Canadiens assign Dietz and Thomas to AHL

The Montreal Canadiens assigned Darren Dietz and Christian Thomas to the Hamilton Bulldogs following their 4-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.

Thomas, the son of former NHLer Steve Thomas, had 11 goals and 27 points in 55 games with Hamilton last season. The 22-year-old was originally a second-round pick of the New York Rangers (40th overall in 2010). Thomas has appeared in three career NHL games with the Rangers and Canadiens where he’s been held without a point.

Dietz, 21, was originally a fifth round selection (138th overall in 2011) by the Canadiens. In 34 games with the Bulldogs last season the defenseman five assists to go along with 49 penalty minutes.

Montreal will retire Lapointe’s jersey on Nov. 8

6 Comments

The Montreal Canadiens have picked Nov. 8 as the date they’ll retire the jersey of defenseman Guy Lapointe.

Lapointe’s No. 5 was previously retired in 2006 in honor of Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, but this ceremony will make Lapointe the 18th player to have his jersey raised by the Montreal Canadiens. The last two were Elmer Lach and Emile Bouchard on Dec. 4, 2009.

The native of Montreal was one of the best defensemen of the 1970s and collected Norris Trophy votes in six seasons over the span of that decade. Montreal was a dominant team during his tenure and Lapointe finished his career as a six-time Stanley Cup champion. With his career winding down, the Canadiens shipped Lapointe to St. Louis in March 1982 in exchange for the 27th overall pick in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft (Sergio Momesso). Lapointe finished the season with the Blues and played with them for one more campaign after that before concluding his career with a one-season stint in Boston.

He finished with 171 goals and 622 points in 884 games. Lapointe was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993.

Subban would ’embrace’ Montreal captaincy

14 Comments

Earlier this summer, online oddsmaker Bovada listed P.K. Subban as the favorite to become Montreal’s next captain.

Now, Subban says he’s ready for the honor.

“I think that I’d embrace it,” Subban said Tuesday, per the Canadian Press. “Added responsibility to me makes a player better, and I think I’ve accomplished a lot in a short time in this League and I’ve earned the respect of my peers and my opponents to command the respect that a captain deserves.”

Many people — aside from oddsmakers — feel that Subban tops the list of potential candidates to replace Brian Gionta, who took over Montreal’s captaincy in 2010 but signed with Buffalo on the opening day of free agency.

Gionta succeeded Saku Koivu, who’d been the Habs’ captain from 1999-2009 but left as a free agent following the 2008-09 season. (Of note, 2009-10 was the first time in club history the Canadiens played a full season without a captain.)

Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov and Max Pacioretty are the other logical choices to inherit Gionta’s “C”. Markov has the most experience in terms of leadership as he was named Montreal’s alternate captain in 2010, but Plekanec isn’t that far behind — he captained the Czech Republic’s team at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, reprising his role from the 2012 World Hockey Championships.

Pacioretty, meanwhile, has already stated his desire to be the next captain.

“Of course,” he said of wanting it, per Sportsnet. ”There’s a lot of guys on the team who feel like they could be a good captain, and that’s a good thing. Whoever is named captain is going to have a lot of help.

“When you have that surrounding of a lot of leaders in the group, it makes it easier on the person who wears the C.”

There have been 28 captains in Canadiens history, with Koivu and Jean Beliveau sharing the record for longest tenure (10 years).

Is Therrien the right coach for Montreal?

19 Comments

Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin maybe “lost” a bit in playing salary chicken with P.K. Subban, but his moves have mostly been solid-to-very-good. Age alone argues for P.A. Parenteau over Daniel Briere while other subtle moves – Max Pacioretty’s $4.5 million cap hit will probably look better and better before it expires in 2019 – speak to a general air of competence.

At some point, Bergevin might be forced to answer this question in a more confrontational way: is Michel Therrien the ideal head coach for the Habs?

The answer might be more complicated than both the pro and anti-Therrien camps might suggest. Habs Eye on the Prize’s Andrew Berkshire does a fantastic job of succinctly describing the dichotomy that is Therrien as Canadiens head coach 2.0:

Michel Therrien has been a Jekyll and Hyde coach for the Montreal Canadiens.

He was brilliant in his first regular season, the lockout-shortened 48-game shocker that saw the Canadiens leap from 15th to 2nd in the eastern conference. In his second season, he was a league-wide punchline, continually benching his Norris winning defenseman, and deploying a strategy that saw the Canadiens record the biggest year-over-year possession collapse in league history.

“In league history” could be misleading since possession stats haven’t been tracked for particularly long and Berkshire points out that Therrien returned to the style that worked well in 2012-13 once the 2014 postseason rolled around, but it’s still food for thought.

Disciplinarian or merely stubborn?

As an “old school coach,” many might expect his teams to be defensively sound, but with a more widespread belief that possessing the puck is more better than merely playing it safe, the picture is fuzzier.

Even beyond tactics, there’s the very real question of what kind of relationship Therrien has with $9 million man P.K. Subban. It’s not just about harsh quotes to the media in this matter; there have been some questions about whether Therrien will deploy the star in a way that makes sense for a guy who, you know, makes $9 million.

There are at least some who believe that Therrien has matured over the years, as this National Post story discusses.

“Honestly, when I look at Mike … I’ll start smiling,” Former Therrien player Terry Ryan said. “Because I know that he grew a lot as a person. And I’m proud of him.”

Ryan wasn’t exactly uniformly warm toward his former bench boss in that piece, yet many believe that fear is a better motivator than love (see: successful sports figures ranging from Bill Parcells to, some extent, Scotty Bowman).

***

The bigger questions about Therrien’s adaptability revolve around how he uses players, and Bergevin might have cleverly forced Therrien to dress more talented players by simply getting rid of arguably overly emphasized players like Douglas Murray, Josh Gorges and even Brian Gionta.

However you might feel about Therrien, it’s difficult to argue with his results from the 2014 postseason. Head coaching gigs in the NHL are rarely safe, however, and the Canadiens would be wise to survey if he’s really the right fit in hockey-mad Montreal.

Poll: Who should be Montreal’s next captain?

20 Comments

It’s one thing to be the captain of an NHL team, but wearing the “C” in Montreal brings on a rare level of scrutiny. Being the Canadiens’ captain is often about a lot more than taking charge of the locker room, as Habs great Yvan Cournoyer explained to the Montreal Gazette on Sunday:

“Being captain is something among the guys. It’s a little bit of everything, on the ice and off for the players, off it for the organization,” Cournoyer said.

“ … I might know that he’s a good player who can do something on the ice, but what can he do to bring the team together? That’s my main thing about the captain. In my day, if things were going bad, or if the players were having problems, it was up to the captain, and the guys together, to figure it out.”

(Check out the rest of the article here, it’s a great read.)

With Brian Gionta out of town, the organization has that question to answer. While many – Cournoyer included – believe that the decision doesn’t need to be rushed, it’s interesting to ponder the options.

For the sake of simplicity, this poll doesn’t include every player on the roster. An “other” option is included in case you really think that the likes of Alexei Emelin and Rene Bourque deserve greater consideration. Feel free to advance arguments in the comments, as well, of course.

(Carey Price’s inclusion is mostly an homage to the failed Roberto Luongo experiment in Vancouver, but stranger things have happened, right?)