HIO special section: Setting the scene for Canadiens season


On Thursday, as the Canadiens get set to open their 82-game marathon of a season against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, The Gazette’s Hockey Inside/Out tabloid section kicks off our own marathon of sorts: Covering the Habs until the spring.

Red Fisher, Pat Hickey, Dave Stubbs, Mike Boone, Kevin Mio and others contribute to the coverage this season, kicked off by the 28-page section in today’s paper.

Here are the headlines:

Montreal Canadiens’ Brian Gionta wears the ‘C’ with reverence: Stubbs – with exclusive video interview found here.

Canadiens forward Cole’s hockey roots start in Oswego: Hickey

Keon lit the fire in Leafs-Habs rivalry: Fisher

Literate loyalist follows Habs from afar: Boone

‘A special place to play and live,’ CH sniper Cammalleri says: Mio

New supplement fuels Cammalleri’s training fire: Mio

Fog lifts as Hudson’s Lombardi gets taste of Habs-Leafs rivalry: Mio

Denis Savard’s driving force was fear of failure: MacDonald

Online app-etite for Habs? We’ll fill you up: Stu Cowan

And for the little ones, our Kids Corner is back this season. The first download of the season is the legendary Rocket Richard. Download it, have your kids colour it in and send it to us at kidscorner@montrealgazette.com and we’ll include it in a photo gallery on our website.


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  2. SmartDog says:

    Thanks Joshua94k for that post of quotes below.
    It’s THE MOST readable thing on here for a long while!

    My favorite is the PK one near the bottom. That’s the right attitude!

    Listen to the Smart Dog. He knows his poop!

  3. habsnyc says:

    Monteal is an average team and has been for several years. Teams do not go from average to above average by changing their bottom six forwards, bottom two defensemen and back-up goalie. Improving teams acquire high ceiling players who can have successive years of improvement as top three forwards or top four defensemen.

    Montreal did not meaningfully upgrade any of their top 10 roster positions. The improvement from young players such as Subban and Price will be mostly offset by the continued deteroration of their over age 30 players. Luckily, Price can be competitive well into his mid 30’s, so there is a long window of opportunity.

    You don’t beat Boston by upgrading Halpern to Betts or Hamrlik to Campoli. You upgrade by replacing Gomez with any of the three top centers who moved in the off-season. Now before you ask me who in the NHL would be dumb enough to give up prospects for Gomez so that Montreal would have room to sign a huge free agent, ask me if there is any chance Gainey could get a GM job elsewhere.

    Montreal has no depth of personnel. The development staff should be sacked for not providing the team with anyone who could crack the roster. The team has squandered its internal resources. Campoli and Betts are taking roster spots that other teams fill at lower cost with players they drafted.

    • G-Man says:

      Sure, but how do you feel?
      We only had 4 or 5 new faces on the team last season, but I guess the “deleopment staff should be sacked.” Maybe this post should be.

    • Arrow77 says:

      I like that you don’t mention that Erik Cole was expected to (and probably will eventually) play on one of the top two lines. Also, good job not mentionning the fact that Andrei Markov is still expected to be back fairly early and that if he does come back at the level he was before, he will probably be among the top-3 scorer of the team. And let’s not talk about Gorges, who might be the top defensive defenseman of the team.

      Maybe Cole will disappoint and maybe Markov will never be the same he was 2 years ago but their addition will certainly do more good than dreaming about a Gomez trade that could never happen.

      • habsnyc says:

        Erik Cole is past his prime. He is a long term cap liability. You don’t need to commit $18 millon and four years to a player who can only decline from his four year 50 point average. Cole as an Oiler has the exact same productivity as Pouliot as a Canadien. I think it was a big mistake to sign him.

        • Arrow77 says:

          Cole only had one bad year so comparing him to Pouliot makes no sense.

          And I maintain that trading Gomez is only easy for people who don’t actually have the GM job. Pretty easy to do better Gauthier in your head.

          • habsnyc says:

            Cole only had one year away from Staal.

            It takes zero effort to do better than Gauthier because Gauthier has done nothing meaningful to put this team on the trajectory to be a contender. He has tied up cap space in players past their prime which is a recipe for mediocrity.

    • twilighthours says:

      Firstly, why would we ask you if Gainey could get a job elsewhere? You’ve already provided plenty of insight into your feelings on this team. But: yes, he could absolutely get another job.

      Secondly, Blair Betts is earning $700,000 this year. If other teams are filling his role with players at lower cost, they are doing so at the league minimum, which I believe is $550,000. If you’re this upset with overpaying by about 0.3% of total cap space, you might be missing the bigger picture.

      If you’re sick of not being able to view the HIO comment structure from your iPhone, try downloading Mercury browser. If you have alternative suggestions, please send them along!

    • bleedhabs81 says:

      Actually, I think you can upgrade your 3rd and 4th line and expect to see results. A timely goal here or there from those guys can go a long way…. especially when you have one of the best goalies standing in the net behind them.

      10 more goals may in fact be the difference for 4 or 5 more wins…. at the very least it would help eliminate a few OT 3 point games.

      Also, let’s just ignore the fact you missed Cole, the return of Max, the return of Markov (soon i hope), and Gomez, Gionta and even Cammy can’t be worse than they were last year…. right?

      Personally, I am quite optimistic..

      • habsnyc says:

        I disagree. The difference between a top center like Crosby, Stamkos or Richards and Gomez or Plekanec is much bigger than the difference between Betts and Halpen.

        The third and fourth lines do not play enough critical ice time for an upgrade to make more than a marginal difference during the regular season. All players have a role but the top players get so much more ice time that upgrading the top players has a much bigger impact.

        The theory that if every one could just score two more goals then the team would have 24 more goals and be in first place somehow never seems to work in this league. Usually it is the star player scoring 20 more goals and carrying the team that makes the difference.

        I expect Cole to regress with age, Gomez to stagnate, Gionta to age and Cammy to plateau. Markov I am hopeful will be as productive as Wiz. I wish every success to Max, I am hopeful he will offset the aging of other top six forwards on the team. I think Subban will continue to improve. Price is young enough that any or all of his next 10 seasons can be as good as or every significantly better than his most recent. He has yet to even approach his ceiling as a professional. All in all it adds up to an average team with way too many of its dollars committed to players on their decline.

        • bleedhabs81 says:

          Which top center would you have had us go get?

          Last I checked Crosby was drafted to his current team. I know what your saying though. I agree a bonafide #1 Center would instantly take us from mediocore to crazy go nuts, but it looks like for us to get one we would have to trade for one or draft one… awesome players seem to be avoiding Montreal these days.

          I agree, Cole at 4 years is kind of excessive…. but it is what it is. He will help this year.

          Gomez will not stagnate. He won’t put up career numbers but he will be better than last year (Mark it!). Last year he was predictable, yes, but his wingers also sucked. Seriously, Gionta does not get enough blame (and only because he plays hard on every shift). Gionta missed more than his fair share of tap ins last year,

          • habsnyc says:

            Brad Richards, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were all on the market. Let’s say Brad Richards would not go to Montreal for any amount of money. Let’s say that LA, who needs a center more than Montreal, was more willing to overpay.

            Jeff Carter was traded for a two draft picks and a decent young player. Montreal could have offered a similar package. There were only a handful of teams who could have traded for Carter, afforded his contract and needed a first line center. Montreal got outhustled by Columbus. $57 million for a 26 year old is way better than $18mil for a 32 year old.

            It really does not matter if Gomez improves. He is good money after bad. He is past his prime and 10 more points from him does not change his ceiling or get Montreal to the Cup. The team needs to identify and acquire a first line center via trade or draft. Any professional hockey player can get you 38 points as a first line center. Almost any pro hockey player with 18 1/2 minutes per game of ice time can manage more than four even stength goals in a season.

          • bleedhabs81 says:

            As with any “woulda coulda shoulda’s” Montreal may have made a play for Carter, I don’t know and neither do you. Although, the point is moot as they likely would not be able to afford him with Gomez and sign Price and PK in the future.

            Please don’t argue that trading for Gomez was a mistake… That is arguement is so 2010.

            Best case scenario, Gomez picks it up (and he will) and then bottom of the cap teams will find his cap hit very attractive, and his actual salary more inline with what he brings and he is traded next year.

            OK, Gomez is gone. Now what? Who do we get? Who is available that we can sign? How much do we want to give up to get this #1C and better yet, who feels that they have a #1C that they can afford to get rid of? (I have not looked ahead to this years FA’s… way too early).

            The problem is, we don’t have many blue chippers to dish out. Our draft picks aren’t worth a lot (as we perrenially finish in the middle of the pack). We are not deep at any position. Defence… we have PK. Upfront… no one who would command a #1C. Maybe package Pleks or Cammy with our #1 pick? In goal we have Price and only Price. We can’t trade these guys to fill a hole because we would create another hole which might make it worse (depending on how much we have to give).

            Once again, I agree it would be ideal to have this #1C but I just don’t see how PG could get one. Not with this current roster, not with the money available next year, and not with our prospects. We need to sign one but that means one has to want to come here….

            Also, I would rather a solid 3 lines than just one big name on the top line. We have shown that you can shut that guy down if you are smart. The Bruins did not have that guy last year. They had a number of lines, not just one.

  4. bandaide says:

    Don’t quite understand all the downing on 5v5 goal production I’d like to believe that the support from Cole and lessened PK duty for Gomez and Plecks along with Max and crosses fingures AK will without a doubt add to the last years totals where Darche Moen and Halpern all spent time in the top 2 lines because of injuries and lack of a power forward till Max showed up remember the season starts tonite lets revisit the 5v5 debate in 20 games eh? 🙂

    Go Habs Go

    • bleedhabs81 says:

      Pleks won’t see less PK time. He is one of the most dangerous PK guys in the league (at least that is my opinion). Pleks will be the #1 PK center (or winger if Betts is used for faceoffs).

      give your head a shake man


    finally a player who loves the city, team, and atmosphere! brilliant signing with cammalleri. now go score 40. lol

  6. caladin says:

    @savethepuck yes it does.

  7. bigjames says:

    i read the article about the guy from montreal living in denver. we are the same age. i have lived half my life in hong kong, on the other side of the planet. the leafs game starts at 7am friday morning for me. i will be watching as always. my love of the team has only grown with prolonged absence from the city.

    i was at a fall game a year or so ago and the people around me were not watching… chatting and laughing… i got really mad and scolded them (in french)… i was so happy to be in the bell center and here were these morons not following every play. somehow us out of towners can get even more passionate cause we see so few games live.

  8. Sportfan says:

    Man i don’t know why i watch the Tsn rankings they always bother me i don’t think the habs are going to be 8th I really believe they are going to finish higher than 6th probably fighting the whole season for home ice advantage and no i dont think the leafs will make it point finale haha

    • Mr_MacDougall says:

      Yeah, Tsn has the Rangers, Sabers, Lightning, and Devils ahead of the Habs. I doubt any of you would swap NHL rosters with any of those squads.. I think the Habs are a lock for the playoffs, in what seed will depend, as always, on the health of the team.

      A healthy Markov should have the Habs top 5 in PP and a solid season from Price should have the team in the top 10 in GAA and PK. 5 on 5 is up in the air, I thinbk they improve significantly this year, despite JM’s passive 5 on 5 system.

  9. savethepuck says:

    Can anyone explain the process of claiming someone off of waivers? I have to admit I am not really clear on how this is done because it is not like bidding for a UFA. I remember the hoopla last year when the Isles claimed Nabokov and was under the impression that when someone is put on waivers, the teams have the opportunity to claim him in the decending order that they finished last season ( i.e. the same as the draft order). Does this mean 16 other teams passed on blair Betts?

    “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
    Carey Price

    • naweed235 says:

      as far as my limited knowledge on the subject goes, Yes! but many of those 16 teams don’t have the cap space or a roster need for that typa player… I really like this pick up, physical, great on Faceoffs, good pk guy and apparently an amazing team mate… you just have to read the dispointed flyers fans reactions to get a feel for what kinda guy he is!

      • savethepuck says:

        I’ve been reading a lot about him since yesterday, including the links from the pissed Flyer’s bloggers. I like the signing too, was just not completely sure of the process in picking someone up.

        “They don’t hang Conference Championship Banners from the rafters here”
        Carey Price

        • HabinBurlington says:

          A small thing, but gotta give credit to PG, by having the roster spots available and the cap room. Just think, had we signed Gallagher to give him a 9 game tryout I think we then may not have had room for Betts without putting someone else on IR and would have been at 49 or 50 on our roster.

          Good Tweaking by PG!

  10. dicktracy says:

    Ahhh yes,
    Headed up to the Bruce peninsula for the weekend today. 70 degrees, beerbq and sunset, Habs opener, golf tommorrow, bird and fixins with the family on Sunday. Think I’ll go by the Future Shoppe and pick up a new flat screen for the game. Livin the dream. Life is good

  11. TPlow says:

    Anyone know if Pacioretty is playing tonight?

  12. joshua94k says:

    The Drive for 25 begins tonight. Go HABS Go!!
    HABS Soup for the Soul…..

    “I don’t know how you can go in there and not play well. It’s a passion that can drive the team – Erik Cole

    I feel that I am stronger than a guy who is three inches taller than me, productivity and ability to get things done on the ice becomes the real measure as far as I am concerned.” – Mike Cammalleri

    for Gorgie to step in there like that shows a lot of courage and that’s why he has a letter on his jersey – PK Subban

    “I met a couple of homeless guys on the street who know who I am,” he told the Montreal Gazette earlier this season. “If a homeless guy knows his hockey, then you know you’re in Montreal.” – Hall Gill

    I savour it every day, sometimes before practice I’m skating around and I’ll look at the logo on my jersey – I’m playing for the Canadiens!” said the Montreal-born Darche, a childhood Habs fan.

    “Just tell them to shut up and let him play” – Bob Gainey on detractors of Subban

    “In this dressing room, as a player I know the guys we’re going to war with, and I’m pretty happy to be going to war with those guys.” – PK Subban

    The only thing I want to focus on is helping the team win games and helping the team try to win a Stanley Cup. That’s where my focus is and that’s where my mindset’s going to be all year.” – Josh Gorges

    This team breathes winning, breathes success, breathes championships. This is why I love being on this team. – PK Subban

    “Our goal is to win the Stanley Cup, not make us second or third round. We want to win and we will not be happy until we reach it. ” – Brian Gionta

    “lot of us have been through some big games … been in a lot of arenas, been to a lot of sporting events, but people here…, definitely we’re proud of our fans.” – Scott Gomez

    “We’re going to our building and the fans are going to be pumped up, They’re going to be our sixth man and we have to take advantage of it.” – Plekanec

    I almost feel bad for any guy who plays his whole NHL career without ever experiencing what it’s like to be a Montreal Canadien. – Mike Cammalleri

    Our fans are the best in the world,” Jacques Martin proclaimed. They are instrumental in our success. ”

    They may be undermanned and undersized, and for all we know, they may be undernourished and underdressed, but people will never, ever question the will of the Montreal Canadiens. – Scott Burnside ESPN.com

    Name another team in the playoffs that was forced to play an elimination game without three of their top six defencemen at their disposal. Without James Wisniewski, without Josh Gorges, without Andrei Markov…These are your Canadiens; a team of warriors. – Eric Engels CTV

    Yet, even as the Canadiens lose key personnel, as they get pushed closer to the brink, they seem to somehow grow stronger. – Scott Burnside ESPN

    “I just go out and do the job,” “If I get two minutes, I’ll play two; if I get 20, I’ll play 20. If they want me to fill the water bottles, I’ll fill the water bottles.” – P.K. Subban

    “There’s a lot of pressure to play well,” said Cammalleri. “To the point where it’s too much for one guy to shoulder. For us, we’re going to do it as a group. It’s not about him, it’s not about one guy. It’s about sharing that responsibility win or lose.”

  13. Well I voted yes for the Leafs to make the playoffs.

    Nezt to watching the Bruins vs Habs in the post season, the Leafs getting crushed by the Habs would just as great.

    But if they don’t make the playoffs it just makes for more jokes that are always funny.

    Ah the day is finally here.

    Shane Oliver
    Brandon, MB,Canada
    R7B 2R7
    Ph- 204 724 8418

  14. Marc10 says:

    Finally! After all the talk… The banter, the jokes, the recipes, the Jagr sweepstakes, the Konopka chronicles, the tweaking, the second guessing on Hammer, Halpern, Benny, Wiz, Marky… the pining for a tough guy, two… one per line, a goon/not a goon…

    The underwhelming and meaningless preseason is FINALLY over and a puck will drop!

    And then we can do it all again for 82 games + 4 playoff rounds and a parade! YES!!!

  15. dbens says:

    this sucks not only do i pay to get the gazzette at home but when im at work i cant even read the articles online!

    “This is the strongest team the Canadiens have had since 1993” – Jacques Demers

  16. Maksimir says:

    I love/hate Habs-Leafs games.. its always such a crap shoot who will win regardless of how ‘good’ each team is.

  17. DEANDALLEY says:



    “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

  18. HabFanSince72 says:

    Saw a kid near the colosseum wearing a habs shirt yesterday. Gave him a go habs go.

    The original colosseum.

    Go habs go.

    • Aerobiz says:

      Dude, I was there just last week!

      And my brand new wife was wearing a Habs T-shirt!

      “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.”- Randy Pausch

  19. slamtherimtim says:


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