The Upper Canadien
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.
As of 9:26 EST, the Montreal Canadiens are alone in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
It’s dark down here. And lonely.
But seriously, how could anything go worse this year? A lost season, indeed. Will it be enough to cost jobs/cause trades in the near future? I have to believe it does.
There’s bad, and then there is this. Woe, Montreal.
This time, it was 3-1. And they lost 5-3.
Sure, there were some awful calls by the referee, and the winning goal was very questionable due to a trip on Erik Cole that led to the play, but the Habs blew this one. Plain and simple. Perhaps that is part of the reason that Randy Cunneyworth appeared close to coming onto the ice after the Cole non-call. He was furious. Shaking. And he had a stick. Luckily, Cunneyworth got the better of his emotions and stayed calm for the rest of the loss.
I must say, I feel for Cunneyworth. He’s been dealt a deck stacked completely against him. He can’t win. And it’s a shame. Is Pierre Gauthier’s strategy to make him the next scapegoat? Who knows. But one thing is for certain: this team has quickly turned the wrong way, and it doesn’t appear to be coming back.
Mitch Menlick, known to Montrealers as a longtime radio personality and host of the daily afternoon drive show on TSN 990, has a very good blog. I have linked to it before, and I will again. But this is the most controversial blog post I’ve seen him write, and I urge you to read it:
So, Pierre McGuire as GM of the Montreal Canadiens? I’ve touted him as a potential candidate many times before, and I continue to believe he’d be a great GM. I think Melnick is bang on here. McGuire would be a great GM as he stands by his comments, he’s accessible so fans would love him, and the quotes over the years prove that his assessments of players are generally right on the money. Are you sick of the ghostly appearances by Montreal management, and the lack of clarity around, well, just about everything? I am.
There’s a change coming. There has to be. This team is a mess. Pierre McGuire for General Manager? You decide.
It’s “Who Shot Mr. Burns?,” and they’ve been declared dead. Sure, they could be upgraded to alive at another hospital, a la Señor Burns - but this game was horrible.
Pathetic effort. Pathetic.
It was David Desharnais, Erik Cole, Max Pacioretty, and Carey Price versus the Buffalo Sabres.
Where was Tomas Plekanec? Rene Bourque? Scott “4 days away from a goalless year” Gomez?
This team needs to wake up. I suspect more roster players will be dealt. A disappointing game from a very, very disappointing team. Not a banner year for fans of the Habs, indeed.
Andrei Markov skated today, for the first time in basically two months, a 15 minute solo session that suggests he is still quite far away from returning to the lineup. For those counting, it has been 14 months since Markov last laced them up n an NHL game.
Another missing Hab, Ryan White, actually practiced over the past couple of days and appears close to a return. However, he will not play tonight against Buffalo.
The Canadiens, as a team, have to win in regulation tonight. They are 8 points back from a playoff spot, and only 2 points up on their opponents, the lowly Sabres. By my count, the Habs basically need 6 of the next 8 points to stay in the race, and they also need to stop giving points away through OT and shoot outs. Narrow the gap to 4 points by mid-February and they’re in the race. Anything less and I suspect spring arrives early for Les Glorieux.
Who saw that one coming? 7-2 over the Detroit Red Wings, definitely the crown jewel in Randy Cunneyworth’s short head-coaching career. Sure, the Wings looked awful, but they are a very good team, and in first place for a reason. The Habs have now scored 6 or more three times in Cunneyworth’s short reign. Guess how many times that happened with Martin in charge - I will give you a clue - not very many.
Alex Emelin may have had his best game as a Hab, the Cole-Desharnais-Pacioretty line dominated, and Carey Price, while largely untested, was solid.
Can the Habs still make the playoffs? Keep it in single digits, and yes, they can. Currently 8 points back, the Habs need to win 3 of 4 coming out of the all star weekend to make the playoffs a real possibility. They can do it, and if last night was any evidence, they will. However, if the all star break came at the wrong time for any team, it’s Montreal. Finally firing on all cylinders, they now get a five day break. Kind of makes you wonder when things will start going right for this team? Hopefully, last night’s performance was the first step towards the post season.
So now, a few boring days of all star blah. The most wasteful weekend in sports. Let’s get the real action going again.
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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