Robert L Note: It was a strange day for me on Saturday, as I was time warped beyond comprehension, when it comes to Habs visuals.
My Saturday Habs saturation began when I received a copy of the Hockey Hall Of Fame book "Honoured Canadiens" from a friend who received a copy at a trade show last weekend. I had just finished my 12 hour shift at Sigma Point Technologies - my real job folks - and I was anxious to get home and finish posting the Canadiens 1925-26 season in my chronology of the Habs 100 seasons. I quickly skimmed through the attractive book, which documents the careers of all Canadiens players, coaches, and team owners enshrined in the Hall Of Fame. I'll be posting a review of the book in coming days.
After working on the 1925-26 season post, I needed some nap time. I awoke mid afternoon to bring my daughter to her hockey game. "Poke Check", I call her, notched a goal and an assist in a 3-2 loss. I crashed out again after supper, while watching the Canadiens lose the 1967 Cup to the Leafs on the NHL network. I had wanted to listen to the Habs - Senators game on CKAC, but the kids needed the comp for homework purposes, so off to sleep I went. I woke up again, just after 10 P.M., to see my oldest watching "The Rocket" movie on the documentary channel, I think!
The movie was in it's final 15 minutes, and my daughter then began asking me a slew of questions about the "Richard Riot". Needless to say, I was wide awake by that time. While You Tubing for clips of 1955 and Googling the same, I tripped upon the news of the contents of the highly anticipated Canadiens DVD set, coming out in early November.
In the course of the day, I also learned of the passing of actor Paul Newman, who played Reg Dunlop in the hockey classic "Slap Shot".
So, enough about my daily dysfunctional sleeping un-routine, here's the good news / bad news you're all anxious to know about.
When it comes to classic Canadiens games, everyone has their preferences as to what vintage of contests suits their desires.
For me, I want the games I least recall, or have never seen, which means going back to when I was ten years old or younger.
Maybe if you are my age, and you vividly recall the last four or five Stanley Cup conquers, you want to go back in time and see the Rocket and Le Gros Bill in their prime.
All opinions considered, the Canadiens DVD of Memorable Games will both please and disappoint depending on your age.
Late last season, the Canadiens announced plans for the DVD, and fans were invited to vote the team's official website, and choose 10 classics from a group of 15 games.
Younger Habs fans will be thrilled!
Here are the 10 games that won out in chronological order:
1960, April 24 - Canadiens beat the Toronto Maple Leafs to win their fifth consecutive Stanley Cup.
1975, December 31 - The famous New Year's Eve 3-3 tie against the Central Red Army team.
1977, May 14 - Canadiens edge Boston 2-1 in overtime to claim their 20th Stanley Cup.
1979, May 10 - The 5-4 overtime, infamous "too many men on the ice game"against the Bruins.
1984, April 20 - The "Good Friday" brawl game against the Nordiques.
1986, May 24 - The clinching of the team's 23rd Cup against the Flames.
1993, June 9 - The most recent Cup against Gretzky's Kings.
1996, March 11 - The Forum's final game against the Dallas Stars.
2003, November 23 - The Heritage classic outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
2008, February 16 - Habs come back from a 5 goal deficit to beat the Rangers 6-5 in overtime.
The games not making the cut, were:
1976, June 16 - Montreal defeat the champions Flyers and launch a new dynasty.
1986, April 29 - Montreal beats the Hartford Whalers in overtime on Claude Lemieux's goal.
1993, June 6 - The "McSorley Stick" game in which the Canadiens beat the Kings 3-2 in OT.
2002, April 9 - Saku Koivu defeats cancer and the Ottawa Senators 4-3.
2004, April 19 - Habs come back from 3 games to 1, and clinch series with a 2-0 win over Boston.
The selected games range from 1960 to 2008, which basically covers only half of the club's illustrious history.
The wide gap of missing content from '60 to '75 is explained by the fact that television stations employed cost saving methods in the day, and taped other programs over the expensive reel tapes of classic games.
Hey, no one ever accused the CBC of having tunnel vision in terms of archives!
The DVD is hosted by Dick Irvin, Jr., and narrated by Canadiens legends from Jean Beliveau to Guy Lafleur. They take you back through time, as they recollect some of the most glorious moments they experienced in hockey’s most glorious sweater.
Back when news of this DVD set was first announced, I posted a pair of pieces on the subject. Many fans chimed in, e-mailing me and commenting in the posts, and were extremely kind in helping to ascertain what actually happened to games from.
You can check the full contents of those posts here, and here.
My main disappointment of the DVD is in regards to the absense of the Canadiens late 1960's triumphs, and the wins in 1971 and 1973 over the Chicago Blackhawks. Both those two early 1970's Cup wins are very dear to me, as I was 9 and 11 years old when they happened.
Two friends have since helped out, in understanding what became of those classic games.
T.C. Denault of Habs World and The Hockey News, has long been tracking Candiens video content from the so called "missing years".
In one of the links above, T.C. details why the games were lost, and what is available if one choose to pursue finding them.
At the time of posting, T.C. wrote: "The oldest known complete Habs game known to exist is game three of the 1959 Stanley Cup finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The cup clinching game (game number five is also around). Sadly, there are a limited amount of games from this point on until 1975 that are known to exist. This is a list of what is known to be still around from this time period. Keep in mind that this list is compiled from hockey game trading websites (obviously the sale of games is against current copyright laws). After 1975 and with the advent of VCR's many games have become available but there are some exceptions."
Reader Phil L also wrote concerning the lost games. He has audio cassette copies of broadcasts from the Chicago series that he will be sending to me on DVD. Somehow, someway, I will upload them to the site for the enjoyment of all those with a hankering to hear Danny Gallivan's classic play by play of those classic wins.
Luckily for fans of archived Canadiens content, there will be more glimpses in to the past via two additional sources within the next year.
It was recently announced that a movie, entitled "Pour toujours, Les Canadiens" (Canadiens, Forever) was being shot on location in Montreal. The movie chronicles the special relationship between the club and it's fans. The storyline is set in the present, and involves of a young hospitalized boy in the city, who meets current Canadiens players during his recovery. The boy's father, a film maker, is busy with making a documentary on the Canadiens 100 year history, and the movie will feature clips that the father is working on.
Another project that has been mentioned of late, is in fact set to be a documetary involving this seasons celebrating of the club's 100th anniversary. Word is that it will be available on DVD as well, and will also feature clips from the past as well as the as yet to unfold season.
Should a 25th Stanley Cup by chance be scripted into the unfoldings, this DVD could really be one sweet treat for fans!
When further details emerge on the all Habs DVD front, I'll do my best to make the news available here.