Thursday, 22 January 2015

24 CH, 2014-15 season, Episode 8: Notes

Trying to catch up on these recaps.

One general point I want to make is that this season's episodes always show the players in the dressing room between periods, which gets a little repetitive.  The first season, we sometimes saw the coaches talking things through, trying to come up with answers and adjustments, scratching their heads, shrugging.  We'd see Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien meeting before and after games, talking things out.

I understand that it may be uncomfortable airing some of their discussions on camera.  I understand that the coaches may be fearful that their discussions may be too frank for public consumption, that even though they have editorial control, even though they can censor anything they don't like, that leaks can occur, unedited files can become public.  That's fair.  But if the players have to work under the microscope, maybe the coaches should also.  What's good for the goose, right?

Personally, I really enjoyed these behind the scenes peeks at what the brain trust was doing while the game unfolded.  It was good to understand that the coaches hash out the same things we do online in social media, they try to figure out line combinations that can work better too, or some way to counter the opposition's best players.  I wish we could see that aspect on 24CH again.

02:30  On a night off against the Wings in Detroit, we see Carey Price being very loose in the dressing room, clowning it up a bit.  All those stories about his calm, about how quick he forgets a bad goal or game, about how much he's a leader on the team, they're all true.

A few seasons ago, when he seemed besieged by the media and the fans, and Jaro Halak was eating his lunch, I wondered if he'd bloom in Montréal, if he'd reach his potential.  He seemed more dour, almost bitter sometimes.  I fretted that Bob Gainey 'ruined' him by bringing him up from Hamilton too soon, by trying to catch lightning in a bottle again, like we have with Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy, and Steve Penney to a lesser extent.

He now seems to be at the peak of his physical ability, and has grown to deal with the spotlight quite well.  He seems unfazed by the media attention, to even enjoy it nowadays, and that the media scrum has learned to work with him, and is really eating out of his hand, truthfully.

03:30  After the win, Sergei Gonchar hands over the cape to P.K., for, as he puts it, spending fifty minutes of the game on the ice.  P.K. is overjoyed, and breaks into his Subbie routine.

As eager as Michel Therrien was to be given the cape by his charges before getting faked out by Weisy, so did P.K. seem to be.  The mark of recognition by a teammate means a lot to him, outwardly, more than say Andrei or Carey.  P.K. just wants to be loved.

04:15  Steve Bégin filming a commercial for the team's fan club at the New Forum.  He tours the facilities and notes with wonder at how they've been reno'ed and upgraded, at the staff scurrying around getting ready for the next game.  Again, this will possibly attract free agents who tire of playing for shoestring operations like the Coyotes or Panthers or Islanders.

07:20  One of the weaknesses of the show is how the French subtitles sometimes don't match up very well with what is actually being said by the players.  In English, you hear Assistant Coach Dan Lacroix warn his players: "Heads up when #17 (Pittsburgh forward Blake Comeau) is out there, he's going to run around."  With the footage of him delivering a few hits, the meaning is clear.

Yet en français, the subtitles read "Quand le 17 sera sur la glace, il va essayer de se défiler."  Meaning he's going to try to go around you, to evade.  Which could be strictly accurate, that would be one valid meaning, but based on context is completely, almost diametrically wrong.  He's doing anything but avoiding or evading our boys, he's actually running through them.

This is an area that needs to be looked at by the producers of the show.  I'm not sure if they're using translators who work off a text, without the images for context, or without a hockey background, if they're in a rush to tack these on to the images and there's no editing of the subtitles, but they're not just losing some of the nuances here, they're actually butchering the job.

07:40  Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk confabbing with Tomas Plekanec before a faceoff.  They're all "Yes sir, no sir!", attentive and respectful.  Good leadership by Tomas, but also good professionalism by the kids.  They're always goofing off and cutting up with P.K. and Brandon Prust during practice, off ice, with or against each other, it's great to see the friendship between these two, and their rambunctiousness, like overeager Labrador puppies.  But when appropriate, they cut that out and are all business, and follow the veterans' lead.  They know when to play, and when to shut up and go to work.

We've been comparing our team chemistry, our leader corps this season, since we decided to go wtih four assistants and no captain, and since the Oilers and Leafs have been in the news.  We often talk about the lack of leadership, about the defective organizational culture in Edmonton or Toronto.

Here we see two young players who've been inculcated in the team philosophy, the hierarchy right off the bat, with strong leaders like the departed Francis Bouillon, Josh Gorges and Brian Gionta, and Andrei Markov, and the new young veterans.  And they took to it like ducks to water.  As is often mentioned in various ways by different commentators, hockey players want to be lead, they want to be coached, they thrive in that environment.

One seemingly trivial example was how the kids kibitzed over who would have the 'Gally' nickname when they first joined the team.  This was cut short very quickly by the vets.  Josh Gorges told them curtly that they don't pick their own nickname, the team does.  And it was decreed that Brendan as the older player would be Gally, and Alex would henceforth be Chucky.

It may seem like small potatoes, but these boundaries drawn by the team, the way it polices itself, plays a big role in team identity and cohesion.  We can compare to the Oilers, with numerous stories about how the kids got leadership thrust upon them by virtue of their draft status and hefty contracts, with no vets to act as the greybeards to show them the way and nip them when they got out of line.

One aphorism about managing people is that you spend 90% of your time on 10% of your people, the square pegs and the malcontents.  Well Brendan and Alex are coaches dreams, they're in the 90% that you seldom have to worry about.

09:40  Jiri Sekac and Nathan Beaulieu compete at practice to see who can shoot a puck hard enough and with the right bank so that it travels all the way around the boards and back to the starting point and go the furthest.  What a job.

10:15  Marc Bergevin speaks to the media after the René Bourque for Bryan Allen trade.  "You can never have too many defencemen.  I know you'll say that I collect them...  He's a big guy, he's got character, he can bring something to this team."

"René understood, he was ready to turn the page.  I hope he can go to Anaheim and produce.  He can still play good hockey.  It's just not going to work out for him in Montréal.  I hope for the best for him."

11:00  Another note on subtitles:  P.A. Parenteau and David Desharnais, already speaking a robust joual, and by necessity earning a living while speaking the language of Shakespeare, have evolved like many Québécois players a kind of patois, a franglais larded with English terms.

"Si t'es loin du net, ton premier step, ..."

So much so that this is translated and subtitled for our easy reference.

"Si tu es loin du filet, un bon premier coup de patin va..."

11:35  An anguished Michel Therrien, while P.K. readies a slapshot: "Netfront!  NETFRONT!"  Then, defeatedly, "We got no one netfront!..."

Sure enough, a wide pan view shows five red jerseys about as far from the net as can be while still being in the offensive zone, and a clear line of sight for the Blues goalie.  We better understand the kudos David Desharnais got recently from the coach for blocking the goalie's view on a a P.K. Subban goal from the blue line.

Later, callup Drayson Bowman takes a hellacious crosscheck right in the chops from a Blue.  The coach is literally up in arms, standing on the bench, yelling at the linesman "You saw it!  You saw it!", the reproach being that he has the power to stop play for major infractions like this but is neglecting to do so.

Critics will say that Michel Therrien is losing his cool and antagonizing the refs, which will be counterproductive for the future.  If he'd flegmatically jacquesmartin'ed it, he'd be pilloried for not protecting his young players, for ruining them.  It's like the "'Man Show's You Can't Win Theatre."

And a stunned Drayson Bowman sits on the bench, trying to get a feel for his new and disimproved dentition.

It's ridiculous that these kinds of infractions, because the ref doesn't see them, get swept under the rug.  Again, there should be a video ref at every game, or at least a review of every game after the fact, with penalties for offending players and the teams that employ them.

12:50  David Desharnais passes to Max Pacioretty for a breakaway goal, with his whole body, he does a full, exaggerated follow-through.  I now understand why my passes weren't as precise, I'd just fling them from an arm's length position.  Much more hit-and-miss than Davey's passes.

After the win, Jean-Jacques Daigneault says to Geoff Molson in the tunnel  "Ç'tun bon club ça.  Très bon club."  The team owner also nods his head, assenting.

Max is the first star, and does an interview, talking about making a statement by beating a powerhouse rather than a weak sister.  We've covered how much Carey has grown these last couple of seasons, and we can say the same about Max.  He's fully embraced the increased responsibility and leadership opportunity.

14:00  Long segment on Brendan Gallagher, great background piece.  Former coaches speak glowingly about his talent, effort and competitiveness, how he overcame doubters who fretted about his diminutive size.  He benefited while growing up in Edmonton from a pond in his backyard that used to freeze over and serve as his personal ice sheet.

He and his father treat his small stature not as a hurdle but as an advantage, providing him with a lower centre of gravity, and a source of quickness and agility.

A friend of mine whose son played in many of the same tournaments and leagues as Brendan did in minor hockey had provided me with much the same scouting report a couple days after we drafted him, about an unfailingly polite and cheerful kid who took over games with his drive and hustle.

20:30  Maman Gallagher is in town and travels to the rink with Brendan on the first day of the Moms trip.

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoy reading your posts, Normand. A pleasure. I have tried to comment many times but never seem to get the comments posted because I didn't (apparently) login to my Google account in the right order.

    I haven't been able to see any of the 24 CH series. Can't seem to find it anywhere on my television. I will keep trying.

    Your detailed and insightful synopsis of the shows, though, has helped me feel like I have been watching the series, so thanks for that.

    Keep up the terrific writing. My favourite blog to read about the Habs.

    All the best.....Ian (a 67 year old who goes a long way back as a Habs' fan).