Monday, 27 January 2014

The Canadiens can ride out a tough spell, but the fans can't.

I don't understand why so many Canadiens fans are losing their marbles.  When the season started the general consensus was that the Canadiens would fight for a playoff spot.  Few expected them to be at the top of the standings like the Penguins and the Bruins, or the Blackhawks in the West.  So far, we have overachieved, but are now mired in a slump.  This is hardly surprising.  Over the course of the season, we'll have hot streaks and cold snaps.

Further, we all seemed to agree that the correct course of action was to be steady as she goes, ride out some more veteran contracts, and develop the kids in the pipeline.  That has been happening.  Last summer we jettisoned Tomas Kaberle, and this summer Brian Gionta will come off the books.  Placeholders and complementary pieces like George Parros, Douglas Murray, and Francis Bouillon were patched on to the team, but most will not be retained, as Jeff Halpern and Yannick Weber were let go last season.  The inexplicable Daniel Brière detour will also not seriously affect our journey.

Meanwhile, the youths in Hamilton that we possibly may have slightly overhyped in our feverish collective mind have shown to be mere mortals, to not be quite the world-beaters we had them pegged as.  They're getting some beneficial games in the AHL or other leagues, as they learn their trade.  We have to be patient.  That's what we swore we'd do, in unison.  Gone were the days when we would rush kids to the bigs before they were ready, we intoned in July.  The song remains the same, or at least it should.

We can't have an emotional collapse because we were exposed by Evgeni Malkin, Sydney Crosby, James Neal and Kris Letang during a road game.  We'd have been suckers to bet otherwise.  We had to expect this.  We vowed that we would ride out these storms to reach the promised land.

So let's stop foaming at the mouth because the Sens got Bobby Ryan and the Leafs got James van Riemsdyk, yet Marc Bergevin "sits on his hands".  For Marc Bergevin to get in the game, he needs some trading chips.  René Bourque at this moment is barely enough to ante in.  We don't have a 6'3" 240 lbs defenceman formerly drafted fifth overall to swap with, one who we know has topped out and we can safely part with.  When we have a surfeit of draft picks and prospects, then we'll be in a position where not only we can, but actually we'll have to trade quantity for quality, as the Sens did.

Let's not have a nervous breakdown about, say, the imminent return of Davis Drewiske.  Again, despite what the Chicken Littles squawk, he is eminently disposable, and does not "clog up" our roster, regardless of his menacing one-way contract, which so many posters fear but misunderstand.  He makes minimum wage, and can be sent down to Hamilton with no cap hit.  The worst that can happen is that he gets claimed by another team on waivers.

We should favour stability over kneejerk decisions, and by that I mean let's not fire Michel Therrien and keep the coaching merry-go-round spinning.  As much as many posters love Mike Babcock, he's not available for hire.  The only star candidates out there, Dallas Eakins and Paul Maurice, have already been snapped up.  There's no wizard out there who can turn Josh Gorges into Rod Langway, Lars Eller into Bobby Smith, or Brian Gionta into Yvan Cournoyer.  We have the team that we have, there's no miracle worker who can change that.

This is where the rubber meets the road guys.  We knew what kind of season we were in for in September, or at least we thought we knew, and mostly all of us made pious promises that we didn't want to sacrifice our future for rentals, and that squeaking into the playoffs wasn't our goal, we wanted a strong organization with a deep system full of prospects putting in a full apprenticeship in the minors, and young players fighting for a roster spot.  The way to get there is to stay the course, and not to abandon ship at the first squall.

1 comment:

  1. Agree that the habs are a year or two away and need a year or two to stock Hamilton and have a challenge for every job. I suspected at the time that Therrien was a tank coach, as he was for Pittsburgh, brought in to develop young guys and lose for draft picks. Last year went too well in the regular season, too badly in the playoffs. This year is also uneven.

    I'm sort of happy to drop a bit, and I'd stick with Therrien except that he really seems to be having problems with the good players. I don't care if he gets along with Desharnais, Bouillon, or Murray but I don't want him messing with Subban. If Subban leaves town or holds out for crazy money the Therrien hiring will be a total failure.