Castoff Grabovski helps bury Habs

Canadiens goalie Carey Price tries to clear his crease of Mikhail Grabovski.
Bruce Bennett, Getty Images Sport

TORONTO – Toronto Maple Leafs centreman Mikhail Grabovski was laying in the  corner of the rink in the final moments of tonight’s 6-3 victory over the Canadiens,  having been belted to the ice. Standing above him, animated in speech, was Montreal  captain Saku Koivu.

Grabovski had just rumbled with Canadiens’ Sergei Kostitsyn, the two having sparred  then yapped, Kostitsyn clearly agitated and more than eager to get it on.

Linesmen prevented that, but now Grabovski was flat out with Koivu looming over him.

So what pleasantries were exchanged?

"He gave Mikhail some special advice," said Maple Leafs forward Alexei Ponikarovsky, serving as Grabovski’s Russian dressing-room translator. "Koivu told him something, but (Grabovski) doesn’t want to say. Just some special advice he’ll use in the future."

The possibilities there are limitless, given that Grabovski, a Canadien last season who  quietly was shipped to Toronto in July, had scored a goal, assisted on another, twice  steamrolled Montreal goalie Carey Price and pretty much had the run of the ice in the  Maple Leafs’ Air Canada Centre cakewalk.

There was no apparent sarcasm in Grabovski’s words about Koivu. He offered a little  more, which Ponikarovsky translated thus:

"(Grabovski) respects Koivu and he’s the only guy in the Montreal room he respect. He  thinks Koivu is a super special guy and hockey player. He just doesn’t pay attention to  the rest of them."

Grabovski’s goal, which put Toronto up 2-0 early in the second period, was his seventh  of the season. His assist, coming when he neatly undressed usually impenetrable  defenceman Andrei Markov, gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead on Niklas Hagman’s first of two  goals.

Clearly, Grabovski has found favour with the Toronto coaching staff that he didn’t  enjoy in 24 games with the Canadiens last  year.

Montreal shipped him to Toronto for prospect Greg Pateryn and a 2010 second-round  draft pick, amid rumours that his dressing-room presence and work ethic left more than  a little to be desired.

The page has since been turned by both sides, and now Grabovski is flourishing with  the ice time and confidence that’s being shown him.

"The Canadiens knew what they had in Mikhail, but you have to find room for people,"  Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "They have an unbelievable group of forwards over  there, so much skill. He probably wasn’t going to get a fair opportunity.

"A guy like that needs to play 17, 18 minutes to be effective," he added, having given  Grabovski 17:18 last night. "He’s in a real good rhythm now, and he’s been our best  player for two weeks. I’m really happy for him to play like that against Montreal."

If Grabovski was taking special delight in playing a large role in the defeat of the  Canadiens, he wasn’t letting on. He said he got a bigger kick out of the first game of the  season, a 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

"I played very hard (last night) and got satisfaction from the game because it was tense  and I like to beat my old team. I had lots of motivation," he said through Ponikarovsky.

"I wasn’t playing too much in Montreal, but I was always positive and knew I could  play at this level. The coaching staff here believe in me and give me lots of ice time. I  prepared during the summer by working out a lot to be ready for the season, and I think  I’ ve earned the ice time I’m getting now."

Grabovski overshadowed the Leafs’ prime youngster, 19-year-old defenceman Luke  Schenn, who had a game-high five hits and a healthy 24:28 in ice time. Schenn finished  the night at plus-one.


  1. UKHabsfan says:

    I watched my first full game of the season on Saturday (streamed RDS Feed online)and it was as much of a disappointment for me as for the rest of the Habs fns out there. A couple of points – the biggest being Lang. Why didn’t he stay in front of the net for more of the game. The Laffs were running Price all night so why didn’t we return the favour with someone a bit bigger than Grabovski. For years we’ve needed a big man in front of the net for us. When he did, he scored. When he didn’t, nothing happened. Definitely need another D man. RDS hit it on the head in the second intermission. The guys were making the wrong decisions with passes. And lastly – Demers needs to lighten up on Price. He was verging on contemptible in his disdain for his efforts. I thought he played well – not out of his skin – but well. Considering the garbage the Laffs kept crashing into him with, I was impressed.

  2. ReverendJim says:

    So, everyone will pretend that they do not know why Grabovski was flattened out by Koivu (and the rest of the Canadiens)?

    No one saw the spear he did on Price? (Used the butt end of his stick)

    They showed that replay countless times on CBC Saturday night.

    I hope this little prick gets pounded by Komisarek next game. If you noticed, Grabovski did not enter the Canadiens zone from the right side…yes, that where it is waiting for you Grabovski. Komi is waiting…

  3. Edwardo says:

    I live in TO. I must say I really don’t care what the Toronto papers say. The Habs deserve every bit of bad press for that effort on Saturday. They were horrible in every aspect of the game. I am pretty sure my men’s league team could have taken them down…

  4. ReverendJim says:

    And I believe the picture with this article is right when it happened.

  5. The Cat says:

    The loss in Toronto only goes to show how hugely important Hamrlik is. I dont have any stats but by memory in the last 2 years, I don’t think the habs have won when he sits out, 0-4 if Im not mistaking. Ive said it a million times, the mvp of the habs is Hamrlik; not Price, not Markov, not Kovalev…Hamrlik 🙂

  6. BIG-D says:

    For the Habs fans in Toronto.

    Did U see the Toronto Sun today?

    It was aweful…… I can’t believe waht was said.

    One headline reads : “Leafs Crush Habs”

    There really is a big deal on Tommy’s hit. The leafs want Tommy suspended.

  7. bakersresin says:

    Uhhhmmm… you can’t just spear our goalie. Why isn’t that video sent to the league for review? Was obviously intent to injure.

    Good job Sergei…. and Koivu you are a giant pussy. Someone should have knocked Graboski’s block off. Oh well, next game.. he is a dead man walking. But let’s get the big lead first.

  8. danhabsfan says:

    for all of you who want to incorrectly blame Price.
    this is from another article on this site

    “Carey Price gave up six goals on 41 shots but Toronto coach Wilson said the count would have been much higher if Price hadn’t played an outstanding game.”

  9. Vid says:

    Obviously losses will happen but you don’t want them to happen against:

    a) The Maple Leafs
    b) Bad teams we really ought to beat
    c) The Maple Leafs (good or bad)

    Although occasionally bad teams can play well and the Leafs did just that.

    You also don’t want losses to happen because of the Habs’:

    1) lack of effort & passion
    2) selfish play
    3) indiscipline

    Our general play throughout this early season does suggest we need a 4th D and a better defensive system. However, that being the case, none of that has anything to do with the above three points which were the main reasons for our loss. These points have to do with team mentality and cannot simply be solved by the switching of one or two players from the roster.

    Although perhaps not for a full 60 minutes our team has displayed the strong mentality required to win. I don’t see a need for any drastic roster changes just because of the Leafs game. What I do expect to see is the team prove that they are strong mentally and to bounce back with good efforts next week, win or lose, regardless of who’s in the lineup.

  10. gmd says:

    I’ll take the bait…last night Price spent more time on his knees than a hooker in a whore house.

  11. oshawahabsfan says:

    The coaching staff should take that paper and every other Toronto one for that matter, blow the size up large and tack that on the wall in the locker room as a reminder of what happens when the team leaves it’s game in the room or wherever they left it. Losing to the Leafs is always terrible for the Canadiens, however with the parity between the teams as it is currently, this was should be extra hard to swallow. The first game looked like men vs. boys. There’s no reason why we cannot beat them 6-1 every time we play them, we just have to show up to work, not to play shinny.

  12. BIG-D says:

    R U BLIND???

    Price stoped 35 shots. 35 shots he stopped.

    Put back on again your “Coke Bottle glasses” and look at the replays.

    The only goal that looked bad was the last goal…

    Think before U post…

  13. Bradlo says:

    I heard about that but cant find any video of it anywhere… can anyone else?

  14. 46_14_27 says:

    I agree, they have to play better defensively as a team. But be honest, Halk and Price have not lived up to expectations. The Habs can win any game with offense, the goalies are still going to have to steal the odd one and to date there has been no evidence that that is going to happen. As far as Huet goes, he came to play every night, no noghts off. His numbers speak for themselves.

    46-14-27 Best Line In Hockey !!

    The Cup in 3 years or less !!

    Go Habs Go

  15. Number31 says:

    I beg to differ. For some reason these guys are spot on wonderful in practice but when they hit the ice and face a little opposition, they get brainfarts. If I were Carbo, I’d be downing a zillion aspirins… It’s like RDS said: the players aren’t making the right decisions and that’s not Carbo’s doing, it’s their own. However get a little more games in them and they’ll be playing in the right state of mind. If not, bring up some Bulldogs to infuse some life in the team (and I’m talking about Chipchura, who so doesn’t belong down there, as well as D’agostini and maybe even that Glumac guy for actually having the brains to head for the front of the net).

  16. SlovakHab says:

    Hi Robert,
    how come you’re up so early? Have u been blogging until now since the game has ended?

  17. SlovakHab says:

    My notes on the last night:

    – Yay, somebody got spanked big time, and it were not the Marlies, or whoever we played against last night..

    – With Sundin, McCabe and Tucker gone, some were worried if we can still retain the big rivalry with Toronto – the answer is, yes. The reason is a new generation of Leafs that we will hate – like Grabovski

    – I will not talk to anybody, EVER, who will say we shouldn’t have traded Grabovski or something like that.. Just look at it – he is hated even by S. Kost – and they played for the same team back home in Belarus!! He has also said he has no friends in Montreal – he musta been a big time cocky idiot, and I am so glad he is gone

    – Talk about a full, 60 minute effort.. Hmm.. I don’t even think we have played 60 minutes combined since the November started

    – How many of you would have bashed anyone who would have said prior to the Islanders game – we will NOT come out with 7 out of possible 6 points from the following 3 games.. Everyone, myself included!

    – I don’t think we have 3 scoring lines.. Lang’s line are rather floaters than scorers. I really hope they prove me wrong.

    – I don’t like the fact that everyone was bashing Halak last night, but nobody says anything about Price..

    – I am soooooo disappointed with my Habs today. 2 games, 1 lucky point, not a good effort, lacking passion.. I am SO disappointed!

    – Like I said immediately after the game, A very important loss! Brings them back to the ground. Shows them last season will repeat unles they start playing hard and working hard.

    – I really don’t want to hear any players audio, I don’t want to hear any of the BS – have been listening to that crap the whole week – how they understand that the play has to improve, how they want to come out big, …….blah blah blah… Shut up until the next game and show us how you improved!!

  18. Robert L says:

    Leafs Hand Habs A Hockey Lesson, And Expose Carbonneau’s High Wire Risks In The Process

  19. Neil says:

    Me and my boys watched the game on RDS but flipped to CBC to catch Cherry during the 1st intermission and after the game. We were expecting to hear how those dirty montreal canadiens were throwing dirty hits all game long. but at the end of the game cherry was bashing grabovski for butt ending price during the game. i can’t seem to recall the last time cherry defended the habs.

  20. LTHF says:

    What a performance ! Was it the hall of fame game or should it be dubbed as the “hall of shame” game. As I said several times before, even though some experts claim that the Habs are contenders ( last nite pretenders), I dont think they are with the current lineup, there has to be a few changes in the 3rd and 4th lines. If they have to depend on players like Brisbois and Lats and couple of others, to be contenders I think they will be in trouble . Bring up couple of Kids and play them !
    Hopefully there will be a better effort next time.

  21. showey47 says:

    The habs need to strengthen their play defensivley and play with more discipline, not their goaltending. Huet? seriously? Did you not watch any leaf games over the last 3 years with huet in net? YIKES!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. RetroMikey says:

    I’ve said this many times on this site…..a big offensive skilled long term centreman and a physical defensive defenseman…..and I’ll keep saying this!

    “We will win the Cup only with Carey Price in the nets”

  23. 46_14_27 says:

    The loss to Columbus was hard to take because the goals against were all bad goals because of Halak’s positioning. Last night was more of the same with Price. If he wants to have swagger, he needs to prove himself at the NHL level. All his other accomplishments mean nothing. He was terrible last night!! The good news for him and Halak is that the Habs can score in bunches. Remember Grant Fuhr, he’d let in 3 or 4 every night but Gretzky and company would just score more? That can’t happen all year. The Habs have got to strenthen their goaltending. I wander if Huet is happy in Chicago?

    46-14-27 Best Line In Hockey !!

    The Cup in 3 years or less !!

    Pleks is starting to take off !!

  24. 46_14_27 says:

    46-14-27 Best Line In Hockey !!

    The Cup in 3 years or less !!

    We need a BIG #2 (or #1) centreman desparately.

  25. showey47 says:

    Its because the one thing cherry hates more then the habs are euro’s,especailly ones that give cheap shots and dives.

  26. Ton says:

    Anyone notice that our “team skating edge” of two years ago has now gone. With the additions of Lang, Laracque and the slow downs of Koivu, Kovy has made our team slower. Furthermore to this other teams are taking ice away from us.

  27. Dee says:

    The ref’s are something to be desired.Markov gets a penalty for a stick that hit a Leaf in the face(no blood)2 weeks ago Kovalev gets a stick in the face (blood, stitches) his helment was hanging off his head no penalty for that hit.Cut still visable last night.Kostitsyn nearly had his head taken off a month ago no penalty for that.Koivu nearly had his eye removed from his head blood dripping down his face all the way to the bench,no penalty for that.Maybe the ref’s should have bifocals!!! I thought that if blood was in sight,automatically a penalty was called if a stick or a deliberate hit caused blood? I have another question.Why are the opposition allowed to be in the goalies crease so much nothing is done about it piling on top of him.I am sure 1 of those goals that went in on Price last night the Leafs were in the crease…

    Habs Fan 4 Ever & Ever Amen.

  28. SlovakHab says:

    Look.. don’t get me wrong – it’s the team that lost both games.. But on Friday, Halak was the scapegoat.. Tonight, nobody criticizes Pricey so much. It is not necessary, for sure.. But Jaro got much more than his fair share last night, even though I agree that he was weak.

  29. Xtrahabsfan says:

    T.S.N. reports Tommy “killer”Kostopoulous hit from behind to Mike VanRyn has been diagnosed as such:Concussion,broken nose and a broken hand.I hope he gets well soon and if he has kids they weren’t old enough to see that incident.

  30. subdoxastic says:

    and what is it that we’re not saying about Price?

  31. Dennis says:

    I wasn’t real happy seeing Robert Lang smiling and laughing when they were down a couple in the third.

  32. Xtrahabsfan says:

    Robert L,that was one great read,you have no idea how much better I feel after your post,thank-you….Oh by the way ,Gilbert will probably state you have spoken like a leaf fan as he has me,lol

  33. HabsFansince49 says:

    The fact we lost is one thing, but to lose to the Leafs! Tonight we played a team with little talent and lots of heart, while the Habs have lots of talent and little heart…tonight!
    Price had an ordinary night, pucks bounced off him like a trampoline. Lats is non-existent, didn’t hit, can’t score; Kovy thought he was making his DVD, even Markov looked very ordinary; and the T-K-H line, although the top scorers, is still functioning on 2 of 3 cylinders: Higgins may be better than Latendresse, but he’s not back to form.
    In the end, The Habs displayed a picture of a group of people (not a team) who believe that if you show up, you automatically win. The Leafs proved their belief wrong!

  34. SlovakHab says:

    I dunno, mate… I don’t think that’s a solution now.

    Remember – we have played terribly, but didn’t get spanked until now. I know, Anaheim game was embarrasing too, but that was only 1 loss against a good team.

    Now we got spanked big time by losing 2 games against average teams. Let’s see what the team learns now before we fire the coach, trade all the players, change logo and move to Newfoundland.

  35. CHCanadien says:

    Another no show! This team has not played 60, 40 or even 20 minutes this season. Stanley Cup contenders show up to play every night. I don’t want to hear the excuse of not having played in a week. The coaching staff hasn’t had them prepared, period. Maybe Carbo needs to go.

  36. Robert L says:

    No man, I’m a night shift worker, and these are my usual hours. I am up while the world sleeps.

  37. Dave Stubbs says:

    In fact, the team has a long-ago booked open practice, a give-back to the fans.

    Dave Stubbs

    Habs Inside/Out
    Sports Feature Writer, Montreal Gazette


  38. otter649 says:

    In the above picture you can see Price has got a little tail – the end of
    the stick of Grabovski after his buttend attempt on Price……

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