Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Are Canadiens under-regarded by their own fans?

Montreal coach Jacques Demers beats this particular hobby horse on every occasion, trying to convince LeClair just how good he can be.

“John’s one of the strongest players on the team,” Demers said. “He also has a great shot like (Kevin) Stevens. He just has to put it all together.”

Whereas the average Maple Leaf fan overvalues the players on his team, thinking that players like Dion Phaneuf and Tomas Kaberle are All-Stars, Mats Sundin and Wendel Clark are Hall of Famers (no, but I guess if Dino Ciccarelli is a HOF'er, then these two excellent players are, kind of), and players like Nikolai Kulemin and Nikolai Antropov and Luke Schenn are on the verge of mega-stardom, the run-of-the-mill Canadiens fans takes his for granted, and always wants more, better, faster, Maurice Richard-ier.

Éric Desjardins and John LeClair were the individual stars of the 1993 team's consecutive overtime wins, and were relatively shortly thereafter shipped out to Philadelphia.  At which point only did most fans realize how good they were, and what we had on our roster.  Young, big, talented players, who could have been cornerstones for a decade.

I get the feeling we've been trained out of this by twenty years of futility though.  Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Alex Galchenyuk, they're all held triumphantly aloft, if not clasped tightly to our bosom.  We can't comprehend life without Tomas Plekanec.  We know how awful it is when Andrei's not around.  Brandon Prust was quickly adopted, became a favourite son faster than Erik Cole the season before.

Carey Price is the only exception to this new way of thinking it seems.  He's still held up to the Ken Dryden-Patrick Roy lens. Both of these gentlemen won miracle Stanley Cups, based on their heroic play, as rookies.  They each followed that up with another surprise Cup in short order, and similar fashion.  Carey Price will never be able to duplicate that, and will always be seen by some as coming up short.  What we need to realize is that Carey is an amazing talent who will be better, and can be the Canadiens' goaltender for the next decade if we support him and let him develop.

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