Saturday, 22 November 2014

24 CH, 2014-15 season, Episode 4: Notes

This episode deals with the games against the Wings and Rangers before the trip out West.  A large chunk of it shows the marketing and community/charity-based efforts of the team.

00:30  Team photographers past and present discuss the techniques and problems they face when taking the team photo.  Sample tactic to get everyone to beam on cue: "I need everyone to smile again.  Including Andrei..."  Tomas, Max and P.K. crack up in the front row.  Andrei condescendscooperates with a faint smirk.

"P.K., if you could just concentrate here..."

00:50  Smack talk between Tomas and Alex Galchenyuk.  Tomas starts off with:

"For your age, you're way too confident."

Later, Alex tells Tomas "You should go work out.  To handle my passes."

It goes on from there.  During practice, they're doing line rushes, and Tomas tells Alex "You see that?  You give me a horrible pass and I still put it in the net."

Being on a team playing hockey for a living must be fun.  I talk like that to a coworker who takes it the wrong way, I get a written warning.

02:30  Brandon Prust giving the refs advice on a missed call from his vantage point on the bench.  We saw him do this also in Episode 2.  You get a sense that Brandon has to modulate that, not yap too much in case he antagonizes the refs.

Later in the room between periods, we see a different dynamic between Tomas and Alex, with the veteran giving direction to his younger linemate, who is attentive and amenable, on how to deal with Pavel Datsyuk.  Again, strictly based on this access, we can see great dynamics in this team, loose and fraternal during practice, but all business during a game, and everyone assuming a proper role.

And we can see how players like Alex and Tomas are coaches delights, 'set 'em and forget 'em' types who almost invariably do the right thing, the little things that matter.  They're the players who, when it's said that you spend 90% of your time with 10% of your players, they're not part of the 10%, but rather the 90% of players who you don't have to micromanage.

Compare if you will to Phil Kessel or Nazem Kadri or Cody Hodgson.

03:15  Second period break, and Manny Malhotra encourages the boys, dealing with specifics about not worrying about the refs, about forcing the play with their defencemen, etc.  Again, a couple of notches above the fan-derided rah-rah stuff that Josh Gorges would use in his patter, in terms of the usefulness of the content.  He speaks well to the group, takes command of the room by standing when speaking, and other players pay attention.  We get a shot of Max focused on what he's saying.

I'm really liking what I'm seeing from Manny in this area, didn't pay attention to it when he was in Vancouver and the media guys said as much about him.  Now I get their love for him.  I can easily see a future in coaching for Manny.

03:45  Neat sequence wrapping a story together.  We're shown Tomas being strong on the puck in the offensive zone, and setting up the neat wraparound goal by Alex after outmuscling Kyle Quincey, and then both celebrating together.

04:30  David Desharnais' OT goal.  Andrei doesn't have to be told to smile as he celebrates with P.K.  Later, Michel Therrien ruins P.K. with an enthusiastic shove on the shoulder when greeting him at the dressing room entrance.

David gets the boxer's robe from prior recipient and equipment manager Pierre Gervais.

09:15  Team gala dinner for major sponsors of the club I guess.  Every table has a Canadien player or alumnus seated with a group from the companies' lucky representatives.  I'm torn between being delighted for the kids who get to have dinner at ice level of the New Forum with their heroes, and being jealous of those rich spoiled brats.  I never got no dinner with no Habs when I was a young punk.

It brings into focus again what the off-ice demands are on Canadiens players, how much that might drag on a more private person like Andrei or Carey Price.  Brandon Prust or P.K., those guys will love the spotlight and the opportunity to bathe in the adoration, but how much of a deterrent will it be for a player like Phil Kessel or Nathan Horton to ever sign a deal in Montréal?  Come to think of it though, maybe it's a useful filter, that these guys who just want to do their thing aren't really the type of player we want anyway.

A very nice lady explains what a privilege it is for her and her daughter to be seated with "Monsieur Price."  Just sayin'...

Shots of Mike Weaver and Brendan Gallagher animatedly chatting with their table seatmates.  An old-timer pats Alex Galchenyuk on the shoulder and gives him props for his goal the previous night.

10:50  The Canadiens pressing their advantage of being the most prestigious hockey franchise in a hockey hotbed.  They hold a clinic for minor hockey coaches, with some demos on the ice with Stéphane Waite among others, then a lecture and Q&A with Michel Therrien and Alain Vigneault, who's in town with the Rangers.

This is exactly what the Canadiens have to do, stock the Québec pond with ever-more great hockey players who will grow up to be Canadiens fans.  Sure, some will turn out like Vincent Lecavalier and Daniel Brière and shun Montréal, but a significant portion will be like Francis Bouillon or Dale Weise or P.K. Subban, in disbelief that they get to play for their favourite team.  This is something that the Coyotes or the Predators will have trouble ever matching, and every advantage counts in a salary cap system.

I'm surprised to discover that even at the Bantam BB level, for example, there are dedicated goalie coaches, which didn't happen in my day.

13:50  Yet more asked of the players as Leucan and the Canadiens host an evening at the New Forum for young patients.  And what a gut punch that is.  So proud of the guys for the way they interact with the kids at the end of the episode.  The players' wives pitch in as well.  And what a great boost it must be for those parents.

15:45  Notorious sequence during the game against the Rangers when P.K. leaves the ice after getting struck in the throat, even though it's an icing situation and he's not supposed to be allowed to change.  Later, he's discussing this with a ref, who's having trouble getting a word in edgewise, and finally says to P.K. "Just listen to me and then say 'Thank you'."  P.K. gets it and pipes down, says thanks, but it's emblematic of some of his character quirks, how desperately sometimes he needs to get his point across, instead of just listening and then saying "Got it."

This bleeds into his game, when during play he looks at the refs and pleads innocence, sometimes before a call is actually made, while play is going on.  P.K. needs to tone that down, but it will be a struggle for him to change that significantly now that he's an adult.  He'll still need to rein it in, be more Brian Gionta than Theo Fleury now that he's acting as an Assistant.

16:50  This summer when getting a tour of the facilities in Brossard from Pierre Gervais, P.A. Parenteau lobbied him to have his seat in the dressing room 'not too far' from David Desharnais, a friend of his.  We see here that he got his wish, he's sitting right next to him.

17:15  After a Brandon Prust vs. Kevin Klein tilt, P.K. and Martin St. Louis are picking up the equipment of their teammate, and P.K. says to Martin to take it easy, that "I'm still giving you free passes."  The Rangers vet lets that go with a smirk.

18:30  Brandon and Max being all Chip and Dale on the bench, making sure there's no ruffled feathers after a play on the ice.

"Sorry, I was just trying to get it to you, just to like..." Brandon tells Max.

"No no, I was just trying to get it too, I wasn't trying to sewer you," Max replies.

Not a bad thing when two players are hungry for the puck, as opposed to the reverse.  Within limits.  Most of the time.

18:45  Brendan Gallagher struggles to get off the ice after a collision/bodycheck/interference by Tanner Glass.  "Who was it?" Tomas asks him.

Max scores on a pass from super-sub linemate Dale Weise while Brendan is walking it off.  That should make ti all better.

19:15  After the win, David passes on the cape to Brandon Prust, although as the narrator says he neither scored or assisted on a goal.

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