What the Puck: Litany of Questions Surrounds struggling Canadians

It’s been a disastrous start for the Canadiens with Montreal losing its first four games.

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The last time the Canadiens started a season with four losses, the team president fired the general manager and head coach. I don’t think CH president Geoff Molson is going to remove general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Dominique Ducharme, but Molson should be very concerned about what he has seen this season.


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It was the start of the 1995-96 season when Ronald Corey sent Serge Savard and Jacques Demers packing after four straight losses and it was silly. Actually, it wasn’t as stupid as replacing Savard with Réjean Houle and Demers with Mario Tremblay. That wrong move led directly to Patrick Roy leaving town a few months later and set in motion the quarter century of mediocrity that followed. Thanks Ronald!

But if I were Molson, I know, a terrifying thought! – Today I would be an unhappy guy. This team seems completely lost. Tuesday night, they just didn’t come to play an average San Jose Sharks team, embarrassing them 5-0. There were no positives.

He has scored three goals in four games. The power play is a terrible 0 out of 13 and the penalty is terrible, conceding seven goals on 17 occasions with few hands. There is something very wrong here.


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Let’s start with the obvious. Showering is not impressive. What’s the rationale for playing Brendan Gallagher, one of the team’s top scorers, on the third row with a center, Adam Brooks, who is not an NHL player? After four losses, Ducharme finally realized that and put Gally with Mike Hoffman and Nick Suzuki in practice Wednesday.

Why, for 25 years, does Montreal often have a rookie coach or a recycled coach who has already been here? The answer to that question has to do with language politics and I’m not going there today.

Here’s another question: Why hasn’t the team had a bona fide star forward since the 1980s? Each team receives one from time to time, but not the Habs. Strange.

Bergevin fits solidly into the post-1993 tradition of Montreal GMs panicking. There is not even a medium-term plan. There is never a real reconstruction. Above all, you expect your goalkeeper to perform miracles, which is exactly what happened last spring and led to that fluid appearance in the Stanley Cup final.


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Part of the problem is the prolonged absence of Carey Price and Shea Weber. But it wasn’t a good thing during the last regular season, either. Jake Allen is not goalkeeper number one. But that’s not the real problem either. This team can’t score and D’s body has forgotten that you need to cover the guy in front of the net. Alexander Romanov looks like a fiasco.

Cole Caufield, who was supposed to be one of the top Calder Trophy contenders as rookie of the year, can’t seem to do much good. He did get a big break in the third period Tuesday, though, when he blew a zinger off the crossbar. Suzuki, who just signed a huge contract, is not even half the player he used to be.

This is a directionless team and it is clear that the postseason success of the past two years must be attributed to changes to the COVID-19 rule that first allowed a 24th place team to enter the playoffs (in 2020) and then allowed the Habs to sneak in this year thanks to a weak Northern Division.


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Molson isn’t firing Bergevin right now, but he should be thinking about it. As I mentioned on Tuesday, it seems that Bergevin has one leg out of the gate and that is not good for the organization. He can’t commit to the team, and if I’m the big boss, I wouldn’t like that one bit.

Speaking of not liking things, what about Weber not showing up for the opening game at the Bell Center on Saturday? I know he’s injured, but why wouldn’t he at least step on the ice to greet his fans? And if he couldn’t come to Montreal due to his injuries, he could have appeared at the Jumbotron via video.

There are so many questions surrounding this team: Bergevin, Weber, Price. Why didn’t Bergevin sign Jesperi Kotkaniemi to avoid a hostile offer? And if Kotkaniemi isn’t good, then why did the team squander their No. 3 overall pick on KK?

Why did Bergevin let Phillip Danault go? Danault says he wanted to stay here, but Bergevin made no effort to retain him. How much would Danault help this sick punishment kill?

Last but not least for Molson, there were about 5,000 empty seats at Tuesday’s game. The government allowed the Bell Center to be filled to capacity, yet in just the second home game since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, fans voted with their feet and didn’t bother to show up.

Molson should be very, very concerned.

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