If there’s any lingering doubt that Bob Gainey and company have been hard at work the last few years trying to find solutions to the mess they’ve found themselves in, you don’t have to look any further than this photo of the 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens – just two seasons ago.
The photo shows 24 players on the team.
In just over a year, 13 players from this photo, more than half the team, are gone – Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Mikhail Grabovski, Francis Bouillon, Mark Streit, Michael Ryder, Patrice Brisebois, Tom Kostopoulos, Mathieu Dandenault, Steve Begin, Mike Komisarek, and Brian Smolinski.
Only Carey Price, Jaroslav Halak, Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn Sergei Kostitsyn, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik, Guillaume Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre, and Ryan O’Byrne remain.
Then eliminate guys who came in a year ago like Robert Lang, Alex Tanguay, and Mathieu Schneider.
You can also delete George Gillett, Guy Carbonneau, Roland Melanson, Doug Jarvis, and probably a few others in suits I’m just not aware of.
Brian Smolinski, from that team of two years ago, seemed to understand what it meant to wear the CH. He’d get autographs of the legends he’d see around the Bell Centre, from the likes of Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Dickie Moore and Ken Dryden. He’d heard the stories growing up from his grandfather and father, and got personalized autographs for them from these Hall of Famers. He talked to them, and knew he was in the presence of greatness. But unfortunately, nowadays, there are very few Brian Smolinski’s coming to Montreal who appreciate what it all means. Alex Tanguay says he knew nothing about the Habs prior to arriving. The Russian guys wouldn’t have any understanding of the history, they grew up hearing about Pavel Bure and Igor Larionov, and come to North America simply for a better life. For a young goalie like Carey Price, forget about Dryden, Gump Worsley, or Jacques Plante. Those players were from a distant planet. Heck, Patrick Roy was ancient for Price, having left the Habs when Price was only eight years old.
For most of these young bucks, putting on a cherished Montreal Canadiens jersey doesn’t hold any more importance than putting on a Phoenix Coyotes jersey. Maybe if young Habs read a few books about the team and players who came before them, they might pick it up a notch.