Monday, 13 February 2012

Ian Schultz called up to, uh, play?

I’m conflicted over the callup of Ian Schultz. While guys like Ryan White, Travis Moen and Mike Blunden have a role to play, and while the trade of Mike Cammalleri for René Bourque is looking like a win for our team, I wonder if with the callup of Mr. Schultz we reach a tipping point where the Canadiens are like any other team.

The Gainey Gambit of building a team around speed and skill rather than size was a noble quest to purify the game. It provided us with plenty of thrills but also much heartache. The ‘winning conditions’ had to include an NHL head office that recognized that for the good of the game, it had to make the ESPN SportsCenter highlights and ‘Pardon The Interruption’ show for more than fights, goonery and suspensions, and punished these but rewarded teams that dazzled with artistry. Breathtaking goals and passing had to become the Prime Directive for Gary Bettman and his minions for the Canadiens to capture the Grael. Instead, the NHL is ruled by Jeremy Jacobs and his legions of Orcs, and Canadiens management had to face reality and join the arms race.

To what degree remains to be determined. If Mr. Schultz is brought up to substitute for an ailing Travis Moen and an impotent Aaron Palushaj, it can be allowed, but if he becomes a regular, what does that make our team? We’ve had bigger teams before, teams that weren’t necessarily in the mold of the Flying Frenchmen, teams that would pulverize the opposition with the likes of Dave Maley and Claude Lemieux and Craig Ludwig, and they were competitive and we could cheer for them, but they weren’t necessarily fun to watch, especially when the Oilers-Flames game was broadcast immediately after and featured end-to-end skating and non-stop action.

So I’m torn. I know the veteran players allegedly asked Mr. Gauthier last year to add some size and muscle to the lineup during the off-season. I know how much it must suck to have to face idiots like Andrew Ference and Paul Gaustad and take their crap while even stupider idiots in zebra stripes look on, their whistles evidently plugged up by their thick drool. I know Brendan Shanahan has either been NHL-ized and grown calluses on his sense of outrage, or simply been ordered to let the goon times roll. I know that players like Wayne Simmonds and Mike Brown will take runs at our best players if they know they will not face any opposition. I’m just not sure I want to give up and join the parade.

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