Tag Archives: Elliotte Friedman

Canadiens Win With Pride And Passion

The series is all even now, with the Canadiens beating the Ottawa Senators 3-1, and it was they way they won it that tugs at the heart strings.

Unless you’re a Sens fan of course.

Carey Price bounced back and was splendid throughout. Just when we were ready to ship him off to Palookaville.

Rene Bourque showed he has it in him to be an important power forward, and was a serious presence, banging enemy bodies and providing much-needed offensive spark, which is what a premier power forwards show on a regular basis. If only Bourque could do this game in and game out. Maybe he will from here on in.

Ryan White opening the scoring after intercepting an Erik Karlsson pass, and then showed guts and fire through to the final siren.He wasn’t silly, he was effective, and along with his scoring, managed to get under the Sens skin in a way that saw no trips to the sinbin.

Brandon Prust banged and jawed and skated miles, and again showed wonderful leadership, including keeping Bourque’s spirits up on the bench after Bourque was shaken up.

The list goes on – the sensational Subban, the kids Galchenyuk and Gallagher, and all through the lineup, the Habs were a team with intensity and drive, and they did it all without Lars Eller, Max Pacioretty, and Brian Gionta in the lineup. Personally, I’m bursting with pride for the boys. They weren’t to be denied, they oozed emotion, and emotion goes a long way in big games.

Emotion and a great goalie. And both were on display in fine fashion on this Friday night at the Bell Centre.

Random Notes:

The Canadiens outshot Ottawa 34-30.

Elliotte Friedman mentioned it, and it’s absolutely true. When Brendan Gallagher has one of his many great games, he picks up his teammates, the building comes alive, and magic often happens. Gallagher scored to make it 2-0 before the Sens got on the board, he played hard all night, and I can’t wait to see the Cassie Campbell story on Brendan’s dad, which apparently will be shown on Sunday.

Carey Price took a skate to his mask and lost a tooth, which he promptly took over to Graham Rynbend at the bench. The episode was an important example of Price’s intensity and guts, and he looked like he meant business on this night. It’s not fun losing a chiclet, as you can well imagine.

Throughout this game Price stood his ground, made the saves, and showed the mark of a true champion. Just excellent to witness. And he must be feeling good about the job he did.

Michael Ryder scored Montreal’s insurance marker, after nice work from David Desharnais and Bourque. How great it is when guys are contributing, guys we need. Just very proud of everyone.

All they have to do now is do it again in Ottawa on Sunday.

CBC’s three star selection were Price, Gallagher, and Bourque. Seeing Price as first star will take up several minutes of The Carey Price Story, coming someday to a theatre near you.

Raising The Cup

Cup

Unless these folks in New York decide to come to their senses, quit this nonsense, and give us a lousy 48 game asterisk season, maybe it’s just fine that the Cup probably won’t be awarded this year. The Habs aren’t quite ready yet. Next year they could be, and so thank you Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr and all the wild and crazy gang for not giving us hockey this year, thus allowing the Canadiens to blossom into a force to be reckoned with next year.

In fact, I think I’ll raise a cup right now. My coffee cup.

In the meantime, don’t just watch other sports, check sports betting options and make some quick cash. This is how I’m going to retire to a life of leisure. Betting on sports. I know of no other way.

Here’s what the two sides seem to be down to, from Elliotte Friedman’s fine piece in Friday’s CBSsports site – Bitterness Grows . Maybe you’re trying to make sense of all this, like me, and Elliotte’s explanations below might help somewhat.

Cap: League wants it to be $60 million next year, and Commissioner Bettman is trying keep it low to protect the floor from being too far from the ceiling. The players want $65 million for freer movement.

Contract length: League wants six years (other team’s free agent) or seven (your own). Players want eight overall.

Pensions: Players are determined to get what was previously agreed to. And they should.

CBA length: Both accept 10 years. League wants opt-out after eight, as long as intention to do so is after Year 6. And the CBA ends June 30. Players want opt-out after seven, with the CBA ending September 15.

Variance: League has offered a 30 per cent difference per season, but also that no season in any multi-year deal can be more than 60 percent lower than the highest-salaried one.

Buyouts: There will be two compliance buyouts per team before next season, although both will count against the players’ share of Hockey Related Revenue.

Coming Clean

Whenever I read a story from CBC’s Elliotte Freidman or Bob McKenzie at TSN or any of the other hockey guys telling us about the lockout and how it’s going, I always notice a bunch of comments that basically say the same thing; Who cares. I’ve moved on. Yawn.

So I’m hesitant to talk about it because lots of people don’t care.

Okay, I’ll be honest. It’s a great excuse to stay away because frankly, most of the time I don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t forget, I was the guy who used to get 10 out of a 100 on my math exams. If I managed 40 out of 100, I felt like Einstein. These words – “fixed targets, make-whole provisions” and the rest is all Greek to me. The only words I know are “He shoots, he scores, Gomez misses the net, Marchand goes for the knees, and Bugsy McSwain takes a dump at centre ice.”

It does seem like the two sides are getting closer though, and it’s possible that hockey will be back in December. If they can figure out that “make-whole” thingy.

Oh, oh. I hear a bunch of “who cares.”

 

Friedman Answers Booche’s Question About PK

The other day I wrote about CBC’s Elliotte Friedman going on about how PK Subban won’t win the Calder Trophy because PK annoys too many people. Max and Chara Talk, And PK Annoys

Today, Booche (Andre Bouchard) wrote telling me he’d asked Friedman recently about Subban’s chances and I’ve decided to show the entire question and answer from the two of them.

Thanks for this, Booche.

Elliotte,
 
From your perspective, how manufactured are the negative sentiments towards PK Subban? Obviously Hab fans are living by the “see no evil speak no evil” side of the sword, but I encounter fans of other teams on a daily basis who scream to the rafters regarding PK Subban’s “lack of respect” and his “dirty” play. I can’t help but think how much these folks have been influenced by another CBC employee.  Will all this negative attention affect the odds of PK being nominated for the Calder?
 
Thanks and keep delivering those Monday 30 thoughts, one of the best regular hockey pieces found on the internet as far as I am concerned.

- Andre Bouchard

Andre,

Glad you like the column.

I do think Subban’s Calder candidacy is being hurt by some of the things that have happened this year. Maybe not fair, but fact. He deserves a lot more credit than he’s getting, considering the role he’s played on a decimated blue-line.

However, it’s not fair to solely blame Don Cherry. Before the season started, I asked 10 coaches and GMs who deal with the AHL to submit players who were ready to make an impact in the NHL. Every one named Subban. Every one. But one person said the only thing he hated about the rookie was that he started things and let others fight those battles. So this kind of thing predates Don’s rants.

Earlier this year, I asked Subban about all of the things he says, and he replied, “That’s me,” adding he feels he needs to be that way to be at his best. If that’s his choice, it comes with consequences. But it doesn’t sound like he’s too worried about them.

- EF

Max And Chara Talk, And PK Annoys

I see that Zdeno Chara has had a chat with Max Pacioretty sometime recently and that’s good. If Chara spoke from his heart, saying he worried for Max and never wanted to hurt but simply erase him from the play, then that’s excellent.

Of course, it isn’t good if Chara warned Max to never, ever push him again after scoring an overtime goal.

Maybe now Mark Recchi will step forward and say he was out of line for saying Max embellished his injury. Or is the former Hab still having trouble removing his foot from his mouth?

Elliotte Friedman on rookie of the year -  He chooses Jeff Skinner, but also had this to say -

“You know who is not getting enough respect? John Carlson.
He led all rookies in ice time, both for the season and per game. He was six points behind Kevin Shattenkirk, who led diaper-dandy defencemen in scoring. Carlson and Karl Alzner became the shutdown pair on a team that changed its system at Christmas and charged at the end to win the East. That’s pretty good.

P.K. Subban’s chances are hurt because he annoys people. That’s unfortunate, because he had a major impact on a decimated blue-line. But Carlson had a better year.”

Carlson had a better year? He had 7 goals and 30 assists for 37 points, plus 44 PIM’s. PK notched 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points and 124 PIM’s. The Canadiens relied heavily on PK after losing Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges for the season and Jaroslav Spacek for 23 games. PK is such an impact player that the Bruins will be concentrating hard on him as he can be a game-breaker.

And he annoys people? What does that have to do with anything? If Bobby Orr had annoyed some, does that mean he wouldn’t have won all those Norris’? It’s about skill, impact, importance to team, points and other intangibles. It shouldn’t be about whether PK annoys some players or not.

Am I wrong or was Friedman’s statement one of the sillier things you’ve seen lately? Hall of Famers and others throughout the decades annoyed other players too.

Wayne Gretzky used to tell Gary Lupul he was useless and didn’t belong in the league. Gretzky was a known trash-talker and that annoyed others I’m sure. Alexander Mogilny, after being asked by his Vancouver Canucks’ coach (who I won’t name) to do more backchecking, replied, “And how much money do YOU make?’ To me, that’s also pretty annoying.

Ted Lindsay would call Rocket Richard every hateful and racist name he could think of. That must have been tremendously annoying.

But PK’s a rookie and is supposed to behave. The unwritten rule is that you can’t be annoying until you’ve been around a few years. Too bad.

 

Being A Grinch About Gomez

The title of the YouTube clip says “Scott Gomez Funny Interview.”

This interview, which can be seen at the bottom, has stuck with me over the months because when I originally saw it on a CBC broadcast, I thought it was not even close to being funny, was pre-planned and embarrassing, and basically quite stupid. 

Near the end, Gomez starts going on to Elliotte Friedman about wearing a green suit and the Grinch and all that, and as he walked away, which isn’t seen here, he peeks back at Friedman to see his reaction, obviously extremely pleased with himself for being one of the amusing characters of the game.

Gomez seems to have placed a large amount of emphasis on being a great guy. He taps opposing goaltenders on the pads after a nice save, smiles at inappropriate times - like when his team is losing or his teammates are in a scuffle - and doesn’t want to make waves on the ice. He wants to be the funny and interesting Scott Gomez. But in the meantime, he’s not helping his team, and that’s inexcusable.

I’m all for colourful characters in the league. Lord knows there’s not enough. I suppose it really started when helmets became mandatory and players began to look similar behind all the padding. Each year, before the season begins, players are instructed on how to go about an interview, how to say all the right things without really saying much at all. And yes, they’re scared, because if the wrong thing ever gets said and a ripple becomes a tidal wave, then things could go south for a player in quick fashion and there’s a bunch of guys on the farm biting at the bit to take his place.

So eveything and everyone is careful and it’s like listening to cardboard. And it’s why PK Subban, by being himself and a breath of fresh air, is looked at with caution around the league. He’s not like everyone else and no one knows what to think just yet.

But Gomez isn’t PK Subban. The act doesn’t seem to come from within the way it does with the young fellow. And PK plays with burning desire while Gomez doesn’t.

Here’s this nonsensical Grinch drivel which occurs near the end of the interview. Or maybe it’s just me who doesn’t find it funny.

Plus, as a bonus, a couple of others I didn’t laugh at either.

Elliotte Friedman Shares A Good Crosby/Habs Story

I thought Elliotte Friedman came up with an interesting little ditty in his CBC blog Elliotte Friedman. It involves The Kid, The House, and The Habs.

Friedman, in my books, is a star who hasn’t peaked yet in the sports media business.

Here’s what he said. And I think it’s what most have said also.

“(Sidney) Crosby gets ripped for not moving out of Mario Lemieux’s place until now (Joffrey Lupul, for example, did it on Twitter). When the Canadiens were imploding off-ice last season, he talked privately about how nothing similar happened to him for that reason.”

In English, here’s what it meant: Crosby announced a few weeks ago he was moving out of the Lemieux home and into his own place. Lupul made fun of it on Twitter. When the Canadiens were imploding off-ice in February 2009, Crosby and I had a conversation about it. He said that staying at Lemieux’s home for so long was the major reason nothing similar happened to him. He had a Fortress of Solitude, and it protected him from what was occurring with some of Montreal’s players.

CBC’s Elliotte Friedman Says It’s Time To Trade Price

Time for Canadiens to consider trading Price

January 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Posted by   Elliotte Friedman

Last week, one of my 30 thoughts concerned the Montreal goaltending battle. I asked a scout about Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price. He said that if Halak was made available, 10 teams would be interested. If Price was made available, everyone makes a pitch.

Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, questioned that. So, minutes after Price gave up an ugly OT winner to Andy McDonald last Wednesday night (a game I attended), I asked another scout for his take. After thinking about it for a few seconds, he grimaced and said, “I’d take Price.”

And that is why it’s time for the Montreal Canadiens to trade him.

Franchise goalie

I can understand Bob Gainey’s reluctance. You can see Price’s potential. He’s still only 22. Somewhere in there is the goalie who stoned the U.S. in that famous world junior shootout, then won the Calder Cup in his first two months as a professional.

Also, Price has the size advantage over Halak, and the trend in net now is go big or go home. Look at Marty Turco. He still has incredible passion and desire to play. But, the biggest criticism is that he’s too small. Next year, equipment is to be regulated by the size of the goalie. That’s not good for him.

Gainey could be sending a franchise goalie somewhere else. There’s no worse feeling for a GM.

Still, there is one major thing in Halak’s favour: right now, he is better than Price and gives Montreal more of a chance to win. That should be reason number one. But there are some other considerations, too.

No matter what everyone says about these two guys making the best of it, it’s a bad situation. They both want to be number one, and, what’s worse, each believes they should be number one. When you have a young goaltender feeling his way through his first starting job, he needs an experienced backup (who understands their role) to help with the bad times. These guys don’t have that, and other guys who know a heckuva lot more than me think it has hurt Price’s development.

Price would get full value

Also, Gainey was uncharacteristically outgoing about offering Halak to Philadelphia. There were also discussions with Dallas. Who knows how many others were approached. The fact Halak is still in les bleus-blanc-et-rouge tells us the Canadiens are not being offered enough. Do you think they get lowballed for Price? No way.

Gainey could hold a silent auction. Maybe someone has to take another salary with him. Maybe he gets two or three players or picks. At least, there are some nice options.

Both goalies are restricted free agents after this season, and it’s really hard to determine either man’s value. This allows Montreal to really understand what it has in Halak. Is he a legit number one? He looks like he could be, but nothing answers the question better than starting 25 games in a run for the playoffs.

Most importantly, the organization has to face the possibility that Price simply will not develop here. Look at highlights from three years ago and compare them to now. He simply isn’t the same confident guy. He’s on his second goalie coach, and needs a fresh start.

It would be good for him. It’s a risk, but the return would also be good for Montreal.


Canadiens Suck The Big One

I thought it was Elliotte Friedman, roving reporter for the CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada,, who said the most unbelievable thing tonight but I was corrected and I think now it was Glen Healy who said that for many Montreal fans, Alex Kovalev was as popular as Guy Lafleur.

Or was it Garry Galley?

Bob Cole, however, brought everyone back to their senses when he replied, “I don’t buy that for a second.”

I don’t buy it for a second either. That’s about as far out a statement as you can get.

I mention this because even though it’s not overly interesting, it’s at least more interesting than what we saw tonight from the Canadiens, a team on the playoff landscape bubble but didn’t play like it. In fact, they made the Ottawa Senators look like world beaters in a 4-2 lacklustre loss to the visitors.

How frustrating is that? The Sens showed up, the Canadiens should have stayed home and let the Hamilton Bulldogs give it a shot.

There’s really nothing more to say. Habs lose and Alex Kovalev was more popular than Guy Lafleur.

Random Notes:

Tomas Plekanec and Benoit Pouliot each scored for Montreal. That’s interesting, right?

Senators fathers were at the game. Being the despicable, low-down, dirty rotten bastard that I am, I’ll just mention that it’s too bad their sons didn’t lose on this night.

Sunday night, it’s the Rangers in New York. Will we see a good Habs effort or a bad one? Will the power play get back on track after going zero for six tonight? Will the goaltending be better?

The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind.


CBC’s Elliotte Friedman Writes How The Habs Have Hope

Canadiens’ situation far from a lost cause

April 24, 2009 02:00 AM | Posted by   Elliotte Friedman

It’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received: Never make important decisions in overly emotional moments. Right now, everyone in the Montreal organization should listen.

Take a step back, really think things through, and don’t make any major decisions in the immediate aftermath of the 100 anniversary letdown.

The Canadiens are at a crossroads, with a need for the most honest and extensive self-evaluation since Bob Gainey’s arrival. With the fans out for blood, it would be easy to offer up a series of public floggings/hangings to satisfy the mob. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s right.

That’s why it’s best that Gainey wants to stay. It was funny to hear the “Carbo! Carbo!” chants after the coach was fired, because many of the people yelling were probably the same ones phoning the radio shows and demanding his head in February. Those same people are angry at Gainey now, but would probably be yelling his name once the team lost three in a row under a new GM.

Unfortunately, the lack of patience in pro sports these days means one bad year can undo many great ones. Yes, this was a horrible season. Yes, it appears that his decision to elevate Carey Price was premature. But, if you go back and look at it objectively, there is no doubt the Canadiens are a better organization now than when he arrived in 2003. I can’t understand why that is even being debated.

By calling fans “bullies” and “assholes,” not to mention trashing Brian Lawton, Gainey showed his determination to stick it to anyone who thinks he’s no longer the right man for this job. The Gainey we saw in those two media briefings is the Gainey who once played a post-season game with one separated shoulder, the other dislocated. Some of his friends wondered if he could stand Montreal anymore, but he will do everything to prove his regime a winner, whether the fans and media like it or not.

In this kind of a maelstrom, the calmest survive. The furor is not comparable, but how many times during their playoff failures from 2003-07 did Ken Holland feel pressure to break up his post-Yzerman Red Wings? Maybe the talent level is not the same, but the precedent is. It takes a strong man to stand in the face of this and make the proper decisions. Gainey is that guy. (Of course, new ownership could change everything, but we’ll address that later.)

Personally, I see three situations that are most important for him to address:

1) The coach

This is the one concern I’d have about Gainey. He fired both Claude Julien and his personal, handpicked, successor. He has to get this right.

Pierre Boivin did him no favours by publicly stating the next coach must speak French. If Gainey believes that Kirk Muller or Don Lever or Marc Crawford or someone else who doesn’t speak French is the right guy, then do it. (If he wanted Bob Hartley, I’d think Hartley would already be working.) You ask any GM what advice they get when taking a job, and some variation of, “If you’re going to do the job, do it your way” undoubtedly is the answer.

Judging from his public commentary the last 36 hours, Gainey is going to do exactly that.

2) Carey Price

Okay, so we know he’s not going to have Patrick Roy’s immediate impact. But, he doesn’t turn 22 until August and Gainey made it clear the organization won’t quit on him as quickly as the fans have. This is a world junior gold medallist and a Calder Cup champion by the time he was 20.

But, both he and Gainey have some extremely important issues to address.

For the GM: Is Price being taught properly? People who’ve seen him a lot more than I do say they don’t recognize the way he plays now, compared to how he played before he got to the big club. At his best, Price never moves more than six inches to make a save. Now, he’s deep in his crease and always looking around – even after making a stop. You wonder if he knows where the puck is. Why is that happening? Why has he regressed? Gainey must make certain he has the right man teaching his star pupil.

As for Price, he needs to mature. Mocking the Boston fan in Game 2 and acknowledging the home jeers in Game 4 sent a bad message. To be great, you have to not care. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks – you have to be almost defiant.

It’s clear that he’s rattled. It’s clear that he’s lost some degree of confidence. But, as Tim Thomas said in the post-game, you can never let them know they bother you. This season, he showed up in much better physical condition. Next year, he must commit to showing up in better mental condition. A combination of improved instruction (from the team) and attitude (from him) will move him towards reaching his enormous potential.

And, the Canadiens must get him a veteran backup. Not necessarily someone who will take his job, but a goalie who can tutor him and show him through the tough times. Curtis Joseph has talked a great deal about how an experienced partner can help you through bad situations. Jaroslav Halak isn’t that person, simply because he’s a competitor and not that experienced. But a Ty Conklin type might be.

3) Young Players in The Big City

This, to me, is possibly the biggest issue facing the organization. The Canadiens do a great job of drafting and developing in Hamilton. However, the failure comes when they get to Montreal – and I’m not talking about on-ice performance. The off-ice rumours are so insanely crazy, you don’t know what to believe. However, it appears that some of them are having trouble handling Montreal’s temptations. Only a social leper can’t find something to enjoy in that city, but, it’s easy to go overboard.

I can understand how teams might think, “They’re young, but they’re adults – it’s up to them.” That’s not always true. The Penguins had enormous success putting Jordan Staal with Mark Recchi, Evgeni Malkin with Sergei Gonchar and Sidney Crosby with Mario Lemieux. The Canadiens would be best advised to start doing the same thing. They’ve already told players to stop going to certain clubs, but that’s just the first step. I can’t help but wonder if some of the younger ones who regressed this season did so because they couldn’t handle all the freedom.

Some of them – Kostitsyns – might be beyond repair and need an immediate change of scenery.

What’s next?

Obviously, Gainey is going to revisit the Vincent Lecavalier situation before the Cup winner’s no-trade kicks in July 1. For those who think his outburst napalmed any chance of such a deal, well, there’s reason to believe he can still pull it off, if he wants to.

First, the Lightning are so desperate to unload that contract and there aren’t a ton of trading partners (although the Kings may be very interested and have the prospects/cap room to do it). Second, Gainey was upset that his deal to get Marian Hossa at last season’s deadline fell apart – and it didn’t stop him from trading for Mathieu Schneider this year.

The rest of the roster concerns are well-known. There’s nothing wrong with building on speed and skill, but those players have to be tough. The Red Wings don’t fight anyone, but they don’t back down from anyone, either. The Canadiens don’t have enough players with that mentality. The organization needs to add edgier players. And, size at centre. Chris Neil and Mattias Ohlund would look good here, for example. But so would Jason Arnott, who didn’t want any part of the place when pursued a couple of years back. That brings us to maybe the biggest problem.

I can’t remember where I read it and don’t want to be accused of plagiarism, but whoever wrote, “The same people who booed Price last night will be the same people wondering why no free agents will sign here this summer” was bang-on. Look, we all know the Canadiens are a religion in Quebec. Everyone in Canada lives and dies with their teams. Nowhere does it go farther, however, than in La Belle Province. And, the people there must realize that it’s got to change.

Joining Arnott in the “No Thanks” brigade were Brendan Shanahan and Daniel Briere. French players describe situations where there family members have to hide at work because they’re bombarded with questions about why the team stinks or why their relative hasn’t scored in three games.

Life in the pressure cooker

Reporters covering the team say they’re getting 25 emails/phone calls a day about what players are doing away from the rink. These are supposed to be fans, not spies. When the La Presse story broke, and rumours of arrests engulfed the team, there were 30 TV cameras at the airport waiting for the charter from Pittsburgh. On the flight, players wondered which of them was going to be charged. That’s no way to live.

There is nothing wrong with having high expectations and demanding the best. But this is so far over the line that many players the Canadiens could use want nothing to do with it. The word on Montreal is: Best place in the NHL to play when you’re winning, hell when you’re losing.

The franchise, and the fan base, must have a true understanding of where it is. When the team arrived for training camp last September, players were told that nothing less than a Stanley Cup would be acceptable. Not surprisingly, a group that is very young and still learning crumbled under the pressure. It’s a valuable lesson for everyone in the organization, including the players. Many of them had too much, too fast and couldn’t handle such a challenge. You can’t come back with the same group, but there’s no need to completely destroy it. It’s important to see if the key young players learned from this season.

The Canadiens may be farther from the Cup than their fans hoped, but it’s far from a lost cause.