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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thee Axen Hath Fallen

Not much of a surprise, really.

Except we would have guessed that heads would have rolled upon season's end.

No matter. The important thing is, it's done.

Pierre Gauthier was shown the door today by Geoff Molson, bringing this annus horribilis to an end.

It hasn't been all bad, mind you: Pacioretty, Cole and Desharnais' collective success; Leblanc looking like he belongs; Eller's 4 goal game and evolution; me meeting Riva. But I digress...

So the line goes, Gauthier was fired, Gainey stepped aside. Makes sense.

And thus the Gillette-Gainey-Gauthier era officially comes to an end.

I like Bob Gainey, loved him as a player and I'm not going to bad mouth him. He made mistakes but who doesn't?? For me, though the Gomez deal looms quite large, his biggest was letting Marc Streit go.

But Gainey's big blowup in 09-10, where he brought in Gomez, Cammalleri and Gionta among others, resulted in the team reaching the conference finals. It's just too bad they couldn't build from there and take it to the next level.

Instead, Perry Pearn -- gone. Jacques Martin -- gone. Playoff heros Halak and Cammalleri -- goom bye! Andrei K? See ya!!

But it must be remembered, Bob Gainey inherited an absolute horror show from former GM Rejean Houle, who set the franchise back years.

So Geoff Molson begins to put his stamp on the Montreal Canadiens and looking to proven veterans for help in the guise of Serge Savard. Smart move. Gee, if they do hire Patrick Roy as head coach, it'll be just like that episode in "Dallas" when Pamela wakes up to find Bobby in the shower: "It was all a dream." It will be as if everything since '93 never happened!!!

So now we wait to see who gets the job. The line on the street is that Julien Brisebois will get it, but we'll see what happens. The question of who will attend the NHL draft lottery in Toronto is yet to be answered.

And the fact that I chose to discuss Gainey rather than Gauthier says it all...

In the end, when the off-ice activities are more entertaining than the on-ice play, you know we have a problem.

The road to salvation may be long and hard, but at least we're on our way.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Paging Dr. Recchi...Dr. Mark Recchi

Paging Dr. Recchi. Dr. Mark Recchi: This is great. I love it when telecasts have a sense of humour. And I also love the fact that this nickname is following the ex-Habs player into his retirement.

For sure, my anger towards Mark Recchi has diminished somewhat from last year after his completely offside comments about Max Paccioretty's injury -- something I'm sure (well I hope) he now regrets. After all, at the time he was coccooned within the warm and goonish confines of the Boston Bruins. Ultimately, I like you Mark Recchi. You were good player for the Canadiens and had an excellent, probably Hall of Fame-worthy career in the NHL, picking up three cups with three different teams. Nice.

Still this is terrific stuff and I'm sorry that this is how you may come to be remembered, but ultimately and I'm sure it's what makes it sting that much more... you only have yourself to blame.

Btw, will anyone ever break Dougie Jarvis' iron man record? I think not.

Enjoy this clip:

Scotty Gomez, say it ain't so: Rumour has it that Scott Gomez is already telling his posse that he does not expect to be in Montreal next year and that his contract will be bought out. But wait!? I thought this was to be your bounce-back year Gomer!? So much for that. Now he wants to go back to New Jersey. No shit. Nothing personal, but we can only hope it's true Scotty G.

Saint-Patrick signs deal to coach the Canadiens!? Beh non!! Yes now that the Habs are resigned to the fact that they will not be in this year's postseason dance, the rumour mill is beginning to pick up speed.

That means the weekly (soon to be daily) rumouring that Patrick Roy will be anointed the Montreal Canadiens' new head coach. Some say he's too hot-headed and unpredictable (namely, me) and others feel he might be a better fit in some sort of managerial role (obviously Pierre Gauthier wouldn't agree).

In fact, this rumour even stated that he's already signed a contract, which he quickly denied, but also didn't deny the fact that he'd be interested in the job if he was approached. Remember, this is a guy who turned down the head coaching job with the Avalanche a few years back. That takes guts.

In any case, I know there's a lot of folks out there who'd like to see this. I personally discussed the possibility with some when Martin looked done and indicated that I didn't think this year was right. That it wasn't a good situation for him to come into. That he deserved to start the year fresh, brand new slate and all.

So now given the options and the special requirements for this job, Patrick Roy could indeed be a terrific head coach for the Montreal Canadiens. He's a winner. He's a Habs alum. He's got passion up the wazzoo. He's perfectly bilingual. He's got a great head of hair. What more do you want?

Well Larry Robinson would be nice... if he were crazy enough to take this job. Think about how good he'd be with our young defense corps.

But seriously, though I still do believe Marc Crawford would be another good choice in this dossier (and he's also another hair boy) Roy knows the Montreal landscape and would not only be a crowd favourite, but a media darling as well. Us fans deserve it after the year we've been subjected to. There will be more on this, pho sho!!

L'arret incroyable!!! What a save!! Holy moly as a goalie I can really appreciate the skill involved to do this kind of thing. Sure flashing the leather always makes for good replays, but this truly is amazing. Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars just robbing the Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson in OT.

Funny enough, I just happened to catch this live. Originally I thought Ekman-Larsson missed the net or hit the post. Nope.

Stick tap to the dude behind the net wearing the old school Minnesota North Stars jersey. My fav of all-time (other than the Habs, of course).

And finally. I couldn't resist. Sorry Leaf fans:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Markov, Draft and Laffs

So the Habs as a team have decided they do have pride, they do care, they do want to win. And it actually looks like they're having fun again. Better late than never I guess.

How else do you describe 7 points out of a possible 8 when the season is gone gone gone... I mean lost!?

I'm so happy to see Pacioretty get to the 30 goal mark and Erik Cole now with 27 and closing in fast.

It seems lately they're the only ones that score, along with Desharnais and Subban.

I'm a bit concerned though. Now the Canadiens have 67 points and are tied with Carolina and Long Island, but only remain last in the Eastern Conference because those two teams have a game in hand which they use tonight. It looks like our best chance to pick up Grigorenko over the summer is to finish 3rd last but this might be tough now, with the team playing for pride and now even the lowly Maple Leafs, on a death spiral unmatched by any other team in the league this year, are only 1 point up on the Habs.

Oh yeah? Speaking of Cole's goal in last night's 3-2 SO win over the Senators, he officially takes the cake for one of the funnier moments for the Canadiens this year by high-fiving the referee after scoring:

Sigh. What can't this guy do??? He scores, makes us laugh. His 27 goals this year tops his 26 scored last year for the Hurricanes. Great job Erik!

It was like a dream this past Saturday night. I'm on my couch, game glow from tv washing my face in the dark. I turn to my dog to see him licking himself when I first hear it: "Markov over to Subban..."

Wait a sec! This can't be real. I must be dreaming. I turn back to the tv: "Markov makes a terrific outlet pass to Eller, he's in all alone!!!"

I swear, I felt like crying. I've done enough of that lately with the death of Gary and all, but this was a great moment. It was like looking into the past. It didn't seem real. But it was. And boy did it ever feel good to see that no-look, one-time touch pass from Markov right into Subban's wheelhouse for a goal on the powerplay. Markov jumped into P.K.'s arms. Good for him.

Andrei Markov makes his return to action in his first game since November 2010 against the Vancouver Canucks this Saturday. The Habs won 4-1. Pic: Rich Lam/Getty Images.

I wish you all the best Andrei. Stay well. Your skill and poise makes me wonder what the year might have looked like had you come back in November as originally advertised. I'm sure Jacques Martin is thinking the same thing right now.

Markov's return brings to mind another key figure absent from the ice: Brian Gionta. Oh yeah, remember him?


The Laffs. Death spiral. What was I singing last year!? "Freefalling" by Tom Petty? Yeah, that's right. The Maple Leafs, no playoffs for you. But you know what really makes me laugh!? It's the way the team has been covered all season by the local press. "The Leafs" have turned the corner." "The Leafs are on their way to the playoffs." "The Leafs need to rest Reimer for the playoffs" blah blah blah.

What a joke!

How can it be that I was the only one to see how that Maple Leafs team led by Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul were seriously overachieving for the first half of the season!? That the team's good start was only going to make their fall that much greater by season's end. I mean, the team was scoring as if it were going out of style. Did you really think Kessel was going to score 70 goals? It's one thing to win games by 6-5 or 5-4 scores like they were earlier in the season, but the thing that was completely overlooked by Leafs Nation was that they had to shore up the defense otherwise, they were doomed. And now, they're doomed.

And that's exactly it. The Leafs were doomed because secondary scoring has been streaky, Kessel and Lupul came back down to earth, and the goaltending didn't change. That is, whoever is in nets is letting in 3 goals plus per game. Not gonna cut it.

And I blame now former coach Ron Wilson 100% for mismanaging the goaltenders. All along they were like "If it wasn't for Gustavsson, we'd be out of it." But then he goes and starts Reimer, the eager yet technically-flawed "real deal" goaltender who -- let's face it -- is having a terrible season. What message does that send to Gustavsson?

True Reimer had that concussion which certainly could account for his play upon returning to action. But look at Ryan Miller. After fighting his own concussion issues he's now playing lights-out hockey. But Reimer has been over-valued. He's not that good. His technique is flawed. He's often out of position. He swims around his crease. He plays too far back. He crouches too low.

He needs help. And now they've fried Gustavsson who for sure has let in more than his share of stinkers this year. But I know goaltending is a tough mental position and when your coach praises you then starts the other guy, tough to play your best. At least Randy Carlysle recognized this and played Gustavsson for the last five games or so. Even if he did lose all but one, that one being against the Habs.

Got to wonder about Burke's decisions as GM for this team. Signs Colby Armstrong -- hurt more than he's played. Signed Matthew Lombardi -- disappointment. Signed Connolly -- disappointment. Signed Reimer to a big contract in the offseason after putting up decent numbers last year when no pressure was on him -- major disappointment. And of course -- and there are others -- trades away the team's 1st round draft pick in 2010 to the Bruins for Phil Kessel. That pick became Tyler Seguin, who is making a name for himself around the league, has tremendous speed, great hands, good head on his shoulders, and best of all, is a Leafs-killer. Phil Kessel? Sure, 30 plus goals. But 20 of those were scored before the end of December... and now Damien Cox is writing that now's a good time to trade him. Yah!? If only they can find a dance partner. Good luck with that.

So check out this great video parody, if Hitler were a Leafs fan!! I gotta start doing some things like this. Next year folks, get ready for HabsFan in Leafland taking it to the next level this summer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Meet (I Hope) Your 2012 First Round Pick: Mikhail Grigorenko

Lose lose lose, lose lose lose
All the Habs do is lose lose lose.

Even at home against the hapless Leafs who had to resort to a coaching change to try to salvage their playoff hopes, the Habs couldn't come up with a win.

No matter, I was rooting for the Leafs on that night.

If you read this blog, I don't have to tell you why.

The Habs are solidly the 3rd worst team in the NHL right now, ahead (behind) of Edmonton and Columbus. Now the Habs would probably have to lose the rest of their games to finish lower than the Blue Jackets, but they might have a chance at finishing 2nd worst if the Oilers can put a string of wins together.

The consensus around the hockey world is that Nail Yakupov, the Sarnia Sting winger of the Ontario Hockey League, is the "head and shoulders above the rest" Number 1 choice to go first overall in this year's NHL draft.

Yakupov is a talented, highly skilled Ovechkin-type player who stands at only 5"11 but has a knack for putting the puck in the net.

Mikhail Grigorenko. At 6"3 he's exactly what the Habs need up the middle. He's already playing in Quebec City for Patrick Roy's Remparts. If the team picks him at this year's draft, could that pave the way for Roy as head coach? Compelling stuff for sure...

By many other accounts, Mikhail Grigorenko -- another Russian -- will go second. So why am I so confident the Canadiens will nab him? Because the commonly-known word on the street is that the Oilers, who after picking talented forwards in Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in previous drafts, now need to go after a top defense prospect. And according to TSN's Bob McKenzie, there's plenty of options in that regard.

Grigorenko is being compared to Evgeni Malkin: an extremely talented centre with great hands. And at 6"3, just what the Habs have been lacking up front for years. The fact that he's playing for Patrick Roy's Quebec Remparts makes him that much more appealing. Ovechkin is faltering, Malkin is leading the league in points and is a strong candidate for the Art Ross trophy this year. And all this without Sidney Crosby. Who would you choose?

You know the P.A. announcer Michel Lecroix would have a field day calling out his name after a Canadiens goal.

But McKenzie puts some interesting twists into the mix. What if Columbus decides to go with Grigorenko instead, because they end up keeping Rick Nash and could finally give the star winger a centreman who can get him the puck? What if Edmonton goes against logic and picks him after Yakupov? What if Montreal Canadiens head of scouting Trevor Timmins doesn't get his head out of his arse? All important considerations...

Even with Timmins, the Habs would be hard pressed NOT to get a top player this summer who can hopefully make an immediate impact with the team in the coming season. Whoever it ends up being.

But those I've talked to like the idea of a Malkin-esque type player on the Canadiens and I too have to agree. Maybe the Habs don't risk it, and trade up a spot to assure their choice!? Could be a possibility... of the course the lottery might change things.

For now, let the Canadiens continue to lose lose lose and it'll work itself out in the end.


Olympic Stadium. Concrete. Yes you know, slabs of concrete, falling...AGAIN!!

This is how we can get the money to build a new stadium to get our beloved Expos back: hold a lottery at $20 a ticket, and the winner gets the unique opportunity to push the detonation plunger to implode the Big O. What a sight that would be eh?

Hey if you build a statue of Gary Carter at at the Big O, please make sure there's no concrete within falling distance.  Thanks.