Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kovalev Video From "Tout Le Monde En Parle"

This is long enough in two parts without having to read.

Kovy speaks!

Part 1

Part 2

With Rejean Tremblay Part 1

With Rejean Tremblay Part 2

Photo of Alex Kovalev courtesy of Habs Inside Out / Allen McInnis

The Real HNIC Song

Watching the unfolding vote for a new Hockey Night In Canada theme song is an irritating process. I'm at a point where I could almost care less. As a Canadiens fan, it's not like I have watched hockey on the CBC for some time. RDS has done the job for me for quite some time!

Then again, RDS this fall, has been tinkering with their broadcasting crew to my great displeasure, so I might just be tuning into a few more Habs games on the CBC. With Bob Cole and Harry Neale virtually iced from a good portion of the games, I might give it another try.

I've been listening to a few clips of the new songs at the CBC site where they are posted, and they don't quite do it for me. The benefit, of a new song, if there supposedly is one, is that the scaccato trumpets would be giving way to lyrics.

It's not that the former HNIC theme song is totally irreplacable. I have in fact been envisioning a totally different hockey song as a measuring stick for what a new one ought to be. It is a song already etched in the Canadian identity conscience and it gives me goosebumps everytime I hear it still. Hearing it gives me much to think about.

Lyrics and a descent story to tell will do that for a great song!

It is the dream of many Canadian boys (and girls now!) to make it big in hockey. It is also the dream of many a parent, from you and me to Walter Gretzky to Jerry Price.

It was also the dream of one young George Pelawa at one time. Pelawa was a former first round pick of the Calgary Flames whose dream was snatched from his grasp as it was about to get underway.

A Hockey Night In Canada theme song should bring forth visions of getting up early, defrosting the car windows, to head off to a rickety old arena. The song should sound like skates on ice and smell like old shinpads.

It should feel like triumph, while bringing with it a lump in your throat and a tear in your heart, that dreams both won and lost out on will do.

This song should sound how it felt to be when you were young. It should also make you think back now that you are wiser.

If a song can capture all of this, it truly should be THE Hockey Night In Canada song!

Tom Cochrane's "Big League" does all of this!

It's been my HNIC song for years.

Do yourself a favor. This Saturday night, when the game you choose to watch comes on, back to this clip, cue it up play it before the game.

You'll see what it does and know what it means.

Cochrane has never admitted that he wrote the song about Pelawa, who was on a U.S. scholarship when his truck was in a head on collision that took his life. For the songwriter, it has always been a private matter he has kept to himself. It is known that he has met once with George Pelawa's father, and that is all that is known behind the song's origins.

Last summer in a concert here in town, Cochrane joked before playing it, that he is always asked who it is about. He's played pickup hockey with dozens of NHL'ers past and present who say to him, "I know that song is about me."

I guess that goes to show just how forget into the Canadian identity it is!

Cochrane confessed the song was actually about himself, when he was young. He didn't address the final verse of the lyric.

As a Hockey Night In Canada theme, the song should actually cut out before the dream crashes. Everyone knows it's there, and that is good enough.

There is a lyric below.

Another, lesser known song about hockey that is over a decade old, tries to hard to be something that it can't.

"Hit Somebody", written by Warren Zevon of "Werewolves Of London" fame, is actually pretty good in a way. It is humourous, but non - biographical, and about what you'd expect from a SoCal hockey fan.

It also tells a compelling story of a kid making it to the big leagues, although his fists and not his skill, are the route. The lyrics for this one are also below. Watch out for a grouning reference to a team called the Saskatoon Flames.


When he was a kid, he'd be up at five
Take shots till eight, make the thing drive
Out after school, back on ice
That was his life, he was gonna play in the Big League
The Big League

Not many ways out of this cold northern town
You work in the mill and get laid in the ground
If you're gonna jump it will be with the game
Real fast and tough is the only clear lane to the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead
The Big League

All the right moves when he turned eighteen
Scholarship and school on a big U.S. team
Out with his girl near Lake McClean
Hit a truck doing seventy in the wrong lane
To the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell how much you get
Just don't know, no you never can tell

Sometimes at night I can hear the ice crack
It sounds like thunder and it rips through my back
Sometimes in the morning I still hear the sound
Ice meets metal...
"Can't you drive me down to the Big League?"

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell when you might check out
Just don't know, no you never can tell
So do right to others like you do to yourself
In the Big League


He was born in Big Beaver by the borderline
He started playing hockey by the time he was nine
His dad took the hose and froze the back yard
And Little Buddy dreamed he was Rocket Richard
He grew up big and he grew up tough
He saw himself scoring for the Wings or Canucks
But he wasn't that good with a puck

Buddy's real talent was beating people up
His heart wasn't in it but the crowd ate it up
Through pee-wee's and juniors, midgets and mites
He must have racked up more than three hundred fights
A scout from the flames came down from Saskatoon
Said, "There's always room on our team for a goon
Son, we've always got room for a goon"

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Brains over brawn that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

Hit somebody! was what the crowd roared
When Buddy the goon came over the boards
"Coach", he'd say, "I wanna score goals"
The coach said, "Buddy, remember your role,
The fast guys get paid, they shoot, and they score
Protect them, Buddy, that's what you're here for"

Protection is what you're here for
Protection, it's the stars who score
Protection, go and kick somebody's ass
Protection, don't put the biscuit in the basket just
Hit some, Buddy! it rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of the goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal

There were Swedes at the blue line
Finns at the red
A Russian with a stick heading straight for his head
Brains over Brawn--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

In his final season, on his final night
Buddy and a Finn goon were pegged for a fight
Thirty seconds left, the puck took a roll
And suddenly Buddy had a shot on goal

The goalie committed, Buddy picked his spot
Twenty years of waiting went into that shot
The fans jumped up, the Finn jumped too
And cold-cocked Buddy on his followthrough
The big man crumbled but he felt all right
'Cause the last thing he saw
Was the flashing red light
He saw that heavenly light

There were Swedes to the left of him
Russians to the right
A Czech at the blue line looking for a fight
Take care of your teeth--that might work for you
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?
But what's a Canadian farm boy to do?
What else can a farm boy from Canada do?

Playing On The Rocket And Gretzky's Wing

Have you seen this Invesco Trimark commercial yet?

It constantly airs on the NHL Network and while scanning the Greatest Hockey Legends site this morning I came across the investment company's site where you can actually do a simple photoshop, and place your name on a jersey next to The Rocket and the Great One.

The Invesco site does all the work and uploads the finished photo for you. Pretty neat stuff, eh?

I have myself a new screensaver!

I did a little additional photoshopping myself, and filled out the dressing room with the names of some friends.

All this pickup team needs now is a goon and a goalie!

For trivia buffs, which former NHL'er player against both the Great One and the Rocket?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yannick Weber: Swiss Cheese Without The Holes

One of the most surprising revelations of the 2008 Montreal Canadiens training camp has been the play of Swiss born Yannick Weber.

Who, you might ask?

Weber might best be known as the Kitchener Rangers star pointman over the past couple of seasons. He might also be known to those in the hockey coulisses as the captain of the Switzerland entry in the last World Junior Championship tournament.

Current Florida Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, and former Rangers bench boss calls Weber the best OHL defenseman of the past season. For the record, that statement by DeBoer was made prior to Weber scoring the tying goal against DeBoer's Panthers last evening.

Had Weber not been recovering from injuries at the time, he might have led the heavily favored Kitchener squad to a Memorial Cup championship. Heck, with a little break, he might have been the lucky candidate fortunate enough to snap the Memorial Cup in two.

All told, Weber had a great say in why the Kitchener boys were heavily favored in the first place.

The Montreal Canadiens have both a recent and long standing affiliation with Swiss born players. Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat, a duo who saw to it that the Canadiens would snag Stanley Cups in 1924, 1930, and 1931, were one generation removed from Swiss born parents.

And all along you guessed they were "Flying Frenchmen"!

More recent Swiss affiliations to Habs lore have included goalie David "I've got the pin, where's the grenade?" Aebischer and defenseman Mark Streit. While you surely don't want to recall Aebischer fondly from two seasons ago, the man who was a keg of gunpowder to the Habs goaltending woes then, now stops pucks somewhere in the hockey ozone.

Mark Streit on the other hand, was pure gold for the Habs. In three seasons with the club, Streit's role expanded from seldom used defender, to utility wingman, and finally to PP QB last season. His stats were testosterone induced by contributions from the likes of Alex Kovalev and Andrei Markov.

Streit, after his career year of close to 70 points, then became as cursed as he was blessed. In free agency, he became a New York Islander, a reward akin to kissing Megan Fox and waking up next to Bea Arthur.

Weber in all this, if often compared to Streit, but the deal doesn't hold water. Weber is and will be a much sounder player.

Purely, the comaprison is nothing but a Swiss thing. Weber's shot is more accurate, he plays sounder defense, his size doesn't seem to be a liability, and he doesn't have that chickenshit scared french painter look about him that Streit had.

Four exhibition games into an NHL lifetime of course, does not make a career, but by all reports, Weber has positioned himself within these contests as the next Canadiens defenseman to make the bigs. He'd be positioned at number seven on the Canadiens depth chart were it not for human gasket Patrice Brisebois serving once again as placeholder and stunter of development for the likes of Weber and P.K. Subban.

What bodes well for the Canadiens, is that the case of an extreme emergency - a long term injury to a defender - Weber is ready to move up and assume the role.


Sneak Book Preview: "Honoured Canadiens"

As I was mentioning yesterday in one my posts, I have received through good fortune, an advance copy of the Hockey Hall Of Fame publication "Honoured Canadiens".

In a word ot two, the book is simply a treat.

Salivate, Habs fans!

Start singing "Oh, Christmas Tree!"

The 242 page testimonial to Habs greatness is a beautifully packaged and well written accounting of 54 individual careers.

If you have been following the Canadiens centennial updates, these profiles within are the 54 players, managers, and builders about to be honoured in the Habs "Ring Of Honour".

The book is chronologically paced by year of Hall Of Fame induction, beginning with Howie Morenz and ending with Patrick Roy.

The layout of pictures and text, as you will see below, is plain but stately. The design allows for photos, both iconic and candid, as well as for the individual bios, to speak for themselves.

The cover wrap features an embossed CH logo and the inner sleeves contain black and white photos tinted in blue.

If ever you have owned previous publications by the Hockey Hall, I can assure you that this one Habs tome is la creme de la creme.

The photos are captivating for one thing, but accompanying text takes the book to another level.

Each individual player is documented with great precision and perspective. As you know, at this site, I have done much historical research into the hockey club, and when it comes to vital player information, this book leaves few stones unturned.

The player bios are all encompassing in their breadth. Beyond spelling out the player's careers, all their Canadiens stats are layed out. Depending on the player, a sidebar feature story either lets readers understand their uniqueness, or spells out the worthiness of their career achievements in numbers.

Every player or personality enshrined is given a minimum two page spread. Players whose contributions defined era's, are given additional text accordingly. The Rocket, as you would guess, owns a good ten pages to himself.

Iconic Habs, such as Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Guy Lafleur, are given the true star treatment. A two page spread of magazine cover shots from their respective era's will bring any Habs fan back to their youth.

Younger fans will be wishing they had time machines.

As the book is as glorious as the Montreal Canadiens tradition surely is, I have but one personal, miniscule qualm.

My hometown hero, Edouard "Newsy" Lalonde is given the minimum two page treatment, despite the fact that he helped define the Canadiens first two decades of existance.

One final note of mention, on the book's final page is a special serial number and invitation to a website that is yet to be on line. I sense additional goodies there, in time. Hopefully the copy you purchase has it as well.

Here are a handful....okay an All Star game's worth of hands full...of images from "Honoured Canadiens". This is the tip of the iceberg, folks.

I don't know about you, but it reminds me of time long ago, when a certain blue eyed brunette first uttered the words, "You know you want it!"