The NHL Grinch

François Gagnon has a great story today on the Christmas present that is not to be.

As has been the case since 1999, the Canadiens will play road games during the holiday period. After a road trip to Washington on Dec. 20, Carolina on the 22nd and Dallas on the 23rd, the team will come home for a three-day Christmas break before hitting the road again for games against Tampa Bay on the 27th, Florida on the 28th and the Rangers on the 30th.

To make the holidays more pleasant, Canadiens management had planned to invite wives, partners and children to accompany the team when it travels to Florida on the 26th.

Great idea and, needless to day, a big hit with the players.

Until the NHL nixed it. Canadiens picking up the tab for family vacations would constitute a bonus payment that is not permitted under the salary cap. Contravening the regulation could result in a fine and/or the loss of draft choices.

So no Sunshine State for the Canadiens’ families.

How this will affect morale remains to be seen, but Gagnon notes that in the seven years since they last played at home between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, the Canadiens record is four wins, 10 losses, five losses in OT or shootout and one tie.

Gagnon also reports the Detroit Red Wings are being accompanied by their wives for this rare visit to Montreal. The NHL permits one guest on one trip per season.

This league is all heart.

Maybe Gary Bettman will be visited by the ghosts of Clarence Campbell, John Ziegler and Gil Stein, with the result that Colin Cratchet … err, Campbell can leave a little early on Christmas Day.

Biggest laugh in the paper today has to be Mats Sundin’s assertion that he wants to "be a Leaf for the rest of my career."

Sundin denies a report that fellow Swedes have made back-channel suggestions that a trade to Detroit would be a good idea. The addition of Sundin would make the Red Wings prohibitive favourites to win the Stanley Cup this spring.

But he says he wants to stay in Toronto, where "my only goal, my only wish is that we make the playoffs."

Sundin is 36 years old. He has never won a Stanley Cup. Sundin has, however, captained an Olympic gold medal and world championship Swedish team with Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmström.

But he’d rather fight for eighth place with Chad Kilger and Bryan McCabe?

What’s the Swedish word for bovine excrement?

• • •

I don’t usually engage in the sort of wackozoid trade speculation that fuels radio hotline shows, but it warms the heart, on a snowy day, to think about Alexander Ovechkin in a Canadiens’ uniform.

Ovechkin supposedly likes Montreal. And why not? The weather is cold, the babes are hot and everyone drinks. Montreal is like Moscow … with more Marxists.
Ovechkin is supposedly good friends with Andrei Markov – so much so there was speculation that Markov would jump to the Capitals.
Hey, he’s as good as signed.

As best I can fathom Restricted Free Agency rules, the Canadiens would have to give Washington four first-round draft choices.
The precedents that spring to mind are the draft choices surrendered by the Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints to acquire Herschel Walker and Ricky Williams, respectively.
The 1989 Walker deal netted the Cowboys five players and six draft picks, laying the groundwork for Dallas’s Super Bowl dynasty.
Ten years later, Mike Ditka traded all of the Saints’ picks plus a first and third the following year to get Williams – and the rest is drug-haze history.

Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t have dreadlocks. Barring injury, he is going to light up the NHL for the next 10 years, minimum. The Bell Centre cognoscenti have been yearning for a player of Ovechkin’s calibre since Guy Lafleur departed.

He would become part of a Slavic contingent that includes Markov, Alex Kovalev, the brothers Kostitsyn, Mikhail Grabovski and Pavel Valentenko. Bring back Alexander Perezhogin, sign Alexei Emelin, add some Czechs for balance, a few francos to keep the media happy and you’ve got a nice bleu-blanc-Red Army.

It didn’t work in Hungary.
It didn’t work in Czechslovakie.
It didn’t work in Poland or East Germany.
But Russian occupation of the Bell Centre?
Bring it on.


  1. RH says:

    So, wait, I’m confused. You want to trade four or five Habs picks to Washington for Ovechkin so that the Caps can build a dynasty and Habs fans can have good entertainment but no real legitimate shot at a championship?

    Yeats is right. Gainey should be calling up players from Hamilton, REGARDLESS of whether they are ready to play in the bigs or not. This years version of the Habs have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to lose from it.

  2. MikeL says:

    hahaha good one

  3. Yeats says:

    But in Montreal at this time of year, you have to coax them out of their clothes Ian. In Florida, they aren’t really wearing any. Much less work for a growing boy with active glands.

  4. Yeats says:

    Hell, BG would just let them sit in casks in Hamilton for 10-12 years until they aged like Scotch. What’s to lose? I’m thirsty now dammit!

  5. Yeats says:

    Mike Boone: I see you covet Ovechkin as much as I do. A few first rounders, why not? We’d just let them marinate in Hamilton to no avail anyway. I don’t know about you, but I really want to see some new faces wearing the CH. That’s why I’d pick a few victims from the ‘dogs and bring them up. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting really bored watching the SAME guys suck. I want some variety!

  6. Chuck says:

    We’d also have to clear a ton of cap room, which means losing enough pieces to negate the upside that Ovechkin would bring to the team. I can’t see that happening.

    Oh well, it doesn’t hurt to dream, does it? :)

    “Vote Saku for All-Star… or little Timmy gets it!!!”

  7. The Ian Cobb says:

    MIKE! Between chopping ice off my cars and my old fart school bus that gets me up in the mornings, and reading your fantasy article about trading for ov——-. I must say that it takes ones mind off of what ever the habs are really doing, or for that matter, what they might really do.

    It is great, we get an ice storm here and on the ice at the same time. Sure hope things warm up soon.

    Close my eyes and remember those fantastic looking ladies in montreal, WHO NEEDS FLORIDA?

  8. Will Longlade says:

    Hey Mike, I could have sworn that I saw a post on the site yesterday that stated that Halak was being called up because Price was under the weather. Did Habs I/O jump the gun on that story?

    Ovechkin in a Hab’s uniform would be nice, but if Les Habitants are going to pursue a star player of that calibre, they might as well go for the v. best fit. The best fit is definitely Vinny. If the Habs pulled that one off and still managed to keep Koivu, it would address a number of issues at once. The Habs would get bigger down the middle and the opposition would no longer be able smother Koivu’s output with their top defensive line.

  9. Ali says:

    4, even 5 first round picks for Alexander Ovechkin?

    Bob Gainey would be crazy not to do it.

  10. JF says:

    With the salaries the players earn, they could afford holidays in Florida for their families.

  11. Cable Guy says:

    Ya I would expect the players to flip the bill now if the NHL nixed the idea.

  12. The Teacher says:

    Yeah..they can afford it can’t they? and I don’t think the NHL would have a problem if the players paid…However, it might provide incredible logistical problems

  13. snowdonsteve says:

    so basicly the NHL is saying that “richer” team have no way to provide a better enviroment for their players !!!
    they can buy private jets like the dallas stars… but they can’t take their wifes & kids on the road !!!

    not only does the habs pay for some of the salaries of the competition via profit sharing but it seems to me like they can’t spend their money as they wish !!! GREAT league !!!

    Altough the players make good money… i don’t think this kind of gesture is about money… it’s like your boss taking everyone for dinner on december 22. it’s not about the free meal , it’s all about the atmosphere.

    Go HABS Go

  14. Michael N. says:

    Mats Sundin is the captian of the Leafs, what else is he going to say except that he wants to stay with Toronto, just like Ray Bourke wanted to stay with Boston. I don’t know what to say about giving aging veterans the chance to get their name on the Stanley Cup by moving them to teams that have the best shot at winning it. Is the taste of winning a cup sweet when it’s almost handed to you on a silver platter by moving to another team? Would like to know how many hockey Greats never got their name on a cup, there must be a few. Don’t think Sundin is all alone in that respect.

  15. Bill says:

    Hmm …

    Marcel Dionne
    Darryl Sittler
    Rod Gilbert
    Gilbert Perreault
    Borje Salming
    Michel Goulet
    Peter Stastny
    Dale Hawerchuk
    Bernie Federko
    Pat Lafontaine
    Cam Neely

    No cups for them. I think? Sundin would be in good company there. I can’t see him leaving, he has too much pride. Besides, Toronto will be too close to a playoff spot all year for him to justifiably bail out.

    As a Habs fan, it’s hard for me to understand how the Leafs are so bad. They look great when they play the Habs … with their scoring they could do some damage if their goalie gets hot, IMO.

  16. ZepFan2 says:

    “Maybe Gary Bettman will be visited by the ghosts of Clarence Campbell, John Ziegler and Gil Stein”

    How about we replace one of the ghosts with the ghost of Fergy and have him do a number on Bettman?!

    Ahh yes… excellent.

  17. B says:

    Just adding an apparently missing end italics tag.

  18. P St. Pierre says:

    Imagine Ovechkin in a Habs uniform. That would be insane…he plays with basically no one in Washington and has 20 goals already this season. If I were Bob Gainey, I’d go right after him. Unfortunately, the Caps will probably resign him before Gainey gets a chance. Well we all have our Christmas wishes…that would be mine.

  19. tony d says:

    Mike I like your way of thinking and I enjoy your blogs…you make me laugh when there’s not much to laugh about these days, as far as our Habs or ‘Habs not’ goes.
    I started daydreaming about your Ovechkin scenario and actually smiled… more than I have in a long time.
    Then I snapped back to reality and thought about our boys and what will happen next game, now I’m back in my funk. hey maybe I should play for them, since in all the pre and post game interviews, they look like the saddest sacks around. I’ve seen guys on my old timer team with more zip, zest and passion than those guys.
    Maybe they need a session with Dr. Phil. They can all hold hands and have a group hug and discuss their unhappy childhoods or “fragile between the ears” syndrome.
    I don’t have answers, Guy doesn’t have answers, the team doesn’t seem to have answers….
    In the words of Cristopher Walken, maybe they just need “More Cowbell!”

  20. Gilles Poisson says:

    I think it’s good IMHO that the teams don’t have to bring the wife with them to Florida anymore. No wonder they are always frustrated in Florida. I think like Gagnon that this will be good for morale. Thank you.

  21. Yeats says:

    Please re-read what you wrote. Maybe I have too much education but it makes little, if any, sense.

  22. 24 Cups says:

    Marcel Dionne – the greatest player to never win a Cup. He easily could have won 5 Cups if it weren’t for a simple twist of fate. Guy Lafleur went first in the draft in 1971 (due to some crafty moves by Sam Pollock) and Detroit selected Dionne second. If it had been the other way around Dionne would have been the poster boy in Quebec and certainly would have contributed as much to the Habs as Guy did (granted in a different way). And the Flower would have played in Detroit and LA for most of his career – two teams which at the time basically had one star and four fourth lines:-) Or maybe Sam would have found a way to grab Guy too. Lafleur, Dionne, and Shutt – man would they look good right now playing for the Canadiens. And then there was Perreault who was drafted in 1970 – one year too late to be a Hab after they changed the rule giving Montreal the first two territorial picks from Quebec. He would have been our second line center for twenty years! Life can be cruel.

  23. Yeats says:

    You guys missed Brad Park. Second best defenseman in an NHL that included Bobby Orr.

  24. Gilles Poisson says:

    Why does this man have to attack all my post? It made perfect sense to me. Thank you.

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