Exclusive: One-on-one with Habs owner Geoff Molson on team’s past, playoff present and encouraging future

1molsonpic

Canadiens owner, president and chief executive officer Geoff Molson in his Bell Centre office on Monday, May 19 before Game 2 of his team’s Eastern Conference final vs. the New York Rangers.
John Mahoney, Gazette

DAVE STUBBS
The Gazette, Hockey Inside/Out

The Canadiens are skating on spring-thin ice against the New York Rangers, down 2-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference final.

That’s not to say that all is lost for the team that very much is a part of the fabric of Montreal, Quebec, and has a huge following of fans – never bigger in this Internet and social-media world – across Canada and around the world.

Early Monday evening, an hour before faceoff of the Canadiens’ 3-1 loss in Game 2, I sat for 30 minutes in the Bell Centre office of Geoff Molson, the Canadiens owner, president and chief executive officer, and spoke of his team’s past, its playoff present and its future.

Five minutes from the end of our conversation, Canadiens chief operating officer Kevin Gilmore appeared at Molson’s door to announce that both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman were in the building, looking to say hello.

“Oh, (Harper) is here today?” Molson replied. “I thought he was here last game.”

You know you’re running a large business when the leader of your country is in your house and that surprises you.

We left Molson’s office at 7:35 p.m. and walked a labyrinth of corridors until we emerged up a few stairs into the Bell Centre’s media dining room. It was there that Molson and Bettman shook hands and chatted briefly before the commissioner was happy to be served his dinner alongside the media mob at the take-out counter: hot-dogs on a paper plate.

Here is my talk with Geoff Molson, edited only for clarity:

• Geoff, your deal to purchase the Canadiens with your partners from George Gillett Jr. closed on Dec. 1, 2009 and five months later your team went three rounds deep into the playoffs. Here you are again, in the conference final. Is this one different than the first?

A: Totally different because I really know the players now, I know the management. In fact, most of them are new from management down. The last time (in 2009-10), I felt I inherited the team, one with a lot of character that really came through. This time, I feel like I’ve participated in building a team that is thrilling Montrealers and Quebecers and Canadians every night. It’s really exciting. Whenever something goes wrong, they find a way to battle through.

The Canadiens are the only team among Canada’s seven NHL franchises in the postseason. Do you consider the Canadiens “Canada’s team”?

A: All seven are “Canada’s team.” We were very proud to make the playoffs, it’s hard to do. The fact that six other Canadian teams didn’t make it doesn’t make us more proud. It’s just one of those things that happened this year.

Then again, I think, more than 10 million Canadians watched our Game 7 against Boston (on CBC and RDS). That’s a lot. When our team travels to the six other Canadian cities, you see that we have fans everywhere.

I get lots of notes from fans of other teams who, because their team is not in the playoffs, are rooting for our team. That makes me feel good, too. Temporarily, we are in a position to be highly visible and highly talked about from coast to coast. I’m very proud of that but I’d never be so bold as to say we’re Canada’s team. We’re a very popular team in the world, probably one of the most popular.

One of our next campaigns, something our COO (Gilmore) has talked about on a few occasions, is to get out there and discover how many fans we have around the world and open the dialogue with them to build a relationship with people who can’t come to our games.

Much was made in the Canadiens dressing room and far beyond it about a lack of respect shown the Habs by the Bruins during the semifinals…

A: The emotions are so high in those games. All I can say, all I will say, is that I’m pretty proud of our players for taking the high road almost 100 per cent of the time no matter what happened on the ice. Those (players) are proud, too. It’s not easy to do and they did it and they won the series.

There’s a clip on the Internet of Boston’s Brad Marchand punching Tomas Plekanec in the face awaiting a faceoff…

A: And Tomas doesn’t react. He just turns away. That’s class and character. … Our team is full of character. The last series there were a couple things that happened that motivated us. Hopefully, there will be a few things that happen in this series that motivate us as well.

Such as Price being flattened in Game 1 and knocked out of this round, at least? How did you react to that?

A: My heart stops beating for a second. I see Carey get up and I’m relieved. But still, as an owner, I immediately ask Marc (GM Bergevin) to fill me in with details as he has them.

Obviously, we didn’t have them (Saturday) night. Carey had to spend the night resting to see where he stood the next day. He’s our best player and he’s the reason we’re in the third round right now. It’s really a big disappointment to lose him.

But we have a team full of character. I believe in everyone in the organization. I think they’re capable of overcoming this.

I sent Carey him a note, I didn’t call him, and he replied that he’s going to do everything he can to get back as soon as possible. He’s a winner.

There’s a better feeling in this city about the Canadiens than there has been in some time. A feeling that there’s a plan, that the organization isn’t grasping at straws, that Bergevin and his hockey-operations people have a vision…

A: One of the reasons I liked Marc so much when I interviewed him (to be hired May 2, 2012) is that his two main platforms are stability and development. He brought in people who make our fans feel that there’s stability. It starts with me but he’s a high-quality GM and everyone around him is also high-quality support to him.

Then, we’ve got a whole bunch of 20- to 25-year-old kids who make you believe we’re going to be on a good ride here for a while. Fans see that. When kids see a young player on our team come in and excel, and we’ve had five or six who have really stepped it up in the past two  years, when you see a lot more T-shirts and jerseys around town, that’s because they’ve fallen in love with the team. …

We’ve had a tough couple of years in Montreal that started with the lockout (laughs). Whether you like it or not, whether you’re supportive of it or not, there’s a bunch of things that happened in Montreal that just brought people down.

So many people have written me, called me, talked to me in the streets, and expressed how proud they are of this city, and it’s a direct result of how the Canadiens are playing.

There seems to be a new energy in this city that I can’t really explain but it’s powerful and I hope it continues beyond hockey. Having the Canadiens performing just makes everyone happy and proud to be a Montrealer.

And with the Canadiens’ success come higher expectations…

A: Yes, they’re higher. Fans have seen some of our guys step up. They hadn’t seen that before, fully. Carey, our defencemen, P.K., Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Pacioretty, these are the guys we’ve been building for three or four years. They’ve taken a character step, a leadership step. It’s impressive. Touch wood, they stay healthy and stay with this organization. They’re young and that gives you something to hope for.

Is the Molson name, and its generations of involvement with and ownership of the Canadiens, always in the back of your mind? Or do you largely forget it given the work involved in running the business of the team?

A: Our family has always been very committed to Montreal and the province and the country. I’m managing – I don’t want to overstep my grounds here ­– the most important asset that this province has from an emotional perspective. I have to represent something that is extremely important to people. Whether my name is Molson or Smith or O’Doul, it doesn’t matter. I have to honour the tradition, build for the future. I have to respect every step of the way and really almost never deviate from that.

The Molson “pressure” for me is much more about honouring and developing and nourishing something that is extremely important to so many people. I hope you’ll never hear me say something that doesn’t represent the quality of our brand.

Do you view the Canadiens as a public trust?

A: My great uncle (Senator) Hartland used to say that: “At the end of the day, this team belongs to the people.” I think that I’ve probably learned that through the generations as well. Certainly no one is bigger than this organization, no one individual. It’s a group, a family that needs to be nourished and developed. You can only market your way through so much. It has to be genuine. It has to be real. I try to be that.

You’re on Twitter, Geoff. How do you manage it? How do you stop yourself from hitting the Tweet button when you or someone in your organization is being flamed?

A: (Laughs) It takes enormous discipline. I take it all very seriously. I know that the Canadiens are serious business for people. They’re highly emotional and they care deeply. I think they know that I care deeply, too. When I get their feedback, I can feel their passion speaking. Whether it’s mean or nice or neutral, it’s because they care deeply and I appreciate that. …

For fans, it’s great that they have a direct access to me or the Canadiens or maybe Carey or P.K. or our players on Twitter. I think it’s really cool. In the modern world, for our players, it’s different than it ever was. These guys are superstars, they can’t walk down the street or stop in a restaurant.

It isn’t the same as it used to be. People want to take a selfie, get an autograph. With 24CH, our website, all the clips we have on the website, all the journalists who bring everything to life like this (snaps his fingers). I used to read what was being written about the Canadiens the next morning. Now I can get at night at least a sneak peek at what’s being said. There’s no such thing as patience any more.

Even Montreal’s mayor, Denis Coderre, is active on Twitter about the Canadiens. Famously this season, the poke at David Desharnais…

A: Denis is a proud fan. He has every right to say what he wants but at the same time he’s got a lot of followers and he has to be responsible as well. I think he understands that.

In your four-plus years as owner of this team, has there been a single “wow” moment for you? One moment that drove home just what it means to be in the position you’re in?

There have been so many occasions. You have to be so humble with all these opportunities because our team is extremely popular. You can just show up somewhere and people go, “Wow…”

My kids wouldn’t go “wow” (laughs), they’d want to know, “Why does everyone always say hello to you?” It’s a pleasure for me to say hello to people. The big wow that’s ongoing is how popular this team is. You can see it in the airport, the Dominican Republic… you bump into Quebecers: “Hé, Mons. Molson!” Every airport in North America, there will be someone from Quebec or Canada who will recognize you. It’s special as long as you don’t take advantage of it.

Wow moments have been good and bad. This series against Boston was pretty impressive. The defeat of the Capitals and Penguins (in 2010) was pretty impressive. This time around, I won’t say it was probable (that Habs would beat the Bruins) but it was possible, and we did it.

How much advice do you get from the man and woman in the street?

A: A lot. Especially when we lose (laughs). Some of it is really useful. Some of it is related to our game show or opportunities to do things a little differently. I flip that over to the marketing department. If someone gives me feedback on a player, it’s not really my role to pass on that information but I find it interesting because I’m a fan, too. I can’t express my opinions the way fans do to me but it’s fun to hear.

It’s a busy summer ahead for your GM. Contracts for Subban, Andrei Markov and your captain, Brian Gionta, come to mind. How involved will you be with hockey personnel matters?

A: I always know what’s going on. Marc and I talk almost every day about something. I know, I follow his files, all those you mention and then some, I talk to him about those at the right moment on a regular basis. If Marc he pulls the trigger on something, I’m never surprised. He knows that he has my support. We work really well together, it’s very honest. He’s a very straight-forward guy. He doesn’t bull—-.

And he’s got an interesting happy dance, as he showed when Dale Weise scored the overtime winner against Tampa Bay in Game 1 of that series…

A: That’s Marc (laughs). He’s not afraid of being himself. He’ll run things by me. It won’t be, ‘Do you think this guy is a good left-winger?’ He and his hockey people all know that. But he will call me and say something about further developing the organization, adding an element that will allow us to play at a higher level.

He’ll ask for my advice on things but it’s usually related to the business of hockey. He knows that I’m quite well versed in hockey. I ask him those 20 questions if it’s a big move.

Marc has lines into every GM. Everyone slams their fist down on Twitter when we don’t get a player, but it’s not easy. What Marc did there with Thomas Vanek (acquired at the trade deadline) was very impressive. That’s from persistence.

Marc is a quality guy. Other GMs respect him and he respects them as well. You get further in life when you do things the right way.

George Gillett was an American businessman who loved this team, not the bogeyman whom many fans feared would strip this institution for parts when he bought the club. He largely let his hockey operations people run the team. You’re much more a hands-on owner and one whose roots are here. Does your lifelong background in hockey help you in this office?

A: As long as I don’t overstep my bounds. The fact that I grew up in this stuff has for sure helped me to be a better owner. But that doesn’t mean I’m an expert in hockey. I can’t overstep the bounds. I liked George a lot. I was on the board of directors here before we bought the team.

George was an American and a good owner, but I think to our fans, having someone from here, someone who is part of the culture and always has been, makes a big difference. They appreciate the fact that a gars de chez nous is actually representing them.

If your team’s season ends in the next few days, after three rounds in the playoffs, would you classify it as a success?

A: Success comes in phases. During the regular season, there are periods when you want to be successful so you can make the playoffs. That’s Step 1. Once you make the playoffs, well, two of the four teams still playing had fewer points than us.

If we get to the Stanley Cup final, and if L.A. gets to the final, we’d have home-ice advantage. Once you make the playoffs, anything can happen. I’ve seen it twice in my short tenure here.

The way Marc is building this organization gives me more confidence. My definition of success is the confidence that we’re building one heck of an organization here. Building is the key word. Building and developing. (Three rounds in) 2010 was awesome. It was a great ride. People were falling in love with the team.

But we all sort of knew deep down inside that, even though it was amazing, it wasn’t really meant to happen. Our organization, the way it’s being built now, we’re going to be a team that’s going to be able to make the playoffs every year and it’s going to be less amazing if they do really well because it’s going to be a strong organization, strong with the people who are building it.

dstubbs@montrealgazette.com
Twitter: Dave_Stubbs

 

388 Comments

  1. Curtoph says:

    I see a lot of people on here talking about streaming sites and such for hockey…

    I would recommend looking into VLC Links on reddit’s hockey sub… It will blow your mind! (go to their sub and put into search box VLC links) and follow those steps, they’re a little advanced… nothing sketchy to install but worth a look.

    I have never watched as much hockey on my computer since checking that out.

    Essentially the outcome will have you watching a lot of hockey, through the VLC media player! Cheers! Happy playoffs!

  2. Habfan17 says:

    Washington is so messed up. TSN is reporting they may name Trotz as the new coach and they have not named a GM. Again outing the cart before the horse! Unless they already know who the GM will be and that he wants Trotz, why go there!!

    Habfan17

  3. Arnou Ruelle says:

    Vanek doesn’t seem to enjoy playing here. Being relegated to the 4th line this series with the Rangers tells you his mind is in Minnesota for next season.

    Any players that can fill in the void if the current #20 leaves after post-season?

    Maybe a Spezza or a Kesler could fill in that gap.

    • Habfan17 says:

      Not sure I would want Spezza. First off he is a centre and second, he has back issues. Third, it would cost the Habs a lot to get him. Kessler can play right wing and is the kind of player the Habs could use. From what I understand, he has said he want to play in the States and he too would cost too much in a trade.

      Habfan17

    • Cal says:

      Kesler is known to want to play in the US and Spezza simply isn’t worth the coin for the lack or fortitude he displayed this season, his only one as captain.

    • Habfan17 says:

      Minnesota should sign Vanek then trade him to Vancouver for Kesler!

      Habfan17

  4. sprague cleghorn says:

    Аrpon Basu ‏@ArponBasu 3m

    Michel Therrien confirms Dustin Tokarski will start Gm 3 for #Habs

    … ‘ow could we forget that?

    • shiram says:

      Did anyone doubt this?
      I mean, he said Tokarski is a winner so what does that make Budaj?

      • punkster says:

        The backup…exactly what he is paid to do and a role he has fulfilled well this season… not a number 1, not a regular starter, a backup who is paid a backup salary to do a backup job.

        It’s really not that difficult to understand but some want to make a big deal out of hurting a backup’s feelings. He’s a mature experienced backup who understands his role and is paid accordingly.

        Release the Subbang!!!

      • D Mex says:

        Gone next season ~ maybe …

        ALWAYS Habs -
        D Mex

  5. Un Canadien errant says:

    Canucks fans hate Brad Marchand almost as much as we do.

    http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/05/12/brad-marchand-hockey-comedian/

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  6. Un Canadien errant says:

    The Vancouver Province is doing a series on Canuck players, and where they stand in the roster and the team’s future. Three guys who get batted around in trade scenarios have been profiled.

    http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/05/19/canucks-under-the-microscope-ryan-kesler/

    http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/05/16/canucks-under-the-microscope-kevin-bieksa/

    http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/05/15/canucks-under-the-microscope-zack-kassian/

    I’ll say it again: Zach Kassian is not going anywhere, or not for a bargain anyway. He’s big, tough, improving, showed off some sweet hands and passing skills at the end of the season.

    Same goes for Kevin Bieksa. He’s a rightie, they have too many lefties like we do. He does everything reasonably well, has a good contract, he’s a leader, he has a no-trade clause and loves Vancouver living.

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

  7. The_Truth says:

    Bottom line is this team needs offence and an abundance of quality chances to get 3 goals on Lundqvist.

    Patches-DD-Vanek
    Chucky-Eller-Gally
    Bourque-Pleks-Gio (Shutdown line)
    Prust-Briere-Weise

    If they can’t score with those lines, well then the Rangers are just the better team.

  8. Un Canadien errant says:

    From: http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/05/06/weise-may-be-more-popular-in-vancouver-right-now-than-hes-ever-been/

    The Canucks actually made a good trade in acquiring the underrated Raphael Diaz, but then dumped him at the trade deadline for a fourth round draft pick.

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

  9. PrimeTime says:

    From aTSN, Wednesday’s Practice Lines:

    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
    Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gionta
    Bourque – Eller – Weise
    Prust/Bournival – Brière – Vanek
    Moen – White – Parros

    Markov – Emelin
    Gorges – Subban
    Beaulieu – Weaver
    Murray – Bouillon

    Tokarski
    Budaj

    PP1:

    Pacioretty – Desharnais – Gallagher
    Markov – Subban

    PP2:

    Brière – Eller – Vanek
    Beaulieu – Weaver

    • Dust says:

      briere vanek and bournival as a fourth line could be interesting

      • PrimeTime says:

        I agree. Sit Prust

        º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º°¨¨¨°º¤ø ¸„ø¤GO HABS GOø¤º

    • adamkennelly says:

      man – I’d take out Briere and put in White to center the 4th line. Sitting Vanek would be interesting but no can do in a game like this – he can slack all he wants as long as he pumps 2 in on the PP. He’s costing himself millions with each shitty game -hopefully someone is reminding him of that.

  10. HABSGUARDIANANGEL says:

    Time to put vanek back with DD and patch
    thats where the team had its hottest run.

    plek is great at d. but sucks 5×5, and even worse hie always brings down his wingers. pput gallagher and galchenyuk with him, those 2 offensive guys balanced the line, buit pleks and gionata never score 5×5. never and now pleks is -25 or something in the playoffs, stop playing gio with pleks and put gio back on the third line.

    the team did great with that lineup. listen to me. or you will lose.
    no pleks gio.
    vanek back on top.

  11. Prop says:

    Vanek is turning into the proverbial Mike Cammalleri.

    ____________________
    DOOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

    • Kooch7800 says:

      minus the long term 6 mill deal. He will be gone after the playoffs. He keeps saying he wants to test free agency. He will be really upset when he realizes the deal from the Islanders what have been his best offer. Since he has stunk at the Olympics and has been just ok in the playoffs

  12. sprague cleghorn says:

    All lines:
    Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher, Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gionta, Bourque-Eller-Weise, Prust-Brière-Bournival -Vanek.

    … ‘ow could we forget that?

  13. New says:

    What a great ride this year has been. The Canadiens got their act together and played pretty good hockey. The team was in just about every game. In a couple years some of the guys will look back and think about what a good solid and fun year it was.

    26 teams didn’t make it this far. Montreal took out Tampa, who were the hottest team going into the playoffs. Then Boston in seven to get here and Boston was overall the best team points wise in the League. Folks will always rationalize any defeat and diminish any victory but when you look at the body of their work in the last two years this Club has gone from laughing stock to envy.

    Kudos to Mr. Molsen, M. Savard, and the gang that built the machine.

  14. sprague cleghorn says:

    Prust – Briere – Vanek skating as line in Brossard this morning.

    … ‘ow could we forget that?

  15. mdp2011 says:

    So Vanek is alternating with Bournival on the 4th line, oh boy. I hope MT is not thinking of making Vanek a healthy scratch tomorrow night. This is not the time to start sending a message to a player even though Vanek has been awful in this series so far.

    Аrpon Basu ‏@ArponBasu 20s
    #Habs lines: Pacioretty-Desharnais-Gallagher; Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gionta; Bourque-Eller-Weise; Prust-Briere-Bournival/Vanek

    • Kooch7800 says:

      That would be a major coaching blunder to sit Vanek for Bournival. I like Bournival but he has 1 assist this playoff. I would rather Prust sit for BOurnival or even Briere. Vanek needs to be parked in front of the net.

      Also putting Gionta with Pleks and chucks seems like a crap line. Put Chucky with Eller for FFS instead of Weise. I like Wesie but he needs to be on the fourth line or maybe with Pleks and gio as that line won’t be scoring anyway

  16. Un Canadien errant says:

    Great article on all the hacking and slashing and goonery Sidney Crosby has to put up with, linking it with Mario Lemieux’s famous call to end the clutch and grab and violence.

    I think the Carey Price takeout, twinned with the abuse Sid the Kid had to endure from Brandon Dubinsky, may be a seminal moment in the NHL. Sure, there are lots of the usual suspects who say it’s just the normal playoff warfare, but a significant chorus is being heard.

    Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province was forceful in his denunciation of the play, and the effect it has had in the series and playoffs in general. He makes the very cogent point that what could have been a memorable series between two high-profile goalies at the top of their game was taken away from fans, from customers. He said his interest in the series is now nil, the result a foregone conclusion.

    I can only hope that the criticism is heard loud and clear at NHL head offices, and that there is a tangible effect on ratings, that show up on Gary Bettman’s spreadsheet. If there’s a clear drop in viewership, less revenue flowing in, maybe it’ll spur him to act, not for love of the game, but out of the fear of lost profit.

    The NHL has already wasted the Wayne Gretzky-Mario Lemieux era, and is well on its way to doing the same with what should have been another golden age, the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin rivalry years. Maybe it can get its frigging house in order, and we can enjoy the next decade as the McKinnon-Drouin-McDavid hockey explosion.

    ———————————————————————–
    My sources are unreliable, but their info is fascinating.–Woody Paige

    http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.com/

    • frontenac1 says:

      A Ranger vs LA final is a Buttman (NBC) wet dream amigo. He could give a sh#t about Price or Sid.

      • Cal says:

        Unfortunately, you’re quite right, Front.

        • Savardian Spin-o-rama says:

          Agree too. The really sad thing is that both teams have so few hardcore fans. They’re certainly not numbered in the millions like Habs and Leafs fans. I suppose that’s why the league wants to showcase them…to help raise their profile in their respective markets (the two biggest in N.A.) Hard to fault them for that. Couple that with the fact that the game can’t get any bigger in Canada and that the league just scored a huge 10-year contract with Rogers and you gotta wonder if they care whether a Canadian team ever makes the playoffs again let alone win the Cup. Face it, the NHL isn’t what it used to be when it comes to this country…

          ~~ You’ve been spun ~~

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Agreed that it is, but with the Canadiens maybe being the weakest link in the American market, but the strongest he could have hoped for in terms of the ‘smaller’ markets (better than Ottawa, Winnipeg, Columbus, Carolina, …). The Montréal Canadiens have an appeal as a glorious franchise and an Original Six team.

        Hockey is described as a ‘local’ sport, whereby fans tune in to watch their team in the playoffs, but then lose interest once it’s eliminated. Part of the blame goes to scheduling and a overly long season, people prefer being outside in May and June.

        Compare that to football, where people watch the NFL playoffs because there will be exciting games. Even when the Detroit Lions are eliminated, the Detroit market will still tune in. The ratings this year were very strong from Wildcard weekend on, aided by the buzz generated by amazing games. The NFL is not local, it’s national, everyone watches right to the end, when literally everyone watches the Super Bowl.

        One way for the NHL to approach this level of success is to have stories to tell. More than a decade after he’s retired, Wayne Gretzky is possibly the best-known hockey player in the U.S. That’s their fault, the suits in New York allow Mike Milbury to set the tone, and grinding and checking take precedence over creating stars. The NBA are all in on LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, whereas the NHL allow stifling defensive play, thuggery and Brad Marchand to succeed.

        So yes frontenac, the NHL may have its dream L.A.-New York series as a final, but it also could have generated huge buzz with a Western Final pitting the Blackhawks, the current Stanley Cup winners from the third-largest market, against the Kings, and an Eastern Final between the glitzy Rangers and the storied Habitants, featuring the two marketable star goalies, King Henrik and Olympic gold medalist Carey Price. It could have had huge ratings for the semis AND the finals.

        But it suicidally, boneheadedly deprived itself of that, and I hope that it registers in the cash registers, and that there’s enough bad publicity about what can be characterized as a shrewd contract hit on one of its stars, that it will rouse the NHL from its slumber, and force it to act. Before Nathan McKinnon is knee-on-kneed by Raffi Torres or elbowed by Jordin Tootoo and loses half a season or more.

        • Just a Habs Fan says:

          ICE..what is your idea to put the dirty stuff out of the game. Is it to suspend forever if there is an infraction. Quite honestly if the Ranger goalie was taken out you’d be singing the song differently. How it was an accident the Hab player couldn’t possibly have missed the goalie or he was tripped and wasn’t able to do much other than ram him. I am a Habs fan but really this forum forgives anything the Habs do but wants to ban anyone who causes us pain like in Carey’s case. You don’t know if that was intentional no more than I do….goalies get taken out by players like that quite often and most times there is no pain caused or injury. You and others here if you wishes were brought to bare the NHL would be no checking…no contact…..just a bunch of rich people skating fast and scoring on goal witha soft rubber puck. Accidents are going to happen and it’s time you and others like you just stopped the garbage talk about anyone who hurts a Hab has to have been planning it all along. It gets boring after awhile ot read the dribble on here about it.

          • Un Canadien errant says:

            Note: if you want to discuss things with me, I’m game, but please change your tone. Using words like ‘drivel’ and ‘garbage talk’ is counterproductive, at the very least.

            From: http://relentlessineptitude.blogspot.ca/2014/05/14-playoffs-round-3-game-1-canadiens-2.html

            Generally, if the NHL wants to make the game safer, reduce injuries, a really easy, low-hanging fruit is to end this concept of finishing your check, which is basically a licence for interference. Mr. Brassard had passed the puck, there was no play to be made on the puck. This was just an opportunity to beat on an opponent. The rule as it is administered favours a less skillful player, one who might be bigger or tougher, but not as agile on his skates, to catch up to a better player and still be a factor. It favours ‘heart and soul’ ‘grinders’, ‘energy fourth-liners’, over a skilled play-maker like Mr. Brassard.

            Note that I don’t fault Mike Weaver for his hit, it was clean and more than tolerable, all shoulder, and didn’t contact the head. But the standards need to evolve in the same way that the NFL has changed its rules to forbid contact by a defensive back on a wide receiver five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, known as the ‘bump zone’, and to protect its quarterbacks by forbidding defensive players from contact with the quarterback after he releases the ball. These changes opened up the game, made it more exciting, favoured the offence and scoring and spectacular plays, and protect the stars of the game, the QB’s. It allows these guys to be healthy and drive attendance and ratings.

            Critics of these rules howled that it would denature the sport, ‘kill the game’, and they could not have been more wrong. NFL football’s popularity has reached stratospheric heights and keeps soaring. The big problem which was envisioned, that defensive linemen wouldn’t be able to stop once they were close enough to hit the quarterback, has proved to be a non-issue. After a period of time, the players and the referees adjusted, and roughing the quarterback calls are no more debatable now than they were before, it’s just that the standards have been tightened, and less of it is allowed. The line has been moved, and no one really thinks this is actually a problem. If the tackler gets there as the ball is released, it’s a legal hit. If he takes an extra step, it’s a penalty. Simple. And defensive players have learned to, when they can see or feel that they may be a half-second late, to ease off on the hit, to hug rather than cream the QB, which buys them some tolerance from the officials. Everyone has moved on from that controversy, with happier fans even more ravenous for their game, and participants with fuller pockets.

            Aside from that unfortunate event, one Ranger stood out, and that is left winger Chris Kreider, who is physically imposing, but ever so fast on his skates. He blew by Alexei Emelin on numerous occasions like the latter was standing still. It brought back memories of my playing days, when opposing forwards would realize I wasn’t that agile a skater, and even less so going backwards, and couldn’t really pivot to my right, I could only go left. They’d lick their chops at the thought of taking me on on a line rush, and so will he the rest of the series unless Alexei and the Canadiens make some adjustments.

            Mr. Kreider drew the ire of Canadiens fans and players when on one of his awe-inspiring rushes, he crashed into Carey Price hard, skate blades first, and seemingly unaided by an opponent. No Canadien seems to trip or push him off balance. Carey went down, grabbed at his leg, causing every Hab fan’s heart to skip a beat. After a while, he shook it off, and stayed in the game, but didn’t return for the third period. Coach Michel Therrien said it wasn’t for injury reasons, but just to ‘protect’ him with the game possibly out of reach, the scoreboard showing 4-1 for the Rangers at the time.

            So speaking of player safety, this is another area that should be addressed. Because of the declining goal production in the league, with goalies becoming ever-more adept at stopping the puck, and coaches at installing defensive systems that thwart scoring opportunities, the league has fretted about producing more goals. One strategically suicidal way that coaches have come up with, and the league in its boneheaded way has essentially assented to, is that you have to ‘create traffic’ around an opponent’s net, you have to disrupt a goalie, get him off his game, get under his skin. You have to ‘crash the crease’, a practice that is actually relatively new, and didn’t exist before the invention of MaggNets. In fact, you used to be careful when coming into the vicinity of the goal crease when goalie cages were solidly anchored in the ice, lest you shatter your leg as happened to Serge Savard early in his career.

            Obviously, the pendulum has swung too far, and players now intentionally plow into goalies in their headlong rushes, sometimes with the help of a defender trying to keep them from scoring. Just as often though, an attacking player will use contact by a defender as justification or cover to make hard contact with the tender. They would have stopped, they imply, if not for losing their balance due to that very contact. It weren’t me, it wuz him.

            The time has come to change this practice, by simply putting the onus on the attacking player for avoiding any contact with the goalie. Make it a strict liability, like ‘puck over glass’ situations. It is the responsibility of the opposing players to stop in time, to avoid the goalie, no matter what the defender does. Concurrently, keep defending players from the little slashes, the medium hooks, the pushes in the back of the player with the puck. Give attacking players every chance to make a play, to shoot the puck, as long as they don’t pile into the goalie. There. Problem solved. Goalies are safer, but they allow more goals, since Sidney Crosby isn’t crosschecked or hacked every second he spends on the ice. Win-win.

    • Kooch7800 says:

      They made their cash of the habs vs the Bruins. Now they don’t need the habs anymore or the Pens. The Rangers have a big viewership and they will most likely face Chi town in the playoffs. If the habs are eliminated I won’t watch anymore games this year.

      • Agreed. I have no interest in any other team. Not an iota. That’s what the Buttman knows. Except for a mild interest, parading the cup around in their hometowns is insulting and irritating just because a hometown boy is on a team that won the Cup. Maybe in the guys backyard for a bar-b-q or some dilapidated strip mall. That’s what the Cup means to the United States. You don’t see the Superbowl trophy being shipped around do you?

        I’m speechless! 20 years and counting…

      • Un Canadien errant says:

        Read my reply to front. Yeah, they made money with the Bruins series, but they could have made much more if Carey Price was battling King Henrik in this round. The playoffs should build from one round to the next, not lose a chunk of its audience once respective teams fall by the wayside.

        We should be disappointed when our team gets eliminated, but the product should be so good, so irresistible that you can’t help watching even after your team gets knocked out.

        When the Canadiens had an off night in the opening round, I’d try to watch the Penguins’ game, but having Bob Cole yammering incessantly, and not seeing the free-wheeling Pittsburgh attack clicking made me switch it off. And that’s wrong. Any team with Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang should be ‘must see’ viewing, like the Joe Montana 49′ers or the Gretzky-Messier-Kurri-Coffey Oilers.

    • New says:

      The figures for NBC NHL are not really impressive. If they came from CBC or TSN we’d be asking why they spent money to broadcast it.

      Big companies have lots of flaws but the worst is sycophants running amok. The people charged with decision making meet a small circle every day. Pretty soon your social circles and work circles always play back the same messages, right or wrong. Every organizations headquarters expands while service delivery decreases. The message the boss gets isn’t coming from the workforce or clients, it comes from within the organization, most of whom never did the work or paid for the product.

      Look at NASA, lowest bidder please became the mantra until lives were lost. GM didn’t set out to be an organizational disaster, they got nickel and dimed into it. These bright ideas didn’t come from the workforce, they came from the headquarters. We can save 15 cents a switch soon overrode safety concerns.

      The NHL is in NY and they hear what the NY people tell them. They don’t listen to the voices of fans in Winnipeg. They talk to themselves. NY and LA finals = Half the viewers they could have expected. Crosby head fouled. Price knee fouled. It doesn’t matter, goal scoring is up because we now condone sliding through the blue and accidently punching the goal in, punching the goalie in, or just shoving yourself, the goalie, and whoops forgot the puck this time, in.

      If you want to watch hockey you came to the wrong League. This is business, just another failing business.

  17. 44har48 says:

    We need to win the first period Thursday night on the scoreboard and ice. We will do that by playing more aware on defense and forechecking harder and crashing the net. Then we need to focus on the second period, then the third. One at a time boys, it will turn for us if we limit our mistakes and pressure them deep and around the crease.

    I don’t know what to suggest for #21. He has killed this team the entire playoffs and is a turnover machine. What the heck do you do with a $5M/yr player that wears your C and is your worst player?

  18. myron.selby says:

    During the regular season I really had trouble with Therrien’s coaching. I was almost sure he had lost the team as they looked lost and disinterested a lot of the time. I thought the constant line juggling was ensuring that none of the players (other than DD and Pax) ever got a chance to develop any chemistry. It got so bad I could barely watch the games – and I’ve been through the good and the really horrible since the 70′s.

    But after watching what has happened in the playoffs I have to take it all back. We were touted as underdogs against Tampa Bay and swept them in very convincing fashion.

    We were supposed to be a speed bump that Boston would simply swat like an annoying fly. But Therrien seemed to find the right tone throughout to keep the team focused and playing to the peak of their ability. Even when they were down 3-2 they never lost focus or belief in themselves.

    I don’t think they could have played a better game than they did in game 6. Then they went into Boston and took it all away from them as PK promised.

    After 1 & 1/2 days off they came out really flat against the Rangers. They lost Price and still made a game out of it in game 2.

    I don’t think very many people at the start of the playoffs would have predicted we would make the semi-finals. Personally, I set up my playoff draft picks based on a Montreal-Chicago final. But I’m not sure how much of that was belief and how much was just being a fan.

    So what is my point? Well, we have a team that many on this site thought would struggle to make the playoffs. And yet here we are in the semis and facing some serious adversity. And what do we see here? Therrien is an idiot, he is playing the wrong players. He gives them too much time off. He doesn’t know how to use the players he has and dresses the wrong ones.

    But is it possible, that just maybe he does know what he’s doing? Maybe he is actually doing something right even though he doesn’t do things the way we think he should. Maybe there’s a little more to coaching than just figuring out which line combinations combine for the best goals per minute played or give up the least goals per minute played. It’s possible that it is a bit more complicated than building a spreadsheet and basing everything from that.

    So, maybe we could ask ourselves – how far does the team have to go before everyone here doesn’t think the coach is a fool? If the Habs lose this series does that make Therrien a loser? Or is it just barely possible that we don’t quite have the horses to go the distance yet and MT is getting the best out of what he has available? If we make the finals, but lose out to Chicago would that be enough to convince anyone that Therrien can coach? Or are we all going to go with the Timo-ism that MT is an idiot even if he wins the cup?

    • Cal says:

      MT has convinced me this season that he has matured and doesn’t fly off the handle too much. He has found the right buttons to push and has the team in sync with what they want to do. Are the Habs right now good enough to win it all? Probably not, but this has been one helluva fun ride and I wouldn’t trade it for a high draft pick. 26 other teams are envious that the Habs made the semis. I want to up that number to 28 by the end of this series. Fingers crossed.

  19. Bash says:

    What the hell Archie…It’s time to play the line game

    Galchenyuk Desharnais Pacioretty (our two most gifted wingers)
    Vanek Eller Gallagher (Let Eller carry the puck)
    Prust Pleks Weiss ( a little nasty might give Pleks more room)
    Moen Briere Bournival et al ( because that’s what is left)

    “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (anon)

    • 44har48 says:

      I like it, I’m trying to figure out how to get Briere in the top 6 and not suffer too much defensively.

    • FlyAngler says:

      Apart from the 2 dumb penalties in game 1 (in which he scored a goal), Bourque has played well in this series. No way does he come out. I would leave him in and keep Moen out…..

      “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

  20. Strummer says:

    Which is the real Ryan McDonagh?
    The one that has 6 points in the last 2 games, or the one that had ZERO points in the first 10 playoff games this season?

    A good forecheck by the Habs would do the sames as it did to the Bruins.
    Eyes on the prize- re-boot the mission.

    ____________________________________________________
    “You are not T.J. Oshie. Do not shoot pucks at people without a helmet.”.

    • JF says:

      McDonagh was injured at the end of the season.

    • CJ says:

      IMO, he was hurt to start the playoffs. He’s finally getting over a shoulder/arm injury from the Burrows hit. The kid is an excellent general on defence.

      What allows the Rangers to activate their defence is the safety blanket they have in net.

      • frontenac1 says:

        Time to hit him again. With the exception of Brassard,The Rags are feeling no pain at all. Start targeting McD,St.Louis and Lunkhead! Drill them every chance.

        • Habfan10912 says:

          Hiya Front! I was shocked at the lack of physical play from the Habs in game 2. At times it resembled a “no contact” league game.

          • frontenac1 says:

            Agreed Jim. Played the Rangers Style of Game. Our boys can play it Rough and Fast. Have to start laying on the Hurt and disrupt the Rags Game. Would like to see Moener, Whitey and Weise have a go. Saludos!

    • Ton says:

      its him he’s solid very solid……….and it does it quietly…….what if but it was a gamble Gainey loss…….won others but loss that one big time!

  21. frontenac1 says:

    Fourth Line of Moen-Whitey-Weise. Unleash The Western Boys!

    • Habfan10912 says:

      Could you live with Bournival-White-Weise?

      • frontenac1 says:

        Yeah as long as Bourny gets some Nasty going. I love the kids speed.

      • Kooch7800 says:

        I would actually prefer Moen to Bournival for the reason of the PK. Our PK has sucked in both games. Bourni won’t help us on that and really he doesn’t bring offense either or real physical play. He forechecks well but doesn’t really mean goals just means he can skate fast. I think he has 1 assist this playoff. If you are not bringing offense you better be great a defense. Our special teams need help.

        I would be good with Bournival coming in for Prust though. Moen-White-Bournival

    • 44har48 says:

      Bournival for Moen…

  22. shiram says:

    Many are suggesting roster changes, role changes and line changes after the team lost the last 2 games.

    I think I’ll just trust in what Therrien and co. are doing.
    They got a better pulse on the team than we do and he’s got them where they are.

    I’m trying not to sweat the details.

    • Hobie says:

      Absolutely.

    • Cal says:

      Geez, shiram, where’s the fun in that? We’re supposed to be spitting on MT right now. I mean, like, 2 losses in a row! He and the whole gang are just awful! What the hell’s wrong with them? (insert “just kidding” font here)

    • frontenac1 says:

      Yup. I tend to agree. One thing I’ve noticed is all 3 Habs goals have been of the Greasy variety. Lundqvist has been good and Lucky. Got to get him off his game and into his head. Once he loses it, it will be Floodgates amigos. Saludos!

    • FlyAngler says:

      I would keep the lineup the same Shiram, but there need to be one or two tweaks as we have only scored 2 goals in the first two games. We all know the playoff track records of the veterans on the roster including those of Pleks and Vanek- Vanek has had playoff success in the past on offense while Pleks has been marginal on offense in the playoffs AT BEST.
      It is not the time to make huge or wholesale changes, but some minor tweaks are required IMO in order to produce some goals. You have to make adjustments when things are not going right. I could be dead wrong here, but past history and stats would suggest otherwise.
      Go Habs Go!

      “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

      • shiram says:

        Pleks is certainly below his usual regular season production, but not by that much, considering they only played 13 games so far.
        He’s also 6th on the team for points.

        I’d argue we more production from guys like Gionta, DD and Markov before mentioning Plekanec.

        Vanek does not have horrible numbers, it’s more about his play away from the puck, at least to me.

        • FlyAngler says:

          Pleks is -7 right now too Shiram and don’t get me wrong, I love what he does against the oppositions’ best centremen on D, but I have never felt that you could rely on him to make a play- score a goal or set one up when you need him to and even during the regular season he is very streaky and inconsistent. I agree completely about Vanek without the puck, I think that he looked better with Patches and DD and seemed to have better chemistry with them although that did not work against the Bruins. Either way, we need him to get his big body in front of Lundqvist. Hopefully, they will find a way!

          “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

    • Habfan17 says:

      I hope they don’t make wholesale line changes. I would like to see Bournival with his speed and tenacity back in.

      Habfan17

  23. WindsorHab-10 says:

    I still have a tough time digesting the word “phenomenal” that MT used to describe Lundqvist. He’s a good goalie but not a better one than Tuka Rask. We beat Rask by driving the net & creating traffic in front. We beat Lundqvist Monday night with the same type of effort & then started taking target practice from a distance. This guy can be beaten & we are the ones making him look phenomenal. Series far from over but our attack needs to change in order to do that.

    We win Thursday night and the Rangers will collapse like a house of cards. Who sits & who plays? Only MT knows.

    • shiram says:

      Chara was half his usual self, and they had rookies on the backend also.

    • Ton says:

      That’s the game plan…….win one and see what happens……….obviously we need to get it to game 6 or 7………we need two wins in NY and it can be done! I would be extremely happy today if someone told me there would be a guaranteed game 7…………Carey could be back for game 7!

    • BJ says:

      I think he is careful not use comments to motivate. Flattering is an MO to not enflame. I thought Lundqvist made a few good saves and thats all. Probably close to 35 shots came from the boards.

  24. FlyAngler says:

    It will be interesting to see what the line combos are in Brossard this morning. We need Vanek to step up big time- obviously, but that just is not going to happen if he continues to play with Pleks, it may not happen with DD and Patches either, but at least they have had some chemistry during the regular season and the Rangers are not the Bruins, so why not try what has worked before? Keeping Vanek with Pleks just guarantees that he will remain frustrated and nonproductive because while Pleks does a great job on the P K and on D he is too erratic in the on offense. Especially in the playoffs.

    “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

  25. Cal says:

    A tune as we while away the hours to the next game. Take it away, George!

  26. Psycho29 says:

    Habs vs Rangers got a mention on The Tonight Show last night. Jimmy Fallon made a bet before the series that WHEN the Habs win the series he has to do his monologue wearing a Habs’ sweater.
    And IF the Rangers win, Youppi has to wear a New York sweater and post 10 pictures on Twitter wearing it at around Montreal.

    • BriPro says:

      I read your earlier post reflecting your age.
      A few days ago, I posted about sitting on my dad’s shoulders during a Stanley Cup parade in the SIXTIES….
      Just as you asked, where has the time gone?
      I just want to hoist my grandson on my shoulders and offer him a life-long memory.

      ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
      That is some of the most Free-range, Organically-grown, Disingenuous,
      Idealogically-marinated, Un-Self-awareness I’ve ever seen in the wild.

      - John Stewart on Marchand, the RAT

      • Psycho29 says:

        Those were wonderful times, I wouldn’t change the time period that I grew up in.
        We were spoiled when it comes to our Habs.
        The biggest disappointment back then was missing the playoffs in 1970 (on a technicality), even though they won the cup in 1969 and again in 1971.

        In all those years I never once went to a parade. I will go to the next one though!

        • Cal says:

          I went in ’86, where hooligans took over the parade route and cars everywhere were being trashed and drunkenness ruled.
          Never again. I’ll watch the tv highlights.

          • Psycho29 says:

            Imagine how bad it would be today….

          • Cal says:

            @ Psycho
            I don’t even want to go there.
            I was expecting a fun, happy atmosphere. I got a bunch of obnoxious shitheads instead. Almost made me sick to my stomach.

  27. Ton says:

    Reading some of posts regarding Pleks and Gionta . Agreed……but don’t say it loud Ukarian Hab may revolt against you!! Pleks has been awful…..disappears in the playoff…….Gionta is done………..let Gionta go………..Pleks has trade value and I say package him up with Gorges for a good return! Vanek is gone…….therefore that represents at least 19 million in cap space and allows your new quality youth to enter the roster (mostly on D) to compliment your core! This allows you to go after a UFA or two and sign markov to a 2 year deal. The new players as well will make us bigger and faster!

    • Hobie says:

      The one thing I’ve noticed about Gionta is that he’s been very poor on getting back when the play goes back towards the Montreal end. He’s been responsible for allowing many 3 on 2 situations.

      Gionta and Vanek have been weak two way players. When Montreal jumps out to a lead it’s been disguised but over the long run it’s starting to become more and more obvious.

      Am I disgusted, do I think they both suck, no. Just pointing out the little things I’ve noticed. :-).

      • Ton says:

        He’s at the end of his lifecycle……question is do you make him a 3rd line player at a much reduced rate or do you invest in youth……..I say the latter. As well his scoring touch has diminished……..it was a good career!

      • FlyAngler says:

        You are right Hobie, and it makes you wonder what is going on with him as he always back checked and played a 200 foot game in the past. He is older, but at times it looks as though the effort is not there which is very much out of character for him.

        “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

      • Cal says:

        I am believing more and more that Gio is done. The lack of stick-to-your-man-on-the-backcheck has dried up. Time for him to go or be replaced by Bournival in the line up.

        • Ton says:

          In realty that is what its all about………5 million vs 750k and you likely would get a trade off with advantage going to Gionta for now for he can score close in………..Bournaval can’t score yet……weak shot as well!

  28. deggy24 says:

    Q. How do you turn an 80 point player into a 40 point player?
    A. Play him 10 minutes per game.

    We may not like Vanek’s style but in a game where you need goals, you need to play the fellow with the track record to produce goals.

    Habs Win!

  29. CHicoHab says:

    We are 8-5 going into 2 road games. I like our chances. We’ve won on the road with both these back ups.

  30. L Elle says:

    Good morning!

    “Funny” story. One of my good friends owns a store and recently received boxes from one of her suppliers in Boston.

    Guess what was written on all the boxes? Go Rangers…. LOL

  31. 21.273 says:

    Not impressed with current Habs owner. I feel that he should be moar bigger. How tall’s Geoff Molson, like 5’9? No wonder the Habs get pushed around on the ice all the time. Isn’t it part of your duties as owner to set examples?

  32. Habfan17 says:

    I am very happy the Habs are where they are and take my hat off to Bergevin, Therrien and the players!

    I do have one suggestion. It was evident in both games that the Rangers play a similar style to that of the Habs and have the speed to back it up. They exposed the lack of speed on the Habs defence. The only players with real speed are PK and Beaulieu. My suggestion is putting Bournival back in. Galchenyuk is quick and has skill, but he is rusty and he needs time to adjust to the speed. I think Prust, who may still be hurting should come out. When Bournival is on a line with Weise, they use their speed to cause problems. The Habs need this even more against the Rangers!

    Habfan17

    • Walmyr says:

      Agreed.
      Time to evoke the chaos. And we do this when we use our speed. Bring back Bournival…(Bournival-Briere-Weise).
      IMO We do not have to hurting anybody to win a game or even this series. We have to be “fast and furious”, shoot the puck to the net and wait for the rebounds!…(I know, easy for me to write this…lol)

      Cheers

    • franco says:

      Let me get this straight, you say the Montreal defense is too slow, so you would change up the forwards

  33. Walmyr says:

    Hello people…

    Great article by Mr. Stubbs!

    In fact great interview. Mr. Molson seems to be a good, responsible man. And a person who knows and respect the history of this franchise.

    I’m not a montrealer (I’m not even from Canada). So this article helped me to understand more the relationship between the City of Montreal and Le Club du Hockey.

    I hope the players to have the chance to read this article too.

    Cheers…

    • Mustang says:

      Especially during the playoffs, hockey is considered to be a religion in and around Montreal. This maybe difficult for people elsewhere to understand but that is the way it is here.

      Of course we also like to tell people in Toronto that hockey is also played in the spring, not just in the winter. (:

      • franco says:

        Think of the money Toronto fans save.

        Apparently hockey is played in the early summer and in the late summer also. Wait, how would a Montreal fan know that?

        They think it ends in the spring around 3rd week in May.

  34. CJ says:

    Good morning folks.

    Just watched the TSN top ten this morning, featuring the best Henrik Lundquist saves in his career. Hank this, Hank that…. It’s a major love in, and all well deserved.

    In a series in which both teams were so evenly matched Price and Hank both had the ability to tip the scale in their respective team’s favor. With Price out, the spotlight now shines, exclusively, on the King, along with the chance to advance to the finals.

    So, what chance do we have – little to none, right? Well, not so fast….

    I was very impressed with the majority of the team on Monday night. Here are the positives (in no particular order);

    PK was very engaged, right from puck drop. 20 of our 80 shot attempts left the stick of 76. He is the alpha and omega of our group. He just couldn’t get one through, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Speaking of trying, Max, DD, Bourque, Gally, Chucky, the entire fourth line and all defencemen were certainly trying their best. Regrettably, and throw a tomato in my direction if you wish, our lack of size hurts us as we very seldom finish a check in the offensive zone. Our hits are generally reserved for our zone or the neutral zone. This, IMO, is telling.

    Vanek, Gionta and Pleks were not nearly good enough (I’m biting my tongue right now). Unless there are reports that these three players have broken ribs, wrists, arms and ankles, we are seeing a major no show by arguably three of our best players. In the case of Vanek and Gionta it’s particularly painful to watch.

    This morning, as I sit in a hotel room on Dixon road in Toronto, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect. It’s been a long two days, driving to Montreal, home to Ottawa, conference calls, and now Toronto, so I wanted to avoid an emotional post yesterday. Having the value of a clear mind, I see the positives here today.

    IMO, this run is a tremendous opportunity to further evaluate players. Further, all of a sudden, Beaulieu, Gally, Chucky, Bournival, Eller, Max, PK, Price, our young core, are all getting more experience. This will bode well going forward. Further, it has all but guaranteed that we part ways with Vanek and Gionta. No, I have no clue what’s said in the dressing room, but I can tell you that, on the ice, Gionta is not our leader. Pleks has been well below average too and I can’t help but wonder if we don’t move forward with only one of he or DD. Maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part….

    Regarding this series, we are not done yet. It would seem that the breaks and bounces all favor New York. Is this sustainable? I’m not sure. It would seem that the world has written us off, so now, with almost no chance, it’s time to dig a little deeper. It’s tough without Price, but goaltending did NOT cost us last game. Maybe, MAYBE, Price stops the second goal, but we still might have lost 2-1. Who knows. We could play the hypothetical game all day, but what’s the point? Quite simply, IMO, we go as far as our best players take us. Right now we are not winning because three of our supposedly best players (certainly three of our best paid players) are MIA. Gosh, I just watched the highlight of the third goal with Pleks and Gionta on the ice…..

    In closing, I’ve got all summer to play GM, debate draft picks, trades, etc. Nows not that time. Now is the time to cheer this team on.

    Call it blind faith, call it what you will, but I’m going down with the ship. We need a win Thursday night. One win. A win and things can change…. I hope. Go Habs! Cheers, CJ

    • Savardian Spin-o-rama says:

      Good post CJ. One small quibble: Plecky has been playing to form if you compare him to past playoff years. I guess that makes him one of those guys MB says the team needs to get us to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs, well, you’re seeing for yourself…he just isn’t a money player. If I’m MT, I’d put him on the 4th line and give him PK duties. That’s it, that’s all.

      ~~ You’ve been spun ~~

      • CJ says:

        Good post. Thank you for sharing. I agree and think there is a lot of truth to the fact that some guys are built/conditioned for the grind of an 82 game schedule, while others have proven to be successful under the microscope in the playoffs. Pleks has really slipped this post season. Or, maybe he hasn’t slipped. Maybe this is just an extension of his previous post season play. Just my two cents….

        • Cal says:

          That -7 Pleks is sporting in these playoffs attests to his line not competing very well 5 on 5. Vanek just isn’t dedicated to D and Prust is at half speed when he’s inserted on the line. Pleks must up his game if the Habs are to succeed this round.

      • AndyF says:

        You have a very short memory. Plecky has been the shutdown center against top lines for the past few years. Remember what he did to Crosby’s playoff scoring? And to Ovechkin’s?

        I’ll agree that this year, he’s underperforming, though.

    • franco says:

      But goaltending did cost the last game.

      The goaltending that cost the last game was tended by Sir Henry of Ranger land. Henry is the difference forgetting the first game.

      One goal will not suffice I am afraid. Ya gotta score more then 1 goal.

      • CJ says:

        He has been spectacular. That said, we are still making it far too easy for him. More traffic and more second chance opportunities are required.

  35. Psycho29 says:

    Good Morning all,
    Well 35 years ago tonight I was at the Forum with my Dad watching the Habs hoist the Stanley Cup after beating the Rangers.
    It was also the final games for Lemaire and Dryden. And Scotty’s last game coaching the Habs.

    Where does the time go???

    • CJ says:

      I love your stories. I was born in 1979, so I always look forward to listening to those who experienced hockey in the 70′s. I hope of have the pleasure of meeting you, along with many others, at the next summit. Cheers, CJ

      • Psycho29 says:

        Yikes!!! Born in 1979! Thanks for making me feel EVEN older CJ!

        Look forward to meeting you at the summit too, or even better, at a Stanley Cup parade!

    • Ton says:

      Wasn’t that great………..seeing Bob Gainey hoisted up on the shoulders of Lafleur and Robinson (after winning the con symthe) really showed how tight that team was! Lafleur and Larry what team players they were!

    • franco says:

      Where does the time go?

      Is this a trick question? Never mind time, where do all those calaries go, when you lose weight?

      So many questions, so little time, before you know it another 35 years will be gone by.

  36. Cal says:

    Ian’s optimism is echoed by Owner Geoff. He has the right people in the right place. The team’s players will be a part of a winning environment and have success when it matters most, like right now.
    The turnaround in two years has been pretty remarkable, but we must remember that PK, Price, Patches and Pleks were already in town. Gee, wonder why I need to pee?

  37. Stanley Cup or Bust ! says:

    “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”
    GO HABS GO !!!

  38. Habfan10912 says:

    Good morning all! Nice article by Stubbs. I’m sure we’ll have a rebuttal from Nuna sometime today. :)

    Molson says, “We’ve got a whole bunch of 20- to 25-year-old kids who make you believe we’re going to be on a good ride here for a while. ”

    In spite of some posters who likes to give out the number of 30 plus players on the roster, Molson is dead on here. The core of this team is made up of the 25 and under group. Price, PK, Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Bournival and hopefully Beaulieu, and Tinordi make up the future of this team.

    These young players are reaping the benefits of what it takes to win a series. More importantly this series is huge in their development. After beating the hated Bruins the team needed to recharge the batteries and start another series anew. The boys failed that test as they looked spent in game 1 against the Rangers. They’ll learn from this experience.

    I’m not very optimistic that they can come back in this series especially with no Price. However, the education benefit may be just as significant in defeat then it would in victory.

    • PrimeTime says:

      We’ll said + 100

    • Cal says:

      Well said, Jim.

    • Just a Habs Fan says:

      Ah…youth and the potential of it all…well until they reach 27 and have the power of free market at their disposal. Now take for instance RyanM of the Rangers. Eveyone is raving how great it would be if he and PK were together on the Habs….well I agree they would be awesome to watch……most likely anyhow. Most Habs posters here think MB ought to open the bank for PK…he has only 2 more years at RFA and then he hits the UFA arena. Some are suggesting north of $10 M. Now lets look at all these so called stars of the future that are 2-4 years away from UFA status. How does a team keep them all if they all want market value and that can be way over the actual value of the player and often is. See this is where I have issues being a devoted hockey fan now…….( I still watch all Habs games and really hope they win another Stanley Cup soon ) no team can keep these huge ego players. Not sure if Jeff O’neil has a U-Tube on it but boy does he ever tell it the way it is……nowadays the young guys coming up are brain washed by agents and others to think they are worth as much as any player who ever played…..and they come in with the ego to match. Now imagine a coach making 20-30% of the players in their mid to late 20′s ( the good ones ) trying to disipline anyone. The salary cap era forces a team to keep only so many talented players on their roster……inevitable result is you can only stay at the top so long. That may be good for the league in ways but I really liked the Habs of the 60/70/80 era.

      My opinion is greed ( which takes manifests itself in many ways from dumb ass GM’s overpaying average to good players to a player just having a good eyar at the right time and getting an enormous pay raise and then settling back to his real potential ) is destroying the NHL and all other major sports. Listening to the news today of the NFL players with a new law suit saying the teams administered pain killers to them without proper information on side effects. Now we all hear how super human the pro athelete is and broken legs and arms no problem get me in the game mentality and the fans eat it up…well it is coming people to the NHL big time as it becomes more profitable and the players who once said get me in the game will be the same ones suing the league for getting them in the game.

      As stated above the 60-70 & 80′s was a satisfying time to be a Habs fan. Anyhow hopefully we can turn this series around tomorror night and get winning again.

      • franco says:

        You liked the 80′s?

        Dumb ass G.M’s as you call them have no choice in most cases.

        They sign with the highest bidder, with the agent being the one excepting the bids. You either go in or stay out.

        You make your choices if you want to keep your team conpetitive.
        Sit on the sidelines too long and you get left behind.

        Try to build exclusively from the draft and you need a lot of time and probably fired along the way, so you need results, because there are Millions of dollars on the line.

        Athletes play hurt, go back to soon sometimes. This happens because they get a reputation of not sucking it up. This could hurt them at contract time.

        60′s was a diffenrent era, the 70′s were a carry over from those times. From the 80′s on if was a new era, you lived and died by the draft and trades. Competition got a lot more fierce.

        The 50′s and 60′s the era of hoarding players in your system from teenagers on ended. The players harvested in the 60′s were still maturing in the 70′s and retiring in the 80′s. Thus one Stanley cup in the 80′s a drop off from 5 in the 50′s and 5 more in the 60′s and another 5 more in the 70′s.

        They knew how to do it still, they just couldn’t because of a lot more teams and the draft and now they have a salary cap, so even if you have plenty of money to spend you can’t.

        Welcome to the modern world of sport.

    • BriPro says:

      G’morning Jim.
      Excellent article indeed. And as always, you’ve taken the high ground.
      But if I can be allowed to be just a little critical of your observations, I don’t think Geoff Molson’s is dead….just dead on.
      You might want to edit your jiminism, and have a great day!

      EDIT: never mind. I re-read it.
      You still have him alive and well. Phew!

      ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••
      That is some of the most Free-range, Organically-grown, Disingenuous,
      Idealogically-marinated, Un-Self-awareness I’ve ever seen in the wild.

      - John Stewart on Marchand, the RAT

    • Ian Cobb says:

      Experience is not experienced, it has to be lived to excel.
      by Ian Cobb.

    • CJ says:

      Good morning Jim! Great post. Not only is our future the 26 and under crowd, but they are also our best players. Lots to be excited for going forward.

    • JF says:

      Good morning 10912 – I agree that it’s difficult to over-estimate the importance for a player’s development of being on a team that makes the playoffs, and of learning to play the kind of hockey that wins playoff series. This year is a great learning experience for all our young players, those on the team as well as those who have been called up from Hamilton to be part of it.

      But important as the first two series were, I think Game one against the Rangers might have taught our young players even more than beating the Bruins did. More about the importance of re-focusing immediately after a successful series in order to be ready for the next one; about not letting the emotional high of one series throw you off for the next; and about not under-estimating your opponent.

      The team was clearly not ready for this series, and I can’t help thinking that part of that is because they felt at some unacknowledged level that, after beating the hated Bruins, the Rangers wouldn’t present too much of a problem. Who knows, if they’d been more ready, perhaps Kreider would have been stopped before he crashed into Price.

      So now they have a chance to learn what it’s like to battle through real adversity – the adversity of losing the key player on the roster and having to play better at both ends of the ice to compensate. I share your lack of optimism about the series, but I think the players will learn a lot whatever the outcome. And it’s often said that the experience of losing helps you learn how to win.

  39. crane says:

    Bench Gionta, Prust

    Patches D.D. Gally
    Gal. Plek Briere
    Vanek Eller Bork
    Bournival White Wiese

    Moen for White ?

    .

  40. Marc10 says:

    So Mr Molson has a playoff beard too. I like it.

    As owners go, he’s doing it right. Now if he could retire Toe, Pointu and Shutt’s numbers, he’d be doing it even more right.

    Hey, let’s rip the Rangers a new one in NYR tomorrow with the Toker between the pipes and shock the hockey world. GHG


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.