There are years of your youth when things seem to happen at a more rapid clip. As one matures, and interest grows in new pursuits, the world becomes a more interesting place. In 1969, we lived on the west coast, in Maple Ridge, up past Thornhill School. That was the year Jacqueline Guenther told me I was going to marry her, and I told her I had no job prospects so she might want to tell Rory Kinack instead. Life was coming at me fast.
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Neil Armstrong landed on the moon one Sunday in July, we were at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We were in the living room, maybe 10 people, completely in awe of what the television was transmitting. My Dad said “you remember this son” and I always have.
I couldn’t tell you a thing about Woodstock, John and Yoko’s wedding, but did follow the Expos starting in April 1969 and was a Rusty Staub fanatic by the time Armstrong landed.
On the night of April 24, the Expos lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, Rick Wise (an amazing hitter for a pitcher in any era) beating Montreal’s ace Jim “Mudcat” Grant. Montreal would deal Grant to the Cards in June.
Same night, the Boston Bruins were eliminated from the 1969 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Montreal Canadiens. Double overtime, Jean Beliveau. How could the Canadiens beat Bobby Orr? What made them so hot? They didn’t run the world!
Spring became the summer, and I waited impatiently for the fall and the NHL season. I wanted Boston to smash Montreal, but in that era the Habs seemed to get the best of the Bruins, even with Orr. In 1969-70, Montreal won three against Boston, lost two and three ended in ties. Montreal outscored the Bruins 30-22 in those eight games and a playoff matchup would probably have resulted in a Canadiens victory.
The hockey Gods did the impossible that year, finding a way to throw Montreal from the playoffs before they began. Orr’s Bruins won the 1970 Stanley Cup. Armstrong had the moon, Staub ruled Jarry Park and Boston owned the Stanley.
Since then, fall and the beginning of hockey season is an annual invitation to stroll down memory lane. I have several memories for every year and revisit them from time to time, especially this time of year.
You only get so many of these, and you’re damn certain to get only one Connor McDavid. It’s hockey night in Canada. Oilers fans are ready to shoot the moon.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN OCTOBER
- At home to: VCR, CAL, ANA (Expected 2-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: ARI, VEG (Expected 1-1-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- At home to: PHI (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- On the road to: VCR (Expected 1-0-0) (Actual 0-0-0)
- Overall expected result: 5-2-0, 10 points in seven games
- Actual results: 0-0-0
I see losses to Calgary and Vegas for the Oilers. The club started 3-4-0 last year and 6-1-0 in 2019-20. My prediction for this season lands around the middle of those two starts. A 4-2-1 start is fine, 4-3-0 would be a small disappointment. Edmonton has an inviting schedule to begin.
I see this as being a season of roster tweaks, with goaltending and defense getting some upgrades. Ken Holland and Dave Tippett have been running Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen since arriving, and Koskinen is the goaltender whose name has appeared in trade talks.
He isn’t a bad goalie, there’s every chance Koskinen outplays Smith. However, Smith has an extra year on his deal and the Oilers (Holland and Tippett) would be wise to tweak the goalie combination before the playoffs.
I think a John Gibson trade makes sense, maybe Chris Driedger, whoever falls out of Texas.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
A fun show I can’t wait to do! At 10 this morning, TSN1260, we’ll preview the Oilers-Canucks and look forward to the season and its challenges. Bruce McCurdy from the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal will help us tee up tonight’s game and Joe Osborne from Odds Shark will handicap Edmonton’s chances. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter.