If anyone witnessed the over the top pre-game ceremonies by the Montreal Canadiens before their season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Bell Centre on Saturday, you would think the Habs were a team which actually has a chance to contend this season. After witnessing the 2-1 loss against the Leafs, this Montreal team appears to only have a chance at contending for the NHL draft lottery.
With a new coach and general manager at the helm for the Canadiens, the results were the same against the Leafs – a minor league team at best. The Habs were outshot 26-22 and outhit 39-24 by a rather awful Toronto team. Didn’t the coaching staff state that these Habs would no longer be pushed around…especially at home? So much for that.
Regardless of how much the organization attempts to convince its fans that this is a new era for the Canadiens, the results seem to remain the same. The team is not only missing a few big scorers, it lacks a dominating and intimidating presence on the ice. A team can only go so far with only one superstar player on the roster: goalie Carey Price.
Patience will not only be a virtue for Habs fans, it will be a necessity. The Canadiens most talented players are very young and still a few years away from contributing significantly. Even then, this team will require a few more quality high draft picks to compete with the best teams in the NHL.
Cheesy opening ceremonies, free concerts and free hot dogs may be a nice gesture for those gullible enough to buy into insignificant marketing gimmicks, but they do little to improve the product on the ice. If the Habs front office is serious about putting a winner on the ice, maybe they should spend as much time acquiring the necessary personnel as they do schmoozing their fans. With little or no financial incentive to succeed, this may be easier said than done.
The Canadiens motto for this season is “Raise The Torch”. Considering how terrible the Habs played against the lowly Leafs in game one, maybe the motto should be “Pass The Torch”, from one losing season to another.
The next game for the Habs is Tuesday at home against the Florida Panthers. Hopefully, the game will not turn into another “torcher session” for their fans.