May 29 is a memorable date in Canadiens history.
On May 29, 1992, Pat Burns resigned as coach of the Canadiens and took a new job as coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“There was one more fed-up anglophone Montrealer who slipped out of town and headed down the 401 yesterday, looking for a new career opportunity and a happier work environment,” Michael Farber , who was a Montreal Gazette sports columnist at the time, wrote in the next day’s paper.
“Burns swore he never would back down from a challenge, but he never said anything about moving sideways,” Farber added. “He will be coaching a National Hockey League team — even if it is the Leafs — and he will make the same money in Toronto he would have in Montreal. But mostly he gets to turn his personal odometer back to zero.
“At age 40, he starts fresh.”
Burns signed a four-year contract with the Maple Leafs worth $1.6 million.
Burns had spent four years as Canadiens coach, which Farber described as being “like 28 in married years.” Burns took the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup final during his first season, losing to the Calgary Flames in six games in the 1989 final, and the Canadiens made the playoffs in each of his four years behind the bench. The Canadiens were swept by the Boston Bruins in the second round in Burns’s last season with the team.
“The gloves came off the typing fingers the day after the Canadiens were eliminated, and he was assailed by the francophone press,” Farber wrote about Burns after the coach announced he was moving to Toronto. “At least three of his players — Eric Desjardins, Stephan Lebeau and Brian Skrudland — were critical of him. Ronald Corey, the Canadiens president, endorsed his coach but said he hoped he would see a changed man. Burns promised he would be the same guy.”
Burns told Farber: “ When they’ve circled the wagons and the arrows are coming and they’re pointed at you … ”
On June 11, 1992, the Canadiens hired Jacques Demers as their new head coach to replace Burns and the team went on to win its 24th Stanley Cup championship in Demers’s first season behind the bench.
Burns would spend four seasons with the Leafs, followed by four more with the Bruins and two with the New Jersey Devils. He won the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2003.
Sadly, Burns passed away on Nov. 19, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.
At home with Carey
Angela Price, the wife of the Canadiens’ Carey Price, posted the photo below on her Instagram account this week, sharing a nice family moment while the NHL remains on pause because of COVID-19.
The NHL announced its Return To Play Plan this week, but training camps won’t start until at least July 10, so Price should be able to enjoy a lot more family time before then.
Happy birthday to Mike Keane
Happy birthday to former Canadiens captain Mike Keane, who turned 53 on Friday.
I’ll never forget Keane being in tears after the Canadiens traded him to the Colorado Avalanche on Dec. 6, 1995 as part of the Patrick Roy deal. Keane and Roy were traded to the Avalanche in exchange for Andrei Kovalenko, Martin Rucinsky and goalie Jocelyn Thibault.
Keane wasn’t the only one in tears after the trade.
“We spent the morning together and shared a lot of tears , ” defenceman Lyle Odelein told the Montreal Gazette’s Herb Zurkowsky about Keane after the Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 at the Forum hours after the trade was made. “ We both cried. We played 10, 11 years together. We roomed on the road. We’d eat supper and go out at night. I’m still emotional. ”
” It’s tough,” Odelein added. “ You see a guy like (Keane) who bleeds for the Canadiens. He gives his heart and soul and plays hurt. I can’t say enough about the guy.”
Keane found out he had been traded at 2:30 a.m. that day when GM Réjean Houle called him at home.
The late, great Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette called Keane at home later in the day and told him: “ It’s a good move for you.”
“Yeah, I guess you could say it gives me a chance at another Stanley Cup, ” Keane told Fisher. “ Two or three, maybe.”
Keane, who was part of the Canadiens’ 1993 championship team, would indeed go on to win two more Stanley Cups — one with Colorado in 1996 in his and Roy’s first season with the Avalanche and another in 1993 with the Dallas Stars.
Federer world’s highest-paid athlete
Forbes came out with its annual list of the highest-paid athletes in the world on Friday and tennis star Roger Federer is at the top with US$106.3 million in pre-tax earnings.
The 38-year-old is the first tennis player to take the No. 1 spot since Forbes started making its annual list in 1990. Kurt Badenhausen of Forbes reports that Federer earned $6.3 million in prize money and $100 million from endorsements and appearance fees.
Here’s a look at the Top 10 on the Forbes list:
- Roger Federer (tennis) $106.3 million
- Cristiano Ronaldo (soccer) $105 million
- Lionel Messi (soccer) $104 million
- Neymar (soccer) $95.5 million
- LeBron James (basketball) $88.2 million
- Stephen Curry (basketball) $74.4 million
- Kevin Durant (basketball) $63.9 million
- Tiger Woods (golf) $62.3 million
- Kirk Cousins (football) $60.5 million
- Carson Wentz (football) $59.1 million
No hockey players made the 100 athletes on the Forbes list of highest-paid athletes. Coming in at No. 100 was soccer player Sergio Ramos at $21.8 million.
This Date in Expos History
It was on May 29, 1981, that the Expos traded outfielder Ellis Valentine to the New York Mets in exchange for relief pitcher Jeff Reardon and outfielder Dan Norman.
Valentine was only 22 when he hit the first home run at Olympic Stadium on April 15, 1977, against future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in a 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 57,592 fans. He finished the season hitting .293 with 25 home runs (including two inside-the-parkers), 76 RBIs and was the only Expo to play in that year’s All-Star Game.
Valentine matched those home run and RBI totals the next season while hitting .289, and in 1979 he had 21 home runs and 82 RBIs while his average dropped to .276. In 1980, Valentine was off to a fantastic start before getting hit in the face by a pitch from the St. Louis Cardinals’ Roy Thomas on May 30, cracking his cheekbone and sidelining him for more than a month.
Valentine was never really the same player again after that and he also had problems with alcohol and drugs. Four years after the Expos traded him, Valentine’s baseball career was over.
Valentine, 65, has been sober for more than 30 years now and I had a chance to interview him five years ago when he was in Montreal to promote an ExposFest event and he talked about how he was living in Texas and working as a drug counsellor.
Valentine said his best memory of playing for the Expos was that first home run at the Big O and his worst was the day he got traded.
“ I just ran into some challenges with the organization where they probably got tired with some of the immature things that I was doing, ” Valentine said. “ And that’s understandable. But there was no real attempt to intervene because they didn’t know how. So I don’t blame them.”
Time to sign Kaepernick
Am I the only one who thinks with all the racial tensions in the U.S. right now after Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin killed handcuffed black man George Floyd by putting a knee on his throat that this might be a good time for an NFL owner to step up and sign QB Colin Kaepernick?
Kaepernick was kneeling during the U.S. national anthem before NFL games as a protest of police brutality against African-Americans. Unfortunately, Kaepernick’s silent protest wasn’t really heard and the NFL owners basically got together and booted the QB out of the league.
“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say: ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!'” U.S. President Donald Trump said during a rally in Alabama in September of 2017 about NFL players who joined Kaepernick and took a knee in protest.
“You know, some owner is going to do that,” Trump added. “He’s going to say: ‘That guy that disrespects our flag, he’s fired.’ And that owner, they don’t know it (but) they’ll be the most popular person in this country.”
After overnight riots in Minnesota, Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Kaepernick, 32, hasn’t played in the NFL since the 2016 season when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
Photo of the day
With all the crap going on in the world right now, I figured I’d share this photo on Twitter on Friday:
Video of the day
It’s starting to look like there won’t be any Major League Baseball this season as the owners and players continue to argue about money (what else?). But musician John Fogerty, who celebrated his 75th birthday on Thursday, posted this video on Twitter from Dodger Stadium, which is very cool.
Look at me, I can be centre field:
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