Habs future looking bleak

Robin Short
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How is it the Montreal Canadiens, of all teams, can fall into such a deep hole of decay, with barely a bright light in sight? Not that the Canadiens are hockey's be all, end all - Montreal hasn't won in 17 years, finishing out of the playoff six times since then - but given the franchise's rich history, its cultural significance, its passionate, cross-Canada fan base, not to mention ownership's deep pockets, it's nothing short of puzzling to understand just how the team got to this point.

Or maybe not. The Canadiens' draft record has been dreadful - the last bonafide star drafted by Montreal is Andrei Markov in 1998 - and recent moves that have included firing an assistant coach before a game, the head coach before the morning skate and a player in the middle of a game do not represent an organization with a plan, but rather one flying by the seat of its pants.

The Canadiens need to start over, ridding themselves of underachievers either through buyouts or trades. Everyone, save for Carey Price, is available, even young P.K. Subban who arrived with so much promise, but has since regressed from prospect to an annoying, irritating sidebar.

The Bruins had to suffer through a long dry spell. The Leafs and Blackhawks went forever without a championship. Now it's Montreal's turn. Expect even more dark times, Habs fans ...


Georges Laraque, who reached the NHL despite the fact he can't skate - really, he can't skate - has high words of praise for Deer Lake's Darren Langdon in his book, 'The Story of the NHL's Unlikeliest Tough Guy.' In it, Laraque writes: "I hated fighting him (Langdon). He fought forever. When he fought, it was like there was an unwritten rule with the linesmen that they'd wait half an hour before coming in." ... Hands up who believes the gloss has worn off hockey's shootout ... Tely sports colleague Kenn Oliver raised a good point this week: wonder what the Herder family thinks of the controversy surrounding the trophy? ... Controversy and Newfoundland senior hockey. Some things never change. Some things go hand in hand ...

There's a kid from Mount Pearl, eight-year-old Zachary Dean, off to the Canadian Tire Junior Skills Competition next weekend in Ottawa. Apparently, he was one of the top finishers amongst children his age across Canada following regional competitions. I've watched him play as a first-year novice, and he's real good. To suggest, however, a career is in the offing, as many who don't understand have opined, is preposterous. Too much can happen between now and 15. But let's put it this way: young Zachary's on the right road ... Paul Postma's been reassigned to St. John's from Winnipeg. He was a healthy scratch in four Jets' games ... Don't know about you, but here's hoping for a Giants-Patriots Super Bowl ... There's a group interested in going after the senior men's softball nationals in 2013, but Softball Newfoundland and Labrador isn't sold on the idea. The sports governing body is slowly digging its way out of debt, so the thoughts of spending $35,000 on a hosting fee isn't appealing. Say one thing, though: if we get the weather, the tournament is a slam dunk. Unlike 90 per cent of the country, which is neither aware, nor cares for fastpitch softball, it's still big stuff around here ...

Still can't believe Brian Burke has wriggled off the hook with the Phil Kessel signing. Yes, we know Kessel is tied for sixth in NHL scoring, and the Leafs are contending for a playoff spot. But Tyler Seguin is averaging almost a point-per-game, and next month turns 20. And there's promise written all over Dougie Hamilton, who has been suspended by the Ontario Hockey League for 10 games following an illegal hit, by the way. And did we mention the Bruins won the Cup last year? ...

How hot is a St. John's IceCaps ticket these days? Well, the IceCaps are considering making more ducats available to season ticket holders next season, giving current seat holders first right of refusal if they wish to purchase more seats. After all the seats are sold, a wait list will be created, but it will cost fans some cash to remain on that list. Outrageous? Absolutely. But that's pro sports these days. A decent red seat in Montreal is $140 and up, $225 for premium or optimum games (against Boston or Detroit, as opposed to Columbus and Dallas). In Toronto, you're looking at $200 and beyond for a gold seat. Personally speaking, I'd rather spend my money on a good concert: you're guaranteed entertainment ...

Robin Short is The Telegram's Sports Editor. He can be reached by email rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Bruins Cross-Canada Ontario Hockey League

Geographic location: Montreal, St. John's, Deer Lake Newfoundland Mount Pearl Ottawa Canada Winnipeg Boston Detroit Columbus Dallas Toronto

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