What a sad turn of events. Bernie 'Boom Boom' Geoffrion died the very day his number was to be retired by the Montreal Canadiens. It was a shocking departure. Last week he assured fans that he would be attending the ceremony. Mid-week came the announcement that he had stomach cancer. Then this terrible news this morning.
In a demonstration typical of Montreal Canadiens synchronicity, the banner ceremony took place 69 years to the day after the Howie Monenz's casket laid in state at the Montreal Forum. Morenz's daughter, Marlene, would later become Geoffrion's wife.
Boom always played second fiddle to the Rocket in his days with the Habs. He will always be remembered as the second player to score 50 goals, and as the fortunate winner of the 1955 Art Ross trophy. Rest assured, the two are having their rematch for that award right now.
Tonight also marked a contest between the two NHL teams Boom played for - the Habs and Rangers. I caught the game on RDS. My thoughts:
- How the hell did the Rangers get into first place in their division with that collection of defensemen? I mean, they added Sandis Ozolinsh and they're still sub-par. That speaks volumes of the play of Hank Lundqvist this season.
- I don't know a whole lot about how to evaluate a netminder, but how he performs in a 5-on-3 situation should go a long way. Both Huet and Lundqvist were superb on these occasions this evening.
- A Ranger cleared the puck over the glass from his end in the 3rd, which resulted in a 5-on-3 PP and an injured spectator. I have a hard time sympathizing with fans who are hit by pucks. It should be printed on ticket stubs: “To prevent injury, watch the puck at all times.” That’s all you need to do to prevent a trip to outpatients. Maybe I’m just hardcore.
- RDS does so much more with the microphoned game participants than the anglo stations. CBC and TSN have their segments once per period where they play tape of some of the more interesting comments by the “wired” player. RDS did this every commercial break. Bob Gainey was the lucky party tonight. Tonight I learned that NHL coaches don’t say a hell of a lot more than any other hockey coach – “Think fast, move the puck, Jagr’s on the ice, etc.” In fact, Bob sounded a little bit geeky.
[Update] - Don't know how I forgot to mention this last night. Actually, yes I do. Andrei Markov left the game early in the 2nd and did not return. This event shifted the tilt of the ice from pro-Habs to pro-Rangers for the rest of the game. Thanks to the aforementioned audio courtesy of Mr. Gainey, viewers at home learned that the problem was with Markov's back. He has had problems with back spasms all year, so this is probably not a longterm injury. Let's hope, because the Habs do not cope well when he's out of the lineup. And, oh yeah, Habs won 1-0.
CCM is currently running a contest to decide the nickname of Alex Ovechkin. My prediction: the 'winner' won't stick. Whatever happened to the Booms and Rockets of the NHL? Why can't players gain nicknames without them being so contrived?
Leafs 5, Bolts 1. Karma is now 5-1 vs. Tampa since the Olympic break, after which the Lightning's coach John Tortorella forbade Freddy Modin from celebrating his gold medal with his Swedish teammates. For shame. Fonzie has also been extremely hard on his goaltending tandem lately. I'm not talking about 'calling out' his players in the media - that can be accomplished with some civility. Tortorella has said downright nasty things about Burke and Graeme to members of the press. That's why Karma also holds a 35-15 edge in goals in those six games. The playoffs are looking like a long shot for the atmospheric electrical discharge.