that ’70s show

Habs winThat Seventies Show: Jeremie White is a Victoria, B.C. design director and painter with hockey on his mind. Along with these celebratory 1979 Montreal Canadiens, above, he’s been known to render portraits of Matt Pettingers, Milan Lucics, and Bill Mosienkos, among many others, and he has a line of fantastic interpretations of classic hockey cards. For more, steer over to his website at www.sportsart.ca. On Twitter, pursue him @NHLart.

under the influenze

On The Rhode: Mickey Murray (fourth from the right) lines up with the 1929-30 edition of the Providence Reds. Teammates include Johnny Gagnon (second from left), Gizzy Hart (fifth), and Art Chapman (seventh from right). The coach is Sprague Cleghorn (light overcoat). (Credit: Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society, http://www.rireds.org)

On The Rhode: Mickey Murray (fourth from the right) lines up with the 1929-30 edition of the Providence Reds. Teammates include Johnny Gagnon (second from left), Gizzy Hart (fifth), and Art Chapman (seventh from right). The coach is Sprague Cleghorn (light overcoat). (Credit: Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society, http://www.rireds.org)

Peterborough’s hockeyness has yielded 38 NHLers, including ironmen whom the Hockey Hall of Fame deems crafty (Steve Larmer); sudden playoff scoring wonders (John Druce); rugged customers (the HHoF on Steve Webb); doughty face-off artists with country superstar wives (Mike Fisher); and the best all-around player in the world, ever (as Viktor Tikhonov called Bob Gainey in 1981; okay, he didn’t say ever).

But let’s be honest: we don’t really do goaltenders in Peterborough. Forge them, I mean, polish them up, send them out into the world to shine. It’s just never been a specialty of ours. If you look to the ledger there are only three who got to the NHL. Zac Bierk was the longest lasting, playing 47 games for Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Phoenix between 1997 and 2004. He won nine of those — I was going to say just nine, but that seems harsh. Bierk was large-framed and quick-reflexed, it says in the HHoF’s register, a natural.

Cam Newton played 16 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1970s, winning a quarter of those. The Hall calls his goalkeeping hot and recalls his bright blue mask.

Then there was Mickey Murray. He had a long career fending off pucks, starting in his hometown in 1915 and not giving it up for another 24 years, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Along the way he got into precisely one NHL game, with the Montreal Canadiens, in 1930. Continue reading

hockeyborough

(Credit: Opus Pro, http://www.flickr.com/photos/31713683@N03/6787092721/in/photostream/)

It was inevitable that Hockey Night in Canada would take its annual Hockey Day to Peterborough, as it’s doing this coming Saturday. Eventually, we knew, Ron and Don would make their way up Highway 115. The fact that they waited 13 years to do it is deceiving. It makes it seem like the Ontario city is just one more in a longish line of smaller hockey-fervent heartland municipalities, not so different from the rest of the stops on the HNiC trail, your Stratford, Ontarios, your Campbelltown, New Brunswicks. Don’t be fooled, though. That, of course, is just crazy-talk. Peterborough is different.

Easy for me to say, of course: as a natural-born Peterbroovian, I’ve known about Peterborough’s peerless hockeyness all my life, via my bones and my blood. Born, like the rest of me, at Civic Hospital at the corner of Weller  Street and Wallis Drive, they have never doubted it. People from away — “the others,” as we say, or sometimes just “them” — non-Peterbruins wonder what we mean by the word “hockeyness” and how it comes to be, as we claim, of a whole other magnitude compared to that of, say, Viking, Alberta, or Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. “Huh?” they say, and: “Sorry?” And, of course, we’re not always able to explain it. “Pardon?” we say. “Excuse me?” Continue reading

sons of sea-captains, haberdashers

The Montreal Canadiens yesterday named Marc Bergevin as their new general manager. A quick look at those who’ve preceded him in the position, starting at the club’s pre-NHL start:

• Joseph Cattarinich was a goaltender, the Canadiens’ first, in 1909. As a businessman he was known as The Silent One and also Silent Joe. With Leo Dandurand and Louis Letourneau, he would later buy the Canadiens from George Kennedy’s widow for $11,500.

• Jack Laviolette, Hall-of-Fame defenceman, was a playing manager with Cattarinich when managers were also, sort of, coaches, too. His on-ice career ended when he lost a foot in a car accident in 1918. According the Hockey Hall of Fame, that didn’t keep him from refereeing the benefit game that was organized on his his behalf in 1921.

• George Kennedy, son of a sea-captain, was a Canadian amateur wrestling champion who died of the lingering effects of Spanish flu.

• Leo Dandurand, the man who brought Howie Morenz to Montreal, owned a restaurant called Drury’s. He forbade his players from driving cars because of the risk of leg and hand cramps. Continue reading

gaineytown

“It is a great temptation to say too much about Bob Gainey.” That was Ken Dryden, in The Game (1983), just before he launched into the quite-a-lot he had to say about Gainey and his place as a player on those sublime Montreal Canadiens teams of the 1970s. He’s right, Dryden: the temptation is great, especially now that Gainey has left the team that he captained, coached, managed, and — at the last — special-advised. That was his role until Thursday — special adviser to general manager Pierre Gauthier — when the man he was counselling was fired.  Gainey wasn’t, Montreal owner Geoff Molson went out of his way to explain: his departure was by “mutual agreement.”

It’s sobering time for those of us who loved the quiet honesty of Gainey’s game as a player, his — this is Dryden again — “relentless, almost palpable will.” I was going to lament the link to those ’70s Habs that was breaking, given what Molson told his Thursday press conference: “We felt that the direction of the club needed to change from a hockey standpoint.” Except that the man Molson has brought in as his new special adviser in the search for the next GM is Serge Savard. And who was the man not named Patrick Roy that Hockey Night in Canada was touting last night as a possible (if apparently unwilling) candidate for the job? Scotty Bowman. Jacques Lemaire’s name has been tossing in the media, too, and before it’s all over Dryden’s will at least to have been dismissed. Gilles Lupien, anyone? Rick Chartraw? Continue reading

losing the room

Rudy Pilous was the winningmost coach the Chicago Black Hawks had ever had in 1963, not to mention he’d steered the team to Stanley Cup victory two years earlier. But as the season ended that year, the team not only fell out of first place, but followed up in the playoffs by losing to Detroit. A month later, when the coach’s hometown paper in St. Catharines, Ontario, declared that Pilous was going to be fired within two days, he was calm. “If it is true, then all I can say is that coaches have been fired since the first time a dollar bill got stuck to a puck.”

Had he lost the room? Was that the trouble? It sounds like something that might afflict an absent-minded architect, but no, it’s not. It’s what happens to a hockey coach just before he no longer had the job he had the night before. If you look it up in The Complete Hockey Dictionary (2007) … lose —the battle, — a draw, — the handle … okay, so it’s not in hockey’s dictionary. Should be. To lose the room is to get to a point where players once heeded your counsel and responded to your exhortations (i.e. in the dressing the room), now they’re jaded and hard of hearing, and don’t. As then-New York Islanders general manager Mike Milbury said when he’d waxed* Peter Laviolette in 2003: “The line of communication between players and coach snapped.” Continue reading