(Ed. Note: As the Stanley Cup Playoffs continue, we're bound to lose some friends along the journey. We've asked for these losers, gone but not forgotten, to be eulogized by the people who knew the teams best: The bloggers who hated them the most. Here is Graeme Nichols of The 6th Sens, fondly recalling the Montreal Canadiens. Again, this was not written by us. Also: This is a roast and you will be offended by it, so don't take it so seriously.)
By Graeme Nichols, The 6th Sens
Je Me Souviens les 2013 Habitants...
Admittedly, it’s a daunting task to torch the Montreal Canadiens; especially when the city is so adept and experienced at doing it themselves. But being approached by Wysh and Puck Daddy gang to follow in the footsteps of predecessors like Down Goes Brown and the guys from Days of Y’Orr and eulogize one of the most storied franchises in the NHL is a privilege.
But with this honour comes great responsibility. The last thing I would ever want to do is write something that provokes Ali G. wannabe, Michel Therrien, to keep talking about respect.
Ah well, here it goes…
Dearest fans, rivals, and fellow puck lovers, today we remember a franchise so mired in mediocrity that it thoroughly believes that winning one more playoff game than last season (under a Francophone coach, no less) is significant progress.
So gather ‘round, grab a Molson Ex and pour a little out for the season that simply could not expire soon enough for the 2013 Montreal Canadiens.
There used to be a time when playing for Les Glorieux meant something. From smoking cigarettes between periods, to walking across the bench to tell Ronald Corey that you’ve played your last game for the organization, it meant something to play for the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.
Habs players used to be rock stars but those days no longer exist. Now they’re nothing but insufferable, petulant, excuse-making whiners. They’re essentially the Eastern Conference’s version of the Vancouver Canucks without the two President’s Trophies and perennial playoff appearances to their credit.
Now every story must have a beginning, so what better place to start than the 2012/13 offseason.
The conclusion of their dismal 2011/12 campaign necessitated what many believed would be significant change in the City of Saints. Interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth and GM Pierre Gauthier were given their walking papers. As somewhat of a surprise move, newly appointed GM Marc Bergevin moved quickly to bring in Michel Therrien for a second tour of duty as the organization’s head coach. It was the first step in what Bergevin believed to be the Pittsburgh’s four-step model for success:
1. Hire Michel Therrien
2. Fire Michel Therrien midseason
3. Hire Dan Bylsma for a deep playoff run
4. Win Stanley Cup
On paper, it’s a great plan. The absence of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin from Montreal’s roster is just a minor oversight for a rookie GM whose forward group is headlined by Player #67 and Player #21.
Following the coaching hire, Scott Gomez was bought out. Triple low-fives were banned in favour of a postgame team celebration. Thanks to Bon Cop, Bad Cop Brendan Shanahan, the triple low-five was the only thing on Montreal to be suspended this year. Somehow however, Player #14’s turtleneck avoided a similar fate.
Fortunately for the organization, their dismal place in the standings – 15th in the Eastern Conference – afforded them the opportunity to select third overall in the NHL Draft and nab a prospect who would not have been available to them at that spot had he not suffered a knee injury.
For the first time in quite a while, Habs fans finally had a top three pick that they build their franchise around and hopefully fulfill the promise of having events other than Roch Voisine concerts booked at the Bell Centre late in the spring.
With a few building blocks starting to fall in place, fans may have been excited for the start of the 2013 season, but with the distraction of Player #76’s contract negotiations lingering over the team, the level of excitement amongst the players was not shared.
Considering the Habs finished second in the Eastern Conference and Player #76’s Norris Trophy candidacy, all that needs to be said about the Habs’ season is this: when teammates don’t share any enthusiasm over the return of a ‘significant’ player and a credible beat writer pens the words Brandon Prust can arguably be the team’s MVP, chances are, your team’s just not that damn good.
I will say this about Player #76 - no player in the NHL has a more identifiably unique style than he does (with the possible exception of the Noseface Killer in Boston). When he’s on the ice, you know it and you hate him for it. Sure, he may play with one hand on the stick more than the typical adolescent boy, but dammit if it’s not effective. Moreover, by flaming out in the first round with his team, he helped ensure the symmetry of his season.
And having watched him punch Jakob Silfverberg in the waning minutes of the third period last night, Kris Letang and Ryan Suter have been served notice. Should either of you win the Norris Trophy, keep your head on swivel and watch out for this sore loser.
The last time the Senators and Canadiens met in the playoffs was 86 years ago and the only remaining link from that era to this is that Bob Cole was doing the play-by-play back then.
The series, much like the line brawl in game three, was such a mismatch that Habs fans didn't even bother rioting after last night’s 6-1 embarrassment. Hell, without a riot or a crappy Annakin Slayd ditty, it doesn't feel like the Habs were in the playoffs at all.
The Habs may have been the better team, according to individuals with a loose definition of the word; but Montreal, you just got schooled on playoff hockey by a seven seed. We pantsed you like a stripper pantses the groom-to-be while’s he on stage during a bachelor party at Chez Parée. We also shared her patronizing giggle when you were exposed for your physical inadequacies.
It has been familiar refrain. You’re too small. Your goaltending underwhelmed. You were out-coached, outclassed, and lost both on and off the ice.
Misfortune struck at the most inopportune time and you did not get the bounces. As TSN’s Brent Wallace pointed out on Twitter, Ottawa outscored Montreal 13-0 after the second period. That is the largest shutout disparity for the third period/OT in a single series in playoff history.
Hell, even Ottawa’s Francophone players out-produced your own 7 points to 1.
Take it from a Sens fan who endured all four of those playoff defeats to the Toronto Maple Leafs, your organization obsessed over trying to match Ottawa’s toughness instead of executing and playing hockey.
While the Senators may have taught the Habs a lesson on winning hockey games, the Habs taught the Senators an important lesson on respect and sportsmanship.
These important lessons will carry on in the thoughts of the Senators well past this post-season. Rather than stand up a player at the blue line with a clean hit, Senators players will: a) sneak up behind opposing forwards and deliver an elbow to the back of their head; b) deliver two-handed slashes; c) deliver a crosscheck to the back of their head; d) deliver a sucker punch; or e) do options C and D on the same shift.
Thanks, Habs. Thanks for the valuable lessons on class and gamesmanship. This is of course the same organization that fired assistant coach Perry Pearn shortly the before the start of game versus Philadelphia in October, 2011.
How can you claim disrespect when Ottawa served you a gentleman's sweep?
Following last night’s drubbing, Habs players can talk about how excited they are with the growth of the team and what levels they can reach as their younger players mature. Frankly, they should be satisfied knowing that they no longer have to see Player #76 every day.
So in conclusion...
Did you have something to add, Paulrus?
How fitting. Now how about a little I am the Walrus, to take us out?
Coo coo ca choo.
I just want to thank @SensForLife11, Matt, Tim, Chris, @steffeG and @Wham_City for their invaluable contributions to this post.