Can you imagine how that phone call went at six this morning? Marc Bergevin’s pulled out of a deep sleep by a caller – the police? Habs communications czar Donald Beauchamp? A reporter? – telling him that the guy he recently traded for, Zack Kassian, was in a traffic accident just minutes earlier.

As reported in The Gazette, the jeep he was in smashed into a tree on Clanranald Avenue near Cote St. Luc Road in N.D.G. A 20-year-old woman was driving the truck and there were two other passengers, in addition to the Canadiens forward.

Kassian suffered minor injuries, acccording to Beauchamp, who was quoted in The Gazette story.

So let’s hope that he and the other passengers are all doing fine.

Now on to the impact on the Habs. The short answer? Not so good. Bergevin traded fan favourite Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks this summer in return for Kassian, who was an enigma with gusts up to a dud in Vancouver. Prust has been on a decline since his strong first season in Montreal and after a terrible playoff this past season, it was clear Habs management no longer had any faith in the gritty forward.

The view amongst many I talked to was that the Habs traded one problem for another. The other thing to keep in mind is that the Canadiens have always had a zero tolerance policy re off-ice problems. From Chris Chelios to Shayne Corson to Andrei Kostitsyn to Mike Rebeiro to Prust, the team has been quick to ship out guys when there’s even a hint that they might be a bad influence on the other players.

So what happens with Kassian? My pal Bruce Dinsmore insists they were on their way to church and certainly I’ve often made that trek straight from the after-hours club to the house of worship. Rafael Oullet suggested – ‘il allait bruncher avec ses cousines je crois!’ Maybe.

But let’s just be mild-mannered here, for a change, and mention that this is kind of a disastrous way for the first weekend of the season to start.

  • Brendan Kelly

I haven’t been watching much pre-season action because I do actually have a life – though if you read my avalanche of FB output you might question that! – and so I only finally got to see one of those three-on-three OTs last night.

Both sides had all kinds of chances and then Bobby Ryan from the Senators scored at the 1:18 mark to put the clown act out of its agony.

Wow just when you thought Gary ‘How Tall Am I?’ Bettman couldn’t make the league any more Mickey Mouse. It’s Cirque du Soleil man. I mean really. It makes the shootout seem Old School. Just don’t do it. It cheapens The Game.

End of rant.

  • Brendan Kelly
Photo of Keith Richards by J. Rose.

Photo of Keith Richards by J. Rose.

I know, I know, this is my Habs blog but hey hockey and rock’n’roll go together like beer and chips, so here are my thoughts on that new Keef movie.

I just loved the Netflix documentary Keith Richards: Under the Influence, which I watched last night. ‘You’re not grown up until they put you six feet under,’ says Keef. Now I know a few of you who think I could do some growing up but the great thing about this documentary directed by Morgan Neville – the guy who also made the brilliant Oscar-winning doc Twenty Feet From Stardom – is to be able to get to watch and listen to Keef, at 71, showing the same excitement about the music he loves as he did at 16 when he first met Mick on the train and realized this fellow had a couple of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters albums under his arm. He still lives for the music (and Mick doesn’t, which is a big part of the reason they hate each other but that is another post/story). There’s a great moment where he starts talking about how boring rock became. He calls it marching music and he just nails the dullness of post-1970 rock.

His point is that it was missing the pulsing, throbbing beat of the original rock’n’roll and blues that cranked his switch back in the mid-’50s.

‘Excuse me but I like the roll,’ he says and then bursts into that trademark smoky laugh that’s the symbol of this chap’s unlikely eternal youthfulness (even if his face looks like it’s been carved out of the side of Mount Rushmore).

What’s great about Under the Influence, as my pal Harm-Harry Duzink pointed out last night, is that, in spite of what the title might suggest, this is about the music that influenced Keith, not the drugs. One of the key figures here is Muddy Waters. We see him performing with the Stones in ’81 in a classic clip and then Richards drives up to Muddy’s former home in Chicago, where he reminisces about a party he went to there back in the day (he remembers arriving but is a little less clear on how he left, remembering only that he ended up waking up in Howlin’ Wolf’s house round the corner).

There’s also great stuff with his idol Chuck Berry, behaving like a total tool of course, and lots of conversation about the blues, country and reggae artists that changed Keith’s life. Oh and he explains how he got that extraordinary guitar sound on Street Fightin’ Man (he used an acoustic guitar mic’d with a rinky dinky cassette recorder). So if you care in the least about the history of modern music, you ought to have a look at this.

And best of all, Mick barely makes a cameo appearance.

The Habs picked the wrong captain_

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized


Well Canadiens’ management got the captain they wanted. It’s Not-So-Mad Max Pacioretty. The Habs announced Friday morning that Patch has been named the 29th captain of the Canadiens, following a team vote.

So okay he’s the players’ choice. So let me keep it simple. They made the wrong choice. As Patrick LagacĂ© said in a brilliant column this week, we already have our captain and his name is P.K. Subban.

But that was never going to happen. The players chose the captain management wanted and both the skaters and the bosses have shown themselves to be completely out of touch with the Quebec public.

P.K. is our captain. People love this guy. He might well be the most exciting personality in the entire NHL, both on and off the ice. Unlike 99.9 percent of pro hockey players, he actually has something intelligent to say when a mic is put in front of him, he has a great sense of the community surrounding the team, he’s funny, he has style. All the things you want in a captain.

Patch? Wake me up when his tenure as captain is over. Don’t get me wrong. Guy’s an amazing player. He’s our sniper. This is good on any team and is even better on a team like the Habs where scoring goals is about as rare as finding witty literate types in the Prime Minister’s office. So yeah a chap who can score 40 goals, that we like.

But a leader? Ummm no. He has never had anything resembling a good playoff run, for one thing. As a pal said, Patch is a good goal-scorer but he’s not the clutch goal-scorer. He’s not your Jonathan Toews who’s gonna get the OT goal when you need it most.

P.K. is that guy. Remember that Bruins series two years ago? We won that series because Subban decided we were gonna win it. He virtually delivered a Mark Messier-like promise before game seven in Beantown. That’s Our Man.

One last thing. Subban opened his press conference at the hospital this week speaking the language of Tremblay and he’s made an effort since day one to at least try to speak French. He does that because he respects his fans – and the captain of the Canadiens MUST speak at least a little French. To spend a decade as captain – you know who I’m talking about – and not even once say ‘bonjour’ is simply unacceptable.

Is Max gonna be that leader in the community? Of course not.

And this morning, Habs management sits on Ivory Row above the Bell Centre ice pleased as punch. They’ve been fighting Subban for years. They got into bitter brawls with the Norris-Trophy-winning D-man over his two last contracts and the coach spent an entire year trash-talking the superstar. They don’t like anyone being bigger than the team, whether they’re named Guy Lafleur, Patrick Roy or P.K. Subban.

So there it is. A missed opportunity. Sigh.

  • Brendan Kelly
  • Twitter: @brendanshowbiz


Do the right thing! And yes I am referencing P.K. Subban’s good pal Spike Lee. Everyone just seems to assume the next captain of the Canadiens will be Max ‘Yawn’ Pacioretty and for once everyone is probably right.

The bleu-blanc-et-rouge is the ultimate don’t-rock-the-boat organization, an outfit that wants peace and quiet (and a healthy bottomline) over all else. So chances are that general manager Marc Bergevin and his cohorts will choose Not-So-Mad Max to helm our favourite sports team.

Too bad. Hey I like Patch. He is, after all, the only chap on the team that can put the puck in the back of the net with any consistency. But I’m not really seeing him as our fearless leader.

Gaz columnist Pat Hickey – the wheelman for the Montreal hockey press corps – quotes Bergevin on what makes a great captain: “You need to be a leader, need to be somebody who is respected by his teammates…is a leader on and off the ice, has a presence. I was asked earlier in my career who I look upon as great captains. To name a few: Al MacInnis, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman…These are the guys that led by example.”

Would you really mention Patch in the same breath as those guys? Not so much. Look at the last two playoff runs. Was Max leading by example? No he was middling at best, almost Plek-like in his post-season lethargy. And don’t even get me started on how he fares in the personality department, which is part of the criteria for a captain. This is the player who becomes the go-to guy for the media and so why not make it someone with a bit of spark.

Which brings us to my main man P.K. There’s no question he’s got the personality thing nailed down. He has the wardrobe for the job. And he actually fits Bergevin’s description of a captain to a tee. He does lead by example. He does leave it all on the ice. Think back to the 2014 playoffs when he took that epic Habs-Bruins series by the neck and didn’t let go until the Not-So-Bad Bs were lying flattened on the ice, a shadow of their former selves. No Subban, no series win, as simple as that. And he virtually promised that win Marc Messier style.

Yeah he has an enormous ego but so do plenty of other captains/sports superstars. We are living in a world of pro athletes with big egos. Even if he’s not made captain, his Ego will be running amok.

But it ain’t gonna happen. Habs management is terrified of the concept of Subban becoming captain. Other teams would see P.K. as a marketers’ wet dream but the Habs bosses just see warning signs. At every turn in Subban’s young career, they’ve tried to keep him in his corner. They fought him over the famous bridge contract, astonishingly enough they took him all the way to arbitration last summer and the kindly ol’ coach has spent years bad-mouthing the Norris-winning D-man (just underlining that M. Therrien only likes lunchbox-toting grunts not elite All-Star skill guys).

So welcome Patch as captain and just remember that Les Glorieux would have a much better chance of winning Lord Stanley’s trophy with P.K. wearing the ‘C’.

  • Brendan Kelly


Many say I’m a half-empty guy when it comes to the Habs and maybe they’re right. I put it down to my dark troubled Irish character. Or maybe it’s just the Guinness.

So to keep my critics happy I’m going to keep on my rose-coloured glasses on today and concede that we will all wait until this fall to see how Alexander Semin fits in with our beloved Habs. Yes he is a former 40-goal scorer but that was in 2009-2010 – in other words, you’d be just as well saying Jaro Halak is a Cup-worthy goalie since he looked that way that same season. (Eds. note: You have been saying exactly that for years!)

Things get significantly more dire when you look at his modern-day stats. Six goals and a minus-ten rating last season. I know, I know, he was playing for a beyond-crap team but – like Gomez, like Briere – the trend is pretty clear. His goal production is on the down-and-down.

Upside? It’s only costing Marc Bergevin $1.1 million to pick him up and any added scoring is a plus on a team that can’t buy goals.

Here’s one mystery for ya. The Canadiens snare an aging sagging scorer in Semin yet have spent years snubbing a much more useful aging sagging scorer named Jaromir Jagr. Explain that to me? Jaggs’ Westmount agent Petr Sloboda has been trying to sell Jagr to the team for years and management has said privately they won’t touch him with a ten-foot-pole. Genuinely curious about this one.

The other thing that worries me here is how the kindly ol’ coach is going to take to Semin. Michel Therrien benched the last two high-profile scoring acquisitions – Briere and Parenteau – and we all know he has limited to no patience with any skater who doesn’t bring the proverbial lunch bucket to the rink every night. Is he really going to get on with this enigmatic Russian?

But hey this is the new more optimistic Top Shelf scribe here. So yeah I’m waiting til the fall on this one. And if he tears it up, all the better.

– Brendan Kelly

Brandon Prust.

Brandon Prust.

I’m not sure I’m getting the Prusty trade. I agree he’s not nearly the player he was when he arrived three years back but is Zack Kassian really that much of an upgrade? First thing he says today is that he’s inconsistent. And it doesn’t seem there’s that much of a salary difference. Maybe half a million? In other words, chump change by NHL standards. So what gives? Why get rid of a Montreal fan favourite in that case? Was it really cos he mouthed off to a ref in the playoffs? Are we a better team following this six-of-one/half-a-dozen-of-another trade?

I guess Kassian puts a few more points up on the board. So he’s a gritty player with better point totals. The former Vancouver Canucks right winger has 35 goals, 31 assists, and 66 points in 198 NHL games. Brandon Prust has 39 goals, 69 assists, and 108 points in 451 games. So Kassian is doing a bit better in that department. Hmmm I might actually be semi-convincing myself this is a decent trade.

So then you come to the whole intangible heart-and-soul thing. By all accounts, Prusty’s team-mates loved his spirit. But Les Boys do need some more goals. Hmmmm. I guess it’s a jury’s-out situation for the moment.

But on the showbiz front, it’s definitely a losing trade. Quebec might lose local TV host and reporter Maripier Morin, who is Prust’s fiancĂ©. Forget L’affaire Julie Snyder. This is a real scandal.

– Brendan Kelly