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In the wanted section of the NHL’s classifieds:


/snip/  Wanted: Top three defenseman, second line center, and one top flight goalie. All must be above 6 feet tall, weigh more than 205 lbs. Swift skating, physical presence, good faceoff record and accurate passing an asset. Call Bob at 514- ### – ####  /snip/


Three Players the Habs organization thought they already had. Dandenault, Bonk/Ribeiro, Theodore.


The front office record over the last two years has been less than stellar. One always hesitates to judge but it’s a kind way to put it. 


Less than stellar. The taste in the mouth right now is surely sour for Habs fans everywhere. All the promise has died. A Kovalev later, what else has been done?


The Bonk trade – Stinker.

Carey Price – Good pick that wasn’t what the Canadiens really needed.

Dandenault – Who? He’s on the team? He’s paid how much?

Vandermeer and Ivanans – Pretenders to the throne.

Garth Murray – limited upside. 


This team is not doing the scouting that they should be doing, at either the pro or amateur levels.  


The Habs have a philosophical problem, which began with Rejean Houle, continued with Andre Savard, now soldiers onward, perhaps due to Savard’s continued presence. A team must be built from within using a strong core of key players, something the Habs have not managed to do in the past eight seasons. This year Les Glorieux are a mash of players useful in past scenarios. Emphasis on the word past. Bonk and Dandenault are not performing. Add Theodore, Ribeiro, and Dagenais to that list and you suddenly have five guys pulling in the wrong direction. Pity four of them are still on the team.


How many free agents were signed in Tampa Bay before their cup run of 2004? Vaclav Prospal and Steve McLaren. Leaving how many of their players to be drafted or traded for by scouts? Do you know remember who the Lightning picked up just before their cup run? One guy. Yep. One guy. Just Darryl Sydor. They were that complete.


The Habs are not so lucky.


There are NHL formulas that work but right now the Habs are not following those formulas. Instead the Habs are being exploited because of their incomplete team. Their formula hasn’t worked and needs to be re-examined. It’s not all their fault. Jose “top shelf” Theodore is doing his best impression of Arturs Irbe circa 2003, something infuriating for everyone. I don’t think he could stop me from throwing a basketball into a trash bin some nights. If he can’t turn it around the trash is where the Habs can throw their playoff hopes. That may be precisely what should happen.




Haven’t you been paying attention? The Habs are missing key core players. Instead they have too many players.


As much as everyone loves Craig Rivet, he is not a top three defenseman. Right now he is number two on the depth chart with the injury to Markov. He can be a number three when he plays his best game, but the rest of the time he is a 4-5 guy. Mike Komisarek barely remembers what a body check feels like. The Canadians badly need a top 3 defenseman to share minutes with Markov and Souray. I doubt Wade Redden will come to Montreal.


It would be better for the team if that player was found within the organization. On the farm right now there is next to nothing by way of defensemen. Francois Beauchemin could have been the guy. Instead the cupboard is bare. The only potential exception to this is Emelin, or Yemelin depending on where you look for his name, who isn’t playing in the AHL yet but impressed in Vancouver. The Habs don’t have a player with significant upside to fill the hole.


Getting rid of Rick Green will help the defence play better, but won’t pay immediate dividends. There are lots of inadequacies to be addressed and it will take time. He should have been fired long ago.


On offence, Saku Koivu is a pending free agent. Mike Ribeiro is a power-play specialist. Richard Zednik is a puck hog that can’t do much with the puck. Higgins, Plekanec, and Perezhogin are decent but not game changers if they don’t play their guts out. They don’t get too many chances to play anyways with Radek Bonk being so central to the team’s slide out of the playoff hunt…. Yeah. We’ve already seen it, no reason to go over it.


Of all the players on the team, Bonk is the one who should be in Hamilton. To be a playoff team in this eastern conference, forget about an elite team, you must be strong up the middle. The Habs were convinced Bonk would fill that void. Instead they got taken. 




Now the Habs are weaker in the middle than at any point in the last 5 years.


There are players in the system which can moderately change the face of the Habs in the next 2 years. Kyle Chipchura, Guillaume Latendresse, Andrei Kostitsyn might all do the job. Are those guys core players? It’s so hard to say.


Currently the core is Koivu, Souray, Markov, Theodore, Kovalev, Ryder. The Habs may lose Koivu, Theodore is lost, and Ryder’s shot percentage isn’t great. Markov is injured and Kovalev is moody. Leaves one player, doesn’t it?


They need to re-establish their system of drafting to get talented core players. They will only manage that when they change their drafting policy, and when they stop trying to have it both ways. You can’t win a Stanley Cup and draft really well at the same time.


The drafting can improve in several ways.


  1. Draft more Canadian talent earlier in the draft process. Chipchura has the will but limited skill. Carey Price is a project for down the road, but looks good so far. Yann Danis is playing great in the AHL. Oh LOOK! They’re Canadian! Now if they were a little less allergic to Ontario players… 

  2.  They have to decide if they are going to draft the best players they can from the Q or not. Maxim Lapierre and Cory Urquhart? Bets are they are on the outside looking in come October. Second round picks that were used on local players. They had a chance to draft higher ranked players from the Q in the past and didn’t. Why do they keep drafting guys who are consistantly below the in the Q? Less lip service to the locals please gentlemen.

  3. Stop drafting based on talent alone. Desire to win has to be a critical element of every player drafted in the first round. Many players currently in the system, with the noted exception of Chipchura, are not living up to their full potential.

Forget the playoffs. The team needs more key core players. If they do it the right way, which is through the draft, it will still take years to build a winner. The groundwork is there. Now the Habs organization has to follow through. The alternative is they can just hope for the playoffs year after year.