Fans pack Bell Centre for open-house practice

The Canadiens held their annual open-door practice Sunday at the Bell Centre with about 17,000 fans attending.

The event featured a Novice A game between the St-Laurent Sonics and LaSalle Jaguars (won 2-0 by LaSalle); a novelty contest between teams captained by Canadiens’ Daniel Brière and Michaël Bournival, featuring giant pucks and cardboard cut-out players being pushed by contestants; a celebrity challenge for speed, shooting accuracy and shootout style; and mascot Youppi!

The morning ended with a 45-minute Canadiens “practice,” in effect the same rush drills done on a game-day morning skate and a brief shootout display dominated by P.K. Subban.

The Canadiens will be back in action Monday night when the Florida Panthers visit the Bell Centre (7:30 p.m., TSN-HABS, RDS, TSN Radio 690).

(Photo by Dario Ayala/The Gazette)

Bell Centre packed for light-hearted practice, by Dave Stubbs

Open House,

Subban walks a fine line on officiating, by Pat Hickey

Bell Centre bat finally caught, by Brenda Branswell

Habs vs. Panthers preview,


  1. DipsyDoodler says:

    Here’s a question for those among you who understand the game.

    There is no question that physical strength is a major factor in the modern game. The proxy for strength used here is usually height. A 6’2 player is big and a 5’11” player is a smurf.

    This makes no sense of course, since size doesn’t invariably equal power.

    The position in football that is most relevant as a comparison is running back. I would think that a football running back’s physical attributes would translate well to an NHL forward.

    The best NFL running backs are small. Most are under 6 feet tall. Frank Gore of SF is 5’9″. Being small makes them harder to tackle presumably.

    Where are the short powerhouse players in hockey? 5’10” with massive leg and core muscles would seem to be ideal for a winger. But do these players exist? Why not?

    • shiram says:

      Martin St-Louis defines that last paragraph of yours.

      Size does equal strength in a way, a taller person has more leverage to help lift things, afterwards it’s a question of training.
      And in hockey, being taller allows for a greater stick reach.

      • Bripro says:

        Hi Shiram. Happy New Year to you.
        I disagree with your assessment of height equals better leverage.
        If anything, being short, I competed for many years (mostly in Taekwondo) against many men taller than I (most, in fact), and they were at a disadvantage.
        If you have good strength distribution, you will have better flexibility.
        You gave the perfect example in Marty St Louis.
        Have him in the corner against Chara, and if Chara controls his emotions and doesn’t get dirty, 9 times out of 10, St-Louis will come out with the puck.
        Where the vertically-challenged are at an obvious disadvantage is in hitting. A man who has 20-30 pounds on you, of equal strength and ability, will most often prevail (over the long haul).
        This could explain why our man Gally seems tired these days.

        • shiram says:

          Thanks Bripro, a merry healthy new year to you and your family as well!

          I could be wrong, but I had read that having longer limbs could act as a lever in lifting objects and so taller people could theoretically be stronger than shorter people.

          Being shorter in Taekwondo and having success could be due to a lower equilibrium center, and does not seem to rely only on strenght.

          Here’s a 135 pound woman tossing around a black belt in jiu jitsu, it’s not the same martial art, but I think it shows those moves aren’t all based on strenght.

      • Ozmodiar says:

        Yeah, MSL is the closest big-name player that fits the bill. Still, he’s at least 20 pounds lighter than Barry Sanders was in his prime, at the same height.

        I was hoping the Habs were going to draft Valentin Zykov – 6′, 209 already. When he develops, he’ll be heavier than Marshawn Lynch and Marion Barber (an inch taller).

    • arcosenate says:

      Sidney Crosby is not huge by any standard but he has the strongest legs in the NHL, I don’t know if that makes him a good running back but he’s built like one.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Crosby apparantly has incredible lower body strength.

      Edit: Plus in football being small has other advantages.

    • Phil C says:

      Weaver in Florida is a defensemen, but he is very strong on his skates for his size (5’10”, 180 lbs)

      TJ Oshie (5′ 11″, 189 lbs) is also very strong on his skates, which is the best example I can think of what you are talking about. Check out this reverse hit on a player 20 lbs heavier and 2 inches taller than him.

    • habsguru says:

      having met Crosby a few times, I can tell you this. he is extremely close to 5’11”, and if i had to guess, +/- 205lbs, and about a 40″ waste. his legs are HUGE. so Dipsy is bang on

    • Savardian Spin-o-rama says:

      Thick legs and big butts (not that I’m looking there specifically) are hallmarks of power in both hockey and football players. Sid and Martin St Louis possess both in spades. From what I’ve seen on 24CH, so do Frankie Bo, P.K. and Max (again, I’m not looking). Both areas can be developed through strength training but there’s only so much that can be done before the “muscle bound” threshold is reached which is a no-no for hockey players. I questioned whether P.K. was maybe too “pumped” but I think not based on his performance.

    • Cal says:

      At 217lbs, Frank Gore would be not considered small despite his lack of height.

  2. habsguru says:

    the call on Gally for standing outside the crease was worse, though it didn’t lead to a game ending goal

  3. Habfan10912 says:

    OK moving on to another subject thanks to Shiram, anybody know the over under on disallowed goals for tonights game? 😉

  4. Habfan10912 says:

    Sorry guys I can’t let this go.

    So if you want to take the literal view of the PK bullcrap penalty and argue that technically the stick was parallel to the ice I argue this.

    Just for poops and giggles let’s count how many tines over a course if a game that same play is made and goes uncalled Dozens? Hundreds during the week? Thousands during the season?

    Why then was it called then? It was a horse (beep) call.

    OK. Someone send me one of those beating a dead horse GIF-thingys so I can let this go and move on.

    • Eddie says:

      Jim, if PK said it was personal I believe him. I would speculate that either Saturday night, or during a previous game, PK has had a bad run in with this ref. He felt this was a payback call.

      Thirty years from now our children and grandchildren will know the name PK Subban. That’s what counts in the long term.

    • punkster says:

      Man I didn’t want to get into this one but really Jim the hook is clearly visible on the replays, the call is legit. Yes it’s ignored many times. Yes it’s a cheesy time to call it. It’s still a penalty.

      Still SUBBANGIN’ BABY…

    • The entire team and their fans was laughing at the call on the ice. Any other player on the ice, and there was no way this call is made. PK made his bed last season with all the chirping to the refs on the ice and now this season he is paying for it. It’ll take time for it to go away. I feel PK has done a great job this season being respectful on the ice, but like I said the damage was done last season (and before that).


      Shane Oliver
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  5. bwoar says:

    OK so -45 in the wind right now. An improvement on the -47 it was when I got up.

    Turns out -45 is the threshold for not bussing the kids to school (all busses cancelled.) I wonder what it is in other parts of Mars, er, Canada?


  6. Phil C says:

    Many of the leagues problems, like reffing, stem from the fact that they have a Wall Street lawyer who has never played the sport who “is charged with protecting the integrity of the game of professional hockey”, according to the NHL constitution. Bettman is arguably responsible for some great achievements in the business of hockey, but the sport of hockey has certainly suffered under his leadership.

    Ideally, hockey as a sport should be governed by a separate body like in golf so that their decisions on the integrity of the sport do not get swayed by the business side of things.

    But the NHL would never give up control like that, so at least they could split the duties of the commissioner in two. Keep a guy like Bettman in charge of the business and administration of the league, then assign someone the sole job of preserving the integrity of the sport. If you put someone like Bobby Orr or Ken Dryden in charge of the sport, I think it would be in better shape.

    • Luke says:

      Many of leagues problems stem from the fact that they have an “old boy’s club” of marginal ex-NHLer’s and former goons that work in positions of power and are deathly afraid of any idea that
      may in some way tarnish the game they hold in such high esteem.

      The league needs progressive thinkers (and they do not necessarily have to have ever played the game) working towards improving the product.

      In my opinion, a guy like Bob MacKenzie can contribute as much to the league as Bobby Orr or Ken Dryden. Perhaps more, since I would expect him to have more of an impartial analytical eye than any ex-player, who certainly runs the risk of the “Because that’s the way it’s always been” or “in my day…”

      Just because a player was great at playing the game, doesn’t mean he’s cut out to manage it (or a team) at a high level.

      • Phil C says:

        “Just because a player was great at playing the game, doesn’t mean he’s cut out to manage it (or a team) at a high level.”

        That’s a fair comment. But I would still see being a hockey guy as a prerequisite, even if not neccessarily a HOFer. I prefer my leaders to lead from the front, not to rely on advisors to make “the buck stops here” decisions. The only way to collar the old boys club would be with a strong leader that these guys would not be able to intimidate.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        So your sayin’ PJ Stock should be helping guide the league?

  7. Timo says:

    Front, point us to Andi’s pictures in skin speed 🙂

  8. shiram says:

    Have to give Brière something after his good game saturday, I would not be against starting him with Pleks and Gio again, and adjust as needed during the game.

    It seems weird, Pleky and Gio get the tough assignments, and Brière is the kind of player you shelter to get the maximum production out of.
    But Plekys line has been missing an offensive component that Gio cannot bring anymore, and that Bourque does not seem to care about on a consistent level.

    Brière, if he still loves the game, has to continue to produce, wether it is to be a working part of this team, or to raise his vlaue enough to warrant a trade.
    Press boxing him for prolongued time does no good.

    Still a shocker that Bergevin went after him.

    • Phil C says:

      I thought Briere looked great in the last game, he had a jump in his step that has been missing all season. If he continues to play like that, things will be fine.

    • FlyAngler says:

      Most encouraging too, that he went to the net to score both of his goals and clearly still has GREAT hands!

      “Elever le flambeau!…Raise the Torch!”

      • kalevine says:

        yeah that second goal was a goal scorer’s plain and simple. He was very crafty. What we need from him and others is consistency! Not one ood game followed by 5 where they are invisible or worse. Only PK, Price and, lately, Pacioretty have really fit that bill.

  9. kalevine says:

    OK being serious now. I think if every infraction was called there would be no flow to the game and teams would hardly ever be 5 on 5. So that means most refs get subjective about what to call, and this leads to problems. If a team is penalized that’s a big disadvantage compared to say, the NBA or NFL. So maybe we need to rethink how penalties are served. Maybe a “free shot” from a designated part of the ice would be a better idea?

    • DipsyDoodler says:

      “If a team is penalized that’s a big disadvantage compared to say, the NBA or NFL”

      This is not true. Games are won/lost on penalty calls in the NFL. Yesterday there was a pass interference call on 4th down in the 4th Q that put the ball on the 1 yard line.

      There was also an intentional grounding call on Alex Smith that essentially killed off the Chiefs (loss of down plus a 10 yd penalty).

      • kalevine says:

        Good point. no denying it can affect a game. But a 10 yard penalty on a team in general seems less egregious than making a team play shorthanded for 2 minutes. Imagine if they made the penalized NFL team play with one less player for a spell. I think the NBA model is better, although I can’t watch basketball 🙂

    • Phil C says:

      Not a bad idea, give the refs some intermediate weapons if you will instead of having to draw his gun everytime.

      I would like to see them call the rules by the book first, show respect for the rules the inherited before starting to make big changes that always have unintended consequences.

    • bwoar says:

      Kalevine, at the end of the 1994–95 lockout, they DID start calling a lot more penalties. You couldn’t touch a guy above the waist with your stick without getting caught out. Stick touched the hand? Penalty. For touching – no hook required. This is a actually a Good Thing, as it emphasizes stick control. Make a mistake, intentional or not, it’s a penalty.

      Yes, it did disrupt the flow for the first month, but eventually the players settled into it and the flow, and quality of officiating was no worse than today. What little flow we lost, we gaining in consistency of what was a stick infraction. Not only did it make the game less frustrating to watch from that perspective, but the level of obstruction was way down and defensemen either had to slam into oncoming puck-carriers, at the point of attack, or let them blow by. It made for some glorious hockey as speed dominated. The stanchion that Max Pac ate? That play would’ve been called obstruction on top of mugging, without debate.

      I would go back to that era in a heatbeat, but clearly some on the BoG don’t like that brand of hockey. Slowly but surely the obstruction calls stopped, the hooked returned, and now we have the cluster of “what’s a penalty” on just about every shift. This is the worst, lowest point in officiating I’ve ever seen in the NHL, and until that improves I can’t see why we’d need to rethink the punishments.


    • Habfan17 says:

      It would cause problems when they start to call all infractions, but if they apply the rules as written, all the time, things would work themselves out and players wouldn’t be confused anymore.

      I would say that if charging and boarding were called as written, there would not be the wave of injuries, including the head injuries we see today. Those rules were meant to protect the players.

      The whole idea is to penalize a team and create a disadvantage when players break the rules. They already changed a 2 minute penalty to end when the team on the PP scores. It used to be the guilty player sat the whole 2 minutes regardless of how many goals are scored.

      The league, players, fans and media have to stop making excuses for not making calls when a player breaks the rules. This nonsense that “we” don’t want the refs affecting the outcome of the game makes no sense. As I tell my kids, under 10 years old. When you break a rule knowing the consequences, I am not the one making the decision. You did when you broke the rules. Refs will always have an impact on the game as they should, just in as fair and as consistent way as possible.


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