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.