Quite a few things are happening with our Habs in these final days leading up to the regular season, and it feels like fans need to train and psych themselves up just as much as the players. (That’s in part because we know winter’s coming. Get out your throwback jerseys and your snow tires, ladies and gents, the season’s changing.)
So here's a little overview of a few hot topics that have been peppering fans' and journalists' discussion of the team as the clock winds down to our season opener.
THE NEW GUYS. We’ve done a pretty good job of welcoming our newcomers so far, just as they’ve done more than their share of singing the city’s praises. (Seriously, Scott Gomez, any more singing and you’d be joining the cast of Glee.) It’s a good thing that Montrealers follow their hockey so intensely... can you imagine being a casual Habs fan and seeing a picture like this:
We’re basically going into a season of Who’s Dis Guy?*
This season is going to prove whether or not we were all right: Should Bob Gainey have cleaned house as obsessive-compulsively as he did? Are guys like Gomez and Gionta a little too eager to play in front of the most intense city in the league, before they’ve even seen our dark side? Were we, the fans, right to turn our backs on the Habs who disappointed us? Everyone’s been jumping the gun and answering these questions lately, but personally I think we need to wait it out until we know for sure.
THE LINEUP. Today five more players were cut from Montreal and sent to play for the Bulldogs. Definitely a gain for Hamilton, and maybe not a huge shock to us. It was pretty obvious that a player like Curtis Sanford was signed to back up and support young up-and-coming players who could use an experienced, big-brother figure.
Cutting Sergei Kostitsyn was a bit of a shock to me, since I had assumed (or, at least, hoped) that he’d be back this season and rarin’ to go. That wasn’t entirely the case. Still, the cut was Jacques Martin’s call to make, and as fans all we can hope for is that the coach’s decisions are in the team’s best interests. Which reminds me...
THE COACH AND THE CAPTAIN. We’ve got an experienced coach, a man carefully chosen by team management out of a vast ocean of, um, available francophone coaches. I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t exactly know much about Martin before he was hired, so I’m going into this season a little blind.
I don’t doubt that he knows what’s right for the team, and I tend to lean toward trusting coaches and team management more than the average armchair coach (if only because I’m aware that they’re standing behind the bench and I’m sitting on my couch with my cat). However, I’ve got to comment on this decision to appoint a team captain. Last time I checked, this was Canada and 2009. How about a little democracy? If you want a guy to lead this team, this half-new team recovering from a season of fail, why not ask the guys who are in that team? To me, an election seems like the most logical process, although I’m hoping that whatever method Martin is employing to make his decision will make sense.
As for the identity of this as-yet-unnamed captain? I’m not too sure about who I think it SHOULD be (maybe because, as I mentioned, the lineup changed too drastically, and we could maybe wait until the regular season starts), but as for who it WILL be, if I were a betting woman I’d put money on Scott Gomez. I don’t quite know why - chalk it up to female intuition, I guess.
In any case, we’ll find out by the time les boys are done with their retreat. Which reminds me...
THE PRESEASON RETREAT. None of the players seem to be pulling a diva fit or criticizing Teen Ranch in Ontario, so why is everyone else so scandalized? Some local anglo sports reporters in particular can't seem to say enough about it.
I don’t care where the retreat takes place, as long as the guys get to practice and rest and bond. Isn't that what matters? The only thing I’m worried about was a joke by canadiens.com writer Manny Almela implying that guys like Ryan O’Byrne might look like this if they sleep on bunk beds:
And I’m only worried about that for two reasons:
I know the importance of a good night’s sleep, and I hope O’Byrne, Gill and their teammates of all sizes have been getting their share of shut-eye
It’s a hilarious sight gag that I kind of wish I could see for myself
So, in these final hours, I hope that the team’s preseason enthusiasm doesn’t fade as fast as their idealism probably will.
*If you were wondering, ”Who’s Dis Guy” is a running joke between your bloggers, usually alluding to a player whose face you cannot recognize.
Photos used in this post are not our property. They belong to habsinsideout.com and Warner Brothers.