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What’s going on with the Montreal Canadiens?

  1. #1 stevehab says:
    July 1, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    What happened between Mike K. and the Habs? Did he not want to resign with the Habs. Again I ask, “WHY NOT?”
    I like our forward signings but our D will NOT be better.

    AND.. where is the big center icemen signing that we desperately need. BOB Gainey has his work cut out for him. I’m not sure that the Habs are any better today than they were yesterday. I HOPE I’M WRONG!!!

  2. #2 habknot says:
    July 2, 2009 at 12:42 am

    You are wrong stevehab, I hope I’m right. Our D is actually bigger and stronger without Komisarek, we will miss his meanness though. Gorges is now our smallest D, five to O’byrnes 6. Gill is a shut down guy, you can put him with Hamrlik against teams with one big line or split Markov, Spacek up against stronger teams.

    No question, the guys we signed are super responsible defensive zone players (cammalleri excepted) with offensive upside. They should model good behaviour for the Belarussians.

    Gainey’s first splash was signing Jaques Martin. Now he’s given him the horses to scheme his defense first, turnover offense strategy (remember how well the Kotsitsyns and Plekanec played that two years ago?). Ottawa under Martin was famous for its “OK, thanks for clobbering me and giving me a power play, now I will score on you” philosophy of toughness (no retaliation penalties). It was hard to get used to as a fan, but very effective. 1st power play: Markov, Spacek, Gomez, Cammalleri (34 pp goals lasat year!), Latendresse or Andrei (depending on the goalie).

    Of course, the ice is where it all matters, and I am an acknowledged hopeless romantic optimist (all those cups when I was young!!!). That said, I think we will be the new New Jersey,,, not much to look at, very tough to beat.

    This does mean that Stewart and Laraque are full time players (Chipchura if Laraque’s foot speed does not improve, – no room for slow forwards on Jaques Martin’s team, they are a defensive liability). Personally I like Pacioretty over D’Agostini but I don’t make the decisions.

    BTW, I was one of the ‘let’s get a big center’ crowd, but now I remember those very good Senator teams that Martin coached, they never pushed anyone around (even with Chara and Neil).

  3. #3 Mats Naslund says:
    July 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I’ve slept on it… but I still don’t like it.

    Most of you know tat I am often quick to come to the defense of Gainey in most situations – mainly because of his ‘do no harm’ attitude which left us in an incredible position this off season with the ability to change the team for the better while other teams were mired in cap problems. I thought it may have been the Canada Day Whiskys mixed with my Irish blood that provoked my anger last night when I took final stock of Gainey’s work, but I’m still not pleased this morning despite a fantastic breakfast and hot coffee.

    Say what you will about the Gomez deal. I was among the first to chime in about seeing Gainey’s work not on a signing by signing basis, but rather as a whole. This was because, I fully expected Gainey to land the “impact player” he has teased us with for years. Finally, I thought, the Canadiens have carte blanche to go out and get a star – almost without regard to the cost in order to build this franchise going forward. I wasn’t disapointed when Lecavalier didn’t happen. I was bummed, but optimistic when the Sedins signed early in the day in Vancity. When Hossa signed in Chicago, I immediately thought: “Here it is Bob, Marion Gaborik is out there and you have the cash to make it happen. If that fails you have an incredible talent in Havlat who could have the Centre Bell standing on its feet every time he touches the puck.” I waited, and watched as we signed Mike Cammalleri, which I truly believe will be a good signing in the end because of his ability to go to the net. And finally I read, after a night of Canada Day celebration with fellow Canadian friends in Boston that the Canadiens had rounded out their roster with Brian Gionta.

    I should preface this by stating that as my screen name suggests, my favorite player of all time was 5’7″. Mats Naslund was my first hero. I do not hate the Gionta signing because he is little (because he is feisty, and a good player). I don’t hate it because we added 5’7″ Brian Gionta to our already under-sized roster, but that we gave him a raise to $5M per season over the next 5 years apparently with the strategy of $1M for every inch over 5′ that he can stretch. Kidding aside, and with no intended disrespect to Gionta who is a tenacious worker, and has the capability to help offensively – he is no Gaborik or Havlat. Once again, the Canadiens will step up to the plate with a capable roster that is utterly devoid of ‘Big Time Potential’. With $34M Gainey was incapable of bringing in one game changer.

    The final insult is this: The trade that we made to acquire Scott Gomez was the cog that allowed NY the capspace to go out and get Gaborik. While the Canadiens did infuse the roster with a bunch of hard-working, capable NHLers, our holes and weaknesses are still many. We have lost our Captain who led us through our darkest days. We have watched the most dynamic player since Lafleur, seemingly walk into the night without concern for where we would be without L’Artiste these past few seasons. We watched our arch rivals snatch up our most physical defenseman in the prime of his career for a measly $400,000 per season more than we offered.

    When confronted with my own advice – to take the moves not as individual actions, but together as a strategy moving forward it becomes obvious that Gainey once again balked at the opportunity to bring in a bonafide offensive power. We can’t use the excuse that he wanted to avoid the long-term ramifications that other teams like Detroit and Chicago will need to deal with – because Gomez, Gionta, and Cammalerri are all signed long term. While there is potential for a good first line, it is built with second tier players once again.

    I am a Habs fan through and through and always will be. I always see the best in what the Habs have. Maybe in time, as the season starts and positives emerge from the signings, I will warm to the idea o this summer’s moves. But upon first impression I cannot deny the fact that I am disappointed that instead of building a contender we remain a middle of the pack team with size issues once again. Our cap space has been negated for a long time to come, and it cost us a defensive prospect to allow another team to sign one of the targets we could have gotten.

    In all I hope to be proven wrong, because I can see the upside in Cammalleri, Gomez, Gill, Spacek and Gionta. At least we won’t have to listen about Lecavalier or Sundin rumors all season long.

  4. #4 Senet1 says:
    July 2, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Well I for one look at all out new signings and I see offence and an improved defence. Komy did not want back in Montreal so quite crying about him leaving. Besides he did not play that well last year and although I felt it was due to his injury the year before, it will be interesting to see how he does in TO. As for the defence we added, they are an improvement from a defensive point of view, both good plus minus and good size as well. Gill played excellent in the PLayoffs and played well against Detroit. I think he is what Price needs to protect the crease area.
    All our forwards that we have added so far have good plus minus as well as upside on offence so they are all positives as far as I am concerned. Now we have to sign at least two of three Lang, Tanguay and Kovalev perferable the last two, I just don’t know about Lang coming back off that injury.

  5. #5 PACTUM SERVA says:
    July 2, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I dont think you will see any of our UFA’s back. I hope gainey moves pleckanecs and a prospect for a bigger centre. God we are so small, we are going to get creamed.

  6. #6 stevehab says:
    July 3, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Gainey still has some players he can package for a big, fast centre. I fhe can get that done, I will feel much better about our team for this year and hopefully years to come.
    There are some quality centres out there … hopefully Bob will get one of them.

    I also agree that among Lange, Kovy and Tanguay , hopefully we can resign two … and unfortunately for Lange (who played well and is a character guy) I’d prefer that we keep the other two. Kovy LOVES the city of Montreal… we eed to resign him long term. Tanguay can score and is a very good player. Sit down with his agent and sign him. The Habs have the cap space… get it done.

  7. #7 habknot says:
    July 3, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I don’t think we have cap space for Tanguay, Lang. If Kovy comes back it will be for a huge dicount to wear the ‘C’. He might be mad he didn’t sign the offer Gainey made July 1st. I think Bob put offers out to guys he wanted and took the first ones to say yes, regardless of size or position. He has a little room to make an aquisition, but not a lot.
    Gionta Gomez Cammalleri
    SK Plek AK
    Latendresse Lapierre Stewart
    Pacioretty Chipchura D’Agostini

    That’s two small, incredibly fast lines; two big rugged, fast lines (if Chips achilles is better this year)
    Metropolit, Laraque, Maxwell, Glumac, Darche all capable inserts (with Henry and Weber the 7th guy on D).

    I think our success depends on the brothers maturing together. That might not comfort anyone who watched them last year, but they are phenomenally gifted with the puck, not the presence of L’Artiste (who’d look damn fine on the 1st or 2nd line!!!), but nearly the same deceptive ability. They can hopefully learn from Gomez and Gionta how small forwards can be brilliant defesively.

    Yes, MatsN, a big star would have been nice, but does not gaurantee a better team. I agree that if this team doesn’t WIN, it will be not very entertaining to watch.

    Note: the average age of the last three lines as I’ve laid them out (and my name is not Jacques Martin) is probably 23-24, and closer to 23. They will be learning and improving under an experienced NHL coach. I said before, I’m an optimist, but this is how I see things!
    Go, Habs, GO!

  8. #8 habknot says:
    July 3, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Pactum, we may get creamed; but if we draw penalties we could score bushel loads on the PP. Speed Kills!

  9. #9 Mats Naslund says:
    July 3, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    There is only the slightest of chances that Kovy, Koivu, Tanguay or Lang return next season. I’ve heard this from almost all sources in the media connected to the team. Kovy was offered his contract, and when he hesitated, was replaced by Cammalleri. If anyone is going to be back from our UFAs it will be Dandenault, who I would welcome back openly because of his versatility and clutch performances during the past few years. The slight chance as I have heard in the past hours is a rumour that Kovy or Koivu would take a large pay cut for a ‘longish’ (4yrs) term deal to remain the Captain – although I have also heard that Gainey is more concerned with finding new leadership now that Komi, who was being groomed for the role has taken off to Hogtown.

    As for a trade for a centre, Gainey is going to have to role the dice to make it happen. If he does go that route he should target young centres who have not fully reached their potential. I’m thinking of a Brandon Dubinsky type player (although it would never happen between NYR and MON now). To be honest, I’m quite surprised Bob didn’t go that route in the first place. If he was willing to trade capspace, he could have saved himself some grief by looking at a cheaper, younger option for a big second line centre, and attempt to swing a trade (with capspace, Plex and prospect) mid-way through the season when teams begin to panic about their roster or cash situation, or next year’s cap. Of course the fans would have let him hear all about that scenario too.

    Whats done is done as they say. Luckily for me, as a married man, I let things go with lightning speed. I’m starting to see possibilities where my emotion and disappointment did not allow me a few days ago. I still really feel we should have landed a top winger, but in the end, the team needs its youth to step up.

    Everyone has been talking about how Gomez and Gionta had Elias on their line in NJ lately in the Habs blogosphere. I’ve wondered to myself if Gui or Andrei couldn’t be that type of larger body on the top line that they could play off of. While I don’t like our size at centre I do like the possibility of seeing Kostitsyn and Cammallerri on the ice at the same time, given how much Andrei likes to sit on the perimeter and fire away, and how effectively Cammalerri moves into open spaces and cashes in on rebounds. Maybe the shot Kostitsyn needs is to have his mentor Kovy gone, in order to get the puck in the spaces Kovalev usually took up on the ice. They have a very similar style. I’m also excited for the possibility of seeing Mad Max as a year older and stronger. I really believe he has the skill set to make a significant contribution this year. If we can have a few of our younger defenseman step up this year (especially O’Byrne) we could actually have a decent mix of experience and youth.

    In the end, just like every team in the league, our success will stem from having young, cheap players realize their potential.

  10. #10 habknot says:
    July 3, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Good to have you back the beam, Mats :-)
    I can also see potential for moving guys (Gui) up and down the lines to mix speed and size. I think Martin can get full value from players (mind you, Havlat, Hossa, Alfreddson, even Yashin gave him a lot to work with)

  11. #11 Mats Naslund says:
    July 5, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Thats the thing.. What has left me scratching my head about this whole situation is this: In a cap system you need your high paid players to produce, otherwise they are a drain on the team. Gainey is making a huge gamble that the ‘stars’ he has brought in will do so – because he has invested in them so significantly that if one of the younger players on the team do become the Getzlaf or Parise etc we’ve been looking for, he may not necessarily have the capspace long term to keep that player. Its not like he’s going to be able to trade Gomez or Gionta if the Kostitsyns suddenly become the Sedins. He’s now very locked into these guys for the next five years. What happens next season if Sergei or Lapierre go out and sore similar numbers to one of the top line guys? Are they going to want 5 million per for 5 seasons? Gainey has set the bar high for average to good players such as Gionta. I mean one could potentially argue that Gionta is worth $5 million per season at age 30, but will he still be in 2013/14 when he’s 35? The fact that my prevailing feeling is that the Habs youth must now win IN SPITE of Gainey’s manoeuvrings is not a good one. I’ll still be watching this teams every move at that point, but I cannot shake the feeling that Bob took a golden opportunity to set this team up long term, and failed to do so. I hope I’m wrong and that a year from now everyone in the league is trying to copy the tiny first line of the Canadiens, but I suspect they wont be.

  12. #12 Duzzu says:
    July 6, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I’m not really worried about the small guys on the team… we’ve always been small as long as I remember (I’m 15 guys don’t kill me) but I’m worried about the remainder of the cap space. It won’t take 2 years for us to start worrying… just sit and watch how good the Kostitsyns will become, and even Latandresse and MadMax… they’ll ask for more cash, and we won’t have that kind of money, so they’ll leave. It’s going to hurt us soooo badly when we’ll see both Kostitsyns off with another team, shooting 5`000`000 per season each, i can’t even wait for that to happen. Gionta, Cammalleri and Gomez GOT TO PRODUCE… and I mean that. As a line they gotta be as good as Alfredsson, Spezza and Healey MINUS THE TOUGHNESS… so I guess the “improved” Komi-less defensive gotta beat down everyone… crossing my fingers that Laraque can make stuff happen, a broken nose now and then.

    We need all the youngsters to step up. ALL OF THEM. And my magic request… the BIG CENTER PLAYER… DRUMROLL… Lang. I guess he’s the only one avaliable except Rob Niedermayer that’s a big, team player, nice price tag and well… best player last year until his injury.

    Oh, we need Schneider too. That guy saved us last year, he’s going to be just as good this year. Imagine a defense:

    Hamrlik-Gorges(or any other youngster)

    ‘Til next time let’s hope our team is really better

  13. #13 stevehab says:
    July 6, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I see the Habs getting one of the top draft picks in the 2010 draft. Any quality they had has been dismantled.

  14. #14 stevehab says:
    July 7, 2009 at 9:34 pm

    NYR sign Gaborik. Philly gets Pronger. Leafs sign Beauchemin, Komy, Swediush goalie etc. Canucks resign Sedins and sign Samuelsson etc. Chicago signs Hossa and others. Flames sign J. Bo. Sens sign Kovy. Pens keep their stars.

    Montreal looses; Kovy, Koivu, Tanguay (he won’t resign) Schneider (he won’t resign), Laing (probably won’t be back)
    The previous year the Habs lost; Souray (All Star), Streit, Ryder etc.

    Do you see the pattern here? WHY DO PLAYERS NOT WANT TO PLAY in HABSVILLE? This is VERY concerning to me and many, many others.

    Unfortunately there are 2 teams that players DO NOT want to play for; The Habs and the Oilers.

  15. #15 Mats Naslund says:
    July 9, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Its been said in many forums so far this week, but now that the news is official and Saku Koivu has decided to move on with his career in Anaheim, I wanted to add a quick word on the departure of the longest serving Captain in Canadiens history. He leaves the team with 792 games played in the tricolor which is good enough for 19th on the all time list, but one wonders where he would have been had he not lost time fighting cancer and other untimely injuries. Of all the glorious skaters who have called the Canadiens their team Saku sits 10th in points among a group of players who are honored with jerseys hung in the rafters never to be worn by others. Though his Canadiens never won the Stanley Cup, he personified what it means to be the Captain of the Habs, by fighting for every loose puck, and every inch of space on the ice. I will never forget the way he led his team to continual victories over the Bruins over the years. I will never forget his generosity with the community through the Saku Koivu foundation. Most of all I will never forget this moment: – one of the greatest moments I’ve witnessed in Habs history. It was a standing ovation that lasted seemingly forever, and upon watching it reminded me of similar ovation for another beloved Canadien:

    Saku Koivu leaves the Canadiens at a time of upheaval in the organization. While some have focused on the dysfunction and failure last season, I cannot ignore what Koivu has meant to the city of Montreal during his time here. Cheers to Saku Koivu who was a warrior who cared about the CH so much even when a select few questioned his ability. There will be an obvious piece of the team missing next October when the games begin, and although the team will move forward as it always has, I hope that one day Saku will get the recognition that he deserves from the Canadiens franchise.

  16. #16 Avatar37 says:
    July 9, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Habnot – Gill is a very large pylon. My friend is a Leaf fan and I made fun of him for years because they had Gill and we had Komisarek. If you put Gill and Brisebois out on the same line, you may as well just give the other team a goal. Gill may have size, but Pronger he is not. Komisarek is 6’4, 245 lbs, our defense is *not* bigger and tougher without him.

    Mats Naslund – Havlat is another Kovalev or Jagr, I’m glad we didn’t sign him, as for Gaborik, have you seen how often this guy is injured? What’s the point in paying someone $7 mil a year to sit in the pressbox… No one denies his talent, but Gomez has proven chemistry with Gionta, and Cammalleri has done nothing but get better throughout his career. Is Gomez worth the same money Heatley is getting? I’d wager not. Personally, I’d like to see a trade involving Gomez and whatever draft picks / players Ottawa wants (except Price) going to Ottawa for Heatley coming to Montreal, but that won’t likely happen, and if it did, we’d have no #1 or #2 center… As for where we’d be without L’Artiste, well… where were we with him? Nowhere. If there was a trophy for most talented floater in the league, he’d win it (now that Jagr is playing in europe). You can have all the talent in the world but what does it matter if you don’t use it consistently, every night. I have 2 memories of Kovalev, the best one, where Tucker high sticked him in the ear, and he got the puck, skated around the entire Toronto zone to find Tucker, then “lost” the puck in Tucker’s feet, then levelled him. It was poetry. The other memory (the worst) happened when Kovalev took Souray out of the play, and the other team went and scored a goal, then afterwards he blamed Souray in the press. For the most part, he was a player in between those, but he’s a 50 goal a season scorer that’s happy with scoring half that. The only reason he did so well that one year was he got angry because the Russians left him off the national team, and he wanted to show them they were wrong. Then the following year, he’s back to floating around again. Let L’Artiste go paint some pictures, just so long as he’s not playing on my team anymore. No surprise then that since we disagree on Kovalev, we’d also disagree on Dandenault. He might be able to play forward and defense but he doesn’t play either position *well*. In 4 years with the Habs, he’s totaled 54 points, for 13.5 points a season, and is a combined -5. He’s played in fewer games than the previous year for every year he’s been here, and is grossly overpaid at $1,750,000. Time to free up that slot and either sign someone better OR let a prospect come up from the minors.

    SteveHab – This team finishing dead last in the league for a few years would be a GOOD thing. When was the last time we had a top 10 pick other than Price? Imagine what our team could do if we got a #1 overall pick for a year or two? I’ve been saying for years, blow up the team, draft well, and be a cup contender in 8-10 years, instead of trying to please all the fan now, and still barely making the playoffs 8-10 years from now… As for why players don’t want to play for the Habs, well… Let’s just say that Quebec isn’t exactly a hospitable place for anglophones. Add to that fans that boo the american national anthem, and it’s no surprise that players like Komisarek and Higgins are off playing somewhere else that has fans with more class.

    Mats Naslund – Koivu is not the longest serving captain in Habs history with nine years, he’s the second, behind Beliveau at ten years. I agree with everything else you said about Koivu, and I personally will miss seeing him with the team. The past few years, he was constantly guilty of lazy hooking penalties, but it didn’t take away from the positives that he brought to the team, and I was really hoping he’d retire as a Canadien, like Sakic and Yzerman did with their clubs.

    Just a note – I’m hoping that Lang is given a chance to come back because we are weak at center and Lang’s play was very impressive before his injury. If he’s still able to play, I say sign the man. I’m sure with teams hesitant to offer him a big salary, we might be able to sign him at a discount, and we could sure use his services.

  17. #17 Mats Naslund says:
    July 9, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Avatar37 – To clarify Koivu is tied with Beliveau at 10 as longest serving. Maybe you are not counting the lockout year.. but considering he was still under contract and would have been captain that to me would be splitting hairs.

    As for Havlat being compared to Kovalev or Jagr, I’m not really sure what you’re getting at. Jagr is among all time leaders for points and enjoyed 15 consecutive seasons with 30 or more goals. Havlat would do well to be in that category. He did, however, lead his team in regular season and playoff scoring last season. He is a big player who is a proven scorer, and while some complain that he is soft, I am not the type of person who nitpicks every facet of every players game. Goal scorers do so. Grinders do their job. If the two don’t mix so be it, as long as the job gets done. That was our biggest problem last season. Havlat would have been an upgrade from anything we had on the roster last year as well as anything on the roster for this one. As for Kovy, for all of the drama last season he still led the team in scoring. I wasn’t implying above that Gainey should have signed him back, just that there weren’t a whole lot of other guys stepping in to fill his spot while he struggled. We’re still going to be counting on those same guys this year – and so I was asking if having Kovy lead our team with 65 points was scary, the next guy on the list still with the club not named Markov had 41.

    As for Camallerri, I have nothing but positives to say about the signing. He isn’t the biggest guy in the world, but he has a nose for the net, and always seems to put the puck in. We need that.

    Finally I also have to disagree about Lang. The guy was a terrible skater to begin with and has since suffered a damaging injury and is 39. If having Dandenault around is a waste (even though he can play both forward and defense which is critical in the late stages of the season with injuries to contend with), what is the point in having Robert Lang take up cap and roster space? If the point is to get younger and faster, Lang would do the exact opposite.

  18. #18 Mats Naslund says:
    July 10, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    Habs added some size on D today by signing Paul Mara. He played with the Rangers last season, and is a solid 6’4″ 215 pound stay at home guy who was reportedly well liked by his team mates. I like the move as he won’t be too expensive (made $1.9 last season) and will definitely give the Canadiens the kind of size they needed to go along with Hal Gill. What I like most of all about this signing is the balance it restores to the defense. Last year Komisarek was relied on to provide almost all of the physical play along with Hamrlik. While Mara is no Komi, (although what ‘Komi’ is is debatable at this point), together with Gill and Hamrlik he will be one of three big bodies that will give Montreal a physical presence throughout their defense that they lacked last season. Markov, Spacek, and Gorges will be freed up to move the puck effectively. The signing also takes the pressure off of Ryan O’Byrne and Yannick Weber. If they progress, then there will be opportunities to jump into the lineup. More specifically, if there is an injury, either one can be moved into the lineup without disturbing the makeup of the defense corps too much. O’Byrne could cover injuries to Gill, Hamrlik or Mara – while Weber (or maybe Subban) could fill in for Markov, Spacek or Gorges.

    Finally, this move also allows Gainey to pursue an experiment that I’m sure he’s considering which is to move Weber into the lineup as a forward (ala Streit from 07/08), and powerplay specialist on the second unit. Whether this pans out or not, the addition is a welcome infusion of size and character to the roster.

  19. #19 habknot says:
    July 10, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Well, I think the signing of Mara buries Dandenault, unless he’s happy being in the pressbox as the 7th D abnd the 13th Forward.

    I like Mara. It may be Bob’s way of justifying Price as a franchise guy, but so what. I’m ready to call our D the best in the league right now.

    Avatar, did you watch the Cup finals. After watching the Wings dismantle a pretty good Chicago D, I was convinced they would exploit Gill with fast forwards, not to mention the Mule and Holstrom. Didn’t happen! Not only didn’t happen, Gill was perhaps the biggest unexpected reason the Pens got to celebrate. He was shut-down Awesome!!! Penalty kill hero! (game 7, I thought Eaton also played great) Gonchar was great all series, but defensively Gill was the leader. Game 7, less than 10 seconds left, faceoff to the left of Fleury. Who is on the ice on that side? Blocks a shot, and then blocks two wings from the rebound. Now, Fleury still has to throw his body at a Lidstrom shot, but that is a pretty good RedWings team! You can watch the play here:

    I’ll take that pylon in front of Price!
    Not a great fighter, but he has a hard head! :-)

    Go Habs!

  20. #20 habknot says:
    July 10, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Mats Naslund, thanks for saying those true, nice things about Koivu. A true leader. Finger always pointed at himself. Do you remember his on-ice rallying of the troops during one of the memorable Boston series? ( memorable because we won :-) ). Class and feisty. It was a shame when he started that we never supplied him with talented protection, I remeber him literally skating while carrying a big D-man on his back. He gave his all, and it was alot. Avatar: you make a good point about Koivu picking up the hooking habit, the legs were fading but not the competitive spirit that drove him to try to do too much. My son played D that way, you might be able to skate by him, but he wouldn’t let you. Spent some time in the box, but the coaches and goalies loved him! I don’t think we will miss the often bone-headed penalties that Komisarek and Koivu committed. We will miss the fire Saku brought to every shift, and Komisarek’s desire to punish anyone who dare skate across the blue line..

  21. #21 Avatar37 says:
    July 12, 2009 at 6:54 pm

    Mats Naslund – TSN considers him to have been the captain of the Habs for 9 years, Wikipedia lists him as 10.
    As a fan of Koivu, I won’t split that hair with you. =) It certainly won’t be the same with someone else as captain, although personally I’d like to see Markov get it. A quiet, unassuming character who simply lets his playing do all the talking necessary, I can’t imagine where our defense would be without him. He is one russian I’d have on my team any day.

    Jagr, on the other hand, like Kovalev, has tons of talent and is a natural goal scorer, but unfortunately, is highly prone to floating through or around the neutral zone, not playing a physical game, is easily thrown off his game by a big hit, and for the most part is a defensive liability. I have no use for players that don’t show up to play every game, every shift, one of the reasons I loved Begin. Didn’t matter what the score was, he was always skating, always hitting, always playing 100%, injured or sick.

    Not only did Kovalev give up on the play and leave the puck, he then took Souray out on the play so that he couldn’t get there either and it cost them the game. Granted, this was one of the more obvious examples of Kovalev’s lack of heart, but if you payed close attention, there were more times when he was floating than there were when he was showing us his brilliance. I believe that regardless of what role you play on the team, be it grinder or scorer, you have to play with heart and effort, every game, every shift. If you’re not there to win then you shouldn’t be on the ice at all, I don’t care how much talent you have, there’s no room for quitters and floaters on my team.

    We can agree to disagree about Lang, Lang actually has talent to play center, while he may not be the fastest skater in the world, neither is Dandenault. Lang had 39 points and a +6 in 50 games last year on a team that was struggling. Dandenault had 12 and was a +7 (41 GP). More than that, though, he impressed me with his on ice intelligence and effort, I would have liked to see what he could do in a full season. I would have also liked to have seen another season with Tanguay too, but alas that won’t happen. I’m still holding an outside hope that Lang will be back. He makes a really good #2 center which we’re in need of. I know his injury is a really tough one to overcome, and if his future is not with Montreal, I wish him the best of luck in returning to his professional career.

    I agree with your analysis of the defense, although size does not necessarily equate to toughness. I noticed the comments from Ranger fans about Mara leaving were mostly that he was the hardest working player on their team and wears his heart on his sleeve, so that bodes well. O’Byrne has size but still has to prove he can play in the NHL. Scoring on his own net didn’t help in that department, however I am willing to write off that one incident as nerves. We’ll see how he performs this year, although it may be his last shot with the Habs. Mara being on a 1 year contract is also on a “tryout year”, so it will be interesting to see how he does.

    Habknot – Yes, I watched the entire stanley cup playoffs, I even DVRed games that were on during another game, although it got annoying that they’d announce the score of the other game so frequently I knew the outcome before watching the recording. Gill *is* rather big, yes he blocked a shot in game 7 of a stanley cup final with less than 30 seconds left, and yes he managed to step in front of 2 players, 1 of whom went around him. With his size, he can clear out the front of the net, sure. It won’t take long, though, for fans to see that he’s like Brisebois… not very fast and easy to go around when the play is moving, such as the neutral zone, or if he’s backing up into the defensive zone. Awesome is certainly not a word I’d use in describing how he plays. At this point, I’d settle for “capable”, although from having watched him over the years, that might be a stretch.

    I agree with you as far as Koivu and Komisarek go. The problem with Koivu’s penalties isn’t that they were mostly good ones (where he was saving a breakaway), but mostly they were bad ones (where he really didn’t need to hook the person but did anyway). I think he had a hard time adjusting to the new NHL rules for hooking. Regardless, I know I will miss him. He sure could be a sniper at times, and I loved the spirit he played with (although I think he learned alot of that from playing with Gilmour, because I noticed that after watching Gilmour play through injuries and go after people in the corners and hit them, Koivu really stepped up his own toughness.) As for Komisarek, I thought he was a vital part of the youth core of this team, but he simply didn’t want to resign in Montreal. I suggested on a post in TSN that perhaps as an anglophone, he felt he’d be more comfortable in an anglophone market, like Toronto. He hasn’t come out and said the reasons he picked Toronto, but it wasn’t for the extra $500,000 a year. Maybe the fans in Montreal booing the american anthem got to him? I know as a canadian that if I was playing in a foreign market and they booed my anthem it would make me less likely to want to come back. Regardless, only Komisarek knows, and he’s being too diplomatic to say. I do know we will miss him (remember when we traded away Desjardins and Leclaire? sigh)

  22. #22 Senet1 says:
    July 13, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Well I for one am kind of excited to see how these new additions will jell together. Yes we lost Koivu and Kovalev, Tanguay and Lang and Komesarek..But what did we really lose. koivu was a great leader but offensively he needed to score more than 15 goals a year. We worked hard for a small guy but he was no more than a good second line centre. Offensively I do not think we will miss him, as a leader I thought we might but then again a leader would have straigtened out the problems we had with the party goers last year. So I am not so sure he was a good a leader as we all would like to think. In his place we have Gomez, also a hard working centre a little tougher maybe and more upside for goals. So I do not think we lost anything but close to an even trade and since we have Gomez who has one a cup I give the edge to Gomez.

    Kovalev probably the most talented player in the league who did not want to play every game. So we lost what? Commalleri we have a player who scores 25 to 40 goals a year, Plays hard, Plus minus is not too bad more importantly he comes to play every game and he is 10 years younger than Kovalev. I give the edge to Commalleri.

    Tanguay, we never really got to see what he could do for a full season, I was hoping that ther was enough cap space left to sign him but adding another 5M to our team probably is not going to happen. Om his place we got Gionta, a hard working player, who scores 20+ goals a year and plays hard and comes to play every game. Also had won a cup so becuae of that I again give the edge to Gomez, although Tanguay probably could have been our 30 goal man.

    We have added Moens, another tough defensive forward to like to hit scores the odd goal and makes our team tougher to play against, if we have to give up on Lang then we did make outselves a better defensive team and a tougher team. Hard to give up the potential 30 Goals that Lang could bring to the team, but then again with his injury can he be the same player as last year before his injury? This one is even as far as I am concern.

    Our defensive, we have lost Brisebois, Bouillon, Komesarek, Dandeneau and Schneider. Of these five Konesarek and Scheider are the significant ones. In there place we got Gil, Mara and Sparek. It would seem to me the Gill and Mara more than compensate for the loss of Komesarek and Spacek has offensive upside as well so he should help take the place of Schneider. WE also have Weber coming along to help on the power play but from what I understand Spacek is very cabable back there as well. So to me we did not loose anything offensively with out defenseman and maybe we even have someone to complement Markov at the point. WE did get a hole lot bigger and defensively I believe better with what we have added. So I for one believe we are going to be a better team next year than last year and if our young players develop and our goaltenders play with more confidence, I see us moving up the ladder not down. Hope I am right, I just wonder how long it will take the new players to jell with the team?

  23. #23 Mats Naslund says:
    July 14, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    A very good question to ask Senet1. The fact that Gionta and Gomez have been line-mates will probably help on that front (although it was a while back now). Luckily Cammalleri’s style will be conducive to building an early relationship as he is the type of guy that hangs around the good areas on the ice. In Calgary, he was a fantastic garbage man pouncing on loose pucks after shots from other players. Its exactly what I hoped Andrei Kostitsyn could do last year. With a couple years under his belt watching Kovy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes his spot on the PP, given his preference to have the puck on the perimeter, and ability to fire from the wing.

    If the second line is some combo of Gui!, Plex, Sergei, Andrei, D’Ags and Mad Max there should be at least some chemistry/comfort from last year.

    The real question mark will be defense. If those guys figure it out early – I’m not sure we have much of a problem. If they struggle, we’ll see a ripple through the rest of the roster – starting in net. It is hugely important that whoever is on the backend is responsible. Almost all of our troubles last season began when teams started skating around Komi, and the rest. They didn’t pay the price for going to the net and as a result got cheapo goals while we watched our franchise goalie turn into a shell of himself.

    Hopefully Martin is able to implement a simple and effective defensive structure to compliment Carey’s style as a goalie who makes high percentage positioning stops, but has trouble when his defense doesn’t clear rebounds.

  24. #24 Senet1 says:
    July 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Mats, I agree with your comments especially about last years defence. Last year I made a number of comments suggesting that we needed an experience stay at home defenceman to protect our goaltenders. It never happened, now in the off season we have exactly what I was hoping for last year at the trading deadline. So Let see how that goes.

    How much cap room do we have left? Can we afford Tanguay? What is he asking? Not sure there are any other goal scores of his caliber out there left?

  25. #25 Mats Naslund says:
    July 15, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Tanguay is out of the question for the Habs at this point. His contract will still be around the $5 mil range because he is the last ‘name’ out there as a scorer. With Plex, Stewart, Gui!, and D’Ags left to sign we only have about $5.5 mil to play with. It will be interesting to see what shakes down on that front. I have read some rumors that Gainey is still talking with a few teams about cap deals, so there is a possibility that he may have one last deal left. It is not outside the realm of possibilities that Bob pulls the trigger on a deal that brings in a young centre if he can find a team that is looking to get cheaper or fill a spot. The best case scenario would be a guy that hasn’t hit his stride yet – but that is the dream. The reality is that once Plex is in arbitration – and Bob knows how much money he has left, a deal is made to keep him as the second line centre and the rest of the guys will be signed as expected. If he wanted to get really wacky he could have a go at an RFA.. there are still a couple guys that would be well worth having in the system, but of course that is a dangerous game to play.

  26. #26 Avatar37 says:
    July 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Argh, I posted a really long reply and it has not posted… I’ll have to recompose one. Sigh.

  27. #27 Avatar37 says:
    July 15, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Ok, I just woke up so disregard my last post because I still can’t see properly… Is it wrong that the first thing I do when I wake up is check to see if the Habs have made any moves or signed anyone?

    Mats – “Hopefully Martin is able to implement a simple and effective defensive structure to compliment Carey’s style as a goalie who makes high percentage positioning stops, but has trouble when his defense doesn’t clear rebounds.”

    You always ask the goalie to make the first save, it’s up to the defense and forwards to clear the rebounds out and/or tie up anyone from the other team that might get at them. Montreal’s defense has been guilty far too often of standing around and watching the other team put the rebound in the net. They need to be taught to actively be looking for incoming players and possible rebounds. I know that if *I* were coaching them, I’d be running alot of rebound control drills…

    Regardless, I think Price is still years off developing into a stanley cup goaltender, and that’s to be expected, because it takes goaltenders alot longer to develop than any other position. My biggest fear is that the fans in Montreal won’t have the patience to wait a few years and he’ll wind up leaving or being traded to another team and then I’ll have to watch him turn into a great goalie and win cups for another team, while everyone in Montreal sits back and complains because we’re still not winning any cups and why couldn’t he play like this when he was here (remember Ryder?)

  28. #28 Mats Naslund says:
    July 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    You’re absolutely right Avatar, and that is something that I think will be crucial moving forward. Confidence in goaltending is critical in being able to make saves. Carey Price is a fantastic goaltender. There is no way you have the kind of junior, world junior and AHL career that he had without serious talent. The problem is that in the past two years his defense has failed him, and that has led to meltdowns. That said, we’ve all seen guys who figure it out after a couple seasons playing with the big club. People jump all over Latendresse forgetting the guy is 22. People see Sid or Gino and they forget about guys like Fleury or Luongo (who was able to hide his learning curve in Florida).

    That brings me to my other point. I’m so sick of hearing (mainly on other sites)about how the Kostitsyns may not be a fit for this team. The thought is absolute garbage,and is usually based on some bias against Europeans. The crap that happened to them last season is prime example of how ignorant Montreal fans can be if they let the media make all of their opinions for them. The kids knew a guy who was a bad dude. End of story. When I was 21 I knew plenty of unsavory characters. Andrei is one year removed from a 50 point season in the NHL and two years from a 50 points in 50 games season in the AHL. If people lay off, he could be a fantastic goal scorer. But how long can anyone stand to be dragged through the mud? Sergei scored 131 points for the London Knights in 59 games in his last season of junior – which was two years ago. If people are talking about how these kids don’t fit on our roster because they are European, this team will never have another sniff at a Cup. Forget about ever having a guy step up and become a superstar on the roster, because we give them NO time to acclimatize to the very different world of the NHL. I’m glad Gainey has resigned Gui! and looks to be seriously considering the development of youngsters like Sergei and Max Pax. Whether they are with the club or in the Hammer, they need time away from the excessive criticism that plagues this franchise.

  29. #29 Senet1 says:
    July 15, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Mats I could not agree more, many times in the last two years I have said that Latendresse would improve with time. All you have to do is look at his stats and you can sse that each year his goal scoring improved on a per game basis and his plus minus improved each year as well as his physical presents on the ice. It is said when you think that he only played what 56 games last year and still had the third most hits on the team. As for the K boys, right again they need time to adjust to Montreal and the constant scrutiny of the fans and more important the media. I see the line of Plex, and the K boys being very successful this year. Actually as I posted yesterday, I think this team overall is a superior team to last year. I would have like to see an impact player but it would appear that they were not available because if BG is will to spend that much to get Gomez then he could have spend the same 7-8M and got another star if they were willing to come. We just did not have enough other than Markov and Price to trade for the star so he had to get them through UFA and it did not happen. We can’t look back on this with sour grapes and throw all the blame on BG it takes two to make a trade and two to make a deal. Who knows what went on behind the scenes that we do not know about. I like the looks of our defence and I like the looks of our overall size. I also like our speed.

    I have not for once blamed Price for our misfortunes he had absolutely no support from his defence who seemed to be intimidated by the big strong forwards who would just walk in and put the rebound in without as much as being touched. A good friend of mind still blames Price for a lot of our problems, and after voicing my opinion many times I finally just stop talking about it when the subject comes up becuase I do not want to spoil our friendship but really talk about having blinders on. A young goalie’s confidence is fragile and without support he starts to blame himself and then his confidence is destroyed and he plays worse. I hope that this year we see the real Price in goal supported by a good strong defence. Well I guess I have said my piece for tonight.

  30. #30 habknot says:
    July 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Hey guys. Montreal fans are the most knowledgable in hockey (hurt my arm patting myself on the back), but they can be blinded to the strengths and weaknesses of their own players. There are only so many Trottiers, Lapointes etc… guys who excel at evry facet of the sport. Even great players, superstars often have aspects to their games that need improvement and will never be satisfactory. Succesful veterans maximaize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses (did you see how Guerin disappeared for long stretches, staying behind the defensive redline for whole shifts so he wouldn’t get caught chasing a red wing -he could probably not catch Osgood lol- then timing his offensive sorties for an opportune time or end of shift?). Its also up to the coach to put players in those positions and accept their limitations.

    Avatar, I think your comments about rebound control are bang on, and the motivation for much of this summer’s activity. Get the puck, and get forwrds who know how to get it out of the zone. Sorry, Ryder fans, he’s hopeless. What we have to remember is that many of our goals and goals around the NHL are by designed rebound plays. They are going to work for us and against us, no matter what. It is the frequency that we can do something about. Martin never had a good goalie in Ottawa, but he made a mediocre (NHL) goalie look pretty good. Price should respond well.

    Another bugaboo of the Montreal fan is size up front. Is it nice? Yes, if you have it. I may be wrong, but even with Franzen and Holstrom, I’ll bet Detroit checks in as under average in size. Maltby, Draper, Helm, Hudler, Filpulla, Leino, Ztrbrg, Datsyuk; are any over 6ft? What they have is speed, so they use it. Give Babcock big guys and I’m sure he’ll coach a big game. I liked Carbo, but think he wanted to mold all the players to a certain style.

    Mats N. A simple defensive structure might work with the guys we have now, but was not cutting it for Koivu, Kovalev etc… I hope Martin recognizes the explosive potential of the Kotsitsyns and organizes a breakout gameplan that utilizes their skills. The Blackhawks did not win the cup, but their stretch pass offense came a lot closer than most teams.

    OK, sorry about talking your ears off, I’m looking forward to game one : the Leafs!!!!!

  31. #31 Avatar37 says:
    July 18, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    I agree Mats, Price has wonderful potential if he’s allowed to develop it. I hate it when people say “Well, Roy didn’t need time”. How many Patrick Roys are there in the league? Or Brodeur? Price is Price and no one else, he obviously needs time to adjust and learn the NHL game. You’re right, you don’t wind up with a record like Price’s and not be a great goaltender. I notice that Martin brought in his own goaltending coach, it will be interesting to see what he changes in Price’s game. I agree about Latendresse as well. He’s young and was a second round draft pick. It almost seems like fans expect prospects to come up from the minors and play like the next Guy Lafleur or Roy and the reality is, that’s not going to happen.

    I agree about the Kostitsyns, how long did it take the Sedins to adjust to the NHL? A few years. There are alot of young players on the team that need time to adjust and learn. It’s hard to do that when the fans and media are constantly on your back.

    Criticism that plagues this franchise… I couldn’t have said it better myself!

    Senet – Your good friend clearly doesn’t know alot about hockey. If you want to point fingers for last season, the last place to point them is at a 21 year old goaltender who had a .920 sv% his first year and a .905 sv% last year. His 2 year totals for the team are 47 wins, 28 losses, and 13 ties. He won the Molson cup the first month he played with the team as a rookie. He also is the first Canadiens rookie goaltender to record a playoff shutout since Roy. He was named to the NHL all star game in his second season. His record before playing for the Canadiens was so scary good, this guy has the potential to be a hall of fame goaltender. He is the only goaltender in hockey history to be named CHL Goaltender of the Year, World Junior Championship’s tournament MVP and win the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy, all in the same year. He is also the only goaltender in hockey history to win the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy the same year as playing junior. He simply needs time, the NHL game is unlike any other hockey league in the world, regardless of what the KHL would have you believe.

    You are also absolutely correct, so many fans blame BG, forgetting the sad state the team was in before he was hired. He was once described by legendary Soviet coach, Viktor Tikhonov as “technically the best player in the world”. This guy knows hockey. He became the GM in 2003. Since he was hired, we’ve only missed the playoffs once (made it 4 times). The previous 5 years, we’d made the playoffs once and missed 4 times. He was personally responsible for drafting Price over who the fans wanted (Brule). Where is Brule now? Playing for the Springfield Falcons. BG is the best thing that’s happened to this time in I don’t know how long, we’ll see how things go under the new ownership.

    habknot – Well, I don’t know about Montreal fans being the most knowledgeable in hockey, there are some that know quite alot and some that couldn’t find the Camembert if it was right in front of them. I think you’ll find that true of fans of any canadian team, though, and several american ones. I’m glad we can agree on defense and rebounds, it really will help Price’s confidence when he knows the team in front of him will help support and cover him.

    We’ll have to disagree on Ryder though. Ryder personally put the nails in Montreal’s coffin during the playoff series against us. Here is an 8th round draft pick who during his first season had 63 points, 25 goals, and a +10. He followed that up with two 30 goal seasons (55 and 58 points respectively), had one bad year (in which *everyone* had a bad year), wasn’t resigned because of what the fans and media were saying, went to Boston, and promptly went back to scoring 27 goals, 53 points, and a +28. I have a really bad feeling we’re going to regret not resigning him, his numbers certainly show that he has skill and talent and the problem was with the team, and not him.

    Holstrom is 6’0 203lbs, Franzen is 6’3 220lbs, Draper is 5’10 188lbs, Helm 5’11 172, Filpula 6’0 193lbs, they have 4 forwards under 6’0 tall and 3 of them are 5’11. Speed is fine but it’s only good going through the neutral zone or breaking into the offensive zone. Once you’ve set up in the offensive zone, if you don’t have size to fight for the puck in the corners or fight for position in front of the net, speed isn’t going to help you much, and you’re going to simply do what they’ve always done, skate around the perimeter until they lose the puck. You need to have a balance on each line, speed and size. Someone that can go into the corner and hit and dig the puck out, like Ryan Smyth. (I was always secretly hoping we’d find a way to get him) He’s a character player with LOADS of heart that always seems to find a way to get the puck. I hate watching the way the Habs cycle the puck, they skate around and around in the corners until they lose it then the other team breaks out. You need 1 person digging for the puck, 1 person as support, and 1 person in front of the net so that when you *do* get the puck, you have someone to pass it to in a scoring position. For God’s sake, PLEASE STOP CYCLING THE PUCK. It doesn’t work with small forwards. It’s like watching them play a passive box on the PK. IT DOESN’T WORK. You need to always play an aggressive box, closest man to the puck pressures it. Hopefully Martin will bring the changes on the ice we need.

    I, as well, am looking forward to the season opener against the Leaf’s, I’m hoping Laraque is in full health so he can keep Orr in check!

    Go HABS Go!

  32. #32 Mats Naslund says:
    July 21, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    The Canadiens picture got somewhat clearer today as Tomas Plekanec was signed for $2.75 million for one year. He will centre the second line and will be counted upon to play a much larger role than he did last season. The signing also adds some fuel to the speculation that Gainey is looking to make a deal with one of the teams under cap duress: San Jose or Chicago.

    In San Jose, there has been recent talk that the Sharks have interest in Dany Heatley. I can’t see this as truth however, because the Sharks only have $500,000 in capspace and still need to sign at least 3 forwards (only 9 are signed) and 1 goalie before October. What the Sharks really need is to deal one of their larger contracts (Thornton, Marleau, Boyle or Nabokov) in order to acquire a few cheaper players to fill spots. If Montreal is at all involved with the Sharks, it is for this purpose. Montreal could theorhetically send a few cheaper roster players/prospects/picks to return an impact player as Plekanec’s signing leaves the team with a little over $2 million in space (with at least one forward to sign). A deal like Plex, Latendresse (or any combo less than 4 million in cap space) + a pick might be enough to land Marleau while adding players and space for the Sharks. Clearly a deal for Thornton would have to include more though I do not really believe he is being shopped. That would be an utter coup. San Jose doesn’t have a lot to bargain with however, and so some team may get better value for their trade by playing ball.

    The other team that keeps coming up in trade talks right now is Chicago. While most Hawks fans have guzzled the koolaid that Hawks management has been serving over the past few days about not being in trouble with the cap, they DO have a big problem looming. The problem stems from bonuses that are owed to Kane and Teows this season. These bonuses could push their respective salaries significantly higher. If this happens the Hawks would either have to send a player making decent money (Brent Sopel-2.3 mil) to the AHL (which would be a drastic move, and possibly not enough), or they would hve to push those bonuses to next season’s cap. If that happens Chicago will be in serious trouble. Both players will be getting large raises anyway, and their bonus money would effectively be like taking on 4-6 million in contracts without getting any players to go with them. At that point, Chicago would essentially have to trade some valuable assets for nothing but cap in return. While there is still time to avert the situation, the most reasonable scenario is to shop one of Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien or Cam Barker in return for a deal heavy in picks and prospects and short in roster players returning. If Montreal is involved in this scenario it is in this respect as the team still has a little cap space available.

    In the end if I had to guess, I would bet that Gainey is kicking tires on these two options but doesn’t make a move. Marleau would be a significant upgrade from Plex, but given recent trends in NHL trades, it is unpredictable what will happen once one team leaks the details in order to generate a better deal. This would be the Shark’s only real bargaining chip, and thus I have to think that some other team with more room under the cap would get involved. As for the rumoured Sharp deal, it remains to be seen if the Hawks are serious about making space, or if they want to tempt fate by doing nothing. What an awkward feeling for Hawks fans to cheer against Kane and Teows meeting their bonuses all year long.

  33. #33 Mats Naslund says:
    July 23, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I love the Montreal Canadiens and subsequently I love fans of the Montreal Canadiens. I remember two seasons ago when the Canadiens clinched 1st in the East, I was in the middle of my bachelor party. That night I wore my hand-me-down Lafleur Jersey that my father had long-since grown out of and given to me as if a family heirloom. I was the beneficiary of so many high-fives, more drinks than I could deal with, and sessions of OLE! chants with other excited Habs fans that night. We owned the streets of my Southern Ontario hometown – much to the dismay of Leafs fans who would once again watch their team miss the post season. In our drunken delusion many, many guarantees were made about how the cup was ours and how Carey was Roy, and so on. In fact, reality had much different plans for the Canadiens.

    That pesky reality.

    It has continued since then. Lecavalier was ours. The Sedins were all but Habs. Even now, in the dog days of summer, when most players are sitting on a dock or a beach somewhere sipping on a brew, fans of the Canadiens are sitting at home deluding themselves. The latest example, and reason for this long-winded post is the Plekanec signing. On a team with not one, but hundreds of thousands of GM’s, the signing of Plekanec to a one-year $2.75 million deal was an outrage. How could he make that much money after such a disappointing year?


    Plekanec has scored 20 goals in three straight seasons. As Lions in Winter has pointed out recently, there are only 4 players in the league who have scored more goals in 3 seasons than Tomas and are signed for less. Given his age, and potential Plex at $2.75 is a bargain. A fact of reality that is absolutely lost on Habs fans who want to see every superstar in the league wearing the sweater. The fact is, unless our players have career years every season, we are unhappy. We have watched guys like Leclaire, Ribiero, Ryder move out of town only to improve on what they were as Canadiens, and yet, at first opportunity we jump all over guys like Plekanec and the Kostitsyns calling them soft, or cancers in the room. While I would love to see a guy like Marleau or Lecavalier in a Habs jersey, it is an unsustainable venture to always chase guys at their most expensive value. Not every young player works out, but unless you stick with them, you’re guaranteed to struggle even with top line talent because there is nobody in the system to support them.

    My gut tells me that Gainey is finished. A trade for another impact player will be convoluted and could potentially cost us big time. Once D’Agostini and Stewart are signed, we will have around a million in cap space (more or less depending on which numbers you use). The only reason I still think a trade is a possibility is because of the reality facing the Sharks. They simply HAVE to do something. Bringing up AHL’ers isn’t even a possibility with their cap problems. Someone has to go, and for that reason (coupled with Gainey’s absolute lack of predictability this off season), I’m unwilling to close the door on the possibility.

  34. #34 Senet1 says:
    July 23, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    Well Gainey has never been known to making a trade for the sake of making a trade so I have to agree with Matts that he is probably done, unless of course a deal materializes that will help this team not just short run but long run. So here we go I think we are ready to start the season with what we have along with a few RFA to sign yet. But I believe that based on what Gainey has done in the off season that he is ready to make a move during the season to either shore up our offence or solidify our playoff position. Here is a thought, there are a number of UFA out there that are having trouble finding a home because of the cap space. They may be willing to sign a 1 Yr deal like Paul Kariya signed for say 1M and become a UFA again next year when there may be more teams interested. Anyway what ever happens I believe in Gainey and trust him to make the move that will be best for the team.

  35. #35 Mats Naslund says:
    July 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Its been a couple of quiet days for Habs fans (no news is good news to all who endured last season). There is however, one rumour that is still making the rounds on message boards and blogs that Montreal is still in talks with either one or two teams about another trade.

    For some reason a lot of names from the Sharks, Islanders, and Canadiens are being thrown around in a jumble. Since Edmonton and Ottawa haven’t come to any conclusion in their deal for Heatley it is fairly obvious that there is another team involved. Given that San Jose has done next to nothing to address their cap situation, it is more and more likely that they are trying to work out a few deals to build their roster for October. This may ultimately include Heatley playing with Thornton.

    The situation is murky, but if you really think about the situation there is only one scenario that would truly solve the problems of each of the team involved. The situation is this:

    San Jose needs 3 forwards and 1 goalie to have a minimum of roster players required. They have $500,000 – $900,000 to accomplish this depending on which numbers you go by. They need to deal a big contract to bring in cheaper pieces (or even to call up cheaper pieces). They cannot trade Marleau for Heatley straight up because they would lose $1M in cap on the deal. They cannot send extra players to even the cap hit because 1) they would only be worsening their roster dilemma, and 2) Ottawa is over the cap. This means that IF San Jose is serious about Heatley, they need to come up with a deal in which a team absorbs one of their larger contracts for several cheaper players in return.

    Montreal: While Gainey most certainly should entertain every trade possibility that comes across his desk, the only way he can have the type of maneuverability he needs to take on a big contract like Marleau’s ($6.3M) is if he sends $4.2M in contracts to San Jose (we have $2.1 million remaining). That would work out to a combo of Plex + 1.45M worth of players. Laraque and Moen both make 1.5. If not one of those 2, it would require 2 younger players (Latendresse, Max Pac, D’Ags, SKost, Chipchura, Lapierre, Weber, Maxwell – which would be the better scenario for SJ) to leave in order to fit Marleau under our cap. While 2.1 million seems like a lot of breathing room, we do still require 1 more forward to fill out our roster as is, which means if you send 2 or 3 players to SJ, you have to have room to call up, sign the rest of the roster.

    Enter the Islanders.

    The Islanders have capspace, young players and the desire to put a few quality pieces beside Tavares. Given how tight Ottawa, San Jose, Montreal’s cap situations are NYI have the ability to provide the capspace to broker these deals. In return, they could potentially land some quality NHLers with larger contracts for relatively little:

    If SJ gets its way in this deal we could see a guy like Cheechoo on Long Island next season. With 19 million in capspace, NY can afford to take on some contracts in order to fleece one or all of the teams involved in this scenario in trades. How could Montreal get the room required to trade for Marleau? How about sending Roman Hamrlik and his $5M cap hit to NYI? The islanders are filled with cheap players that could be sent back, and would be further ahead with a few veterans to play minutes.

    As I said in previous posts – Gainey should by all rites be finished. There is the possibility that Montreal uses its little bit of room to make another deal, but it will be a complicated one – which is usually an indicator that it will not happen. More importantly, the scenario is complicated by Montreal’s inclusion.

    A three way deal could very well be made by Ottawa, SJ and NYI without any reference to Montreal. It very much depends on who SJ wants in return. Since they would still have to replace Marleau’s production, they can’t just move his contract. This may be why Plex continues to be in rumours.

  36. #36 Avatar37 says:
    July 27, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    What I don’t understand is, when we *had* tons of room under the cap, we traded to land Gomez, not only did we take on a huge contract BUT we also had to give up Christopher Higgins, Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh, and Pavel Valentenko. This not only put a plethora of young talent into the Ranger’s system (and out of ours), it also allowed them to sign Gaborik. Now, I always thought that when you take on a player who isn’t living up to expectations on one team, and you take him and his contract on, usually you don’t pay such a hefty price to do so? Usually, it’s the team with the heavy contract that is paying you to do it? I’m not trying to knock Gomez here, I think he’s a talented player, but that salary was too high when it was offered and now not only did we take that salary on, we paid a high price to do so?

    I also notice that Gomez’s salary is the same as Heatley’s, now that would make for an interesting trade. Gomez and Pleks and/or picks for Heatley… Of course, that would leave us *awfully* thin at center. I wonder how Laraque would do at faceoffs… Speaking of Laraque, I don’t like any scenario that trades him away, or Moen. The other teams in our division have bulked up (The Leafs) and we are going to need some toughness on the ice, and no one in the NHL can fight better than Laraque can. Moen we just acquired, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he works with our team.

    I wouldn’t be adverse to trading Hamrlk because I think his salary is too high at $5 mil, but look at how thin our defense already is, and we’ve now traded away our best defensive prospect from the minors. I really think that after 6 months, the fans are going to be all over Gill’s case because he’s simply too immobile and they’ll get to see his weaknesses every game. If you get rid of Harmlik, you have to have a replacement coming from somewhere. Subban might be ready for the NHL, but we sure seem to have a shortage of defensive defensemen to play in front of Price.

  37. #37 Avatar37 says:
    July 29, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    (I should also qualify my Laraque comments as being perhaps a bit personal too, since I have hardly gotten any wear out of my 17 Laraque jersey and was hoping for at least a good few years worth of wearing it before he left!)

    In all seriousness, one of the biggest problems the Habs have had the past decade is a lack of a real enforcer. I remember when Koivu almost had his eye taken out by a high stick in the playoffs (which the refs amazingly “didn’t see” even though he was directly where the play was), or the time some goon went after him and immediately turtled when Souray stepped in… We need to have a dedicated enforcer on the club to keep incidents like that under control, and there’s no better enforcer in the NHL than Laraque. He’s well worth his salary and I am looking forward to seeing him in action for a healthy year.

  38. #38 Avatar37 says:
    July 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Even though we picked up forwards that are smaller in stature, I’m actually pretty confident in the toughness of our team, looking at the roster. Sergei is fairly tough, as is Latendresse. Then we have Laraque, the best enforcer in the NHL, Lapierre, Metropolit (I’ve been a fan of this guy since I saw him in international play and was very pleased to see this hard worker picked up by Gainey), Moen, Stewart (who impressed me alot last year, he’s a very gritty player), and then on defense we have Gill and O’Byrne. Bouillon was a scrapper but for some reason didn’t really fight the past few years. I always wondered if that was a decision on his part, or a direction from the coach. I hope that Martin, while playing a defensive system, allows players to play more physically and stand up for themselves and their teammates. One of Montreal’s biggest problems has been lack of space on the ice, and smaller, faster forwards need that space. You can only create that space with bigger forwards who hit, and by having a reputation for playing a physical game. If teams know they can push you around physically, you’re pretty much done. Mind you, there is a difference between playing a physical game and standing up for your team, and taking stupid penalties. I’m not advocating running around looking for fights or taking dumb penalties, but absolutely you have to create that phyiscal element out there and not back down from challengers.

    Anyway, all of that to say, I think we have the right elements to play that physical game, I hope the coach allows the players to do so. It took me awhile to get over the shock of losing our captain and so many familiar faces, but I’m liking the way this team is looking for the next season. With Heatley still on the market, it would be a golden opportunity to pick up a bonafide superstar of this league, and considering Ottawa’s goaltending problems, I’m surprised a deal involving Halak wasn’t in the offering, because Halak has the talent to be a starter in this league, and we recently got Sanford, which creates a logjam. Gomez, Halak, Pleks, and picks for Heatley plus a salary dump going to someone else? I know, I’m dreaming in technicolour, but when was the last time we had a 50 goal scorer that wasn’t Stephane Richer? lol

  39. #39 Mats Naslund says:
    July 29, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Avatar, I agree about the lack of physicality that we’ve had on the club in recent years. While I would stop short of calling Gui! or Sergei tough (though Guillaume is definitely a checking threat), we have added a few gritty pieces. Laraque and Stewart will still be the primary fighters next season, but for once we will have a little size and sandpaper spread through the roster with Moen, Mara and Gill. Teams like Boston didn’t take us seriously last season because as long as they ignored Laraque (or if he happened to be hurt), they could take turns beating up Kostopoulos. As much as I admire Tom the Bomb’s heart, he didn’t have the size to make anybody worry or think twice about taking advantage of our skilled forwards. This year should be better, although I still think we’re a skilled, skating team at heart.

    As for Heatley, its just not going to happen. 1st, Montreal would be screwed beyond belief by trading their first and second line centres. If we thought we had problems before down the middle, the subtraction of Gomez and Plex would be disaster. I’m also surprised you would want Heatley since you didn’t like Kovalev. Heatley has no physical or defensive game to speak of, which is why he is on the outs in Ottawa. If he thought Cory Clouston’s system was tough, just wait till he has Martin as his coach again! I don’t mean this as an attack, just that Heatley is a good player, but bad fit for the team.
    2nd, Heatley has a NTC which he has already stuck to since the end of June. Montreal was not on his list of teams and so a deal would never happen even if Ottawa was interested.

    In the end, I really think that Montreal has a far more pressing need at centre. Unless plex can find his 07/08 form again, Montreal can ill afford to continue to roll tiny centres. In the NHL its all about balance, and guys fulfilling their roles. No matter who we throw on his wings, Plex doesn’t fit because of his lack of physicality in the faceoff circle and defensive end (unless he’s scoring 30+ goals this year – and then you can deal with his softness).

  40. #40 Senet1 says:
    July 30, 2009 at 8:28 pm

    As usual Mats I have to agree with your comments, that is why the Marleau deal sounded so good. If we are where Gainey wants to be by Christmas I can see us looking for a bigger centreman. Too Bad Lang was not available at a lower salary, I would like to see if he still can play. HIs 30 goals along with our first line production would be nice to have. But I guess that is a dream as well unless of course Gainey talks him into a 1 YR contract because no one else wants to take a chance on him.

    I do not see Plex scoring any more than his annual 20 goals, now mind you that is more than Koivu averaged but koivu brought something else to the game that Plex does not seem to have, guts and determination. I actually see us with two second lines next year, as Lapriere’s line may surprise many of us with their offensive abilities. Personally, I do not get what Avatar means that we are lacking defenceman. We only lost one front line defenceman and we picked up three and two of them are very big and the third also has offensive upside. We also have Webber and Subban both of which could be ready although I would not rush either of them unless we have injuries. Another year in Hamilton will probably do Webber some good and Subban could also use some seasoning before he is brought into the fire of the Montreal fan base. I do agree that with the goaltending we have in the organization we would be okay if Halak was traded away. I believe Desjardin will be ready in another year to assume Price’s back up position.

    Anyway that is how I see it.

  41. #41 Mats Naslund says:
    July 31, 2009 at 11:19 am

    A close friend asked me yesterday “So do you like a deal for Marleau?” – I’ve already talked about the ‘deal’ as far as has been leaked to the media. To be fair, there is not a whole lot of mystery behind what is going on right now. The holding pattern between SJ, Edm, Ott, Bos and Mon is the telltale domino scenario. What is unknown right now, is which teams will take on the large contracts to facilitate the movement for these teams already pressed up against the cap.

    My immediate reaction to the question? I think if its possible Montreal HAS to make the trade. I would jump at the opportunity to fly 4 lines looking like:

    Latendresse-Lapierre-Moen (<- deadly this year)

    Certainly the addition of Marleau would require at least a few of these younger pieces being moved, but would make for a fairly scary lines of skill and grit. While I would make the move in a heartbeat – I am also very cautious in hoping that it will actually happen. Eric Engles laid it out perfectly today

    As I said before, making this one happen will be convoluted. There are so many variables, that if even one team gets spooked the whole deal will fall apart (if it already hasn’t). So I think for now I’m going to act as though this deal WILL NOT happen in order to spare myself the “vinny syndrome”.

  42. #42 Avatar37 says:
    August 1, 2009 at 12:21 am

    Mats – Latendresse is capable of playing a physical game, and of the two Kostitsyns, Sergei is the tough (or at least physical) one. I like the chemistry they have together, Andrei is the one with the better hands and Sergei blocks and hits for him. I remember when Sergei got blindsided behind the net and went down and Andrei dropped his gloves agains the guy that hit his brother. He lost the fight but showed heart to stand up for him. I think they simply need time to develop together. Laraque and Stewart are definitely the two main fighters on the team, and Stewart was impressive last season in his role. Stewart reminds me of Begin, I hope he develops into the same “never quit” kind of player. Not quite sure Mara is known for fighting, Gill at least has size, if not much else. He is simply a more advanced O’Byrne. Moen has always impressed me, I was really happy to see we’d picked him up. Yes, I’d agree that we’re still a skilled, skating team at heart, but you need some physical players who are able to hit and fight for space to create room for the smaller, skilled skaters. Our problem has always been having not enough players who can hit and dig for the puck… You get down low, cycle it until you lose it (because no one could get to the front of the net), and then the other team would break out the other way. I’m looking forward to seeing how Martin uses all this size and toughness to change that.

    Yes, I agree, Heatley will never happen. It was still a nice dream though. Why would I prefer Heatley over Kovalev? I lived in Ottawa for many years, and was able to see both all the Sens games and Habs games. Heatley is a bonafide NHL super star, Kovalev is a wannabe superstar. I say wannabe because he has the talent to be one, he just chooses not to use it. Let’s compare their stats over the past four years. Kovalev had one 35 goal season, then 26, 23, and 18. He had one season with points in the 80s, two in the 60s, and on at 47. His plus minuses were -1, -19, +18, and -4. To recap, he’s had one season in the positives, one season with more than 30 goals, and one season with over 80 points. Heatley, over the past four years, has had one season under 80 points (72). He’s had 2 over 100. He’s had two 50 goal seasons, one at 41, and one at 39. His plus/minus over that time was +29, +31, +33, and -11. In other words, Kovalev’s BEST season is only slightly better than Heatley’s WORST season. Heatley and Kovalev are in different leagues as players, and I’d have Heatley on my team any day over Kovalev. You don’t win the cup without at least one bonafide, authentic, *real* superstar, and Heatley is one. He’d be worth whatever it would take to get him, minus giving Price up, and figure out how to patch the holes over the next few seasons. I didn’t know which teams Heatley had agreed to waive his no-trade clause for, I was hoping that perhaps given his success under Martin, he’d be willing to play under him again.

    Senet – I agree with you, too bad we couldn’t get Lang back. I would really love to see if he can still play, I know out of all the new players we got last year, he impressed me the most (not that Tanguay didn’t either, but Lang really impressed me).

    When I said we were thin on defense, I meant, thin on defensive *capable* defensemen. Markov is an elite defenseman in the NHL, who do we have after him? Hamrlk is decent if not expensive, I’m not that familiar with Mara and Spacek, at least not enough to comment on their defensive capabilities, Gorges is developing (and developing well, I might add), Gill and O’Byrne, while tall, are not mobile and beaten easily with speed. We traded away our best prospective defenseman, any other void we create would have to come from the minors. If we send Hamrlk to another team and don’t get a top 4 d-man back (ie: in order to create cap space), your top 4 d-men become Markov Spacek Mara and … Gill? Weber? Suban? and who are your next 2? In my opinion, anytime Gill is in your top 4 for defense, you’re thin on defense. He has his uses, such as on a game by game basis vs teams like the leafs, where you are in need of size. Against more skilled teams, I’m afraid that he won’t measure up. Is Gorges ready to be a top 4? I guess we might have to find out, assuming Hamrlk goes. It might be worth finding out to get Marleau (or Heatley, in my fantasy).

  43. #43 Avatar37 says:
    August 3, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    This is how I would see our starting line up for next year:

    Cammalleri – Gomez – Gionta

    S Kostitsyn – Pleks (Marleau) – A Kostitsyn

    Moen – Metropolit – Stewart <–(A physical, fairly quick checking line)

    Latendresse – Lapierre – Laraque

    Markov – Spacek
    Hamrlk – Gorges
    Mara – Gill

    If Hamrlk gets traded to make cap room, then you’d simply add Suban or Weber or O’Byrne into the mix. I think the Kositsyn’s need to play on the same line, they’re brothers and have known each other their whole lives. They’ll either find great chemistry together or hate each other, but I’d like to think they’ll develop great chemistry together, if given the chance, with either Plekanec or Marleau beteen them. Stewart and Laraque can be inserted into any line as needed, depending on who you are playing.

    One phenomenon to watch for, when you are watching Habs games: Watch whenever Laraque is on the ice. Anytime there is a whistle due to stoppage near the net, watch the other team. Usually, there’s pushing and shoving and face washing. Whenever Laraque is on the ice, it’s calm. There is no pushing, no shoving, the other team treads as lightly as they can. That calming effect of having the league’s best enforcer on the ice is worth what we’re paying Laraque, and it makes me smile when I see it. With Laraque/Stewart as enforcer, and grit players like Moen and Metropolit (Did I mention, after seeing him play for the Swiss team in international play, that I thought he should be playing in the NHL, and it pleases me to no end to see him playing for the Habs), the K brothers, et al, I’m looking forward to seeing if this group can develop any chemistry with each other, especially under Martin. I think we have most, if not all, of the components necessary to be successful, Price may need a few more years of seasoning before he’s stealing series, but I think the future looks good for us.

    Anyway, sorry for rambling, I had nowhere else to chat about my obsession, and am always glad to spend time with fellow Habs fans. Go HABS Go!

  44. #44 Mats Naslund says:
    August 4, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I love speculating on the starting lineups, especially while we’re two months from the season! That is how you know you’re a true hockey fan – when you’ll ignore the beautiful weather outside to sit inside and talk reverently about when it will be cold again.

    The thing about our roster for next season is that there seems to be a lot more flexibility than last. While Gainey could still potentially tinker, he doesn’t have to. Especially on the forward lines, Gainey has given Martin a more dynamic and malleable group to work with. What I like most is that guys won’t have to do jobs they aren’t meant to do. The top lines are fairly clear cut: Cammy, Gomez, Gionta, Plex, A Kost, Sergei, Max Pac, D’Ags and Latendresse (although I prefer to see him on the third) will all see the top 2 lines. Lapierre, Moen, Metro, Stewart, Laraque, and Chipchura will all see time on the 3rd and 4th lines. Roles are defined, and regardless of what happens, players will understand what they are supposed to do to match up against the opposition. As much as I would like to leave Carbo in the past, last season serves as a perfect example of the need for balance and players who are capable and willing to fulfill their role.

    Last year Carbo set into motion a revolving door of player movement between lines. This had much to do with inconsistent play that was out of his control, but by the time our troubles were glaringly evident, much was due to Carbo’s insistence on blurring the lines between top and bottom line talent. This year will be a different animal (I hope). The addition of Travis Moen is a great first step. Moen, (who I will from here-on-out refer to as T-Moeney), is a physical force who will bring the legitimate toughness that was so desperately lacking until the arrival of Greg Stewart last year. With all due respect to Steve Begin and Tom-the-Bomb, neither were capable of legitimately wearing down the opposition. Teams simply didn’t fear our third line. Since they didn’t score, and they rarely won a fight, we were left with a line of “‘tweeners” who skated with the fury of a hurricane and struck with the force of a gust.

    My line combos for next year reflect the desire to split the expensive ‘smurf line’ over two lines, so that teams can’t just physically dominate our top line. As was the case in 07/08, I think the stigma of 2nd line should be abandoned. Our “2nd” line that year of Kovy, Plex and A Kost was dominant, partially because teams couldn’t just focus on shutting down one top line. Finally, I should also mention that MUCH of our top line success will be due to the emergence of one of our young players stepping up. Whether that player is Mad Max, Sergei, D’Agostini or Latendresse – it is critical that someone of that group emerge as a legitimate scoring winger with 20-25 goals on the season. If that doesn’t happen, we won’t have 2 scoring lines. Furthermore, as an organization we have to be able to give our young players the ice time required to develop. Bringing in another ‘veteran’ top 6 winger will only cut into valuable 2nd unit PP time, and potential development. In a perfect world, Sergei steps up which would allow Pacioretti to develop further in the AHL as was so beneficial to Bobby Ryan in Anaheim.

    A. Kost-Gomez-Gionta

    I’d love to see what Sergei could do if he has a player with the finishing capability of Cammy on his opposite wing. I also am waiting excitedly at the prospect of Lapierre, and Latendresse, who I think will be a great 3rd line with Moen because of their ability to play both a physical game AND contribute offensively. If Laraque can stay healthy our 4th line will be tough as nails with a full year for Stewie.

  45. #45 Avatar37 says:
    August 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    The weather outside is always hockey season and that boring time you wait for hockey season. Doesn’t stop me from wearing my Habs jerseys all year round!

    I agree, there is more flexibility, and I think Gainey put alot of thought into what his options were, and he pursued them during the offseason with a vigor! He turned this team from one that didn’t make the playoffs to one that does, and now he’s transformed the team once again, into one that hopefully can go deeper than the 1st round. I remember the pre-Gainey days, when I’d watch NHL games and see someone play and think “I like how that person plays the game, hard nosed, never quit hockey, which guarantees I’ll never see him on my team” .. Now, Gainey has picked up a few of my favourites, from Laraque to the newest, Moen. Personally, I’m rather glad Briere didn’t sign with us, I like our current personel better. The only one “that got away”, for me, was Ryan Smyth. Gainey did, however, pursue him, which gives me hope that at some point in the future, he might wind up on our roster yet.

    I really liked Carbo as a technical coach, we improved vastly in the faceoffs and on special teams when he was on staff. He also had a pretty good record, I believe, as a head coach, considering his lack of experience in that area when he signed on. I think, perhaps, the only flaw in his style was lack of communication, from what I’ve read. It’s really hard to say without actually having been in the locker room and on the team, to know what really was going on. I do think that there is an aspect that we lose when he is not on staff.

    Begin could fight, but he was by no means an enforcer. He was more the “plays 100% every shift every game, throws body checks against anyone” kind of player, a “clean” pest, if you will, like a clean Claude Lemieux. One thing I’ve heard repeatedly is “Enforcers don’t play a role in the game, you don’t need enforcers to win, it’s not part of hockey”. If you have a look at the last 2 Canadiens teams to win a cup, in 86 you had Chris Nilan and Claude Lemieux (and of course Roy in nets, and Carbs as captain), and in 93 you had Todd Ewen (my personal favourite), Lyle Odelein (and of course, Carbs as captain and Roy in nets). Now, we have Price in nets, Laraque and Stewart as enforcers, and alot of added toughness (in Moen) to go along with some good goal scorers. It’s an aspect of the game we’ve lacked for too many years and it’s nice to see it back.

    I understand your desire to have toughness on every line, I do, however, believe that some players develop chemistry together. Gionta was acquired to play with Gomez, and I believe the K brothers should also have playing time together, like the Sedins do. Given that they should be on the same line, either A Kos. learns to take faceoffs (or his brother, for that matter), or you have to put Pleks between them. I admit, Marleau would make for a much nicer option between them. Moen – Gomez – Gionta might make for an interesting line, or Stewart – Gomez – Gionta… but the question then becomes, where do you put Cammalleri? Cammalleri – S.K. -A.K. ? I think at that point you have to be able to juggle your lines based on the team you’re playing against… vs the leafs, you need toughness on every line, because well, that’s almost all they have. Vs other teams, you might need more speed, and the option to create speed lines are there.

    Any way you slice it, I am actually excited at the prospect of next season, and as far as I’m concerned, Gainey has made me excited about this team in a way that Serge Savard never did. I believe in Gainey’s vision for this team, I believe that we will build a winner, and I believe in this club. Go HABS Go!

  46. #46 Senet1 says:
    August 5, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Avatar37, I understand what you are saying about out defense or lack thereof of their abilities against smaller skilled teams, I guess time will tell but Detroit is about as skilled as most teams in the League and Gill to me was Pittsburgs best defensive defenceman. So hopefully he can gring that kind of a game to our team and do it in the regular season as well as the playoffs. Maybe he is a better player come playoff time which is a good thing as long as we can get there. One thing I think Martin will make sure his defensive pairings complement each other so if one has some shortfalls the other partner can pick them up in those areas. So I guess only time will tell but I for one will remain on the positive side because as far as defense is concerned to me we are 100% better than we were last year at that position. Price is the type of goalie that needs strong defenceman in front of him to clear the crease and not allow forwards to physically push there way into interfering with him. The more confidence he has the better goalie he will be.

    As far as defence on the forward lines I also think we have improved in that area. With more physical presence than last year which should help our defence as well in our own end of the rink.
    So in summary, better defensive forwards, better and more physical defencemen, makes for a better goaltending. That is how I see it anyway.

  47. #47 habknot says:
    August 6, 2009 at 10:02 am

    I’ll leave the offensive lines alone for a while, and focus on D. Bearing in mind what Senet1 was saying, these look like good pairings:

    Markov-Hamrlik : though they both play best on the left side, physically and skillwise these guys can match up against whatever is out there.

    Spacek-Mara : More skill than many first pairings in the league, but still responsible defensively

    Gill-Gorges : 2 under-rated guys, Gorges with the speed to get back, Gill with the smarts to not get caught up often, and a Zamboni in front of Price

    I think you can switch, between the top pairings, obviously Spacek-Markov would be ideal as #1 PP unit, they just lack overall toughness a bit. If you can keep them from Lucic/Thornton etc.. then they could form a 1st/2nd pairing.

    That leaves Weber/Subban trying to makle the team as a forward/defenseman, and O’Byrne as the first call-up/pressbox guy.

  48. #48 Mats Naslund says:
    August 6, 2009 at 10:30 am

    TSN caught up with Carey at a goalie camp in Calgary. Carey said most of what you would expect him to say – about become more mature, and being able and comfortable playing in Montreal. What I found most interesting, (it was in the video, not the print version of the story), was that Jacques Martin made a trip out to Calgary to introduce himself and attempt to develop a relationship with his goalie. I think that says a lot about how Martin will handle his player relationships. Martin specifically talked about how his relationship with young players is often similar to a father/son relationship. For everyone who endured last season’s debacle let me say “Thank You Jacques Martin!”. What a fantastic statement from the person who is responsible for the young guys on this team. There is a reason that Sidney Crosby still lives with Mario Lemieux. Young players with all kinds of cash can get into some pretty deep trouble. Having a guy who has a natural authority around those players is CRITICAL. Carbo didn’t want to take on that role last year. He treated everyone the same from the Kostitsyns to Koivu to Kovy. It was an incredibly unhelpful strategy, particularly when things began to unravel. I’m not saying the young players need to be babied, but it will benefit them to have a coach who will openly remind them that they are young and have a lot to learn- and the players will respect him more for it.

  49. #49 habknot says:
    August 6, 2009 at 12:11 pm

    I think its too bad we didn’t pick up Jeff Hackett to be our goaltender coach. He has dealt with the pressure of being between the pipes in Montreal and really helped turn Theodore into a standout performer. He was also a ‘big brother’ to Theo, and I think when #60 lost that, he lost his focus on the game. Groulx was more of a video coach before, and maybe we could still land Hackett to help out our two good young goalies (I think even we forget how good Halak has shown he can be, if life were fair he would have started the playoffs last year).

  50. #50 Avatar37 says:
    August 7, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Senet – I agree with you that our forwards got more responsible defensively, and tougher, our coach will have us playing a more responsible defensive game, my only worry is how he kept his fighters in Ottawa on a really tight leash, I hope he doesn’t apply that strict of a leash on ours. Gainey has an ability to shock me with his choices, then after the shock wears off, make me slowly nodd my head and admit that he’s a genius. Once the shock of losing half our team wore off, I’m really excited about seeing the new players and coach and how it all comes together.

    Habknot – I might be more tempted to place Spacek with Markov, however, I’m really not all that familiar with how Spacek and Mara are going to play, so I don’t feel comfortable trying to predict good pairings. I just hope I’m really wrong about Gill. I definitely agree with you about Hackett, he was my favourite Hab goalie since Roy. He was a consistent, reliable goaltender, and while he might not stop every break away or make a flashy save, he never let in weak goals, I never found myself saying “He should have had that one…”, which Theo had me saying almost every game. And, how could you *not* like the way the french announcers would say his name “Jeff ‘Ackette”.. I loved it. Always thought he was under rated, and was disappointed to no end when he got traded. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hackett in our goaltending staff, just like I wouldn’t mind seeing Carbs as a special teams/faceoff coach, or asst. coach. Our team always did better in the faceoff circle and on special teams when he was here.

    Mats – Again, I find myself in agreement with you. We have young players that always seem to find themselves in trouble in Montreal, from Theo to the K brothers, and we don’t want Price getting into trouble either. I hope that Martin can be this influence on him, instead of pushing him to rebel against it, because some people who are young and have alot of money might be tempted to say, I’m an adult and I can do whatever I want to, especially someone with Price’s talent and history of winning. If you’ve been working hard all your teen life and have denied yourself many things, the temptation to indulge can be overwhelming.

    Anyway, we may not win the cup this year, but I am happy with the direction the team is going, from new ownership (Molson!), to a new coach, to a great GM, to new players. Go HABS Go!

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