NHL 2011: Canadiens Have Much To Be Proud Of!

The immediate past might sting, but the future has much to be appreciated.

Last night, the Montreal Canadiens 2010-2011 season came to a halt in a nail-biting, heart-breaking loss to the Boston Bruins. In a series that could have ended positively for either team, there was no shortage of drama or excitement.

But for those of us that celebrate the sport like a religion in this town, this morning was a tough one to face.

While many are dissecting the “if’s, how’s, and why’s” of the past 7 games, I decided to do otherwise. Re-hashing the “what could have been” moments would only put me into a sadder state, and not one that I care to travel down; especially if I must be Hab-less for the next few months.

So instead, I threw on my “Bruins Suck” T-Shirt, and traveled backwards throughout a season that helped me realize Les Boys have done good, and will only get better.

This has been a rare season for the Montreal franchise. Facing months of adversity due to injury, the Club was forced to dig deep within the organization to find solutions that took them out of their comfort zone.

Markov and Gorges with season ending injuries early on in the campaign. Spacek and Cammalleri out for significant portions during the playoff drive. And clearly none of us will forget the Max Paccioretty injury, that left a city, as well as a nation, breathless.

But then there was Ryan White. A kid who probably should have had a full season in the NHL, got the call up.

We’ve been looking for a spirited player with hockey skills for years. Someone that has great hands, good vision, and a passion to protect his fellow team-mates without being a goon. Well I would suggest to Montreal that we have our man.

I’ve never felt more proud than I did when this young rookie stepped into Minnesota Wild’s Clayton Stoner, in response to a dirty hit against fellow Bulldog Aaron Palushaj.

I’ve never been an advocate of violence or fighting in hockey, but during that game, it became clear that Stoner was looking to instigate anything he could. But White had an answer, and I stood in my living room: smiling.

And Yannick Weber? When was the last time that we’ve seen a defenseman that has that much explosive speed from the defensive zone? He moves the puck with clarity, speed, and great intuition. He’s strong as a forward when required to fill in on that role as well. He’s gritty and determined. More than I can say for some veterans in this league. It’s beautiful to watch the likes of him progress through the system, and be used to his potential.

But you want controversy? Fine!

I give you PK Subban.

Why the buzz? Why the hatred and disrespect? Because this kid is going to outshine, out-produce, and out-perform any other defenseman in the National Hockey League.

He has swagger, and teams hate him for that. But behind that swagger is one hell of a hockey player! Does he make mistakes? Yes Sir! Does he need reigned in occasionally – Sure! Does he make a lot of veteran forwards look like chumps? You Bet! All the while, scorching goals from the blue line on the PP!

I’ll skip past the other young player that is going to make his career, a franchise career – but have no fear – I’ll come back to him with a fury.

This year can’t be looked back upon, without discussing the severe importance of Mathieu Darche.

So many people looked me in the “Twitter Eye” and told me that he had no place on this team. I refused to give in. Heart goes a thousand miles in the NHL. And when you link that heart up with determination and some solid hockey skills, it goes even further.

Here’s a man that has been telling his wife for years, that it was not a long term dream. He’s always had nothing more to grasp onto, than single year contracts that promised him nothing.

His response? Give it “All I have” and let the chips fall where they may.

Well the chips have fallen and Montreal couldn’t have un-wrapped a better, sweeter gift.

Amassing 12 goals, 14 assists, and a +7 rating …. Anyone care to challenge his worth? Don’t test me.

There are so many other stories to be told, and over the next few months – I’ll have the time to tackle them. Gionta in his premiere year as Captain. Scotty Gomez and his worth to this team  – which may not be $8M, but should not be overlooked. David Desharnais who will become a star in Montreal …

The list goes on.

But to end the season, there’s really only one man that I should finish with. He carried the burden all year. He started 70 games between the pipes. He won 38 of them and posted 8 shutouts. He finished the regular season with a  2.35 GAA and a fantastic 9.23 Save Percentage.

He should have been a Vezina candidate. (Again – don’t test me.)

Before I go on – I will say this: I thought the trade  of last years hero …. Jaro Halak … was a pure mistake. I had no faith in Carey Price.

I just had to admit that, because I don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite.

In the end, Carey Price is the reason that the Habs had any playoff hopes at all. He stood on his head all season – not just in the playoffs. He has ice running through his veins. He has this calm composure that many NHL goalkeepers can only dream of. He has focus under pressure and incredible hockey instincts. And I for one, am happy to say that I was wrong about Carey Price.

Even Tim Thomas confessed to Price, during the handshake that concluded our season:

“Great game, great series, … great season.”

He’s been a star that shone all season long – and one that will shine many times in the future of this franchise.

Merci Carey!

We have so many things to be thankful for. We see post-season more often than not. There are so many teams that would kill for our success. Don’t think for a minute that Gary Bettman isn’t secretly happy to have a Canadian franchise that brings him dollars on such a consecutive basis.

But for Ville-Montreal … when I think back on all that we accomplished this season, and how deep the organization is, I can’t help but be prepared for a Stanley Cup.

I’ll leave you with this from the Goo Goo Dolls:

“And you asked me what I want this year,
And I try to make this kind and clear.
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.
‘Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings,
And designer love and empty things.
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.”

We’ve found them Montreal … we’ve found them!

About these ads

About Iain Carnegie (@emann_222 on Twitter)

I have followed the Montreal Canadiens for over twenty years, even while living in the heart of Toronto. I spent 5 years in the mecca of hockey, moving to the Plateau region of Montreal in the summer of 2009, I've been writing extensively on the Habs franchise at Bleed Blue Blanc Rouge BBBR has now moved to it's new home here at WordPress, , where content continues to matter.
This entry was posted in Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Northeastern Division, Playoffs 2011, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to NHL 2011: Canadiens Have Much To Be Proud Of!

  1. Sara A. says:

    Your post makes me want to cry, in a good way. And ending it with lyrics from the Goo Goo Dolls made it even better.
    Great read & go habs go! :)

  2. Yes Ma’am … realizing that another hockey season has come and gone is tough to deal with – especially in the heartbreaking circumstance that we find ourselves in this year. But to stay positive and find the good is what I’ve tried to do all season here on BBBR.

    Sad to say goodbye to another season, but so very much to look forward to!

  3. cokeaddict says:

    CAR-EY!!! CAR-EY!!! CAR-EY!!! I’m gonna miss that so much (until next season). So many heart stopping moments that ended with a sigh of relief.

    The part of this post that touched me most was the bit about Darche. He just didn’t get enough love from the fan base. I must confess, even I came down on him 2-3 times about his stone hands. But when the playoff push arrives, people really do underestimate heart. And on a team that has more heart than ANY team in the league, Darche fit right in and showed him exactly why he’s been so under-rated.

    Darche Vader has completely emblazoned himself in the heart of this Habs fan. And I can’t wait to see what he brings next season (He’s still ours, right? Right? *hopeful*).

    • Thanks for reading D … and I always look forward to your comments.

      Yes! Darche has always had a place in my hockey heart. One of the few that drives the net, and plays every single second like it might be his last. There is many a player out there that could learn from that type of play. Maybe he should write a “how-to” book. He’s a class act and I applaud him at every turn.

  4. Habschick says:

    This is a tough loss to swallow, because it was the Bruins, because of MaxPac, because of the Beatdown and Ference’s gesture etc, but mostly because it feels like Karma took a vacation. The bottom line is that I am so proud of this team and I am so optimistic going forward for all the reasons you listed in this post, Iain.

    Your blog is like a breath of fresh air in the Habs blogosphere, a reprieve from all the negativity and pessimism that surrounds the team every season. From one glass half-full blogger to another, thank-you!

    • Karma took a vacation. Great statement!

      Glad that there’s others with a half full glass as well. It gets tiring listening to the whining and bickering. You said it completely right in one of your Tweets … Fans have a sense of entitlement – and I believe that it needs snuffed out. At the end of the day, hockey is just a game. I know that it’s a part of my life that I’m thrilled to be allowed to enjoy – but the negativity, bashing, and sometimes plain old ignorance sometimes becomes too much to swallow.

      I hope I can continue to maintain the “fresh” standard that you enjoy!

  5. Melissa says:

    Iain,

    As promised, better late than never, right?

    I am really really proud of this article. You point out the reasons why I have so much pride and faith in the Bleu Blanc Rouge.

    The Canadiens pulled through a very challenging season which saw many of there games with more AHL players on the bench than NHL players. There were so many games I was cheering in my living room going “Way to go # (insert # here)…wait…who is that?!”

    I knew they would not make it far in the playoffs as they don’t have enough depth right now but I really did think they could take Boston, and deserved to win that round too.

    I absolutely love Darche. He has so much heart and passion for the game, he’s not there to collect a pay cheque. He’s an older player on the team with less experience than some of the young guns yet he is still looked up to as a veteran. I cannot wait to see him on the ice next season.

    Also agree that Gomez is not worth what we paid for him, but there is no changing that. As we’ve discussed all season long, I too believe he adds to the team and shouldn’t be cut up as much as he is. Ya, he makes mistakes…who doesn’t.

    I want to point out that I also did not have faith in Carey Price at the start of the season and had really wanted the Habs to keep Halak. I am so proud of Price for shutting us both up and putting our faith back in to him. Honestly, the Habs would not have even made the post season if it weren’t for him.

    We definitely need to work on scoring next season and play better positioning when it comes to defence. Too many nights Price stood on his head when it looked like there was absolutely no team in front of him. Again, this comes down to having to call in the reserves and they don’t have as much experience.

    I cannot wait for hocktober to come around again!

    Go Habs Go!

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