Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Good Signs For Habs In Ottawa

The Canadiens 6-2 pasting of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night was encouraging for several reasons. Ending a five-game losing streak is important and doing with authority against a division rival is even better. Here’s why this was more than just a run-of-the-mill win for this group.

The obvious first one is that Randy Cunneyworth, who has put up with a lot since taking over from Jacques Martin a couple of weeks ago, got his first victory behind the bench. In the process, he avoided becoming the first coach in franchise history with five straight losses. He also got big performances out of the guys he benched for last Thursday’s debacle in Winnipeg, validating a bold move many questioned at the time. It also didn’t hurt that the team had a chance to get in a few practices under Cunneyworth, who faced four tough games in six nights when he was given the job on gameday, December 17th.

Secondly, the fact that six different Canadiens got onto the scoreline was a nice change of pace. Heck, the fact that any Canadiens got on the scoreline was a nice change of pace. Raphael Diaz and his three points stood out but other factors like some points from the fourth line, no glaring mistakes from Tomas Kaberle and the removal of Chris Campoli from the lineup were steps forward as well.

Third, the play of Lars Eller, PK Subban and Michael Cammalleri was obviously a huge step forward. Eller has shown flashes of his huge potential but count me among those who have felt he hasn’t gotten a fair shot among the top six. His size and speed are assets unmatched on this team and when you’re on the road, having a guy like that can be a huge bonus.

Subban showed some of the flair and end-to-end ability that have made him a fan favorite and his confidence seemed to be closer to the insanely high level it was at when he lit it up during the second half of last year. Hopefully he can build on that. Sure, he made mistakes but Josh Gorges and others were there to cover for him when he did. When he’s at his best, he’s taking risks and the rewards outweigh the errors.

Finally and perhaps more importantly, Cammalleri looked like the dangerous sniper he’s capable of being. He was a force all over the ice and was noticeable for doing the little things that he must do in order to be successful. Maybe you can chalk some of it up to having the youthful energy of an increasingly confident Louis Leblanc on his line. Many feel that Cammalleri wasn’t able to play his game under Jacques Martin. Either way, the fact that he played well for the first time in ages is a huge plus.

Max Pacioretty has to be a bit of a concern. He wasn’t at his best last night and in my mind, he truly hasn’t been the same player since returning from the suspension stemming from his hit on Pittsburgh’s Kristopher Letang back on November 26th. His recent statline of zero points and a -6 over the last three games is not good.

Too many times this year, the Habs have faced an opponent that simply didn’t show up and gotten the victory in a far less convincing fashion than they should have. Examples include the third game of the year, a 5-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, another 5-1 win on October 26th against Philadelphia and of course the infamous “game that got Paul Maurice fired”, a 4-0 win over Carolina at the Bell Centre on November 16th. I realize those were strong performances but under the circumstances you want to see more. Most team would have blown the Hurricanes out of the water by a score of 7-0 or 9-1 that night. The fact that Habs only put up four goals spoke volumes.

Jump ahead to last night: Randy Cunneyworth’s men never took their feet off the gas and kept pushing, refusing to sit back with a three goal lead. Chalk the sixth goal, Erik Cole’s 14th of the season, up to something new that hasn’t existed on this team all year. The will to keep pushing until the final buzzer sounds.

Ultimately, it's just one win. Let’s see if they can keep it up in Tampa on Thursday night and then Florida on New Year’s Eve. It won’t be easy but this team can get right back into the thick of the playoff race with two more wins this week.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Protect the Language or Protect the Puck?

Hurting people’s feelings is not something any responsible person in charge of a sports team should worry about. I understand language is a sensitive topic and I am completely insensitive to it. I realize that the public has a right to a coach who speaks their language but at what cost? Do you think Bill Belichick cares what people think about him?

I’m sorry, but it’s ridiculous. Did Jacques Martin share any insight of any relevance whatsoever in his two plus years in charge of the Canadiens? No matter what language he spoke, he had nothing to say. If you want someone to spew canned nonsense in any language there are plenty of people who fit the bill. The issue of what language the coach speaks is nothing but fodder for people who want to use it to further their own agenda. I’m not willing to listen to those people, especially when it comes to hockey.

I don’t consider myself a Canadiens fan but I know how important the team is to this city. I cannot accept that if they were winning games and contending for the Stanley Cup every year that anyone would be saying this. The fact is, the Canadiens are a bad team, poorly constructed and planned and they are an easy mark for politicians and journalists who are trying to make something out of nothing. If they want to skip the Stanley Cup parade of a team with a general manager named Jim Nill and coach named Randy Carlyle in 2016 then I think they should be encouraged to do so.

I can honestly say that if I wasn’t being being paid to watch this team play hockey I wouldn’t be watching them at all.

Let’s not forget that the most important thing is that the coach is able to communicate with the players. Since almost the entire roster and every top prospect on this team speaks English fluently, that should be the only language consideration. Since the Francophone media can translate the news of the entire world, no matter what language it’s in, into something their readers can understand, I think it’s fair to assume they could do likewise with the completely innocuous material that comes from the coach of a hockey team. I recognize the right of my colleagues in the media to be spoken to in their mother tongue and I think it sucks for them. It’s too bad but wouldn’t you rather make more money covering a team on a long playoff run and maybe write a book, in whatever language you want, about that magical season?

I don’t have children but if I did, I would encourage them to cheer for a team that makes intelligent decisions based on what the brilliant people running the team want to do. People like Dan Bylsma, Ray Shero, Mike Babcock, Peter Chiarelli and so on. This team fired both Stanley Cup finalist coaches of last year. Why would I want my kid to get beaten into the ground by a team that not only has to deal with the fact that no one wants to play here because of high taxes, cold winters and ridiculous language laws, but also hires people for the most important management jobs based on what language they speak? It’s preposterous to even consider. Life is too short.

If you want players to forget about these things, put a winning product on the ice. Detroit isn’t exactly a glamourous destination but do you think top notch talent listens when Ken Holland comes calling for free agents? Since there are factors out of their control that limit their ability to attract talent, why on earth is this club imposing other restrictions on themselves?

No successful team in any sport, let alone the hyper-competitive NHL, should make any personnel decision based on anything other than whether or not the candidate is the best person to fill the job in question. That’s it. I speak French fluently and ideally, that best person should be able to as well but if it’s at the cost of a season like the Canadiens are in the midst of and what their future currently looks like, all bets are off. You cannot hire people to run your business, especially one as competitive as the NHL if you’re worried about hurting people’s feelings.

It’s too bad that this simple fact is lost on so many people. If they want to stop cheering for their favorite team because of what language the coach speaks then they should have at it. I would venture that they were never really fans to begin with.

If I’m Geoff Molson I say forget everyone. Forget the politicians trying to generate political capital from this non-story, forget the “fans” who care about more than whether their team wins. Spare me the arguments about cultural institutions and the “dying” French language. Any team in any sport in any league should speak one language: winning. Win hockey games. Don’t lose 21 of your first 34 games in a league where 53% of the teams make the playoffs every year. If you win, who cares whose feelings get hurt along the way?

This team is being run into the ground by a man so arrogant he thinks that people might actually believe some of the things he says. I can’t hazard a guess as to how involved Bob Gainey still is but the fact that Pierre Gauthier is still running this team is nauseating.

The Canadiens are heading toward their best draft pick since they had the incredible fortune of stumbling into the 5th overall choice in 2005. Think about the moves this man has made while making no attempt whatsoever to rationalize them. I would use the word “contempt” to describe the way Pierre Gauthier speaks to the media. For the love of god, Geoff Molson, don’t let this man continue to run this team. Don’t mortgage the future for the sake of this year. Don’t trade a second round pick for another rental player, even though that’s been one of the few things that have worked out for you in the last few years.

Fire Pierre Gauthier and replace him with the best man for the job, no matter what language he speaks. Let that man decide who the next coach should be, no matter what language he speaks. Then shut up and watch this team play hockey and hope for the best. That’s what the fans everywhere else do. Complain about the general manager, the coach, the players and the product on the ice all you want. Complain about the terrible pregame video that leaves the Bell Centre crowd flat after years of being the most electrifying building in the league (we miss you Ray Lalonde!).

Just don’t complain about what language the decision makers speak. You’re better than that. Don’t listen to the politicians. Don’t listen to the reactionary columnists who know less than nothing about this game. You’re better than that and so is this city. So is this fanbase.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NHL Playoffs: Top 10 Players With Something to Prove

10. Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks – I hope Joel Quenneville doesn’t make me look bad by going with the other guy here. The 26-year old Niemi has earned the right to start by being the better Chicago goaltender down the stretch. He has no track record to weigh him down but he needs to shut his critics up. Clearly his 7 shutouts and 26 wins in 39 starts this year weren’t enough to do that. It doesn’t help that Niemi has been less than stellar in his non-NHL playoff career with Kiekko-Vantaa and Pelicans Lahti in Finland. Expectations are high in Chicago and Niemi may be on a short leash.

9. Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils – Yes, Martin Brodeur has won everything there is to win. He’s entering the twilight of his career and when all is said and done it will likely be impossible to argue with the numbers. The reason I included Brodeur in this list is his recent struggles in the playoffs. It doesn’t help that the Fyers owned Brodeur this year. It doesn’t help that Brodeur lost the number one job to Roberto Luongo at the Olympics. It doesn’t help that Brodeur is 15-22 in the playoffs since 2003-04. Brodeur isn’t the only Devil under pressure but a run to the finals would shut up anyone who says he’s over the hill.

8. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks – Sedin’s regular season totals speak for themselves but a bad playoff would make it all a distant memory. As the leader of a very strong Vancouver team he needs to carry his strong play over to the postseason and be the go-to guy for his team. Roberto Luongo may have the “C” but it will be Sedin leading this team on the ice. His 30 points in 53 career playoff games would be good enough for most guys but we’re now talking about an Art Ross winner. He also needs to turn his -7 career playoff rating around.

7. Evgeni Nabokov , San Jose Sharks – Terrible Olympics. Perennial playoff disappointment (32-31 record). Nabokov has a very good team. He has had many very good teams in years past but hasn’t been good enough to put them over the top in the playoffs. At age 34, the window is closing and Nabokov is in a contract year. A strong postseason could put him in a position to get another 3 or 4 years at huge money from a desperate team this offseason. From a personal standpoint, he could silence all of his critics and put the memory of getting yanked in the Olympics against Canada behind him by winning games for his team. He’s not the only guy in San Jose who’s under the microscope but his age and contract put him in a unique situation.

6. Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks – The man who played for back-to-back Stanley Cup losing teams has a new address this year. His 51 points in 57 games and a +24 rating through the regular season were great but he needs to produce in the playoffs to make his mammoth contract worthwhile. He has struggled against Nashville with just 6 points and a -2 in 17 career games. It’s hard to imagine Hossa making it to the finals and losing again but if anyone can do it...

5. Jose Theodore, Washington Capitals – Theodore starts against his former team in a good situation. He’s undefeated in regulation through his last 23 regular season games but that means as much as the habs 2-1-1 record against the Caps this year. The Capitals are heavily favoured against the Habs and there’s very little reason to think this series will go long. It’s beyond the first round that Theodore will earn his stripes. He’s won three first round series in his career but his team has been swept out in the second round in each case. This is the playoffs, the Caps will need to count on their goaltender at times regardless of their firepower. Theodore will be the key in the 2-1 and 3-2 games his team may be a bit unfamiliar with. The Washington Montreal could very well see all four goaltenders involved see action if the starters don't perform for either team.

4. Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks – Luongo may have won a gold medal this year but his well-deserved reputation as a goalie who isn’t at his best in crunch time hangs over him like a Vancouver raincloud. When it mattered most last year Luongo gave up a touchdown and an extra point to Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s conference finals or bust for Luongo. It’s going to be hard to improve on his lifetime playoff statline of .930, 2.09 but it’s the 11-11 record that needs to change.

3. Joe Thornton , San Jose Sharks – This one doesn't really require any explanation.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals – You could make a strong argument that Ovechkin has nothing to prove and that’s definitely true from a regular season standpoint. His forgettable Olympics magnified the fact that he hasn’t won anything significant outside of individual achievements. The fact remains that the Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby comparisons abound and the fact that Crosby added a gold medal to his trophy case this year throws more fuel on the fire. George McPhee showed he’s committed to winning now with his deadline moves and it’s now on Ovechkin to lead the way as the team captain. He has an impressive 30 points in 21 career playoff games and needs to keep up that pace while providing his unparalleled physical presence.

1. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils – The biggest name entering this year’s thin free agent crop has almost zero playoff experience and he was disappointing in the few games he played while a Thrasher(4 GP, 1 G, 1 A, -2). He’s now part of a team with high expectations. New Jersey gave up less than I thought they would have to when he was acquired but the fact remains that he likely won’t be a Devil after this year. Lou Lamoriello sent his team a message when he picked up Kovalchuk. He thinks they can win now. There’s enough pressure to go around but a strong performance from Kovalchuk in the playoffs gives them the “secondary” scoring they may need and could be the difference between an $8 million and $10 million deal on or after July 1st.

The order is debatable but most of these names are going to be heros or goats in the next few weeks. Five goaltenders make the list because the position becomes all the more important in the playoffs.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Springing Forward

First of all, I haven’t written about the Habs all year so pardon me while I shake off some rust. I haven't felt I had a feel for this team. I still don't but I'm starting to get some ideas.

The Habs impressive post-Olympic run continued last night with a win over the Rangers in New York. It was Montreal’s sixth straight victory, the most games they’ve won in a row since 2006. Bob Gainey's science experiment has lost only once, to the mighty San Jose Sharks, since the Olympic break.

Glen Metropolit got his 16th, a career high and his 10th on the power play. Metropolit LEADS the Canadiens in power play goals.

Sergei Kostitsyn had the game winner and Tomas Plekanec scored on an empty net to ice the win.

Perhaps even more impressively, the Habs allowed only 20 shots against a team fighting for their playoff lives so Jaroslav Halak wasn’t busy while picking up his 23rd win of the year. Halak hasn’t lost an NHL game since February 13th. Before Canada ever won a gold medal on home soil. Before the Hurt Locker achieved Oscar glory. Before Justin Bieber became the worldwide phenome... You get the idea.

How about the guys in contract years? SK74, Halak, Plekanec and Metropolit are all free agents at seasons end. All will get raises.

The Flyers lost last night so the Habs leapfrogged the Flyers into 6th place in the East although the Flyers hold three games in hand.

The Senators lost as well so Montreal now sits just just one point behind the Sens for 5th place. Ottawa has just three wins in their last ten games and Alex Kovalev hasn’t scored a point in over a month, right around the last time Jaro Halak lost an NHL game.

That loss came against Philly, right before the Olympic break. It looked very likely at that moment that Montreal would miss the playoffs.

What a difference a month, really two weeks, makes.

Jacques Martin gave his team a well-deserved day off today and they have some time to prepare for their next test, Saturday night in Toronto.

Martin had a revelatory moment late in the game last night, after Plekanec’s empty netter, when the RDS camera caught him leaning in to talk to some players and grinning like a Cheshire cat. We’ve seen that grin in postgame press conferences a few times but never on the bench.

When he was hired, many said he was unpopular among players and he’d have trouble getting along with the guys in Montreal. That has never been my impression in the locker room (with a few younger exceptions, notably Sergei, who is now thriving with Dominic Moore and Travis Moen).

I think the veterans appreciate the structure he provides. There’s no ambiguity about the gameplan with Martin. He’s not learning on the fly at the NHL level like several Canadiens coaches before him. He doesn’t panic when his team falls behind and that calm is evident on the bench.

He looks like he’s having fun after those dismal years in Florida with the Panthers. Those years may very well have taught him to appreciate times like these. His players are having fun too.

Go ahead and smile Jacques, somewhere in this city, Bob Gainey is watching sports on his HDTV and smiling too.

The question now, and I’m sorry for asking it, but was Rejean Tremblay right (gulp!) about Mike Cammalleri?

Friday, July 3, 2009

Breaking the Silence

A Montreal Friday is upon us and I'm feeling inspired for the first time in months. It's been a crazy week around the NHL and virtually all the big names have found new homes or stuck around where they were.

The Canadiens have changed the guard. It's looking very likely that the Artist has played his last game for the Habs and the same goes for Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay, Chris Higgins, Mike Komisarek and several key components of Bob Gainey's so-called "five year plan".

It's the dawn of a new era with Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez getting into the mix along with two new blueliners in Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill.

Reaction has been mixed but largely negative to this new look team. They're being called small and the speculation is they will be pushed around by the opposition, even more so than in years past (if that's possible).

I like what Bob Gainey did because if this team proved anything last year, it was that the current formula wasn't working. Gone are the familiar faces who spouted cliches after every game, replaced by guys with big skill and Stanley Cup rings.

We're all aware of the crazy stories and rumours that flew around this team throughout their centennial season and something had to be done. Clearly things weren't working for the guys wearing the letters on their jerseys and now they're all gone.

Chris Higgins and Mike Komisarek were good teammates and worked hard for the team that drafted them in consecutive first rounds. I wish them the best in their respective careers and I have a feeling Higgins may burn the Habs for years to come and Komisarek will probably make their forwards pay along the perimeter too, but they had to go. They were the young core of the team's leadership which often resulted in their teammates being led into wild party nights in Montreal.

Hockey players have been partying hard for decades but it seems that this group just couldn't find the balance that effective teams have. They left young players to fend for themselves in a city more than willing to cater to their youthful whims.

It's hard to figure out Kovalev, who seems to be the guy most fans want back but Kovy turned down a two-year deal worth a reported $9 million. That's a lot of money for a 36 year-old power play specialist with a tendency to take nights off. Maybe he didn't want to play second fiddle to the new wave. Maybe his agent led him astray.

Regardless, I think his departure bodes well for the younger players who will be more driven to work hard and give their all under Jacques Martin's new regime.

The one that hits home with me is Saku Koivu. I don't think the team could have started anew with him in place so he had to go but he was a warrior for this team who grinded and played his heart out every night. He raised the bar for a captain`s role in Montreal and changed the meaning of `giving back to the community`. I will never forget his return from cancer, his playoff magic and continued humility when dealing with a vicious media and fan base with unrealistic expectations for a guy who never had a decent set of linemates and never once complained. His lasting image may be the night he capped of the greatest comeback in Montreal Canadiens history with his trademark shootout goal against the New York Rangers.

We`ll see how it plays out and tributes will start to pour in eventually. I like this one, courtesy of the great Aislin.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Team in Turmoil

Tuesday was one of those days that the trip to Canadiens practice in Brossard is well worth the trip across the bridge. I noticed Alex Kovalev wasn't on the ice almost as soon as I arrived, shortly after being informed of Sergei Kostitsyn's demotion to Hamilton to try and regain his form and if Jean Perron is right, to get him away from the party atmosphere he, Carey Price and Chris Higgins have been enjoying a bit too much of in Montreal.

Canadiens communications director Donald Beauchamp then came over and informed us that Bob Gainey would be addressing some player personnel moves he'd made earlier in the day personally. It was when Bob began to speak that the magnitude of actions began to take shape.

Kovalev has been asked to stay in Montreal to "rest" and Bob Gainey wants him to "stay away from the team" for a while, at least until he can re-evaluate where the team stands after two games without the Artist on Saturday.

This comes on the heels of the acquisition of 39 year-old Mathieu Schneider, the good-natured veteran defenceman who is returning to the team that drafted him 44th overall in 1987. Schneider, for his part, seems genuinely happy to be back in Montreal. He's wearing Chris Chelios' number 24, a fact he reminded his former teammate of in an early morning phone call prior to his first practice with the Canadiens. After practice, Schneider recounted that Chelios told him,

"You stole my job 15 years ago, you may as well take my number too."

Kovalev may be four years younger than Schneider but he's either being taught a lesson by Habs management or a deal for him is imminent. It's hard to believe the Habs would get more from him than a a 2nd round pick at this point and you'd have to think his trade value decreases as he sits out games by managements decree.

The Canadiens as an organization were unhappy about Perron's comments but Guy Carbonneau didn't back off of them completely either,

"I trust it's not just that," said the coach following yesterday's practice.

Price meanwhile patiently answered the charges in the locker after the skate,

"I don't think we go out any more than any other team in the league. We're young athletes and we go out every once in a while, but I don't think it's affected us at all," Price added. "I don't really care what [Perron] said."

Yale alum Chris Higgins also weighed in,

"I think it's pretty predictable, to be honest, when things go bad it seems like these stories come out, especially in this city. … I'd like to say more but I should stop there,"

Meanwhile, Guy Carbonneau continues to be plagued by claims that he's lost this team. It's a point that's hard to argue against. Since being given a midseason vote of confidence by Gainey, the Habs have sunk to new depths and are chipping away at rock bottom's sub-basement these days.

All the player movement has deflected attention away from such claims for now but losses in the next two games would certainly put them right back on centre stage. In the meantime, it's a one game at a time ritual to be a Montreal Canadien.

Kostitsyn's demotion is good news for Gregory Stewart, the hard working winger who will take his spot on the big team. Stewart has stood out in every game he's played at the NHL level and is one guy who Guy Carbonneau won't have to worry about motivating.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dealing With Expectations

It's amazing how things can change so much from one month to another. The Canadiens haven't put together a consistent stretch all year long. At the beginning of the year, they were winning games they should have lost. Lucky for them, they picked up 17 of a possible 20 points to begin the season and that's probably the main reason they remain in fifth place to this point despite being the coldest team in the NHL, 2-8 in their last ten games.

The Canadiens created so much hype with their phenomenal regular season last year. The playoffs were different, as both Boston and Philly exploited their lack of physicality and unwillingness to pay the price along the boards. After their second round exit, the offseason provided hope with the acquisitions of Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang along with a guy like Georges Laraque, who it seemed would make the Milan Lucics and Scott Hartnells of the league respect them.

The other side of it was the loss of two guys who had been around for a while, one coming off a career season and one off one of his worst campaigns, both UFAs.

I'm not going to say Michael Ryder would be enjoying comparable success here in Montreal to the great season he's having on a Boston team that looks destined for greatness. It's impossible to know and in all likelihood the change of scenery is one of the things that sparked Ryder's resurgence. Another factor was having a coach who believed in him in Claude Julien.

The other guy is Mark Streit. Streit put up 62 points last year while quarterbacking the top power play in the NHL. He took smart shots, did an excellent job of getting pucks in deep and pursuing them and played in virtually every role asked of him by the Habs coaching staff. He loved Montreal and looked crushed when it became clear he didn't fit in with the teams plan for their centennial season and onward. Streit moved on to a bad team in Long Island where he is revered by fans and teammates for what he is, one of the top offensive defencemen in the league and an NHL all-star.

With the Habs power play languishing at 24th in the league at a dismal 16.3% success rate, one can't help but miss Streit's under the radar modus operandi.

It might make it easier if Robert Lang's career wasn't likely over due to the brutal injury he suffered and Alex Tanguay not on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Those injuries are big for a Canadiens team that often looks young and overmatched these days.

The fact is that none of the factors experts and fans alike thought would propel the Canadiens to the top the Eastern Conference heap have come to pass.

The goaltending has been inconsistent at best and demoralizingly awful at times.

The veterans have often been hurt and not nearly as good as they were expected to be, from Kovalev to Tanguay and plenty more in between.

The young players who were supposed to take another step forward have remained in large part where they already were, and some have taken big steps back.

Sergei Kostitsyn has been disappointing but nowhere near as much so as Tomas Plekanec (29 goals last year), Chris Higgins (27) and Kovalev (35).

It's not all doom and gloom. The future looks bright with guys like Pacioretty coming up and performing but this year is starting to look more and more like another first or second round playoff exit, certainly nowhere near what was expected of this team going into this year.

Guy Carbonneau spoke of dealing with these expectations in a frank and what I believe to be totally accurate way yesterday after taking his team bowling instead of skating them again.

"I think the biggest (strain) is the pressure and anticipation from the people. We had a good year last year and from the start of (this) year, they saw us as Stanley Cup contenders. Maybe we're not as good as they think we are. It's a tough league to win in consistently. And it's going to get tougher and tougher until the end."

Randy Renaud, long time Montreal broadcaster and long-suffering Habs fan had this assessment yesterday, one that many Habs fans would agree with and one that's a little bit heartbreaking to read.

Montrealers and Habs fans everywhere might just love this team a little bit too much and love, as we all know, can be blinding.