In his Standing Pat column, The Gazette’s Pat Hickey writes that Canadiens captain Saku Koivu was the centre of attention at the team’s golf tournament for the wrong reasons. Koivu spent some of the time clarifying comments he made this summer saying the Canadiens were good enough to make the playoffs, but couldn’t be considered a Stanley Cup contender.
Koivu said he was merely offering the opinion that after failing to make a big splash on the free-agent market this summer, the Canadiens didn’t look like a Stanley Cup favourite on paper. But he pointed to the example of the Buffalo Sabres, who have become contenders by developing young players and working together as a team.
Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey came to the defence of his captain.
“I think we have a team that can make the playoffs. And if you make the playoffs you have a chance to win the Cup. I think Saku should have stuck with the 20-second clip instead of going for the 40-second clip,” Gainey said.
Gainey said he believed the Canadiens are better than they were last season, when they came out of the gate strong, faltered in midseason and missed the playoffs by a point.
“I think you start by looking at our goaltending. We have some depth at that position, and it’s one position which makes a difference in a game,” he said.