by Shannon Penfound, Staff Writer and Event Coordinator, All Habs Hockey Magazine

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WINNIPEG, MB. — As we (finally) approach the 2014-2015 regular season, you can sense the excitement. Training camp scrimmages and pre-season games sold out at the Bell Centre as passionate Habs fans got their first look at the potential line-up for this fall. They waited for hours just to catch a glimpse of future Canadiens stars, and of course, to get a photo or two with our current beloved roster. I am happy to announce: Hockey is back in Montreal!

It begins with a blank slate. With the 2013-2014 season is behind us, fans are certainly ready to move forward, being vocal about the game of hockey and just what having the Habs back on ice means to them.

 

Marc Bergevin and his staff have rounded up and cultivated a remarkable amount of talent during his short tenure with the Habs. Summer acquisitions like P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malhotra, and Tom Gilbert, as well as the re-signing of players like P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Lars Eller, and Mike Weaver, secured both  veteran and young-veteran depth on the team. By allowing younger players like Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher to step into bigger roles last year, the organization shows that it is one that wants to see budding stars make a name for themselves.

Aside from the names who have secured their roster spot this season, the talent coming up in the ranks is extremely promising. Jiri Sekac, Christian Thomas, and this year’s first round draft pick, Nikita Scherbak, all had great camp showings. In fact, the list of players who impressed fans is a long one, and indicates that the Canadiens scouting staff can consistently spot potential NHL’ers year after year.

Photo by Chantal Poirier
Jiri Sekac (Photo by Chantal Poirier)

As we have seen, this is a team that knows how to work together to not only produce results, but also genuinely enjoys both the game and their team-relationships. From the classic Carey Price – P.K. Subban ‘bromance’ moments (triple low-five, anyone?), to the practical jokes they play on the rookies, this team shows a lot of love and respect for one another. In my opinion, this positive group dynamic is a huge reason as to why the team did so well together this past season, and is why I argue that the same will happen this upcoming year. Michel Therrien and the coaching staff certainly pushes this team in order to physically and mentally prepare them, but it is the on and off-ice relationships formed amongst the players that secures their success.

The Canadiens came very close to realizing the ultimate goal last year. They were six wins away from a Stanley Cup Championship and, though I know some of us are still a little heartbroken, it gives me hope. As I mentioned in a previous article, the fact that many players on this team came so close to this ultimate goal actually benefits their mental and physical preparedness heading into this new season. With the addition of some high calibre players, I believe that the Montreal Canadiens sincerely have a shot at coming out on top this season. Yes, I am biased, and I realize that some will argue that I am looking at the team through ‘rose-coloured glasses.’ But the only real flaw I see in our team would be their habit to hang onto players who hinder our forward momentum.

We know that Michel Therrien tends to play favourites. In order for this team to move forward and become playoff contenders again next spring, this organization needs to move on from a few players. Francis Bouillon has paid his dues in Montreal and we appreciate the contributions he has made to the team over his career, nearly all of which has been played with the Canadiens. At 38, he is no longer able to produce like the potential of Habs younger players such as Nathan Beaulieau. Although former captain, Brian Gionta , gave him praise and called him a forerunner for captaincy, Travis Moen would need to find a very specific line to ensure success this season. During this year’s training camp, Moen was placed on a line with Galchenyuk and Gallagher and it was obvious that he was not capable to play at that speed. I do agree that he brings more to the game, as well as the inner workings of the organization, that we may be able to see, but the question remains: is Moen replaceable? How soon? Rumours are already circulating that Moen may be on the chopping block. With pre-season winding down, we can expect announcements regarding cuts, and perhaps some trades, to happen soon. I think it’s safe to say that everyone, team and fans alike, are itching to get things going.

One thing is for certain: it’s going to be a hell of a year.

P.K. Subban
(Photo by Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)