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Even though there is no NHL hockey now, it doesn’t mean that the Montreal Canadiens haven’t had a busy year.  In fact, that’s the furthest thing from the truth.  From making the postseason, to draft day, to the day-to-day operations, Bob Gainey and company have had quite the busy year.  Let’s look back through the Habsworld headlines, and remember what’s transpired in the calendar year of 2004.


January 2, 2004 – W Donald Audette’s contract bought out:
It indeed was a happy new year for many Canadiens fans, as GM Bob Gainey bought out the contract of W Donald Audette, just like he did with W Mariusz Czerkawski a few months earlier.  Official terms of the buyout were not released, but it was reported that Montreal paid all of his salary last season, but are not paying anything during the lockout.  Audette later caught on with Florida, but remained ineffective there.  Full Story

January 6, 2004 – D Stephane Quintal plays his 1000th career game:
On this day, veteran d-man Stephane Quintal suited up in his 1000th NHL game vs Buffalo.  That was pretty much his only memorable moment of the season, as his role decreased to the point where he was a healthy scratch in the playoffs.  His trade request to LA was granted in the offseason.  Full Story

January 10, 2004 – D Sheldon Souray ties NHL record:
On this Saturday afternoon vs Pittsburgh, D Sheldon Souray notched a career high 5 assists as well as a goal, tying him for the NHL record for the most points in a single game by a defenceman.  The Habs defeated the Penguins 8-0, their biggest margin of victory of the season.  Full Story

January 22, 2004 – 2 Habs named to All-Star game:
Fresh off his 6 point performance, D Sheldon Souray, along with G Jose Theodore are named to the Eastern Conference All-Star team.  Both players have a limited impact on the game.  Full Story

January 23, 2004 – Prospect makes NHL debut:
After tearing it up in the AHL, winger Jozef Balej is recalled for a game in New Jersey, and makes his NHL debut.  He was scoreless in that game, along with 3 others, before being returned to Hamilton.  He was traded in March.  Full Story

January 24, 2004 – Ryder named to Young Stars game:
Two days after teammates Sheldon Souray and Jose Theodore are named to the All-Star game, Michael Ryder is invited to play in the Young Stars game.  It marks the 4th year in a row that the Canadiens have a representative in this contest.  Ryder recorded an assist, and was -1 in the game.  Full Story

January Record: 7-5-1-1    Season Record to date: 25-20-6-2


February 18, 2004 – Yet another scrap in practice:
Less than 2 months after Craig Rivet and Pierre Dagenais came to pushing and shoving in practice, it happened again.  This time, it was between centres Saku Koivu and Mike Ribeiro, as frustration began to mount after the team’s losing streak his 4 games.  Nothing came of it, except for a little motivation, as the following night, the Habs defeated the Flames 4-1.  Full Story

February 25, 2004 – Gainey address trade talks:
As he did every quarter, GM Bob Gainey addressed the media in his “State of the Union.”  Here, he addressed talks of a trade, saying that he was not actively pursuing deals, and that he would only make a move if he didn’t lose someone off the active NHL roster.  In other words, he would only deal away picks and/or prospects.  Full Story

February Record: 8-5-0-0    Season Record to date: 33-25-6-2


March 2, 2004 – Habs acquire Russian sniper:
The Canadiens shocked the hockey world, when it was announced late in the day that they had acquired sniper Alexei Kovalev from the Rangers in exchange for Jozef Balej and a 2nd round pick.  Kovalev, who was the target of many teams looking for help at the deadline, struggled with the Habs the rest of the way, recording just an empty net goal, to go along with a pair of assists.  Full Story

March 3, 2004 – Gainey at it again:
Just when you thought that Bob Gainey had made his move, he made another one, acquiring veteran centre Jim Dowd from Minnesota for a 4th round pick.  Dowd played well both offensively and defensively throughout the stretch and in the playoffs, and quickly became a fan favourite in Montreal.  Currently a free agent, Dowd has expressed an interest to return to the Canadiens when the season resumes.  Full Story

March 9, 2004 – Deadline day: (Complete list of trades)
Over 20 trades occurred on this day, but only 1 was made by the Canadiens, and it was arguably the least significant of them all.  Montreal acquired D Rene Vydareny from Vancouver in exchange for tough guy Sylvain Blouin.  Vydareny is now playing in Germany, while Blouin is out indefinitely after suffering a severe concussion playing in the NAHL.  The Habs also lost Chad Kilger to Toronto via the waiver wire on this day.  Full Story

March 19 – Habs add a prospect:
In a surprising move, the Canadiens signed goalie prospect Yann Danis from Brown University.  Danis held many of the team records there, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award for the best player in the NCAA.  Danis played a couple of games in Hamilton that season, and is now the #1 netminder for the Bulldogs this year.  Full Story

March 27 – Habs clinch playoffs:
On this day, Montreal clinched the postseason, earning a single point in an 3-2 OT loss to their eventual first-round opponent, the Boston Bruins.  The Canadiens would earn the 7th seed, while Boston would win the division, and take the #2 seed.  Full Story

March Record: 7-4-1-2    Season Record to date: 40-29-7-4


April 2, 2004 – Theodore wins Molson Cup…again:
For the 4th straight season, Habs netminder Jose Theodore was the recipient of the Molson Cup, given yearly to the player with the most points in 3-star selections.  Theodore finished with 120 points on the season.  Full Story

April 3, 2004 – Canadiens win season finale:
The Habs ended the regular season with a bang, defeating division rival Buffalo by a score of 6-3.  Mike Ribeiro surprisingly wound up as the team’s leading scorer, notching a career high 65 points in 81 games.  The Habs had a few days off before heading to Boston to take on the B’s.  Full Story

April 7-19, 2004 – Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals: Montreal (7) vs Boston (2):
The Habs were looking to get off to a strong start as they did 2 years earlier vs Boston, but the opposite happened, as they came out flat, losing both games in Boston (3-0, 2-1), to head back to Montreal down 2-0.  A breakout game by Alexei Kovalev got the Canadiens back on track, winning the game 3-2.  Then came what many felt would be the back breaker in the series, as in the 2nd OT, Kovalev was slashed by Boston W Glen Murray, an infraction that went uncalled.  Kovalev, writhing in pain, slowed up, and bumped into Sheldon Souray, taking both out of the play, allowing Murray to streak in and score, winning the game 4-3 for Boston, and more importantly, giving them a 3-1 series lead.

But the Canadiens rallied, crushing Boston 5-1 in Game 5, forcing a home game in Montreal, which they went on to win 5-2, scoring their goals in between Boston’s tallies.  Then came Game 7, the tightest checking game of the series.  The game was tied 0-0 midway through the 3rd, when Richard Zednik put the winner home.  They added an empty netter, and won the game 2-0, and the series 4-3.  Then it was off to Tampa to face the Lightning.  Game 7 details

April 23-29, 2004 – Eastern Conference Semi-Finals: Montreal (7) vs Tampa Bay (1):
The Habs were hoping to carry their momentum into Tampa, but it just wasn’t meant to be.  They were blanked 4-0 in Game 1, and fell 3-1 in Game 2, before heading back to Montreal for the next two.  A late goal by Patrice Brisebois had many thinking the Habs were heading for the win column, but a late goal by Vincent Lecavalier forced OT, where Brad Richards ended it less than 2 minutes in.  The Canadiens put up a valiant effort in Game 4, but again fell short, losing 3-1 in the game, and 4-0 in the series, ending their season.  Tampa Bay, meanwhile, went on to win the Stanley Cup in 7 games over Calgary.  Game 4 details

April 30, 2004 – Ugly incident in AHL, Perezhogin in trouble:
A day after Montreal was eliminated from the playoffs, there was more bad news for Hab fans.  One of Hamilton’s best players, Alexander Perezhogin, viciously swung his stick at Cleveland Baron D Garrett Stafford, rendering him unconscious immediately, and causing the game to get very ugly.  Perezhogin was ejected, and suspended indefinitely following the game.  Hamilton lost that game, but went on to win the series, and face Rochester in the 2nd round of the Calder Cup playoffs.  Full Story

April Record (regular season): 1-1-0-0    Final Regular Season Record: 41-30-7-4
Playoff Record: 4-7    Final Combined Record: 44-37-7-4


May 1, 2004 – Canadiens bid farewell to Juneau:
As anticipated by many, Canadiens C Joe Juneau announced his retirement, just 2 days after the team was eliminated from the postseason.  Many believe that he will be coaching somewhere in the near future, possibly as an assistant in Hamilton if Doug Jarvis gets promoted to the big club, after Guy Charron left for Florida in the offseason.  Full Story

May 7, 2004 – Perezhogin gets his sentence:
On this day, AHL Commissioner Dave Andrews shocked many, by handing down one of the most severe penalties in professional sports history, suspending Perezhogin for the remainder of the 2004 Calder Cup Playoffs, as well as all of the 2004-05 season and playoffs for his role in the aforementioned stick incident.  With all of the games added up, he stands to miss between 90-100 games.  Full Story    Staff Editorial


June 1, 2004 – Door opened for one, closed for another:
At the prospect signing deadline, the Canadiens opted to sign one prospect, while saying goodbye to another. W Michael Lambert signed a 3-year, entry level contract (terms undisclosed), while non-tendering to C Andre Deveaux, losing his rights.  Deveaux is now in the Tampa Bay system.  Full Story

June 25, 2004 – Julien’s sticking around:
To no one’s surprise, GM Bob Gainey signed head coach Claude Julien to a 2 year contract, running through the 2005-06 season.  Julien’s deal was set to expire 1 week later, on July 1st.  Full Story

June 26, 2004 – Draft Day:
One of the more exciting days of the hockey offseason, the Habs were surprised to find that Kyle Chipchura, a consensus top-15 pick, somehow managed to slip to them at #18.  Their second pick, Alexei Yemelin, is currently playing for Russia in the World Juniors, while their 3rd pick was traded away (details below).  All in all, Montreal made 9 picks in the draft.  HW Draft Centre

June 26, 2004 – Habs shake up the goalie situation:
During the draft, Montreal hooked up in a 3-way deal, that saw them land Ottawa C Radek Bonk, and LA G Cristobal Huet.  The Habs, meanwhile, parted ways with G Mathieu Garon, and their 3rd round pick (D Paul Baier), both of whom went to LA.  Reports later circulated that Garon had asked Bob Gainey to seriously consider moving him, due to his lack of playing time, although he never formally requested or demanded a trade.  Full Story

June 27, 2004 – Quintal gets his wish:
After learning that he would not be back with the team next season, Stephane Quintal requested a trade, preferably to Los Angeles.  On this day, GM Bob Gainey granted his request, and shipped him for a conditional draft choice.  Full Story


July 1, 2004 – Habs release 7:
On the eve of free agency, the Canadiens announced that they had failed to tender qualifying offers to 7 members of their organization: W Niklas Sundstrom, W Gordie Dwyer, G J-F Damphousse, G Eric Fichaud, W Jerome Marois, D Patrick Traverse, and D Martti Jarventie.  Only Sundstrom and Traverse have signed new deals since then.

July 13, 2004 – One of the 7 comes back:
Less than 2 weeks after releasing him, GM Bob Gainey persuaded W Nik Sundstrom to return to Montreal, at an even lower price than before.  After not being qualified at $1.8 M, Sundstrom signed a 2 year, $2.5 M deal to remain in the bleu, blanc, et rouge.  Full Story

July 14, 2004 – 3 more sign deals:
A day after inking Sundstrom, Gainey went on to sign a trio of others to deals, including leading scorer Mike Ribeiro, who signed a 1 year, $1.55 M contract.  Also signed were C Steve Begin (2 years, $1.5 M plus a team option), and W Marcel Hossa (1 year, undisclosed).  Full Story

July 16, 2004 – New tough guy in the fold:
After losing enforcer Darren Langdon to New Jersey (July 3), the Habs quickly replaced him with 6’5 Raitis Ivanans.  He signed a 2 year deal, terms undisclosed.  This season, he is playing for Hamilton, and has 1 assist so far.  The little known fact about Ivanans is that he can play both wings, as well as on defence, versatility that will help the Habs out down the road.  Full Story

July 16, 2004 – Pair of coaches inked:
Just after signing Ivanans, the Habs also announced that they had signed assistant coaches Rick Green and Roland Melanson to multi-year contracts.  The other assistant from last season, Guy Charron, later left for Florida.  Full Story

July 19, 2004 – Another minor signing:
Despite a lackluster season, Marc-Andre Thinel was qualified by GM Bob Gainey, and accepted his qualifying offer on this day.  Terms of the 1-year deal were not disclosed.  Full Story

July 23, 2004 – 2 more locked up:
On this day, another key prospect was re-signed, as Ron Hainsey agreed to terms on a 2-year, $1.5 M contract.  The deal is one-way, unlike his previous entry-level contract.  Also signed was C Gavin Morgan from Dallas, who signed a 1 year deal, plus a team option; financial terms were not disclosed.  Full Story

July 30, 2004 – Long term deal for the new guy:
The newest Hab, Radek Bonk curiously rejected his $3.5 M qualifying offer, and opted to sign for less per season, in exchange for a long-term deal.  He signed a 3-year, $9.45 M deal, that sees him earn $3.15 M per year.  Full Story


August 3, 2004 – Habs avoid arbitration:
The other newcomer in the Mathieu Garon trade, G Cristobal Huet avoided salary arbitration with the Canadiens, by agreeing to a 2-year, $1.2 M contract.  He will receive $600,000 for both years.  Full Story

August 3, 2004 – New affiliation:
After not having a true ECHL affiliate over the past few seasons, the Habs now have one, as they’ve entered into an affiliation with Long Beach.  Currently, 4 Canadiens prospects have suited up for them so far this season.

August 4, 2004 – Habs avoid arbitration…again:
Another day, another last-minute deal, this time with a key contributor of the team, in W Richard Zednik.  He agreed to a 3-year, $7.3 M contract just hours before his scheduled arbitration hearing.  Full Story

August 10, 2004 – The future arrives:
In a deal that had been reported for about a week, the Canadiens signed top prospect Andrei Kostitsyn to the maximum entry-level contract (3 years, $3.72 M).  Kostitsyn is gradually improving his game in Hamilton, although he has left the team to play for Belarus in the World Juniors.  Full Story

August 19, 2004 – Some help on the blueline:
In a minor move, the Canadiens signed J-P Cote to a 2 year contract; financial terms were undisclosed.  Cote spent the previous season in Hamilton on an AHL-only deal, but his strong defensive play earned him a contract from the big club.  Full Story

August 24, 2004 – More depth at the pivot position:
The Habs added some more depth to their centre position, albeit again at the minor league level, signing Benoit Dusablon to a minor league deal.  Dusablon spent the past 3 seasons between the AHL and ECHL, as part of the Rangers organization, but has not yet played this season due to a severe neck injury.  Full Story

August 26, 2004 – More bad news for Perezhogin:
Things went from terrible to brutal for Alexander Perezhogin after his stick-swinging incident, as it was announced that Hamilton police will now be charging him with assault causing bodily harm (the same charge that Vancover’s Todd Bertuzzi pled guilty to).  He now faces up to 18 months in jail, although nothing further has happened since then.  Full Story


September 9, 2004 – Another prospect signs deal:
Yet another prospect inked a deal before training camp, as 2003 second rounder Cory Urquhart signed a 3-year deal, terms undisclosed.  Many felt he would have a significant role in Hamilton this season, but found himself on the outside looking in; he is now lighting it up in Long Beach.  Full Story

September 12, 2004 – Sheldon signs:
Just prior to “Hockey Armageddon,” Habs fans received some positive news, when it was announced that All-Star Sheldon Souray had signed a new 3-year, $8.4 M contract.  GM Bob Gainey states he is pleased that a significant portion of the core of the team is now locked up long-term.  Full Story

September 13, 2004 – Koivu wins new award:
The Montreal Canadiens awarded Saku Koivu the first ever “Jean Beliveau Trophy,” given to the player who best exemplifies leadership in the community.   Full Story

September 14, 2004 – Oops!
Just before the NHL was expected to announce the lockout, many teams waived certain players to enable them to play in the AHL this upcoming season.  The Canadiens did so with D Francois Beauchemin, and it cost them.  Many felt there was a gentleman’s agreement that no players would be claimed, but Columbus GM Doug Maclean didn’t hear that, as the Jackets claimed Beauchemin, their second claim in as many days.  The Syracuse Crunch would later sign Beauchemin to an AHL-contract.  Full Story

September 14, 2004 – Rookies lose…to Toronto!
Despite winning the round-robin portion of their rookie tournament, including a 9-4 romp over Toronto to close it out, the Habs rookies couldn’t hold it together in the finals, losing 5-3 to the Leafs squad, in their first year in the tournament.  One prospect earned himself a minor league contract, as D James Sanford signed a two-way, AHL/ECHL deal shortly thereafter.  Full Story

September 15, 2004 – Good news and bad news:
First, let’s start with the bad: The NHL announced the lockout that is still in effect today.  ‘Nuff said.  As for the good, another prospect signed a contract this day, prior to the announcement of the work stoppage.  Corey Locke, who currently leads the Hamilton Bulldogs in goals and points, signed an entry level contract, the last player to sign with the Habs before the lockout.  Locke signing    Lockout

September 24, 2004 – Hainsey to suit up after all:
Although he wasn’t subjected to waivers, Ron Hainsey was allowed to play in the AHL after all, as he signed a 1-year, minor league deal (1-way, AHL-only).  Unfortunately, he has struggled mightily thus far, and has even been a healthy scratch on some nights.  Full Story


October, 2004 – Overseas invasion:
With the lockout in effect, many NHL’ers, including many Montreal Canadiens, began signing overseas to keep themselves busy until the NHL season resumes.  Of the many Habs that left in October, the more significant ones are: Jan Bulis and Radek Bonk (CZE), Sheldon Souray and Marcel Hossa (SWE), and Niklas Sundstrom, who went to Italy.  Complete list of Habs locations

October 19, 2004 – “Monkey see, monkey do”:
Perhaps this is a little unfair, but Jason Ward decided to follow Ron Hainsey’s lead by signing an AHL contract, which allowed him to play for Hamilton this season.  He has had more success than Hainsey, as he is currently 3rd in team scoring, despite missing several games to start the season.  Full Story

October 25, 2004 – What’s this, another one?:
Yet another NHL defenceman signed a contract with the AHL’s Bulldogs, but this time, one who wasn’t already a member of the Hamilton organization.  Dan Focht, a defenceman who played for Pittsburgh last season, signed a 1-year deal with Hamilton, and will look to parlay that into a contract with the Montreal Canadiens, who are seeking a physical #6 or 7 defenceman.  Full Story


November, 2004 – 2 more head to Europe:
In this month, a pair of significant Canadiens signed contract overseas, D Patrice Brisebois (SUI), and Saku Koivu (FIN).  Brisebois was injured early on, while Koivu made his season debut earlier this week.

November 3, 2004 – Tragedy strikes a former Hab:
The hockey world was shocked when it learned of the sudden death of a former Montreal Canadien, in centre Sergei Zholtok.  He suffered a heart arrhythmia while playing for Riga 2000 in Latvia, and died almost instantly.  Zholtok played for 6 teams in his career, Boston, Edmonton, Montreal, Edmonton, Minnesota, and Nashville.  Full Story


December 2, 2004 – Bad news for a top prospect:
Montreal’s 2004 1st rounder, Kyle Chipchura, suffered a significant Achilles strain that not only caused him to miss the opportunity to play for Canada at the World Juniors, but also leaves him out until mid-March.  Full Story

December 14, 2004 – A dream come true:
One player’s dream came true when GM Bob Gainey “drafted” D Kevin Lavallee, as part of the CBC series “Making the Cut.”  As part of the prize, Lavallee will be invited to the next Montreal training camp.  Lavallee is currently playing in Germany, and could make a strong pitch for a roster spot in Hamilton if he so chooses.  Full Story

December 20, 2004 – Theodore leaves North America:
After being left out of work when the McDonald’s Caravane ended, G Jose Theodore joined over 300 other NHL’ers, as he signed to play overseas.  He is set to join Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League in the coming days.  Full Story


2004 was quite the busy year for the Montreal Canadiens.  From signings to trades, to the lockout, very few days go by where Habs brass isn’t busy doing something.  Now, as we head for 2005, we can only hope that the work will soon be preparing to return to NHL hockey, and that in next year’s column, we’ll have plenty of happy moments to talk about.