Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out for a few days...

My wife is having a baby. I won't be a-tweetin' for a the next few games.

Go Habs Go.

Trading Halak...

It's no secret that Gainey has been looking for a move to get Halak a new jersey. Halak is a very capable goalie, and there are teams who need competent goaltending. The problem for Gainey is moving a goalie who hasn't played much, and even when he does, his style looks a little wild and out of control.

Halak's loss to Buffalo on Monday certainly didn't help things. Halak looked rusty, a bit shaky, and a bit slower than his usual self. GMs are going to be looking at Halak as starter: is Halak a starting goaltender? Is he gonna win playoff games? Is he going to make that 1 or 2 'big save' to let the team prevail? That's a really tough call.

Halak loves to rebound the puck. He has a lot of trouble corralling any rebounds, and he knows his game is to make the stops until the defence can clear it. He can make 3 saves in a row no problem - on a good day - because he knows where the puck is going. It gives him a great save percentage, but it can be very tough on a team to live with. Night after night the defence has to be on the ball to help out their goalie, and opposing coaches are gonna send out the command: crash the net!!

Championship goalies need to be able to help control the pace of a game. In a 'Big Game' situation, momentum can be everything - so when the opposition is pressing for the tying goal, top goalies like Miller, Ward, Luongo and Brodeur help control the play, and the puck.

So Halak is not currently a no. 1 goalie - so any smart GM is looking at him as a tandem starter. That hurts his trade value - GMs won't see a Stanley Cup in Halak's glove hand. But that's not to say Halak can't become an awesome goalie - I think he's really good. He certainly is entertaining. And maybe with a full work load he can develop into a top tier goalie, a surprise winner. Varlamov? Steve Mason last year? There are always goalies popping out of the woodwork. And Halak can certainly become "that guy".

I hope Halak gets some more play time in December to boost his trade value, and I hope he goes to a team that really needs a goalie: Tampa Bay, Columbus, not so much Philly, maybe LA... And I will miss his antics and Halak Attacks! But the fair thing to do with him is to send him to a team that will play him, because he certainly is good enough to warrant a shot.

The Canadiens will be lucky as long as they can keep him. Excellent team player and fun to watch.

There is some great Halak discussion going on here: check it out and add your thoughts

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2 tough losses

The Canadiens have had a tough end to the week, with 2 losses that could have gone either way.

They lost to Pittsburgh in regulation 3-2, in a game where they played great. That was one awesome hockey game. Price out-played Fleury, and despite a shaky first period, the Habs talent got down to work and really made a game of it. They shut down the opposing stars, and played smart to score their goals. In the end, it was decided by a fluke tip shot that bounced of Price's head, and a quick whistle by the referee. It was a frustrating loss: 1) Price certainly didn't deserve a flukey goal against - those usually happen when a goalie is not having a good game; but Price was on fire. 2) It seems that whistles are all too slow against Pittsburgh, and all to quick for them. I notice this in any game they play, not just against the Habs. Its annoying, because it seems the refs are giving the super-stars the benefit of the doubt, which makes everyone else on the Pittsburgh team think they're super stars - we're all super stars with the ref's help.

If there was such a thing as a good loss, this was it, and I really enjoyed that game. Despite the frustrating outcome.

The game against Atlanta... are we done playing Atlanta yet? I'm sick of seeing these guys. They seem to make for fairly even games, OT and shootouts and all, but come on. Maybe this is what relegation looks like: playing the same crap team over and over again. Forget that idea of a 2-tier NHL! Anyhow, this one seemed to be going well for the Canadiens - scored first, Andre Kostitsyn continuing his hot streak; I really like the Laps/Gomez/Sergei line - Sergei is gonna start putting in them Gomez passes, you'll see. Price was once again playing a great game. I saw him make at least 2 incredible saves -- and yet we walk away with a loss. But a helpful point, I suppose.

The point I am trying to make is I like the way the team is headed - they seems to be figuring out how to play with eachother, and they seem to have stopped looking to Gomez and Gionta (of course, he's hurt) to do everything. Max Pacioretty has absolutely come to life, and Andrei is starting to score his goals -- Jacques seems to have found good line combinations. Gorges and O'Byrne are really playing tough back on defence, and Hammrlik is doing a pretty good job of shutdown defenceman. Price is playing his best hockey I have seen in a while, no doubt about it.

So 2 annoying losses; but nothing to lose heart over. I hope Jacques keeps them focused, helps tweak the problems and identify the mistakes (useless penalties) and can keep this team firing on at least 3 of their 4 cylinders :)

Winning would be nice too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Montreal Canadiens!

Despite the current mess the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in, I will not let it spoil their birthday. Boston can tap dance around them tonight and score 250 goals, and I won't care. I'll be too wasted. No, just kidding. But this team hasn't been easy to cheer for for the last 15 years - and yet I'm still here. Why?

Because I have some great memories of this team, from when I was just a kid, and even now. I was born in 1976 - so I didn't see a lot of Guy Lafleur or Bob Gainey. I do remember Steve Penny. Anyhow, I'll outline my favorite memories of the team, and Toast the Team with the Most NHL Championships.

French TV, English Radio
My first memory of watching Canadiens games was hanging out in the basement where the TV was, and my dad turning on the game. (We lived in Ottawa). The nights where we could only get the game in french, my dad would get his AM radio and sit there adjusting the rabbit ears to pick up the game in english. The ads on TV would be french car commercials, but I'd be listening to some local bum selling carpets. Surprisingly, the game was in sync!

I used to drive my dad nuts by constantly asking who had the puck and where it went. "Who has the puck now, dad? Who has the puck now, dad?" He eventually got fed up and told me to watch the players, not the little black spec that would disappear behind the boards all the time. Then I shut up.

Why Doesn't Everyone Like The Canadiens?
Well, I think everyone kinda did. But most kids my age were all about Gretzky and the Oilers. Trading hockey cards and comparing stats. I couldn't understand why every kid wasn't a Canadiens fan. Didn't they know they were the best? Who cares about individual stats... the Canadiens won hockey games. Most if the time.

1986 Stanley Cup
I was 9. I remember watching the Habs getting knocked out of the playoffs by the Boston Bruins - or beating Boston, then losing to some other shmuck team. "Oh well, not this year," my dad would say. But in 1986, we went all the way to the finals! We won! Patrick Roy was the best! I think Mats Naslund was my favourite player, besides the goalie. And yet still all the kids were talking about Gretzky... What's wrong with these people? I was young and didn't really understand the significance... I honestly thought that it was a fluke Montreal hadn't won in the last few years, and they were just back to normal.

1989 Loss to Calgary
I was 12, and a little wiser in the ways of this NHL thing. Although my favourite Habs player of all time, Larry Robinson, was still on the team, I saw that the Montreal Canadiens were not the dominant force I was lead to believe. Turns out other teams in the NHL wanted to win the Stanley Cup as well. My fondest memory of this finals was a picture in the Ottawa Citizen of Larry Robinson standing over a live chicken wearing a scarf someone had thrown on the ice. I think it was the finals. Anyhow, I had that picture for years. I was not too disappointed when they lost. I thought they played really well, and the Habs would be back in the finals sometime soon. After all, they were in the playoffs every year...

1990 - Larry Goes to the Kings
I remember asking my dad why this happened. It was a rude awakening to the politics of the game. Essentially the Habs organisation didn't want to pay him the same as LA (as I remember) and didn't want to give him the ice-time. So off he went. I was pretty sad; but its not like I ever saw him play in LA - only a couple games before he retired. I, of course, thought the Canadiens should pay him whatever he liked :)

1993 Cup Win
Obviously my strongest memory of the team. I was really busy with after school commitments - it had me getting home really late, and as a result I missed most of the games. I was always delighted when I got home and the game was still on - in over time - Oh, how nice, they waited for me. I'd go get my lucky ball-cap, and sit down to watch. The the Habs would score, and win the game! See? Easy! It sure was exciting. The games I was able to watch in full I had to watch in another room. I couldn't listen to anyone else's comments about the game: couldn't deal with my mom and dad's stress levels, as I had elevated levels of my own :) Desjardins, LeClair, Carbo, Muller, Keen and of course the King in net... It was just a great time to be a Habs fan. They took on that might Gretzky fellow, that everyone seemed to love, and squished him. (I knew he was nothing special compared to the Habs.) They won with hard work, passion, a lot of luck, and a cool confidence and determination. When they lost, its because they were playing lazy. When they won, its because they were playing tough and as a team. Eventually you knew that puck was gonna go in...

I never understood why they gutted the team after this win. Desjardins and LeClair to Philly. Carbo gone, Roy & Keane gone, Muller gone. Some kid named Koivu who was hurt a lot. The game was changing, and the owners were cleaning house. They got cheap. And we never recovered.

Mark Recchi
I loved this guy for the Habs. I would only be able to watch the games in french when I was in central Ontario for University, and all I remember was the announcer saying the name "Recchi" over and over again. He played offence - he was in the corners, he was in front of the net, he was shooting, he was passing to Koivu, he was playing defence, he was blocking shots, he was saving goals, he was serving hotdogs, honestly, this guy did everything. It made the loss of LeClair and Desjardins not sting so much. He was an iron man, never getting hurt and always giving his all. Where he'll fit in my list of all time favourite hockey players I dunno, but he certainly is my favourite active players. It was the first time I was really mad at a hockey trade, when we went him away for Danius Zubrus.

2002 playoffs - in Costa Rica!
I got married in April 2002. Habs hadn't been in the playoffs for a while, but Jose Theodore was on fire. They finally got in, and were playing, who else, the Boston Bruins. And I had my honeymoon in Costa Rica. I was happy to be married, but I was disappointed to miss the games. I figured it would all be over when I got back. There I was in the hotel room in Costa Rica, when flipping through the channels I saw we got ESPN. And they were covering the Habs/Bruins series. I told my wife it was a sign -- and she let me watch every game, never once giving me crap about it. I would freak out that they were winning and beating the no.1 Boston Bruins etc... and she would wake up from her snooze, smile politely, then like a sleeping cat go back to sleep. I had iguanas and monkeys and palm trees outside, an Ocean like bathwater, and I was happiest watching those playoff games. (when not doing honeymoon stuff - I'm not that bloody crazy).

2007/2008 Habs
I had written the team off this year. "Rookies and Russians" I called them - gonna hang out in the basement for a while and get some good draft picks. Carbo as coach was pretty cool, but Julien didn't really deserve the boot he got. Then all of a sudden the Habs were winning. Sourray's point shots were amazing - but he was gone. How could they recover? But they managed to recover from Sourray leaving and find Mark Streit - and Kovalev. All these kids were rockin; Pleks and Kositsyn; scoring goals and winning games. It was the most exciting regular season I have ever remembered. It was littered with come-back victories and short handed goals. The team was playing a system, everyone was on the same page, and the work ethic had them all rockin. It was amazing! The playoffs sucked and knocked me back to earth, of course. I had reserved hopes for the 2008/2009 season. But this season will always hold a special place in my heart.

(It also feeds the bitterness I have now, when the team continues to under-perform. I know you guys are better than this! I have F$#@king seen it!! Anyhow.)

So that's it. If you read this far, I thank you for sharing my memories with me.

And a toast to The Montreal Canadiens. For a while at least, and at times even now, you remind me what it takes, and what it feels like, to be a Champion. Happy 100th.

Sums it up nicely

This is a great article by Mike Boone ...About Last Night (Sabres win 6-2).

It pretty much sums up what I have been seeing all year -- and what I keep waiting for the Habs to break out of. This disorganized, predictable, sluggish play that a pee-wee coach with a wiki page on How To Coach Hockey could break down.

I keep waiting for the Habs to find a way to use all that talent, young and free agent, and start really playing dangerous. But its not happening. And it won't happen. Not this year.

None of the players have confidence in each other, except Gomez and Gionta, who only pass to one-another. As a result, wingers get caught out of position; head man passes don't happen; no one takes any risks, and the players don't know when to back each other up in the corners, and when to get into open space for a pass.

We aren't in year 7 of a 5-year rebuilding plan. We are in year ZERO of a new 4-yr plan. Except for Gomez, who we are stuck with forever, because there is no way a GM is gonna make the same mistake a second time. Gainey was hoping a change of scenery and old teammates would ignite Gomez into the $7M player he should be. It hasn't.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

There are bad days, and Bad Days

It's been a pretty grumpy day for me. The loss last night has me contemplating why I bother being such a die hard fan of the Montreal Canadiens. Then I learn that Jay Leach was yoinked off re-entry waivers, and is no longer with the franchise (which is too bad, because I thought he was a good depth player. Turns out the sharks did too. Oh well, he's a journeyman...)

Then I could have been Kyle Chipchura- traded to Anaheim for a fourh round pick in 2011. That is really just an insult. I know Chips wasn't exactly lighting it up- but geez man, I wonder if Anaheim got future considerations also. This is Gainey saying: get this -10 player off my team, we'll take anything!

Yesterday's loss was a mess. Gomez comes back, and rather then elevating the team's play, drags it down. Pleks, Cami were non existant, unlike their last 5 games where they played inspired. Maybe they were tired. Ok. Too bad you have 60 more games to play. Price was playing like a rattled bag of bones.

So much for giving Pleks first line duty to reward his stellar play. So much for giving Gomez a break so he could come back roaring and find his groove. So much for Price having a competitive atitude and becoming an all-star goalie. Last night was a complete regression to ... I dunno, not even the preseason was that bad.

Gainey was so pissed he jettisonned Chipchura into space. (although he was probably traded just before the game, which contributed to his benching.)

Why can't this team put back-to-back solid efforts together? Why can't this team play 40 minutes of hockey, let alone 60! And why the Hell am I still waiting for something to happen with this bunch of misfits?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Game Slips Away in Against Washington

Yesterday the Habs ended up losing in the shootout to the Washington Capitals. I was unable to tweet the game, but I did catch Canadiens Express on RDS to get an extended highlight reel of the game.

After a stinky first period, Montreal came back strong and angry in the 2nd and 3rd, and persistance paid off -- since they couldn't score on a clean shot on Varlamov. Each goal needed a few kicks at the can, in order to get that goaltender, who was playing really well, to show some cracks. There were also a few times when Varlamov stood up to the challenge, and was able to withstand the Montreal assault.

Price on his end also played pretty awesome. He stopped Ovechkin on a breakaway, made some spectacular saves, and after a bad first period, had that killer instinct to close out the game...

... Until the last 15 seconds. Was Price to blame for the last goal? Was Price to blame for letting the 2 points get away?

Yessir! Price Blew It!
Not a completely unreasonable point of view in this case. Price's job, in a close game like this, is to do everything he can to close out the game. And for the last 5 minutes, Price was doing just that - on his head stopping all sorts of amazing chances. Its what top-tier goalies do, and why he has got the starting job. But then, off a faceoff loss, he let one slip through his legs. He let the team down, and he let himself down. But after those 3 or 4 amazing saves, you gotta have one more to win the game.

You're Crazy! Price Played Great! It's a Team Game!
Also true. I'm crazy (I talk to myself) Price played great, and it is a team game. Why was Fehr left open for not one, but 2 cracks at the puck just on top of the crease? Price had already bailed the team out several times, and once again gets no help in the dying seconds! Price sure takes a lot of blame. In other markets, like Calgary or Anaheim or even New Jersey, the goalie would not be blamed for that goal. Yeah, it would be called a bit soft, but no further blame would be given. In Montreal we point the finger, call for a trade, chase someone out of town... and that's ridiculous. Fehr should have never been allowed to shoot. Period.

So Price should be angry with himself. He probably went home and had goalie nightmares; not of Ovechkin punching 3in holes in him - but of a guy named Fehr dribbling pucks through him, slow motion and him unable to do anything about it. Angry dreams of knowing exactly what he did wrong, and what he should have done to make the save. He should be angry that after the team came back to support him with 3 goals, he couldn't keep teh door shut long enough, despite some spectacular saves. And he should be pissed that because of one lousy mistake, his solid performance is now worth only 1 soggy consolation point. He should be angry because he wanted to win -- and he should be angry, because Brodeur would be angry - Roy would be angry - Belfour would be drunk (cheap shot) and any star goalie would be angry.

The 'happy' ending here, ladies and gents, is that Price was angry. And that means he's not gonna let it happen next time. Our star goalie is finally starting to burn.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Canadiens v. Penguins Tonight

After yesterday's exciting win over the Blue Jackets, my expectations have been raised! And perhaps unfairly.

The Canadiens really put the pedal to the floor on their 4 cylinder Toyota Tercel yesterday, and were able to wrestle out a victory from a Columbus team that, by the end, really started to show its wear from their previous game on Monday. And now its Montreal's turn to perhaps fade away...

Although the defensive core is starting to recover, it is now the forward's turn to take a injury snack break. 2/3 of The Talent is out (the GGs) and now Andrei Kostitsyn is out . We have called up another minor leaguer, who has no NHL experience, to play against the Stanley Cup champs.

Anything can happen in the game of hockey, and Martin is gonna play a tired goalie (who admittedly is doing pretty good right now) and rely on the mighty Thomas Plekanec to head his offence! Sometimes you can get lucky and catch a team napping -- but I'm pretty sure Pittsburgh will be ready to feast on the limping turkey-bird that is the Montreal Canadiens.

I hope for another exciting game, with Laps and SK74 and the rest really picking it up and playing at the hectic pace they did yesterday. But with a forward core of mostly 4th liners and rookies... against the Stanley Cup champs and 2 stars from the Quebec leagues (Fleury and Crosby) it is gonna have to be a Thanksgiving miracle for the Habs to pull this one out. Anyone have a wishbone handy?

For those about to get shelled, I salute you!!

Exciting Game vs. Blue Jackets!

Yesterday's game ended up being one of the most exciting games of the season.

After scoring the first goal, the Habs seemed to go to sleep, and the Jackets really came back to take control. They answered with 2 goals in the first; and for much of the first 40 minutes, the Jackets used their size to keep the puck away from the smaller Canadiens. They dominated the play, were first to the puck, and prevented the Canadiens from clearing their zone. Why, even when the Habs drew even with a power play goal in the second, Columbus answered almost immediately to take the lead again.

It looked to be another night where the Habs would be out-skated and out-hustled by a team they should be able to handle (Columbus having played the night before). Despite a slow defence and a shaky goalie, it looked as though our Canadiens would simply chase the puck and wave their sticks and let the game run away.

Then, something happened.

I'm not sure what it was, but an excellent power-play in the second period that had a different shape (Mara at the point, Bergeron down low, and everyone directing passes) sparked some offense. And where in the past the Habs lose their momentum, this time they didn't. In the third period the Habs kept up their pace: they were working hard, taking hits to make plays, being first on the puck and driving the net. And Holy Moley, what a game! Suddenly our Blue-Blanc-Rouge were generating chances; suddenly they looked dangerous; suddenly they didn't look so small (ok, yeah, they did, but they won the puck battles) and suddenly they looked like they could win!

It is true that Garon had a pretty bad game. He gave up lots of rebounds - and unlike Halak, who is always ready for the follow-up shot, Garon often looked lost and confused. But it doesn't really matter: what matters is the team found a vein that hadn't been tapped since perhaps even 2008 - and if Martin can get this team to play like they did at the end of last night, then this year's Montreal Canadiens are gonna be an excellent team to watch!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

How the Trade Went Down

I'm sure we're all shocked and stunned by the sudden move of shipping Guillaume Latendress for Benoit Pouliot yesterday. Although LaTender certainly looked to be tired in Montreal and need of change (to say the least) looking at the stats, it looks like we didn't really do much better -- a consistently hurt minor leaguer who might one day get good.

But wasn't it Sergei Kostitsyn who demanded the trade? Aren't Sergei's numbers better than both Latendress and Pouliot? Sure he's got attitiude problems, but he's got to be movable...

I think this is how the trade might have gone down:
(conversation between Bob Gainey and Chuck Fletcher)

Gainey: So look, I am shopping around for Seirgei Kostitsyn... he is a good player with a good competitive attitude who can put the puck in the net. He is ready for the big league, but doesn't really fit on our roster right now...

Fletcher: Yeah yeah. He's kinda risky too. Tell you what, I'll give you Benoit Pouliot for Sergei Kostitsyn.

Gainey: HAHA! As if! Sergei's got like a point a game in the AHL, and Pouliot is constantly hurt! Man that's a good one! What else you got?

Fletcher: All I'm willing to part with is Pouliot.

Gainey: That's crazy. Pouliot. Heh. Pouliot is more like a match for Guillaume Latendress! Hahahaha

Fletcher: deal.

Gainey: Hmm? What? Oh... uh... hmmm. Huh. Yeah, Ok. I guess we have a deal...

Fletcher: ok, bye.

Gainey: (scrathicng his head) yeah... no problem Fletcher, good talking to you.

Gainey: (thinking) did I just get rid of Latendress and make room for Sergei on the roster? How good am I?

I think Gainey has got to be liking this trade. He can keep Pouliot in the minors until he develops, he can give Sergei the icetime he wants, and if Sergei does well, it either ups his trade value, or at the very least improves the team.

As for Latendress: I hope you find your hands and feet in Minnisota.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Do We Do Now?

Gionta is confirmed out indefinitely, and what are we to do without him?

Gainey's top line acquisition has hardly been the toast of the league, scoring less that a goal a game; whereas other top lines can at least be counted on for at least 1, if not more. Gaborik, for example, has 15 goals -- will Gomez get there in the year? Part of it might be chemistry; but Gionta and Gomez were combining for some spectacular passes and plays, attacking with speed -- but the puck was not going in the net. Cammilleri is fitting in well, taking some amazing shots -- but again is failing to pot the sucker.

Chemistry aside, that line is too well defenced against. The top line, and the goalies, are ready for anything The Talent can chuck at them: cross ice passes are anticipated; speedy breaks are well covered, and the front of the net is well defended against passes to the front. In short, for all their speed and creativity, they are unable to surprise anyone.

And now Gionta is out, by far the most dangerous forward. So what do we do? Gomez is playing like a heartbroken teenager, there is a giant hole on the first line that cannot be filled with the assorted 4th liners (no matter how hard they skate) and the offence is in the toilet. Without Plekanec, this team would be worse off then the leafs!

Its pretty clear that Martin is not going to get a killer powerplay like Carbonneau had, and that is becoming the difference. Our goalies are playing great, keeping the opposition to 1 or 2 goals until late in the game, and normally that would be enough for the Habs to score on a man advantage and make a game of it. But Martin an the boys got nothing this year. I'll let you decide why the power play sucks - I'll just leave it as a fact that it does.

So what can we do? No special teams goals, and $13 million worth of talent (minus Gionta, who I think brought it up to $18 million) that can't score.

I think Martin needs to free up some ice for Gomez and Cammilleri. They are too well covered and taking the all the focus of oppositions defence. The 3rd and 4th lines are no threat whatsoever, so why bother? But Plekanec has shown he has come to play every night, recovering the form he had 2 years ago. Kostitsyn is finally getting into the groove of things, too.

I say give Pleks and Kostitsyn top line honours for a few games: the majority of the minutes - but only by a few. Give them the job of driving most of the offence. This will hopefully achieve the following: get Kostitsyn going, as he will feel the pressure of being on the top line. Give Plekanec a chance to show his top-line center talent, if any. And finally give Gomez and Cammellari some releif from getting checked into the ground each game. Once they start scoring, they can be swapped to the top again.

What do you think? Does the 7million dollar man deserve a break, or should he be forced to play through his struggles?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flames beat Habs 1-0

Tonight's game was a very interesting match. The stats would tell you that with the 1-0 win, and the shots 31-25 for the Flames, that Halak played an amazing game and just came up short. Or that Kipper was amazing in net to take the victory... but despite the score, I am reluctant to give it all to the goalies.

That's not to say they played poorly - Kipper made some awesome saves in the second, on Gomez' breakaway and with Cammalleri buzzing. Halak made a few great pad saves, and a couple through traffic. But the defence on both sides played great, and limited the chances and cleared the rebounds.

What I saw, especially in the second, was an aggressive Calgary team, and a passive set of dudes in vintage jerseys. The Flames were first on the puck; they were tough in their end, and annoying on the forecheck. They wanted the puck, and either got to it first, or where on the Habs so fast they were forced to turn it over.

Technically the Habs were not intimidated tonight; they threw lots of hits, got messy in the scrums, and won both the fights... but when it came to the hockey, they were weak. Very few guys driving to the net with the puck, instead opting to go wide. Losing races to the puck - deliberately - to throw a hit instead (after the puck was safely moved away.) And that's what matters: are you willing to sacrifice for the puck, take the hit to make the play, so to speak, or take the easy way out?

Habs needed get aggressive on the puck, and take the game to the Flames. And they didn't. They haven't lately - they seem to get caught watching too much. And they won't start winning until they start paying the price - and anticipating the play.

Final notes: Gomez and Gionta were off tonight; dunno if they got rattled or forgot their coffee before the game. Pleks and Cammalleri played well, Halak played well, and the new kids were solid. Kipper was awesome, but the Habs can do better.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Hot Hand

The Habs lost to the Thrashers tonight, 5-4. Its difficult to say the goalies played well in this kind of game, but in reality, both did a pretty good job! Pavelec certainly continued to make timely and at times spectacular saves. Price, for his part, played a solid game, but was consistently punished by Thrashers left floating in the slot or open at the side of the net.

The team defence stunk as a whole - they would chase the puck instead of anticipating the pass, and they were unable to strip the puck from the tenacious Thrashers forwards.

Anyhow, the question at hand is, should Price get the next start?

Points for starting Halak:
  • He wins.
  • He's a hard working goalie that the team seems to rally around a bit.
Points for starting Price:
  • He's actually playing really well.
  • He needs to play in order to get better.

The team seems to rally around Halak a little bit. They play like they are not relying on the goalie to do everything. Halak is a very good goalie who works hard in his net; this, combined with his size, makes him very active in his net. When a goal goes in against Halak, it rarely looks like he wasn't trying (maybe he was out of position or something, but he always looks like he's trying).

Price, on the other hand, relies on size and positioning. When Price is scrambling, its a disaster. When he is in his zone, he makes it all look too easy. When goals go in, it looks like all Price's fault! Even if he has no chance, fans are left looking at Price wondering: what did you do wrong? Which of course is unfair. The team seems to treat him a bit like an Uber-star: I don't have to play defence, Pricey's got it. But really, did Florida treat Luongo that way? The Devils treat Brodeur that way? I'm pretty sure you have to help your talented goalie look good. You have to save eachother's skin sometimes.

I want to see Price start the next game. He has been sitting too long, and has lost a bit of his confidence, and his mental edge. He needs to get in a zone of winning. Or even just stopping pucks in a game situation. That's not to say Halak should be relegated to the bench so The Oh So Talented One can get his act together -- Halak has played well and deserves starts. But Martin's "you win you're in" system didn't work in Ottawa, and it won't work here. Its bullsh!t. You can't punish a goalie for a team's bad game. Price needs to start the next game, and then it should be 1-to-1 tandem for the next month or so. Let the goalies feed off eachother: let the team play the same for each goalie. Level the ice, and see which goalie earns the starts moving forward - this system allowed Theodore to thrive, Huet to make a name for himself, and Carey Price to first discover his game.

Let Price play. Make both goalies better.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What Happenned to the Habs Twit?

I'm sorry I haven't been very reliable this year, everyone. This week, for example, I have missed all the games. I haven't been posting game previews or recaps, and I am not putting as much thought into what is getting posted (it feels rushed).

Life has become quite busy, in a positive way, and I'm just not getting the time I once took to watch the games. Work, for example, doesn't afford me the spare time it once did :)

I will try and be more reliable, because I do want to be a source for game play-by-play for those who can't stream, and want more detail then the Yahoo! Box score reports.

Tonight is Halllowe'en, and I have to take the kid out around the neighbourhood, and then feed the hordes of children coming to the door. I'm not sure I'll get online until the 3rd period.

Anyhow, I will continue to try my best to get on for the games, and I am confident that the vibrant and entertaining #habs #gohabsgo twitter community provides enough presence so that fans still have an excellent source of play-by-play info during the game.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Shootout win over Atlanta

Last nights game was actually very exciting. Although the first period was chalked full of penalties, the power-plays and 4-on-3 play was pretty entertaining.

Montreal showed some orneriness too: Lapierre going after Armstrong after Bergeron got smoked, and Gomez getting up to give Kozlov a few punches to the face after a dangerous hit from behind. Maybe they weren't the cleanest broohahas, and the Lapierre attack might have been il-timed, but I liked it for the simple fact it showed some real competitive edge.

The top line was flying yesterday, and Halak made timely saves (especially vs Kovalchuk's lighting bolt shots). The third line continued to struggle, but woke up a bit after Laps got into his fight. Mown had a good ornery game, and was rewarded witha promotion to the second line.

Pleks and AK46 one again had so many chances: sweet passes to eachother for quick one timers, and every time the chane was squandered. These guys have palued toheher for 3 years, why can't they connect?

5 posts and a hot goalie kept this one close, and te Habs almost blew it again. But hopefully mow with some (limited) success we'll see the effort continue, and the goals start to go in.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sens win 3-1. (deserve it?)

The trend continues: Habs have not won a game when Travis Moen hasn't scored.

I think Mike Boone said it best:
The Canadiens don't pressure anyone. They don't scare anyone. And they don't score on anyone.

I put it a different, less eloquent way last night: the playbook on the Habs must be: play a passing game, and don't worry about getting hit (because no one is gonna hit you.) Last night the Sens made the Habs look completely bushleague - no matter what offence the Habs could muster, it just washed off the back of the Sens' back. Once the Visitors got some momentum though the power plays, they just passed the puck around easy-peasy and burned the game out. And the Habs had no answer. To many flailing stick checks, no anticipation, too much spectating.

The Sens made scoring look easy. We can't get one for all the silk in India. How come?

I've gotta chalk it up to 2 things -- coaching, and mental involvement. Coaching because I see no set plays on the powerplay; I don't see good puck movement and I don't see anyone ready to take shots. I say coaching because their breakout is terrible, and everyone except Gionta and Gomez have no idea where they should be or where their team-mates are. Where the Habs are chasing, other teams are prep'd and ready to go.

I say mental involvement because all the missed one-timers, the lack of defensive coverage, the lack of body checks and forecheck, and the constant chasing of the play. In 2007/08, everyone on that team was committed to winning. And it showed. When the team played there was a 'buzz' about them, and they drove the play (most of the time). This year, it seems like players are caught by surprise everytime they get the puck - the the shots are sharp, there is no support (no second shot: no crashing the net after a good chance, etc..) In short, everyone in blue-blanc-rouge seems to be waiting for someone else to do all the work, and they dunno how to get into the game.

Both of these things can be fixed. Martin will have to stop thinking like a GM and be a coach again. That means telling your superstars and your workhorses how they are expected to play together. And the team itself has to collectively commit to playing together, and playing to win. Backing eachother up - being ready for passes, being ready to support eachother on the ice. Not with goonery, but with heads up, stick on the ice, mental anticipation.

Having BGL in the corner sitting on the puck for 30s is useless unless he can get it to someone to score!

I think this team can be really exciting to watch -- but they all have to get off the sidelines and into the game with Gionta and Gomez and Cammilleri - and even those guys have to simplify a bit and score some goals, instead of just looking flash.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Avs Take Home Openner (didn't deserve it)

Habs score all but 1 goal, lose 3-2. There were good shifts by all the lines, and the Avs let them be good as they played a quiet, reluctant game. The Avs were ripe for the picking. So what happened?

Quite simply, and its no secret: no finish.

The Talent (Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri) had some great plays ... some sweet 1-time passing plays, opening up the Avs and getting some blistering shots off. Although Anderson was stingy with the rebounds, there were plenty of back-door plays that just didn't connect -- either ended in a misfire, or a complete miss.

Martin tried playing Moen on the first line; but someone forgot to tell him he wasn't there for his looks, he was there to make some room. He didn't throw any offensive zone hits until he was put back on the 4th line! I think he could be effective up there, but he has to get aggressive and make sure the little guys get room.

Another thing that was still painful to watch was a lot of defensive plays were made with players bent at the waist swinging their stick, instead of taking the body. Except for Belle ... which brings us to Belle...

Belle had a good first game. Yes, he got the second Avs goal off his skate, but he also was very good at taking the puck off the Avs forwards, and breaking out of the zone. He was fun to watch, and hard to play against. He was obviously excited out there, which was good and bad. He got caught watching his own shots a few times, and went for big hits which took him out of position -- so he's lucky he had his legs with him to skate hard to catch up. I think Belle played better than Spacek; and I'd like to see him again.

Gorges and Price stood out also -- both played like elite players, fitting in with the new look of the team. Plekanec had a great game, and AK46 was out there working hard - hopefully he can start connecting.

And that's what it boils down to. Although its fun to watch a fast paced play with lots of puck movement, ultimately we want some finish. Some goals. Some wins.

The only games we have won so far are games in which Moen has scored -- what does that tell you? It tells me that LaTender, Lapierre, D'Ags, Pacs, have got to start getting a bit greasy, a little ugly, and start using their size to get some goals. Its a team game, and everyone has got to be doing their part.

See you Saturday fans.

Update: I just watched the replay of the winning Avs goal; it was Belle that left the front of the net to make a hit after Gomez got pounded. He left the front of the net wide open. Costly mistakes. He ended -2, Spacek was a Zero ;)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

West Coast Pain Continues

Last year, the western road trip broke Carey Price, and the rest of the team -- something like 12 goals in 2 games, a desperate win in Dallas, and then Carbo was fired. Jose Theodore got broke the same way, and was later traded by Gainey because he never recovered.

Well, new team - new rituals - new play... 11 GAA in 2 games. Granted, the loss in Calgary was actually a really entertaining, close game. And perhaps a little justice in losing a game like that after stealing 2 points in Toronto and Buffalo. But getting crushed by Vancouver... again?!?

I only saw (some) of the highlights, and I gotta say not all of the goals were Price's fault (of course not). But my problem is this: where is Jacques new system? Did he not know that GM Place is a bad place for the Habs? Did he not scout the Canucks well enough?

You know Vigneault was ready. You know Vancouver is desperate for a win. You know Luongo is gonna be on. It was a high paced energetic game in Calgary... Jacques has to have his team prepped. Vancouver, although stoked for the win, was fragile. Frustrate them early and keep it close, Vancouver might just flop on itself...

Ah who knows. I'm frustrated. I'm sick of getting spanked out west, and having the team shredded. I'm sure the Habs will recover this time, but still. I think next year the Habs go out west I'll cut my cable or something so I don't have to watch.

And really, I'm waiting to see something from Jacques, beside his "play my best players the most" technique, which he learned from Pat Quinn. No way Jacques has lost the room so early on, so let's see some damn coaching.

Price will be fine, so long as he keeps playing like he has in his first few games.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Game 2 summary: Habs win in OT again 2-1

Well, I seemed to have predicted right: except I over estimated Buffalo's scoring talent I guess. Or under-estimated Price.

We won 2-1 in OT, and the 2 goals could not be more different. Whereas Moen basically forced the puck into the net with his body, forgoing his stick entirely and instead taking the puck, goalie and net with him in what has to be the cheesiest goal I have ever seen (but it was a goal - Miller kicked it over the line before he was crushed) -- Gionta's goal was pure heads up talent - drop pass, drive the net, excellent anticipation and hand-eye co-ordination to tap it in from out of the air at the side of the net.

But the game was very similar to Toronto: the Habs were once again disorganised, and spent most of the first period behind their own hashmarks (nevermind blue line). 6 power plays, nothing to show for it. 34-15 the shots for Buffalo. I'm sure the Gazette can give you a nice recap.

A word on Gomez: the kid has vision. The kid has heart. He skates like a superstar. He also gives away the puck a lot on "creative" passes that no one but Gionta can see coming. Everytime he dishes the puck to Mara, for example, Mara looks like someone just threw him a surprise birthday party. Gomez isn't a bad choice to build a team around, but the team had better step up their mental game to make Gomez affective. Instead of a turnover monkey. (This is opposed to Kovalev, who would simply skate into a crowd and lose it.)

A word on Price: what a difference a summer can make. Stoic, poised, prepared, grounded. He's not getting upset at what gets by him. He's not over-committing on shots. He's using his size, so that if he does miss the shot, it ends up going wide. Its really a site to see: I hope he can keep it up.

The dreaded Western Road Trip that broke Theodore years ago, and Price last year, is coming up. Lets hope Martin can get his team going so that the only shining star, Price, doesn't get snuffed.

And let's hope Moen keeps on making sure the Habs are in a position to win at the end of the game :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Game 2: Habs v Sabres -- predictions - L 5-2

I don't have much more to say today, so I'll keep this short.

Buffalo wins 5-2.

Ruff always has an organized team, and they have kept their speed. I think the Sabres will finish where the Leafs could not, and the pylon line that is the current defence will get ripped to pieces.

Also, you can't count on the 4th line to score 2 goals and keep you in the game -- these guys get less than 10 goals a year. Unless Moen becomes the unlikely Bertuzzi for Gomez and Gionta ;)

Anyhow, see you at 7pm for the tweets.

Markov Gone 4 months: the purge is complete

Well, certainly not part of Gainey's design, but the 2008/2009 Montreal Canadiens are almost certainly wiped clean off the roster now. All the stars from years past are no longer playing, and Mighty Markov was the last to go. Whereas I called the 2007/08 team "a bunch of rookies and Russians," I now call the team "a bunch of rookies and I don't even know what."

All the "star" and favorite players from last year are gone, except Carey Price, and I'm watching a bunch of players I barely know.

So, are we ruined? Doomed? No Markov, fold up shop and go home?


Whereas Lang's injury was crucial last year (it poked the hole in the balloon, which just took some time to burst) it came at a vital time in the season: the post all-star playoff rush.

Markov's injury is no less severe: but its not as bad a blow. He will be back in January/February, providing they don't rush him, and will be a huge bonus to the team. Like Sergei Gonchar was for the Pens. This also provides valuable development time for the (as mentioned before) completely disjoint team to gel. Spacek and Mara or whoever are going to have to figure out how to make the power play work. Hamerlik is going to have to learn to play like a first line D-man again. This vacuum of talent that Markov leaves is not a bad thing, this early.

If the Habs can stay .500 until January, allow some of the new acquisitions to start to grow into their colours (Blue Blanc Rouge!) and work together as a team, then when Markov comes back, the team will be in great shape.

Markov -- I love you, I'll miss you, and I can't wait to get you back. But really, there is no better learning ground for this crappy defence core to figure itself out then to lose their top guy.

I still wish Markov was playing: I'm not a complete Ridiculous! But where last year we saw Max Laps and Gui-LaTender really step up as the rest of the team faltered, so now is a chance for all our new defencemen to get into this team.

Good luck lads, you'll need it!

Thoughts after game 1 2009/2010

Well, The Habs were able to pull off a most unlikely upset against the Maple Leafs -- and I'm pretty sure Bob Gainey slept well Thursday night.

What I saw was very interesting: a completely disjoint set of talented players, unsure of their roles, their plays, and their positioning. I saw terribly slow and often absent defencive coverage, and I saw a lot of individual efforts. And I saw Carey Price play a great game.

Toronto looked like a dangerous offensive team on Thursday. They were able to penetrate with speed, get open in the slot, and showed great composure and puck control. This was evident in the shot totals. Thing is, the Leafs aren't supposed to have any offence! They are supposed to be a crimpled bunch of hacks desperately waiting for Kessle to show up, and Burke to shed part of his D-roster to bring in some more firepower! And they almost get 50 shots!

The new Habs, on the other side, could barely clear the zone; they seemed to always be searching for passes instead of being ready for them. They seemed completely disjoint, on every line. Even Markov looked confused out there -- and he is supposed to be the main setup guy! (More on him later).

I was assured by Habs pundits we wouldn't see the top 3 newbies out there together - and although Jacques was juggling his lines, it didn't take long for Gionta - Gomez - Camilleri to get lined up together. Like, in the first period. And sure enough, you got 4 lines who were pretty lost out there.

It wasn't until the third, when Gomez and Gionta could smell a win despite being down a goal, that they got trucking. Plekanec did what he was told to do in the off-season: use his speed and take those shots! But in doing so, he never became the setup man for Kostitsyn, who showed he has a killer shot, but never really got into the game (despite his usual dirty play). Lapierre and Latendress, who by the end of last season where the main horses for the Habs, seemed confused as to their role -- not uncommitted, as they skated hard and generated a few chances, but almost like: "coach, should we be playing the trap or forechecking the hell out of this team?"

The fourth line scored 2 goals -- one on the power play! Encouraging? Kinda, but they had shifts where they might as well have been on my beer league team. Lost in their own end, no coverage, and letting the Leafs sachet around them.

And the D, did I mention, was terrible? Their "power play" setup might have worked on Thursday, because the Leafs were probably expecting something organised, precise, and vicious. They kept waiting for the power play to get a flow -- instead, we caught them by surprise. "Surprise! We're making this up as we go along!"

In short, the Habs look like a bunch of guys who can play hockey, but have no idea how to play hockey together. Jacques had to rely on his new talent to pull off an unlikely victory -- would you rather have that now, the first game of the season? Or in June? Jacques was supposed to provide structure, traps, discipline... and I saw a NHL Maple Leafs team shred their way through a Sunday morning shinny group.

Of course, I also saw the Maple Leafs loose, so it wasn't all bad.

Anyhow, I fear any good team is gonna rip the Habs apart. And if Jacques burns out his best players in October / November, its gonna be a quiet May/June on St Catherines street.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Back on the Air: Oct 1

Hey everyone!

Just a quick word to reassure my adoring fans that I will be tweeting all the games I can once again this season! With any luck, in RDS HD!

A word of warning for those that have made the wise choice to follow the @habstwit -- you will get a flood of play-by-play. I am gonna try post more summary type information, but sometimes I get all caught up and can't stop sputtering; 140 chars at a time :)

To the other tweet-a-holics, I'll see you online!

I haven't made any comments or predictions about this year's team. I absolutely have no idea how they are gonna do -- some guys have looked really good in preseason. Some players look refreshed, reset... but so much change means its going to be difficult to have any real chemistry. And judging how I drafted my fantasy hockey team, I know nothing about the sport.

Well, let's watch some hockey!


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of Kovy and Demers

So Kovy has stated he would like to retire in Mtl, but is now playing for the Sens. Sens fans might think this a slight on them, but quite the opposite. He will always be respected and admired in Mtl. Dude had a lot of fans here... But you bet he is gonna play well for the Sens. No big Montreal pressure, but still an intense hockey town, Kovy is gonna light it up for the Sens. Mtl is 2 hrs down the road, with only 1/2 the bullshit Mtl players have to deal with. He's gona be fine...

Ok, and Demerse a Canadian Senator? Double-u tee eff. I don't hate him as a Coach, and he's pretty good on the TV, but someone I want as a Parliamentary watchdog, no thanks. When did Demerse ever show some sort of savvy for the welfare of the populous, or a nation? I've never met the man, but his public profile certainly doesn't portray a guy with a stable head on his shoulders. He's always seemed reactionary and emotional, neither of which I want to see in my senate. I think of him as a Pierre McGuire: awesome hockey dude, tops. But Polotics ain't hockey.

Update: there seems to be some solid support for Demerse as a senator: Steve Yzerman being quoted as saying Demerse is already a great politician. That is, people who know him outside his TV personality seem to really like the guy and credit his character. So, good luck Jacques. I'll miss you on RDS.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Team Canada Selection

Chatting with my bloggin' pal over at HHIB about the Team Canada selection process, its kind of an interesting topic for the dead time of the NHL.

Babcock seems determined to build a team around 'roles' and a 'system' -- as opposed to what Quinn would do and just take all the best players, and play his best as much as he could.

My basic opinion is that roles and systems take time to develop and to buy into: time Team Canada might not have. And Babcock would prefer someone who will dance to his tune than a talented upstart. So we'll end up with Dan Cleary instead of Dan Heatly.

Please go drop your 2 cents into the bucket; I'd be interested in what others have to say.

The link, again, is here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pluky Plekanec gets 1 yr, 2+ mil

Gainey awarded Pleks with a pretty nice deal for a small center with ~40 points. It seems as though Gainey has recognized his talent, and is giving Pleks 1 more year to put up or get out. Gainey has burned his remaining cap space with this one, so forget getting Lang or Tanguay back.

I think this is a lot of money for a player who has failed to reach his potential, thus far. No doubt he is skilled and fast, but a threat he is not. He was dangerous short handed in 08, but when the pressure is on, Pleks is not. Even self admittedly, when he admitted he was playing like a little girl in the playoffs.

Still, you can do worse than Pleks, and hopefully the 1 yr contract doesn't get him down. Perhaps Jaque's new system will work well, and we'll see some explosive plays from the mini-man. I sure hope so- he can ne really exciting when his game is on.

On a side note, consider the depth of the two centennial teams:


Better hope no one gets hurt. More on that later maybe.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Unsigned

Mike Boone has a nice little post talking about the unsigned free agents who played last season with the Habs.

The Big Names
Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider.
There is no doubt that these players were top tier players in the last 5 years. They are not a hot commodity now, because of age, injury, and price.

Is Montreal the place where players go to die? You arrive in Montreal a respected hockey commodity, and leave as a forgotten husk -- torn down by pressures of a brutal and unfair media, a rabid fanbase, and the faces of hockey greats constantly frowning on you.

"Only 2 goals in today's loss Monsieur Tanguay? My spirit cannot rest with such a lack-luster performance..."
"I am sorry Monsieur Richard. But I cannot do it alone..."
"I find your lack of faith... disturbing..."

It is of course hog-wash. It might be true that players under perform here, and then thrive elsewhere; driving down their value while here, and then making Habs fans lament the loss of such a wonderful talent. We traded LeClair and Desjardins for Recchi, then Recchi for... I don't even remember... a memoriable keychain?

I liked having Tanguay and Schneider on my team. I dunno if I liked them more than Komisarek and Koivu (Higgins was ma boy, he is seriously missed.) But Gainey has spent his money, and is looking to build Jaques Martin a team (not the HabsTwit.) So they are gone. Where do they go?

Tanguay will get picked up by a team wanting to make a splash right before the season starts. He's costly, but good enough to bolster some excitement for a GM with no headlines. Maybe St Louis? Dallas? Something like that.

Schneider and Lang, well, old journeyman. Lang has already been to Washington and Pittsburgh. New York Rangers need a centerman, so maybe he'll end up there. He has to be signed to a team that wants to give the impression of being a contender -- like NYR or Habs. I can't see him in Leaf-land, as Burke has a new game plan that involves.. defenceman only or something.

Schneider proved in Atlanta he can't carry a team's defense; he has to be a part of a bigger picture. He still has Stanley Cup experience and is great on the powerplay - but its a tall order to give this guy top minutes. I dunno where he fits; and maybe he should take a massive pay cut to be part of something; but I dunno what. I'm blinded; I think the best place for him is Montreal. But I always felt that way.

As for Brisebois, he's is probably done. Bouillion should fit in nicely as a late summer signing to round out a team needing some energetic defense. Any team could use him. Except Toronto, who has enough already. Dandenault -- what happened? No reason for this guy to be sent packing to the AHL, but who would take him as either a D or a 4th liner? Dang, hard luck.

Good luck to all of them; you all played well for my Habs, and I feel lucky to have been able to watch you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Travis Moen in, Tommy K out

This one is really a woopidy-doo.

Travis Moen brings his grit, energy and character play to bolster our third/fourth line and penalty kill. He has more hits than Mara, and is a big-fat-minus player. But he actually should do a nice job filling that role. I look forward to him mucking it up with the toughies on the other teams.

Tommy-K leaves us to go to Carolina. I have no feelings for this move. Tommy-K was supposed to be like Begin, but either his conditioning or his heart failed him by the end of last season. He wasn't hitting as much, he wasn't physical with the other team, he wasn't fighting, and he wasn't really able to help out Guillaume and Maxime Lapierre. I still think he is a good teammate to have, and he always played with energy. I mean, who, at the end of last season, really played their all?

So long Tommy-K, I think you'll fit in really well in Carolina, and wish you some success. Carolina has been a much more succesful post-season club in recent years than the CH.

And it really is a shame about Tanguay. He'd be a great fit for the Habs this year I think, but his price tag is just too high. The Gazette is wondering how someone who cost us so much can now be looking for work, and the answer is simple: Tanguay is an expensive player, prone to injury, who is a great setup man. Teams that have snipers who need "the pass" are already set up, for the most part, so Tanguay's role is just not required. Talks of him in Phoenix or Miami make sense -- he will naturally boost any offensive unit -- but contenders have spent their money, and already formed their killer offense.

I wish we could keep him. Wherever he lands he'll be a pleasure to watch.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Bring on the HItz!

Ok, so I was concerned we wouldn't have a hitter on the team; a guy who could (cleanly) push around opponents better players and make life miserable for the skilled forwards in our division.

... And so Gainey just signed Paul Mara: who according to this had 123 hits last year.

Andrei Kostitsyn had 124
Komisarek had 191
Luke Schenn had 206
Lucic had 262

And Clutterbuck won the day with 356

Mara, big, but not so much a hitter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Saku to Kalifornia

Looks like our Fearless Leader has managed to find himself a new nest; Saku is now a Anaheim Duck!

I think this is great news -- he'll be re-united with Teemu Selanne, play with Scott Neidermayer, and have a chance to bolster a young(ish) team. Plus, its almost as far from Montreal as possible, so he should get some relief from the press. Maybe.

That being said -- think he's gonna be a first line center? Hell no. Getzlaf is a big, angry young, talented first line center. And now Saku can play the 2nd line / 3rd line role, wherever he is needed.

So really Saku is finding a spot that we hoped he'd find on the Habs -- but without a Getzlaf, Staal, Malkin, Lecavellier, etc... Saku's giant heart simply had no place to fill here on the East coast.

Hyvä Menestys Saku Koivu!!

The Trashing Continues

The Big Booner posted another story about other people's news stories, echoing the concerns a lot of sports writers have over the new-look Canadiens. The article is here.

I can't say any of these reporters are wrong. Like Boone, I respect McGuire. I can't disagree that Gainey's moves don't necessarily seem like an improvement.

The Habs got 3 small forwards; the Leafs got large punishing defence and checkers. The Habs got Gill, who is tall -- but hardly as good as Zdeno Chara. Kovalev went down the street, to fill out their already dangerous, if not inconsistent, offence. The Sens also have Pascal LeClaire, who could be awesome (if he retains the form he had a couple years ago.) Boston still has its core that made them no.1 last year, and Buffalo, with a healthy Miller is gonna be pretty good too.

So, are the Habs doomed? Its gonna be a killer division, and there is not a lot of confidence in the new changes.

Everyone is (still) upset because, as I mentioned before, its not what most fans wanted. Or expected. And there is still no Vincent Lecavellier. And what most people had on paper as their dream Habs team is now totally in the trash (see my post with my picks.)

So that's right McGuire, TSN, Gazette, La Presse, CNN, The Weekly World News, and Sesame Street, its not what you would have done. Because you aren't the GM. Only Gainey is the GM. He has a plan. He has a theory. Its different than (granted, a lot) people expected. It might completely fail. It might be brilliant. It will probalby be just Ok.

But lets give them at least a few games to actally play hockey to see where it stands. He wants to copy the New Jersey Devils. Not a bad theory, really. We don't have the NJD, but some of the peices are there, if they work together. Let them play!

Because, you have to realise, that you have no choice in the matter. Your only choice is to cheer for a different team. (Which for me is no choice at all, sadly.)

Monday, July 6, 2009

New Coaches

TSN is all about the Canadiens today, which is kinda nice to see. This story isn't exactly earth shattering, but does introduce our new coaches.

Looks like they once again did not take my advice and get Eddie as goal tending coach, or Chelios as Defensive Specialist. Its almost like they don't even read this blog! Come on!

Anyhow, it mentions how Groulx is basically Martin's main man, so this is no surprise. Groulx worked with Vokoun and Luongo, and these are good goalies, so there is hope for Price. Florida has had strong goal tending in the last few years; always a sneaker pick in hockey pools if you can get them. They might not win a lot, but their numbers are good. Hopefully Price can find his groove.

Pearn sounds like a coach with lots of experience, which is good. He can get the 'Money' players to stay on track, and maybe he already has a raport with Gomez. There are some pretty serious dudes behind the bench in Montreal now; lets see if they can get the team to get into a system and perform early. Otherwise, yikes!!

Anyhow, a few roster spots left to fill and we'll get an idea of what our team looks like.

If Tanguay / Lang are coming back, look for it to be at the end of the summer. They'll get signed somewhere, but they will really be after teams have gotten their RFAs signed, and need to stuff a few holes.

And it looks like Koivu will not be Captain (even if by some miracle he does come back.) Insert conspiracy theory about how 'no one can wear the C longer than Beliveau' here.

Habs Fans Always Looking Back - Time To Turn Around

In the aftermath of the shockwave that hit the Montreal Canadiens July 1st, its interesting to see how many fans, myself included, were left looking back over what was -- instead of looking forward.

It seems to be a great curse of the organization (and also what makes it so great). The shadow of past success and story overshadow the now.
  • Higgins gets traded, and there is an outcry of support for him to stay a Hab
  • Komisarek goes to the (yak) Leafs, and then reports surfaced we could have kept him if we gave him an 8 yr deal and the key to the city.
  • Koivu is not (yet?) resigned, and suddenly he's the best captain a hockey team could have.
  • Kovalev is not (yet?) resigned, and there are petitions for his return.
  • Tanguay is not (yet?) resigned, and there is much wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth.
Yes, as a Canadiens fan I have already stated I would like to have seen small tinkering to (what I thought was) the solid core. I loved Higgins and Komisarek, the wizardry of Tanguay's passes, Kovalev's punishing wrister from the half-boards, Koivu's bravery and determination, Komisarek's competitiveness, and Higgins' determination. I have fond memories of them all.

But that's just it; they're memories. It seems like only a few of these memories happened at once. If Komisarek was kicking ass, then Kovalev was asleep. If Kovalev was scoring, Koivu and Higgins were nowhere to be seen. There were streaks of brilliance; but it was never a complete picture.

You can't win with memories.

And its over. The team has a new polish, a new flavour, and what was there is gone. You can complain about it all you want, talk about what could have been, but really fans, you have to move on.

Stop thinking about what could have been; start looking at what we have. A defensive minded coach. 2 young players from the 2003 New Jersey Devils, still in their prime. Still a solid defensive core, and still some young talent. Stanley Cup experience. What does this mean? Looks like Gainey is gonna try and trap his way into success. He has all the pieces of a defence-first low scoring club, that wins games.

No one knows if this will work. And we'll always be able to look back at our 2008/2009 team and wonder "what if?" -- "shoulda-coulda-woulda" -- but it is all academic now.

And the press will pan it no matter what; even if we kept the hometown heroes and once again failed to get any 'elite' level players. They love to kill a guy, then weep on his grave like it was a tragedy. Mobster style.

I have to cheer for Gomez. It's not gonna be easy, but the colours run deeper than petty preferences. Go Habs Go.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I'm an idiot

So it turns out that OF COURSE Gionta and Gomez have played together, in NJ. So we'll see if their play can inspire this team to compete.

Also, the last post was really long. And probably boring. Sorry.

Your New Montreal Canadiens

So what have we got? What does this team look like now? Are we better? Worse? Or just different?

Massively different. But a contender, we are not. Yet. How can we be? None of these payers have played together before.

Gainey needed to reshape the Montreal Canadiens. But they weren't completely busted -- the core was Ok, and a few shrewd moves could have gotten fans really excited. Instead, much like he did with the bench, he turned it upside down and shook everyone out.

Our top line went from Kovalev, Koivu, Tanguay to Camelari, Gomez, Gionta. These new guys can score. They are on a line with guys who can score. Will they have the power to drive through the walls Toronto has put up? The will to crack Pascal LeClaire in Ottawa? The leadership and maturity to muscle through a disasterous road trip out West? Or did we just get 3 new Jason Blakes?

Gainey did go out and get Stanley Cup winners. That's important for a club that wants to play in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He went and got "better" players, in a paper sense of the word (except Gomez, who seems to be up there in the over-rated-asphere.) Gainey needed to show the other players in the league he was willing to cut dead weight, and sign legitimate players. Consider this: Gionta, Cammalleri, and even Gomez show up on fantasy hockey pool rosters. Koivu, Higgins, and even Tanguay do not (in recent years). So Gainey "got real." These are the kind of names that people will recognise, and take seriously, outside Montreal. And that's actually a good thing!

But what's got Habs fans upset (what has me upset) is I was getting to know and like the team we had. It blew chunks last April, but I liked the team. The young maturing core -- the familiar Habs faces, watching the team live together, die together, and pull together to have a better season next year... only to get shredded.

The Habs have always had this mystique about them where its "our team against the world." Which was why winning was so great. In the late 90s we lost that feel of "our team" with lack-luster players and a lack of heart and commitment from all players. But in 2007/2008, it was back! Our youngsters were having a great year, our star goalie took us to the top of the standings, and our super-star Kovalev was lighting it up.

But now I dunno who my team is. I have to start from scratch. Is Gomez really a bum? Is Gionta over the hill? Is Gill really just the last surviving Ent from Middle Earth?

Its not as bad as fans are making it out. I dunno if we have a contender, because half the team has never even played together before. I'll miss Higgins and Komisarek. I'll miss Koivu (who'd be a great 3rd line C and captain for this new look team.) If Tanguay goes, I'll miss him too (I always like Tanguay).

But on paper I liked last year's team a lot, and it failed. Maybe with the lowered expectations this year, we'll see something special.

My problem is I have to get over it. Its done. Bonjour la visite; favorite players off the team, new batch rolling in. No going back. Sadly.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Hangover...

July 2nd, 8am,

The Molson family cabin, somewhere in Northern Quebec.

The brothers awake after a wild Canada Day weekend cottage party.

Andrew: Whoa, some party last night, eh?
Geoff: Yeah, I can't believe I drank the whole thing.
Justin: I can't believe I proposed to a racoon...
Andrew: well, it was a big racoon...
Justin: No kidding. It clawed the Hell outta my face.
Andrew: you weren't wearing any pants...
Geoff: Man I'm starved. Who wants eggs?
Andrew: Hey, didn't something important happen yesterday?
Geoff: Oh yeah! We own the Canadiens again!
Justin: Oh crap! And it was the first day of free agency!! Dudes, we totally missed it!
Andrew: shit shit shit.. omygod... who did we leave in charge?
Geoff: Bob Gainey...


Justin: pfff, no problem!
Geoff: Bob? Genius! We'll be fine.
Andrew: you're right your right... I dunno why I was freaking out. Good Ol' Bob. Everything will be fine.
Justin: Man, I can't wait to see who we got. With Higgins and Komisarek, bring in Gaborik to help out with the scoring...
Geoff: or finally get that Tampa deal done. That'd be sweet.
Andrew: for sure.
Justin: cool. So what happened to those eggs?


Higgins for Gomez. Sob.

I had to re-write this post. Initially I was grudgingly accepting of this trade. Then I looked at Gomez's numbers. Then I remembered how stupid I thought the NYR were for paying him all that money. I thought about how bad I would mock my pals if the Leafs made this move.

This is terrible. I really like Higgins. I would have pegged him as a cornerstone of the rebuilding Canadiens. I know he didn't have big numbers, but when he was playing well, he had an uncanny ability to have the puck stick to him: whether working in the corners or killing a penalty. Higgins was my favorite Hab -- he even wore my number (which was Carbo's number).

And we got a player who has only broken the 20 goal mark once in his career? Sure, he was on Stanley Cup winning teams -- but he was not the reason they won. He was surrounded by a winning team. He may have been a good second line center for NJ, but so is Trevor Zajac.

Gainey needed a big-time player to draw in other top talent. He needed to convince other players in the league the Canadiens are gonna be a serious hockey club and a competitive one. Gomez is not that guy. Players didn't flock to NY to play with him, and if he really is the 1st line center on our Habs, then its gonna be a laugh of a season.

Damnit. This is starting to suck. I sure hope Bob has other tricks up his sleeve, and Gomez ends up beng a "nice to have" instead of "all we have".

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sedins? Oh No...

Although I stand by my last article about Gainey and his plans, this report from the Gazette made me feel very sad.

The Sedins? Why why why? I don't like these twins. They do have an uncanny ability to find eachother on the ice, and they can break a game open with a timely goal. But the fact they are inseperable clones I find very disturbing. They need to play together. They need the same money. They need to be traded together. They need to room together and eat together and play cards together and make love together. (ew, sorry about that last one.) What kind of special treatment bullshit is that? Its like they are their own sub-team on a team -- never individually accountable for suckitude or success. The coach will be handcuffed with special teams options, and even handicapped in picking a third member for their line (unless they clone another one.) We already have the Brothers K, anyone not blood related on the team is gonna start t really feel left out.

I'd prefer we spend the money on one big name than even bigger money on these 2 names. They freak me out man, make me unconfortable. Like a kid riding a bike down a hotel hallway alone, or flying a kite in the rain, I just find them unsettling.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Feeling Good About Gainey

For some strange reason, I am feeling really good about Bob Gainey rebuilding the Habs. With his recent moves, and his 'shrewd' planning of having the entire team as an FA, its like he's acting as a new GM would.

Most importantly, he seems committed to not sticking to his past. He tried to build a championship team over the last five years (or eight? I forget...) years. He got the team a sniper: he kept the heart-and-soul captain: he built through the draft: he tried for a super-talented rookie goalie: he recognised top talent and tried to acquire it. He hired his hockey friends into important positions, because he could trust them.

Well, that didn't really work. Although the team had some success, (one season) it was unable to become a hockey player's choice destination, like Detroit, Pittsburgh, San Jose, whatever. Some young talent worked out, others have struggled. So be it.

Gainey had his plan to rebuild this year regardless. Probably the only thing he regrets is having to let Carbo go. (Jarvis, although his friend, is not a defenceman -- and everyone knows that, so it was probably no big surprise.)

Anyhow, because of the recent moves to change the bench, I have great confidence that Gainey is gonna put together a good team next year. He will take the best options available to him, and that might involve some existing pieces, or it might involve some new pieces. Whatever he is gonna do, he certainly isn't going to show any undeserved loyalty.

If Koivu ends up in Minnisota like everyone says, I will be sad to see him go. But he'll probably score 30 goals, and have a career year. So screw him ;) If he can't land Komisarek, then he'll use someone else. If he can't get Lecavellier, Hossa, Heatly, or Gaborik, then you know it will not be for lack of trying.

Gainey, for all his foibles, knows hockey. He knows you need good players to be competitive, and he knows you need tough defence, skilled forwards, and big shooters. He'll make a good team. He is also good with cash: he won't risk the financials of the team unnecessarily, and is willing to be out-bid.

In Bob we trust. I can't wait for the picture to start revealing itself.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Follow Up: Belfour as Goalie Coach

So I am still all for this idea, the Eagle training up the Price-burg into the ultimate positioning goalie and competitor...

And with this news that Chelios is done in Detroit, and Jarvis gone, well... its another perfect fit!

Gainey I'm sure would love to bring in another ex-teammate (did they play together?) and champion to beef up his coaching staff. With Chelios' work ethic, he can whip all them defenceman into shape. With his emotion and leadership, he can surely spark a sense of pride and accountability in the young defensive core.

Chelios and Eddie were good friends in Chicago; reading to school children, attending Sunday service and teaching the values of chastity and sobriety... oh, wait. Scratch that.

If Martin is a snore-fest at press conferences, imagine the kind of bafoonery that these two would generate! Never mind Tommy K getting arrested in Florida, after 2 months of these 2 together, I'm sure most of the team would be wanted by the FBI!!

Ok, its true neither player has officially retired yet. A small technicality. But if Gainey really wants to get some buzz for next year, he's gotta take advantage of this one.

The Axe Man Cometh

Speak softly, and carry a big stick
-- Theodore Roosevelt
Bob Gainey is essentially firing himself these days. He has cut loose all the players with contracts that ended this year. He got himself a new coach, and then turned the Tommy Gun on his own bench. In true mobster style, he has cut everything down to rebuild his empire.

Gainey knows his last five-year plan (or whatever it was) didn't work. It wasn't the complete failure everyone is calling it, with one Eastern Conference No. 1 finish to claim, but it didn't do anything for the playoffs. So he starts again.

He is doing a good thing by grabbing The Franchise and shaking it upside down; with this much fresh blood coming into the team, there will be plenty of time to test a new 5-yr plan. If the Habs fail next year, it won't really matter, because the team is "rebuilding," and still finding its way. The new faces, both on and off the ice, will generate new excitement and hope for a team, but will also properly set expectations. If the CH tank, no one will be surprised.

And as far as Gainey goes, he knows he might be on the way out also. He might be friends with the Molsons (I know I'm very good friends with the Molsons) but they'll want to put their mark on their team -- and maybe they figure Gainey's time is up.

So, as a man living on the edge, Gainey is living on the edge. He's taking chances, trying to set things in a direction he feels good about before possibly going to the guillotine himself. And then some other sucker GM (Martin?!?) can try and sort things out in their way.

Personally, although I am not agreeing with all the changes being made (but then, I don't have all the info) I am glad to see the changes. As long as there is an attempt being made to remian competitive (unlike the late 1990s) then this change is welcome.

I'll kiss the ring, Don Gainey. But I will weep no tears if you are next to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Back to Beersics

After 100 years, some things change and some things don't -- The Montreal Canadiens are once again owned by the Molson family.

George Gillett Junior was an awesome owner. Since he wasn't a Montrealer, he was able to look at the team with an outside perspective. He knew that the team needed a GM with good experience, a level head and a feel for the town -- bringing in Gainey after the string of fools who had been in charge was a great move. (The only downside was losing Andre Savard, who was a genius in spotting young talent.)

Gillett spent the money that the previous ownership was unwilling to spend; and when the team got gutted, post 1993, it was difficult to build back up to glory.

Gillett had a plan: he wanted to give Montreal its 25th cup on its 100th birthday. He wanted to celebrate the Habs rich history and success, not bury it in politics. He brought the fans back, but didn't interfere with hockey operations.

Gillett was exactly the kind of owner this team needed, and still needs. He will be missed.

Not everything was perfect, to be sure. After finishing 1st overall, the Habs crashed with a second round exit. The rookie sensation Carey Price has a lot of people holding their breath, the firing of Carbonneau was a little suspect (did Gillett meddle?) and the 100th anniversary was more smoke and sizzle than steak. And now the team is left in limbo for its 101st year -- and we'll see what the new owners want to do. In the end, Gillett was in Montreal for 8 years; and although the team "improved" and finally got some world class talent, it sure doesn't feel like 8 years. It feels more like 3 or 4 -- in other words, it took a long time to reverse the damage that was done in the late 90s, and still hasn't fully recovered.

But for my money, Gillett was the one who brough hockey back to Montreal.

Molson's is a good ownership group -- in that they aren't a telecomm. They are a iconic Canadian family, and I am happy to see them back in a position to be owning the team (I know I've done my part for their stock). But the Molson's aren't mad team owners, like Illich or Charles Wang. Although I don't support these ridiculous 10yr contracts, successful teams need to know they can spend money. Last time Molson's ran things, the purse strings got cut -- and the team suffered terribly.

If Molson's is interested in running the team for their own gain -- as a way to expose their brand and sell more beer, and constantly looking at the Montreal Canadiens as another wing of their marketing department -- then we will not see a championship anytime soon. If the Molsons are scared of hiring a GM / coach because people wil stp buying their beer in protest, then they will not have the best intests of the team in mind. And that will be really sad.

I hope the Molson's stay committed to the goals that Gillett set forth -- and I hope they show as much passion for the hockey team's success as Gillett did. Gillett didn't get his trophy, and its too bad he had to sell because of the economic meltdown, but I hope Molson will stay the course! Send the money, build the team, keep the traditions and history alive!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Beliveau Honoured at NHL Awards

In a nice quick presentation, Jean Beliveau was honoured with the lifetime achievement award. That's pretty awesome! Although no big surprise. Although he might not be as well known as Gordie Howe, globally, but I hear "he's huge in Quebec". I joke -- Beliveau is every bit as great as Howe, and I am so glad that a person like that is the icon of our team.

My hat is off, my heart is humbled, 3 cheers for Beliveau!

And I refuse to soil this honour by lamenting about the Franchise's current woes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Last Day of NHL Hockey Today

What a great playoffs this has been! Except for Boston, this years NHL playoffs has been absolutely amazing. I say that because Boston wiped the floor with the Habs (no surprise there) but then gave it up to Carolina! Boooo Boston, for shame!

Every other series was great... even NJ / Carolina, which started slow but ended in the craziest upset ever! I was actually completely captured by almost every game in every series, and have been treated to something 6 game 7s?? Absolutely fantastic!

And tomorrow morning, Detroit and Marion Hossa will have earned their cup, or Sudney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (and Fleury) will have pulled a miracle out of their collective bums and earned their first championship. Amazing.

Then comes the long terrible summer of nothing. Nothing but rumours, prospects, free agents, and... shudder... baseball.

Here's to a great 2009 Stanley Cup!

I will continue to try and post from time to time, maybe throw out some more crazy fake rumours... But in general I probably won't be around until Sept.

To all attending the draft, have a great time! It doesn't hold much excitement for me, personally, as it ususally takes some time to see the fruits of the draft pay off -- but it sounds like Montreal is gonna throw a great party, and that alone is worth respecting.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Belfour for Goalie Coach!

With Rollie gone, I was sitting here enjoying my lunch of 4 day old pizza trying to think who would be a good fit...

Looking within the Organization, the last successful goalie was Roy -- he won't take a head coach position, so no way he'll be a goalie coach. Then it was Thilbault, Mooge, Hacket, Theodore, Huet, and ... did I miss anyone?

Hackett I think is in Chicago, he's not a bad choice. Mooge would be a good selection, but he's in Boston. No one else is necessarily suitable, so lets think outside the Montreal box, shall we?

We need a goalie coach who played a solid positioning game, knows how to play in the playoffs, and is available...

Oh My God, Ed Belfour.

This would be a great fit for Price. Although Eddie is a complete drunken goofball (sometimes) his style of play and mental game are similar to that of Price. Belfour studied directly under Tretiak, and of course Bob Gainey had him in Dallas... when they won the cup. Come on! Its a perfect fit!

Never wanting to give HHCIB any ammunition (or acknowledge the fact he might know something about hockey -- Ed Belfour was his favourite player) But I have to admit Eddy would be a great influence for Price -- on the ice.

Bring in the Eagle!

Rumour Mill: Jaques Martin to Coach Habs

Wait, this is real.

Announcing Jaques Martin as head coach is just, well, boring. A big "so what?" To date, Gainey has at least been able to peek my interest in the team's developments. Sure, they haven't all worked out, but they've always had a waft of potential.

This move seems like a cop-out.

Jaques is a bit confusing: successful in the regular season, Choke-ahontus in the playoffs (not just Lalime's fault.) He helped develop Chara and Redden -- but completely botched Spezza, and didn't do anything with Bowemeester or Florida's young talent. He communicated well with some players, but was completely useless on others (Yashin, Spezza...)

Gainey went and found a guy who likes the coach and GM role, and is just a little bit worse than Gainey is; the only reason the Habs got to get 2 home games worth of playoff revenue was because they beat Florida head to head in the regular season.

Gainey made a right move in getting a veteran coach -- its time for some experience behind the bench. I would have much much much preferred Marc Crawford. A coach that wins in the playoffs, has dealt with young talent (see Tanguay and Hejduk, Sedin twins) and dealt with Franchise goalies (Roy and Luongo). He's firey, passionate, and can drive a team to win. (And his mom is French -- apparently he can speak the language.)

Maybe Gainey knows his team (team? what team?) isn't ready to win yet. Maybe Gainey is looking for a couple years of stabilizing, structured play that will give him a good base in order to fire Martin, and get a playoff coach. Or maybe is looking for someone to replace him -- much like Murray ousted Martin in Ottawa. Gainey gets out, feels the team is in steady hands with Martin, and then Martin gets to try and pick someone for coach.

Meanwhile, we sit in 8-11th place in the standings -- and are always crushed in the 2nd round of any playoff run.

In other news, I am glad Rollie is out; he hasn't had much luck in making a star goalie. He seems to be the guy for goalies who are confident and good to go, but I have never seen a Habs goalie break and then recover. They seem to break and stay broken, and all they talk about is "positioning". Rollie's time was done a couple years ago.

And no offence to the conditioning coach, but I'm glad he's out too. There have been a lot of injuries over the years, 2007-2008 the exception, and injuries come from conditioning and training. Or rather, the lack there of (*). Further, to go deep in the playoffs, the team must be in condition to do so... and the Habs haven't been. Their skating was pathetic by the end of last year.

I feel bad picking on the "little guys" behind the scenes -- surely they did their best! The players have to make it work! And this is true. These are good coaches that are gone. But let's see if fresh blood can get us a skating team with a goalie who can shake off a bad game.

Good luck to all the new coaches! From FAILING hands we pass the torch for you to hold high, and watch out for that cross-fire, lads!

(*) I'm talking about groin pulls and shoulder injuries and jammed wrists and sore backs -- twisted knees and head shots don't count -- and accidents always happen. But if you are fit and in shape, you'll be ready for late game hits, or awkward falls, or whatever.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Rumour Mill: Animated Carboard Cut-outs

montreal - The future plan for rebuilding the Montreal Canadiens franchise was revealed today by the head office: "The team will be mostly comprised of animated cardboard cutouts of legendary players," said Chief Marketing Director Johnny Pamplemousse.

"Much like the beloved table hockey game, we will attach cutouts of Hall of Fame alumni to a complex set of magnets and pullies," Johnny said. "This will allow us to move them about as the game is played. The cutouts will not only be able to move, but we will also project famous video clips of each player's careers on the cutouts during the games."

A bold strategy indeed. When asked for the rational, Mr Pamplemousse indicated that with the upcoming cap-crunch, the Glorious Organisation had to make a choice; go into the limited pool of Unrestricted Free Agents, or shed the salaries altogether and leverage the cap space. "We are in a recession, don't you know. We must be financially responisble, while still providing a good product for the fans."

Asked how animatronic monstrosities of players past is good for the fans, Pamplemousse added: "Most of our actual players are pylons anyhow. Besides, most fans are only interested in the glory days. We doubt they'll even notice the other team on the ice." He still projects sold out ticket sales, plenty of TV coverage and analysis shows, and a 10% rise in standing ovations.

NHL Commisioner Gary Bettman solidly supported the idea, seeing it as a great way to sell more mechandise. He added that if he can get other franchises on board with the plan, he might be able to sell more games to NBC -- since the broader American hockey base can't relate to the game in the first place.

The NHLPA declined to comment.

in the off season i have nothing to write about - so i thought i'd add to the ridiculous rumour mill surrounding the canadiens. i hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rumour Mill: Koivu to be Shot Into Space

montreal - Reports are coming in that Saku Koivu, the Montreal Canadiens long beloved captain, will be shot into space July 19th.

"Its part of a controversial treatment," team Mad Scientist Jaques Squatt said. "While in space, and without the tyranny of gravity, Mr Koivu's spine will be elongated 10 inches, and shoulders expanded 3 inches on each side. Upon his return to earth, a rich diet of St Hubert's chicken gravy should fill out his new frame."

When asked why Mr Koivu would subject himself to such a radical treatment, it was Mrs Koivu who answered: "Saku recognises the teams need for a Big First Line Center, and as always, is willing to sacrifice his health, his life, his family, his sanity, intergalactic alien bacteria, anything for his team."

"Saks has always been our leader," Mike Komisarek said from the Canadiens dressing room (apparently he lost his keys after game 4 and is still trying to locate them.) "He's a big part of our team and a big part of our dressing room, and even if he returns a mutated freak, he'll have his heart and soul on the ice."

When it was pointed out that Koivu will be an unrestricted free agent July 1st, Jaques Squatt said, "Yes, there is a chance he might not sign. But there is also a chance he will burn up upon re-entry. Lets not put the cart before the horse."

in the off season i have nothing to write about - so i thought i'd add to the ridiculous rumour mill surrounding the canadiens. i hope you enjoy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ownership Woes

This article posted on made me sad.

Having the equivalent of Rogers / Bell fighting over the rights to own a hockey team is terrible news for the hockey team. These media companies are expanding their reach from Telecom to TV to TV content to entertainment. They want to own it all -- everything you see or do, must be done through them. Conspiracy? Not really, they just want your eyes and ears to buy their products and sell adverts. Nothing personal.

As for the hockey team, it means there is certainly no commitment to winning. So long as the stands are full, the TV coverage popular, and the endless stream of sports shows / rumour mills observed, then the team can play as lousy as it likes. Mega-Media-Mart still makes its cash. In fact the more the team is in disarray, the more media coverage.

Witness: the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Good Enough is good enough," seems to be the vision of the teachers ownership group.

If the Montreal Canadiens would like to win another championship, they ownership has got to make that a goal -- and give the GM to tools and freedom to make it happen. Gillett was a good owner: he wanted the team to win. Maybe he got a little panicy this year and encouraged Gainey to make some rash decisions, but I at least believe he wanted to win. He wasn't like Ilich from Detroit, willing to lose money to win, but he seemed like the kinda owner you need to get competitive.

But a telecom giant is just gonna use and abuse the team for its own ends -- and championships don't expand your market share if your coverage is already peaked -- it just costs you money in player and head office revenue.

I hate telecom companies.