Former Montreal Canadiens hockey great Guy Lafleur arrives at the Mountainside United Church for the funeral of Canadiens great Dickie Moore in Montreal on Monday, Dec. 28, 2015. Moore passed away on Dec. 19. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press

Hall of Fame forward Guy Lafleur says the Canadiens have ‘four fourth lines’


It’s safe to say that the 2015-16 season hasn’t been kind to the Montreal Canadiens. After they got off to a great start, things fell apart for the Canadiens in early December. Sure, they had to deal with long-term injuries to key players like Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher, but every team has to deal with players coming in and out of the lineup.

Former Canadiens great Guy Lafleur knows a thing or two about winning. The Hall of Fame forward won five Stanley Cups in his 17-year career.

Speaking at a charity event in Montreal on Wednesday evening, Lafleur admitted that he couldn’t understand how an injury to a goaltender could affect a team this much.

“It’s strange to see that one man could make a big difference because Carey Price doesn’t score any goals,” Lafleur told PHT. “Some of the guys, some of the leaders have to show up a bit more and they have to take charge.”

Finding the back of the net has been problematic for Montreal. Outside of Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty, no other player has hit the 20-goal mark this season (Gallagher’s been injured).

When asked what he thought the Canadiens needed to add in the off-season, Lafleur had a pretty interesting answer.

“The off-season? They have to get some better players (laughs). The way I look at it right now, there’s no first line, second line, third line. I think they have four fourth lines.”

Ouch! That’s one way of putting it.

Lafleur’s comments aren’t 100 percent accurate because the Canadiens have plenty of talent on the roster, but he’s right when he says they aren’t good enough right now.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Canadiens front office approaches the upcoming off-season.

Taylor Hall views trade as ‘indictment on me as a hockey player’

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Taylor Hall admitted it: getting traded by the Edmonton Oilers hurt.

The New Jersey Devils will be delighted if he does indeed channel that negative energy into strong work on the ice.

“I do take this as an indictment on me as a hockey player,” Hall said during his press conference, according to MSG Network’s Deb Kaufman Placey. “I’m a motivated hockey player right now.”

You might find this shocking, but the Devils are really excited.

At 24, Hall’s deep in his prime … and now has some anger to motivate him. (It’s OK for Devils fans to be giddy.)

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli admitted that Hall sounded “disappointed” when hearing that he had been traded. Hall thought he’d be a part of the “solution” in Edmonton.

(More on the Oilers’ side of the deal and analysis of Adam Larsson here.)

Hall hopes that a “change of scenery is a positive” for him. That’s a nice way to look at things … yet his return to the scene in Edmonton should be that much more entertaining thanks to these comments.

Granted, he had nothing but great things to say about the city and fans:

Lightning for life? Stamkos explains why he re-signed with Tampa Bay

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 15:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a break during a off-day practice session prior to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 15, 2016 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

After a brief free agent flirtation and at least a year of conjecture from the general Toronto area, Steven Stamkos decided to stick with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He raised some eyebrows in doing so for what many believed to be the Bolts’ standing offer: an eight-year deal with a relatively reasonable $8.5 million cap hit ($68 million overall).

People – especially fans of jilted teams – may wonder why.

The official reason from Stamkos is that he’s hoping to stick with the Lightning for the duration of his career.

“I am excited to move forward with the Lightning today for the next eight years,” Stamkos said. “It’s not often that a player gets the chance to spend his career in one organization and I am hopeful that this agreement sets me on that path with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Most importantly, I look forward to working with my teammates, coaches and our management in our pursuit of winning a Stanley Cup.”

In case you’re wondering, the timing was surprising to his team, too:

He gets a nice chunk of money up front:

While it’s possible that Stamkos might not lose much money in choosing the Lightning over what would likely be a bigger cap hit with a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Ah, teams without state taxes. You’d think NHL teams could leverage that advantage more often?

Now, it’s plausible that Stamkos would rake in a lot of extra cash in endorsement deals if he signed with the Leafs, but it’s difficult to argue with his decision. The money difference seems fairly insignificant, while Stamkos enjoys the comfort of a familiar situation on a team seemingly set up to contend for some time.

Re-signing Stamkos ranks as a huge step toward reaching that “ultimate goal.”

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has plenty of work to do in providing Stamkos with a quality supporting cast, but that’s a better problem to have than trying to replace one of the NHL’s elite snipers.

Shea Weber isn’t going ‘to try to be’ like P.K. Subban


From this day forward, Shea Weber will be compared to P.K. Subban. That’s the nature of the beast when it comes to trades, especially when they’re one-for-one deals like Wednesday’s blockbuster.

The long-time Nashville Predator turned Montreal Canadiens defenseman is wise to realize that he’s a different player.

“I’m not P.K. Subban and I’m not going to try to be,” Weber said during tonight’s press conference.

Critics of the move will point out that Weber is about four years older and his contract goes until he’s 40. Weber hopes that his emphasis on training will soothe any doubts.

Plenty of people believe that Weber’s former team got the better end of the deal.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people who prefer Weber to Subban, citing his intimidating style.

Regardless, it isn’t Weber’s job to convince people one way or another. After all, he’s got the vote of Habs GM Marc Bergevin.

All he can do is put himself in a position to succeed … and maybe find a way to deal with the pressure-cooker environment in Montreal.

To his credit, Weber is more focused on the excitement of playing in that atmosphere rather than fixating on the negative side.

/Bookmarks that comment for the first time the Bell Centre crowd turns on Weber.

Maybe Weber shouldn’t have been stunned by the timing of this trade, considering the savings Nashville enjoys by getting it done before July 1:

Granted, Nashville likely wants Weber to enjoy a healthy enough run in Montreal …

The Predators, for their part, know what they’re losing in trading Weber years after matching that controversial Philadelphia Flyers offer sheet.

More on the Subban – Weber trade

Bergevin’s comments about Weber shine an interesting light on Subban

Subban speaks out

What’s next after a huge day of trades?

In talking about Weber, Bergevin said plenty about Subban


“P.K. is a leader in his own way, but I want to talk to about the player coming here. I want to talk about Shea Weber.”

That was Montreal GM Marc Bergevin in the wake of Wednesday’s blockbuster trade — one that sent Subban to Nashville in exchange for Weber, sending shock waves throughout the hockey world.

Yet no matter how hard he tried, Bergevin was always going to be talking about Subban.

Today’s deal ended what was, and pardon the hyperbole, a fascinating tenure in Montreal. Subban is a polarizing player, uniquely talented and perhaps the league’s most marketable player. He’s gifted enough to join legends like Doug Harvey, Larry Robinson and Chris Chelios as Canadiens that have won the Norris Trophy, yet maddening enough to draw constant critiques from his head coach.

Subban was revered for his philanthropy and charitable work in Montreal, and was constantly visible in the community. Yet there were incessant rumblings of friction with teammates, and a rumored lack of harmony in the dressing room.

So, enter Weber, and the phrases Bergevin used to describe him.

“Tremendous leader” and “proven player.”

“A complete and reliable defenseman.”

He wasn’t done there.

“We always listen to offers from other teams if it’s going to improve our club,” Bergevin continued. “Today we were presented with an unique opportunity to improve our team, and I truly believe we took a step in the right direction.”

Those questioning Montreal for making this deal will counter with a few points. First, there are the age and contract factors. Subban just turned 27 in May, while Weber is 31 in August.

Subban has six years left on his deal, Weber 10.

From a statistical perspective, it’s fair to suggest Weber — with nearly 800 games played on his resume — could be slowing down just a bit. His regular season TOI in Nashville last year was his lowest in five years, and many people’s lasting memory of him in a Preds uniform was the ghastly Game 7 effort against San Jose in Round 2.

“It was tough,” Weber said following the 5-0 loss, in which he finished minus-3 and was on the ice for every San Jose goal. “It was a tough night.”

But if there were concerns about Weber, Bergevin wasn’t indulging them at Wednesday’s presser.

In fact, he talked up how the former Preds captain would boost Montreal’s sagging power play, and continually expressed what a big, prototypical, traditional workhorse Weber is on the blueline.

“You can’t ask for more — he’s a helluva defenseman,” Bergevin explained. “His track record shows for itself. Last year in the playoffs he averaged over 27 minutes a night, so he’s a very useful defenseman.

“He’s a stud.”

This assessment, you could argue, is maybe what Montreal didn’t see in Subban.

There’s very little that’s traditional about his game. He’s a risk-taker, and the term “swashbuclking” has been used to describe his style on more than one occasion. Back in February, Habs head coach Michel Therrien ripped Subban for a “selfish play that cost us the game” — a one-handed move against the Avs that backfired, and ended up in Montreal’s net.

In the aftermath, Therrien stood by his critique, only adding the requisites —  he had no problem with an “enthusiastic” guy like Subban, who was always in “a playful mood.” Subban then responded how Subban always does, by insisting he wasn’t going to change the way he played.

And that, right there, could be why today’s trade was made. The Habs were never going to make P.K. be like Weber, and P.K. was never going to make P.K. be like Weber.

But Bergevin could make the trade, and take the risk that came along with it.

“Today we completed an important transaction that I’m convinced will make the Canadiens a better team,” he said. “[But] it is also one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make as a general manager.”