I’m up and at ’em this morning after my usual lousy sleep, and I must admit, I’m slightly out of sorts. I think back to the Habs-Blues game last night, and it seems I’m more disappointed than usual about another Habs loss.
Maybe it’s because we felt new excitement after realizing that the team had shed the Jacques Martin harness and was beginning to play a more offensive game, for a full sixty minutes, under Randy Cunneyworth. And then we saw this new offensive bunch score not one goal in their 3-0 loss to a team, that yes, is a good team, high in the standings and playing well, but nonetheless, Jarosalv Halak enjoyed one of his easier nights and it should have been the other way around.
The Habs were easy prey to a better team and all those fresh and hopeful thoughts have hit a concrete wall in just a matter of three games. It looked mighty fine against a couple of teams in the middle of the pack, Winnipeg and Tampa Bay, but when one of the elite teams comes-a-callin’, the whole dismal season returns, and we see this bunch in all their underachieving glory.
It’s not the loss that hurts the most, although it does sting, but the fact that the team wasn’t really ever in it. If the score had been 4-3 or 3-2, for example, I would have simply chalked it up that you can’t win every night. But once again, the drive was dismal, their shots handled easily, and of course, they were 0-3 on the power play. Yes, that wretched, rotten, stinking, decaying power play. Worst in the league.
The players have underachieved and I’m mad at the majority of them, but in the big picture, you and I could have done a better job of assembling this team beginning a few years ago. For decades we’ve all known that modern-day players are bigger and stronger and gettting more so as the years go by. So what did the Canadiens do? They went out and landed little guys like Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Mike Cammalleri. Why did they do that? The core of our offence is under the height line to ride the ferris wheel at the county fair. If players are bigger and stronger now, why did Bob Gainey and the other Canadiens suits decide go the opposite way? Gainey always was a conservative, deep thinker, but the more I think about it, the more I think he was sampling some acid he was making in his basement.
Some small guys can do the job. David Desharnais, at 5’7″ can. He’s been a fine player most nights, and also earns about a tenth of what Gomez, Cammaleri, and Gionta earn. So hats off to Desharnais. I hope he enjoys a long and happy career as a Montreal Canadien, and he deserves a big raise. In the wings we have an explosive junior player, Brendan Gallagher, poised to become a regular, maybe even next year. Yes, he’s a big-time point-getter in junior. He’s also 5’8″. So unlike the rest of the hockey world, we aren’t exactly getting bigger and stronger.
Rarely have I seen so many not deserve their big money. I’m all for players having their ships come in after being taken advantage of, lied to, and ripped off by general managers for years. But these wealthy players still have to earn it. It’s one thing to say they’re working hard, it’s another to see that they don’t do what they’re paid to do – help the team win by being productive. Cammalleri has 9 lousy goals, Gionta 8, Gomez, 0, and our leading point-getter, another small player at 5’11”, Tomas Plekanec, has 8 goals and 22 assists. These numbers are good if we are talking about defensive specialists. But these are our our big guns, and is it ever embarrassing.
What a season. I’m all for saying goodbye to many of these players. Blow the thing up and start fresh. Last night, reality rose up and sucker punched me in the chops.