Kukla's Korner

The Upper Canadien

No news is Habs news…

It’s been a slow news month and a half for the Habs, other than the odd contract signing and personnel addition. Two predictions: 1) I think the NHL and NHLPA will settle soon. I just can’t believe the owners would risk alienating fans with another lockout. 2) PK Subban will sign soon. With the Canadiens. Just a hunch. But I think it’s coming.

Until then, a good article from today’s Montreal Gazette on the state of the Canadiens and Quebec born players (a somewhat hot topic during an election campaign):

Without the French factor, the Canadiens just aren’t the same

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Habs news: Max Pacioretty extension

As being reported by various hockey personalities on Twitter, including Brian Wilde of CTV, Max Pacioretty has signed a 6 year contract extension with the Habs. Details to follow.

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The latest on Subban

The bad: still no contract, still open to an offer sheet. The good: he says he doesn’t want to leave Montreal.

Subban optimistic he’ll have long career with Habs

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Shane Doan visiting Montreal

Well now this is getting interesting, isn’t it? NHL veteran power forward Shane Doan will visit the city of Montreal next week, according to various media including TSN. Montreal is said to be one of the teams Doan is seriously considering playing for, and it’s worth mentioning that Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is Doan’s cousin. Now, is Doan really thinking about a Montreal tour of duty, or is he simply driving the price higher? Only time will tell.

Report: Free agent Doan to visit with Canadiens next week

Consider this, however: the Habs have $6 million in cap space, and Shane Doan would likely cost between $5 and $6 million a year, on a 3 or 4 year deal. However, the Habs also have Scott Gomez, Tomas Kaberle, and Rene Bourque on the roster, and all are players that could very well be exiled to Hamilton of the AHL next season, should it be necessary.

Would Doan be a good addition to the Canadiens? He’d certainly provide second line depth, something sorely lacking in the absence of Gomez, the departure of Andrei Kostitsyn, and the lack of scoring provided, at least thus far, by Lars Eller. Some will say this is a building year and the Canadiens shouldn’t be adding Doan-type players. To me, that’s a fatuous argument.  The NHL is parity central. Every team has a shot. If you can add a player of Doan’s skill and experience, you jump at the chance.

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Habs sign Galchenyuk

The Montreal Canadiens have signed first round draft pick Alex Galchenyuk.

Galchenyuk signs three year deal

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English Sports Radio in Montreal faces its end: Save TSN 990

As Montrealers probably already know, TSN 990 is on the chopping block. Due to CRTC rules in Canada, which limit ownership of stations in English and French, the CRTC is forcing Bell to change TSN 990 from English to French in order to comply with ownership restrictions once Bell’s takeover of Astral Media proceeds. Well, actually, Bell has applied to do it, because, they say, they’re being forced to. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is a sports institutions in Montreal will disappear.

Now, I’ve been waiting a few days to post on this, because there was a rush of support when it was announced. Now, our hockey loving friends in Montreal need help.

Who’s the bad guy here? Bell? Astral? The CRTC? Who cares. The bottom line is that TSN 990 is a huge supporter of all things hockey, both inside and outside Montreal, and they are an important cornerstone of the English community. The good news is that individuals, anyone really, can submit an application to oppose the ruling. Should the CRTC receive enough (and to date, they’ve been flooded), they will revisit the decision, and could insist on TSN 990 remaining on the airwaves. So there is hope.

To give you a full summary of the situation, I am attaching a recent Montreal Gazette article on the situation. It takes two seconds to post your comment to the CRTC, and it goes a long way. If enough people respond, this could very well get reversed. TSN 990 is hugely important culturally to Anglophone Montrealers - there aren’t many English media outlets left in Quebec - and its survival is also important to hockey fans. Not just English, but Francophone as well. I know many Montreal residents who speak French all day but listen to the quality programming that TSN 990 consistently provides.

Five Ways to Save TSN 990

TSN 990 is a quality broadcaster, and an important cog in the culture of Montreal. Don’t let it go without a fight.

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Habs sign Diaz

The signings continue in Montreal, as the Canadiens announced the signing of defenceman Raphael Diaz this afternoon to a two year deal, avoiding potential arbitration.

Diaz had 3 goals and 16 points in 59 games for the Habs last season, and slots in as the likely #5 or #6 defenceman in Montreal come October…or November, or whenever we have a CBA.

More details here: Canadiens re-sign Raphael Diaz

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Habs signings continue with Eller

Frederic St. Denis re-upped for another year on a two-way deal, and now GM Marc Bergevin has locked up Lars Eller on a two year extension.

Another important (?) player locked up; is PK Subban next?

http://canadiens.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=637426

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Quick Habs notes

Montreal media have been assembled all afternoon waiting for a twice-postponed press conference with GM Marc Bergevin to begin. In the meantime, a few quick notes:

Jaromir Jagr is NOT coming to Montreal - apparently. Rick Moffatt of CJAD, a well known Montreal media member, tweeted that he spoke directly with Jagr’s agent, who said Bergevin had informed Jagr that the Canadiens were not interested in his services.

Brandon Prust was a great signing. $2.5 million a year is slightly more than ideal, but Montreal must compensate for higher tax rates. The four years are just fine for a player who is only 28. A character player, Prust makes the Habs tougher and vastly improves the PK, freeing up Tomas Plekanec, who has been the Canadiens’ key PK piece the past few years.

Colby Armstrong is a risk worth taking. At $1 million, his contract is peanuts in today’s NHL, and the term is only a year so there is no long-term risk. Armstrong is motivated after being bought out by Toronto, and a physical presence who will make Montreal tougher to play against.

Francis Bouillon is a great character signing that adds depth to the Montreal defence. He left the Habs on bad terms two years ago, and returns to where he loves to play. Bouillon is small in stature but all heart. A good signing.

So, to sum up: lots of character, but still a couple of holes. The Canadiens need a top six forward (arguably they wouldn’t if Mike Cammalleri hadn’t been dealt - thanks again Mr. Gautheir) and perhaps another veteran presence on defence. More moves to come? I suspect yes, but possibly through trades if players aren’t willing to sign in the hockey media mecca that is Montreal. The one player I wish the Habs had taken a risk on? Guillaume Latendresse. But he’s a good fit in Ottawa. If he stays healthy, he’ll score 25 goals.

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Moen for four, teeing up Sunday

Travis Moen’s four year deal with the Habs (4 year, $7.2 million) goes a long way shoring up leadership for the Canadiens, as well as their fourth line and penalty kill. While Moen may not be a sexy player, he’s an effective one, and a winner at that. Having him signed will allow the Habs to focus on finding more scoring and depth down the middle.

As for the Impending frenzy on Sunday, I expect the Habs to target at least one Francophone player (perhaps PA Paranteau, but likely Gui Latendresse), a skilled forward like Jagr, and some sandpaper/scoring such as a Shane Doan. I’d be pleased if they bring Latendresse back, as I feel his size and strength could help the second/third lines - as long as he’s healthy. I’d also like to see Alex Kovalev back as a 3rd/4th line/PP specialist, but I don’t be the sense the current Habs regime wants him back in Montreal. The Erik Cole signing last year was perfect - can the new management team top it?

Beyond that, anyone’s guess. I could also see GM Marc Bergevin trying to bring in a different backup, perhaps Martin Biron or someone of that ilk, but I doubt that is their first priority,

Should be lots of fun, speculate away - and enjoy!

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com

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