Category Archives: Montreal

Roger Doucet

One of the things I’ve always loved about the anthems sung at hockey games is how the crowd and players all break into action before the last verse is complete.  The players on the ice start to move and the fans start to cheer, clap, scream etc.  It’s game-on baby now that the anthem has been sung.   The wait is over.   A beautifully sung anthem starts the game on a great note.

No one did it better than Roger Doucet.  Remember him?  He was the anthem guy at the old Forum in Montreal and no one sang with as much gusto as this cat.  He did a bilingual version of the anthem and it was a beautiful thing.

I was out for dinner tonight at a neighbour’s place and we stumbled upon his memory somehow.  I never saw him live but I do remember him belting it out on the TV and when he was done, the voice of Danny Galivan kicking in to stir the excitement to a boil before the puck dropped.

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How Fast Was Lafleur?

Dunno…but he always looked fast because of the way his hair blew in the wind when he raced down the ice.  And when he scored, no one smiled like the flower.  A little wry smile that lit up the rink.

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Montreal III – The Meat of the Weekend

The weekend started with an eight hour bus ride on Friday morning.  Lots of fun, lots of abuse and lots to eat and drink.   The journey included discussions that ranged from humourous to philosophical to practical to just plain old trivia.  For example, someone asked if perhaps next year there was a limo-plane we could take?  Gary described his run-in with a high altitude hockey bag that beat him up pretty good at SportChek and required him to get stitches on his nose.  There was advice on using the bus loo by “just closing one’s eyes and focusing”.  There was more talk of trailers and trailer parks than I ever hope to hear among friends again.  Apparently, some couples you meet at vacation resorts who seem REALLY friendly are perhaps not what they seem to be and yes, I actually made a note about a discussion of how twizzlers could be used as a snore alarm.   Smart bunch this.

We stopped for refreshments in some place called Prescott, Ontario (pictured to the right in a way that perhaps only those present, plus the guy on the porch next door, will appreciate) and by the time we got to Montreal around 6:00 PM, well….um, how to describe things at that point?  I’m stumped, so never mind.  Next, we had a quick dinner at the hotel restaurant.   When the food arrived we thanked the waiter in our best French (I believe someone said “a big-ass merci”), wolfed it down and jumped back on the bus to the arena for our Friday night game.

And what a right-off that game was.   We lost 4-1 to a pretty lousy team but soundly deserved the loss.  At one point during the game, one of the defenceman on the ice came off for a change and when he got to the bench saw that both our other defencemen on the bench were sitting with their helmets off in no shape to play at that moment and maybe for many moments to come.  The second classic moment was Dan falling backwards into the boards nowhere near the play for no apparent reason.  (Well, as the old saying goes, there is a reason for everything and I suspect we probably could come up with a consensus here if we dug deep enough but I digress).  After the game, Matt (young guy) described his disappointment at how quick the game went just as Rick and myself (the two oldest guys) were catching our breath enough to discuss how long the game felt.

After the game, and feeling quite discouraged at the loss (actually, not so much), we headed out with some hitting Dunn’s and some hitting Hurley’s right from the get go.  Most gathered later at Hurley’s.  The band upstairs was a letdown but they still had yager, Dan’s arm was working well, as were Tara-Lee and her co-bar-mistress so the night wasn’t a bust.  Carey and I bailed early and took some heat for it.  But as player-of-the-game’s-in-waiting, we knew Saturday was a day we’d have to be at our best.

So from about 1:30 AM Saturday onward, I don’t have much to report ‘cuz I wasn’t back in the loop until late Saturday morning.  That’s not to say there isn’t stuff to talk about though.  The pictures from Saturday morning (none shall be published here) tell the story and while we were probably in better shape as a team to play on Saturday afternoon after all that bonding on Friday night, some were in better shape than others.

I was up pretty early on a brilliant Saturday morning in Montreal and wandered about the old city as well as up Rue Saint Laurent to scout eating places for later in the day.  Took some nice pics which are shown in the Flikr photostream to the right.

We tied a heart-breaker 4-4 in the second game early Saturday afternoon but knew this put us clearly out of contention for Sunday play so from that point on, we could enjoy the remainder of the weekend with a good conscience.   I believe between games 2 and 3 someone actually toasted “here’s to not playing on Sunday” (although that may have been on the bus trip down).

Misfortune did hit Matt when he forgot the first rule of Montreal road trip play which is to never stand in front of the other team’s net when Dan is shooting.  He took one off the arm and not only did he miss the rest of game 2, but he actually traveled all of south Montreal by cab for over an hour by himself between games 2 and 3 (his teammates had to rest) in search of a clinic.  When he found one, it was a 19 hour wait to be seen so out of money and time, he had to walk back to the rink, which interestingly only took him 20 minutes.  It turns out he found game 3 quite long from the stands, just when Rick and I were getting our legs under us on the ice.  Ah, young guys.  Reminds me of the joke of the old bull and the young bull up on the hill looking down on a field of cows…but since that has no link to hockey whatsoever, I’ll go no further with that here.

The tournament was nicely run by CHE enterprises.  Paul Evans was the man on the ground and his stories of playing for the Leafs with Sittler and MacDonald against the Broad Street Bullies in the playoffs in the early 80’s were pretty cool.  He played for only part of two seasons with the Leafs, and even then only when it got rough because Inge Hammarstrom didn’t like the rough going and when you played Philly, it got rough.  Of course the Peterborough connection made it that much better for this old Pete’s fan.  We joked about his brother Doug’s hit on Gretzky and of his brothers, who I crossed paths with during minor hockey days.

The 3rd game on Saturday evening was a clinic on well-played hockey.  Finely tuned, or at least getting used to playing under the influence (perhaps “PUI” should be a new acronym) we clearly saved our best game until the end.  Dan and Carrie each scored early and we had the Quebec boys on the other side back on their heels and pretty intimidated I think.  We were actually up 3-0 before the first period was half over.  However, like all good things this weekend, this one didn’t last either.  At the end, we lost 8-6 with an empty netter by them finishing us off.  Carrie won player of the game and claimed it was the first time he had scored more than one goal in a game since a street hockey game on the rock sometime around 3rd grade.  Geez boy, wha’d ya go and tell us that for?  We were thinking you were good!

To use an army metaphor, Saturday night was all that it could be.   Some went for a steak dinner in the old city while Gary, Rick and I headed off to Rue Saint Laurent, where we had a very nice meal indeed.  The man at the door welcomed us in, gave us a great table and provided complimentary shots of Jamieson’s (he had me right there).  Both he and his waitress actually had one with us which brought a tear to this dogan’s eye.  Classic.   After that, Rick and Gary and I stopped by the cafe just down from our hotel for some honey cake (Mon Dieu! but it was good) and had our picture taken with some art that caught Rick’s eye.  We were a cultured lot, no doubt.

We all ended up at Hurley’s again shortly thereafter and were able to get tables downstairs where Solstices, the Hurley’s house band, was playing.  Can those boys play!  Not that I’m musical or would know a good musician from a bad one after going with too little sleep and too much honey cake but everyone else seemed to agree they really are great so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.   Not often you’ll “Comfortably Numb” and “Merrimac” from the same band sound so good.

When we closed Hurley’s I seemed to recall being part leader of a charge to some place west near the old forum called Moe’s diner that was open 7/24.  After much searching and walking and frustration, we decided that Moe’s was the Brigadoon of our weekend and off we went back to Dunn’s for a bed time snack.   Actually, judging by the timestamp on the receipt in the picture right, I guess it was actually more like breakfast snack.  No matter, it tasted good and we hadn’t eaten in hours.   When Carrie and I rolled out of the cab at the hotel after Dunn’s, I looked up and commented that it was getting light out and wasn’t that kind of weird?

The bus trip home was predictably lower key than the ride down.  We watched the movie “Goon” on the big screen at the back of the bus.  Hmmm….no Nick Lidstrom backstory in this one.  At the end of it all, perhaps Gary said it best when discussing plans for next year – “how could we not come back?”

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Montreal III – Where to Begin?

Like our two previous Spring trips to Montreal for a weekend of hockey and sociable, this one was a dandy.  From this old blogger’s perspective, the one big difference is that I wrote stuff down on my blackberry as the weekend progressed so unlike other years, I can actually remember some of the great one liners heard and memories made over the course of three days.  I snapped a few pictures as well and our BBM group allowed a fair number of priceless moments to be captured digitally, perhaps some that probably should be deleted sooner than later.

So, unlike last year’s summary, where I wrote one post and promised to write more but never did because I couldn’t remember much by the time I work up on Tuesday morning, let me start this brief weekend recap with a visual.  If I had to describe this adventure in terms of great movies, I’d  say it was an amalgam of Deliverance, The Hangover, The Sound of Music and Shooter.

Deliverance comes to mind because try as I might, I just cannot shake the image of that big guy from the other team in Game 2 lying on top of Gary in his crease in the most awkward of positions.   (Sorry Gary but I had nightmares last night of Ned Beatty wearing a goalie mask and I think I’m going to just keep typing here for a good long time ‘cuz I’m afraid to go to bed).

The Hangover comes to mind for more than a few reasons.   Other than the fact there was no chicken wandering in my room when I woke up in the morning, I think the rest of the movie probably paralleled our weekend pretty well.    While no one got married (no one got married did they?) and no one lost teeth  (although there was that Cornwall Brent guy who kept telling us the story about being willing to knock out people’s teeth) and we didn’t smash up a car (although the bus driver doing the formula one thing around back of the arena on the way home Friday night where he took out snowbanks with his bumper like the Titanic took out that iceberg was a little weird, and weirder still that he did it on April 14th), we were basically a bunch of guys on a road trip probably having a bit too much to drink at times,  staying out too late and abusing each other more than is healthy.

The Sound of Music?  Well, it wasn’t nuns because I didn’t see any of them.  I didn’t even see any candidates for nuns.  Those girls at the restaurant on St. Laurent on Saturday night at the next table were so not nuns that even Rick and Garry seemed a little bit scared of them.  Same for Nazis, didn’t see a one.  However, two nights at Hurley’s listening to the boys from Solstice was a musical pleasure that even Julie Andrews could never touch no matter what she might have had up that habit.

Lastly, Shooter comes to mind for a couple of reasons.  In the moments that I’m able to chase my Ned Beatty nightmares away, I get flashes of an arm shooting straight up to catch the waitresses’ attention to bring more Yager at Hurley’s.   I also would be remiss if I didn’t point that not only is Dan deadly at ordering shooters, he’s pretty deadly with his shot.   In Game 2 on Saturday, on three different shots from the point, he dropped Matt, a guy on the other team and then scored.   Perhaps if I queued up some bango music while replaying those three highlights,  I’d be back at Deliverance but I’m already freaked out by the Ned Beatty thing so Shooter it is.

It was a wonderful trip with good hockey, good food and drink and some wildly funny moments.  I will definitely write more over the coming days.

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Montreal III – let the planning begin

Next year’s pilgrimage to hockey’s mecca takes place on the April 13th weekend.  While not exactly in the league of an action-thriller trailer, the vid below of this past April’s road trip home will hopefully help the recruiting drive.  Is that limo bus a great way to travel or what?

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It Wasn’t About the Hockey

The icing on the cake came with the last round of jager shooters.   You see, after two nights of parking our sorry behinds at Hurley’s on Crescent street for several hours, it was last call but the final order for jager shooters was one that could not be filled – Hurley’s had run out of jager.   (Now, if the truth be told, they had simply drained the supply that was in their fridges but the fact that we’d had a significant hand in this made us proud).  And so, in lieu of jager, some of us had to fire back shots of Jameson’s to close out the evening.   A nice finish indeed.

It was the wee hours of Sunday morning but the place was still going strong.  The upstairs area closes before the downstairs area so this wasn’t really last call.  We simply went downstairs and enjoyed a bit more time before calling it a night.   Around 3:30, we wandered out into the rainy Montreal night and grabbed cabs back to the hotel, stopping one more time at Dunn’s for a smoked meat chaser and, for some, poutine, before heading to bed.    Well, some of us ate, some we’re still full from the salad’s we’d eaten at Rueben’s hours before.

There are more than a few stories to tell about last weekend’s trip to Montreal and they won’t all fit in this post so I’m going to write ’em as I remember them over the next few weeks.  Unfortunately, many will be lost to a bad memory but I’ll do my best.  A sample of what’s to come is how we came to learn that the loo on a limo bus doesn’t have unlimited capacity, and in fact, can fill up quite qickly on hockey road trip.   We found out quickly that the red team was a very good hockey team, much younger than us, and for a number of reasons, in much better shape to play than we were on Friday night.  We discovered that subtle changes in tournament protocol can make a big difference in the hockey player experience.  We had to pay for our first beer after each game (tournament organizers take note – charge us an extra $15 up front and avoid this PR debacle next year) but the hotel breakfast was miles ahead of last year’s if for no other reason than it had actually been cooked that morning.  Nice touch Holiday Inn.

There was also more cell phone calling, texting, BBM’ing and picture sharing than an average class of grade 9 girls shares in a year and while I railed on this early on, I came to see with clarity and wisdom at one point on late Saturday evening at Hurley’s all the goodness that such dialog can provide.   I will never turn my phone off again in the off chance Carey sends me an email with an attachment of some sort or other.  I can see it now, I’m on my death bed in my late 90’s, and just before I go, in my delirium, I mumble incoherently to loving family members at my side…”where’s my phone? who turned off my phone?  damn it you fools – get me my phone, there might be an email from Carey.”

There were the many moments of trash talking each other that I wish I’d recorded so I could remember them now for print.    There were the surprises that add to the fun like being passed on the 401 by a busload of orange-coverall-clad prisoners heading down the highway.  Funny, and a little creepy too.  Two busloads of grown men, one full of blokes escaping work, girlfriends, wives and lives for 3 days of fun, one full of blokes looking like escape from anything would be considerably more difficult.

There was the pineapple cookies I bought in the Chinatown bakery on Sunday morning, the piece of chocolate cake at Rueben’s that would have fed that entire bus of prisoners, the 23 goals Josh scored in three games for us, the four saves Gary didn’t make in the first game against the red team and of course, there was Tara Lee at Hurley’s saving a table for us on Saturday night and making sure we were never thirsty.

Perhaps next year, we’ll expect just a bit more from ourselves, perhaps we’ll train a little harder, perhaps we’ll be a little more ready for Friday night’s game, perhaps we’ll eat a little less meat, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll get to play Sunday and bring home an extra pair of MVP socks and a jacket as first prize.   Then again, maybe not.  Because you see, while we went to Montreal because of hockey, it wasn’t about the hockey.

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Montreal Take 2

Oliver Wendell Holmes, who to the best of my knowledge never played hockey, once said something along these lines:  “Men don’t quit playing because they get old, they get old because they quit playing.”

On that note, a bunch of hockey playing buddies and myself who are not quite willing to get old just yet are heading to Montreal this weekend for the second year in a row to keep on playing.   I’m looking real forward to this, as much as I did any tournament I attended as a kid as last year’s event was a blast.

Stevie Nicks of Feetwood Mac crooned that “Players only love you when they’re playin'”.    Hmmmm….I got nuthin’ here.   I don’t think she ever played hockey either.

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Collapsing Boxes and Smoked Meat Sandwiches

It started out as an idea we talked about a year or so back in the dressing room after a pickup game.   This idea was to attend a tournament out of town.  Make a weekend of it.  Perhaps even a week over March break where those with significant others could combine a beach vacation with some hockey.

That idea came to life during a late April weekend in Montreal.   Our fearless leader and defender of the crease, Gary Silver, lead the effort to get this organized.  When he registered us back in December, he needed to make up a team name and chose “the wise guys” because he couldn’t think of anything better.  One of the other boys who was all in for this weekend, Sean Thomas, organized a limo bus for transportation.   We wisely chose to leave significant others at home and make this just about hockey.

Things started to head south when our recruitment drive stalled at around ten players.   Those who had committed funds early to make this trip a reality emailed approximately 177, 216 of their email contacts to see if we could find another three or four skaters, but to no avail.   A broken ankle removed one other from our roster just before the tournament, and a pulled groin another, although on the bus trip down, we did agree these were pretty weak excuses for not attending.

And so on Friday morning at 9:30, as we prepared to head to Montreal with eight skaters and a goalie, things headed further south when someone noticed a cut in one of the bus limo tires.  Now if you ask me, I’ve seen bigger cuts on a toddler’s shins but in this age of liability-terrorism, we had to phone the bus company, CAA, the NHL and Homeland Security to determine if the bus was safe to drive.  Predictably, it wasn’t.   An hour and a half later, with a fresh tire on this limo, away we went.

From this point on, the weekend was magic.   At one point on the weekend, someone suggested that this is what living was all about.  And it really was.  A bunch of clowns playing absurdly funny movies on the bus (who makes buses like this? with coolers, a big screen TV, faux leather couches, blinds, and wait for it….mirrored ceilings?), eating and drinking for eight hours on route to play a game we played as children.    The funny thing about the absurdly funny movies is that they were only absurdly funny if watched on this particular weekend.  Watched at home with anyone other than a full hockey team, these were just really funny movies.

We got to Montreal around 7:00 PM for our Friday night game.   The rink was about 20 miles north of the downtown area and our bus driver left us as he had been driving long enough by this point that he would be breaking some law or insurance company provision if he hung around until after the game to take us to our hotel.  Since the tournament provided shuttle buses to the hotel after the game, this was no big deal.  Some of us chatted with Yvonne Lambert of the Habs and reminisced about his overtime goal in game 7 that sank Don Cherry’s Bruins in the ’79 semi-finals.  (With only 8 skaters, we tried to recruit him too but no luck there.   And man, is he still ever a big boy).

We played our game and won 2-1 against a good bunch of guys from Brampton (or Mississauga or somewhere west of Toronto) who had gone to Montreal early, drank too much and slept not enough the night before.  After the game, we had to wait for several bus driver breaks before we were taken downtown on the shuttle to our hotel.   Shortly after checking in, we hit the town, just after midnight.   After a few drinks in lively pub, we headed for Dunn’s and had salads….er, meat sandwiches.    Really fabulous smoked meat sandwiches and for those who were hungry (and there were a few guys who were since we ate dinner around 5:00 PM and got to Dunn’s around 3:30 AM), a side of poutine as a chaser.    Then it was back to the hotel for a few hours sleep before getting up in time to grab some grub before boarding the 9:30 AM bus for our 11:00 AM game.

The 11:00 AM game was epic – there’s no other word to be used here.  We trailed 2-0 early and looked every bit like the team that had been given the bum deal on the schedule and was forced to stay up way past our bedtimes.  However, we fought back and not only tied it, but went ahead 3-2 with less than a buck to go.

And then came the turning point of the weekend.  The goal that changed everything.  With 30 seconds to go (or sometime pretty quickly after we had scored since most of us weren’t checking very hard when we were behind so playing with a lead meant we took our foot that much more off the pedal), the other team tied it.   The significance of this goal was that instead of having a record of two wins and no losses and no ties after two games, which would have guaranteed us a game on Sunday, we were suddenly off the hook and with the right result Saturday night, could call it a weekend and go out on the town with no need to play again.

Now don’t get me wrong, I could never throw a game, even for a sleep-in (after t00 many Bushmill’s and smoked meat sandwiches) and early bus ride home.  But if there were ever two reasons that in another life might make me throw a game, these would be the ones.   However, Saturday night’s game proved to be another dandy but it was a game we had to win to play on Sunday.  I never wanted to both win and lose a game so bad at the same time.

The other team looked awful young and appeared to have at least 3 lines.  We knew they were trouble when lining up for the opening face-off, the ref commented on their age by saying the rest of them were still getting their skates tied up by their mom’s in the dressing room.   Yikes.  When they opened the scoring and did that Junior A thing of skating by their bench to get fist bumps from all their 6th grade buddies, we knew we could sleep in Sunday.    We did play an honest game, a game to be proud of.  We were tied 2-2 well past the mid point in the game and lost 4-2.  Damn!  Ya-baby!

After the game, it was back to bus, which we happened to share with what seemed like six other men’s teams, two ladies teams and a bartender.  Back to hotel we went, and then out on the town for more of the same.  Some of the boys got lost at times as we moved from place to place (we were real worried, but suspected they were in good hands) but we eventually all ended up back at Dunn’s for smoked meat and poutine round 2.

On Sunday morning, I decided I had enough juice to go for a run down by the waterfront.  It was a fabulous morning.  We met out front at 11:00 for some team pics, and boarded the bus for the trip home.  As we waited for Sean, Carey yelled “Let’s go!”.   “We have to wait for Sean” someone replied.  “No, I meant let’s go…” and at that he got up from his seat on the bus and headed for the cooler which still had a few left to get us back to KW.

We’re already talking about next year and I suspect the recruiting will be easier.  Can’t wait.

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