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BigTed3

Blog of the Week Archives

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BLOG #1: Does It Feel Like '93?

It’s been 18 years and counting since the Montreal Canadiens, the most storied franchise in hockey, captured a Stanley Cup. Sure, that drought isn’t as bad as the one you’ll find if you head Westward down the 401, but 18 years is the longest the Habs have gone without hoisting hockey’s biggest prize and that number is likely to grow bigger before being reset.

It’s true that a lot has changed in the league since St. Patrick led the team to a remarkable string of overtime victories, and what was already (arguably) the most difficult championship to win in all of pro sports has become even harder to win with the addition of several expansion franchises. Whereas there were but 24 teams in the league during the 1992-93 season, that number has blossomed to a full 30 since then, cutting each club’s odds of winning even further. February of 1993 also saw Gary Bettman ushered in as Commissioner of the NHL, and many will point out that a Canadian team has never won a Cup with Bettman at the helm for a full year. Ultimately, expansion has watered down the talent pool of the league, players have gotten bigger, and scoring has gone down. Consider that in 1992-93, only two starting goalies posted G.A.A.’s under 3.00, with Patrick Roy finishing in the top 10 in this category despite a G.A.A. of 3.20. If Carey Price were to post that number in the coming season, the Habs would likely be vying to win the draft lottery instead of a playoff series.

And yet despite the fact that the game has changed substantially over the past 18 years, the team that won the Cup then remains Habs’ fans last link to glory. It is true that the 1993 Cup team needed some luck to get where they did, winning 10 games in OT along the way. They also had some luck when it came to the opponents they drew, as division winners Boston and Pittsburgh were knocked out before meeting the Canadiens. But what some will call luck, others will call performance in the clutch, and the heroics of Patrick Roy, John LeClair, Eric Desjardins, and Paul DiPietro among others will go down in Canadiens history alongside the memories of greats like Rocket Richard, Ken Dryden, or Guy Lafleur.

And so if a middle-of-the-pack team could find a path to Lord Stanley, then certainly there might still be hope for the Canadiens of today, despite the tougher odds that lie ahead. And if we compare the rosters of the 1992-93 Habs and the team that is expected to take to the ice on opening night this year, it is not impossible to believe that this year’s team, despite the odds being against them, has every right to believe they can win.

In goal, it’ll be hard to match what Patrick Roy did in the 1993 playoffs. But Jaroslav Halak came close two seasons ago, and Carey Price has shown he’s the most talented goaltender to don the bleu-blanc-rouge since St. Patrick himself. If Carey continues to develop and keep his focus, there is no reason to believe he can’t propel a team to a Cup. With the addition of Peter Budaj, Price will hopefully be a bit more fresh come playoff time this year, and Budaj himself is certainly a cut above any goalie nicknamed “Red Light” Racicot.

On D, the 1993 team featured a number of young defencemen who were all coming into their own: Mathieu Schneider, Eric Desjardins, Lyle Odelein, and a young Patrice Brisebois. The supporting cast featured the likes of Kevin Haller and Jean-Jacques Daigneault. Comparatively, this year’s corps will also boast two legitimate top-pairing D men in Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban, and it’s conceivable that the likes of Gill, Gorges, and Spacek might fill the roles played by Haller, Daigneault, and Rob Ramage. What will be more of a stretch is to see whether players like Alexei Yemelin and Yannick Weber can step up the way Odelein and Brisebois did for the Habs of ’93. The 2011-12 Habs will be able to count on more experience on their back end, though, and the potential is there for some of the young talent to step up and complement the pieces already in place.

Up front, it can’t really be said of either team that there is a bona fide superstar leading the way. The 1993 team featured veterans Vincent Damphousse, Brian Bellows, and Kirk Muller, just as this year’s Habs will need a significant contribution from captain Brian Gionta and rebound years from vets Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri. After this, the depth factor seems to fall more in favor of the 2011-12 team. While the 1993 team featured a number of talented role players, Tomas Plekanec is as complete a player as anyone on the ice 18 years ago. The development of Lars Eller and David Desharnais gives the Habs almost as much depth down the middle as the 1993 team had with Guy Carbonneau, Stephan Lebeau, Denis Savard, and DiPietro. And up-and-coming power forward Max Pacioretty has started to show some touch around the net, giving hope that he might have a break-out year the way John LeClair did. The rest of the supporting cast (Erik Cole, Andrei Kostitsyn, Ryan White, Travis Moen, etc.) holds its own against the likes of Mike Keane, Benoit Brunet, Gary Leeman, Ed Ronan, and Gilbert Dionne.

One can nitpick over whether a given player from 1992-93 is better than a certain player from 2011-12 or vice versa, but the bottom line is that the teams are actually built in a very similar fashion, relying on a great goaltender, scoring depth at forward, and some up-and-coming defencemen. It’s easy to side with the 1993 roster because they have already shown their mettle as champions, but when all is said and done, the 2011-12 team actually holds up quite well when compared to the Cup-winning roster.

So what say you? Which team would you ice in their prime? What elements of the 1993 team would most help the 2011-12 edition? What areas from today do you feel are stronger and which are weaker? And does comparing the two rosters give you more hope that another Cup could come to Montreal or less optimism knowing that a comparable roster needed so many pieces to fall into place to triumph? Ultimately, the question is whether you as a fan believe this year’s team has what it takes not just to make the playoffs and win a round or two, but whether it has the talent and character to go all the way and bring home a prize that this city perhaps once took for granted. Sure, the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks had much longer droughts end when they finally captured their most recent Cups and sure the hapless Leafs are at 45 years and counting. But this is Montreal and 18 years is far too long to be considered acceptable. So is this the year we stop counting up and start counting heroes again?

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Every year we make the playoffs,,,it feels like 93 to me. That team (93) was the ultimate cinderella story. We were a team of destiny that year, which is why i give little credence to the regular season ups and downs. Make the playoffs and get hot. It's anybody's Cup.

Great blog BigTed. ;)

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Big Ted, on behalf of the moderating team

BLOG #1: Does It Feel Like '93?

Neat idea Ted,not into blogging myself but I like this thread here...enjoyed reading your blog...thanks.;)

Make the playoffs and get hot. It's anybody's Cup.

Baring key injuries...hell yea.:P

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Thanks... new blog coming in the next 48 hours or so from everyone's favorite greek hockey coach, GreekHockeyCoach. Stay tuned.

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A great read Ted,,,very inclusive of all of the details. :)

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So what say you? Which team would you ice in their prime? What elements of the 1993 team would most help the 2011-12 edition? What areas from today do you feel are stronger and which are weaker? And does comparing the two rosters give you more hope that another Cup could come to Montreal or less optimism knowing that a comparable roster needed so many pieces to fall into place to triumph? Ultimately, the question is whether you as a fan believe this year’s team has what it takes not just to make the playoffs and win a round or two, but whether it has the talent and character to go all the way and bring home a prize that this city perhaps once took for granted. Sure, the New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks had much longer droughts end when they finally captured their most recent Cups and sure the hapless Leafs are at 45 years and counting. But this is Montreal and 18 years is far too long to be considered acceptable. So is this the year we stop counting up and start counting heroes again?

You know Ted, these are tough questions. While the 2011-2012 team hasn't won anything yet, I'm inclined to favour them over the 1993 team. Granted, the 93 team won the cup but I feel like we have a more complete group this year. I don't want to make any bold statements but in my opinion, the goaltending is equal, the defense is better and if our forwards perform the way they should, then this year's team has the better offense as well. When I say the goaltending is equal, I'm not making Roy and Price comparisons. We've beat that horse to death. I'm saying that at this point in his career, Carey is just as good as any goalie in the league.

Granted there are teams with longer droughts but our failure to win the cup since 1993 is unacceptable (only because this is Montreal). I feel that all the pieces are falling to place with the coaching and GM that we have presently.

I've been following the Habs since the 70's and in recent memory, I can't remember the last time that I was this excited about a Habs team.

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Although many posters here don't know about or don't use this feature, there is an area on this forum that allows each and every member to create their own blog. You can find these blogs by navigating through the link in the menu bar near the top of the page (right below the "Fan Forum" banner). Most of us here follow the Habs via other websites (twitter, media outlets, rumor sites, and yes blogs as well), and now we want to give you the fans of the Montreal Canadiens a chance to have your say. Essentially we are asking you to be the journalist and create your own blog posts.

Each week, we are going to try to feature a blog or article written by one of our members in this space on the forum as well. It can be about anything hockey-related, but should go into more depth than the typical post would. The idea is to indulge into a topic of interest for you or to try and stimulate discussion amongst other members. We will be leaving a thread open for each "Blog of the Week" for about 7 days' time, after which time the blog will be closed to discussion and moved to the archives. If the blog has stimulated you to continue discussion even after the thread has been closed, you may continue to do so in the appropriate threads found elsewhere in the forum, but a new Blog of the Week will take its place.

If you are interested in being our journalist of the week, please send me a PM to let me know, as well as giving me the title of the topic you would like to write about. We are going to try to post new blogs every weekend, but we would also ask that the article be sent to us to be proof-read by the Thursday before it goes up. Similarly, should you be following a member's blog and find an entry extremely interesting, please forward this on to one of the moderating team, and we may just decide to use this for our blog of the week instead.

Our second entry comes to us from GreekHockeyCoach, which you can find below. Enjoy!

Big Ted, on behalf of the moderating team

Blog #2: The Story of a Hockey Fan by GreekHockeyCoach

Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It’s 5am, Saturday morning when you feel your father’s gentle touch on your shoulder whispering “let’s go, you have hockey practice”. You jump up all excited and quickly get dressed. It’s -30 degrees Celsius outside, the house windows are all frosted and as you step outside, the cold wind quickly sends chills down your spine. You run into the car that’s still frozen even though it’s been running for 10 minutes. When you pull into the rink parking lot, it’s almost empty. By the time you get out of your car and grab your hockey bag from the trunk, the parking lot is full. You’re greeted by the sound of your teammates and parents saying “Allo, Bonjour, Hi, Good morning”. You make your way into the locker-room which is almost as cold as outside and you dress as quickly as you can laughing the whole time at the random jokes and stories that your teammates are shouting. You wait for your coach to open the door to the rink. There is no better feeling in the world than taking your first couple of strides on a freshly cut sheet of ice. The coach blows the whistle and everyone speeds towards him so he can draw up your first drill. After the drill is completed, you skate by your coach and he gently taps you on your shins and says “Not bad for a 10 year old”. Your face lights up and a big smile emerges at the acknowledgement that you did the drill right. You look up at the stands and your father is smiling as well, giving you the thumps up for a job well done. After hockey practice, all the parents decide to warm up by going to Tim Horton’s for a bowl of hot chicken soup. You sit with your teammates while your father sits with the other parents. You’re now on top of the world.

It’s 7:30pm and the whole family gathers in the living room. It’s Hockey Night in Canada and the Canadiens are playing the Boston Bruins. You all cheer when the Habs take to the ice as if you’re at the game. You all stand and proudly sing the national anthem with your hand on your heart. The Habs score and everyone in the house is jumping up and down as if they’ve just won the lottery. Living in an apartment, you can hear the cheers from your neighbours as well. You know they’re watching the same thing. The Habs win and all is right in the world. You go to bed with a smile on your face.

The next day your doorbell rings. Your teammate who lives across the street is standing at your doorway holding his hockey stick and his skates over his shoulders. You run to your mom and before you can say anything she says “Go, have fun”. You anxiously get your skates and stick and start your journey towards the outdoor hockey rink that’s half a kilometer away. Along the way, you knock on more doors and what started out as two, quickly becomes ten. When you reach the rink, you sit on the frozen snow banks and put on your skates. You grab the shovels and clear any snow that’s on the ice. You’re now ready to play. Some more kids make their way to the rink. You throw your sticks in a pile at center ice and begin throwing them in the opposing zones to separate the teams. You get some kids on your team that you’ve never seen before but you play with them as if they’ve been your friends your whole life.

It’s 5am on Saturday again when you walk into your son’s room and gently tap him on the shoulder whispering “let’s go, you have hockey practice”. It’s still cold outside but you now have an automatic starter and a car that heats up faster. You make your way to the rink with a smile on your face as you look at your son’s enthusiastic face through the rear view mirror. A tear of happiness starts to make its way in the corner of your eye as you think back to the time you spent with your father and the time you’re now spending with your son due to the game of hockey. You reach the rink and nothing has changed. It’s déjà vu all over again. Only difference, you’re now the parent sitting in the stands smiling down at your boy and giving him the thumps up. This is the cycle of life, the cycle of hockey.

Life is full of ups and downs, struggles and victories, success and failure. However, whether you’re an adult or a kid, nothing else in the world matters once you take those first couple of strides on a freshly cut sheet of ice. Life stands still and you’re at peace.

Dedicated to all the hockey families across Canada and around the world.

GHC.

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A thread to archive old blogs!

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Great story Coach. Brings back a lot of memories. Love how you tied it all in with everyday life. ;)

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Well done coach...I found your story moving.

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It was like seeing a bunch of vignettes play out. That was beautiful to read. Well done Coach.

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Just a terrific blog Coach. It felt like I was there,,,being that kid.

Thanks :)

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Great article to get the ball rolling.

Well done GHC... Sure brought back some memories for me. Like being 8 yrs old and dragging around a hockey bag bigger than me, filled with goalie equipment. :lol:

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Great article to get the ball rolling.

Well done GHC... Sure brought back some memories for me. Like being 8 yrs old and dragging around a hockey bag bigger than me, filled with goalie equipment. :lol:

No wonder you're special, all goalies are special characters :lol:

Thanks for the kind words :)

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Just a reminder to all that if you want to submit a blog piece yourself, go right ahead. Don't bother trying to compare yourself to GHC or feeling you have to have a certain posting style or topic... we just want to hear your opinion on a subject. PM me if you want to be featured or if you need a topic!

Great job, Coach! Good to see everyone can relate to the story.

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Stay tuned... coming this weekend is a blog entry from our very own HRF!

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Stay tuned... coming this weekend is a blog entry from our very own HRF!

I hope it's not just a long rant about the health benefits of Captain Morgan. :D

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