OAKVILLE, ON — The first half of the Canadiens season was a failure. Montreal finished December with a 4-7-3 record, and a 14-19-6 overall record in the 2011 portion of the 2011-2012 season. Things were looking bad.
But what? It only got worse?
January- January started off with a positive, signing defenseman Josh Gorges to a six-year contract worth $23.4 million. This was a very important signing, with the questionable return of Andrei Markov. Gorges, along with P.K Subban, should give Montreal a very strong top defense pairing for years to come.
On January 10th, Jaroslav Halak made his return to the Bell Centre in Montreal, which, of course, resulted in a win. Halak, earned first star credentials, earning a shutout in a 3-0 win. For most people, the case is still closed on who the better goalie is: Carey Price. During the game against the Blues, Brian Gionta’s season came to an end, after a tear in his right bicep. Gionta underwent successful surgery to repair the tear, but would not return to play any more games.
On January 12th, an odd event took place during the Montreal/Boston game. Before the third period, Michael Cammalleri was taken told to come to the change room. He was having an off night, with 0 shots on net after 40 minutes. It was the last time Cammy was seen in a Habs uniform. Just after the game (which, of course, was a loss), Montreal traded Cammalleri, as well as goaltender Karri Ramo and fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft to the Calgary Flames for forwards Rene Bourque, Patrick Holland a second round pick in 2013. Bourque would only total 5 goals and 8 points in 38 games with Montreal, while Cammalleri had 11 goals and 19 points in ten less games.
There was some good news for two current Habs, as Carey Price and Rafael Diaz both took part in All-Star festivities. Price would be apart of the All-Star game and skills competion, while Diaz took part in the rookie competions.
February- This may be the most shocking event of the NHL season. On February10, after a 53-game drought (longer than a calender year), Habs forward Scott Gomez scored a power-play goal which turned out to be the game-winner in a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov, I’m sorry, but people are going to make fun of you for years because of that. Gomez finished with a whopping two goals, far less than the 33 he potted in 2005-2006.
With the NHL trade deadline approaching, Pierre Gauthier sent soon-to-be UFA Hal Gill and a conditional fifth round draft pick in 2013 to Nashville for forwards Blake Geoffrion and Robert Slaney, as well as a second round draft pick in 2012. On deadline day, the same two teams made a deal, as the Predators sent a second-round pick in the 2013 draft, plus the conditional pick they received from Montreal in that Gill trade in return for Andrei Kostitsyn, who would now be reunited with younger brother Sergei. Also on deadline day, the Canadiens grabbed agitator Brad Staubitz off waivers from the Minnesota Wild.
March- With the NHL trade deadline over, there wasn’t much to look forward to unless your team is going for a playoff run. Well, in Montreal’s case, the season was over in October.
Montreal did sign my favorite prospect, Morgan Ellis (I wonder why I like him), to a three-year entry level deal. The young defender impressed a lot of people this season, with 52 points in 60 games for two teams in the QMJHL. The Canadiens also signed forward Patrick Holland to a three-year contract. Holland, acquired from Calgary as part of the Cammalleri trade, had 109 points in 72 games with the Tri-City Americans. On March 28th, the Canadiens signed NCAA defenseman Greg Pateryn to a two-year contract. Pateryn tallied 15 points, 2 goals, 13 assists, in 41 games this season with the CCHA’s Michigan Wolverines.
A season after an almost career ending injury, Max Pacioretty was back and better than ever. With 65 points in 79 games, Pacioretty was named the Montreal canadiate for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
The most anticipated and exciting news of the season came on March 29th, as GM Pierre Gauthier was relieved of his duties as Executive Vice-President and General Manager. Gauthier took the majority of the heat for the team’s struggles, so this news was music to the ears of Habs fans. As of April 13th, there has been no new GM named.
April- The Canadiens season ended on a high note April 7th, with a 4-1 win over rival Toronto. The end couldn’t come any quicker. With no playoffs to look forward to, there wasn’t much Habs related news going around, except the draft lottery. Montreal was going in with the third best chance of getting the top pick, but wouldn’t move anywhere, ending up with the third overall pick. Habs fans, that’s something to look forward too.
Many questions remain as the team heads into the summer, such as who will be hired as the next General Manager and coach, who the third overall pick will be, and how they will use the upcoming free agent period to turn the team into Stanley Cup favorites. The season may be over, but the work has only just begun.
Follow me on Twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.