Monday Morning Musings

Posted on April 8, 2019 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Some of these street hockey sticks have been around for 50 years

 

“The good old hockey game, is the best game you can name’

And the best game you can name is the good old hockey game.”

The Hockey Song. Stompin Tom Connors

If you’re not prone to fits of nostalgia or don’t care much for hockey, you can skip right to the bottom of the page or go and check your Facebook feed.

Another NHL regular hockey season is in the books. There was plenty of drama as the season wound down as several teams were on the bubble trying to make the playoffs. One of them was my old team, the Montreal Canadiens. Old, you say? Cheering for the Habs was my birthright as my mother was born and raised in Montreal. When I was born I knew I was going to be Catholic and a Canadiens fan. Neither was questionable or negotiable. There was a time that I lived and died on the outcome of every Montreal hockey game but these days, wins and losses are treated with a shrug. Call me old fashioned, but the original six prior to expansion, was the golden era of hockey.

I’m not going to suggest that hockey wasn’t business in the pre-expansion era. It just seemed that hockey was the primary focus back then rather than the gaudy display of glitz and glamour seen at many NHL rinks these days. Today, hockey is entertainment and business. You can attend a game in Vegas and never realize that a hockey game is the feature attraction.

Watching hockey on a Saturday night was a near religious experience for most Canadians back in the pre-expansion era. Families gathered around old black and white television sets and listened to Foster Hewitt or Danny Gallivan make the play by play call. On Sunday nights, we crawled into our bunk beds and listened to games on our transistor radios.

It is an interesting footnote; the last time that the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup was in the spring of 1967. The league would expand later that same year. To jog your fading memories, here is a short list of some of the players from the 1966-67 hockey teams:

Toronto Maple Leafs: Tim Horton, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Eddie Shack and Johnny Bower.

Montreal Canadiens: Jean Beliveau, Yvon Cournoyer, Henri Richard, Serge Savard, and J.C. Tremblay.

Boston Bruins: Bobby Orr (the greatest to ever lace them up), Gerry Cheevers, Derek Sanderson, Johnny Bucyk, and Don Awry.

New York Rangers: Rod Gilbert, Bernie Geoffrion, Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle, and Ed Giacomin.

Chicago Black Hawks: Stan Mikita, Bobby and Dennis Hull, Phil Esposito, and Glen Hall.

Detroit Red Wings: Alex Delvecchio, Gordie Howe, Doug Harvey, Paul Henederson (Yes. THAT Paul Henderson), Norm Ullman and Pat Stapleton.

This past Saturday, I decided to watch the last game of the season for Montreal as they hosted their hated (?) rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. I question the fact that there’s much enmity in hockey anymore. In the pre-expansion era, you played every team with regularity. Bad blood became the norm especially in an era when fighting was an integral part of the game. My next door neighbor was a Leafs fan and the day after a Leafs/Hab tilt, one of us would be preening like a peacock while the other would be waiting for the next street hockey game to claim some retribution for the endless taunting. One year, I even sent a sympathy card to my neighbor when Montreal knocked the Leafs out of the playoffs. He wasn’t amused.

I’m long past the time that I will stay up late to watch an entire hockey game, even a Stanley Cup final. It’s a combination of old age and not really caring about the outcome. I watched this game to see (hear) legendary play by play broadcaster, Bob Cole call his very last game after 50 years in the booth. A rookie for the Canadiens, playing in his very first NHL game, scored a hat trick and the shootout winner providing a pretty decent script for Mr. Cole’s finale.

This was also the one year anniversary of the Humboldt tragedy. Every NHL team played a single stick outside their dressing room doors to mark the occasion.

If Bobby Orr comes out of retirement, I will stay up and watch every second of the game. My favourite player of all time and this, from an old Habs fan!

On the weekend, I had the honour of singing at a funeral of a former resident of the RK Nursing Home. I travelled to Louisdale and was welcomed as family. There’s something very special about funerals in small communities. They seem to be much more intimate and personal. There was a heartwarming and sincere eulogy delivered by the deceased’s nephew which is rarely seen these days at a funeral mass. I mingled with family at the local fire hall after mass. With a massive plate of homemade sweets on each table, I felt obliged to try a few so as not to insult the locals!!!

Have a great week.

P.S. This is Masters week. (Golf) This is the only television sporting event that I watch from start to finish. If I don’t answer your calls, texts, e-mails or personal messages, don’t take it personally!

 

 

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