Category Archives: Josh Gorges

Summer Notes From Habsville

A number of things happened Habs-wise this summer, the most surprising being I was able to decipher the notes I’d made regarding the things that happened Habs-wise this summer.

Gone are Daniel Briere, Josh Gorges, Brian Gionta, Tomas Vanek, Ryan White, Douglas Murray, George Parros, and anthem singer Charles Prevost Linton.

Francis Bouillon, at this writing, remains stranded on the desert island named Limbo. Douglas Murray’s island is slowly sinking. George Parros’ island is somewhere near the lost continent of  Atlantis.

White now finds himself in Philadelphia where one of his jobs will be to protect captain Claude Giroux from grabbing police officers’ buttocks, and Bouillon’s future seems secure. If he doesn’t find a hockey job, the City of Montreal is ready to step in and make him a fire hydrant.

Auditions are now in process for the anthem singing gig. Unfortunately, management, with a somewhat prickly attitude, has informed me that I’m not allowed to be singer AND stick boy.

Forward P.A. Parenteau, from Colorado in exchange for Briere, is now part of the family, and Gorges and Gionta aren’t, as the two UFAs were picked up by Buffalo, a place Gionta is probably happy about being. Gorges, maybe not as much, considering it’s Buffalo.

Parenteau is 31 and hopefully more effective than Briere, who is on the verge (Oct. 7th) of becoming 37. Gorges’ passion and shot blocking will be missed. Gionta’s captaincy will be replaced in a year or two, and until then, Max, Markov, Pleks and P.K. will serve as assistant captains.

In the spirit of fairness, Markov, with the most seniority, should be the one to accept the Stanley Cup from Mr. Bettman next spring.

Signings this summer involved free  agents Manny Malhotra (1-year, from Carolina), Tom Gilbert (2-years, from Florida), and goaltender Joey MacDonald (1-year, from Calgary). And Jiri Sekac from the KHL Lev Praha squad signed a two-year entry level deal.

Those with new contracts include P.K. Subban, at 9 million a year for 8 years. Apparently there is no truth to the rumour that P.K. has bought the Sun Life Building in downtown Montreal to use as his winter residence, so you can stop thinking about that.

Regulars Andrei Markov (3 years), Dale Weise (2-year extension), Mike Weaver (1 year), Lars Eller (4 years), and coach Michel Therrien (4-year extension), also penned their names on paper.

Chosen in the 2014 Entry draft, 26th overall, was Moscow-born Nikita Scherbak, who looks, speaks, and plays like a young Alex Galchenyuk, who’s a grizzled old guy now.

Assistant coach Gerard Gallant is now the head guy in Florida and replaced by Montreal native Dan Lacroix.

Lacroix helped out behind the Rangers bench last year, and if it was he who advised the despicable Chris Kreider to run Carey Price and then Dustin Tokarski, he should be hung by the thumbs outside a Bell Centre window for several hours, and then be forced to teach our guys (aside from Brendan Gallagher) how to run goalies too.

Player Development guru Patrice Brisebois leaves and replaced by former NHLer Rob Ramage. And Trevor Timmins has had the title “Vice President of Player Personnel” added to his “Director of Amateur Scouting” handle.

Timmins is widely respected, particularly in Northern Ontario where they named a small city after him.

Former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu, an ultra-talented battler if there ever was one, retired after 1124 regular season games played, with his last 5 seasons in Anaheim and 13 years and one lockout season with Montreal before that. Thank you Saku, for all you did for the Montreal Canadiens and the city. Which was plenty.

And finally, Mensa member Brad Marchand mentioned that he dislikes Tomas Plekanec quite a bit. “Anybody who spells “Thomas” without  an “H” is a rotten bastard”, said Brad.

Other things could happen in the days and weeks too. If so, just mentally paste them to this.

Ahoy Captain

It’s big stuff, this talk of the next Habs captain now that Brian Gionta has gone back to his home state.

The fact is, I don’t think anyone right now has what it takes for the role. Kind of sad, but in a few years, it’ll probably all become clear.

Of course, if someone is chosen this year, please forget that you ever saw this.

The names are tossed around. There’s Markov and Subban, and Plekanec and sometimes Max, and for some unknown reason, Brendan Gallagher keeps coming up. I don’t know why. But more about that later.

A captain’s not there just to make the fans happy that there is one. He has to have big time respect and admiration from teammates. They have to look up to him and learn from him. He has to lead by example. That’s why you never saw Howie Young or Sean Avery or Sergei Kostitsyn wear the C on any team.

A Canadiens captain needs to take Rene Bourque aside when Bourque is comatose and give him verbal smelling salts. He needs to tell P.K. to sometimes calm down, or chat now and again with Michel Therrien and politely mention that embarrassing P.K. in public might not be the coolest thing.

A leader of men. Classy, smart, and distinguished. The opposite of me.

The coaches rely on him to talk to teammates and guide and advise. He has to be great with the media and fans. He has to get along in fine fashion with the on-ice officials. Ask the zebras about the wife and kids. Explain politely that Brendan Prust’s fist into someone’s face was a natural reaction caused by the other player saying something uncalled for about the referee’s wife.

It would be great if the players voted on the wearer of the C but chances are it won’t be like that. Which could also lead to the delicate situation of the player being a bit of a brown noser, one of management’s pipelines. That sort of thing is for losers.

Of course that only happens with other teams, not the Habs. This is a team that rises above the nuttiness. There’s never nuttiness in Montreal, you know that.

Andrei Markov leads by example, that’s for sure, and the players, I think, truly respect him. He’s a hard worker, which a captain needs to be, and he’s been around since he paired with Sprague Cleghorn. But when it comes to the microphone or the PR stuff, it’s just doesn’t seem to be in him.

I know a bunch of his fellow countrymen, and most are cut from the same cloth. Reserved and not all great around anything remotely  resembling public attention. Except Lucy’s son Denis in St. Petersburg, who loves to ham it up when the camera’s out. But I think he’s an anomaly.

As much as I admire Markov, he’s not completely captain’s material. At least not in my book. But you might have a different book.

Same with Tomas Plekanec. Not great in front of the camera. Kind of a quiet guy I think. Not one to take a rookie aside and tell him to lay off the booze and broads. Or maybe he does, but surely not the way a Mark Messier or the Rocket would have handled it.

And if you say that’s old time, that this is now, so what? Because leaders are leaders, whether it’s 1914 or 2014.

As much as I like Pleks, and as much as Brad Marchand dislikes him, which is a definite bonus, he, like Markov, doesn’t have the makeup to be a true captain.

P.K. Subban will be a fine captain some day. He leads by example, he struts in public, and he’s fired up to win. He’s perfect in many ways. We don’t want a laid back captain. We just had one. But P.K. still has a bit of goofiness in him, probably what a captain shouldn’t have.

As much as P.K. is liked by his teammates, do they look up to him at this point the way young players in Chicago look up to Jonathan Toews, or in Anaheim to Ryan Getzlaf, or Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh?

Maybe after this season, after P.K. buys a few rounds, wins another Norris, and is voted Most Popular Guy on the Team by his teammates, then it’ll be time to put the C on him. He’s almost there. Just not quite.

The head scratcher for me is why Brendan Gallagher’s name comes up. As great a player he is, with a heart as big as can be, and a guy who would lead by example as a captain should, he’s still a kid. It’s obvious by the one minute interviews we see. He still talks like a kid. He was like a son to Josh Gorges and his wife when Gally rented a room at the Gorges resident.

Of course you could say Sidney Crosby roomed at Mario Lemieux’s house and was a captain at just 19, but these are two different personalities. I’m sure Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was also 19 when given the C, is a man/boy too. There are guys like that. I once had a teammate when I was about 15 who had to shave every day and had this serious man strength. He looked older than the coaches.

Imagine if everyone had his same burning desire as Gallagher. But he’s not captain material because he’s a kid and I don’t understand why it keeps coming up.

Max Pacioretty might make a fine captain, but it seems he gets into areas when he has to re-screw his head back on from time to time. He’s kind of like me in this regard only I probably take longer to recover. It’s not a knock on Max for having his up and down moments. It’s about a captain not having those moments. One who could help Max along when he’s feeling out of sorts.

A captain has to be a big brother. Jean Beliveau was good like this. He knew how to handle all sorts of egos in the dressing room. Max doesn’t seem to have this in his genes, nor does Markov, Plekanec, Gallagher, and P.K., although at least it seems that way to a guy who only watches them on TV and has never been in the room except during the Bell Centre tour.

The captain situation sort of mirrors the team situation. Getting there, but just not quite. I think it’ll be Subban wearing the C in the 2015-16 campaign if he doesn’t screw it up in the meantime by making his teammates want to throttle him.

It’ll interesting to see how this captain thing unfolds. Just wish we had an obvious choice.

 

 

The Blueliners

It’s safe to assume that the Canadiens defence could use a slight changing of the guard and with four d-men hitting unrestricted free agency, now’s as good a time as any to change some parts.

Andrei Markov, Francis Bouillon, Douglas Murray, and Mike Weaver need new contracts, and after seeing Mike Weaver battle, he should stay. Not the biggest guy, but fearless, smart, and experienced. An important player in the trenches.

Weaver, 36, is a right-handed shot.

We know what Andrei Markov brings. He’s crafty, experienced, usually great on the power play, and he’s been a key mentor for Alexei Emelin and PK Subban, which often goes unnoticed but so important. And although he’s slowing down, I’d like him back for two more years. But he wants at least three and it’s a tough one.

Markov shoots left and is 35 years old.

Francis Bouillon can probably be replaced, and although he wasn’t all that appreciated by many Habs fans, I thought he did yeoman’s service for the most part and from time to time would come up with a huge goal. But he’s 38 and it might be time.

Douglas Murray is Douglas Murray. A bruiser who stops people in their tracks. But he’s incredible slow, he’s awkward with the puck, and he’s 34. It’s time for him. He also shoots left.

So our unrestricted free agent defencemen consist of three who shoot left and one right, with an average age of 35.75.

It’s time to give younger guys regular minutes.

We’ve seen how Nathan Beaulieu can skate and move the puck, although the Rangers series exposed some inexperience. He shoots left.

We know left-handed Jarred Tinordi can apply thunderous hits, is a good skater who handles the puck much better than Murray, and although he’s still learning, he’s extremely close to playing full time.

Greg Pateryn is 6’2″, 214 lbs, shoots right, and is smart and ready to go. It’s time to give him a quality look.

If Bouillon and Murray left, it would leave the team with 3 right-handed defencemen (Subban, Weaver, and Pateryn), and 5 lefties (Markov, Emelin, Gorges, Beaulieu, and Tinordi).

Dalton Thrower, who just signed a three-year entry level contract, needs some minor pro seasoning first before even being considered. He’s a right-handed shot but cracking next year’s lineup straight out of junior is asking way too much.

If Markov doesn’t re-sign, the power play, aside from Subban and maybe Pateryn, doesn’t seem to have much oomph. Unless a forward with a big shot is put back on the point the way Boom Boom Geoffrion was. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of forwards with big shots.

Markov should be resigned.  It’s only money, the franchise has plenty, and the guy’s not finished yet. And Emelin still needs some mentoring, as will Tinordi, Beaulieu and Pateryn.

So the blueline lineup could have some inexperience. Pateryn – 3 regular season total games, Beaulieu – 23 games, Tinordi 30. Not a lot of games for almost half the defence corps.

Anyone out there in unrestricted free agency that Bergevin could focus on? Matt Niskanen? Marek Zidlicky? Dan Boyle? Kimmo Timonen? Derek Morris? Willie Mitchell? Andrej Meszarov?

Nope.

Maybe through a trade? All kinds of packages could be put together, including getting the most bang for the buck by moving Dustin Tokarski now while he’s hot, as Mike Mckim suggests.

Or maybe Subban, Emelin, Gorges, Markov, Beaulieu, Tinordi, Weaver, and Pateryn just might do it.

Canadiens Drop Game 2

It began with such promise. The Canadiens came out flying, they were a team on a mission, a team that looked like they wanted it in a big way.

All four lines were motoring. The DD, Max, Gally combo especially was on fire, and after some great work during that first frame, Max slipped it by Henrik Lundqvist and the building was alive.

Happy days were here again. Strike up the band.

The joy lasted 17 seconds.

A puck off Josh Gorges, the score was tied just like that, and in the last minute of play Rick Nash beat Dustin Tokarski on his glove side, it became a 2-1 contest, and all that flying around and buzzing in the Rangers’ end was sucked down the drain.

The killer came in the second when Alex Galchenyuk was sent to the box for sort of tripping Carl Hagelin, who should have no problem getting a job as stuntman in Hollywood when his playing days are over. And with the man advantage, Martin St. Louis converted a nice passing play and it became a very discouraging 3-1 score for the visitors.

Montreal just couldn’t solve Lundqvist, no matter how well they were playing. And there was a young and inexperienced goaltender down at the other end who would need more than just one feeble goal from his guys to help matters.

That was that. A 3-1 win by New York, the Canadiens are now in a huge hole, and although Dustin Tokarski played well, he didn’t provide miracles, which we were relying on him to do in storybook fashion.

The fact is, although the Canadiens outshot the Rangers 41-30, they also flubbed way too many chances, chances that didn’t hit the net, pucks over the net, pucks shot wide, and of course far too many pucks that Lundqvist saw.

And then there’s Thomas Vanek, who can soon go to Minnesota and live happily after. If they still want him.

This guy isn’t close to what we saw in the regular season. You remember – the guy who revitalized Max and helped create a sensational big line, who made smart pinpoint passes, who hit the back of the net when the opportunity arose.

The guy who was turning out to be our best player. Who helped lead the charge in the final month. The guy we wanted management to shower with money. The one who was going to love Montreal’s hockey atmosphere so much. We had a sliver of hope that he’d stay and become a full-time Hab.

Now, for lack of a better description, he’s become a bum.

He’s making horrible decisions. His passes are well off. He looks lazy and not terribly interested. He’s a guy showing that when things get going, he doesn’t.

As far as the goaltending situation goes, maybe Peter Budaj should’ve played. Maybe Michel Therrien, in one surprising hunch to use Toker, ripped the guts out of Budaj. Maybe Budaj would’ve grabbed that Rick Nash shot and the teams gone to intermission tied 1-1.

It’s all hindsight now. It’s also very depressing.

Next game – Thursday in Manhattan. It’s desperate times.

Bust Those Bruins

Game day, with the Bruins in town and Carey Price still not ready. Although Brandon Prust apparently is.

If Peter Budaj is in goal, we’re going to need a slightly better outing from him than what we’ve seen recently. Budaj lost his last three starts and often looked shaky in the process. I hope his confidence isn’t wavering.

If it’s Tokarski, he looked good in his team’s 4-3 shootout win in Anaheim, and there’s no reason why he can’t stone the Bs too.

Whoever’s in goal needs help in front of him. Things have to be tighter. And there’ll be no Josh Gorges blocking shots, as the Dairy Queen mogul is gone for a month with broken bones in his hand.

Mike Weaver should pick up the slack nicely. He plays a similar game to Gorges.

I guess it should be mentioned too that the boys in front of Budaj scored a total of three goals in those three games he just lost, so it goes without saying that that needs some serious improving on.

Canadiens handled the Bruins in their two games played so far. A 2-1 win on Dec. 5 with Price in nets, and a 4-1 thrashing on Jan. 30 with Budaj between the pipes and which saw Tuukka Rask get yanked in the second period.

More of the same is in order for tonight. It would also be nice to see Thomas Vanek make a fine impression.

And Rene Bourque deserves to be a healthy scratch. At this stage of the game, giving 50% doesn’t cut it.

Habs Eaten By Coyotes

With Thomas Vanek in the lineup and Dale Weise a healthy scratch, the Canadiens drop a 5-2 decision to the Phoenix Coyotes, a game they were in until they weren’t.

Maybe it’s because Vanek played alongside smallish Tomas Plekanec and wee Brian Gionta, but he looked absolutely huge. He’s listed at 6′ at the Canadiens website, but 6’2″ everywhere else, including Hockey Database and Hockey Reference.

I’m going with those. He’s definitely bigger than 6′.

But that’s beside the point. The Canadiens lost, although it isn’t the end of the world. They just have to win in San Jose on Saturday to erase the bummer.

The Coyotes struck first when a long shot caromed off Douglas Murray, but Andrei Markov tied it with a big blast. Then with Lars Eller taking a tripping penalty in the offensive zone, Phoenix once again grabbed the lead and visions of Eller in the doghouse danced through many of our heads I’m sure.

But he was back out shortly after, which was nice to see. I hate seeing guys in the doghouse all the time. And if life was truly fair, Rene Bourque shouldn’t have played since last November.

The killer for the Habs came with just nine seconds left in the first period when Phoenix made it 3-1, and as they say, Antoine’s your uncle.

Montreal did narrow it to a 3-2 game in the second when Alex Galchenyuk scored on a 5 on 3, and Alexei Emelin had previously bulged the twine, but the goal was called back because Desharnais was stuck in the crease.

We could also say the Canadiens were all over the Coyotes in that second frame, but the home team had four penalties to Montreal’s none, and that might have something to do with it.

In the third, I listened to the game on the radio on my way to the airport to pick up Luci. That’s when I heard Phoenix make it 4-2 and then 5-2. It’s also when I got lost at the airport trying to find the parking garage.

Random notes:

Along with Weise, healthy scratches included George Parros and Francis Bouillon. Josh Gorges is back in Montreal having his damaged hand looked at.

The Canadiens apparently didn’t arrive in Phoenix until 3:00 am, but no excuses, right?

Habs outshot the Coyotes 26-23.

Thomas Vanek, although looking slightly out of sorts which is understandable, still managed to have three or four good chances to score, which is three or four more than Rene Bourque has managed in the last month.

Peter Budaj was less than sharp. We need Carey Price back, but with the final stretch and upcoming playoffs, it’s very wise not to rush things. Groin injuries take time. I remember suffering one myself after that private party with the players’ wives. Took me months to recover.

Newly acquired d-man Mike Weaver didn’t seem overly impressive in his debut but I think it’s unfair to judge after just one outing.

Next, the San Jose Sharks on Saturday at 10:00 pm ET. Another tough game, and it’ll be nice when this road trip is over. Not only because it’s a tough four games, but also because they’ve all been past my bedtime.

Maybe we’ll see a camera shot of grumpy Neil Young at the game. He’s been a season ticket holder in San Jose for years. Ex-Hab Terry Harper, who lives a couple of hours north of San Jose, also goes to games there from time to time.

 

Bummer in Pittsburgh

Part One

Habs lose 5-1 in Pittsburgh, and Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj, who was in relief of Carey Price, almost came to blows for some reason, and which was one of the more interesting parts of the night I suppose, along with, if you’re a Pens fan, Evgeny Malkin doing the quick step.

An even more interesting thing would’ve been a Ned Flanders goalie mask stuffed into Fleury’s smiling mouth.

Part Two:

It was a blowout and it’s sad. I was hoping for a bigger blowout. Something so huge, so shocking, that it might even force Marc Bergevin to panic.

Although he’s probably been trying for months to make moves but teams just aren’t all that interested in the moveable objects.

Douglas Murray, Francis Bouillon, Rene Bourque, Daniel Briere, Andre Markov, Raphael Diaz, Brian Gionta, Travis Moen, and George Parros just aren’t that popular with other teams for some reason.

It’s a head scratcher.

The team’s been ill since the beginning of December, back when it was only sort of freezing outside instead of feeling like we’re living on a friggin’ iceberg. Stores were gearing up for the big Christmas rush. The EGG line had been on fire up until then. The team had been fighting for first place in the east.

Life had been good. Then they started winning while sucking. And sucking when losing.

It’s been a walk on the mediocre side mostly since, except for that stunning and miraculous night when the team put it all together against a great Chicago team and thrilled us to no end.

It was a night to love. Brought back to another time, to years ago when the team was great, the joint was rockin’, and on a personal note, I had more hair.

But the Chicago game was then. A one time deal. We’ve cleared our eyes and heads and have come to the realization that the team needs serious fixing and management hasn’t done a thing in the fixing department.

No trades. Guys rarely brought up from Hamilton and when they are, they’re on the ice less than the anthem singer. The defence, aside from P.K., is slow and full of holes, like a pin cushion rolling along a table.

The coach can’t decide on set lines except for ones with guys who don’t deserve to be on set lines. Some play like they’re on morphine. Others have energy and take bad penalties and can’t hit the net. And the captain is shorter than Danny DeVito.

The team is sick right now, and instead of management giving it first aid, they stand nearby while the patient coughs up blood and prepares to meet its maker.

Everyone knows the Habs are in trouble. And now they play on Friday (against Detroit) which conflicts with my beer night at St. Hubert’s Chicken.

But I’ll watch it, hoping they put it all together and trick me once again into thinking they’re going good. Because the night after that, when the Caps show up, they’ll almost certainly stink again.

It’s been tough being a Habs fan for the past couple of decades.

P.K. And Gang Do Dallas

Those wild and wacky Montreal Canadiens. Just when we were mad at them, they go out and play a cool game (for the most part), find the back of the net a bunch of times, and skate away with a truly entertaining 6-4 win deep in the heart of Texas.

Of course we can’t forget that they almost blew it in the third period to the pesky Dallas Stars, giving up two quick ones after leading 4-2, and visions of a Carolina-like meltdown danced in our heads. Or mine at least. I shouldn’t speak for anyone else.

But Lars Eller soon after restored the lead, Max salted it away with an empty netter, and frankly, except for the brief coming apart at the seams in the third, I think the boys played their best game in over a month, even though they allowed four goals.

It makes my heart soar like a Chinese Rusty-cheeked Scimitar-Babbler.

P.K. Subban enjoyed some mighty fine moments, weaving and stickhandling, passing well and sometimes using his feet, capping it all with a goal and two assists and looking like the Norris Trophy winner we know and love.

Max tallied twice and added a couple of helpers. DD had two assists and found himself in alone more than once. Snakebit Brendan Gallagher came through with a goal and an assist.

Even Travis Moen was in the thick of things, assisting on Eller’s go ahead goal and pummeling Antoine Roussel earlier on.

Josh Gorges was a warrior in the trenches and in my mind is the team’s true captain. Carey Price was excellent for most of the night. Lars Eller was dangerous.

So many guys showed up. A few didn’t but tonight is not a night to quibble.

Maybe that fiasco in Carolina, blowing a 3-0 lead, woke the guys up and they’re going to play like gangbusters from here on in.

The power of positive thinking.

Random Notes:

Dallas outshot the Canadiens 32-28.

Unlike the Carolina game where they took ten penalties and sat back and tried to win by blocking shots, this time they took just three minor penalties (and gave up a penalty shot), and played fire-wagon hockey throughout.

We want more like tonight. Fun to watch. A nice amount of goals. Lots of chances. Maybe the coaching staff and the players will agree that this is good, this freewheeling business.

C’mon guys, do it again on Saturday when the Sens show up at the Bell.

The Mayor’s Mouth

“I will be the mayor of all Montrealers,” said Denis Coderre said last Sunday when he was elected top dog of the city.

All Montrealers except David Desharnais.

“Allo? Un billet simple pour Hamilton pour David Desharnais svp… Hello? Can we get a one-way ticket to Hamilton for David Desharnais please…” tweeted Coderre during Sunday’s game.

I agree with players such as Max Pacioretty and Josh Gorges, and coach Mike Therrien also. This sort of thing isn’t going to help Desharnais. It’s kicking him when he’s down, by the new mayor of Montreal.

It’s one thing for fans to moan about DD’s lack of production in online chats. It’s the same as talking sports in a bar. And fans should complain about one lousy assist in seventeen games. But when the mayor says something like this, it hits the airwaves. It’s everywhere. Kind of a kick in the gonads.

I wonder how Rob Ford would handle the DD situation.

Desharnais must feel like a piece of shit. His family too.

Coderre says he’ll be the mayor of all Montrealers. Everyone except DD.

Swell Dames

Players and their families are gathering in Montreal as things get closer, and I’d like to give a big welcome to Myrtle Gionta, Gladys Moen, Henrietta Price, Ethel Gorges, Wilma Pacioretty, Bertha Bourque, Eunice Parros, Gertrude Prust, Mildred Bouillon, Daisy Drewiske, Hazel Emelin, and Rosemary Eller.

These ones are swell dames. Real lookers.

Welcome ladies. Apparently Schwartz’s steaks are as good as their smoked meat if you feel like dining out.

You see? I’m not even flirting. This is the new me and it hasn’t been easy.

I’m playing hard to get. Strategy.