Delusional? I Disagree

I think the Gazette’s Mike Boone is a great and colourful writer, and is part of a group of writers in various papers who I’ve followed and been fans of over the years. Maybe only Milt Dunnell and Jim Proudfoot , who were my heroes, captured my interest more.

But I take exception with one of his lines in his recent column in the Montreal Gazette.

This one –

“All but the most delusional among us realize the Canadiens compete in the National Hockey League’s Parity Division, a middle tier of teams, each of which can beat any of the others – and, on occasion, one of the elite teams – on any given night.”

I believe in the Montreal Canadiens much more than this. More than just a team langushing in the Parity Division that can sometimes beat an elite team. And I believe in them because I love them and look at the roster and like what I see. I’m not about to concede that I’ve been cheering lately for a team that barely stands a chance.

Of course I understand they’re not the 1958 or ’77 Habs or some of the Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers squad from the 1980’s, but I think the 2011-12 Montreal Canadiens can stand up against anyone in this season. I think the five-year plan started by Bob Gainey is just taking slightly more than five years, that’s all. But it’s still on track, still on course.

I think this edition of the Habs shows more than any of the dismal lineups we’ve seen for much of the 2000’s, and I think they deserve to be taken seriously and become excited about. They’ve added and subtracted, and all parts being equal, they’re better than last year and the year before, and the year before that.

I have eternal faith and belief. And this year, regardless of what anyone says, a strong team will be lacing them up in Montreal.  Carey Price is in goal. If Andrei Markov comes back we have one of the absolute premier defencemen in the league. We have the young and brilliant P.K. Subban and reliable Josh Gorges and Hal Gill and others lining up on the blueline. Up front, snipers abound, who, if they can all be on the same page at the same time, can be as potent as any team in the league. Don’t tell me that if Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Erik Cole, Tomas Plekanec, Scott Gomez, Max Pacioretty, and Andrei Kostitsyn are all having a good year, that this isn’t a nice-looking group that rivals any team in the league.

With this group, why are we considered only middle-of-the-pack? And not just by Mike Boone but by much of the hockey community.

I’ve been following the Habs in serious fashion for a long time, and I don’t think I’m delusional. What good is it being a fan if I can’t hope and believe? 

If they can put it all together, they are more than a middle tier team which on occasion can beat an elite team, as Mike says. All they have to do is go out and do it.

And I, as a believing fan, think they will.







16 thoughts on “Delusional? I Disagree”

  1. I agree Dennis. What a dumb thing to write. I’d call it ignorant but this guy is not. I agree that this team is better than last year and the Cinderella before that. We are bigger, more expereienced and more talented. We are better led – even though Gainey is still in the background. I can see some changes that still need to be made but we have a great core right now. We just need some luck around the injury front – I, for one almost fainted when I seen Gorges go down against TB. Very good sign that he has definittely healed. Now if Markov works out, we will be a powerhouse. I have been looking forward to this year for over a year. I couldn’t wait to see Hamrlik’s contract. And Spacek is determined to have a career year. Too many good things people to ignore. A little more size up front is the only area requiring attention. Mikey D loves Louis Leblanc and I desparately want to see what the hoopla is al about this kid as no others seem ready to take the one spot at forward available. Gallagher came close though.

    Nice to be back after this summer Dennis. Hope youre well.

  2. Washington is considered an elite team and what has it done lately? Yes they won the President’s trophy but so did Vancouver and both teams got nothing in the long run. We beat Washington with a much lesser team and Boston won because it had more drive than Vancouver did.

    I still think that had we won the first round this year we probably would have made it to the Conference Finals, maybe even the Cup finals. The year before we made it to the Conference Finals and if we hadn’t run out of gas then we would have made it to the Cup finals as well (I think two 7 game series killed us).

    The team this year is a lot better than it has been for almost two decades. Yes we don’t have a Stamkos or Ovechkin, but we do have talent here. I think one of the problems is our Coach. The style he’s preaching has some merit but overall it may be stifling the team a little. If they’d get rid of that damn dump and chase style of play for starters it would help!

    I think this year we have our best chance at a Cup win since 93. The problem is our Coach.

  3. As a Habs fan I find myself regularly switching back and forth from Plan-the-parade to The-Sky-is-Falling mode. That’s just how most of us roll.

    But I agree with Dennis that this year is going to be special. If we can avoid injuries and some key players play with the same amount of heart as young Brendan Gallagher did, I dare say we can go all the way.

    In spite of the above, I would like to say a few words in defense of Mike Boone.

    Mike Boone is a great writer and I’m pretty sure he eats hockey pucks for breakfast. There’s no question his opinions are based on sound judgment and solid facts. But there’s one thing about Mike that makes him quite unique among sports writers. In his articles, he often says something really negative about the Habs, which has become known as a Boone Reverse Jinx®.

    Your normal run-of-the-mill jinx usually happens when you say something great about the team like “Hey Price is playing great. Maybe he’ll get a SHUTOUT tonight”

    The Hockey Gods don’t like that kind of brazen cockiness and will punish you and your team severely for recklessly uttering the “forbidden word.” And before you can say “Cal Clutterbuck,” six ounces of vulcanized rubber finds its way behind Price.

    This is why we don’t even THINK of saying such things and banish anybody off Habs Island who is stupid enough to mock the “Thou shalt not say the word shutout” commandment.

    So, after many years of experiencing the wrath of the Hockey Gods, Boone realized something had to be done. So he came up with his patented Reverse Jinx® to keep the spirits happy and thereby increase the Habs chances.

    The Reverse Jinx® works like this. You write your usual pre-game report giving all the facts and figures and offering fair comment. Usually (but not always) near the end of the piece, you add a comment like: “but of course we’re way too small to beat the Flyers so who are we kidding…” or something like that.

    The effect of this is to rouse the Hockey Gods and get them on our side – or at least not make them angry at us for being too damn cocky.

    I know it sounds crazy and it is. But I think what we have here is just a mega version of the Boone Reverse Jinx® in action.

    He’s just Super-Sized his usual game-day Reverse Jinx so it would cover the whole season and take us to the promissed land.

    Time will tell if it really works. But it’s cheap and legal. And it’s better than throwing a virgin into the volcano.

  4. Great stuff, Danno. I sort of like the Reverse Jinx theory, although I don’t practice it myself. But I do understand that the hockey gods don’t like the overconfidence stuff and so maybe this is what it’s all about. I know Mike loves the Habs and he’s trying to be realistic about things, but we think we’re realistic too when we say the Canadiens have an elite team if everyone is firing on all cylinders. That’s the key. No injuries and no slumps and I stack this club up against anybody. Did you notice the play last game when Kostitsyn stopped short of going any further after slightly losing the puck along the boards? The announcer called it a soft play, and so do I. I hate seeing that kind of thing and if he’s going ot behave like that, Martin will have him warming the bench and Kostitsyn will be complaining once again that he doesn’t get enough ice time. And you’re absolutely right, Danno – if everyone can play with the enthusiasm of Gallagher, they’ll be a force. So many intangibles, but I like this team and believe in them.

  5. Darth, it’s true. What’s an elite team? A team like Washington and Vancouver who fail miserably every year in the playoffs? That’s not an elite team to me because they’re obviously missing an important ingredient to get the complete job done. Everyone says the Canadiens don’t have the size, but adding Cole helps greatly in size and scoring. They have to get their noses dirtier in front of the net. And if they can tweak a couple of things and stay healthy, they can surprise the experts but they’re not surprisng me. Because I know this is a good club.

  6. Mayo, great to have you back. Hope you had an excellent summer. You’re so right about the experience thing, especially with Subban. With him stepping it up more and Gomez promising to, along with everyone being together for another year, I think they have as good a shot as anybody in the league. Cole is a nice addition, and I’m hoping Yemelin can make the club and become a real thumper who can also get the puck up sharply. And yes, when Gorges seemed to get hurt my heart stopped too. But he was back out a minute later and it was s igh of relief. Thanks Mayo.

  7. Dennis I freaked out when Kostitsyn made that soft play. He just dumped the puck blindly around the boards in our end which led to Tampa regaining possession and to Stamkos scoring. So careless and lazy. I hope this was just a preseason mistake caused by lack of really giving a shit and that the dangerous Belarusian Beast emerges in time to take care of the Leafs on Thursday.

    I really do believe this preseason crap is mainly a money-maker for both the league and the Habs. That is why the veterans are only giving about 75% and saving it for when it really matters. Montreal plays more preseason games than anyone precisely because there is an unlimited demand to see the team. Not just in Montreal but across the country and around the world.

    They charge regular admission prices for these mediocre exhibition spectacles. Geoff Molson must be thinking he could probably get people to pay good money just to see a donkey wearing a Habs uniform.

    The preseason is just a passing cloud. The sun will shine again.

  8. I agree, Danno. And I read somewhere where Roy MacGregor wrote that if a team can charge big prices and if these preseason games are good enough to be televised, then fans deserve to see more of the regular team and not mostly prospects. It actually burns my ass very much to see this and good for MacGregor for having his say.

  9. I really respect Roy MacGregor Dennis. He had the guts to expose the Senators years ago when they intentionally lost games (tanked) in order to get a better draft pick. He took a lot of heat for saying that was wrong and the fans pay good money expecting their team to at least try and win.

    There’s a lot of pressure on sports journalists to just write stuff that promotes the team no matter what and to keep quiet about anything that could affect the team’s bottom line. And if they don’t toe the line, the newspaper risks losing the ad revenue that pays their salaries.

    We need more guys like Roy MacGregor.

  10. i just see way too many IF’S spattered through out this page. elite teams are are not subject to all these IF’S, they just are elite. that doesn’t mean a middle tier team can’t win, ie. boston.

  11. Interesting fact to put things in perspective, Dennis.

    Mario Tremblay just mentioned that last year’s Stanley Cup Champions also had a dismal preseason record of 1-6.

    So….Everybody Chill!

  12. Danno, Hah! I didn’t know that and it’s great news! I bet there’s been lots of examples of lousy preseasons becoming great regular seasons. The Habs are a good team that haven’t gotten it together just yet. It’ll come.

  13. Dennis, just out of curiosity I checked to see on the Boston site. The Bruins actually had a 1-4 record before they went to Europe to play two exhibition games there which they won against the Belfast Giants and the Liberec Tigers…

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