Last night, the Montreal Canadiens 2010-2011 season came to a halt in a nail-biting, heart-breaking loss to the Boston Bruins. In a series that could have ended positively for either team, there was no shortage of drama or excitement.
But for those of us that celebrate the sport like a religion in this town, this morning was a tough one to face.
While many are dissecting the “if’s, how’s, and why’s” of the past 7 games, I decided to do otherwise. Re-hashing the “what could have been” moments would only put me into a sadder state, and not one that I care to travel down; especially if I must be Hab-less for the next few months.
So instead, I threw on my “Bruins Suck” T-Shirt, and traveled backwards throughout a season that helped me realize Les Boys have done good, and will only get better.
This has been a rare season for the Montreal franchise. Facing months of adversity due to injury, the Club was forced to dig deep within the organization to find solutions that took them out of their comfort zone.
Markov and Gorges with season ending injuries early on in the campaign. Spacek and Cammalleri out for significant portions during the playoff drive. And clearly none of us will forget the Max Paccioretty injury, that left a city, as well as a nation, breathless.
But then there was Ryan White. A kid who probably should have had a full season in the NHL, got the call up.
We’ve been looking for a spirited player with hockey skills for years. Someone that has great hands, good vision, and a passion to protect his fellow team-mates without being a goon. Well I would suggest to Montreal that we have our man.
I’ve never felt more proud than I did when this young rookie stepped into Minnesota Wild’s Clayton Stoner, in response to a dirty hit against fellow Bulldog Aaron Palushaj.
I’ve never been an advocate of violence or fighting in hockey, but during that game, it became clear that Stoner was looking to instigate anything he could. But White had an answer, and I stood in my living room: smiling.
And Yannick Weber? When was the last time that we’ve seen a defenseman that has that much explosive speed from the defensive zone? He moves the puck with clarity, speed, and great intuition. He’s strong as a forward when required to fill in on that role as well. He’s gritty and determined. More than I can say for some veterans in this league. It’s beautiful to watch the likes of him progress through the system, and be used to his potential.
But you want controversy? Fine!
I give you PK Subban.
Why the buzz? Why the hatred and disrespect? Because this kid is going to outshine, out-produce, and out-perform any other defenseman in the National Hockey League.
He has swagger, and teams hate him for that. But behind that swagger is one hell of a hockey player! Does he make mistakes? Yes Sir! Does he need reigned in occasionally – Sure! Does he make a lot of veteran forwards look like chumps? You Bet! All the while, scorching goals from the blue line on the PP!
I’ll skip past the other young player that is going to make his career, a franchise career – but have no fear – I’ll come back to him with a fury.
This year can’t be looked back upon, without discussing the severe importance of Mathieu Darche.
So many people looked me in the “Twitter Eye” and told me that he had no place on this team. I refused to give in. Heart goes a thousand miles in the NHL. And when you link that heart up with determination and some solid hockey skills, it goes even further.
Here’s a man that has been telling his wife for years, that it was not a long term dream. He’s always had nothing more to grasp onto, than single year contracts that promised him nothing.
His response? Give it “All I have” and let the chips fall where they may.
Well the chips have fallen and Montreal couldn’t have un-wrapped a better, sweeter gift.
Amassing 12 goals, 14 assists, and a +7 rating …. Anyone care to challenge his worth? Don’t test me.
There are so many other stories to be told, and over the next few months – I’ll have the time to tackle them. Gionta in his premiere year as Captain. Scotty Gomez and his worth to this team – which may not be $8M, but should not be overlooked. David Desharnais who will become a star in Montreal …
The list goes on.
But to end the season, there’s really only one man that I should finish with. He carried the burden all year. He started 70 games between the pipes. He won 38 of them and posted 8 shutouts. He finished the regular season with a 2.35 GAA and a fantastic 9.23 Save Percentage.
He should have been a Vezina candidate. (Again – don’t test me.)
Before I go on – I will say this: I thought the trade of last years hero …. Jaro Halak … was a pure mistake. I had no faith in Carey Price.
I just had to admit that, because I don’t want to be seen as a hypocrite.
In the end, Carey Price is the reason that the Habs had any playoff hopes at all. He stood on his head all season – not just in the playoffs. He has ice running through his veins. He has this calm composure that many NHL goalkeepers can only dream of. He has focus under pressure and incredible hockey instincts. And I for one, am happy to say that I was wrong about Carey Price.
Even Tim Thomas confessed to Price, during the handshake that concluded our season:
“Great game, great series, … great season.”
He’s been a star that shone all season long – and one that will shine many times in the future of this franchise.
We have so many things to be thankful for. We see post-season more often than not. There are so many teams that would kill for our success. Don’t think for a minute that Gary Bettman isn’t secretly happy to have a Canadian franchise that brings him dollars on such a consecutive basis.
But for Ville-Montreal … when I think back on all that we accomplished this season, and how deep the organization is, I can’t help but be prepared for a Stanley Cup.
I’ll leave you with this from the Goo Goo Dolls:
“And you asked me what I want this year,
And I try to make this kind and clear.
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.
‘Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings,
And designer love and empty things.
Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days.”
We’ve found them Montreal … we’ve found them!