Less than an hour after the OT win against the Caps in game one, Ron Fournier takes calls on CKAC Sports. The question? What do you think of tonight's game? Original, huh?
Before taking calls, we learn from a geek statistician that this was only the 4th time in Ovechkin's career that he got no shot on goal in a game. Call sample:
Caller Francois: I thought that Montreal would win. Good game from Halak.
Caller Karim: GO HABS GO! - WE'LL WIN IN 4. [bunch of drunks signing in the background]
Caller whoever: Montreal just took back the home ice advantage. Mission accomplished.
Caller Francis: Very happy - I think that they'll win in 4. [14-year old who'll get wiser over the years]
Caller whoever: The beast [Caps] has been awoken. Watch out Saturday.
Caller Alex: For once, we played as a team. It was great.
Caller Maxime: Nice win but we can't get too excited. Washington will come back strong. Stopping Ovechkin is quite something.
Caller Peter: GO HABS GO! [same bunch of drunks signing in the background]
Caller Steve: Tonight, we played as a team, which we haven't done in quite a while.
Ron Fournier: We have a nice team but we don't have a team built for the playoffs. We have small players and if we make it further than one round, our small size will catch up with us. Not physical enough. We do have heart, though.
Caller Marc: Playoff hockey tonight. I don't know if Montreal can do better than tonight but the Caps sure can. 25% odds that Montreal can win this series.
Ron Fournier: Ovechkin was flat. Looks like Boudreau knew, right off the bat, that his team wouldn't win tonight. I think that Montreal has 40% chances to win the series.
Post game show on Montreal's French CKAC Sports radio station after the Canadiens' 3-2 overtime win against the Caps. Ron Fournier - yes, the former NHL ref - along with Dany Dubé of the game broadcast team:
Fournier: Isn't ironic that Plekanec got the game winning goal against Theodore after the little controversy? [Plekanec saying that the Caps didn't have a dominant goalie; Theodore asking about Tomas Jagr]
Fournier: No shot on goal from Ovechkin; the guy is injured. But watch out, he's going to explode at some point. Let's not get too excited.
Fournier: Montreal can keep up with the powerful Caps.
Dubé: if Montreal had lost in OT, I would have said that this game was a positive, proving that the Canadiens can hold their own against Washington.
Dubé: I don't think that Theodore deserves to be replaced but I wonder if he'll be back for the next game, given his poor relationship with Boudreau.
Fournier: 64.2% [according to some number crunching geek] of the time, the team that wins the first game of a best-of-7 series ends up winning. Before tonight, I thought that Montreal had 25% chances of winning the series. Now, I think that they have 40% chances of winning it.
Dubé: Washington deserved to win more than Montreal, because of their domination on shots on goals.
Fournier: Montreal deserved the win because of their desire and energy during the game.
Post game interview:
Jacques Martin: It's only one game. We'll have to make some adjustments and work hard for game 2. [talk about a boring coach - good thing we have Plekanec, Theodore, and Boudreau]
Post game show is over. Next, Fournier starts the call-in show. Stanley Cup parade will likely be the subject of discussion.
The Caps-Canadiens series is starting tonight and, as a service to our readers, HockeyZonePlus is bringing you some snippets of what is being said in Montreal's French media.
Let's start with Solide comme le rock, the noon-to-3 call-in show on CKAC Sports, hosted by Jean-Charles Lajoie. CKAC is a 24-hour Montreal sports station; hockey being the focus 22 hours a day, 352 days per year.
Lajoie predicts that the Caps will win... in 7!
Let's listen in and provide interesting snippets:
One of CKAC's reporter in DC (remember, it's Montreal; they probably have 23 people with the team): the Caps are a class organization that provided a bus to the media for transportation to the practice facility in Arlington and then downtown for the game. A cab driver (disappointing that the Caps didn't send a bus to pick him up at the airport!) told him that the Habs are the toughest opponent the Caps could have gotten in the first round. Not sure that this is a very scientific or representative opinion but apparently, if a cab driver says that, it's a prevalent opinion in DC...
Caller Francis: Gomez/Gionta/Gill will be in playoff mode with Maxim Lapierre pulling a Dale-Hunter on Theodore to keep him off his game. I might be naive but if we lead 2-0 once we're back in Montreal, we can put doubts in their mind and win it.
Caller Felix: on 5-on-5 and penalty killings, we're last in the league. We need to mess with them and make them take penalties to win with power plays. We can do it.
Caller Kevin: no way we can do it unless the crowd makes a huge difference as a 6th player. This year, the fans are not as enthusiastic as they were last year in the playoffs against Boston when we almost made it.
Caller Guy: Kind of ironic to see that the Caps are so nervous. Montreal has no pressure; all the pressure is on the Caps to meet the expectations. It's going to be a great series.
Caller Richard: There's no playoff fever in Montreal right now but if the Canadiens come back from DC with one win, things will change. Montreal in 7 but we won't win the Cup!
Caller Francoise: First time caller, long time listener! No way Montreal will win. Washington in 4.
Caller Philippe: to win, we have to be arrogant and destabilize them. Maxim Lapierre is a shit disturber and needs to be all over Ovechkin. Bergeron will need to be on top of his game with his shots from the blue line and the power play will be key for Montreal.
Washington Capitals' defenseman Mike Green is on Twitter. Who isn't, really? And not only does he feel the need to tell the world that he has a passion for coffee but he wants to know if you - yes, random you - prefer coffee or tea. We assume he cares for the answers he's receiving from adoring fans. If you're not on Twitter, you can presumably send him a postcard with your answer to Verizon Center, C/O: Green Life, 601 F Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004.
I don't know if the manufactured furor over Alexander Ovechkin's celebration of his 50th goal (youtube video of it here) is a league-wide phenomenon, or if it's just here in Toronto that it's been kept alive in print and TV and sports talk radio for far too long, but it's hard to disagree what Bruce Boudreau said to a scrum of reporters the other day.
"It's 10 friggin days since it happened," said Boudreau "We have talked to Tampa's coaches, we have said our speech. The people that are bringing the crap up are you guys. Nobody cares about it anymore. You guys want to bring it up because you want to see a riot, then you want to talk about retribution. It's the dumbest thing in the world. You gotta have better stuff to talk about.
"You guys coming from Toronto to find out an answer on retribution where there should be no retribution at all," he continued. "He scored his 50th goal in a zero-zero game. It wasn't 8-0 where he made a mockery. If Tampa scores a couple of goals and wants to do a celebration, go for it. We have talked to everybody we can talk about. It's a done deal as far as I'm concerned."
This story is over, and I'm not only surprised people are still bugging Boudreau and Ovechkin about it, I'm surprised it caused such a stir in the first place.
The arguments I've heard most about Ovechkin doing his choreographed goal celebration are three-fold. First is that it sets a bad example for hockey playing kids who now might do their own big goal celebrations and show poor sportsmanship. Second is the Don Cherry argument that he's become nothing more than a clown, that people are laughing at him, not with him. Third is that he's embarrassed the Tampa Bay Lightning and made them feel bad.
My take on it is this: Alex Ovechkin is 23 years old. If showing a little youthful exuberance at accomplishing something great, something that no one else in the league is likely going to accomplish this season (Jeff Carter and Zach Parise are tied for second in goals with 41 each, both with just nine games left to play), is wrong, I don't want to be right. If you're a kid playing minor hockey and you score a big goal, go ahead and celebrate it, just do it in the same spirit as Ovechkin: do it because you're having great fun playing a game you love to play.
Ovechkin has plenty of time to become the robotic player who does a simple fist pump then hi-fives his teammates player that Don Cherry and many hockey traditionalists who can't remember what it's like to be 23 years old and doing something you love to do well anymore want him to be. And Don Cherry is not a man who should accuse anyone else of being a clown, not while wearing the various costumes he's worn over the years.
And if the Lightning feel bad about Ovechkin celebrating on them...do something about it. There's nothing wrong with Tampa Bay wanting to show up Ovechkin the next time they play the Capitals by blowing them out, or catching him with a legal check, or keeping him from scoring another one. In fact, that's a good thing. One of the most common complaints about the game today is that there aren't enough rivalries. Well, these are the kind of things that create rivalries. If the Lightning player's self-esteem is so poor that they get depressed because of what Ovechkin did, they need to grow some thicker skin.
Pat Burns Won't Sing God Bless America in Iraq Anytime Soon
Former NHL coach Pat Burns is a regular contributor to CKAC, a Montréal-based all-sports radio station. When asked to comment on the threatment that some of the thousands of Habs fans got at the Boston Garden when making the road trip for game 3 and 4 of the Canadiens-Bruins series, Burns declared something along the lines of: "If you go to a party in Iraq and start singing God Bless America, you're in trouble."
He then followed up saying that Boston fans are pretty tame and that's nothing compared to what would happen if fans were to show in drove in Habs gear in Philadelphia or Washington. "Washington has one of the worst murder rate in the US."
Good Old Pat needs to have a closer look at the crowd in DC and he'll notice that fans cheering for the opposition, wearing their jersey, are often there in large numbers. To the point that Caps owner Ted Leonsis and the marketing department devised ways to try to make it harder for rival fans to get tickets.
One thing is for sure, Pat will always be colorful.
Inbred Referees - Leonsis' (in)direct Criticism of Refs Trigerring Fine from NHL?
After a 2-1 loss in Boston, Washington Caps' owner Ted Leonsis posted two entries on his blog criticizing the referees. The first one had a relatively mild comment about the refs. Leonsis' second entry though, simply entitled "A Perfect Blog Post", only said "Says it all" and linked to a third-party blog post entitled "Inbred Referees 2 / Caps 1" which had as only content the following YouTube clip:
Chances are that if Leonsis had made a comment to the media along the lines of that blog post, the NHL would fine him. Probably the same if he had posted that clip on his blog. One wonders if only linking - and obviously publicly agreeing - to a third-party blog with that clip and title will also trigger a fine from the NHL.
USA Today's Lifestyle section takes a peek at the Washington DC suburb house of Ted Leonsis, majority owner of the Capitals. The feature includes a little tour with 7 pictures. According to the Washington Post, the property was purchased in 1999 for $4.2M plus $565k for the house next door which was demolished instead of turned into a dog house. Poor Coco, she can’t get no respect.
For someone who has a reported net worth somewhere between $5.78 and $1B, depending on the source, when it was written, and the state of the stock market, it really isn't a big deal. Most of the days anyway. Although, with the upcoming recession, maybe - just maybe - he's starting to be afraid of the repo man?
1999 is also the year he purchased the Caps for $85M.
The 22,000 square-foot house on 5.5 acres is described by Leonsis as "...a nice house, but not ostentatious."
"Ovechkin's mom is special, she comes across as a real typical Russian. I don't want to be racist but she has this look," said Stéphane Fiset of Newport Sports Management when interviewed by Montréal-based CKAC Sports radio station after Alex Ovechkin signed the richest contract in overall dollar terms in NHL history with the Washington Capitals ($US124-million for 13 years).
Fiset was commenting on Ovechkin's new contract and the fact that he dumped Newport Sports Management in late 2006 to have his mom Tatiana, a former basketball player, negotiate his contract. At the time, his mom apparently explained that they didn't need an agent and could get the maximum allowed by the CBA themselves.
Fiset, a former NHL goalie for Québec, Colorado, Los Angeles and Montréal, added that Ovechkin himself is a nice guy who likes to have fun. The grudge appears to be against the mom-turned-agent.
Who wouldn't hold a little grudge at someone who dumped you and took away a 3%-5% commission on $124M?
September 2006, a few months before firing agent: Alex, girlfriend, dad, Caps' owner Ted Leonsis, Mom, brother. (Picture Source)