There are many words one can use to sum up the
summer of the Habs, at least so far. Some may use the word disappointment,
given that the team failed to land the big name free agent for yet another
season. Others may choose intrigue since there are some youngsters on the
cusp of making the team. I prefer to use the word hype to sum up the
offseason, adding the adjectives excessive and ridiculous.
How is it excessive? I find that it’s as easy to say how is it not?
Take a look at the recent goings on around the team. The new uniforms came
out this week. Despite repeated statements that there wouldn’t be any
significant alterations to the look, how many "leaked designs" did we see?
There was talk of changing logos, colour schemes, almost everything. The
new ones come out, with minimal changes, and yet I sense disappointment in many
fans that were hoping to see something more. What did you expect?
The team said there weren’t going to be any changes, and lo and behold, there
weren’t any. The hype led to unrealistic expectations, a line that I sense
as this article progresses, may appear again before long.
If only the team’s word had been taken at face value with the
uniforms…unfortunately that’s not even the only instance I can say that.
Let’s talk trade, in particular, Patrick Marleau. I have never seen so
much talk about a player that both teams denied having serious talks about in my
lifetime. Over 6 weeks ago, Doug Wilson said he was trying to get an
extension done and was not looking to deal the captain, yet only now are fans
starting to realize he was actually telling the truth. The hype about
something getting done at the draft wasn’t too bad, but the daily discussions
and alleged breaking updates from certain bloggers blew this way out of
proportion to the point where it was almost a relief when Marleau signed the
extension. Hopefully now this one will be over with.
There’s one over-hyping issue I’ve always had an problem with, and it seems to
pop up during the offseason every year, the rookies. The first thought
that comes to mind was when Patrice Brisebois signed, and people were saying
that he was taking a spot away from Ryan O’Byrne. Since when is any rookie
that isn’t a can’t miss superstar guaranteed a roster spot, under any
circumstances? I know the team has quality prospect depth overall (I’ll
avoid the temptation to go into details about certain overhyped prospects,
there’s enough for another article down the road), but the Habs do not have a
single prospect that should ever be guaranteed a spot before training
camp, period. It bugs me when the hype surrounding prospects becomes
unrealistic to the fact where other quality free agent signings are denounced
since they take away spots from a rookie (Bryan Smolinski comes to mind here).
Rookies need to be brought in gradually, that’s the method the successful teams
have used, not simply handed a spot before camp.
Going back to this week, captain Saku Koivu said something to the effect that
the team can make the playoffs, but is not a Cup contender. Personally, I
fail to see the problem with this, the Cup this season (or anytime soon) is all
but a pipe dream, and anyone who thinks otherwise needs to go lay down until the
feeling goes away. Koivu didn’t say anything outrageous, although
depending on who you talk to, saying that the team has a playoff shot could fall
into that category. Yet he is being bashed by fans and media types alike
for saying…the truth. Is the hype surrounding the rookies that
ridiculous that this many people are criticizing Koivu for saying the team isn’t
a Cup contender?
Fortunately, the season is coming soon, which means some of this will die down
as the focus turns to the on-ice performance. Training camp starts next
week, with rookie camp starting before, which means only one thing: If the
hype trend continues, better start taking notes for a part 2 to this article.