Sure, there have been calls for trades and rumors of trades but let’s look at the Canadiens and break it down.
I think the management is sound and is showing a lot of patience by moving players around and back and forth to Hamilton to see exactly what we have got, who is ready and who will not fit into the system. Bob Gainey is experienced and has shown his commitment to the team with such class acts as standing up for Brisbois who is improving in the new atmosphere. Claude Julien is showing patience and is learning to coach in the big league but what impressed me was his admittance of his mistakes such as not putting Perrault in for a late face-off. Andre Savard is in the system and we have a good scouting base. I see nothing but good things as Julien improves with NHL experience.
Without a doubt Montreal’s strongest point. Theodore is returning to form and Garon is showing that he is not only a great back-up but number one material and with Damphousse, Fichaud, Michaud, Helno-Lindberg, Halak, Puurula and Tarasov waiting in the wings the Habs will be getting calls in the near future regarding goaltending trades. The future is bright between the pipes.
What can you say about Montreal defence without saying Souray is back in a big way. Mike Komisarek looked great in last night’s game. What a duo, Souray and Komisarek. Brisebois has found a friendlier atmosphere to play in and it shows. Markov and Rivet have taken it up a notch and Boullion is the little guy that plays big and with a lot of heart. With Quintal’s experience and the play of Hainsey improving Montreal is standing a little taller in their own zone. Things are only going to improve on the power play with Souray, Brisbois and Markov firing bullets at the net. With Dykhuis and Traverse in Hamilton, we have experienced players working with our future D-men. Beauchemin, Archer, and Shasby, Cote, Holmqvuist, Plant, Flood, Glenn and O’Byrne are all young and all over 6 foot.
Patience is the key here and it is paying off.
I actually think things are improving as lines are juggled and we get a chance to see who plays well with whom. Ryder and Ribeiro are doing very well and Bulis is as well. Perrault and Zednik are returning to form as well as Koivu. Joe Juneau is showing great leadership and some great play on the PK. Begin and Langdon have brought a spark and toughness to a team that certainly needed it. Dagenais did well last nite and shows some size and good hands. There are way too many good prospects to mention and if Gainey holds course and sees just how good Montreal’s depth is then I see a bright future for our forwards.
Conclusion: A good mix of seasoned players and rookies/prospects are going to put the Habs back into the top echelon starting as soon as next season. Some of our older high price help will be moving on before the CBA, which is a bonus because we have some talent waiting in the wings. Things are looking up.
Pretty hard for me to disagree, as you brought up good points. I too feel the management is doing a fine job since Gainey's GM debut. Bob is adressing our needs right now, and knows exactly what to base himself on to make this a better team. He knows we are in need of forwards who can make room in front of the net, and it seems to me like he has been studying that case for a couple of weeks now. I also like Julien's coaching technique. When things don't go his way, he's not scared of making changes that sometimes veterans aren't in favor of, contrarly to some head coaches we had in the past, who based most of their decisions on "not making the old guys unhappy".
I also agree on the fact that we're pretty strong in the goalthending department. Theodore is back in tremendous shape, Garon has established himself as a pretty good back up goalie in the NHL... and we also have quite a few promising young goalthenders in the system waiting for our call (i.e. Halak who's doing well in Slovakia).
By the way, Andreas Holmqvist is a Tampa Bay draftee. He's playing in the ECHL right now, and has played a couple of games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in October, due to an affiliation between the Canadiens and the Lightning. He's not our property.