On the eve of the new National League season, which promises to be special to say the least, it is refreshing to hear that victory will be the proof of everything for the Canadiens. It has been a long time since we heard such a speech.
We are a hockey country. We miss this sport, and it is good to see that governments have accepted that professional sport is coming back. This will be an opportunity for the confined population to have fun for a few hours.
We have to admit that the Canadiens’ performance in the extended playoffs to 24 teams made the organization say that perhaps it had to move faster than expected to reach the top honors.
With the two key players in Carey Price and Shea Weber getting older and having given the organization a clear sign that they wanted to win, the decision was made on its own. I’m sure the conversation between Geoff Molson and Marc Bergevin has been beneficial on this point, and Bergevin has put in the best shots in the NHL this offseason.
A balanced team
By making my predictions, I placed the Canadian first in the Canadian section. Sure there are Matthews in Toronto, Laine in Winnipeg, McDavid in Edmonton and the net problems were settled in Calgary, but for me there is not a team as balanced as the Canadiens.
The Canadian has talent, depth and stability, whether in front of goal, on offense or defense. Marc Bergevin has all the ingredients to win. The watchword is now. Gone are the days when the organization bought time. The only question mark is who will be employed at the power play fulcrum with Jeff Petry and Shea Weber. Will we choose to go with Jonathan Drouin?
Drouin will perhaps be the key to this season. In my opinion, he could be the Habs top scorer if he gets going. Jonathan can make sparks! And Claude Julien puts him in an ideal position with Nick Suzuki and Josh Anderson.
In defense, it will be interesting to quickly see what Alexander Romanov does. I’m glad he was paired with Brett Kulak, who seems like a defenseman who is easy to work with. I believe he will help the youngster. And Price finally has an ally in Jake Allen.
Even though the season kicks off next Wednesday, there are a lot of unforeseen events with drug tests and all that comes with it. We will have surprises from one day to the next. The Canadian division will obviously be a first and it will be unique for a team to play three times against the same team in a short period of time, as will be the case of the Canadiens against Vancouver on their maiden trip. It will also be necessary to see how the CH will acclimatize to walking in three time zones, in addition to that of the East.
Normally, when the Canadiens traveled west in October, the next game against one of these teams would be played weeks later. When something happened, once in February, everyone forgot, but it won’t be this time. From one game to another, there will be settling of scores. Even the referees may be better prepared since they will have to work in the same duels and they will have witnessed previous confrontations. For amateurs, it will be very exciting.
– Interview by Roby St-Gelais
Echoes of Bergie
PINCH FOR ANDRÉ TOURIGNY
What heartbreaking to see André Tourigny after the heartbreaking defeat of Canada, he who had known victory last year. He would have deserved the victory with his team. The more I watched the final, the more I told myself that catch-up hockey, as a coach, is not something you practice. You talk about it, but it doesn’t really work. Canada had never lagged behind in the tournament and adjustments were necessary, but there are no criteria to handle such a situation. Having said that, we have to give credit to the Americans who had a very good team, but in a series 4 of 7 Canada would probably have won.
A DESERVED NOMINATION
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Patrice Bergeron on his deserved nomination as captain of the Boston Bruins. After Chara’s heyday, that’s what the Bruins wanted. He will be the second Quebec captain after Raymond Bourque. For me, there couldn’t be a better choice. Bergeron is a model both on and off the ice. It is an example to follow. Meanwhile, there are undoubtedly several teams who have called the Blue Jackets for the services of Pierre-Luc Dubois who openly requested a transaction, he who signed a two-year, $ 10 million contract. It will be a file to follow.
BEGINNINGS TO WATCH
We are all eager to attend Alexis Lafrenière’s debut, me first. It will also take place next Thursday when the Rangers face the Islanders. We hear only good comments about Lafrenière. We talk about his talent, his kindness. He has a nice face on top of that. I am convinced that all the players will try to help him and that he will be successful.