Regular posting now moved to Backhand Shelf: http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/
I'm sorry E. I truly am, I was actually pulling for you guys tonight.
Hey E, you once were looking for the "the best crappy-team hockey platitude". I never took a shot, maybe because I refused to believe my beloved Habs could ever be a crappy team. And I still think they're not. Mediocre, maybe. But I've been a loyal fan of some truly crappy teams over the years (including one that crapped itself into oblivion -- les Expos). Unless you're just masochistic, one has to come up some sort of coping mechanism to deal with all the losing. The main thing I've learned is that winning all the time makes one spoiled. You cannot truly savor victory unless you have known defeat. In Hab-land, we have been very spoiled. We are accustomed to victory -- 24 times over. We are now in the midst of the longest Cup drought in Hab history. When that victory does come (and it will), it will make it more sweet than any past win.
Absolutely. No team that's in the running for a playoff spot down to their last game of the regular season is a crappy team. And, in fact, tonight's game was the best game of the day, on the best day of hockey of the season. Your Habs gave it their all. On Monday, when the medical reports talk of specific ligaments needing repair instead of vague "upper body" and "lower body" injuries, and the surgeries are scheduled, you'll see just what "giving their all" really means. And in the words of every Brooklyn Dodgers fan ever: "wait 'til next year!"
Despite the crappy ending to the season (one that wasn't wholly unexpected), there is reason for optimism for next season, thanks to the kids. Until Carbo starting playing the young Habs more in March, the Canadiens were reeling and the future looked grim. Now, Halak, Latendresse, Plekanec, Lapierre, and Kostitsyn have given me hope that next season's ending will be more positive than this season's. Yep, there's promise in them thar hills, promise not just limited to the aforementioned. Markov has hit his prime and is perhaps one of the most underrated blueliners in the game. He gets the job down at both ends of the ice without fanfare. They'll re-sign him.Komisarek made considerable improvement this season, showing more confidence and earning more playing time. He could be poised for a major breakout next season. Higgins was poised for a major breakout himself this season until that ankle injury. A healthier season could see him in the 35 goal range next year.Streit may not be a kid but he too made significant improvement in his second NHL season and making Gainey look smart for signing him.There's a wealth of riches on the farm that could be cracking the roster next season. Grabovski, Chipchura, possibly Milroy. It'll also be interesting to see what kind of training camp Kostitsyn the Younger (he of the huge points in the OHL) has this fall with his big brother. Now then, to address the more obvious, which vets stay and which ones go.Koivu - stays. I hate the talk that Saku doesn't do enough. For Chrissakes, this guys bleeds Habs colours and works his ass off in every game. The problem is, his linemates have let him down. Ryder - yes, he got 30 goals, but most of those were score in the first half and down the stretch. In January and February, he was the invisible man. Right now, his future with the Habs could be tenuous. He's an RFA so the Habs can take their time negotiating with him, or might even shop him if management has other plans. Kovalev - buy him out. Enough's enough. He hasn't earned his big contract over the past two seasons. Sure, it'll be costly but worthwhile in the long run. You've got kids outplaying him. 'Nuff said.Samsonov - A no brainer. He'll either be traded or more likely bought out. Good riddance.Souray - I'm torn on this one. On the one hand, he was great on the PP and stepped up as a leader. But his defensive stats were horrible, and he'll likely seek McCabe money. He could be a goner. Bonk - Bye bye, he won't be back. Johnson - I hope they keep him and he might be an affordable re-signing, but he could test the market. Perezhogin - His penchant for undisciplined penalties ticked off Carbo. I think they'll qualify him and then shop him in a trade. Aebischer - bye bye, and thanks for helping Gainey ditch that Theodore contract.Niinimaa - Another goner. To sum up, I think changes are in store, but don't expect a major UFA signing. Instead, don't be surprised if Gainey buys out Kovalev as well as Samsonov. He might try to make a major trade possibly involving Ryder, but overall I expect him to stay the course with the kids. Have a nice off-season, y'all.
I know how you feel.
If nothing else, take comfort in the fact that Toronto's win was for naught.
welcome to being a hockey fan.
Anon: I take much comfort in the final Eastern playoff standings, but not because I hate the Leafs (I don't). I take comfort because this is pure hockey karma. The hockey gods saw that the Leafs stole a point when they took the Habs to OT on March 17. Both Leaf goals on that night were made possible by some highly suspect officiating. If the Isles had lost, the Leafs would have held onto the 8th spot by one illegitimate point over the Habs. A three way tie would have vaulted the Habs into the post-season.So I'm grateful that the Islanders won, just for my offseason sanity. Or else this is the 1994 Expos all over again.
Few things can break your heart like a team. My own problem is that no matter how happy I am for my team winning, I feel horrible as soon as I see the opponents bent over on the bench like someone punched them in the gut.I'm very sorry.
There needs to be a support group or something - this is freaking unbelievable.
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