(Long story follows the daily stuff… click the continued-link, if you’re coming from the main page)
Hartford’s done. Three goals from the Portland defense help do the Pack in. Philly tied Albany; an assist for Zingoni on the power-play game-winner. Only eight goals so far in the Rockford-Houston series, but the Hogs have five of ’em, and two wins. And Syracuse has a lead, while Manitoba apparently has a new boss.
Utah begins its conference semifinal Friday against Billy Thompson and the Victoria Salmon Kings. (There’s actually one other former Sound Tiger on Victoria — exercise for the reader.)
Classic moment in San Jose, if you’d gone to bed: Billy Jaffe had grabbed Jeremy Roenick on the ice at the end of the game, and they were just getting into the interview when JR said, “excuse me a minute,” and stepped away and raised his stick to the roars of the crowd. He’d just been announced first star. Not bad.
While checking the header, this story popped up. Time Magazine, March 24, 1947. “Next week,” it reads, “the top four [NHL teams] will meet in the profitable (up to $2,000 bonus per player) but anticlimactic Stanley Cup playoffs.” Anticlimactic? Just because of the mayhem, or were things that stunningly different in the post-war NHL from the way they are now?
OK, long story, but it hopefully comes to a point eventually… click along.
See, I guess the legal drinking age in Quebec was 18 back then. So when we voted on our senior-class trip destination, Montreal won pretty handily. That part didn’t do much for me, even then, but I was OK with the whole idea once I discovered the Expos were home that weekend. Good enough.
So we went to Montreal, and oh, the stories I could tell ya, just off that weekend in early June 1993. But let’s keep it relevant. See, we had voted back in the winter, but that spring, the Habs just kept winning. And winning. They found themselves in the Final. We rode up on a bus June 3, the night they played Game 2. Once we got close enough, we picked up the radio broadcast — was it Paul Noto who had the little speaker you could plug into a Walkman, so we could all crowd around? Dave Calarco? That speaker thing amazed me. (Sheltered childhood. Only speakers we had in the house then were monsters from a 1970s stereo. I was lucky I had the Walkman.) Anyway, that’s how we heard Marty McSorley take the illegal-stick penalty heard ’round the world. And I think that’s how we learned that, two days later, they’d be showing Game 3 live, from Los Angeles, at the Forum on closed-circuit television.
Well, I knew what I was doing June 5.
Really, the stories I could tell ya from those two or three days, but long story short, the evening of June 5, Messrs. Roberts and DeMaio, and Johnny Isacs, and I, we piled into a cab and went to the venerable old Forum. It was already packed, with huge screens mounted on a massive podium at what would have been center ice. We prowled the hallways for a little while, then grabbed seats. The two teachers stayed on their own, while Johnny and I sat upstairs, sang along with O Canada, then recoiled and laughed when the CBC cut away before the Star-Spangled Banner. (Did I sing it myself? Can’t remember.) A couple of my favorite players were on L.A., and I was rooting that way, but I tried to keep it quiet — self-preservation, y’know.
The game began. Almost 20,000 people rose and fell on every rush, from a game 3,000 miles away. It was hard not to get caught up in the emotion. When the Kings tied it up, it was like a punch to 20,000 people. In the third intermission, Johnny and I joined the two teachers down on the floor, with a local guy they had been hanging out with down there. The ice was boarded over, and there was just a little hole. I touched the ice, put a little water in the middle of my wallet. I’ll probably never throw that thing away.
Well, it didn’t take long, first minute of OT, and the Habs scored and the place erupted and the people jumped up and down and celebrated, and we shook hands with the local guy and patted him on the back, and we went outside…
I had never seen anything like it. Up and down Rue Sainte-Catherine, one cop car after another, cops in what looked like riot gear. The mass of humanity pulsed up and down the block, jumping and chanting and singing and screaming and cursing, and some folks were going one way, and others pushing against the tide the other way, and all the while this presence, these policemen, there in case order needed to be restored. You couldn’t quite tell whether it would or it wouldn’t.
And remember, the game was 3,000 miles away.
Four nights later, when we were safely tucked away at home, the Canadiens won the Cup on home ice, and there were reports of disruption and mayhem up and down Rue Sainte-Catherine. With a shudder, I could picture it. Here we are, 15 years later, and I still haven’t been in the middle of anything close to that.
The memories come back when the Canadiens get hot and stuff like this happens. It is most certainly, as Damien Cox points out, “punks and vandals” acting criminal, not the average Habs fanatic, yet it has happened again.
It’s sad whenever it happens, wherever it happens. In a beautiful city in a nation full of friendly people, it’s depressing. Whether it’s a Final, or a first round. Whether the game is there, or 3,000 miles away.