After the high drama of the NHL Trade Deadline, I like to unwind by shooting 12 gauge buck shots at the firing range near my ranch.
Grandpa Frank used to take me to the range as a kid. He used to say:
“Nothin’ like the feel of cold metal between your fingers. Grows hair on your chest, boy.”
I never understood as a frightened young child. But the more I went with Gramps, the easier it became to handle Moses (the nickname for his shotgun).
This season, your Montreal Canadiens have acted like a whiny, scared little child. So many mistakes, so many raw recruits. The more they lose, the more the media bemoans management for their f#@k you love letter to the fans.
Sad as it has been, these are professional athletes, trained to endure misery and hardship. They will learn from veteran leadership and from their own rotten experiences. It’ll get easier.
Next year, hopefully no more than two, the Habs will have shed their cocoon of ineptitude and transformed into a top tier NHL team.
It’s a long and perilous road to recovery however:
– Let the rookie forwards play – evaluate young talent. Up front, let youngsters like Leblanc, Geoffrion, and Palushaj audition for a spot on next year’s roster.
– Allow the young defensemen to make mistakes, as many as required. Let them develop chemistry with their partner. Sit Kaberle and Campoli at all costs.
– Desharnais and Eller should be given all the ice time possible. The less to Gomez, the better.
– Start transitioning Gionta out of the captaincy and Gorges in. This team needs more vocal leaders, not leaders by example.
– Besides the inevitable GM and coach axe that will happen off-season, it’s time to clean house in the scouting department. The Habs philosophy of choosing the best available athlete has grown stale. They need to move out of Minnesota high schools and start searching the backwoods of those European countries where the Red Wings seemingly pluck their 8th round gems.
– Time to evaluate the talent pool in the AHL – the cupboards are bare, but the reinforcements are on their way: Gallagher, Tinordi, Bournival, Beaulieu, Kristo. The kids not only need to learn at a pro level, they need to WIN before getting the call in Montreal. This is called player development, a mysterious concept foreign to Habs’ management for the better part of a decade (exceptions: Pacioretty, Price, Subban).
– The draft: This is the time to roll the dice. If you can get two lower first round picks, then do it. If you can trade up to get a potential star, then do it. Just don’t stand pat. Just stay away from Russians. Mathew Dumba looks like a force on the back-end, but Forsberg is where my money is at. Galchenyuk is the darkhorse.
Whether the Habs use this laundry list or not is irrelevant; but if management doesn’t prove to its paying fans that it’s willing to rebuild from within, then they better find someone else to buy their overpriced beer.