As a lead-up to the new season, here at HockeyBroad we'll both be reviewing How Teams Spent Their Summer Vacation, and also profiling one fan from each team's fandom, covering 30 Teams In 30 Days. The teams will be profiled in order determined by their points standing last season, highest to lowest, with the exception of Chicago, which will be profiled last to coincide with the date of their Training Camp Festival.
Team 13 of 30: the Montréal Canadiens
|Photo courtesy of Bridget Samuels/Flickr|
HOW THE CANADIENS SPENT THEIR SUMMER
For the fourth year in a row, heartbreak: this one coming in a tight, highly emotional first-round loss to the Boston Bruins in game 7.
It isn't easy to be a Habs fan these days; the oldest and most storied team in the NHL is also the most decorated, with 24 Stanley Cups to their name - the most recent coming in 1993. Jokes about size (the Habs are the shortest average team in the league) and fan rioting aside, there has always been much to be proud of as a Montréal fan.
Recently, the team has found new flourish and new life, and they've been helping to keep things interesting in the Northeast. P.K. Subban, love him or hate him, is one of the exciting younger faces of the NHL; Carey Price is a stud in goal (and a rodeo cowboy out of it); and the team keeps trying to find the right pieces to send them back to etched-silver glory at the top of the NHL.
The Habs re-signed some players such as defensemen Hal Gill, Josh Gorges, and Andrei Markov, and forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan White. Fans and players around the league won't soon forget the hit on Max Pacioretty by Boston's Zdeno Chara during the March run to the playoffs. Pacioretty's neck was broken, but he is back to health, re-signed, and expected to make a solid contribution to the team this year.
Not a lot of new signings for the team; the biggest names the team picked up were Erik Cole from Carolina and Peter Budaj from the Avalanche; of the two, Cole will probably made the biggest immediate and long-term impacts. The team needs more scoring, and that's clearly what Cole is there to provide.
Price had an outstanding season in 2010-11, going 38-28-6 including 8 shutouts, with a .923 sv% and just 2.35 GAA. Early in the preseason exhibition games, Montréal's passionate fans had booed Price after a 2-4 loss to hated rivals, the Boston Bruins. “Relax, chill out,” Price told fans via the media, “We’ve got lots of time. We’re not winning the Stanley Cup in the first exhibition game.”
With some new pieces in place and most of the departing players being replaced via the team's depth charts, it'll be an interesting year for the Canadiens. The Habs will likely make the playoffs for the fifth year running, but can they surprise people again the way they did with their unlikely playoff run of 2009-10? Time will tell.
New to team - listed on current roster/team acquired from: Erik Cole (CAR), Peter Budaj (COL), Alexei Yemelin (KHL)
Players who appeared in games for the team during the 2010-11 season that have been traded or not re-signed/(team now signed with): Alex Auld (OTT), Jeff Halpern (WSH), Roman Hamrlik (WSH), Alexandre Picard (PIT), Benoit Pouliot (BOS), Tom Pyatt (TBL),Brent Sopel (KHL), James Wisniewski (CBJ)
|Photo courtesy of Bridget Samuels/Flickr|
* * *
For the Montréal Canadiens, we talked with Laura, a.k.a. Habbykins, who blogs over at The World According to Laura.
Let's talk about your fandom - 52 years! That's pretty impressive.
Have been a Hab fan since birth - it is in the genes as they say. Once I was visiting a convent and was introduced to an elderly nun in Montreal who would listen to her Habs while on her knees saying the rosary - secret to all those cups - perhaps. I am sure she was not the only one who did that - and a lot of them loved Jean Beliveau. He was and is a gentleman.
I have met a few of my heroes, and met Mr. Beliveau in a mall in Burlington, Ontario. My daughter was about two, she was awesome in line - stayed close and was good as gold. There was a huge line up and when we got to the front of the line - we were next in line. She said very loudly so everyone could hear, "Did he play for the Blue Jays?" He laughed at that one as did all those who were around. He chuckled and answered her - the great guy that he is, said "Not quite - I played hockey for the Canadiens." He signed my puck and I thanked him, and left rather quickly. Quite embarrassing.
At least she did not ask if he played if he played for the Leafs.
Which player that your team signed/acquired this summer are you most excited to see take the ice this season?
Erik Cole, I think he will provide some of the even strength scoring that this teams lack. The only other acquisition was Peter Budaj - hopefully he does well in the backup role to Carey Price.
Taking into consideration your team's performance last year/recently, and any player/personnel (coaches, GMs, ownership) changes made in the past few months, talk about your team in 2011-2012: How do you think they've improved (or made worse)? What do they need to work on?
Health will be the key. Of course you could say that about any team. Habs went through 12 defensemen last year and some were not pretty. The emergence of young defencemen and the return from injury of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges will help tremendously. There are some in-house viable options this year to cover for injuries which is great. The five-on-five scoring has to improve to be sure.
Whether or not you think your team will make the playoffs, where do you predict your team will place within their conference?
5th in the Eastern Conference
What existing hockey rule would you change (and how) if you could?
Trapizoid for goalies - let them handle the puck for better or for worse.