Wednesday, September 29, 2010

To bigger and better things in the Habs blogosphere

For time being, this will be the last post at Ya! The Habs Rule!

By now, most of you know that I am taking the managerial reigns of the Habs juggernaut blog

I was thrilled when Robert Lefebvre offered me the position earlier this summer, and had been contributing to EOTP whenever I could since the spring. After some debating I decided to take on the challenge.

To be honest Robert’s site was what inspired me to kick off my own, and in that time I have had some great experiences both online and in the field. I never thought that in a matter of months after I started that I’d find myself interviewing the likes of Kirk Muller, Brett Hull, Wayne Gretzky or Guy Lafleur! It has truly been a rewarding and memorable experience, that I plan to continue.

In the process, Robert and I found a mutual respect for each others work, over the past couple seasons, and with Robert moving on to bigger things of his own, it seemed the natural thing to do.

In the mean time, I will keep this site up for anyone wishing to do any Habs research. SB Nation has offered to archive the site into  EOTP, but I will likely just refer, and eventually carry over any articles of significance.

I’d like to thank all the supporters of this site, and look forward to seeing you all at EOTP!!

Oh and one more thing, GO! HABS GO!

Monday, September 20, 2010

While the “big boys” duke it out…

So there’s a lot of issues as of late between mainstream media (MSM) and blogger universe, but the last 24 hours seem to have spawned some internal strife amongst some media “elite.”

It all started last week, then the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox totally shit the MSM bed by tweeting that former Habs coach Pat Burns had passed away.

The tweet was scattered across the planet in seconds and being reported by virtually every media outlet shortly after. The only problem was, Pat Burns wasn’t dead.

Seems that Mr. Cox, who unlike me and as far as I know HAS a degree in journalism, failed to confirm the story. Instead he merely relied on a comment from Leafs executive, and friend of Burns, Cliff Fletcher, who these days seems to have know idea who he is or where he is. Not exactly a “reliable source,” if you ask me.

Fortunately the story was clarified as false and Mr. Burns is still with us.

Cox tried to justify his “mistake” in a follow up column. But unlike Mr. Fletcher, and pretty much every other media type, he fails to actually apologize. He essentially pointed the finger of blame at Fletcher.

Cox was called out on Sunday by the Globe and Mail’s Bruce Dowbiggin. I will admit that Dowbiggin suprised me at taking a swing at a fellow journalist, especially after his previous piece on the MSM/Blogger issue seemed almost two months out of place.

You don’t have to like Bruce Dowbiggin, nor do you have to like Damien Cox, but in this case the former was right in his response that Cox failed to take any responsibility for his actions, plain and simple.

So how did Mr. Cox respond? Well on Twitter of course, and at three in the morning in a series of tweets.

    • Funny how Bruce Dowbiggin takes a run at me for not consulting secondary source but never bothers to call me for comment on his hack job.
    • When people with no respect from anyone in the biz like Dowbiggin take cheap shots, it actually makes me feel better about entire episode.
    • Best part is Dowbiggin (William Houston Jr.) is loathed by Globe colleagues for inventing ridiculous rumours others then forced to chase.

It just screams professionalism, doesn’t it?

So while these two scrap it out, let’s see what the other “Pros and Joes” have been doing.

Sissy, I mean Leafs fight!!!!!!

Habs Inside/ gives us a look at Alex Auld’s new mask. Here is the other side of it. Tiny head or oversized bucket? You decide. Dave Stubbs with a feature on the Habs goaltender.

The Canadiens made five cuts on Monday. No real shockers here, but it was nice to see Nicholas Champion (an undrafted goalie) get a chance to test himself against the pros.

Jaroslav Halak (remember him?) will get the pre-season start for the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche. Jeremy Rutherford, of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, has a great segment on a Blues prospect/Halak admirer who is now sitting 10 feet from him in training camp.

Lions in Winter goes Uber-statistical in comparing that stats of the Canadiens acquisitions from last season.

Kyle Roussell gloats about the $100 he won on Mise-O-Jou, and has a variety of notes and links on the NFL, MLB and Andrei Markov.

Oh Canadiens! Takes a look at the Habs forwards for 2010-11

Pat Hickey takes a look at Benoit Pouliot’s make or break season.

Sergio hits the airwaves: CJAD’s play-by-play man Rick Moffat will be joined by former Habs tough guy Sergio Momesso in the broadcast booth for the 2010-11 season. The station made the announcement last week. Momesso spent some time, during the Habs spring playoff run, co-hosting the post-game shows with Abe Hefter, and seemed the logical replacement for Murray Wilson, who retired at the end of last season.

Live in Toronto? Got any old batteries? If you answered yes to both of these, be sure to stop by the CN Tower, this Saturday from 10am to 1pm, and meet Guy Lafleur! A single old battery gets you an autographed postcard, while a truck load could win you a trip to Montreal. Full details are available on the Call2Recycle website.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Advice for Eric Belanger: Get a new agent!


As painful as losing 9 teeth was in the playoffs, Eric Belanger’s latest contract debate may have been more painful. Photo: AP (Nick Wass)

Well what an interesting debacle this appears to be!

When the Montreal Canadiens signed shutdown centre Jeff Halpern, several fans and media questioned why GM Pierre Gauthier did not spend the extra money and go after local faceoff specialist Eric Belanger instead?

Regardless of which player you get, it would be an upgrading for a two-way centre, and take the added burden of short-handed ice time for Tomas Plekanec. Speaking of two-way players, you should read Dave Stubbs’ fantastic piece on former Habs centreman Glen Metropolit, but I digress.

Belanger was expected to fetch close to the $1.75 million range in salary, which would have been more than what Metropolit made last year, leaving some tweaking for Gauthier to keep his team under the cap, or have zero space left.

My choice? I would have gone after Belanger. He’s been consistent offensively over the last three years, and quite frankly I don’t know many NHLers that can take a high stick, lose nine teeth (pulling one out on national TV) and stay in a playoff game.

In any event, the Habs signed Halpern to a one-year $600K deal, leaving speculation that a deal with Belanger couldn’t bee reached.

Was Belanger looking for more than his value, after a career high 41 points with the Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals? Was he like many NHL players fearing the high tax brackets in Quebec? Who knows. Maybe he had reached a deal elsewhere…ahhhhh!!!

On Tuesday, Belanger signed with the Phoenix Coyotes for a single $750K a season. Huh???? Makes no sense, or does it?

By Tuesday evening, the accusations from the Belanger camp were fired out. Apparently there was a verbal deal between Belanger and the Capitals for the centre to stay in Washington. A deal that the Capitals allegedly reneged on  according to the forward and his agent.

A frustrated Belanger spoke to Montreal’s Team990 on Wednesday, citing that the Capitals gave him and agent Joe Tacopina gave him a reasonable offer, but did not wanted the signing to be announced as the team was working on a trade.

“They said it would take about a week to make a trade,” Belanger said. “It wasn’t a question of if they were making it but when, and you’re going to be signed, because they didn’t want to lose any leverage on the trade.”

This all started close to seven weeks ago, according to Belanger, who in the meantime leased an apartment and had his children enrolled in local schools. The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle seems to back up the situation with an article from August 12.

“I’m no lawyer guy but the line has been crossed, and now I’m looking ahead,” Belanger concluded.

Tacopina spoke to Toronto’s the Fan590 on Wednesday, reinforcing his client’s statements, adding that he had this all on record, via email, from Capitals assistant GM Don Fishman.

According to Tacopina, he was told by Fishman that this deal would be taken care of, once the trade was finalized, and not to worry about negotiating with other teams.

An exchange of stalling emails from the Capitals were sent to the agent, telling him to be patient. Tacopina also noted that Capitals Team Services manager even emailed his client in assisting with housing and getting his belongings moved from Minnesota.

Mirtle seems to verify Tacopina’s side of the story to an extent, in Wednesday’s article ,in the Globe and Mail, and includes excerpts of emails between the agent and Capitals GM George McPhee.

With time running out, and no contract, Belanger signed for $1 million less than what he thought he would a month prior.

But while Tacopina plead his case in print and on air, after all he is a prominent New York City defense attorney, the all important question came to mind.

If there was a deal, why not get it signed and done with and not dicker around for close to two months?

Tacopina easily should have said, “OK, we have a deal but this trade must happen in five to seven days.” He didn’t and Fishman and the Capitals appear to have played him and his client like a fiddle.

Contractual agreements and plea-bargains, which he is more familiar with, are two different things. From this debacle, it’s questionable if Mr.Tacopina realizes this.

The validity of the afore mentioned Globe and Mail article from mid-August also has some concerns. If the Capitals did not wish to unveil the signing, why would Belanger (according to the Le Soleil source in the article) say anything regarding it? Was this the deal breaker? Why would Tacopina allow his client to speak publically on a deal that way?

Mirtle continues to back the errors on Tacopina’s judgment in his Wednesday article below;

A contract, however, was never signed and registered with the league, an arrangement several veteran player agents said they would never have agreed to.

“They don’t have a legal leg to stand on,” one agent said Wednesday. “The entire situation is governed by the CBA. An agent and the player are obligated under the CBA to not take individual legal action or you can lose your certification to be an agent ... The sole remedy would be a grievance.

“The grievance precedent is 100 per cent crystal clear: Unless you have a signed standard player contract on file, registered with the NHL, you have nothing.”

A grievance? Yeah there’s a book the NHL and NHLPA likely don’t want to visit twice in a year, eh?

Mike Vogel, senior writer for the Washington Capitals, also replied to to Tacopina’s statements, and has the backing of the team’s majority owner Ted Leonsis.

So in the meantime, Eric Belanger is stuck with a lease on apartment in the D.C. area, where his belongings likely already are, and now has to look at either finding another school in the Phoenix area, or playing distant father to his kids. Oh, and he could be out a million or so due to his agent’s bungling.

As Belanger said, he’s now looking ahead. For him, the 2010-11 NHL season will obviously be a hockey one, as opposed to a financial one. He should just continue doing what he does, possibly getting some power play time in Phoenix, and start over next July.

Hopefully by then, it will be with an agent that knows what he is doing.

Monday, September 13, 2010

For two Habs goaltending hopefuls, it could be their last shot.


 Nicholas Champion (l) is one of two goaltenders invited on a tryout to this year’s Canadiens Rookie Camp – photo: Pierre Obendrauf Montreal Gazette

While most eyes at the Montreal Canadiens training camp focus on the likes of Louis LeBlanc, P.K. Subban, and Lars Eller, a pair of 20-year-old goalies may be getting their last shot at the pros.

Both Peter Delmas and Nicholas Champion were given tryout invitations to this year’s camp and while cracking the big team is far in the distance, a supporting role could be a stepping stone.

Barring injury, or total collapse, Carey Price and Alex Auld have secured the two spots in Montreal ,while Curtis Sanford and Robert Mayer should hold the two Hamilton Bulldogs slots on the Canadiens depth chart.

Delmas and Champion will be looking for a potential opening on the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) now that Mayer has moved to the AHL.

Delmas was a former teammate of Los Angeles Kings prospect Jonathan Bernier, when the two played together for the Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL). In light of playing in the shadow of Bernier, the Colorado Avalanche drafted him in the 2nd round (61st overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.


Photo courtesy LHJMQ

He remained in the Q and despite playing for a partial season under former Canadiens and Avalanche Hall of Famer Patrick Roy, was left unsigned. Delmas became eligible again for the 2010 Draft, but was not picked up by another team.

Much of Delmas’ lack of a big year stems from a hip injury. He had his hip scoped in the off-season and is looking to impress this week at the Canadiens practice facility in Brossard.


Photo courtesy LHJMQ

He is currently playing for the Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL), and received his invitation to the Rookie Camp on the same day the Canadiens traded goaltending prospect Cedrick Desjardins to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

His last overall evaluation from HockeysFuture is as follows:

“A solid, positional goaltender, Delmas is unflappable between the pipes and plays a mature, steady game beyond his years.

Always square to the shooter, he never gives up on the puck and possesses a quick glove, but at times he struggles controlling rebounds.

Though he has settled down from his rookie year, Delmas is sometimes a bit too adventurous in and around the net and doesn’t have the quickness and agility to always make up for his aggressiveness.”

Champion, on the other hand, has stayed out of the spotlight. A native of Labrador City, Newfoundland, he is familiar with exceeding his own expectations.

Playing Midget hockey in his home town, the 5’10 netminder was accustomed to facing 50 to 60 shots a night for the Labrador Huskies.


Nicholas Champion makes one of 51 saves, for Team Newfoundland & Labrador, during the Midget tournament at the 2007 Canada Winter Games. Photo via

After stating the 2007-08 season in the Maritime Jr. A League, Champion surprised himself when he was called up by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan before Christmas. He finished the season with a 25-9-2 record and 2.98 GAA.


Photo courtesy LHJMQ/Lewiston MAINEiacs – Ron Morin

He was never drafted and coincidentally is now playing for Delmas’ former team in Lewiston.

Both goalies have clearly caught the eye of Canadiens’ GM Pierre Gauthier and his scouting staff. Are they just taking a free look at a one-time NHL prospect, or did a diminutive goaltender from Lab City remind them of a former Habs goaltender, from recent memory, who played well under fire.

The following days could be a real test, and pivotal time career-wise, for the two netminders. Not only will they be competing for a long shot to the pros, but also have to know that their Junior days are getting shorter, and being challenged by up and coming teenagers, while they are away.

Jacques Lemaire, a Buffalo Sabre ??…sort of.

Jacques Lemaire’s uncorrected card #24 from the  1974-75 Topps/O-Pee Chee set

I guess back in the early ‘70s, hockey card producer O-Pee-Chee got wind of an inaccurate trade rumor.

Back then there was no Eklund, no Twitter, and essentially no internet period, so how they got there source is a mystery.
In any event , the then London Ontario based company (the brand name  is now part of Upper Deck) was led to believe that the Canadiens centre was about to be traded to the Buffalo Sabres.

The company did not verify it their facts and airbrushed Lemaire’s photo and applied the Sabres logo to the card.

You’d think at the time that the card producers would have wondered which Sabres to change to Canadiens players, no?

The card is now considered a UER (uncorrected error) in the collector’s market, and would have raised the eyebrows of youngsters, opening their packs of cards 35 years ago, with the season already under way.

Of course it’s not the first time the card company, or other ones, has made errors in it’s card production. has a list of uncorrected O-Pee-Chee errors from 1968 onwards.

Though many are misspelled names (Guy La Fleur, Claude La Rose, Ragatien Vachon), or statistical errors, there are two different years in which Canadiens Hall of Famers Bob Gainey and Serge Savard are mistaken to be Doug Risebrough. Must have been sad for Risebrough, as his first ever NHL card didn’t even have his picture.
Error_75-76_OPC_-_Risebrough_B Error_80-81_OPC_-__Risebrough_B
Clearly, confirming information was not a concern of hockey card manufacturers back in the day, or for that matter, neither was what position they played!!


Maybe this one explains why Mario Tremblay can be so bitter…Another rookie card error! It's actually the Habs 15th pick in the 1974 draft, Gord McTavish, who played all of 11 NHL games, none with Montreal.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Canadiens Hall of Famer Jacques Lemaire turns 65


OK so now we can say he’s officially retired! Happy 65th to Jacques LeMaire.

The Hall of Fame centre with the Canadiens, and current coach of the New Jersey Devils, was born on this day in 1945.

When you look at Lemaire’s statistics during his twelve-year career with the Montreal Canadiens, one thing that gets overshadowed was his defensive ability.

He was once referred to as Guy Lafleur’s defensive conscience during the Canadiens run of four Stanley Cups to close out the ‘70s.

His speed, anticipation and determination allowed Lafleur and linemate Steve Shutt to excel more offensively. Lemaire was the workhorse, winning the faceoffs, and digging pucks out of the scrums and getting the puck to his sharpshooting wingers.

In an interview with the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007, Lemaire gave insight into the importance of a good defensive forward.

"We talked more about defence than offence. It was always there. I remember my first year playing for Toe Blake -- he was always talking about it.

On the bench, he'd be telling us if this guy or that guy didn't come back on defence and he would bench them. You hear people say their team needs more offence and forget defence.

That's crap! Defence is what we talked about. Somebody has to get back and help the defense. We knew we could score enough goals. We didn't want to give goals to the opponent because if they got a goal, we had to get two."

Jacques_Lemaire Lemaire’s defensive capabilities made the Canadiens top scoring line even harder to play against, and he never went a season, since his rookie debut in 1967, without scoring less than twenty goals in a season. He’s finish with 365 goals (7th in Habs history) and 469 assists (5th) for 835 points (7th) in 853 regular season games. Lemaire had a career plus/minus of +349.

During the playoffs, Lemaire brought it up another notch. His 139 career playoff points put him second behind Jean Beliveau. He played on eight Stanley Cup winners with the Canadiens.

He had three overtime playoff goals in his career including Cup clinchers in 1977 and 1979. Only five other players have scored more than one overtime Cup winner.

Not positive, but could be Lemaire’s Cup winner in the 1977 Finals.

His 1979 Cup winning goal would be his last in the NHL.

Lemaire retired from the NHL and spent two seasons as a player-coach in Switzerland. He later returned to become head coach with Montreal at the end of the 1983-84 season, taking the team to the Wales Conference Finals. The following season, Montreal finished first in their division, but lost in the second round of the playoffs.

That summer, Lemaire became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player.

The pressure of coaching in Montreal grew too hard for Lemaire and the following season he moved to the front office to become the Assistant to the Managing Director for eight seasons. The Canadiens would claim two more Stanley Cups (1986, 1993) over that span.

He then took a position as head coach with the New Jersey Devils in 1993 and developed what is now known as the “Trap" System”. He would win the Jack Adams award as coach of the year that season.

Coupled with the goaltending of Martin Brodeur, the Devils won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and Lemaire remained with New Jersey until 1998.


He was hired as the first coach of the Minnesota Wild in 2000, winning a second Adams Award in 2003, remaining there until he stepped down until the spring of 2009, returning to New Jersey.

After one final season with the Devils, he retired as an NHL coach in April of 2010 with 588 wins and a .561 win percentage.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Ticket info for the Habs road warrior faithful


Well I know that getting seats for a Montreal Canadiens home game, which go on Sale September 11, can almost be near impossible especially for people from out of town.

That said, I did some looking in to ticket sales info for those willing to make the trip to, or happen to live near one of the NHL cities the Canadiens are visiting in 2010-11.

The listing I put together is only information on single games. Most NHL teams are already offering 3 or 5-game mini packs which may or may not include the Habs, and that info is not included.

The Ottawa Senators are one of those teams that is already offering the Oct 23 game as part of a multi-game ticket pack. In an attempt to boost ticket sales, the Atlanta Thrashers are allowing fans to create their own “fan-packs”, which includes two games against Montreal.

For a couple teams (Buffalo, Detroit and St. Louis), single game tickets are already on sale. The majority of the other teams’ single-game tix will on sale to the public the weekend of September 10..

I will try to update this as more info becomes available, so if you get any updates please feel free to let me know.

Date Opponent Tickets/Sale Date
Thu October 7 Toronto TBA
Sat October 9 Pittsburgh On Sale Sep 10
Fri October 15 Buffalo ON SALE NOW!
Sat October 23 Ottawa On Sale Sep 11
Fri October 29 New York Islanders TBA
Tue November 2 Columbus On Sale Sep 10
Fri November 5 Buffalo ON SALE NOW!
Thu November 11 Boston On Sale Sep 10
Tue November 22 Philadelphia On Sale Sep 10
Fri November 26 Atlanta On Sale Sep 10
Thu December 2 New Jersey On Sale Sep 10
Fri December 10 Detroit ON SALE NOW !!
Sat December 11 Toronto TBA
Sun December 19 Colorado On Sale Sep 18
Tue December 21 Dallas On Sale Nov 4
Thu December 23 Carolina TBA
Sun December 26 New York Islanders TBA
Tue December 28 Washington Capitals TBA
Thu December 30 Tampa On Sale Sep 10
Fri December 31 Florida On Sale Sep 10
Tue January 11 New York Rangers TBA
Tue January 18 Buffalo On Sale Sep 18
Fri January 21 Ottawa On Sale Nov 6
Tue January 25 Philadelphia On Sale Sep 10
Tue February 1 Washington TBA
Wed February 9 Boston On Sale Sep 10
Thu February 17 Edmonton Pre-sale Sep 23
Sun February 20 Calgary TBA
Tue February 22 Vancouver On Sale Sep 10
Tue March 1 Atlanta On Sale Sep 10
Thu March 3 Florida On Sale Sep 10
Sat March 5 Tampa Bay On Sale Sep 10
Thu March 10 St. Louis ON SALE NOW!
Sat March 12 Pittsburgh On Sale Sep 10
Fri March 18 New York Rangers TBA
Sun March 20 Minnesota On Sale Sep 11
Thu March 24 Boston On Sale Sep 10
Wed March 30 Carolina TBA
Sat April 2 New Jersey On Sale Sep 10
Thu April 7 Ottawa On Sale Jan 8
Sat April 9 Toronto TBA

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now that we have that out of the way…...


An exclusive photo, provided by the CBC’s Michel Godbout, from the Price family ranch in Williams Lake, BC.

Looks like the picket signs will not be needed after all, and will be used for a Labour Day bonfire, now that Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price has signed a two-year deal.

So can we all breathe again folks?????

With that out of the way, yours truly is taking some time off from the blogging world. So unless something mega-dramatic happens, there won’t be much new to see here until training camp begins.

Not going anywhere, as I will still be checking in on Twitter regularly, I’m just going to recharge the batteries and read a hockey book or four while doing some offline preparation for the upcoming season.

I will also be making a special announcement, regarding the future of Ya! The Habs Rule! in the coming weeks as well.