Tag Archives: Steve Begin

Surprising Reaction To The Latendresse Trade

It seems there’s more fans than I thought who feel moving Guillaume Latendresse was another bad Bob Gainey decision and should never have happened.

I don’t know why. Are we patient babysitters or do we need this team to win?

The team is struggling with offence. It’s a rarity when someone other than Plekanec, Cammalleri, or Gionta light it up. It was expected of Latendresse, along with several others such as Max Lapierre and Max Pacioretty, to do their share in this department. But Latendresse talled two goals and one assist in 23 games, which in my book, are underachieving numbers for a guy who’s supposed to be an achiever.

Yes, he’s only 22 years old and probably hasn’t reached full potential yet. But what if he has? Can the organization afford to wait around and be patient when they’re sitting far down the standings and need to make some kind of small move up the ladder right now? And at 22 years old, a player should be a textbook case of energy, something I didn’t see much of at all from him. I often saw a player going throught the motions out there, like he had the job won.

Latendresse wasn’t helping the team win at all. Cammalleri, Gionta and Plekanec have been. So has Travis Moen and Roman Hamrlik and several others. But at what point in this season did we say after a game, “Wow, Latendresse was great tonight.” Was there a time?

He may or may not have a good NHL career, it remains to be seen. At this time, it doesn’t look like it to me. The average career in this league is about five years, and only those who produce and get the job done in one way or another last longer than that. He’s a player expected to provide offence and hasn’t provided this.

If I look back at players who have left Montreal, I think right off the bat to Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos. These were guys who left it all on the ice, who played every game like it could be their last, and I was sad to see them go.

In Latendresse’s case, I feel much differently.

He wasn’t helping the Habs, he was invisible on many nights, and so it was time.

Good luck in the future to Guillaume Latendreese with whatever team he ends up with. May he have a long career. It’s just too bad he couldn’t do the job in Montreal.

2003-04 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 53 24 25 49 66          
2004-05 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 65 29 49 78 76 6 6 4 10 7
2005-06 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 51 43 40 83 105 5 3 2 5 8
2006-07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 16 13 29 47          
2007-08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 73 16 11 27 41 8 0 1 1 19
2008-09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 56 14 12 26 45 4 0 0 0 12
2009-10 Montreal Canadiens* NHL 23 2 1 3 4          
2009-10 Minnesota Wild NHL Statistics Unavailable          
  NHL Totals   232 48 37 85 137 12 0 1 1 31

All The Best For Tom Kostopoulos

One of my favourite Habs is a Hab no longer. Tom Kostopoulos has signed a three-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes. Hopefully he’ll be better appreciated in Carolina.

Kostopoulos was never a star, and will never be a star, but he’s as important as most any other on a team. He fights bigger men, he’s the definitive team player, he works harder than hard, he digs deep in the corners where bigger stars refuse to go. He’s just not an impact player, far from it, and at the moment, Montreal needs impact players.

Last year on the Quebec TV show 100%, Michel Beaudry, to the chuckles around him from Michel Bergeron and Jean Perron, called him Kostfuckupolos because Beaudry thought the team should be playing Steve Begin more.  Beaudry was fired for this, but that’s the sort of thing Kostopoulos had to put up with from certain brutal media types in Montreal.

This is a guy who earns his money and gets no respect, except from a couple of important ones – his teammates and many fans. I hope he does fantastic down south. Carolina’s lucky to have him.

Steve Begin Begins A New Life In Dallas

For five years we watched Steve Begin report to work with steel toes and a lunchpail. We watched a guy who earned his money, who toiled as a grinder with the Montreal Canadiens, a plumber, a fourth-liner. But being a plumber and a fourth-liner didn’t mean he wasn’t an important player, although lately he’s been a healthy scratch. The Canadiens simply have too many good young players vying for jobs with the big team. Gregory Stewart, Matt D’Agostini, Kyle Chipchura, and expecially Max Pacioretty have all shown they belong, and unfortunately, Begin’s days became numbered.

Steve Begin gave everything he had with the team. He fought bigger foes, often in a losing cause, went into the corners, crashed nets, and would even score a big goal now and then. He was, and is, a player most teams and coaches would like to have. The only complaint I have is that he would sometimes take poorly-timed penalties. But I appreciate the kind of player Steve Begin is, and I hope he has a long career in the NHL, starting with his brand new team, the Dallas Stars.

The player coming Montreal’s way is 28 year old defenceman Doug Janik, Defencemen are valuable commodities, and even though Janik may play mostly in Hamilton for now, the old adage that you can’t have enough good defencemen holds true. Maybe down the road he’ll become a solid blueliner in Montreal.

What else does Bob Gainey have up his sleeve? Between now and next Wednesday, I’m sure there will be more movement from Montreal. The team needs to get stronger. Have you looked at the standings lately?

Latendresse Continues His Fine Play As He And His Team Bonk The Preds

It wasn’t exactly a barnburner, this 3-2 win by the Canadiens over the visitng Nashville Predators. It was a tight, mostly non-eventful mid-week game in the middle of winter in a time that is often referred to as the dog days. 

 

In fact, the most excitement came in the last minute when the Habs tried a dozen different ways to score on the empty net. To no avail, but it was frenzy-packed.

 

But they got their two points, they didn’t take a lot of silly penalties, and all’s well in the land of Habdom.

 

Guillaume Latendresse, who has proven that he’s a solid, if not a star player who punches in and out and earns his paycheck, opened the scoring for Montreal. He’s come a long way, from the World Juniors when he was basically the 13th forward, throughout his time in the big leagues where he’s struggled, been the subject of trade talks, been a healthy scratch at times, and he’s stuck with it, obviously worked hard, and showed that he belongs as a regular, even though it’s often as a fourth-liner.

 

Latendresse, along with the other grinders Tom Kostopoulos, Steve Begin, and Maxim Lapierre, have all been major cogs and big reasons why the team is rolling.

 

And one little thing about Kostopoulos and Begin. These guys stick up for their teammates, play with an edge, and get into their fair share of scraps where, sadly, they often lose, as Begin tonight did against Jordin Tootoo.

 

But the point is, they get in there and get dirty, bless their hearts. And God bless ice packs.

 

Too bad Geoges Laraque has been such a letdown and injury-ridden. He could be out there pounding heads instead of poor and bruised-up Kostopoulos and Begin. 

 

MAJOR OBSERVATION

 

Radek Bonk was in the lineup for the Preds. This ex-Hab from 2005 to 2007 has the best name as far as I’m concerned. I wouldn’t mind having the name ‘Bonk.’  Dennis Bonk. Maybe Denny Bonk. The Bonker.

Reminds me of the name of a guy I went to high school with. His name was Johnny Coull, and of course with that name he was president of the student council.

 

Imagine having a name like Johnny Coull? How cool is that?

 

The two Andrei’s, Kostitsyn and Markov, rounded out the scoring for Montreal. Alex Kovalev came close. Although you’re right, close doesn’t count.

 

ENEMY WATCH

 

Boston beat the Islanders 2-1. Grrrrr. I don’t even want to go there.

Tampa Bay defeated Philadelphia. Hah!

Halak and Mates Punch The Clock And Put In A Good Shift

They reported for work at Madison Square Gardens, punched the clock, settled in, worked hard, and took it to the hometown Rangers 6-3. And in the process, the Canadiens leapfrog both the Rangers and Flyers in the standings, and now sit behind only Washington and Boston for top spot in the east.

 

The storyline easily could be Robert Lang, who potted three big goals. Or the storyline could be two big power play goals, something the Habs have missed for most of the first half of the season. Or the story could have been a disciplined game with only a handful of penalties taken, or also the work again of Maxim Lapierre, Steve Begin, Guillaume Latendresse and the other blue collar boys.

 

But for me, the biggest storyline was the great play of Jaroslav Halak in goal. Carey Price is still out and looks like it might be a while, and Halak has looked shaky at best in most previous starts. But not tonight. He was solid from start to finish, made the big saves, and looked confident and in control.

 

This was a nice win tonight. Especially considering the team is without Koivu, Higgins, Tanguay, Price, Dandenault, and Georges Laraque. Although truthfully, Laraque has contributed very little so far this year.

 

Now it’s back home to meet the Leafs tomorrow night. The team has to keep it going. And Halak has to look as good as he did tonight.

 

If the team continues to play like this, the future looks bright.

 

Game Note:

 

Pierre McGuire talks too much. If he’s such a brilliant hockey mind, why hasn’t a team hired him and paid him several million dollars to lead them to the promised land?

Another Night, Another Hero. This Time – Maxim Lapierre

Maxim Lapierre, in front of what seemed like hundreds of fans wearing Montreal sweaters in Florida, did what Andrei Kostitsyn did the other night. The much-improved forward scored three big goals, like Kostitsyn, in leading his team to another big win, this time 5-2 against the Panthers.

 

This isn’t the first time Lapierre’s had a big game this year. But it’s the first time he’s scored a hat trick, and it was nice to see Guy Carbonneau put the blue collar worker on the ice with Florida’s net empty to let him try to get that third, which he did with only seconds left.

 

It was a fine win, and everyone played well. And without sounding overly-optimistic, it really looks like the team has picked it up a serious notch.

 

Now it’s on to Tampa Bay for a Tuesday night visit, and of course we need the two points to end off 2008.

 

And right now, as you’re reading this, Steve Begin’s cheekbone is still smarting after his enthusiastic scuffle with Anthony Stewart.

 

Lapierre and Begin. Doing their part for the team. You gotta love it.

 

Game Notes:

 

This was the Canadiens’ 3000th franchise win and puts them into fourth place in the east.

 

It’s a curious thing about Maxim Lapierre. I see a hard-working, valuable player for the Habs, while  announcers like Gord Miller and Pierre McGuire keep reminding us of how much Lapierre is disliked by opposing players around the league. Frankly, I think these guys in the booth are just blowing smoke. 

 

How much fun must it be to be a snowbird spending your winters in Florida and going to see your team, the Canadiens, when they come-a-calling. There were so many folks in the stands wearing Habs sweaters, and cheering like crazy. Surely it must piss off Panthers fans who must endure this in their own building.

These Habs fans even did the “Carey” chant, and also sang both the ‘na na na, goodbye’ song and the ‘ole’ song. It was almost like watching the game in Montreal.

 

ENEMY WATCH

 

The Rangers won 5-4 over the Islanders, which is bad news. Why oh why, Islanders, do you have to be so lousy?

 

 

Kovalev Outstanding In Habs 4-3 OT Win Over Buffalo.

It was only right that Alex Kovalev would be the goal scorer in overtime. He was dominant all night, and I can only hope that the Kovalev naysayers of the world saw him perform tonight. He was at the top of his game. A force. The slickest gunslinger on the ice.

Not to mention the fact the he’d taken a bad penalty shortly before that could’ve cost the team dearly, and then came back with the big goal. Nothing like a little drama to spice up a Saturday night.

 

Hey Mike Milbury, get a load of that!

 

Steve Begin also soared like an eagle. He was the sparkplug in the third period when the Habs finally picked it up a notch, pounding and thumping and creating havoc while also getting scoring chances. And Sergei Kostitsyn popped two goals and continues to rock after getting the strap by the coach a couple of weeks back.

 

And Jaroslav Halak has provided darn fine goaltending while Carey Price has been absent.

 

What a great win. I scared the cat when Kovy scored.

 

Game Note:

 

It’s interesting to note that while Sergei Kostitsyn was benched by Carbonneau, brother Andrei stepped it up. And now that Andrei is sidelined, Sergei’s stepped it up.

 

Carolina’s in Sunday night to lose to the Habs before the Christmas break. Kovalev’s going to be great in this one too.

 

  

Canadiens Take It to The Rangers And Play A Fine, Fine Game

 

I’d say there’s a lot of things to smile about tonight. This solid 6-2 win over the NY Rangers had to be the Canadiens’ best game of the season. Everyone contributed, and although Alex Kovalev has now gone 15 games without a goal, he was effective and creative, and at least managed an assist.

 

From the beginning, when Bobby Rousseau, Pocket Rocket, Guy Lafleur and others including old Rangers greats like Andy Bathgate and Harry Howell, were introduced, it was an outstanding night. This was the first time I’d seen Rousseau in about 35 years. Lafleur got the chant, and everyone was applauded heartily. And rightfully so, Pocket got a standing ovation. If I could’ve been there, I would have been proud to give this little big man a big thank you.

 

And the team, for a nice, delightful change, was smoking.

 

This is the Montreal Canadiens we’ve been waiting for. Andrei Kostitysn has come alive, coincidently since his brother Sergei was sat down a couple of games ago. The grinders, Maxim Lapierre and Steve Begin, continue to pick it up a notch and this is a huge turn of events. Newcomer Matt D’Agostini scored again for the second night, and added an assist. And Georges Laraque earned his first point of the season with an assist on Lapierre’s second period goal.

 

There were no dumb penalties, no serious turnovers, no blunders whatsoever. It looks like a team coming together, and D’Agostini has produced while underachievers Guillaume Latendresse, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Ryan O’Byrne sit in the press box and think that maybe they should have done a bit better job.

 

The team seems to have tightened up, turned a corner, stepped it up, and maybe, just maybe, are fed up with their lacklustre start to the season and have decided to do something about it.

 

Let’s see a continuation of this Saturday when the New Jersey Devils are in town. I don’t even mind that I have to go to work tonight for a graveyard shift. This game has made my day.   

 

Game Notes:

 

The Canadiens wore the uniform of the 1915-1916 Habs, the team that won the first of 24 Stanley Cups. And Carey Price wore pads and gloves resembling the old leather ones, although these are state of the art, unlike the ones worn by Georges Vezina who was the goalie back then.

 

TSN’s Sportcentre listed their top ten Montreal Canadiens and I have no qualms with these choices.

 

1.  Maurice Richard

2. Jean Beliveau

3. Doug Harvey

4. Guy Lafleur

5. Howie Morenz

6. Jacques Plante

7. Patrick Roy

8. Larry Robinson

9. Henri Richard

10. Ken Dryden

 

 

 

Carey Price And The Grinders Come Up Big

Bell Centre

Montreal

November 29, 2008

Montreal vs. Buffalo

 

First period:

 

Good, spirited, fast-skating, lively first period. The Canadiens look good. And of course, they’re doing all the things they’re really good at – turning the puck over and the other team scores (Higgins this time), and not scoring themselves. They’re really good at both of these things.

Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, Tomas Plekanec, Higgins, the Kostitsyn’s etc. etc, – they’re really, really good at not scoring. Especially on the power play and even strength. 

 

But I’ve got faith.

 

Second period:

 

Andrei Kostitsyn’s backhander finds the twine, so I take back anything bad I said about him.

 

Like I said in the first period, one of the things we’re really good at is giving the puck away, and this time it’s Josh Gorges, which leads to a Tomas Vanek goal. It’s kind of funny in a morbid sort of way. Every game it’s a different player.

 

Steve Begin scores on a beauty play with Maxim Lapierre. That’s what I like. Grinders producing when the big guns are silent.

 

Andrei Markov, on a snappy set-up by Saku Koivu, gives the Habs a 3-2 lead. I’m on the verge of taking back every bad thing I’ve ever said about everybody.

 

Third period:

 

I take back every bad thing I ever said. The boys played good tonight and won 3-2. Oh, of course there were the bad moments – Sergei Kostitsyn taking a foolish penalty (several, in fact), and the team had real trouble getting the puck out of their end late in the game, but they played well and they won.

 

I’m proud of them.

 

 

Game Notes:

 

Maxim Lapierre played a great game tonight, probably his best of the year. We saw several flashes of this last year, and finally the guy shows us again.

 

This Sabres game marks the beginning of ten home games out of eleven. The boys play seven straight, starting with the Buffalo game, and continue with Atlanta, the Rangers, Devils, Flames, Lightning, and Caps all visitng the Bell centre.

The team plays one road game, in Carolina, and then comes back home again to greet the Flyers, Sabres, and Hurricanes.

 

In other words, they’re going to drive their wives and kids crazy for awhile, with the naps and pre-game meals and all that. Not to mention the other stuff.

And hopefully, a long home stand means a long winning streak.

 

Canadiens Find Their Legs In The Third And Send A Message To The Flyers

One thing’s for sure. Being a third-period hockey team is better than being a first or second-period hockey team.

 

The Montreal Canadiens are a classic third period team, which is good and bad. Sometimes, an exciting late comeback can be too little, too late. But other times, they pull it out in magnificent fashion. 

 

Like tonight.

 

It’s a beautiful thing. Waltz into Philadelphia to meet the enemy for the first time since getting bounced by this team last spring, and skate away with a tidy 5-3 win. A nice two points.

 

But it was hit and miss for awhile.

 

Too many penalties by Montreal in the first two periods disrupted any flow they might have had. A couple of goalposts were hit by Alex Kovalev. They killed a big two-man short penalty late in the first. Carey Price was solid on way too many Flyers chances. Mike Komisarek threw his weight around. Maxim Lapierre got into it with the obnoxious Steve Downey. And scuffles occurred periodically throughout the entire game.

 

A typical Montreal-Philadelphia game.

 

But they got it together in the third. It makes me proud.

 

The Canadiens went into the third period losing 2-1, but Roman Hamrlik, on a beauty of a play by Andrei Kostitsyn and Alex Kovalev, tied it up.

 

Then Mike Komisarek and Robert Lang scored to make it 4-2. The third-period team had come alive. Philadelphia got close again, but Steve Begin iced it into the empty net for the fifth goal.

 

Such a nice win. Every Habs fan should be in a great frame of mind right now.

 

I’ve just one little concern. Why is Saku Koivu so quiet? Is his foot still sore?

 

Next Up!

The Canadiens home opener on Wednesday at the Bell Centre against the Boston Bruins. This will be exciting. The atmosphere will be amazing. And when you see those rotten kids in Habs uniforms on the ice with the flags, remember, that could’ve been me.

 

It just doesn’t seem right.

 

Game Note:

The Kostitsyn boys were impressive once again. Both these guys are all-stars.