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Posts Tagged ‘Montreal’

Bob Gainey, now a former Montreal GM.

The stepping down, or aside, whichever way you look at it, of Bob Gainey from the Habs GM post sure did come as a surprise.

He looked tired and relieved all at the same time. He is one of Montreal’s all time great players and his resumé as GM is not all that bad. The team has been a winner under him but in a city where it is the Stanley Cup or bust, he could not meet lofty expectations. Let’s remember that he has not decimated this team like other former Habs have when in power, such as Rejean Houle and Mario Tremblay.

He did make some confounding and frustrating decisions. Bringing back Brisebois, losing Mark Streit and Mark Komisarek were among them. However, what I think ultimately undid his tenure was not his faith in Carey Price, his draft pick who is slowly developing and adjusting to NHL life but his faith in Alex Kovalev.

His long walk and talk with Kovalev a few summers back to entice Kovalev to stay and be the key cog in the Hab engine really did screw him in the end. As per his resumé, Kovalev proceeded to have a great season followed by a crap one. The same mantra always applies to Alex, one of the most talented players in the game but an enigma to coach. Kovalev and the example he set and the reported strife he caused in the lockerroom vis-à-vis leadership and Saku Koivu could not be ignored. The Habs hitched their wagon to “The Enigma” and it frustratingly stuttered and stalled along the way.

Bob Gainey, at left, Larry Robinson and Mats Naslund, my 1986 Cup memories include Gainey's key leadership.

Something was amiss last year when Gainey axed Carbo as coach. The move just did not make sense. Two former close teammates with a shared history beyond their playing days, once mentor and student as well, it seemed like a bond which could not be broken by a team not producing but it apparently did. Today, on a Toronto sport radio show, Carbo said that his firing was an “un-Bob” like move and now that we see Pierre Gauthier taking the mantle and Jacques Martin as coach, the dominoes become clearer to see.

We now have a former Senators GM at the helm with the coach he brought in, when they were in Ottawa, to help right the Ottawa ship. How long has all this been brewing behind the scenes?

I like Gainey’s gutting of the squad this past off-season, it is was bold and needed. If not for some injuries, all the free agents would have been able to give even more positively to the team’s fortunes. Camalleri has worked out as has Gionta, Gill and Spacek. Gomez, if not for his price tag, would be an ok pick up as well.

Gainey has given his life to the Habs and the man himself must be remembered for all he has endured recently. He lost his wife to cancer in 2005 and the his daughter at sea in an accident in 2006.

He now can live his life, we can hope and live it with the spotlight he wishes to shine on the things nearest and dearest to him-which is all we can wish for one of the greatest Habs of all time.

Take care Bob.

Au revoir et bonne chance Bob.

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Time for the post-mortem on Les Glorieux, our wonderful Habs flamed out so badly this year that I am almost thankful the season has finally ended.

Since the all-star break the cracks really started to show and we never recovered. Our paper thin lineup and lack of quality depth came back to bite us in the arse. A team built along the Buffalo youth model; remember how we touted the pedigree of our kids developed in Hamilton, just barely made it through this season.

We fired Carbo, which in the end really improved nothing. How could a coach so good a season ago be fire-worthy a season later? The internal strife and cancer on this team, whatever it is, need to be exorcised.

This lineup, even if it were healthy, would not have defeated the Boston Bruins. We lacked depth and size. Honestly, last year’s playoff series against Boston should have been our wake-up call. We almost blew a 3-1 series lead against them and we have never been the same since.

Here is my personal post-mortem on this squad and what I think needs to be done regarding our unrestricted free agents:

Carey Price stays. He is 21 and he is a very good goaltender with tonnes of potential and a lot still to learn. Yes, he gave it the old “Roy wave” to fans and that is ok. He is being made a scapegoat for a team with no real defence and grit up front, let alone real scoring threats. Can he play better? Yes. Was he the lone problem? No. Get this kid a veteran back-up, a quality veteran back-up and it can only help. Halak is good goalie but he is no Price. Deal Halak if you have to, the Price is still right, it says here

We need a real, bonafide, NUMBER ONE centre. Plekanec will never be that. Koivu is way past prime. Lang is a solid number two but closer to number three centre, sign him. We need a horse down the middle, simple as that. Until we get one, we will never win.

Kovalev cannot be depended on anymore. He is an awesome talent that never seems to remain consistent. He is a top six forward, no doubt, but he cannot be the lone sniper and cannon we rely on anymore. Sign him and get him help.

Resign Komisarek, he is a solid, physical defenceman, one that we need to be in our top pairing. Yes, we have almost $12 million tied up in Hamrlik and Markov but find a way to move Hamrlik and keep Komisarek. We will regret losing him.

Good bye Saku. It has been a nice run but we have really not achieved anything with him as captain. There are emotional ties to this little Finn but let’s face facts, at 34, now is the time to move on from him and let him go. Watch Saku join his brother in Minnesota.

Alex Tanguay- I say sign him, he is a second line forward and until he was injured, he was clicking quite well under the Montreal media pressure, give him a shot

Francis Boullion, sign him, he is a mobile and gritty depth defenceman. Brings a lot in a little package.

Mathieu Dandenault – would we really miss this role player? Don’t think so, the kids Stewart or D’Agostini can do his job just as easily.

Tom Kostopoulos – he brings it every night he plays, the sandpaper we need on our last two lines, sign him.

Mathieu Schneider – resign him, has proven his worth even at his age. If you are going to have an aging blueliner, at least have one that can contribute so we can good riddance to Patrice Breeze-by.

Patrice Brisebois- for the LOVE OF GOD put him out to pasture. His value proved to be NOTHING down the stretch and in the playoffs. A waste of money, space and a developmental spot on the lineup.

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What a treat. The Montreal Canadiens exhibit currently on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame (HHOF) is a wonderful collection not just for Habs to immerse themselves in but for any true hockey fan as well.

Sticks, gloves, pucks, sweaters, programs and photos of legendary Habs of years past are right there to soak in and enjoy. Richard. Lafleur. Robinson. Gainey. Beliveau. Dryden. Plante.  Joliat. Roy. These were just some of the greats recognized and celebrated at the HHOF exhibit.

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100 years. 100 years of history and excellence. The display establishes what cannot be disputed, even here in the heart of Leaf Nation, there is only one true “Cathedral of Hockey” and it is Montreal, not Toronto. 24 cups are hard to ignore. A long list of true, revolutionary hockey greats is hard to ignore. The fact the team has won cups after the league expanded beyond six teams, while two other Orginal Six teams …ahem Toronto and Chicago…have not is so easily forgotten.

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Love or hate them, the Canadiens are synonymous with greatness in hockey. Forget the flash and media hype elsewhere, only one team can boast three dynasties, a list of goaltending greats that cannot be replicated and enough hockey icons to fill out two teams rosters.

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From humble beginnings the Habs began and the build up to their excellence did take time but this team has never looked back. This exhibit helps us, the hockey, the Hab fan, to take a look back and appreciate exactly how much greatness has worn the colours of Les Glorieux.

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Thank you HHOF.

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Like most Habs fan, I want to see Vinny Lecavalier in a Montreal uniform, he would look awesome and is the extra superstar firepower we need but the price to pay should not include Andrei Markov or Mike Komisarek.

I am ok with losing Higgins and Plekanec, heck even the young P.K. Subban (loved him at the World Juniors) for Vinny. But rumours that any deal Tampa wants to do must involve either of Montreal’s two best defenceman are frightening. Bob Gainey is way too smart to make such a deal and bow to the pressure..I hope.

Let’s face it, our defence is weak already beyond our top two guys. Patrice Breeze-by? Josh “Oh-Gosh” Gorges?-( we gave up Rivet for him), Roman “The Rusted Hammer” Hamrlik, Francis Boullion (I love the little guy’s fight and spirit but he is no shut down D)? You lose either of Markov or Komisarek and that just means more minutes for those guys- really how much more Patrice Breeze-by does a Hab fan have to endure??

If Vinny is out of the question, lets just give up Higgins or Plekanec for Tomas Kaberle – a smart, wonderful passing D wasting his time in Toronto Maple Laugh Nation.

When we lost Souray, it was disappointing but the team actually got better. Now look after losing Mark Streit- our power play truly went in the crapper. Kaberle on the point, with Markov on the other during a PP?..now that would be something to see.

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To listen to Toronto media sometimes it is enough to make you want to take a hammer to your radio or tv.

Thanks to one column and “unamed NHL governors” saying there had been informal consideration given to allowing a second team in Toronto – let the pie in the sky dreaming begin! Oh spare me!

Look, I want Mr. RIM, Jim Balsillie to get his team, whether it is a relocation job or expansion one, likely relocation, and I would love him to have it in Hamilton or KW. This would be gold for this market and push the Maple Laughs…but come one, a second IN Toronto…never.

Do you think MLSE would want to share their pie, the ever-loving dim fans who have lined up for decades, willingly, to pay for a losing product? Get real. Toronto is Maple Leafs country but if they want to put a second team in here for the Canadiens to come and skate circles around go ahead but a second team won’t happen.

Gary Bettman has fought fought hard to stop the relocation of the Predators to Hamilton, do you think he will not stop a second team coming right into the territory of his biggest cash cow?

Wake up Leaf fans. No second team to hang your hopes on will come. You are stuck with the Leafs.

Happy losing.

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The Montreal Canadiens had their 100th home opener televised on TSN and what a class ceremony and even classier treatment by TSN of the moment.

For a station based in Toronto to recognize and shower the Canadiens, Les Glorieux, in the praise and accolades they deserve was impressive to watch. Unlike CBC which does everything but have its staff wear Toronto Maple Laughs jerseys during broadcasts, the TSN crew did a bang up job.

They let the crowd cheer and holler during the opening ceremonies. They broadcast all of the Ring of Honour ceremony. They recognized the greatness of the most decorated hockey franchise on the planet. 24 cups in 100 years of existence are hard to ignore but they usually are here in  Toronto.  Before the game Gord Miller had a great interview with Guy Lafleur. During an intermission, their hockey panel answered the question: who is the greatest Canadiens goalie ever? Bob McKenzie said Jacques Plante, Keith Jones said Ken Dryden and John Tortarella said Patrick Roy.

Dave Hodge had an incredible segment in which he recognized a majority of the Habs greats via their nickname and he summed up the team’s greatness appropriately. He said the Habs may have not had the success of their past of late but they are the standard, they are the team all other teams strive to become…and it took 100 years to create that standard and class that is the Montreal Canadiens.

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More Leaf fans will be resigned to this fans fate as the Leafs prepare for more losing.

More Leaf fans will be resigned to this fan's fate-more losing.

To no one’s surprise media in Leaf Nation have jumped all over Ron Wilson’s comments that wins and losses and won’t matter to him this season. This only adds to Cliff Fletcher’s earlier assertions that low expectations are the best expectations.

Ahh do you all remember Grabovski pitter pattering down the halls of the Bell Centre...no??..ya, i figured, nor do I.

Ahh do you all remember Grabovski pitter pattering down the halls of the Bell Centre...no??..ya, i figured, nor do I.

As just a hockey fan in Maple Laugh-land, management’s approach makes sense. You look at the Leaf roster and for the first time decades, they are actually trying to rebuild for the future. They have kids, they may not all be top notch prospects, but there is a sense of rebuilding. Heck, they have our throw-away Grabovski.  This process won’t deliver a cup anytime soon, but at least they are trying and Wilson is a good coach to have at the helm.

The moment the Hab world stood still and King Roy left the throne for good. Thanks Mario and Reggie- two of the biggest management mistakes in Habs history, enough to overshadow their on-ice contributions.

The moment the Hab world stood still and King Roy left the throne for good. Thanks Mario and Reggie- two of the biggest management mistakes in Habs history, enough to overshadow their on-ice contributions.

This rebuilding of the Leafs reminds me of the recent Hab dark days when were saddled with Rejean Houle at GM and Tremblay behind the bench. Things just went from bad to worse. We lost Patrick, had dead wood veterans and not enough kids playing. With some patience, shrewd scouting and Gainey at the helm, we have steered things around.

Leafs have now gone on a youth movement to help counter the increase Depends costs from the past years.

The Leafs have now gone on a youth movement to counter the Depends costs from past years.

The Habs have never dabbled in the big free agent market as the Leafs for “quick fix” additions, so some serious foundation was set for our current turnaround and success. Leaf fans, prepare yourselves to see losses mount but at least the light at the tunnel is not a train anymore…from what we can tell!

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