Saturday, October 16, 2010

Do you really want to question his heart?

Wednesday night began with loads of promise.   With players at centre ice with team captain off to the side, the Phone Booth faithful held their breath for player introductions.

Noomeero Cease, Jaroslav Spacek!  

Wow, a non French Canadian, an American throwing caution to the wind and giving it everything he has to connect with ALL Canadiens fans.  The Monreal French mainstream media was quick to jump on the "There has to be a French speaking captain" bandwagon at the announcement from Pierre Gauthier this past summer that a team captain would be announced before the start of the season.

Noomeray ondze, Scott Gomez!

Captain Brian Gionta joined the Montreal Canadiens before last season via free agency after his former teammate Gomez was traded to the Habs.  This also opened the flood gates for a major shake up and team complexion change.

Number Thirteen, Mike Cammaleri!
Noomeray Cat orze, Tomas Plekanec!

There have been many legendary players that have worn the C for the Habs in their 101 year history.  I have taken the liberty to explain my top 3 favorites who have donned the famous C for Le Tricolor.  I would not be a true Canadiens fan if Le Gros Bill, Jean Belliveau was not at the top of that list.  His class on and off the ice is standard that every NHLer since has aspired to emulate.  The second of my top 3 selections goes to Meusieur Bob, Bob Gainey who captained the Habs to the cup in 86.  

Noomero Quinze, Jeff Halpern!
Number Seventeen, Justin Boyd! (Yes we all know it's Dustin, It was a practical joke by Gionta)
Noomero Vinn... Ryan O'byrne!

And he continued on introducing his teammates one after one to the 21,272 fans in attendance.  There was no water poured out at centre ice.  There was no flame to light the ice as was done in the playoffs.  No Bells, No whistles.  Just a man who stands 5'7'' who plays the game as if he was 6'4'' giving it everything has and in a language he just started to learn over the last year.  The third captain of my top three of all time has already been selected.  I did not select these three for there on ice heroics or the hardware they have amassed over their careers.  No it was for 1 thing.  Class.

Je Suis Noomero Vin tay oone, Brian Gionta!

It takes a lot of guts to stand up in a room to give a presentation.  Many have done it in boardrooms across the world.  Some have done so in their non-native tongues.  Brian did it in French in front of 21,272. If you are looking for heart, you just found it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Something's a miss at the Phone Booth.

Good morning Habs fans!  I am sure you are all excited as I am about tonight's home opener between the Tampa Bay Lightning (Habs south) vs your beloved Montreal Canadiens live from Centre Bell or Phone Booth as I like to call it.   

Before we get to far into this post, sports fans can be geeks and there are many geeks who are sports fans.  I would like to assure you that I am 95% Geek, 5% athletic and  a fan of "Le tricolore"  through and through  Most would say that they bleed in 3 colours, White, Red and Blue as I do.  

Yesterday morning as I made my rounds of blogs, online news papers and video sources as I usually do on a daily basis I was confused of the Candiens press release of what was about to happen this year.  This year the Habs and Bell have 3 "new ways that for Canadiens fans to get closer than ever to their team".  

#1- The Official Canadiens Mobile App:  Available to fans who have an Android, Blackberry or IOS (Iphone to you and Me).  You will be able to get official team news, stats and you will have the ability to vote for the game's three stars (we will get to this later).  Bell subscribers will also have the ability to access game broadcasts and post game comments from Jacques Martin.  As well, if you are one of these subscribers you will have access to their special social network where you can exchange comments, photos and videos with other fans and as well you can even instantly share their photos live on the Bell Centre big screen.

#2- TV series: You want to really find out what it's like behind the scenes?  Well now you have your chance with a new reality show staring your Habs.  Been itching to see what goes on in the locker room before the morning skate?  Ever ask yourself who takes the most ribbing on the team?  Is Lappy just as chirpy with the equipment staff?  Well now all these questions will finally be answered. The 30-minute show will be made available first from Bell on mobile, TV and online from November to December in English and French, before it’s widely broadcast on RDS, TSN and V in January.

3- The 3 stars of the game: For the first time in team history, the three stars of the game will be selected by you fans, rather than by members of the media, with voting online or by mobile phone. Bell developed the mobile voting platform for this new approach that brings fans closer to the game than ever before.  

I have always said if toronto can have their LeafsTV then what are we waiting for to have a Habs version.  So the tv show Idea I love and is a can't miss.  

While some will argue that fan voting is has done well for the NHL All-star game, I do have a problem with the three stars selection as being voted by the fans via mobile app or internet.  This is not Canadian Idol, nor X-factor, nor Survivor nor Rockstar Supernova.  While this game is played on ice this is NOT the Battle of the Blades.  Back in the day it was called the Molson Cup Three Stars with points awarded to those selected and a trophy handed given to the top point getter.  

While I am all for expanding the opportunities for interaction of the fans with their team, this is a bad idea.  This is what happens when you have geeks come up with the next biggest marketing technique.  Whats next?  Do we get to vote on the lineup?  Why stop there?  Lets see who should make the team?  Hey I know.. Who do you want to trade and for what at the trade deadline... I wonder how many Halak for Price votes that one will bring. 

There have been times when we have disagreed with the media's selection of a star but this is opening the door for fan favorites instead of rewarding great play.  Wouldn't it be something if Price has a good game and the head trainer gets a star?  Should someone who plays 1-2 shifts a game get a vote?  There are many different ways to bring the fans and team closer but this is going in the wrong direction that is just asking for trouble.  

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Game 2: Price Check in Pittsburgh

It was the coming out party we were waiting for since the Halak/Eller trade was announced.  Carey Price made save after save leading the Montreal Canadiens past the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 tonight.

There was a definite playoff atmosphere in the building as the Habs returned to the scene of the crime where they stole the hopes and dreams of another playoff run to the Cup for Syd's boys.  Though some of the names have changed it was still the same result.

After serving his 1 game suspension for his altercation in the pre-season, Mike Cammaleri wasted no time in getting his season started in great "Cammy" fashion.  At 15:24 of the 1st, assisted by Andrei Kostitsyn and Tomas Plekanec, Cammaleri potted his first of the season.  With 28 minutes in penalties combined by both teams in the first period, the game seemed to be on a chippy pace.

Pittsburgh opened the second period with a quick goal at the 0:40 mark from Evgeni Malkin with assists going to Sydney Crosby and Alex Goligoski.  It was pretty tight checking for the rest of the 2nd which saw the Pens leading the way 25-20 in the shots department.

The Pens were able to pull ahead of the Habs with a goal from Mark Letestu with assists by Matt Cooke and Paul Martin at 8:42.  From then on, Pittsburgh seemed to have the Habs right were they wanted them with a tight trap.  However Montreal would not go away quietly and have no quit.  Mike Cammaleri struck again for his second of the game with assists to Jeff Halpern and Josh Gorges at 17:42.  As if you could read his thoughts Scott Gomez spoke with his stick saying it isn't over yet boys by getting another passed Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury at 18:12 with assists going to Benoit Pouliot and Brian Gionta.

From there it was shut down time and Carey Price went back to work to make sure the puck stayed out of his net for the rest of the game.  After a performance of this calibre by Price, I doubt very much boos will be heard Wednesday night when the Habs welcome the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Bell Centre.

Stars of the game:
 Third Star-Mark Letestu
 Second Star-Carey Price
 First Star- Michael Cammaleri

Friday, October 8, 2010

Game 1: We open 2010-2011 with a loss

Highlights of the game:  Montreal 2, Toronto 3 Oct 7th, 2010

After 5 long months, the 2010-2011 NHL season got under way at the Air Canada Centre tonight between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.  When it was all said and done the Leafs gaining the upper hand in the oldest rivalry in pro hockey with a 3-2 victory over the Habs.  

Toronto had opened the scoring at 6:42 with a 1st period goal by Tim Brent with the assist from Dion Phaneuf with another scored just shortly after by Phil Kessel assisted by Tyler Bozak and Mike Komisarek at 8:57.  Montreal was able to cut Toronto's lead in half on an unassisted goal by new comer Dustin Boyd with 8:41 left to play in the 1st.

The 2nd period was virtually lifeless with Montreal outshooting Toronto 10-5.  

Toronto regained their 2 goal lead with a quick goal in the third period by Clarke MacArthur with assists going to Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski at 1:36.  Montreal was able to regroup quickly by a beautiful goal from Jeff Halpern assisted by Maxime Lapierre and Benoit Pouliot at 2:28.

Reminiscent of the playoffs last year the game ended with a scramble in front of the net.  J.S. Giguere was there to shut down the Habs attack keeping the puck out in the dying seconds of the third.  Shots on goal for the game Montreal-28 and Toronto-24.

There were a lot of positives to take away from this game.  New comers Dustin Boyd, Jeff Halpern and Lars Eller played spectacularly for Montreal.  Eller seemed to be all over the ice getting his stick on the puck every chance he got being rewarded with ice time for his efforts.  

For those itching to jump all over Carey Price I am happy to report you can change your tune.  Price put in a very good game as he stopped 21 of 24 with an awesome save towards the end of the game on a shot by Phil Kessel off a scramble in front of the net.

There are however some things that need to be changed at the next chalk talk.  A lackluster effort of Spacek was enough to make anyone cringe when he got on the ice.  Darche is another that needs to pull his head in.  His 4 minutes in the sin bin could have proved costly for the Canadiens if the penalty kill units had not been clicking.  When he was not in the box, he was non-existent on the ice.

Next game goes Saturday from the "New Igloo" in Pittsburgh.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A poem before it all begins.

Special thanks to @habbyween and @chile_pepper for starting this on twitter and for the idea :)

T'was the night before hockey, when all through Habs nation,
Nothing was a out of place,  our sport was out of hibernation.
Cammy was sitting in the press box, no fair, 
While hopes of a victory hung in the air.

The rookies and veterans getting dressed in their rooms,
While they had visions of Komo and Phaneuf, meeting their dooms.
Coaches: Martin with his tie, Muller with piece in ear,
Checking over line combos, pre-game warm-up approaching so near.

When on my way to the church we call Bell Centre,
Over 21 thousand Fans bursting with excitement to enter.
Walking past the turnstile, getting my beer,
Remembering hearing Price'n horse wrestling a Steer.

The clock overhead read 20 mins with a 0-0 score,
Two teams about to emerge, a battle was in store.
When, what appeared out of the corner of my eye,
But a youth hockey player, with a torch held high.

With his skates laced up, his chin strap done tight,
21 thousand fans stood together, all wearing Red, Blue and White.
For out they came, 23 men skated on to the ice,
From the dressing room through the tunnel, all led by Carey Price.

"Now Gomez! now, Gionta! now, Spacek and Halpern!
On, Hamerlik! On, Markov! on, Gorges and O'Byrne!
To the top of the Division! to the top of the Conference!
Scoring many goals our Stanley Cup can seen in the distance."

On the other side of centre, boys dressed in white and blue
Raining down from many fans some cheers but mostly boos.
For they are the enemy we are to play tonight,
From Toronto they hail, These damn Leafs we will fight.

And then, among oles and cheers, I heard a familiar sound
A referee's whistle,  as the players skated to center on their icy playground.
Two men at center, four on the wing,
The game about to start, each fan and player with a hope of winning.

For another season is upon us, all hockey fans united,
Phrases like "He shoots he scores!" and "Et le but!" get us excited.
Over the P.A "Are you ready" is shouted,

Oh ya, the leafs suck! Now get this game started!

Now a little video, a tribute for the 2010-2011 season.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Open letter to Leafs, Leaf fans and Media

Dear Leaf fan,

Earlier today, Mike Cammalleri was suspended for 1 game for the incident involving him and a yet to be proven, soon to be NHLer, Nino Niederreiter.  While there remains a lot of people, pundits and arm chair referees who still argue over what he should or should not received for the actions, it's over.  Time to move on.

Now the major consensus on twitter, news reports and blogs is "Cammalleri is suspended for 1 game and will miss the Habs vs Leafs on Oct 7th, live from the Air Canada Centre.  We dodged one there!" like he is some sort of Gretzky, Lemieux or Crosby.  Although Cammy is one of my top favorite players, you fail to realize that we have a Team full of legitimate NHLers who won't just be ready for game 1 of the season but are ready now. That's right.  You remember the Montreal Canadiens who knocked off Washington AND Pittsburgh last spring both in 7 game series right?

You see, Mike is a great hockey player but he doesn't make saves.  He is not a pugilist.  He does not play every position on his line.  He is not the re-incarnations of Aurele Joliat, Howie Morenz, Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard or Guy Lafleur,   He is 1 man.  When he is playing, he gives 110% every night but to sit there and suggest you get a free pass on October 7th is so laughable.

Who are you forgetting?  How about Plekanec, Gomez, Gionta? New additions of Boyd, Halpern, Auld.  Our defense core of Markov, Hamerlik, Spacek and rookie of the year to be Subban.  That is only 10 of the other 22 men who will own the ice on game day.  You can also forget about salivating over Price getting the call to be in goal; He is on his game.

So please, stop with your "We dodged the bullet with Cammy getting suspended."  While the rivalry is still alive, we will use you as a Zamboni in your own barn.

Best Wishes on the season

Sunday, October 3, 2010

9.5 From The Russian Judge...

The Canadian Broadcasting Company has been guilty in past years for allowing Donald "Grapes" Cherry of ranting against certain nationalities of the NHL for diving or faking injury.  Tonight I witnessed one of the most gutless moves I have seen in a long time.  

In Montreal's last pre-season game earlier tonight versus the New York Islanders (consisting of only AHL/ECHL talent nonetheless) a tit-for-tat skirmish broke out between Michael Cammalleri and Nino Niederreiter (the swiss born sensation that helped Switzerland beat Russia @ 2010 WJHC).  After the whistle had sounded, Cammelleri ended up with 5 and a game for slashing.  Before we discuss the event, allow me to highlight some other famous gutless dives.

1. NHL 2010 Playoffs - Daniel Carcillo Acting 

2. Sidney Crosby 2009 Stanley Cup Finals

3. Marty Turco from 2005

 Now lets take a look at the video in question.

(big thanks to Fel0096 of youtube/twitter for posting this so quickly)

Now as ugly as it looks, to me its inconclusive if Cammalleri's stick actually connects with any part of 
Niederreiter's face or chest on the highstick.  Next there is a little more tit-for-tat pushing on both parts.   Then all of a sudden Nino goes drops like he has been shot.  Wait a minute though... Roll that video back.. Mike swings at... HIS SKATE BLADE.  Show me the intent to injure.  Please I would like to see it.  

Isles fans will be happy to point out that  Niederreiter did not return for the rest of the game.   I would like to submit a few arguments for the reasoning:

A) This was pre-season and up until that point in the game he had played well and showed his coaching staff what they needed to see. 
B) He was kept off the ice to sell an injury for suspension considerations.
C) It was already 3-1 Montreal and no need to have the kid really get hurt by putting him back on the ice.

I am all for the league coming down hard on goons however Cammelleri is not a goon.  Yes! He should have tone down the stick work but there is no need for a suspension let alone a 5 and a game for that.