Earlier in the season, Brunswickan managing editor Tony Von Ritcher and I agreed to write rival columns in our respective sports sections regarding our favorite teams.
Those teams happen to make up Canada’s greatest sports rivalry: The Toronto Maple Leafs vs. the Montreal Canadiens.
So in last week’s edition of the Bruns, Tony defended his Leafs and their impeccable success as a business.
And yes, the team does manage to rake in more money than any other team in the league.
But unless you’re a business man (which I believe Tony is), why would you care how much money your team generates?
To me, it’s all about winning.
The Montreal Canadiens are a dynasty built on a tradition of winning.
In their one hundred seasons, they’ve won the Stanley Cup 24 times; more than any other team in the NHL.
The franchise boasts some of the most legendary names in hockey and the best players of each generation.
It was Georges Vezina Toe Blake, Maurice Richard, Jacques Plante, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt and more recently Patrick Roy and Saku Koivu who have led Montreal to its place in hockey history.
I’m sorry but I have to stop there.
It’s too hard for me to talk up the Habs in these difficult times.
I’m not talking about the economy, but the crucial playoff run the Canadiens find themselves in right now.
In the wake of the Montreal Canadiens pathetic loss to the Leafs Mar. 21, I can’t focus on how great of a franchise the Canadiens are.
Not after that embarrassing defeat.
Not after general manager Bob Gainey failed to make any waves at the trade deadline.
Not after firing head coach Guy Charbonneau with just 16 games left in the season when he had coached the team to a winning record.
The Habs are now fighting for their lives, holding down that final playoff spot in the eastern conference.
Right now, they’re anything but a contender. Even if the Habs manage to slip into the playoffs they’ll surely be knocked out in four or five games by either Boston or New Jersey.
There are plenty of reasons why Montreal slipped this season.
The play of Alex Kovalev has been lackluster. Robert Lang is injured and out for the season.
Distractions have arisen in the media, tying the brothers Kostitsyn to organized crime rings.
But maybe the biggest foul up within the Montreal Canadiens organization this year is the work of GM and now head coach Bob Gainey.
Instead of bolstering the Habs roster for the playoff run, Gainey was silent at the trade deadline. The rumors were swirling in the weeks leading up to the deadline that the Habs were going to land Vincent Lecavalier.
Instead, they made a pre-deadline move, acquiring ancient defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who will probably retire in a year.
Next, Gainey decides to fire Guy Charbonneau. This one really made me mad.
Charbonneau is a fan favorite. He’s a former captain of the team and led them to their last Stanley Cup in the 1992-93 season. He was also runner up for the Jack Adams award (coach of the year) last season.
Now, by ousting Charbonneau, Gainey has pissed off the Habs fans.
To add even more problems and distractions to the long list, George Gillett, 80.1 per cent owner of the Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre, has reportedly put the team up for sale.
That was long winded. I feel much better now.
Go Habs, go