LAVAL, QC. — After a long summer without Montreal Canadiens hockey, the Habs get ready to begin their pre-season schedule on Monday night as they play four games in six nights. I’m excited to finally be able to watch some Canadiens hockey! Also excited to announce that Take 5 will be published weekly as of now and throughout the entire Habs season.
Here are my top 5 takes of the week:
- Max to Vegas – The soap opera surrounding Max Pacioretty and the Canadiens is finally over as Pacioretty was traded to the Golden Knights. At the Canadiens golf tournament, Marc Bergevin and Geoff Molson announced that the former Habs captain had requested a trade last season. In the Journal de Montreal, Yvon Pedneault wrote that Max’s request came only after Bergevin had angrily yelled “I’m going to trade you!” sometime last season. In his first press conference with his new team, Pacioretty said that “things can be interpreted in different ways,” which leads me to believe that at some point last season, there was a conflict between the GM and his captain and things were said that led to a point of no return in that relationship. Max was never happy with Claude Julien‘s system and we heard him regularly last season criticize the system used by the team. Coming to Montreal from Vegas is veteran Tomas Tatar, prospect Nick Suzuki, and a second-round draft pick. I think that this was a good return considering the timing of the trade, but if we look at the whole management of this situation, I would think that Bergevin could have gotten more in return if he would have concluded the trade at the draft in Dallas.
- Domi at centre – What surprised me the most since the start of the training camp has been seeing Max Domi play at centre and Jonathan Drouin playing on his wing, even more than Joel Ward being invited on a professional tryout. As much as I appreciate Julien experimenting during training camp, I don’t agree with this move. First of all, Domi was acquired during the off-season and I think the priority for him would be to get comfortable playing with his new team. Instead, he has to learn his new team’s system and learn how to play a new position. Bergevin has mentioned that it’s harder to teach a winger to play at centre than the opposite, so this test seems to go against that. Adding to it, I’m over the “is he a winger or a centre?” debate that we had with Alex Galchenyuk for the last several years and with Jonathan Drouin last season. Domi and Drouin did look together at the Red vs White scrimmage, but I will wait for them to face some NHL opponents before consider this duo a success.
- Rookie Showdown – I had the pleasure of covering the Rookie Showdown at Place Bell in Laval for the AHL.Report. All eyes were on Canadiens 2018 first round draft pick, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and the result was that we saw a prospect that needs more time to adapt to the smaller North American rink. The positive is that his second game was better than his first game, and he will get more exposure to the smaller rink this week during the exhibition games. Joel Bouchard was happy with the progress made by the Canadiens prospect over the tournament. Will Bitten, Alexandre Alain, and T.J. Melancon were the Habs prospects that impressed me the most over the weekend, and all three are in the main camp. The Canadiens lost 4-0 against the Senators and 4-2 against the Maple Leafs, but we need to keep in mind that five players (Ryan Poehling, Joni Ikonen, Alexander Romanov, Jesse Ylonen, Jacob Olofsson) drafted in the first two rounds in the last two drafts were not part of the tournament. Click the following links to read the recaps of the Canadiens games against the Senators and the Maple Leafs.
- Apathy – During the second half of last season, we started seeing empty seats at the Bell Centre as the team was already out of the playoff picture. I wasn’t expecting it to carry over to this season, but it clearly has. Individual game tickets have been on sale for over a week and there are plenty of seats available in the upper levels for the home opener on October 11th against the Kings. This should be a concern for Geoff Molson as I can’t remember the last time that this happened. At the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, there were Canadiens representatives at a booth selling tickets to games. Desperate times lead to desperate measures. The advertising rates for Habs games on TVA and RDS dropped by 29 percent due to the decrease in the number of viewers. What will the organization have to do to get it’s fans back?
- Habs on TSN – TSN announced that Bryan Mudryk is the new voice of the Canadiens on the regional broadcasts, and will be joined by Dave Poulin, Mike Johnson, and Craig Button for colour commentary. As much respect as I have for TSN and the quality of their broadcasts, I’m disappointed that the play-by-play team doesn’t have anyone living in the Montreal market. I’m very pleased that John Lu is part of the broadcast crew as he delivers quality work, and I’m hoping that this year, Lu will travel on the road when his network carries the game. I will give TSN the opportunity to win me over during the five pre-season games that they will broadcast.
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