There have been lots of passing references that everything that could go wrong with the Canadiens last year did. While there were a few injuries over what can normally be expected, and subpar production from some players, was this really a case of Murphy's Law in action? Did anything that could go wrong actually go wrong last season?
With Seth Jones on our mind, let's imagine that is the case this coming season, and compare to last season.
1) Carey Price blows out his right knee on the first day of training camp. It's a full ACL, MCL tear with cartilage damage.
2) Do we really need to go any further?
3) While Dr. Mulder weighs his options (the team that did Andrei Markov's first ACL reconstruction, vs. Dr. James Andrews, the team that did his second reconstruction), Peter Budaj falls to his knees in wonder at the enormity of the task ahead and in piety at the magnitude of the opportunity he's presented with. He blows out his left knee in doing so.
4) Andrei Markov, who was feeling hale and hearty all summer, now starts to feel sympathy pains in his rebuilt joint, at the sight of both stricken goaltenders.
5) Well gee, now that you mention it, Josh's knee is kinda sore too....
6) Damn it all, the NHL and the Players' Association sign a deal after harmonious negotiations. There's going to be a season, and it will start on time.
7) The Canadiens burn up the phone lines searching for a replacement goalie for the season. At first, as they look for a recently retired veteran as a one-year stopgap, they only manage to scare up Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph and Mike Palmateer.
8) Electing not to go that route, the management team starts to look for a proven veteran on the trade market as the pre-season game blowouts accumulate and the pressure mounts. TSN 990 goes to DefCon 1, since their staff really have nothing to lose, and gadflies the team and its fans into a frenzy. Le Journal de Montréal is threatening to secede, while also writing curiously glowing pieces on the new Colisée being built just down the road. The Gazette backs down and rehires Mike Boone at a greatly enhanced wage and benefit package to deal with the frequent meltdown of its host servers of HIO. He posts a video to a GoalieTradeArmageddon Liveblog where, clad in tattered overalls and a sweat-soaked wifebeater, he wipes off his forehead with a greasy rag and explains that the Tandy mainframes have a lot of miles, but after the rebuild and overhaul he just gave them there's still a lot of life left in them.
Finally some news break on the eve of the first game when Darren Dreger tweets that the Canadiens have acquired Ilya Bryzgalov from the Flyers in return for Louis Leblanc, Sebastian Collberg, and a second-round draft choice. Scratch that, Renaud Lavoie says they actually traded for Roberto Luongo, flipping to the Canucks hometown boy Brendan Gallagher, Sebastian Collberg, and a first-rounder.
Now Bob McKenzie clears the whole mess up and explains that the Ilya Bryzgalov deal is the one which went through, but the Canadiens and Canucks were deep into their negotiations and it went down to the wire. Renaud Lavoie stands by his story, and now Steve Simmons also says the Roberto Luongo trade is concluded.
Wait, what? Both trades went through? What in tarnation?!....
9) NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is brought in to adjudicate, as it seems the Canadiens Marcel Aubut'ed this trade, with Sebastian Collberg playing the role of a bewildered as opposed to recalcitrant Eric Lindros.
It turns out that Marc Bergevin and Scott Mellanby dealt with the Flyers while Rick Dudley and Larry Carrière were dealing with the Canucks. Both trades got the same timestamp at NHL head offices. Gary Bettman validates both trades, Sebastian Collberg goes to the Flyers and Dalton Thrower to the Canucks. The Canadiens are penalized further by the loss of their 2013 first-round draft pick, and also as the Flyers are awarded Jared Tinordi and the Canucks receive Nathan Beaulieu as compensation. Somehow Glen Sather obtains Greg Pateryn in this deal.
10) The Canucks flip Nathan Beaulieu and Dalton Thrower to the Bruins in exchange for David Krejci and Jordan Caron. Mr. Beaulieu easily wins a job on the Bruins blueline and takes a regular shift on the power play. He destroys Chris Neil in an early season tilt in Ottawa. Dalton Thrower mauls Tim Bozon in the WHL. Bozon leaves Kamloops and joins HC Sierre in Switzerland.
11) After being shelled in an 11-2 loss to the Leafs, then shelled by the media, then shelled by fans at the dépanneur and the SAQ, and on the Décarie and at the Place des Arts with his mom and dad, Roberto Luongo decides to hold out and demand a trade to Florida. The Panthers offer up a protected fifth-round pick.
12) Ilya Bryzgalov, to compound matters, decides to not hold out.
13) On the first road trip to Boston, the line of David Desharnais, Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty is felled by a mysterious food borne illness after dinner at The Black Rat. Their season is compromised as they experience liver failure. While Marc Denis interviews Brad Marchand pre-game, he seems unnaturally interested in the symptoms, asking: "Is it like a flu? Weird, I was told it would seem like a regular flu."
14) Concerned for his well-being, the Canadiens ship René Bourque back to his beloved Alberta to be close to his Lac La Biche home. The Oilers offer up Ryan Smyth in return, but he threatens to retire. In desperation, they reacquire Colin Fraser from the Kings and deal him to the Canadiens, who at this point are happy to get him.
15) Réjean Houle is promoted to be the special advisor to Marc Bergevin.
16) After a disheartening loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, Michel Therrien holds a press conference to apologize to his 2006 Penguins defensive squad, saying they weren't so bad after all, and that they played with comparative toughness and passion.
17) A blogger breaks the news that Marc Bergevin is still receiving a regular paycheque from the Blackhawks, and so is Rick Dudley from the Leafs. Another press conference is held and everything is explained in terms of severance pay and tax advantages and all is smoothed over. Except that all of those involved look unsettled, and come to think of it, so does Scott Mellanby in the background there.
Sports reporters start to dig around the plethora of minor deals that have occurred between the Hawks, Leafs and Canadiens, which were loudly decried as a conspiracy by a social media commentor known only as 'nunacanadien'.
18) The Phoenix Coyotes, operated by the NHL like Larry and Richard operated Bernie that weekend, start shipping furniture and office supplies to Québec.
19) The San José Mercury News reports that Patrick Roy has requested permission to speak to Larry Robinson from the Sharks. Meanwhile, Guy Carbonneau resigns from RDS to pursue other opportunities.
20) At the trade deadline, the Canadiens are involved in a complicated nine-team trade that sees them deal away Tomas Kaberle, but land Jaroslav Spacek, Roman Hamrlik and Marc-André Bergeron.
21) After a torrid three game assist streak, Scott Gomez is called up from Hamilton for the drive for a playoff spot, and to substitute for Lars Eller whose bum shoulder is acting up again, and come to think of it never felt right since the injury. Mr. Gomez flies through waivers with nary a nibble.
22) The season comes to a close with the Canadiens dead last. They don't have a pick in the 2013 draft until the third round.
The Flyers and Bruins battle for the top spot in the Eastern Conference right to the end, with Boston earning the top seed. The Maple Leafs finish a strong fourth, with notable free agent pickups Mathieu Darche and Chris Campoli as well as waiver-wire acquisitions Frédéric St-Denis, Raphaël Diaz and Mike Blunden all being strong contributors.
The Bruins waltz to the Stanley Cup. Nathan Beaulieu is broadcast hugging Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic. Later, pictures are tweeted of him and Brad Marchand shirtless and drunk at an after-party.
Nathan Beaulieu, Brendan Gallagher and Louis Leblanc are the three finalists for the Calder Trophy.