Alternate title? The honeymoon is over.
Let’s face it, it was not a great week for the Habs. Nor was it a terrible one. François Gagnon in La Presse Saturday jumps through hoops to insist the Canadiens are a better team this morning with the addition of Daniel Brière and George Parros. (Eds. note: Wasn’t that Parros guy in Goon?)
And I’d say to M. Gagnon – maybe, maybe not. He says Brière is certainly better than Ryder. I’m not so sure. I’m not a big Ryder fan but he got 16 goals, 35 points in 46 games last season. Danny Brière got six goals and 16 points in 34 games. Sure Ryder was useless in the Habs’ one playoff series but so was every other forward on the team except for rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk. So Brière for Ryder is at best even.
Parros? Well I’m certainly not adverse to having someone who can take a few fights off my personal hero Brandon Prust’s hands. Yes the Habs got badly beat up on a couple of occasions, notably in that 6-0 humiliation at the hands of the Leafs and in that general-alarm brawl against the Senators.
I just hope this older brawler doesn’t turn out to be Georges Laraque Mach II – i.e. an elderly fighter who arrives here and is no longer willing and able to take the punishment and/or dole out the punishment for his team. But not a bad guy to have. But hardly a game-changer.
Yes Gagnon is right that he’ll do better than Colby Armstrong in the toughness department. But the bar was pretty low. I would do better than Colby Armstrong in the toughness department. And Gagnon’s notion that Parros might light a fire under the sleepy Travis Moen only reminds me of what a terrible idea it was to throw all that money at Moen. Moen should be ashamed of himself for taking that money and then going MIA like that.
Then there’s the hiring of goalie coach Stéphane Waite, which many are hailing as quite a coup. This is the Quebecois goalie coach from Chicago who took previously unheralded goalies Antti Niemi (Eds. note: Imagine your first name being Antti? How cool is that?) and Corey Crawford (Eds. note: When is the Cup coming to Chateauguay Corey?) and turned them into Cup winners.
But fact is the Hawks didn’t win those Cups primarily cos of goaltending. My real worry is that you can’t fix the goalie by fixing the goalie coach. This is the year that Carey Price has to once and for all scamper out of the hobbit hole and show that he’s a great goalie.
Waite – following in the footsteps of Bob ‘What About Bob?’ Gainey – was saying this week that Price is one of the best goalies in the league but his career stats simply don’t prove that. This is Price’s year to finally silence the critics.
At least I’m glad that Bergevin has not been trying to sugarcoat that Ottawa series, publicly admitting that Price could’ve been better. Right then and there, he’s being way more honest than Gainey, who would defend Price no matter what had happened on the ice, in the process, I believe, messing up the young goalie’s normal development.
So is Montreal better today compared to a week ago? Maybe just a little bit. What the week showed is that Bergevin is not the saviour. There’s no magic solution to solve 20 years of Habs mismanagement and he’s absolutely right that it’s not easy to pick-up A-list power forwards or big tough defensemen.
Friday’s free-agent madness proved that most of the GMs in the League are as idiotic as ever and yes it’s a good thing that Bergevin didn’t mortgage the franchise to get a Horton or a Clarkson. Though am I the only one who would’ve liked to see us get Habs-killer Daniel Alfredsson for one year at $5.5 million?
It’s not easy to make a middling team better. That’s the lesson of the week. So us Habs fans need to be patient, which is not exactly our strong suit.