I wasn't quite able to delve into anything too soon, hence why I haven't written a new blog post since the Canadiens were eliminated by the Bruins last week. Melodramatics aside, it's something that breaks my heart every year, and something that takes some time before I'm able to really discuss it. But, without further adieu, here is my Habs post-mortem for the 2010-2011 season.
Jacques Martin. I've criticized his "system" all year, not because it's a bad system, but because I don't necessarily think it's the right system for this particular group of players. One of the worst Goals-For record in the league is not something to boast (despite an impressive Goals-Against). It's simple; you can't win hockey games if you can't score goals. Sitting back on 1 or 2 goal leads is scary, and a defensive game is not the way to get the most out of this group of players.
After such an unbelievable season, I'm a little saddened that Carey Price did not get the league recognition that comes with a nomination for the prestigious awards of Hart & Vézina. While I'm not discrediting those who did receive nominations (because they are completely deserving), it just seems unfair that Price is not being recognized for the tremendous season he had. Without him, I don't even want to think about the season we would have had.
P.K. Subban. I've been following this kid for years, and his real coming out party was last year during the team's lengthy playoff run. His official rookie season was amazing. I don't care what kind of backwash they naysayers spew. It's pure jealousy. His raw talent this early in his career is a clear indicator of the player he'll grow to be. Part of his talent is his ability to get under people's skin, something he's clearly better at than most. If he played for your team, you'd love him too.
A big part of Subban's professional growth this season has to be attributed to Hal Gill. The seasoned veteran helped Subban grow and adapt to the league. I really hope the Habs can sign Gill for at least another year.
The loss of Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov due to knee problems was a heavy blow to take. But I'm excited to see what Gorges will be like without knee problems (he's had ACL issues for at least as long as he's worn the CH crest) and I hope that Markov has learned a way to not be made of glass. The acquisition of James Wisniewski and Brent Sopel as defensive replacements were additions I liked quite a bit, particularly the former. Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier has some difficult decisions to make on the blue line, but I really hope that Wiz keeps wearing the bleu, blanc, rouge.
Brian Gionta, our captain, our captain. I absolutely adore him & had the pleasure of meeting him a few times this year. He is the epitome of class, and makes an excellent addition to the historic roster of Habs captains.
Mike Cammalleri didn't quite have the season I would have hoped for, but I think that is in large part due to playing through injuries that he would not have had to play through should we have had a healthy, full roster. His determination is admirable, and he made a splash during the playoffs, still in the top 5 for post-season points, despite the Canadiens 1st round exit 5 days ago.
Scott Gomez was one of the biggest disappointments of the season, however I'm not sure why anyone would be surprised. He is a career over-rated player, who is not worth his $8 million salary. But is that his fault? No! I'd like to place the blame on the New York Rangers for offering him that kind of money in the first place, and on Bob Gainey for agreeing to continue buying into his "worth". That being said, I accept the cap hit if for no other reason than the fact that without him, we probably wouldn't see Cammy or Gio on the roster (if you're scratching your heads about that bold statement, check out the UFA's that came to sign in Montreal before the 2009-2010 season. Exactly.)
Maxim Lapierre and Ryan O'Byrne: good bye, and good riddance.
Tomas Plekanec is the continuous workhorse, and continues to show up every night. In my opinion, he is one of the more under-rated players in the NHL and I think that's part of what makes him so great.
Andrei Kostitsyn had such a terrible season, but made up for it by playing great for the last 20 or so games of the season. Another lacklustre performance in the playoffs, and he was back on everyone's "list". The kid needs to step it up next year.
Max Pacioretty. The time in Hamilton did him good, and he was brought back up at precisely the right time. From the moment he rejoined the Habs, he was on fire. I was rapidly falling in love with him when suddenly Zdeno Chara rammed his head into the stanchion at the Bell Centre on March 8th. I'll never forget the sound his head made as it hit the pole. I'll never forget the way his motionless body looked as it lay on the ice, and I sat stunned in my living room, thinking for sure he was dead. I'll never forget the way his teammates hoisted his stretcher onto the gurney as they wheeled him off the ice. And I'll never forget the anger I felt when I learned that Chara would face no supplementary discipline. Say what you want about my professionalism, but if I was ever near the monster and a flight a stairs, well, you get the picture.
After a season that most definitely had its ups and downs, what I learned this year is that people are quick to mock and judge those that take their love for the game seriously. So what if I watched 87 out of a possible 89 hockey games this year? So what if I was too distraught after the Pacioretty hit to go to school for a few days? So what if I got a Habs tattoo on my wrist? At least I care about something other than myself. If you want to wake up at 3:30 AM to watch a far away prince marry a commoner, go right ahead. I won't judge you. But please, I ask that you show the same respect for me.
Until next season, GO HABS GO!!!!!