By Marc-André Breault – Born in 1980, unfortunately I did not experience the good years of the Montreal Canadiens. Whether it was the years of Maurice and Henri Richard or the end of the 70s, I came later. I still had the chance to live through two Stanley Cups. Although I don’t remember anything at all about the first one, it’s a different story for the second one.
It was 1993, I was in sixth grade. When the Montreal Canadiens entered the playoffs, we were drawing and writing messages to encourage them. Later in the playoffs, we were drawing Stanley Cups. At the end of the year, we had a trip to Ottawa and were coming back after the school year. We were entitled to leave the next morning until noon. Returning by bus, the fifth game of the series began. Unfortunately for us, the radio on our bus was not working. But myself and a few other students had our walkmans. For the younger fans, a walkman is an audio cassette player. This was long before MP3s. Some had the Am/Fm radio option and some did not.
When Paul DiPietro’s first goal was scored, we jumped for joy. The second bus passed us a few seconds later and we were all screaming like crazy. A memorable end of the year. As there was no more school the next morning, my parents gave me the opportunity to watch the whole game this time. With the result that we know today.
But there were tougher times too. Some tough seasons, the darn Patrick Roy trade, my youth’s idol. But the worst, in my opinion is this season. After a Cinderella journey that led us to a first Cup final since 1993, the team is collapsing due to several injuries to important players in addition to COVID and a certain lack of heart. A good cleaning is needed after GM Marc Bergevin was fired as well as his assistant Trevor Timmins.
Geoff Molson decides to split duties by hiring a Vice-President of Hockey Operations in Jeff Gorton. He who then appointed his General Manager by selecting a players’ agent from Quebec in Kent Hughes. Despite the fact that Gorton told us that Ducharme would finish the season, they nevertheless decide to fire him. To replace him, they went against the grain by bringing in Martin St-Louis. There are surely still positions to be filled within the organization, but the essential pieces are in place.
Here are my expectations for this season of misery. In my opinion, Gorton and Hughes need to talk to the players and find out their goals. Especially players with trade protection like no-movement or no-trade clauses. Will they trade Ben Chiarot who draws a lot of interest? Will they trade Jeff Petry, this season’s scapegoat? Will Arturri Lehkonen still be part of the roster next season? Joel Armia? Jonathan Drouin? Kulak?
Speaking of Kulak… Sunday at 98.5, Dany Dubé and Martin McGuire were talking about Corey Schueneman. According to Dany, letting Kulak go and keeping Schueneman would be very interesting for the team. I agree with him. Schueneman is a reliable, tough defender with good skating abilities and a good first pass. A good substitute for the 3rd pair of defensemen, and less expensive.
They must also think about the future and keep in mind that they will need good veterans to surround the youngsters. They will also have to think about the Laval Rocket who will carve out a place in the playoffs. What I would personally do is send young players like Poehling, Caufield and Romanov to Laval to finish the season and be stronger in the playoffs. Nothing guarantees the Calder Cup, but it would give a great helping hand to the Rocket and a winning experience for these young players. They can come back for the next training camp with all that experience.
At the time of finishing this text, I learn that Tyler Toffoli has just been traded to the Calgary Flames in return for Emil Heineman, Tyler Pitlick, 1st round pick 2022 (top 10 protected) and 5th round pick 2023. It’s a start, we haven’t seen the real sun yet…
Go Habs Go!