The Upper Canadien
What else is new - the Canadiens blew a lead Sunday night, losing to the Florida Panthers. What might be new? Some players, tomorrow, if the deals are there.
I won’t bother going over the game - let’s face it, the Habs season is over - what’s more interesting is what might happen between tonight and tomorrow at 3.
So, what signs were there Sunday? Well, Mathieu Darche has been one of the Habs most consistent performers the past month (perhaps therein lies the problem) and he was a healthy scratch. My bet? Someone deals a 3rd or 4th round pick for Darche, and he likely re-signs in Montreal come June.
Andrei Kostitsyn? He wasn’t very good Sunday, and he’s been downright terrible of late. He’s sulking, but I think someone takes a chance. Maybe Nashville, where his brother’s career has flourished. I bet Andrei gets a 2nd and a prospect, which seems reasonable given Wojtek Wolski nabbed a 3rd.
The latest news in the dysfunctional offices of the Montreal Canadiens is that, according to TSN’s Tony Marinaro, as reported by CTV’s Brian Wilde, Geoff Molson has taken over as GM of the Montreal Canadiens. Pierre Gauthier is nothing more than a mouthpiece, and all decisions and negotiating are being made and done by Geoff Molson.
So what does this mean? Well, nothing except that perhaps a man who has never been a hockey manager is now calling the shots for the most storied franchise in hockey history.
That bodes well.
Oh, and the firing of Pierre Gauthier is, apparently, imminent.
With last night’s shellacking by Dallas - and that’s what it was, the Canadiens didn’t show up until halfway through the game - the Habs are basically on their last legs. They’re going to need the winning streak of all winning streaks to stay in the race.
Chances of that happening? Not good.
So, who stays, and who goes?
Back from six days away and without internet access almost the entire time. A few quick things to catch up on:
- Pierre Gauthier made a great deal with Nashville. Getting two young players along with a 2nd, let alone a Geoffrion who could be motivated by the legacy of being the fourth generation to play in Montreal, was more than I felt the Canadiens would get for Hal Gill. Geoffrion has already played more games than most 2nd round picks do, and I suspect he’ll settle in for the next few years as a 3rd or 4th line winger. The 2nd is a great chip to have, and Slaney fits well in Hamilton. Haven’t said this in a while: well done, Mr. Gauthier.
- Who goes next? Clearly, Andrei Kostitsyn doesn’t fit Randy Cunneyworth’s “style” - but is Cunneyworth the coach next year? No. Kostitsyn is a perennial 20 goal scorer who, if coached and motivated by someone preaching to his talents, can score 30. He’s an enigma, but a very talented one, he hits (most people don’t realize that) and he cares. I say keep him, unless the offer knocks your socks off. Kostitsyn is far more valuable than a 2nd round pick, and he wants to play in Montreal. After this season, who knows how many players will feel that way. Lock him up long term.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone. Good thing the Habs blew another 3rd period lead last night, otherwise I’d be making the predictable St. Valentine’s Day Massacre jokes. Nope, this was just a plain ol’ blown lead. The Habs have been good at this over the course of the season - and last night was no different. After being down 2-0, Montreal stormed back to make it 3-2, only to give up SH and PP goals in the third period. Seems fitting given the frustrations of the past year.
And thus, the Habs are still 7 points out of 8th - but closer to last than they are a playoff spot. Do they buy? Sell? I have to think selling is the right decision, but I could understand if Mr. Gauthier hasn’t made his mind up yet. Lots of money - and jobs - on the line.
The Montreal Canadiens go for 5 in a row against Carolina Monday night, and in anticipation of perhaps being without the services of Travis Moen again, the Habs called up Ryan White and Ian Schultz on Sunday. White returns from a rehab stint and looks to play his first game of the year. He’ll bring energy and pugnacity to the 4th line. Schultz, the other guy in the Jaro Halak trade, looks to potentially make his NHL debut with the Canadiens (side note: yes, the Canadiens have an extra forward now - let the trade speculation begin).
Fresh off a big 5-0 win over the Leafs, the Canadiens took Sunday off. However, they better get back to it Monday - too many times this year, the Habs have followed up big games with stinkers. A win could bring them within 5 points of 8th. That’s pretty doable with 26 games to go.
Carey Price gets the start, playing his best hockey of the year. Full text of the Habs call-up press release below.
Let’s hope it’s a good one. As for the Habs, can they make it four in a row? That would tie their season high, and if it comes to pass it will likely be due to the play of two Habs: Max Pacioretty and Carey Price. Pacioretty is now 5th in even strength scoring in the NHL - pretty impressive for a guy coming off a broken neck. Price, meanwhile, has been lights out the last week, making many a highlight reel save as the Canadiens have their backs against the playoff wall.
The Leafs, meanwhile, have looked good lately as well, led by the red hot play of former Hab Mikhail Grabovski, and the terrible two: Phil Kesel and Joffrey Lupul. Kessel and Lupul have been lights out all year, and if the Canadiens have any chance of winning, they’ll need to keep both lines in check.
7 pm. James Reimer is in - or so we’re told by Ron Wilson. PK Subban returns home. Lots of plot lines. Points at stake. Should be great.
Today in Canada was “let’s talk” day, a corporately sponsored attempt at spurring discussion on, and raising money towards, battling depression. To that end, there were various television specials, including one this evening that showcased an interview with former Canadiens/Devils star Stephane Richer and his battle with depression. Some of the topics and revelations were shocking, such as Richer’s severe depression just days after winning the Stanley Cup.
In the last photo, Richer is part of New Jersey’s Stanley Cup parade — he was the second leading scorer in the 1994-95 playoffs. He’s in a convertible with a cigar in his mouth and is giving Devils’ fans the thumbs up.
“I look pretty sharp, right?’ said Richer.
“You did,” said Landsberg. “You look like you got it all.”
“I got it all,” agrees Richer. “Just ’til about four days after, I tried to kill myself.”
As a Canadiens’ fan who used to live in Montreal, I remember the glare of the media on Richer, and the shameful rumours and stories that were bandied about by members of the press on radio and television. As fans, we often forget that, despite the fame and fortune, these athletes are human beings.
Anyhow, my thoughts on a Wednesday evening, but a good little article that sums up Richer’s battle, and the battles of a few other names you may recognize.
Are they still alive? Apparently. Technically, the Habs are only 10 points out of the playoffs - but it’s going to take the stars aligning, and then some, for them to make it.
Highlights from this evening? David Desharnais was a beast of a man, throwing his 5’5’’ frame all over the ice. PK Subban played his second strong game in a row. Carey Price stood on his head at times, and made some great shootout saves. Oh, and Mr. Louis Leblanc, who is quickly proving that he definitely belongs in the NHL.
From the Pens? Evgeni Malkin, with quite possibly the shootout goal of the year. The ol’ spinorama, off the toe of Carey Price. Malkin is one of a kind, and he was a physical presence most of the game. It always amazes me how much he shines with Crosby out of the lineup.
So the Habs head to Long Island Thursday, with the Isles coming off their own shootout win, a huge 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Playoff hopes hinge on the next two weeks, and those hopes are very, very slim. Can the Habs string 3 together? We’ll know soon enough.
The Habs play the Jets today in a game that means a lot more to the Jets. However, if the Habs lose, that’s four in a row and I have to believe a house cleaning may come tomorrow. We shall see.
As for the state of the Canadiens, I’ve had a few “what would you do” emails. So, quite simply: I wouldn’t “tank,” as a) the Canadiens can’t finish last, and b) a true rebuild won’t work in Montreal. People will stop going to the games. It’s been proven before, and it would happen a game. No, I’d edge much more towards the Philadelphia Flyers model, which is try to retool. The Canadiens problem isn’t drafting - I believe there are more Habs picks playing in the NHL in the past decade than any other team’s. The problem? Most of them are playing, and thriving, with other organizations. No, the problem is management. Gauthier, Gainey, etc. The Habs need a clean start.
Step One: New management
I have heard many call for Julien Brisebois as GM. Why? The guy is a lawyer. He’s also got ties to the current Habs regime. There are dozens of other candidates. There’s one that I’d target.
If I make the decision, I’m bringing in Pierre McGuire. This guy knows talent like nobody’s business. I’d assemble a management team somewhat like Toronto’s. McGuire as GM, Trevor Timmins as chief scout (he knows how to draft), super-scout Blair Mackasey as an assistant GM. Ken Dryden, if he’s willing, as a senior advisor. Serge Savard as an advisor.
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.
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