OTTAWA, ON. — The last time the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup was in 1993. Since then, Habs fans have seen a whole lot of mediocrity. Mediocrity can be frustrating for everyone that is emotionally invested into the team, especially a team with such a rich history of winning.
Despite this, fans stuck around like they always do, throughout the mid-to-late nineties and into the new millennium. And now, there’s a different vibe associated with the Montreal Canadiens. The team has turned the corner into a winning culture. The Montreal Canadiens are exciting for the first time in a long time and here’s why…
Fans and players always want to win. But there’s a big difference between wanting to win and expecting to win. Wanting to win insinuates that you don’t necessarily believe in the tools you have, where as expecting to win means you believe in the tools at your disposable to get the job done.
Since Marc Bergevin became General Manager of the Canadiens in May of 2012, he has preached character. I wrote about it throughout the playoffs. The NHL season can be grueling both physically and emotionally. Good character players can ease the emotional strain of a season and set the tone for work ethic.
The modern-era has brought us new ways to connect with our team, including 24CH, the popular show that gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the Montreal Canadiens throughout the season. The show is just one indication that the team has a unique make-up of character players from the silent to overly vocal leaders.
The Canadiens have a winning mentality. They expect it, and for the first time in several years, the fans can as well and should be pleased that over the past three seasons, the Canadiens have won their division twice and had a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
It’s time to take it to the next level and hopefully the 2015-16 season is it.
The Montreal Canadiens have a fantastic core of young players that understand the culture of the modern Habs and the history of the Canadiens past. They’re full of talent. Carey Price is regarded as the best goalie in the world and both Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban are amongst the best in the league at their respective positions.
These three, along with Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Jeff Petry, Lars Eller, Nathan Beaulieu and others lay a very strong, young foundation to lead the Canadiens for years to come. Many of these core players are on extremely reasonable contracts, including Pacioretty, Price, Galchenyuk, Gallagher and Beaulieu. Many argue, myself included, that the Canadiens brass need to take advantage of some of their top players being on reasonable contracts and pursue a few more pieces to push their roster to an elite level.
Regardless, with an average age of 28 years old, the core of the Montreal Canadiens is intact and will continue to grow with one another, hopefully into a championship team.
The Montreal Canadiens didn’t make the “big splash” some were hoping for this offseason but that doesn’t mean Marc Bergevin and his team didn’t make some key moves.
Marc Bergevin worked the trade market acquiring Zack Kassian, locked up unrestricted free agents such as Jeff Petry and Alexander Semin and re-signed several restricted free agents, including Jarred Tinordi, Christian Thomas, Galchenyuk and Beaulieu.
Bergevin didn’t commit to any of the Habs’ restricted free agents long-term, with the most term handed out being two years. Galchenyuk’s contract will be watched closely as many are comparing it to Subban’s bridge deal that allowed Subban to earn quite the pay day.
On the unrestricted front, Bergevin awarded Jeff Petry with a six year deal and acquired additional defensive depth signing Mark Barberio who will likely compete for the 6th/7th defenceman spot and Joel Hanley and Ryan Johnston, both likely to play in St. John’s. The Canadiens GM also re-signed Torrey Mitchell, a hometown boy with good defensive and faceoffs skills known to be a great teammate and decided to take an extremely low-risk chance on Alexander Semin on a one-year deal, the sniper looking to bounce back from an unsuccessful 2014-15 campaign.
Marc Bergevin traded fan favourite Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks for Zack Kassian and a fifth round pick. The trade is a solid one for Montreal with Prust heading into the last season of his contract and acquiring a young forward with size and skill who will be a restricted free agent at the end of next season.
The Canadiens have done a good job of retaining their current assets and acquiring new ones without giving up, well…much. Fans should be pleased with the work of their general manager.
Building a team through the draft is the ultimate goal. It provides your organization the opportunity to select certain types of players, breed them into the player they are envisioning and entrench them into the culture of the team. Trevor Timmons and his colleagues have done a great job of keeping the Montreal Canadiens’ pool of prospects relevant. Right before the draft I summarized each of the Habs’ first round picks from the past decade. You can now add Noah Juulsen to that list, a well-rounded defenceman currently fighting for a roster spot on the Canadian World Junior Team. Jarred Tinordi, Mike McCarron and Nikita Scherbak are some other first round picks fans can be excited about.
Outside of the first round, the Habs have managed to find some gems, look no further than Brendan Gallagher. Jacob de la Rose, Zachary Fucale, Sven Andrighetto, Charles Hudon, Martin Reway, Artturi Lehkonen, Lukas Vejdemo and Darren Dietz are just some of the players Habs fans can look forward to seeing in years to come.
For the first time in years, the Montreal Canadiens are on the right path. Management has a vision of building through the draft, entrenching a culture built on good character, retaining strong assets, acquiring pieces of need for minimal cost and managing the cap effectively (ie. trades for Sergei Gonchar, Bryan Allen, etc).
If the Habs can maintain and build upon what I’ve outlined above they will be exciting for years to come.
What makes this team exciting to you? Please vote in our All Habs poll of the week and leave a comment below.
What makes you most excited about the Montreal Canadiens?
- Core: Price, Pacioretty, Subban (52%, 362 Votes)
- Young guns: Galchenyuk, Gallagher, De la Rose, Beaulieu (20%, 141 Votes)
- Rookies: Scherbak, McCarron, Carr, Hudon, Andrighetto (20%, 141 Votes)
- New additions: Kassian, Semin, Barberio (5%, 36 Votes)
- Prospects: Reway, Lehkonen, Juulsen, Fucale (1%, 8 Votes)
- Coaching staff: Therrien, Lefebvre (1%, 4 Votes)
Total Voters: 692