The Montreal Canadians are the most successful team in hockey history with 24 Stanley Cup wins. As a hockey-rich community, they produced some of the game’s greatest players, from Maurice Richard to Guy Lafleur.
The Montreal fan base has grown accustomed to winning for over 100 years. Now, those days are a distant memory, as the Habs missed the playoffs four times this decade and even had the third-worst record in the National Hockey League, one in 2012.
It’s not just about losing, because cold stretches happen. The Canadians used to feel like winning anything less than a Stanley Cup was a failure. Now, they just feel lucky to make the playoffs.
This is why the 2010s was the worst era in Montreal Canadians history.
In 2012, there were high hopes for then new general manager Mark Bergevin. The team even made the conference finals in 2014 but many of his transactions with contracts and trades hurt the team.
The Habs biggest on-ice problem has been scoring, but instead of signing scorers, they signed players like Karl Alzner, who signed a five-year contract. Alzner is in his second year of the deal and has only played nine games with the team and is currently in the minor leagues. He’s a solid defenseman, but a physical player with an injury history doesn’t solve the team’s problems. Former Canadian P.K. Subban is one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL but they traded him to Nashville for Shea Webber. Weber was several years older than Subban and had a larger contract worth more money.
Instead of signing depth pieces, they signed Carey Price to an eight-year contract. He’s a top-tier goalie but when it’s time to rebuild and shred salary, the Price contract will be unmovable.
Stuck in the past
It seems the Montreal Canadians don’t have a sense of urgency when it comes to adjusting their managing style. The organization pretends it’s still the 1970s when the game has now evolved.
In the past, Montreal kept mostly French coaches and players. This worked at the time because Quebec is rich with talent and the Canadians played in a league with fewer teams.
Today, there’s 31 teams in the NHL instead of six and more players outside North America are playing in the NHL, creating more competition.
By comparison, in the past 20 years, just two non-Quebec coaches were hired by Montreal. In that same span, they hired the same two coaches Michel Therrien and Claude Julien, twice.
The refusal to adapt is killing a once great franchise. It’s a new game. Learn to play or fade away.