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11-14-2013, 04:58 PM
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Meh, as expected, some of you are being overly pessimistic about the Habs' long term prospects for success given their slide in competitiveness over the past year. I don't think anyone would sit here and argue that the habs roster, as currently constructed, is a legitimate stanley cup contender, but at the same time it seems most of you have been conditioned to expect mediocrity out of this team based on the franchise's results over the past decade and a half.

Keep in mind the views I am about to espouse are ones that i have not normally held in my years as a habs fan. I have been following hockey for a long long time, and have been hovering around these boards for a long time as well. As far back as i can remember i have been pessimistic and sour about the Habs' chances for long term success, even during the good times. While none of that means i know things that others don't, I hope it puts in context just how atypical it is for me to be positive about the Habs.

Anyways, my main argument to those saying this team is eons away from competing regularly for the cup, my suggestion is to focus on what is different about this version of the Canadiens relative to past versions.

For instance, who was the last truly elite talent to play for the Canadiens? Was it Theodore based on his hart season? Koivu? Markov in his prime? Turgeon? Damphousse?

Point is we haven't really had true elite talent in quite some time. I truly do believe we have that in Subban and Price, and potentially in Galchenyuk. Subban's resume speaks for itself, and i think Price is finally starting to put the mental and physical packages together and is slowly ascending to the game's upper echelon of goalies. Galchenyuk so far looks like the best player from the 2012 draft class, and if he keeps progressing like he has, he will be a special player for years to come.

That's three players right there that i could envision becoming franchise cornerstones. Keep in mind that none of them are in their prime years yet and they are all slated to hit their peaks at roughly the same time (forwards develop earliest, dmen later, and goalies latest of all). Without looking at the rest of the roster i would say that's a pretty darn good start.

Does the Habs team of 2013/14 have serious issues? yes, for sure. But there is also a good deal of positive to counterbalance the negative and provide some good for the future:

- Outside of Desharnais, there isn't a single albatross contract on the Habs past 2015. Bourque is debatable, but most of the scapegoats for this year's troubles (Briere, Bouillon, Murray, Parros) are all slated to be gone by the end of next year at the latest. While Desharnais remains a lingering issue, keep in mind that the hawks were able to sign and then get rid of both Campbell and Huet who were on far worse deals.

- There are a solid crew of talented forwards: Pacioretty, Eller, Gallagher, Plekanec, Bournival all are, or look like, quality NHLers. Throw in Galchenyuk and you have 6 players that all look capable (or will be capable) of playing top 9 minutes for a contending team. Are the Habs short a few players (PUN not intended)? Yes of course. The cupboard was pretty bare a few years ago. But trades happen, prospects surprise, signings can happen...basically i think its reasonable to expect an improvement in this team's performance over the coming years based on internal growth alone.

- Our D, as it currently stands, will not be the D of the future. As i mentioned earlier, both Murray and Bouillon are off the books for next year, and if Emelin comes back strong, there are at least four defenseman capable of playing quality NHL minutes on the roster (i am likely higher on Gorges than most). Point being, not all of our prospects will pan out, but it would be foolish to assume that none of them will. As the Habs begin to lean less on stop-gaps (Which i actually think MB has planned for despite most people suggesting he's clueless) I think you will see our D corps come together and become above average. Look at LA's Defensemen when they won the cup...they didn't have much star power after Doughty but they played well as a unit in front of their all world goalie. I think we will have a defensive corps capable of doing the same thing in a few years' time.

To sum it up: I don't think that those of us who are optimistic about this team's future are being blind to reality and in fact think its quite the opposite. My optimism for the habs exists in spite of my severe skepticism for the franchise and the mediocrity its displayed over the past few decades. I think there is true elite talent in the system and that the Habs are finally at a point where their success will be determined by the complimentary moves they make, rather than blowing up the team and starting from scratch. There is alot left to be desired by this year's version of the Habs, but there is also alot to be excited about. At this point i no longer feel that the habs will need a miracle to be a contender, only a couple of good bounces.

And hey, if you can't hold out a (slightly) irrational hope that some breaks will go your team's way and that things will turn out for the better...what's the point of being a sports fan?

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