stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
Habs prove there's a difference between rebuilding and just being bad
space
space
By CATHAL KELLY
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Thursday, October 4, 2018 – Page B13

TORONTO -- A few days ago, the Canadiens made Shea Weber their captain. There was a news conference. It was about as celebratory as the taping of a hostage video.

"I don't know how many times you can say it's an honour," Weber said.

Well, try it a few more times, just in case. It might be the highlight of Montreal's season.

Weber will have to stitch that C onto a suit lapel. After off-season knee surgery, he won't be fit to play until December at the earliest. He still might be Montreal's top skater at the moment.

The rest of the roster is filled out with the sort of people who get to skip a military draft - children, the aged and the infirm. Carey Price is still Carey Price, but even shoulders that wide can only bear so much weight.

On Wednesday, a few hours before the team's season opener in Toronto, you could already see Price's face creasing. No brightness - just that late-in-the-year thousand-yard stare. Exactly how crack-proof is a goalie mask? Because this season, Price will be doing some stress testing in the field.

The contrast between haves and have-nots was especially stark as you went from the Maple Leafs dressing room to the Canadiens' visiting HQ down the hall.

The Toronto end had a disco feel - dozens and dozens of reporters wedged into the sweaty room all but high-fiving the players. Someone asked defenceman Jake Gardiner about the Leafs being the bookies' favourite to win the Stanley Cup.

"A lot of the odds is people in Toronto betting. They go down," Gardiner said, quite correctly.

Let's not apply logic to this dream. Not yet. That's what April's for.

The Canadiens' room also had that 'about to go on a journey' atmosphere. In this case, sideways into some sort of ditch. This was a wake without the open bar.

The Canadiens finished 28th in the NHL last season. The done thing in that situation is to make some changes.

However, the done thing under Montreal general manager Marc Bergevin is to cut out the most extreme examples of talent in the hopes that everyone who remains looks identically average.

Bergevin is one of those NHL types with an immaculate executive CV - born in Montreal, journeyman player, charismatic speaker, still has a great head of hair in his 50s. He looks like he knows what he's doing.

But Bergevin's transactional record suggests his long-term goal may be shorting Canadiens stock.

He jettisoned P.K. Subban (a beloved, electric player) for Weber (resolute, but about the same amperage as a hair dryer). He dumped elite defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev for a winger he wanted to convert (poorly) into a centre.

This off-season he sacked longsuffering captain Max Pacioretty for the sin of one bad year. After a self-defeating project spent trying to make Alex Galchenyuk better by complaining in public about how bad he is, Bergevin also freed Galchenyuk of his Quebec-based labours.

Montreal's preseason highlight was Galchenyuk's replacement, Max Domi, doing freebie plastic surgery on Florida's Aaron Ekblad with his right fist.

Domi was suspended for his trouble, which must have been a relief from the dreariness.

What remains now is a roster short on quality, as well as potential. By the time, the Habs' most promising youngster, 18year-old Jesperi Kotkaniemi, is fully developed, Price, 31, could be in the vertical portion of the downslope of his career.

The Canadiens are proof that there's a difference between rebuilding and just being bad. It's timing. They're the latter sort.

And because it's Montreal and the Canadiens, the angst was running high hours before they'd even played for the first time.

Coach Claude Julien decided Wednesday that veterans Tomas Plekanec and Karl Alzner would be healthy scratches for Game 1.

Since Plekanec was an offseason free-agent signing, this was a little like buying a new TV and then deciding to leave it in the box because you like the old one better.

Using a variation of that same metaphor, Alzner is a Mercedes and Julien had chosen to skateboard to the first day of work.

The Canadiens signed Alzner a year ago to a US$23-million contract. Now (since Weber is out) he's not even your seventhbest defenceman?

If that's the case, that's bad.

Bullhorning it to an already frustrated fan base on opening night is worse.

One explanation for this course of action is 'youth-quake'.

Another could be 'just making this stuff up as you go along'.

You can guess which side the Montreal media settled on.

There was no pretense about going in easy. Instead, they went in hard on last year's leading scorer, Brendan Gallagher, over it.

Gallagher is about the most reliable quote in the Canadiens' dressing room, and suffers for his helpfulness. His armour of good cheer was cut through after 90 seconds of questioning. By minute three, he was in midcampaign form. "It's not a message," Gallagher said of the Plekanec/Alzner decision, an edge appearing in his voice. "We're trying to win games. [Julien's] mindset is the same as our mindset."

Which mindset would that be?

Losing spectacularly as opposed to losing reasonably? Or maybe something more extreme? Maybe working up toward locker room bust-ups and on-ice meltdowns. Something out of the not-so-long-ago Leafs playbook.

While everyone in the room had already set to bickering, your eyes drifted over to Price. He'd taken the goalie's prerogative and passed on talking.

Toronto's Frederik Andersen did not avail himself of the same privilege.

The crowd seethed around Price while he unbuckled his pads, throwing his soiled gear around passersby into a laundry hamper. He made very sure not to make eye contact with anyone. He seemed very alone in a room wall-to-wall with people.

Five years ago, Price may have been just about the most important hockey player to both the Canadiens and Canadians. Now he's a guy trying to maintain his dignity on a team that has let its own slip.

You felt bad for him. Before very long, you're going to feel worse.


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Rob_Carrick Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page