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05-15-2008, 08:01 AM
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Having spoken at length about their greatness, let me add something about their,well, not weakness, but adaptability. So many Hall of Famers: Dryden, Lafleur, Lemaire, Gainey, Robinson , Savard , - how many, seven if you count Cournoyer? BUT those five great players were surrounded by role-players, Rick Chartraw, Cam Connor, Pierre Bourchard, or better but still one dimensional players like Lambert and Riseborogh, all played regularly, hd regular roles on that team. (No they weren’t bangng and beating, they were playing decent defensive hockey) Like the 1950’s Yankees, who really only had Mantle, Berra and Ford among the all time greats, but won more than anyone. Lesson? That you need a core of super talent, indispensably – keep Kovalev ! Sign Sundin! Let Kostitsyn bloom! – but that you can go a long way if you surround them with players who a.)know their role and b.) want to play the role they’re asked to play. Also: that more talent is available than you might think, if you’re willing to accept its limitations and work with them: Pierre Larouche was an undisciplined one way player, but he played a valuable role on those teams in the later years. Try to turn him into Doug Jarvis, and you’re finished. Identify your core talents, let them play (nobody ever worried about Lafleur’s defensive responsibilities) and surround them not with grinders and fighters – the Bruins had grinders and fighters – but with disciplined role-players. Sign AKost to a long term contract, find a defensive center who can check and shut down people, recognize that there’s talent out there wasted – a lot of it Quebecois, by the way – and adjust your game to the circumstances. Don’t expect Kovalev to back-check; don’t put Smolinski out on a five-on three. Canadiens lost this year because a.) Price wasn’t ready, b.) they were unlucky and c.) Carbo didn’t adjust to what was happening once the power-play got stopped/stalled.
Re: Dryden giving up bad goals: he certainly got caught in some last-shot-win games, there were more of them then. The famous game eight of the Canada-Soviet series was one of them. But he never put the Habs in a hole they couldn't get out of.

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