Love an analysis on social media of the situation the Canadiens are facing next season and how Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu fit in. The take by a contributor on HockeyInsideOut is that if things work out, Jarred Tinordi could be the defensive stalwart who adds a physical presence and kills penalties, while Nathan Beaulieu could also take some even strength minutes but pitch in on the powerplay. His thinking was that Mr. Tinordi is ready to go right now, while Mr. Beaulieu should be the first callup.
If these kids can plug the gaps in the depth chart that we have this season, it'll go a long way to improving our team. I'm more naturally conservative, and was hoping Jarred Tinordi would at least start the year in Hamilton, and Nathan be given a full year to work on his defensive game and maturity (discipline, conditioning, off-ice issues). I'd have brought in journeymen currently on the UFA rolls to fill in the #6 slot and cover for Alexei Emelin's first half absence, plug these holes as it were, but the Canadiens' brass are in the best position to assess that and we have to trust their judgment. If they think they're ready to step up, who am I to disagree?
Remember the old days, when some kid we'd never heard of would start the season or get called up to sub in for injured players, and they would contribute right away? Guys like Rod Langway, Craig Ludwig, Sylvain Lefebvre, Donald Dufresne, Lyle Odelein? They'd come in, play hard right away, and the team would sail along.
We had other situations, when guys with bigger profile would be hyped before they ever joined, and we hoped they'd turn out as good as advertised, which was seldom. The exception to that was Chris Chelios, who was nicknamed 'Le Sauveur' by the francophone press, so much was Serge Savard banging the drum on him. "Just wait until after the (Sarajevo) Olympics", he'd crow, and a lot of us were skeptical, he didn't seem that big, and his numbers weren't Orr-esque or anything.
Eventually, he and Petr Svoboda and Tom Kurvers were pitched as the 'New Big 3', which didn't quite materialize. Tom Kurvers was okay, but couldn't find a role with the other two already there, and Larry Robinson and Craig Ludwig still taking up icetime among others, so he was traded. Petr Svoboda was an amazing skater and good player, I marveled at how easily he moved when seeing him play at the Forum. He didn't tape up his ankles at all, they were bending this way and that. I tried to do that the next game I played and couldn't stay up on my skates, I had to go back to the room after a couple of shifts to tape up.
What gets me a little bit is how the media toss the term "Big 3" around like it's applicable to any situation. Any team that has three defencemen that are decent, or roughly the same age, or have some of the same skills, whatever, bingo, that's a big 3 for them. Which is inapt. There are only two Big 3's. One was GM, Ford and Chrysler. The other was Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Larry Robinson.
They were the Big 3 because all of them were big defenders back in the day, all 6 footers and over 200 lbs, with Larry the standout in that department. All of them played big, could handle the rough stuff and dish it out, and drop the gloves on occasion. All of them could play big minutes, in all situations, clutch or end of game. They all played on the powerplay and the penalty kill. I daresay that each of them would have been the #1 defenceman on any other team that didn't already have a Orr or Park or Potvin or Salming on its roster. All of them played together for a long time, probably a full decade, won multiple Stanley Cups, and ended up in the Hall of Fame.
So when TSN's Mark Masters is telling me that Ralph Gunterson and Kevin Kostka and Colby Frantic are the Leafs' next big three, I want to hurl. Child please. If there's a new crop of players or defenceman coming up from the Marlies, find them their own nicknames, don't misappropriate and mangle one used and used well by the Canadiens, and now retired.