Team: Montreal Canadiens
Got off to a red-hot start, winning 9 straight and going 10-2-0 in October......and then what happened?
Just send the Stanley Cup to Montreal right now. No way this team is losing next spring, the season is over.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) October 25, 2015
So, anyway, they finished with 82 points and missed the playoffs. You'd actually have a hard time convincing me they beat any team not named Toronto, Boston, or Ottawa after Christmas. I have zero recollection of them really winning at all otherwise.
For those keeping score, after their first nine games, the "2016 Stanley Cup contender' Montreal Canadiens went 29-38-6 (64 points). Comparatively, after their first nine games, the Leafs- a team that announced to the entire world its entire plan was to get the first overall pick- went 28-36-9 (65 points). Seriously; how bad of a team are you if your record is comparable to a team that was trying to suck?!
Of course, there's a simple excuse here: they didn't have Carey Price. Without their star goaltender, the team just wasn't good enough to compete. Yet people believe this is a Cup contender. If the line between "good team" and "draft lottery team" is one player, you are not actually a good team. You are an adequate team wholly dependent on your best player. Price won the Hart for a reason; he keeps this franchise from going into complete disarray. He's like the puppy people in a failing marriage buy because they think it'll keep them together.
Things were somehow even worse for your social media team:
I shouldn't be so harsh. Montreal isn't just one good player. As I recall, you have a pretty good defenseman, too. But more on him later.
Your Head Coach
Michel Therrien! The French's answer to Randy Carlyle! He has a career 375 wins in 756 games, but he gives his soundbites in French, which is really what this franchise values most. The Habs could fire him, the Habs should fire him, but deep down, you know he will just be replaced with someone worse. Can you name a great French coach that's currently available? Neither can I. Eventually, the Habs will find one, but boy will he be awful. It'll be great.
Anyway, Therrien might be bad, but it could be worse. At least he hasn't pulled a Mario Tremblay and developed friction with a star player, expediting that player's departure out of town because management chose the coach instead. That would be downright silly.
Your Starting Goalie
Carey Price, assuming he can actually stay healthy this year. If not, you'll be stuck with Mike Condon and his .903 SV% again! Remember how high every Habs fan was on Condon back in November? Remember how they all felt they'd continue dominating the Eastern Conference because Condon was a surprise elite goaltender? My god, I just want to bottle up those emotions and shower in them forever. It's beautiful, I tell you. Beautiful.
I'm being harsh, though. Montreal isn't just Carey Price. As I alluded to earlier, you still have another star player. Great defenseman; won a Norris and an Olympic gold medal, as I recall. I mean, no matter what happens in net, at least you've got him locked up for a long time. You'd never screw that up.
New Things That Suck
OH MY GOD YOU ACTUALLY SCREWED IT UP I CAN'T BELIEVE IT HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP HOLY CRAP WOW IT'S A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
*wipes sweat off brow with towel*
Is it real? Did it really happen? Was it a delirious fever dream? Oh, yeah, it happened:
The Montreal Canadiens traded P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber on Wednesday in a blockbuster swap of star defencemen.
See, it's not just the fact the Habs traded their best player not in goalie pads. It's that they traded him one-for-one for a player that hasn't been elite in years. This might've been a fair trade in 2012; but good god, Weber is just sad now. He's a shell of what he used to be. Let's not forget, this is from his most recent NHL game. And they gave up Subban for that alone.
But, it gets even better. See, it wasn't enough for the team to make the trade; then they had to impugn the character of a guy who donated millions to a local children's hospital. How did they follow up their quest for "better character"? They traded for Andrew Shaw and signed Alex Radulov. Because nothing says "great character" like the guy who yelled a homophobic slur on the ice, or the guy benched in the postseason by his last NHL team for partying until 3 AM on a game night.
But, more on Radulov: Montreal is paying him $5.75 million despite the fact his NHL career peaked at 58 points eight years ago. How did he get that kind of money after two full NHL seasons? By putting up numbers in an inferior KHL? His agent should get paaaaaaaaaid.
Also, Weber is getting paid $7.86MM a season until 2026, when he will be 40 years old. If you think his play has tailed off now, just wait until Year 3. Or 5. Or 8. I have the feeling by Year 4, this relationship will end in some Bobby Bonilla-style "cash for life" buyout that will cause our next four lockouts.
Things That Still Suck
This really is my favourite post to write, next to the Leafs, who I love and simultaneously hate. Why? Because this is just nothing but pure, unadultered hate, and excess joy at their failures. And isn't that really what the spirit of this entire exercise is all about?
I've compared the Leafs rebuild to the Cubs before, but the analogy left out one significant detail: that in the Canadiens, they have a rival fanbase that acts exactly like insufferable Cardinals fans. I'm amazed these people haven't trademarked "Best Fans in Hockey" in two different languages!
These people believe, and have believed for years, that they are God's gift to hockey. They have 45-minute pregame ceremonies because they believed their franchise is this storied, hallowed historical landmark worthy of mystique. Recall these fans coined the term "Forum Ghosts." What does that even mean?! Nobody died in your arena that you haven't played in since 1995! I'm pretty sure the original Forum was leveled to make room for a depanneur anyhow. There's nothing prestigious or mythological about your history compared to any other sports franchise that has been around for a long time. For crying out loud, you're a hockey team; you're not Ancient Greece!
It's because, at this point, the past is all you have left to go on. Their last Stanley Cup was in 1993; that was 23 years ago! There are people that have never been alive for a Canadiens Cup win now graduating from university in Montreal (and are, per tradition, moving back home to Toronto to find a job). They have had two fairly fluky conference final appearances since that were ended quickly by a forgettable Stanley Cup runner-up. Yet, the fanbase clings to this history as if that's actually made them even the least bit relevant recently. If you delete the entire 20th century, your team is basically the French Minnesota Wild.
When you get down to it, your history is just a more decorated version of your present existence: being whiny babies when you don't get your way. The league is allegedly out to get you. The refs are allegedly out to get you. You destroy your city, win or lose. This is your history.
Also, the Hockey Sweater was crappy propaganda, and the real hero in it was Mr. Eaton, the Leafs fan who happened to be a shrewd, successful businessman. Note that the Habs fan protagonist got thrown out of a game for being a giant baby and throwing a temper tantrum. Fitting.
Why You Might Not Suck
This division is pretty bad; plus, you just know that Carey Price dead cat bounce is coming. I can't wait for people to declare them a contender again because a .925 SV% hides all their sins. It'll just make it so much better once an actual contender runs them over yet again in the postseason, should they get that far.