Saku Koivu- The Man


Our Senior Staff Writer Andrea Gordon shares this special tribute to one of the best Captains the Montréal Candiens have seen. Her close personal experience with cancer makes his even more touching. Enjoy!

Written By: Andrea Gordon, #BBBR

1,124, The amount of games Saku Koivu played.
792, The amount of games he wore the CH with pride.
593 – The amount of those games he Captained Les Glorieux.

No matter the numbers, one thing nobody will forget is Saku Koivu, the man.

He’ll never be idolized for the amount of goals he scored (191) nor the total points he put up (641). He will forever be remembered as the Captain who stole our hearts by wearing his heart on his sleeve.

A lot of us grew up thinking of hockey players as unbreakable and indestructible, but he demonstrated to us that no matter how many times you’re thrown down, you get up again and fight.

I’ll never forget the day back in 2001, when I sat in front of my TV as the Habs had called a press conference.
Staring at the screen I was wondering- “Was there a big trade? Had we fired our coach?”. But that wasn’t it. The Montreal Canadiens President Pierre Boivin sat there, with what looked like tears in his eyes.

He sat there and told the world that our Captain, our leader, was going into the biggest battle of his life. A fight against Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I remember tears filling my eyes, It was a battle I knew all too well as it’s one my Father lost many years before.

I said right then and there to anybody who would listen – “Saku Koivu WILL play hockey this season”. People thought I was crazy, but it was a feeling.

Being only 16 going on 17, and at the mercy of my mother to buy my hockey tickets, I picked a game at the end of the season to go to.

The media kept us as up to date as they could on his condition, and then rumblings in March that a comeback may be possible before the season ended began to brew.

April 9th 2002 was the day and with my tickets in hand I made my way to the Mecca of Hockey. I stood there with the 21,272 other fans in the crowd and cheered, clapped and cried as Saku Koivu made his return to hockey. It’s a moment that will forever be etched in my memory.

With that diagnosis Saku entered our hearts even more than before and he showed this city his appreciation in setting up the Saku Koivu foundation. Determined to get another PET scanner into Montreal’s major hospital, in Koivu fashion he succeeded. His name lives on the walls at the Montreal General hospital, and we continue to thank him for his love and support of the city of Montreal.

That campaign earned #11 the Bill Masterton trophy.

I’ll never forget September 2002, when the Canadiens were holding a fan jam, and I was determined to meet and speak to Le Capitaine. I was only 5 when my father lost his battle, and to see how far this horrible disease has come and how many survive it, he inspired me.

Saku came down and started shaking the hands of fans. To my surprise I was going to be one of them! I’ll never forget that moment. All I could say to him was “Thank You!”

He stopped, almost looking puzzled and asked me “Why are you thanking me?” Emotions overwhelming me, I let him know quickly how I had lost my father to the same disease, and how happy I was to see how far the treatments have come and how it’s become one of the more curable cancers. He took my hand in his again and said to me “Thank You”.

It was a quick encounter but one that touched my heart in ways I could never explain.

That’s who he was, a hockey player but more-so, a man. One who fought his battle publicly and showed us all his strength and determination.

Saku Koivu will always be the Captain of my generation, who led by example.

And for all of that I say – “Thank You”

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The Hockey Family – Yes! Even Rivals.

Written By: Iain Carnegie, #BBBR

They say that blood is thicker than water. That when no one else is there for you, you can always count on family.

They also say that there’s no damn way a Boston Bruins fan or someone of the New Jersey Devils persuasion could ever put up with a fan of Les Glorieux. Or visa versa for that matter.

But guess again.

Hockey is many things to many people. To some it’s just a sport, but to others it’s a religion. Some see it as a battlefield, whether it be players that wear the equipment and take to the ice, or fans that don the hometown jersey and take to the bar.

It gets emotions to rise, blood to boil, mouths to curse, and passion to flow.

But it also brings people together.

I would love to tell you that some of my best friends are Habs fans, and that would be true to a point. But reality is, some of my best friends are just plain old hockey fans.

Nearing the end of last season, a certain Facebook site got me talking to a New Jersey gal named Deedee Rodriguez. Sure, she’s a Devils fan, but the more we talked the more I learned to appreciate her love for the game. She was passionate and smart. Beyond smart. She really knows her hockey. We’ve had some incredible conversations about the game over the past months, and despite who we cheer for – we share a passion.

However, let’s get shocking. Facebook has also introduced me to two lads from my arch rival city of Boston. Actually – I should say “rivahl”.

Both Todd Goodwin and William Johnson are pure bread lovers of the Black and Gold. We throw barbs at each other continuously. There’s no shortage of times I remind them of our 24 Stanley Cups, and they never let me live down the spring of 2011.

In the end though, I’ve shared some pretty incredible moments with Todd and William. We’ve talked about books and films, been privy to some family moments like anniversary cruises and new relationships, as well as some touching stories about family.

No doubt, when the puck drops on October 8th, it’ll be every man and woman for his or herself within this hockey family of ours. But there’s a beauty of how it’s brought us together.

I’m looking forward to 82 games of bliss watching my Habs, but I’m also looking forward to the ribbing and competition I’ll have to face from my buddies from Boston and Jersey. We already have bets on the table.

Hockey has brought me some exhilarating moments, some incredible disappointments, and memories that will last a lifetime.

But more importantly, it’s spawned me a new family, and life wouldn’t be quite the same without either them or the game.

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Bye Bye Spin-O-Rama

Written By: Iain Carnegie, #BBBR

Gone are the days of spin to win as far as the NHL goes. It might be fine for a popular TV game show, or a board game at the cottage, but it’s no longer allowable in the major league of hockey.

This is probably good news, but now the league has to start considering how to get rid of the shootout all together. Something that we will hopefully see in the not too distant future.

Shootouts are for soccer. And even then(?).

Here’s a list of the other rule changes adopted by the NHL that go into effect for the 2014-15 campaign.

*The goalkeeper’s restricted “trapezoid” area expands by two feet from the goal post on both ends of the net.
*Clipping, charging, elbowing, interference, kneeing, head-butting and butt-ending infractions join the same category as boarding and checking-from-behind fouls, whereby a player who incurs two such game misconducts in the category will be automatically suspended for one game.
*Video reviewers may advise referees on whether their whistle was blown after losing sight of the puck on disputed goals.
*More evidence of a “distinct kicking motion” is required for video reviewers to reverse a “goal” call or uphold a “no-goal” call made on the ice.
*A two-minute tripping penalty may be called on defending players who trip players with their body/arm/shoulder, regardless of whether the defending player makes initial contact with the puck. But a penalty shot can not be awarded if the defending player touches the puck first.
*Supplemental discipline for diving increases, with a graduated scale of fines for repeat offenders and their head coaches.
*To curb face-off delay tactics following an icing call, a defending team committing a second faceoff violation (after a warning is issued) will receive a two-minute bench minor.
*Faceoffs will remain in the attacking zone if a stoppage in play is the result of an attempt to create a scoring chance, such as a shot going off the net and out of play, or a shot deflected out of play by a teammate.
*Hash marks on the end-zone circles widen from three feet to the international distance of five feet, seven inches

The season is soon upon us!

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There’s No Place For Martin Brodeur

Written By: Iain Carnegie, #BBBR

Does someone care to explain the audacity of his request, and the absurdity of the Canadiens “apparent possible interest” in a washed up, has been 42 year old goalie?

I’m sorry, maybe that was a bit brash, but this situation is a bit of a joke.

Price is an elite goalie in the league (apparently ranked third overall), so the starting position is moot – unlike it was years ago.

Now, with the franchise stocked with goaltending greatness, is there really a potential to open a new can of worms regarding the backup position.

Peter Budaj, who has shown himself to be a strong replacement for Price on any given night, and who is only on contract for one more year at a cheap $1.4M is undoubtedly the better choice.

Add in Dustin Tokarski, a young formidable 25 year old star in the making, and there’s no room for someone else. Especially someone with the ego that Brodeur is currently projecting.

Fine, he’s a Montréal home town boy, and arguably one of the best the league has seen. Funny how when he was on top of his game, he wanted nothing to do with Les Tricolore, but now that he can’t secure a contract in his fading career he is all about gracing Montréal with his presence.

To consider Brodeur for even a moment is a head shaking thought. He won’t bring any growth to this team. Price doesn’t need him as a “mentor” as some suggest. He’s doing just fine thanks.

And we haven’t even mentioned Zachary Fucale in Hamilton yet.

So thanks, but no thanks Marty. There’s no room at the inn, and you’re going to need to find another barn to finish your career in.

Posted in 2014 - 2015 NHL Season, Announcements, Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Habs Goalies : Which One Goes?

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

As the wave of relief over the long term signing of PK Subban fades, and the countdown number to the 2014-15 season grows smaller, the franchise still doesn’t lack issues to be dealt with. Some more glaring than others, especially to the general public.

After the eight year contract extension for Subban was announced, many immediately piped up feeling that the Captaincy issue was also now solved, feeling that #76 should wear the “C”.

That got BBBR to posing the following question to our readers – What’s the next big Montréal controversy? Captaincy or the backing goalie situation.

Your responses were clear. It’s all about who plays behind Carey Price. We couldn’t agree more. The franchise went an entire season with no one wearing the Captains C before it was awarded to Brian Gionta in 2010. A delay announcing his replacement won’t stop the world from turning.

On the other hand, Cap space and contracts are at the forefront of the business of hockey, and there is one contract too many within the goaltending slot.

Peter Budaj has been nothing short of wonderful during his stint as back-up for Les Glorieux.

The 31 year old, 6’1″ 192lbs tender played in 24 regular season games last season. His numbers were more than fine (10W 8L 3OT – 2.51 GAA .909SV%) as he instilled confidence in the fan base that he was more than capable of giving Price the night off. People felt that he always gave the team the chance to earn two points on any given night he got the call. But more than that, as an “older” player in the league, he causes no fuss for the organization. He is happy being number two, and has no further expectations. A requirement that hasn’t always been met in Montréal backup net minders. And that brings a certain harmony to the team that you can’t put a dollar value on.
Dustin Tokarski has also proven himself to be an invaluable addition to the NHL segment of the Canadiens franchise. He had a more than acceptable regular season (2W 1L 1.84GAA .946SV% with 1SO), but really stepped up his game as he took to replacing the injured Price in the Eastern Conference Finals. Considering the skates he had to fill, and that he had never started an NHL playoff game before, he did everything expected and more.

Most fans were surprised that the coaching staff were handing such a huge responsibility to such a young inexperienced player. After all, he’s only 24 years old without having experienced the pressures of NHL playoff hockey. But he outshined expectations, and despite losing the series posted a 2W 3L record with 2.60GAA and a .916SV%.

There’s no doubt that this performance elevated how the Canadiens organization, MSM, and the fanbase view him. Many of the latter stated that he had clearly become the new #2 man to back up Price.

By let’s look at the contracts, player values, and other variables that come into play.

Certainly there’s a dollar value win by keeping Tokarski and trading away Budaj. The youngster has a contractual value of only $562.5K per year over the next two seasons before becoming an RFA. Budaj on the other hand sits at $1.4M for another year before becoming a UFA. Pretty substantial dollar difference.

Contractually, the Habs only have the veteran on the books for one more season giving them time to decide if he is worth re-signing for the 2016 campaign.

After last years stint with the big club, Tokarski can’t be sent back to the AHL Bulldogs without being placed on waivers, which based on his performance induced value add, I hardly see him clearing. That means that one way or the other, in order to see this situation through, a trade is imminent.

It seems rather unreasonable to think that the Habs can muster up a solid enough payback on Budaj to make it worth him being put on the block. Add in his experience and content in the position, he seems the logical choice to keep.

Tokarski on the other hand has increased his value, and is at a good young age to fetch a solid return that (if packaged) could add even more size the the team up front. It also doesn’t seem likely that a young rising star would be happy playing between 10-15 games a season behind Price.

At this point, it appears that Budaj is the better choice overall for the Habs. The decision won’t be an easy one, but if I was going to leave it in anyone’s hands, Marc Bergevin is a phenomenal choice.

Let us know what you think and weigh in below in the comment section.

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Canadiens Lock In Subban For Eight Years


Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

A mass sigh of relief could be heard across the hockey world as Canadiens fans exhaled in joy at the announcement.

Shortly after 2pm EST, Montréal’s GM Marc Bergevin announced the news that Habs fans wanted to hear. PK Subban will remain in le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge for eight more years.

In what seemed a never ending fiasco of negotiations between the Canadiens organization and Subban (front lined by his agent Don Meehan), there seemed little hope of a contract extension after Thursday night.

Both sides went as far as they could possibly go, entering into a four hour arbitration hearing yesterday. In an interview following the hearing Subban appeared less than optimistic and seemed resigned to the fact that he was destined to a one year deal assigned by the arbitrator.

That all ended with this afternoons announcement which sees Subban as a Canadien through the 2021-2022 season, with an average annual value of $9M USD per season ($72M over the contract term).

The young defenseman helped secure a contract of this nature by proving himself over the past two season, and showing he is one of the elite defenders in the NHL.

Winner of the Norris Trophy two seasons ago was part of the proving ground for Subban, along with his solid fifty three points in the 2013-14 regular season campaign (10G, 43A, -4). However his post season team high of fourteen points (5G, 9A, +1) in seventeen games was a powerful exclamation point.

“We are very pleased to have reached a long term agreement with P.K. Subban. This agreement helps consolidate the future of our team. A key element of our group of young veterans, P.K. plays with a high level of intensity every time he steps onto the ice. Despite his young age, he carries a great deal of experience and brings contagious energy to the team. Defensemen of his level are a rare commodity in the NHL. ~ M. Bergevin

Powerful words from the man who has helped solidify the franchise into a serious contending team over the past two years. Words that remove all doubt that he has nothing but faith in, and respect for his young defenseman.

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Pat Burns Inducted Into Hall of Fame … Finally

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

In light of the news that the NHL has finally seen fit to induct Patrick Burns into the Hall of Fame (HHOF), we take a look back at our original remembrance of this incredible man.

It took far too long for this day to arrive. Congratulations Coach Burns. Hockey has finally bestowed the honour you so rightfully deserve.

Enjoy this look back on one of the greatest men to be a part of the National Hockey League.

Patrick (Pat) Burns : Montreal Canadiens Coach Remembered

It’s a rare occassion when I sit down to write, that I don’t know what to say.

All I knew, as I booted my Notebook and clicked the links to get me to this point, was that I felt something. I knew there was an emotion that I wanted to project onto this page, and share with my readers. But when I started to physically type the words, I had to begin again several times.

I’ve never been the type to feel particularly close to, or aligned with people of celebrity status, or those in the media. I have my thoughts on them, but I don’t know them. We don’t share moments together, so to pretend like I even have an understanding of them, as people, would be ludicrous. But there is a certain kinship that I think many people have felt with Pat Burns over the years. Undoubtedly, because of his ability to wear his heart on his sleeve, produce some exceptional results in his work (that most of the hockey world holds dear), and because he showed every soul that witnessed his life, what it meant to never give up.

You could always tell just by watching Burns behind the bench – even before being told – that he had been a “cop” in a previous career. He had both the stature and the demeanor. The ever watchful eye and the ability to analyze a scene were all prevalent in his coaching ways. But there was also a softness in his eyes. An understanding. You got the feeling that even when he didn’t like what he was seeing from his players, he had the ability to coach them. More-so; mentor them.

And the results were the proof of the pudding so to speak. In 1019 games in the NHL, while coaching 4 different teams, Burns amassed 501 wins, 353 losses, 151 ties, and 14 OT losses. But the stat that probably says it all to me is his 3 Adams Trophies, which he gained with three separate teams – all being Original Six franchises. He is the only coach in the history of the league to gain that honour on so many occasions.

During his four seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Burns (who’s record was 174-104-42) took the Habs to two first place finishes, one second place, and one third in the Adams Division. It also saw La Flanelle earn a berth in the Stanly Cup Final (1988-1989), only to lose to the President Trophy winning Calgary Flames in 6 games. To this date, it is the last time two Canadian teams have squared off in the Stanley Cup Final.

After moving on to both the Toronto Maple Leafs (1992 – 1996), and the Boston Bruins (1997-2001), from which he was fired on an equal number of occasions, Burns settled in behind the bench of the New Jersey Devils for the 2002-2003 season.

In his inaugural season with that franchise, Burns coached players like Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, and Scott Stevens, accomplishing the crowning jewel on his career, with a Stanly Cup Championship over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in seven games. A feat only accomplished by two coaches before him – also previous members of the Montreal Canadiens club – Jacques Lemaire, and Larry Robinson.

With an impressive record, trophy winning seasons, and a Stanley Cup ring – there was one underlying feature about Burns that consistently shone through. And that was his ability to never give up. Pat Burns was a fighter, and sadly – he was soon to find out after hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup, how important that quality would be for him.

Through battles with both colon cancer and liver cancer, Pat Burns always showed the heart of a champion. Stepping down from the forefront of the league after the second diagnosis, Burns battled on, until his third diagnosis – this time of incurable lung cancer. Deciding to forgo treatment, Pat Burns felt content in living out the balance of his days near his wife: Line.

Sadly, we lost Pat Burns yesterday. He finally succumbed to the disease that had been festering in him for many years. He died near his home in Sherbrooke Quebec.

But there are many things that the hockey community will take with them after his passing. Grit and determination can carry you a long way, and a quitters attitude has no place in this life. A sense of humour is paramount to what we all face on a daily basis (imagine the media reporting you’re dead when you’re not – and calling them up to remind them that you’re still alive – shopping in the local market for your dinner). But mostly, we’ll remember those soft eyes, and his incredible attitude. Even while facing death.

To Patrick Burns; we thank you for being more than an example of how to live both on and off the ice. And to your family, we offer our good wishes and prayers.

In His Own Words:

“I know my life is nearing its end and I accept that.”

Gesturing to a group of local minor hockey players, he said: “A young player could come from Stanstead who plays in an arena named after me. I probably won’t see the project to the end, but let’s hope I’m looking down on it and see a young Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.”

Patrick Burns (April 4, 1952 – November 19, 2010)

Here’s a link to the original article posted on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 2010:

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