Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who are these people?

You may have noticed the "Mutual Love" blogroll that we recently added to our sidebar. It might be a cheesy name for a list, but it fits: These are people who seem to like us enough to link to us, and they're great reads. Plus they like us, so obviously we like them back. As long as none of them try to text us at 3 AM when we have work the next day.

A lot of this linkage - and the increased pageviews that came with it - came from people we know on Twitter, and we really appreciate their support and their kind words. Our longtime, pre-offseason readers mean just as much to us, so thank you for reading.

If you're wondering who all these people are, I'll tell you:

Dennis Kane: OK, this man needs no introduction. You have to be reading him already. He's the most popular Habs blogger out there for a reason: his blend of knowledge, analysis, and fan experience. He tells the best stories and he loves interacting with his readers. His wife is probably right when she says that his is the best site in the world!

The Active Stick: She's one of those bloggers that makes us realize that our original plan, to have a blog that showed the world that there are female hockey fans out there who actually care about the sport, is basically moot. (Luckily, there are still idiots out there who need to be proven wrong, so it's good to know we're not alone in the girl-blogger universe.) She makes great lists, better than ours, and she's great for a laugh especially when she's taking Pierre McGuire down a peg.

The Bad Habit: To be honest, I read Stevo's tweets more than his blog, but his writing style is the same in both - conversational, funny, and just mean enough.

The Soft European: Greg is basically the coolest France-based Habs fan we know. We can be his friend now that the World Cup is over, because we're cheering for the same sports team again. He's a little bit like us, although he's only wordy when he wants to be, and most of the time I can't shut up. As you probably already know.

Tyger By The Tail: Tyger's blog is just as much about her own life as it is about the Habs. You'll get to know her, and if you know anything about golf, you'll probably relate to her more than I can. Hockey in the winter, golf in the summer... that makes her an NHL girl through and through.

The Winter of (dis)content: Okay, so EP is the blogger on this list that we've spent the most time with in real life. She's also the one most likely to make me look bad. She started watching hockey around the same time that I did, but has managed to learn so much more than I have in the same amount of time. She knows a lot about the minor leagues, and blogs about tennis during tennis season as well.

Anything & Nothing: Chile_Pepper is a mommy of two who loves the Canadiens all the way from Vancouver. I'm not usually one to stick around for stories about people's children (especially when they're talking about little Jack's potty-training during lunch) but it's so easy to see where she's coming from that you can't help but love hearing about her kids. You'll think you've known her forever once you start reading her.

So, while you're waiting for the team to settle in and the season to start, you'll know who to read to help pass the time.

Chelios retires

Image yoinked from The Hockey News

After a fantastic career, playing almost exclusively for Original Six teams, the nearly indestructible Chris Chelios has stopped believing (even though Journey told him not to) and announced his retirement. It's been an impressive 26 years of professional hockey for the future Hall of Famer.

Wow. The man has been in the NHL for longer than we've been alive. It's really too bad to see him go, but I know that he's probably come to realize that there's not enough steam left in the old engine. Chelios himself said he's ending his career the way he wants to.

He gets to live in his native Chicago, now that he's working for the Red Wings' front office. If you're wondering why he's not working for the Habs, well...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"We're not worthy!"

In case you haven't heard, All Habs, one of the most popular and comprehensive Canadiens sites on the entire Internets, has launched an all-new domain: http://www.allhabs.net.

Congratulations and all the best to the All Habs team, which, incidentally, includes us. We were both proud and humbled when we were asked to join the contributors team, along with some of the most eloquent and interesting Canadiens bloggers out there. My first article is posted here, and I hope to make a series out of it.

All Habs has always been a great source for news and analysis, but the new site has expanded to include even more information, as well as opinion pieces and focus on the fans. It's expanded from one really good blog to an entire network, including The Montreal Forum message board, fan photo gallery We Are Canadiens, and Habs Tweetup. If it weren't for our participation in a Habs Tweetup event this summer, we might not have had the opportunity to be a part of all this. Go AllHabs Go!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What to do?

I'm not sure if anyone's noticed but it's August 24th and the Montreal Canadiens are still without a top goalie. Yes, those Montreal Canadiens. The ones who've been backed up by some of the greatest goalies in NHL history. The ones whose biggest problem last season was dividing ice time between TWO good goalies. Right now the Canadiens have Alex Auld, who is not one of the aforementioned good goalies. (But yes, I'm happy to have him on board, because Dan Ellis sucks.)

This whole no-Carey story has been going on too long, like a Ridley Scott movie no one wants to watch. It's time someone presses the stop button, because I'm tired of biding my time.

So far, I've found some pretty good ways to pass the time. I've been getting a lot of hours at work. I've visited my baby cousin twice in the ten days since he was born. I went to the Chronicles of Narnia exhibit, threw out a few choice lines from "Lazy Sunday," and ate a cupcake. I've shopped so much that not even I can believe it. I've read more IMDB pages than anyone else on Earth. I've added at least three new TV series to my viewing rotation. I've looked at pictures of kittens named after Habs a dozen times. I've even started following Rob Schremp on Twitter, and I'm quite certain that I don't even know who he is.

I've come up with so many ways to pass the time and this story isn't over yet. I, along some other Habs fans, am looking for a new distraction. What to do?

Thank the TV gods that the Emmys are soon and the final season of Lost is now out on DVD. (I'll probably have time to rewatch the entire series plus extras before we have a goalie.)
Go on a tour of the Bell Centre. You can see the locker rooms if you visit during the offseason!
Learn to play an instrument and then use it to write songs about hockey.
Read. I still have a few books I received for my birthday that I haven't read.
Plan out Thanksgiving dinner and Halloween costumes.

And that's all I've got so far. I just don't know what to do with myself. But I'll try to keep you all posted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When hockey players get all a-Twitter

One thing I've learned since I started watching hockey a couple of years ago is that there are different kinds of celebrities. The kind that I had been used to reading about, the TV actors, movie stars, and singers, are a different breed of celebrity than these athlete types. (It's kind of like high school cliques, with lots more money, I guess.)

If an actor does something wrong, he or she sees the consequences right away, regardless of how quickly their publicist steps in. (If the publicist quits, then that's a whole other story.) Take Mel Gibson, for example. Things went downhill very quickly after his drunken anti-Semitic rant, and now that he's been caught on tape insulting basically everyone along with the girlfriend he left his wife for, I don't expect to see him in a successful movie anytime soon. When actors make less colossal mistakes, they usually rely on their well-paid entourage to help concoct an appropriate apology. (Like the Kristen Stewart controversy that ended almost as quickly as it began.)

The sports world is a little bit different. Usually athletes aren't groomed quite as well for the public eye as actors are. On the flip side, the consequences aren't always the same. Sean Avery, best described as his generation's greatest douchebag, continues to play in the NHL despite being his generation's greatest douchebag. (Not even a suspension could stop him, but I guess the New York Rangers know what they want.) Athletes don't always see the error of their ways or have to back up their incorrect actions.

Earlier this summer, Paul Bissonnette deleted his Twitter account after getting some heat about the inappropriate content of his tweets. Personally, I didn't necessarily enjoy jokes about strippers and whatnot, but there are a lot of guys out there who act like that in the locker room, and I guess BizNasty decided to live up to his screenname and not be a hypocrite about the kind of guy he is. He wasn't outwardly trying to offend anyone, but I'm sure he knew there would be someone out there who wasn't as entertained by his tweets as he was.

Dan Ellis, on the other hand, is another story. I started following him after he was traded to the Habs, hoping to get to know a little more about the potential new goalie. I learned about his son learning to poop in a toilet. I read an awful lot about his (tacky) custom car. I read his opinions on how the Canadian media are "crazy", something he learned especially after he "was a Hab for two days". Yes, he made a passive-aggressive comment about a jersey he's never even worn. Maybe Ellis could call up Jay Leach or Doug Janik to find out what it's really like to be a Hab.

Perhaps Ellis realized that he could get attention from the crazy Canadian media by typing up some tweets that would really get us all riled up. First, he retweeted a few things from football player and Kardashian-dater Reggie Bush, without realizing that football is literally and figuratively an entirely different game). Then he followed up these comments with a few sentences about how he deserves to be as rich as he is because he's good at what he does, he trains hard, and NHL players are not "not a dime a dozen unlike many other professions."

Now, the millions of things that are wrong with his statements are probably best left to another blog post (by me, who often tries to defend some of our overpaid athletes). But it's Ellis' follow-up to these comments that really disgusts me.

Yes, that's right. He didn't apologize. He just read every single outraged response he got and fired right back at them. He blocked a few people too. I'm not sure if Dan Ellis is just trying to stir up controversy and get some attention, or if he really does want to anger us "dime-a-dozen" folk, because we have nothing better to do than listen to Springsteen and Twitter and spend our paltry salaries on hockey tickets in order to further inflate the egos of "special" guys like him.

What happens next? If the NHL is anything like Hollywood, Steve Yzerman will bury his face in his hands, get on the phone, hurl a few obscenities at Danny-boy, and we'll get the half-hearted apology we deserve. And maybe Alex Auld's stock will go way up. Personally, I've never been happier to be an Alex Auld fan in my life.

Monday, August 16, 2010

This day only comes once a year

I said it on time on Twitter, but I'm a little late here. It's a big week for my boys from BC. Saturday was Josh Gorges' birthday (26 turned 26!), and today is Carey Price's birthday, which is almost over, but if he's still on the West Coast then I've got quite a while left to send him good birthday vibes.

I didn't make any cupcakes for the occasion, and now I'm too intimidated.

I'm not sure what it means, though, to have your August birthday come and go without a new contract and watching a Hamilton goalie get traded for another support-staff goalie. I don't think there'll be any Carey/Karri hate going on, but it's kind of like your parents talking about your brother while you blow out your candles. Should we be paying attention to other goalies when there's a pretty big one who needs to be taken care of? (Most people are saying yes. So this is where I remind you all that I go by "Rookie".)

Saturday was also the birth day - literally - of my cousin's son. Little Jacob is cute, healthy, and 18 years away from being draft eligible. Tell your scouts about him!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Why Pierre Gauthier hasn't signed Carey Price yet

So recently, two blogs that we read a lot, The Active Stick and The H Does Not Stand For Habs, have made lists of reasons why Carey Price hasn't signed a new contract. Now, they're both quite funny, but it takes two to contract tango, right? Where's Gauthier in all this? And are there any jokes about Carey Price that haven't already been made? (And do I really want to knock the only goalie I have left?)

So over the last few days I've been pondering why Pierre Gauthier hasn't been able to make it work. Here's what I've come up with:

He didn't think anyone would notice.

When confronted, Gauthier answered "That's not my job. Wait... what do you mean, 'yes it is'?"

He's been really busy making picks for his So You Think You Can Dance pool.

Packing his bags for Tampa Bay. He may not get to be GM, because nobody is cooler than Steve Yzerman, but that's where all the cool kids are going.

I mean, look at that sweater!

I don't want to alarm anyone, but I have a theory that Pierre Gauthier might be a vampire. (You know, the evil kind. Not one of those sparkly imitation-vampires.) It's summer. Work and extended sunlight don't mix, especially when work involves thinking about delicious goalie blood.

Bob Gainey's on vacation, and Gauthier's too scared to make a decision by himself. He hasn't even been to Starbucks since the last time he saw Bob, because he can never decide between a grande and a venti.
...and he REALLY needs the caffeine.

He keeps trying to insert a salary bonus into Price's contract, dependent on Carey growing out his hair again. This clause keeps getting rejected by Price, his agent, and everyone with two properly functioning eyes.

If Gauthier doesn't knock Popsicles out of the hands of children, who will?
A future victim.

He's still riding high on talking about the Halak trade. Why? Because it gives him a great punchline whenever he likes something. If his wife takes him shopping, it's "I like this tie so much, I want to trade it to St. Louis." If he's watching the sunset, he's got Doug Armstrong on the phone, trying to trade it for a cloud or something. He can't sign Price until he comes up with a new catchphrase to go along with it.
(Which, Pierre, would be "this is taking longer than signing a goalie!" I plan on using it in long lines at Tim Hortons and when the metro breaks down.)

He's having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich!
One for now, Pierre, and the other for when I HAVE A GOALIE.

Cut from his own mold

Partly because I haven’t written anything in forever, partly because I am face-deep in training camp fever from working on one of my own, partly because I was challenged by George Prax to do so, I would like you all to get acquainted with Gabriel Dumont.

Despite the prelude to Bieber-hair in this particular roster shot, this kid is serious business, so take the time to read carefully.

The Montreal Canadiens’ 5th round selection of 2009 had a fair share of hype coming out of Midget AAA, a league he led in scoring as he joined Drummondville Voltigeurs for their 25th season. Scoring 72 points in 39 games with Rivière-du-Loup, he was widely regarded as the next Voltigeurs’ phenomenon on the heels of Columbus’ Derick Brassard. Another stat from that stellar AAA season…127 penalty minutes. That was the side that the lucky followers of the Q got to see out of him as a rookie, though he only played in eight games that first year.

During that short time, Dumont and fellow rookie (now captain of the Voltigeurs, invited by Tampa Bay—not by fluke—to their training camp) Marc-Olivier Vachon formed one of the more difficult lines to play against in their division, along with veteran Gaby Roch. Both new kids on the block had defense as one of their added specialties as players. Meanwhile, Roch himself had 203 penalty minutes that year, tops in the league. One would think that a linemate like him would be THE ideal protection from guys who at that point were surely twice the height of the rookies in question. But when plays got chippy, Roch wasn’t always the first one to make it to the scrums.

Instead, right there in the line of fire was Dumont. And he was happy—thrilled, even, to be there.

In 2007-08, it was a role he relished even more in his first “real” season, one that was cut short by injury. On a team categorized by a word his coach, Guy Boucher, would come to hate—rebuilding—Dumont dug in his heels as a gritty, hard-nosed player often compared to the likes of Max Talbot (though I myself try never to use that example by reason of sheer bias). On a team essentially composed of first-year players, with veterans jumping ship or being traded away midseason, he emerged as an early leader along with Vachon and another eventual Habs’ prospect: Philippe Lefebvre. The scoring machine from the previous year had taken on a different role that suited him nicely, yet hadn’t even made it to its peak yet.

The season that came after that miserable 14-win hellhole (to put it nicely. Let’s just say that at that point, watching games on Telus’ site was free, and for Voltigeurs’ fans, justifiably so.) was one that the people who know me best dread hearing about even today. Yes, it was that epic.

Dumont’s role significantly increased before 2008-09 even started. He was one of few familiar faces on the hodgepodge assembled over the summer by GM Dominic Ricard. Think what happened last year with Bob Gainey: handpicking names you knew were good once but had no idea if they could bring you to the same degree of success they’d enjoyed all on their own. More rookies, a couple of NHL-drafted guys, a whole new set of 20 year olds…zero certainty.

Luckily, Yannick Riendeau and Dany Massé did what was least expected of them and ripped through the whole league, combining for 236 points. Mike Hoffman and Christopher DiDomenico also had a helping hand in rising GAAs all over Quebec and the Maritimes, while Dumont became even tougher to play against. His point-getting self was back on track (28 G, 21 A in 51 GP), and he finished fourth on the team in shots (while heading the so-called checking line).

It was only in the ensuing Memorial Cup tournament that people started to take notice, however. Despite his lack of being able to actually pronounciate it without making me cringe, Peter Loubardias has Dumont’s name tattooed to his brain from calling those games. With 18 shots on goal, one of those having turned into the all-important overtime winner against Rimouski, “Mr. Clutch” isn’t even enough of a worthy description of how much Dumont’s hard work and relentless everything categorized how far Drummondville went in that tournament. Fine, you say, he scored twice in four games. So what? Well. Here’s where it’s time to pull out the medical file:

  • Shoulder hanging on “by two ligaments”,
  • Knee injury,
  • Mangled thumb,
  • Broken toe,
  • Two (that's 2!) charley horses.

Not to reduce the role of the other MVPs, mainly the aforementioned four plus Marco Cousineau, but Dumont’s Memorial Cup performance was enough to call fifth round in the NHL Draft a steal.

And then there was last season.

The former Rivière-du-Loup captain showed his goal-scoring colours. With the majority of the big names from the previous year out of the way, here was his time to shine. Finishing with the most goals in the league (51) and third place in the scoring race (93), he again played through injury in the Voltigeurs’ near-finals appearance, still managing to put up 11 goals and 10 assists in 14 games—with a broken hand.

Big numbers for a small guy. One who was not remiss in the defensive category either, for it was he who won the Guy Carbonneau Trophy aka the Q’s version of the Selke.

His coach Mario Duhamel had this to say about his 2009-10 season: “When I coached against him last season, his role was different. He was an intense player with an incredible work ethic who tried to get under your skin. What I had to do was to make sure that my players kept their cool and not get him going physically because he is so tough. This season, coaching him, I gave him a role on the top line with Sean Couturier hoping he could help make room for him and knowing he could get his share of goals but I didn't expect quite so much. The thing is, at first, you are happy that he is having such a hot streak but, at this point, it has been going on long enough that it's no longer a streak and we realize that we have a scorer who can do all the things he did last season and a lot more.”

After the season ended in Drummondville he had another pit-stop to make: Hamilton. Upon signing his entry-level contract and rejoining head coach Guy Boucher he immediately resumed his Memorial Cup tournament ways, picking up his first professional goal in only a few games with limited ice time and of course, the probably-not-quite-healed hand. His teammates also took an immediate liking to him and his less-than-friendly approach with adversaries, and it helped that there were enough injuries to allow him more of an experience than he would have had otherwise. Even with no Guy Boucher this year, he will definitely look to pick things up where he left them off last season.

And there’s room for surprises, too.

“Players in the Gabriel Dumont mold, there aren’t many, whether it be with the Canadiens or any other organization,” Dominic Ricard said when his protégé was drafted. “He’s a special player, really in a class of his own.”

“Of course, players his size usually have a longer road to the professional ranks, for example, they could come back to play junior at 20 years old, but with the right amount of perseverance, they end up making room for themselves.”


Stay tuned.

- Quotes : McKeen's Hockey (link) and L'Express (link)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You should be in pictures!

It's pouring outside and I still can't bring myself to terms with the fact that Glen Metropolit is off to Switzerland. It's days like this that I use to mess around on IMDB (you know, if I haven't tired of it from a whole day of movie-related work).

Anyway, I was reading up on The Other Guys, from Anchorman director/FunnyOrDie guy Adam McKay,  and found something pretty interesting.

Yes, you read that right. Samuel L. Jackson plays a character named P.K. How cool is that?

We've been spending the last little while trying to figure out who's cooler: the real P.K. or the guy who plays one in the movies. Subban is the happiest kid on earth, but Jackson gets paid to swear. Subban can go to work and wave to Jean Beliveau, but Jackson gets to make fun of Will Ferrell. Subban plays for the Canadiens, but Jackson was in Star Wars.

I think I know which way I'm leaning, but it's a tough decision so I'm opening this up for debate.