qualifies as a Canucks curse, but like Carter and Sillinger, four other nomad skaters also passed through Vancouver for albeit brief stays on the way to suitcase infamy.

The original bagger of luggage, was a goaltender known as Gary "Suitcase" Smith, who started out his NHL life as a 4th stringer in the Maple Leafs organization in the late 1960's. Smith literally lived out of his travel gear as he was always a goalie too many somewhere. Curiously, he played his best hockey for brutal teams, which always tended to speak for an upside potential that never came. Smith toiled for 7 different NHL organization during his 14 year career in the bigs. that might seem like almost nothing in this day and age of rent a players and free agency. From 1964 to 1980 when he retired, Smith also plied his trade in another 10 destinations via minor league affiliated and WHA teams. He likely inspired the Rent-A-Goalie profession.

Brent Ashton succeeded Smith in setting the travel standard. Also beginning in Vancouver, Ashton piled up Air Miles going to 9 different NHL destinations. Seemingly ubiquitous, Ashton seemed jinx-like, passing through failing franchises such as the Colorado Rockies, the Quebec Nordiques and the Winnipeg Jets.

Two defenders drafted in the first round by the Canucks that made Rand McNally rich along their journeys were J.J. Daigneault and Michel Petit. Both bested Ashton's mark and gave Sillinger something to shoot for while becoming the ultimate spare part for an even ten teams. Petit and Daigneault were loaded with fleeting potential at one time. Issues of insecurity hampered their play at every stop.

Reversing the trend of defenders with a Canuck based compass, were backliners Eric Weinrich, now retired, and Keith Carney, currently with the Minnesota Wild. Both nearing the end of a long and winding NHL road, the pair were aquired by Vancouver in a failed attempt to reach the post season in 2005-06.

It's all enough to make one wonder if players won't soon be adding a "No Canuck Trade" contract clause.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

GM Gainey Will Be Defined By Trade Deadline Actions

The city of Montreal's media are an ocean divided when it comes to how Candiens GM Bob Gainey should approach the Febuary 27 trade deadline. Fans fall on both sides of the divide are split as well.

While the Habs hopes were seemingly fleeting, questions arose as to whether they would be buyers or sellers within the coming week's wheeling and dealing.

After back to back wins moved them higher north in the standings, some are still calling for moves to be made.

It will all depend on how Gainey assesses the teams assets, progression and future.

Are the 2006-07 Montreal Canadiens the team that held on steadfastly to the fourth position in the Northwest division until a ten days ago, despite a recent slump?

Or are they the dysfunctional crew that has displayed a total lack of unit cohesiveness beginning with a December 23rd undoing at the hands of the Boston Bruins?

At Christmastime, you may recall, the Habs were one of the NHL's surprise teams. With Cristobal Huet proving critics wrong in terms of him being a one year wonder, the Canadiens power play and penalty killing units were, for a short spell, both ranked at number one in the league.

Since then, the Habs have meandered beyond recognition. Talents have come up lame, team togetherness has been nil to inexistant, and discipline at crucial times in games has been preached to deaf ears.

Injuries and viruses notwithstanding, getting a grip on the character of this team is no easy feat. It could be that the SOS launched to American League standout Jaroslav Halak came just in the nick of time to save the sinking ship.

Gainey and his scouting staff will have to make some crystal ball evaluations on the teams impending free agents as well as a crop of six or so young prospects on the verge of making the team.

The trio of defenseman set to become free agent come July 1st, Sheldon Souray, Andrei Markov, and Craig Rivet, are the teams main focus. Both Souray and the Canadiens have made statements that both want the relationship to last longer. Markov is harder to put a finger on. He would undoubtably a fetch a more lucrative offer elsewhere, but on the other hand he could also command some nicetradebait as well. Rivet may be sacrificed for no other reason than changing the guard.

Scrutiny of Gainey will be higher this time around as many of his past deals have been termed busts. Whatever love the Montreal populace has had with Alex Kovalev has worn thin. The Sergei Samsonov signing has been an utter disaster from the get-go. Bringing in Janne Niinimaa for Mike Ribeiro has had little impact. The Stars center produces at a good rate for his newer team while most nights Niinimaa is a healthy scratch. Radek Bonk and Cristobal Huet, coming over two seasons ago for Mathieu Garon was deemed a success due to the surprise that has been the goaltender's play. While no one misses Jan Bulis or Richard Zednik terribly, Mike Johnson has been a dependable pickup.

Gainey's biggest move so far has been one of dispatching the overpaid Jose Theodore for David Aebischer. It could be said that the current Canadiens goalie has been only slightly more reliable than the former, at a discount of $4 million.

There will be watchful eyes on Gainey in the next 6 days. The patient GM will likely speak of deals unmade when it's over, preaching to team confidence rather than risk a bad deal with a gun to his head.

Several players on this years team will not return next season. Ninimaa, Bonk, Aebischer, and Samsonov are all candidates to hit the highway. With the salary cap set to rise by $4 million, Gainey will be focused on signing the players he wants to return with, more than rental players who could likely change the teams fortunes at this point.

Expecting a rabbit from a hat via Gainey at this time, may be a little much. The stoic GM will surely catch hell from the media, whichever way he turns.

A Victory For The Hockey Purist

The NHL's 30 GM's have given a resounding thumbs down to the idea of awarding teams 3 points for a win.

I for one, applaud the common sense of the decision.

"Because it's a terrible idea," Anaheim general manager Brian Burke said Wednesday as three days of GM meetings wrapped up. "That's why it didn't have any support."

The league's GMs liked the idea enough at the February 2004 meetings in Henderson, Nev., to include three-point wins on a list of recommendations for the board of governors. The NHL lockout put everything on hold and when hockey resumed with drastic changes, such as the shootout and the elimination of the centre red line for two-line passes, the three-point win didn't make the cut.

Whatever support that existed for it three years ago is now gone.

It might have alot to do with only 37 fans supporting it!

"I was actually a proponent of the 3-2-1 points system a few years ago," said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, meaning three points for a win in regulation time, two points for an overtime/shootout win and one point for an overtime/shootout loss.

"But since then we've seen these great races and I think it's working just fine the way it is now. Our fans like it."

To be honest, the way it is now, doesn't seem all that right to me either. The point given for overtime and shootout losses, just blurs the actual standings of teams and gives the illusion of parity.

Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of hockey operations, says the game needs a breather from the constant change.

"It's time to establish continuity, you can't keep making changes," he said. "Let' s not confuse the fans."

No kidding Colin, what was your first clue?

The original idea of going to three points came from European soccer, which adopted the three-point win system in the 1980s and credited it with opening up the game. That's a notion Burke, for one, rejected Wednesday.

All hockey fans who follow European soccer, raise your hand. Okay Boris, you can put your hand down now!

"They tried this in British soccer and everything I've heard is that it didn't make a difference," Burke argued. "Teams would get ahead and then would shut it down.

"I think our system is pretty darn good," he added. "I think our game is good, I think our points system is good, our fans are just finally learning to understand it. And now we're going to change it? It's just dumb for me, it's just dumb."

In fact, aside from tweaking the instigator rule on Tuesday and making modifications to video replay, this week's meetings were more about philosophical discussion about the game than actual change.

"I think we've had too much change of late," said Devils GM Lou Lamoriello. "It's a good game, let's enjoy it,"

Said Burke: "We made some radical changes when we came back from the work stoppage. The game is faster, the game is better, and the game is more entertaining. If something ain't broke, there's no reason to try and fix it."

What falls under the category of "Ain't Broke" is just getting harder and harder to define. I think the accent has to be on the officiating once more. Without a major announcement claiming that a shift of focus has occured, I have found that in this present season, officiating has been terribly inconsistant. it is almost as if a secretive mandate was passed without notifying certain majot principals, including half the officiating crew of the league.

Infractions that seemed to be called obstruction during the 2005-06 season, are now being given leniency. A tolerance by period protocol has re-entered the games, confusing players to no end. In certain games, the officiating is deftly strict in the first 20 minutes, only to slip and give way to free for all's by the game's end.

The bottom line is that officials are consistantly inconsistant from game to game, and fans are in the dark as to the proper standards of infractions.

It's time the NHL drops all facades and tells fans exactly where the bear shits!

Source, opinion EOTP.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Stop Providing The Weary With Excuses - Lafleur

(Note - Guy Lafleur targets Kovalev and other lame duck players in his Sunday "Journal De Montreal" column. Lafleur's usual frankness is displayed here, as he doesn't mince words with what he sees as ailing the Habs current state of mind.The translation is mine. My apologies for finding no online link.)

As victims fall to fear factor, certain Canadiens players have not only lost their scoring touches, but are now also falling from combat, each after the other, claiming the most surprising and oddest of injuries as their escape.

Upper body, lower body, and every piece in between, with nothing left out. Our dearest Alex Kovalev, humbled by a recent benching, and feeling the heat of mounting criticism, has suddenly declared that an old elbow injury has made him unfit to play. Just when we needed this millionaire the most!

The coming weeks will determine whether the Canadiens make the post season, and further, how long they survive them. I believe that there are two or three player who really could care less...

When I heard of Kovalev invoking the elbow injury at this important time of the year, my arms simply fell from the wieght of disbelief. It's an injury that appears to me like an inability to face the music.

When I think that Kovalev's GM Bob Gainey once had both shoulders frozen during the playoffs in 1979 for the betterment of the teams chances, it is unequivocal that today's stars simply do not carry the same passion inside them. It's no wonder so many of the league's buildings are half empty. Witness New Jersey, who have a very good team, playing in front of empty seats! The is the future of this league, when players who are supposed to attract crowds fall from battle at the sight of the slightest little bobo.

Professional athletes don't have the right, in my eyes, to let their frustrations eat at them in this manner when teams need them most. It is inadmisible and insulting to fans of the game. If a player lacks the courage to face mounting challanges, prefering to watch from the sidelines, they should rightfully give it up and go home.

To think that team management, media, and fans, remain comfortable with formulating excuses for these weary types! They have no excuses, it is simply their inflated ego's taking command over their meager production and usefulness.


The Kovalev scenario depresses me to no end. The Canadiens don't need this type of character. It's better that the team fills roster spots with hungry prospects from the Hamilton Bulldogs. They surely couldn't do worse and the fresh start would be a welcome new beginning. It's high time to give these unproductive prima donna's the boot. Time to quit breast feeding them by means of handy excuses, sending them back out to the ice with soothers in their blowholes.

I'm not certain that the Canadiens can achieve the post season. One thing is for sure, the team will finish where it deserves to. I'm hoping it's not in tenth place. The number 10 is the number I proudly wore during my career. I don't want it tarnished by them finishing in that position.


Not knowing which way to turn to get out of the current state of mediocrity, the players recently held a post game team meeting in order to clear the air. A motivational reunion to recharge the troops, it was said. Now come on...meetings like this should occur between players on a daily basis, not simply when team reaches a desperation point. In my day players had dinner together before every game, where the comraderie of team mates was reinforced by being together as a group on a constant basis. That's a real team!

What we're seeing here are a bunch of individuals with only themselves in mind, who've decided it's time to butt heads.

These improvised reunions are nice fodder for the press corps, but they hardly create the necessary bonding the team requires to make things better. In any case, they have little effect on the team's biggest crybabies, those simply waiting for offers from greener pastures to get out of the heated kitchen.

I have news for such types. With each Canadiens loss, they lose credibility and interest in them wanes. Other general mangers aren't fools. They have little recourse for players who do not roll up their sleeves and go to work.


Witness the lack of interest for Sergei Samsonov once placed on waivers. No team even wanted him for free. It's not that different for other players lacking the fortitute to go to work. Their market value is in freefall mode. They are losing whatever repuatation they've been able to establish, or have lost what's left of it. The Canadiens wouldn't get anything of value in return for their services, even as I believe Gainey will be making moves by Febuary 27th.

Gainey will attempt to land a player or two that can breathe life into the teams slagging hopes. What would we be parting with to get anything decent in return? Trades are made to improve a team, a not done simply to exchange malfunctioning parts. Trades for tradings sake, is the meaderings of average teams with no eye to the future.


One of the problems with the Canadiens is the existance of team cliques. Craig Rivet is punished and all his buddies stop performing. The problem with these cliques has been a reality of this team for years now. They were silent in the fall when all was going well, but they have again surfaced as sides line up to play the blame game.

It's up to Canadiens management to sort out the rotten cores from the good apples, and send them packing off to other destinations. Bring in some players that are better team orientated that are proud enough to care about what quality of play they offer to fans that deserve much better than this charade.

(Lafleur's comments are taken by Jean-Guy Fugere.)

Much thanks to Zanstorm at Waiting For Stanley for the photoshopped rendering of Kovalev and Samsonov. I knew it would come in handy sooner or later!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Did Stemkowski Butt Out "67 Habs?

(Note - I found this great, hilarious, and mythical piece at from writer Evan Welner.)

Everyone knows who scored the Stanley Cup game-winning goal. It's pretty easy to pick out. Someone shoots and he either scores or the goaltender makes the stop and someone puts in the rebound. It’s cut and dry.

But just who really did score the goal to give the Toronto Lord Stanley's Cup back on May 2, 1967?

Toronto won the game, beating Montreal 3-1 with Jim Pappin being credited with the game-deciding tally at the 19:24 of the second period. George Armstrong scored an empty-net tally with 47 seconds left to clinch the Cup. But did Pappin really score the goal? Or did someone else net the clincher in Game 6?

Video replays show Pappin's shot was deflected, hitting Pete Stemkowski in what appears to be the derriere. Stemkowski always thought he felt something hit him in front of the net, but no one bothered to check TV replays back in 1967. Besides, the puck did go into the net and the Maple Leafs held off the Canadiens to win the Cup.

Pappin and Stemkowski will have the chance to replay the goal again Saturday as the 1967 Leafs will be honored during pre-game ceremonies at the Edmonton-Toronto game at the ACC. Another reunion will take place March 22 at a dinner at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

"I think I scored the goal, but I don't know whether I scored the goal," Stemkowski recalled. "At the time that the goal was scored, they said I scored the goal. But I have seen the replay since ... years later ... they didn't have replays or things like that then.

"I still don't know whether I scored the goal. It was a crazy thing. Jim Pappin shot the puck from in front of the net. Terry Harper and myself were standing (in front of the net) and it hit something and went into the net."

Here's where the story gets really murkier. It seems that Pappin had a lot riding on the goal.

"I could have taken credit for that goal, because it was not obvious who scored it and had the winning goal in the Stanley Cup game," Stemkowski said. "The fella who scored the goal, Jimmy Pappin, came up to me after and said 'Hey listen, I got a big, big bonus riding on this. Did you really touch that puck?' I said, 'I felt something, I felt something Jimmy.' And he said, 'Well look between you and I just say you didn't feel a darn thing.' So I went over to the referee and said 'Well I don't think I really touched that puck.'

"Jim Pappin got credit for that goal, got a $10,000 bonus and put a swimming pool in his backyard, and you know what? The guy was real generous. He let me swim in that pool anytime I wanted the rest of the summer.

So that was my reward for scoring a goal that I didn't score."

Stemkowski has never gotten to the bottom of just how that puck ended up in the Canadiens net. He looked for a bruise on his body as a sign the puck hit him, but there was no bruise or black and blue mark. Then he bought the video copy of the 1967 Stanley Cup Final looking for evidence. But there was no answer there, at least in his mind.

"They advertised the video tapes of the 1966-67 Stanley Cup and out of the blue I said I'll get out my Visa card and get this darn thing and maybe it will show it. And I have gone over that tape time and time again. I have had friends look at that thing, slow it down and everything and its still not conclusive as to who scored that goal," said Stemkowski. "I could have been a real unfriendly teammate in that situation and been in the record books in the NHL scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup. But I don't even know whether or not I even got an assist on the Stanley Cup winning goal."

But there is more to Stemkowski and the Game Six goal saga. Pappin built his pool, but Stemkwoski ran into a problem with his swimming rights.

"I got to swim in Jimmy Pappin's pool. Wasn't that wonderful? He was real nice to me," Stemkwoski joked. "You know he got traded next year, so I got one summer of enjoyment in Jimmy Pappin's pool. He sold the house and the pool with it, so that was my reward for being a nice guy."

The new owners of Pappin's house and pool didn’t seem to care that Stemkwoski had perpetual swimming rights. He never went to the Toronto neighborhood again.

"The house was next to Bob Pulford's house. He was such a grouch; he never put a smile on his face. So it wasn't exactly the friendliest neighborhood. Pappin and Pulford, who played on my two sides, these were two that were neighbors and drove to the games together. Never spoke, hated each other's guts, yet they spent so much time in each other's company."

So Pappin got the goal, the money got the goal, the money and the pool. Stemkowski felt something though. "I thought I felt a twinge. It could have been Harper kicking me or whatever. But the puck changed directions from the corner in front, dang it was in the net. And the referee skated over to the scorer's table and said give it to Stemkowski.

"They made the announcement and Pappin gave me a little nudge in the ribs and says did you really touch that puck? I got 10 grand riding on it, so would you please kindly say you didn't?"

"In those days we used to steal goals," Stemkowski explained. "I had a deal with Dale Rolfe when we were with the Rangers. Anything close in front of the net, he didn't have a bonus, he was a defenseman. I used to have a bonus for goals. There were deals in those days between forwards and defensemen.

"But it's Pappin's goal. Let him have it. He's in the books and what did I get out of it? A handshake, a thank you and a swim in a swimming pool."

Oh yeah, and a Stanley Cup.

Bill Masterton Exemplified Perseverence Beating Odds

Many hockey fans have doubtlessly heard the name Bill Masterton from the annual trophy awarded in his honour at season's end. Story of who Masterton was is often singularly associated with his tragic passing as the result of an on ice incident, but Masterton was much more defined by who he was, and the perseverance he displayed on making to the NHL after years of hard work.

Masterton was born August 16, 1938 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Growing up in hockey, Masterton had a knack for scoring goals and was often among the league leaders in that category.

At 17 he joined the St. Boniface Canadiens and in 22 responded with 23 goals and 49 points in 1955-56. Masterton and the Canadiens played in the Memorial Cup playoffs, where he tallied eight points in six games but it was the OHA's Toronto Marlboros who successfully defended their national junior amateur title.

In the fall of 1957, Masterton enrolled at the University of Denver, where he played hockey while getting an education. In four years with the school team he was one of the club's top offensive weapons, averaging more than two points per game in each of his last three seasons. Masterton helped the school to win an impressive three NCAA national titles, in 1958, 1960 and again in his senior year in 1961, when he was named the most valuable player of the entire NCAA tournament.

Following graduation, Masterton was hopeful of landing a professional job in hockey, but with just six teams in the NHL, cracking a team's lineup was next to impossible. In 1961-62 Masterton joined the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens of the EPHL, a minor pro league. Among some of Masterton's more notable teammates included future NHLers Keith McCreary, Jim Roberts, Barclay Plager, Terry Harper, Dallas Smith and goalies Cesare Maniago and Ernie Wakely.

Masterton retired from the game for a spell, but was encouraged to return after the Montreal canadiens traded his right to the Minnesoata North Stars on June 14,1967. He had toiled patiently in the minors for years, mostly in the USHL before getting a shot when the league expanded to 12 teams for the 1967-68 campaign. The expansion North Stars, after a tryout in which he surprisingly made the team, signed him to a free-agent contract. It was the thrill of a lifetime for Masterton, who had for so long dreamed about one day making it to the best hockey league in the world.

Masterton scored the first goal in North Stars history on October 11, 1967. After only 38 games in the league, tragedy struck.

During a North Stars' game against another expansion team, the Oakland Seals, on January 13, 1968, Masterton fell awkwardly to the ice, hitting his head. Bill was checked by Larry Cahan and Ron Harris of Oakland, and fell backwards onto the ice. The force of the back of his head hitting this ice caused much bleeding, and he quickly lost blood. He was seriously injured, sustaining much brain damages. Doctors were prevented from doing surgery due to complcations in the area of the brain. Two days later, Bill died. He was the first player in 40 years to die as a result of an on-ice incident in the NHL. His death would result in more intense lobbying for hockey players to wear helmets, which were uncommon in professional hockey at that time.

No other North Star ever wore his No. 19, and it was officially retired in 1987, six years before the North Stars left Minnesota.

Masterton's dedication and perseverence have been forever immortalized by the league, with a trophy named in his memory. It is awarded annually to the NHL player who best personifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game of hockey as voted upon by the members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. Bobby Clarke, Serge Savard, Mario Lemieux, Cam Neely and Saku Koivu are just a few of the big names that have been honoured with the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in past years.

NHL Road Trip With Crosby And Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby only had one line in the NHL's promotional ad that was filmed January during the NHL All-Star Game, but it was a good one.

The commercial, titled "Road Trip," opens with Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin ordering room service for one in his hotel room -- lots and lots of room service.

As the clip moves to other NHLers acting up -- brothers Jordan and Eric Staal have a pillow fight in their room -- it always goes back to Ovechkin ordering more and more food. Finally, Ovechkin says, "My name? Sidney Crosby," and the commercial cuts immediately to Crosby opening his door to a huge delivery.

Crosby's one line -- snarling the name "Ovechkin" -- wasn't one he got down right off the bat, either.

"It took a lot of takes, just because of the lighting or I didn't say it the right way," Crosby said. "They have to be so precise for a two-second clip."

As of yesterday, Crosby hadn't seen the commercial, available on YouTube.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Halak Mask An Inspiration

From Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette

If frustrated Canadiens fans are searching for a sign that salvation is at hand, they might not have to look much further than the right side of Jaroslav Halak's goalie mask.

There, in living colour, is a picture of Halak's boyhood idol, Patrick Roy, in a Canadiens uniform and hoisting the Stanley Cup.

The symbolism isn't lost on longtime fans, who recall Roy led the Canadiens to a Stanley Cup in 1986, when he was a 20-year-old rookie.

Nobody is mentioning the 21-year-old Halak and the Stanley Cup in the same breath, but the Canadiens are hoping Halak, who was called up from Hamilton Thursday to replace the injured Cristobal Huet.

"We didn't bring him here to be a tourist," coach Guy Carbonneau said yesterday, after Halak participated in his first workout with the Canadiens. "(Huet) is going to be out for more than a couple of days and Halak will play."

Souray Looks To Stay

All-star defenceman Sheldon Souray has been given a vote of confidence by Canadiens management, Sportsnet has learned.

The team has no intention of shopping the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent going into the NHL trade deadline on Feb 27. With the impression Souray will now finish the year with the Canadiens, sources are telling Sportsnet the club will make every conceivable effort to ink Souray to a long-term deal.

Souray has vehemently denied that he has ever approached Habs GM Bob Gainey asking for a trade. Again, after yesterday's game, reports were surfacing once again that demands had been made on the part of the big defenseman. Souray is likely anxious to put the whole deal behing him.

While the behavior and actions of certain team mates such as Alexei Kovalev are questionable at best, Souray has stood up for the team. He is the first face present to media after each loss, underlining the positives he sees, and acting like a captain would in light of the mounting adversity on the Canadiens team. His leadership and performance have been one of the few bright spots on the team this season.

One Hand On My 'Ockey

Caught between trying to explain the Canadiens loss to the Hurricanes tonight, and wanting to write a hockey-love poem to pacify E at Theory Of Ice's angst at the Habs standings nosedive, I ended up in a state of compromised ideals.

Now I hate compromise!

I would rather be sandwiched in a Rita McNeil-Rosie O'Donnell Crisco inspired threesome, than choose between loving and hating my treasured Habs fate.

While yesterday, there seemed to be hope, each mounting loss feels like nails in the coffin.

Six damned losses, four games in which I felt the team played well enough to win. If anything, I have learned that effort minus discipline equals nothing.

There are merely 20 games of the season remaining. With 95 points being almost a bare minimum for playoff achievement, the Canadiens need at least 14 wins to qualify for what would seem like a fruitless post season.
I wonder if it is worth it.

I question whether GM Gainey shouldn't tear this squad apart and become a seller, big time, as the trade deadline nears.

Who, really now, believed the Habs were nearing Stanley Cup contention?

Other than a 5 game win streak in mid-December, this bunch of incompatible personages has hardly resembled a championship team.

I really can't add much to what has already been touched on in autopsies of the team. My ass crack is parked firmly on the fense in regards to half of the teams composition.

My guess is that come Febuary 27, Bob Gainey will have 6 cellphones in his hand, planning for next year.
My eulogy, my epitaph for the 2006-07 edition of these Montreal Canadiens, reads like a broken hearted diary of promises gone wrong.

I took a spin in the car after the game, to calm my disapointment, with the radio loud to distorting. As Queen's "We Are The Champions" faded into Alanis Morrisette's "One Hand In My Pocket", I sang Habs mocking lyrics all the way home.

I wasn't soothed by my cynicism.

One Hand On My 'Ockey"

I'm injured but I'm playing hurt
I'm paid but my elbow stings
I don't backcheck and I can't score, baby
I'm trying but I'm getting benched.
I'm waivered and I'm left unclaimed
I'm rich but I'm on the fourth line, baby
What it all comes down to
Is that we haven't won in six fuckin' games
I've got one hand on my 'ockey
And the other one is giving the ref a bird sign
I got the puck, the net's open
I score, but it's disallowed
I'm getting paid millions for doing shit, baby
My coach knows I'm worthless
I'm here and my contracts up
I got a breakaway, but I'm offside, baby
What it all comes down to
Is I haven't scored in sixteen games, cause
I've got one hand on my Sherwood
And the other one's punching the goalie's face
And what it all comes down to
Is I might a well be traded to the L.A. Kings
Cause I've got one hand on my 'ockey
And the other one still can't find my balls
I'm on my knees, but I'm stopping pucks
I'm making saves, but I'm left alone
My defense is I'm helpless, baby
My goalposts are my only friends
My backup is just chicken shit
Might as well pull my hamstring, baby
And what it all boils down to
Is our power play really sucks right now
I've got one hand on my 'ockey
And the other one is playing 2007 Nintendo
What it all comes down to my friends
Is that this team just can't seem to win
I've got one hand on my 'ockey
And the other one is placing a bet on the Predators

Dignified And Proud - Celebrating the 1967 Maple Leafs - Part 3

For a die-hard hockey fan, who is not a Maple Leafs fan, I must say that I was more than impressed with tonight's ceremony honouring the greats of the legendary '67 team.

It was well done, tasteful, and to the point. Without being pompous, the ceremony was touching and honest. Watching it, you would hardly know that the team had not achieved the same goal in the last 40 years.

The team that was once referred to as the "Over The Hill Gang" seemed genuinly pleased to be in each other's company at center ice.

Johnny Bower is 82 and Dave Keon is 66. In both their eyes I saw something that told me that they had been waiting a long time for a moment such as this. I was happy for them, and happy for the Leaf Nation multitudes that shared in it. The loyalty of the teams supporters need nights such as these to reafirm their belief in the team doing things properly. Tonight was a great first step.

Watching the heroes of '67 walk out on the carpet tonight brought back to mind a post I read by Wardo at Leaf Club months ago.Wardo is an absolutely perceptive and knowledgable writer, and can nail an an emotion or a subject with insight few others can match. He blogs rarely, which is a bit of a shame for readers. Surely it translates into him hopefully being a busier life form away from the keyboard.

His post entitled "Retiring Numbers" was a pointed and concise debate on whether numbers should be retired or honoured in the Leafs fashion. I didn't agree with his post, but was simply floored by how well it was written and how perfectly he put the reader inside the player's jersey. It remains one of the best things I have read online.

It starts this way:

"At the end of the red carpet stands a man. A spotlight cuts a circle for him in the big dark, a place in the arena all to himself, symbolic of the singular honour to be bestowed upon him. His hair has silvered, and the crows-feet around his eyes will soon outnumber the battle scars he won in glorious confrontation, the reminders that he once sacrificed every measure of himself to become one of the best, and the proof that the time he borrowed from the game lasted longer than for most."

"Across his back droops his uniform, not filled now by broad slabs of heroic equipment, but by his narrowing shoulders, his folded surname barely visible amid the billowing fabric. Above him, a standard is cranking to the rafters; a banner, crested with his name and number. It finishes its ascent beside the row of others, the long line of heroes from whom he accepted the torch, the storied past from which he drew his inspiration and strength to carry his teammates to glories of their own. He always understood the great responsibility that was his, and he is proud to have held up his end of the bargain."

"Always so emotionally contained as a player, his lips quiver, and he widens his eyes in a vain attempt to preserve his manhood, but his feelings betray him at last. Twin streams run from his eyes, cutting a path through his cracking features and twisted roots of ancient stitches to drop to the ice."

Like I said, Wardo nailed it dead on. This is Dave Keon`s moment, George Armstrong's day of recognition, Johnny Bower's final goodbye, all waiting in the hands of Maple Leafs management.

Here's hoping they continue to do the right things.

View the entire May 2, 1967 game at Google's NHL Video's.

The Toronto Maple site has some great content on the evening. In addition to the photo's included in this post, there are several pieces of note. Check these out.

Tonight's ceremony.

How and why Leafs are honoured.

Team history for all era's.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Difference Between Winners And Losers

Sun Media's Robert Tychkowski has a perceptive rant in today's paper on late season rent a players such as the newly Predatored Peter Forsberg. He writes:

"Does Peter Forsberg really deserve a Stanley Cup ring this year? Does Todd Bertuzzi? Or Keith Tkachuk?"

"They've accomplished nothing for their teams, aside from getting a couple of coaches fired, but now, thanks to the NHL's Rent -A-Player System, they are perfectly situated to win a championship."

(Note - Bertuzzi and Tkachuk have yet to be dealt. Robert)

"Deadline deals will always be a part of hockey, and it's incumbant on any GM to bolster his team for the playoffs, but I lose a lot of respect for the $5 million veteran who "wants to go to a contender." The reason his team paid him $5 million in the first place was to make them a contender."

"Tkachuk hasn't won a thing since....ever. Would going to Anaheim for a Cup of coffee suddenly make him a winner?"

"No. Just like going to Carolina last year doesn't make Doug Weight a winner. He has a ring with an asterisk on it, and if Forsberg, Bertuzzi, or Tkachuk get a ring this year, theirs will too."

Pointed words, to be sure. I agree for the most part, except that the Stanley Cup isn't won in the regular season. These Rent-A-Players do make valid contributions. Tychkowski is right in the sense that it is kind of like falling into bed with Rosie O'Donnell and waking up with Jessica Alba.

In another corner of Tychkowski's 2 page Sun spread, he relates this little ditty:

"Vote Early, Vote Often"

The Hockey News appears to be the latest victim of internet nerds having fun with a vote. How else do you explain the hideous Carolina Hurricanes sweater winning the coolest jersey in the eastern Conference poll, by a 12,000 to 700 margin over the second place Montreal Canadiens?

Said THN's web editor Ed Fraser: "I think we've been Rory Fitzpatricked!"

Fresh Blood For The Canadiens

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey announced Saturday that right-winger Duncan Milroy has been recalled from the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League.

Milroy, 24, has played in 52 games of the Bulldogs' 54 games so far this season. He leads the Bulldogs in goals and scoring with 23 goals and 29 assists for a total of 52 points. The Edmonton native is playing in his fourth season with the Bulldogs. In his AHL career, he has played in 255 games, scoring 58 goals and adding 76 assists for a total of 134 points.

Milroy, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound right-winger, played his junior hockey in the Western Hockey League from 1998 to 2003, with the Swift Current Broncos (1998-2001) and the Kootenay Ice (2001-2003). In 264 career games, he collected 287 points, including 132 goals (132-155-287). In 2001-02, he led Kootenay to a Memorial Cup championship, thanks to 17 goals and 37 points, both league-highs, in 22 playoff games. He added four points, including three goals, in four Memorial Cup games.

Milroy, who has yet to play a game in the National Hockey League, was the Canadiens’ third pick (second round – 37th overall) in 2001.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau has stated that the recently called up Jaroslav Halak would see game action in one of two weekend games, most likely Sunday's matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

While it remains to be seen how long Cristobal Huet will be out with a left hamstring injury suffered Wednesday, Halak isn’t just in Montreal as an observer.

"I don’t know much about him but [Hamilton Bulldogs head coach] Don Lever has told me good things about him," said head coach Guy Carbonneau. "He’s not here as a tourist, that’s for sure."

Even if he’s only played in 41 Bulldogs games since February 2006, Halak has still found the time to add his name to the franchise record books with nine shutouts.

His call-up didn’t surprise Maxim Lapierre, who witnessed firsthand what the Canadiens’ No. 41 is all about during his time in Steeltown.

"He looks big in the net," noted Lapierre, who was fortunate or unfortunate enough to face Halak during the goalie’s junior days with the Lewiston MAINEiacs. "He was really good when I was in Hamilton earlier this season and last year. He’s a big part of the Bulldogs’ success this season."

Celebrating The 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs - Part 2

Tonight's the big night for members of the 1967 Stanley Cup Champions Maple Leafs, who are being honoured before tonight's matchup with the the Edmonton Oilers.

Too bad it wasn't fittingly celebrated with the Habs in town!

There is some speculation that Matt Stajan may take it upon himself to honour Leaf great and former captain Dave Keon by removing his number 14 jersey along the course of celebrations. While MLSE has a jersey honouring policy only, comments bt team president Richard Peddie stated unequivocally that no hasty ceremony in regards to Keon's number has been planned.

It is the wish of many Leafs fans to see the team retire jerseys rather than honour them. Keon would be a great place to start!

I'm quite pleased to see talk of this, as I'd mentioned of few days back that Stajan ought to do just such a thing. Joe at Legends, who has the '67 Leafs covered from Armstrong to Walton, also agrees.

All taken together, it should be a most memorable night for Leaf Nation as MLSE has appeared to finally be setting about getting things right with their oldtimers. It has surely made this Habs fan take note - up my respect for the organization a few notches.

In my previous post, "Celebrating The 1967 Maple Leafs", I've added a huge cluster of link to articles on the internet and in media that cover almost every aspect of the 1967 team. There are also profiles of each team member, courtesy of the aforementioned Legends Of Hockey Network. Scanning through today's available resources, I've added to this post a dozen more that I found deeper and more interesting that the previous ones. There is lots of focus on Keon, are all in my opinion, must reads. Check 'em out!

I am planning two more posts in the coming days on this legendary team. One will be an examination on how the team was dismantled, where those players went, and who arrived in return. Another post will be slightly more ambitious - I'm planning to upload the entire pre-game celebration, perhaps in three or four parts, to the site. It'll be tricky, but worthwhile I am sure. I might even check out some YouTube clips to see if they have anything pertinent from 1967.

Keep checking back for more updates from forty years ago.

From the Sporting News, Canadian Press, Stajan Would Give Up 14 To Honour Keon

From Sun Media, No Surprises For # 14, by Lance Hornby

From Slam Sports, A Tale Of Unrequited Love, by Steve Simmons

From Metro News, Keon Happy To Be Part Of '67 Honours

From the Ottawa Sun, A Restless Leaf Nation Relives The Glory Of '67 by Wayne Scanlan

From the Tornto Star, '67 Redux by Paul Hunter

From the Globe And Mail, Fans Finally get A Chance To Show Keon Their Love by Dave Shoalts

From the Edmonton Sun, Turning Over a New Leaf by Terry Jones

From Sun Media, The Forgotten Men Of '67 by Lance Hornby

From Sun Media, It All Went Downhill After Cup by Lance Hornby

From the Hamilton Spectator, Forty Years by Neil Stevens

From the National Post, Larry Jeffrey - A Crutch Player by Joe O'Connor