Ralph Wiggum Makes an Appearance at the Joe

Y’know, I hate it when guys say stuff like I told you so, but I did correctly predict the winner of tonight’s Stanley Cup Final and the recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy.  No doubt the media will be arriving on my front lawn tomorrow morning wondering about the secret to my prognosticative prowess;  here’s hoping I can get some chores done in between interviews.

Speaking of interviews, the line of the night goes to Jackson Cooke, the five-year-old son of Penguins forward Matt Cooke.  Here’s a clip from the tail end of Scott Oake’s on-ice interview with Cooke from CBC:

Runner-up prize goes to Marc-Andre Fleury. Asked by Oake to describe how he felt when he saw the Red Wings swarming his crease in the final minutes of the 3rd period of the game, Fleury smiled, shook his head and said, “Oh shit!” Spouse and I exploded with laughter.

Stanley Goes to Motown. Again.

Mike:  You can exhale, uncross your fingers and toes, uncover your eyes, put down the four-leaf clovers, and – for heaven’s sake – let the rabbit have his feet back.  The Wings’ Cup championship was well deserved;  they outlplayed their rivals from Steeltown, and it would have been an unjust result had they not prevailed.  There had to be a few million Maalox consumed in the Motor City, though, following the harrowing final seconds of the game, with Osgood down and a loose puck bouncing – like deja vu – to the right of the goal and a Pittsburgh attacker whacking away at it with his stick as the clock.  Ticked.  Slowly.  Down.

In other hockey news, the Leafs have apparently made Ron Wilson an offer.  The guy has put up some decent numbers with teams in the regular season, he was at the helm of the Capitals (failed) run to the final in 1998,  and he coached the U.S. team to victory in the 1996 World Cup, but it’s somewhat troubling to me that the Leafs – professing a desire not just to qualify for the playoffs each year, but to actually win the Stanley Cup – are hiring a guy that was just fired for, at least in part, not being able to get that job done.   I worry too that much of Wilson’s success came in the obstruction/holding era of the late 90’s.  On the other hand, Wilson’s teams have tended to be pretty good on both power play and penalty kill – two areas that were absolutely woeful for the Leafs this year.

Again I say, it’s almost impossible for an outsider – someone outside the dressing room – to really know whether a hockey coach is “good” or not.   So only time will tell, assuming Wilson takes the job, whether this was the right decision.  But Messrs. Peddie and Tanenbaum need to look over their blue and white clad shoulders – with 11 Cup championships now, the Wings are fast catching the Leafs in the “number of championships won” category.  I spent the early part of my life hoping that Mike Palmateer and Darryl Sittler would propel the Leafs past the hated bleu, blanc et rouge to the top of that list at some point in my lifetime;  now I just hope we don’t get passed by the likes of the cephalopod-waving juggernaut from Hockeytown.

Bold Prediction Dept.

If Pittsburgh should happen to beat Detroit tomorrow night in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, whether the Penguins win or lose the Cup, Marc Andre Fleury is going to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.  That kid played absolutely out of his mind last night for the entire (three overtime) game, but especially so after the pressure had really been ratcheted up.  When the Penguins tied the score and sent the game into extra time, any missed shot would have spelled the end of the Pens’ season.

This save looked like it was staged specifically for the purpose of appearing on next year’s Hockey Night in Canada opening montage.  Wow.  In spite of my genetic pre-disposition to despise all things Wing-ed, I kind of found myself feeling a little sorry for Chris Osgood;  Ozzy was certainly fighting the puck a little bit down at the other end of the ice.  It wasn’t that he let in a bunch of bad goals – the Penguins’ first would have been a tough stop for any goaltender, and the second resulted from naught but bad, bad luck – but he wasn’t exactly instilling the kind of confidence in his impermeability as his counterpart in the black and gold.

Quinn it is.

I wrote a post the other day about the Leafs/Flyers game on Wednesday night, listening to it on the radio, and the memories that awakened for me about following my teams as a kid; in particular, I wrote a little about listening to the radio broadcasts of Windsor Spitfires games.

First, a correction: the games were NOT on CKWW; they were on CKLW AM 800 (I always had trouble, truthfully, keeping the two straight when I was a kid). windsorarena Second, my Dad and I were having some trouble remembering the name of the fellow who did the play-by-play for those games. I Googled around a bit but couldn’t find anything about the Spitfires’ broadcasting crews of yore, save and except for some information about Budd Lynch, such as this article telling the story of how Budd went from World War II to broadcasting (original) Spitfires games in the 40’s and then moving up to the show and taking over the microphone for Red Wings broadcasts, all in time to call such memorable moments as Gordie Howe’s 545th career goal (breaking Rocket Richard’s then existing career goal-scoring record) and the only two Stanley Cup Final Game Sevens to ever go into overtime.

Finally, I broke down and sought out the answer the old-fashioned way: I asked somebody who I though might know. I sent (in a somewhat less old-fashioned way) an email to CKLW and asked them if they could tell me the name of the play by play guy from the late 70s, early 80s. You will see from the comments following the post in question that my Dad and I were pretty sure the man’s name was “Dave”, and that I had previously hazarded a guess that his surname might have been “Quinn”.

A very nice person by the name of Tania D’Angela, a programming assistant with the company who owns the station, emailed me back (within 14 hours, I might add) to advise that she had made some inquiries of her own and that indeed, the gentleman whose name I was looking for, was none other than – drum roll please – Dave Quinn. Apparently, Mr. Quinn did the games until 1987, possibly starting as early as 1972. Just in case there’s anybody out there searching for the answer to the question, “Who followed Dave Quinn as the Windsor Spitfires’ play-by-play man?” the answer to that question is “Steve Bell”, the current Sports Director at the station.

Thank you Tania and Steve for allowing me to properly identify the man by name, and to thank him for the many hours of enjoyment I spent listening to his calls from the old barn on McDougall Avenue (pictured above in a photo copped from wikicommons): thank you, Dave Quinn, for helping me love the game of hockey.