Did you really think this was going to be easy?
Did you really think that the Montreal Canadiens could go through the kind of wholesale changes this team went through during the off-season, and see immediate winning results on the ice?
Are you really ready to throw in the towel after a grand total of seven, count ’em, seven games this season?
If you are, I have five words for you: get out of my way.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Bob Gainey’s strategy during the off-season was a brilliant one: trade for a front-line centre, in Scott Gomez, and build around that acquisition with some key free-agent signings in Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta.
Which he did.
Clear out the deadwood on defence (with apologies to Matheiu Dandenault, Patrice Brisebois and, especially, Francis Boullon) and try to solidify your blueline with veterans like Paul Mara, Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek.
Which he did.
I don’t care if you agree or disagree with the moves made by the Habs’ G.M. That’s not the point. In my opinion, the strategy was brilliant. Will the results pay dividends?
The point is: we just don’t know. After seven games, we just don’t know. And if you are ready to waive the white flag after just seven games, well, go right ahead. Just get out of my way, because there is more hockey to be played this season.
Don’tcha think??? I mean seriously!!! Did you not think it might take some time for these players to gel as a team? Did you not think that there might be some growing pains during this process? Did you not think that, no matter WHO Bob Gainey would have gone out and picked up during the off-season, that a little patience would be required ???
Or maybe you miss the good old days of last season. Maybe you miss the hockey team that went out and got a good man fired in Guy Carbonneau. Maybe you miss the hockey team that barely made it to the post-season, only to be swept by the Boston Bruins in the first round.
But, hey. I’m not stupid. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: Bob Gainey is behind everything that’s wrong with the Montreal Canadiens. You’re thinking that, after more than five years on the job, Gainey should have more to show for his efforts than a hockey team filled with players who need name tags. And you know what? You may be right. I’m not here to argue that point.
However, the last time I checked, Bob Gainey was still the general manager of this hockey team. And you know what? I’m willing to live with Gainey’s decisions and the changes he’s made. Through seven games, you’re damn right I am.
That’s not to say that alarm bells haven’t already started to sound. It would be nice if Mike Cammalleri had more than one goal to his credit through seven games. It would be nice to see Scott Gomez pick it up a notch or two and begin earning his 7.5 million dollar salary. It would also be nice if Hal Gill was less of an adventure out there along the blueline.
It would also be nice to see Andrei Markov in this lineup. But he’s not. He’s hurt. So is Ryan O’Byrne, after promising pre-season.
It would also be nice to see the Canadiens score on the kind of 5-on-3 power play that they enjoyed for almost a full two minutes Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre, in a game which the Habs lost 3-1.
But they didn’t.
It would have been nice to see Carey Price stop the second shot he faced against the Senators Saturday night, instead of giving up a goal to Chris Neil.
But he didn’t.
It would have also been nice to see Andrei Kotitsyn follow up his solid showing against the Colorado Avalanche in Thursday’s home opener against the Bell Centre, with another first-rate effort against Ottawa.
But if you think I’m ready to write off the 2009-2010 season after a 2-5 start to this campaign, you’re barking up the wrong tree, my friend. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to have a conversation in six weeks or so. Then, maybe, we’ll talk.
In the meantime, get out of my way. There’s more hockey to be played.