New year will mark 20th anniversary of Habs’ last Cup

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In his look-ahead column to 2013, The Gazette’s Dave Stubbs notes that next June 11 will mark the 20-year anniversary of the Canadiens’ most recent Stanley Cup parade.

Writes Stubbs: “It’s a remarkable span when you consider that the franchise won 24 Stanley Cups in its first 83 years of existence — an average of one every 3½ years — and then none in the past two decades.”

Stubbs adds: “An entire generation of Canadiens fans has not seen this team win a championship, bringing into sharp relief the words of legendary captain Jean Béliveau in his 1994 autobiography, My Life In Hockey. Following an unprecedented run of five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956-60, the Habs went without a title from 1961-64 before beating Chicago in ’65 for their 13th Cup.”

“’The Forum fans were Cup-starved,” Béliveau wrote, “and showed their desire to end our four-year drought …”

Writes Stubbs: “The NHL of yore was not that of today’s 30-club league, but if four years in Béliveau’s day constituted a drought, 20 years would be …?”

You can read Stubbs’s column by clicking here.

Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan recently spoke with Jacques Demers, the coach who led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup.

“Because it’s the Montreal Canadiens … the tradition and all the Stanley Cups they won … never in my wildest dreams would I think the Montreal Canadiens would go 20 years without winning a Cup,” Demers said over the phone from his Florida condo, where he is spending the holidays. “In ’86 and then ’93, seven years, which is certainly not bad, but 20 years without winning the Cup with the prestigious tradition of that franchise … I never would have thought that.”

You can read Cowan’s column, with Demers looking back on that championship team and speaking about the current squad, by clicking here.

The Gazette’s Pat Hickey says he has grown tired of people asking him: “Do you think there will be NHL hockey this season?”

Writes Hickey: “The only answer I can give is to say I thought the game should have been back on the ice a long time ago. As the lockout continues into the new year, my optimism is waning. What I can say with certainty is that the lockout — the third since 1994 — has done irreparable harm to the business of hockey.”

You can read Hickey’s column looking ahead to 2013 by clicking here.

On Friday, The Canadian Press reported that the NHL made a serious bid to save the season, softening its demands in key areas of collective bargaining with a new proposal to the NHLPA on Thursday night. The offer included compliance buyouts and less restrictive rules on player contracts, according to sources.

A source told The Canadian Press that the deal is contingent on the NHLPA signing off by Jan. 11. Training camps would then open the next day and the season would start Jan. 19.

Read more by clicking here.

Habs alternate NHLPA rep Erik Cole commented via text message to The Gazette’s Stubbs on Friday’s developments:

“I still feel as I’ve felt all along,” Cole wrote. “They have a date in mind or alternate startup dates. And finally we are at their last one.

“I don’t think the owner’s commissioner is foolish enough to cancel another season, but he’s done it before so you have to expect that he’s willing to do it again. But hopefully they are now serious to make a fair deal.

“My answer is yes, there will be hockey if the NHL is willing to, which they haven’t so far, negotiate a serious offer in the next week or so.

“As for their (latest) offer to us: It’s a lot of information to get through – 300 pages will take longer than a day to read through and understand all aspects of it. After we do that, we will get back to them in hopes of reaching an agreement.”

(Photo by John Mahoney/The Gazette)

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