Monday, 3 December 2012

Guy's 1984-85 Canadiens home jersey "interviewed" (from 2000)

Diane Lau is known in Carbo circles as the webmaster of the incomparable Guy tribute site A Tribute to Guy Carbonneau.  But from 1997 to 2001, she was also the publisher of a popular hockey humor blog (which actually came before blogging's time), Hockey Snacks.  Hosted by "Shinny," one of her fingers, the website took a comic look at the NHL.

I have obtained her permission to republish one of Hockey Snacks' features, which is probably one of the most adorable things I have ever read on the Internet.  In late 1999, Diane became the proud owner of Guy's 1984-85 Canadiens home jersey, which has been featured on this blog, and in March 2000 the jersey was taken to Dallas for a meeting with the man himself.  "Shinny" interviewed the jersey on this occasion, and the interview is now republished here in its entirety.  (With a new discovery for me:  apparently my black 1995-96 Dallas jersey is a boasty one!)

Part I:  The Interview
It is our honor and privilege to have with us today a retired hero of the NHL: Guy Carbonneau’s 1984-85 home Canadiens jersey, affectionately known around Hockey House as La Sainte Flanelle.
Q: For starters, LSF, could you explain your name to those of us who are French-impaired?
A: Certainement, Shinny. It is a tradition with the Canadiens to believe there is a certain magic about the Montreal sweater. The name, the holy flannel, is based on this idea. But as you see, at this point I am more of a holey flannel, tu comprends?
Q: You do have a bit of wear there, it’s true.
A: The right sleeve is a particular disaster.
Q: You must have seen quite a bit of rough stuff in your day. How have things changed in the league since you were on the ice?
A: It’s pretty different, Shinny. I watch the games now from my case here in the Hockey House living room and it’s amusing. It’s so hard these days for a man to get from one end of the ice to the other. Carbo could put on some speed in my day, and not just because he was younger. There was room!
Q: And you really got to play in every single home game?
A: I look like it, hein? Yes, they didn’t care so much for us to look good on TV, all clean and nice. Un blanc, un rouge, c’est tout. You got a tear, they mend it, out you go again next game. Doesn’t matter how many stitches!
Q: I only got three after that scrap with the bagel knife, but it was no picnic…I can’t imagine being under the needle as much as you have obviously been, LSF.
A: Ha! The Canadiens, we take it like a man! I don’t care, I just want to be out there playing.
Q: Speaking of, you had a pretty big event recently. Could you tell us about it?
A: Yes, after 16 years off the ice, I got to go to an NHL arena again! Actually, I got to be worn in an NHL arena again, even better.
Q: Well, I’m sure the Editor is flattered that someone such as yourself was happy to get worn by a non-player.
A: She doesn’t skate well, which is too bad, but she writes nice things about Carbo, so she is okay! So we went out to celebrate his 40th birthday, to the game at the new stadium in Chicago. The red sweater, he used to tell me stories about the other arenas, he liked Chicago Stadium a lot. Too bad I never got to go, but then he never played at the Forum and that’s really too bad!
Q: I never thought about what sort of relationship there might have been between you two.
A: The red sweaters were always cocky, they were the older design you know. They thought they were the "real" sweaters. And always in the promo shots, always on the hockey cards and team pictures. Me, I thought they were just trying to make up for not getting to play at the Forum. Le Rouge would always say to me, oh, you should see Maple Leaf Gardens, oh, you should hear the crowd at Chicago Stadium. I say back to him, okay, but the Ghosts of the Forum don’t know who you are, mon ami!
Q: Oh…low blow there, LSF!
A: He asked for it!
Q: So how was the arena?
A: Big, clean, like the new sweaters these days. Very nice, but not the same. But of course, it can’t be the same as when I played, things change, c’est la vie!
Q: Any improvements you see?
A: Two refs. It’s a good idea. You spear a sweater, you’re probably gonna go to the box.
Q: True. And how was the game?
A: I was glad to be there, but sad that my old friend was not! I remember how he was, it took a lot to keep him off the ice. But who can play in a cast? This man should be in a game on such an occasion, I know he was not happy.
Q: Pretty bad timing for that broken wrist, hey?
A: Only one good thing about it I can think of: it gives his right sleeve a rest. But I don’t believe it was such an accident, Shinny! You know how he did it?
Q: Caught his hand in Kirk Maltby’s jersey, I heard.
A: That jersey took him out!
Q: You mean, you think it was intentional?
A: It was a Red Wing jersey! I remember those guys. One time in a faceoff I got in a pissing match with one. He said the Habs were done winning Cups. Funny from him, the Wings stink in those days! I told him he looked like a pajama top.
Q: Uh-oh.
A: Well, what do you think? Anyway he was pissed. Later in the game he went after Carbo, just like that! Held his stick in the corner on a penalty kill. You gotta watch these guys, they’ll do anything to win.
Q: Man, it never occurred to me it was anything but an accident.
A: No, that sweater took him out!
Q: Okay, if you say so!
A: And if that crazy old red pajama top is reading this, hey, you, who won some Cups? You Red Wings had to wait till ’97, crazy P.J.s!
Q: I guess you jerseys are just as competitive as the players, eh LSF?
A: We have some pride, yeah. The sweaters of Les Glorieux, we know we are fortunate, red or white.
Q: Which reminds me, you share Hockey House with a game worn jersey of Guy’s from Dallas. How do you two get along?
A: Hey, he’s cool. I call him La Sainte Étoile, the holy star, he laughs at that. Any friend of Carbo’s is a friend of mine. Besides, we both have pretty messed up right sleeves! I made that joke when he first got here. He was a little nervous around me at first, Guy taught him some respect for La Sainte Flanelle, you know. But we hit it off fast, you know why?
Q: Why?
A: He told me how Carbo’s black Dallas sweater that played the last game at the Forum was boasting to him! Another cocky away sweater. It’s a problem all over the league.
Q: So the stay-at-home sweaters are a bit more humble?
A: Well, I couldn’t say that…we have our own problems. Home sweaters always get cheered, aways always get booed. I think that’s why they try to compensate with their boasting. It’s understandable. But we whites have to keep our heads, with all that praise all the time. We have a saying, "Nous ne sommes rien sans les hommes qui nous portent." We are nothing without the men who wear us.
Q: So true.
A: I was a lucky one. I remember the day they numbered me, you know it’s like draft day for us. There we are in a pile waiting for the seamstress, wondering, who am I gonna get? Will I be a forward, a defenceman, god, not a goalie? My turn came, I was shaking like a leaf—funny thing to be a leaf when you are a Hab, tu comprends? Ha, ha! So anyway, the seamstress has my numbers…and mon dieu, I see I will be vignt-et-un! A very long name, Carbonneau, but I don’t mind all the stitches. I like this new young penalty-killer they have playing with Captain Bob Gainey. I knew he would be one of the best. We got some points that year! Later the Selkes, the Cups, but we had fun that year, my year.
Q: Wish I could have seen it, LSF. Well, before I get any more weepy, tell me something. Did you have much of a problem in those days with pucks getting up in the uniforms? We’ve been noticing a lot of that lately.
A: These young pucks, they are always the same! But the sweaters were smaller then, it was harder for them to get where they shouldn’t go. I see that Patrick Roy, that one who started the year after me, he’s wearing a tent all the time. Just asking the pucks to all climb in. It’s a crazy thing.
Q: So, before we close, you have any wishes for your old friend on reaching 40 in the NHL?
A: Yes, yes—âllo, Carbo, I miss you, mon ami! Hey, retirement is not so great, I can tell you that…you shouldn’t stop playing till you look as bad as me. You get back out there and win some more hardware…and be nicer to your right sleeve, crazy man!

Part II:  Reunited

Carbo and LSF reunited (photo:  Brad Amodeo) 
Q: LSF, the residents of Hockey House have never seen you this happy!
A: Mon dieu, Shinny, I’m sure a happy sweater!
Q: Tell us what happened.
A: The Editor took us along to Dallas Stars practice, me and the Dallas jersey, La Sainte Étoile. She didn’t know if she would find the good man, but we had success! We were waiting for Guy to come out, and she was nerveuse, she took me out for a security blanket. I was afraid I might not survive until the arrival, but she didn’t squeeze me too tight!
Q: So, how did it feel to see your old teammate after all these years?
A: One look at him, I’m ready to play, mon ami! We watched him practice, he’s not so different from when he was 25! And he took so much time to visit with us, it was just like old times. The Editor got to hear all about the damage all over me, she was très excitée.
Q: Well, the Snacks staff has noticed she’s been rather excitée since getting back, that’s for sure. We keep having to remind her to breathe, stuff like that.
A: Ha ha! Hey, and it turns out that big rip down from the neck on La Sainte Étoile, he got that in a fight. All this time he never told us about that, but Carbo said so. How do you like that, our sweater from Dallas was in a fight!
Q: Not all Carbonneau jerseys can make that claim.
A: And we are really happy too, we have a new member joining our little company.
Q: Ah yes, you mean the stick which Guy gave the Editor, the Sher-Wood, who played with Carbo against Detroit on March 5.
A: I’m gonna ask Sherwood what he saw in that incident when Maltby’s sweater broke Guy’s wrist! Now we have a witness! He was right there!
Q: Uh…sure…but anyway, he should be great company for the other Hockey House Carbo stick, the 1988 Artis.
A: We call him "The Artis Formerly Known as Guy’s."
Q: Those two should get along swimmingly, just like you and La Sainte Étoile. I’m sure they’ll be taking faceoffs in the kitchen…
A: Speaking of L’Étoile, you should tell them about the mail we got.
Q: Ah yes. One of our readers wrote to us, questioning our statement that Guy’s black 95-96 Stars jersey bragged about playing in the last game at the Montreal Forum. Further research revealed that indeed, it was the white in that game.
A: Yes, that black jersey, he was pulling L’Étoile’s leg!  
Q: Or sleeve!
A: Again the away sweaters are always having the inferiority complex.
Q: So, LSF, what was the greatest moment of your reunion with M. Carbonneau?
A: Hard to say, hard to say, Shinny…but I am very proud he signed my fight strap. L’ Étoile, he hasn’t stopped smiling since his strap was signed.
Q: Pretty darn cool, LSF.
A: C’est encroyable, Shinny. C’est mon homme, that’s my man Carbo! Merci mille fois, Guy.

My thanks to Diane for allowing me to republish this piece!

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