Gary Carter

Video: Montreal Canadiens pay tribute to Gary Carter

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Prior to the game between Montreal and New Jersey, the Canadiens took some time to honor the memory of Gary Carter, who passed away at the age of 57 on Thursday.

Gary Carter was taken by the Montreal Expos in the third round of the 1972 amateur draft. He went on to play in parts of 11 seasons with the Expos and represented them in the All-Star Game seven times. In 1985 he joined the New York Mets, where he participated in another four All-Star Games and earned a World Series ring in 1986. Carter was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Canadiens had Carter’s No. 8 on the back of their jerseys as they participated in their pre-game warmup. Those jerseys will be auctioned off to help the Gary Carter Foundation.

Your moment of zen: Lil’ Jon hanging with the Montreal Canadiens

Lil' Jon, P.K. Subban
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Rapper Lil’ Jon was a big time supporter of the Atlanta Thrashers. Being from Atlanta it made it easy to support the home team. Now that the Thrashers have moved to Winnipeg though, he’s taken up with someone new as he was busy hanging with the Montreal Canadiens last night in Montreal.

Considering that Lil’ Jon was even asked about buying the Thrashers last year when the team was desperate to stay in Atlanta shows that he’s at least a big enough hockey fan to care. Seeing Lil’ Jon sipping wine during the game and then later posing with P.K. Subban as well as Rene Bourque shows that it must be nice to be a celebrity.

Now if we can get Lil’ Jon to show up at the NHL Awards sometime with his giant chalice, then we’re talking about a good time.

Montreal Canadiens owner joins Twitter, will soon discover block function

Geoff Molson Twitter
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Saying he wants to “connect directly with fans who share my passion for Les Canadiens,” Montreal owner Geoff Molson has joined Twitter.

At first glance, this might not seem like a noteworthy development. There are other NHL owners operating their own Twitter accounts, most notably Washington Capitals boss Ted Leonsis — but the timing of Molson’s Twitter debut is compelling because of the controversy surrounding him and his team.

As you might’ve heard, the hiring of non-bilingual interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth brought heat on the organization. Several French nationalist groups called for a boycott of Molson products — the eponymous brewery makes one of Canada’s most popular beers — while others have blasted Molson for his ham-fisted handling of the situation. Shortly after the Cunneyworth hire, Molson issued a statement saying, “Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach.”

In a related story, I believe tire-au-flanc is French for “lame duck.” (There’s also the more literal translation of canard boiteux.)

So now Molson’s on Twitter (@GMolsonCHC), a whopping two days after his GM, Pierre Gauthier, publicly apologized to anyone that was offended by the Cunneyworth hire. Gee, think there’s a PR strategy in play here?

(Image courtesy Twitter.)

You could probably suit up for the Montreal Canadiens at this point

Max Pacioretty Injured
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“When it rains, it pours” is a rather tired cliche.

So thank goodness for the Montreal Canadiens, who have spiced up the old line:

“When it rains, it pours…then there’s Montreal, where the deluge takes out half the hockey team.”

The Canadiens will be without six regulars tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. Andrei Markov, Chris Campoli and Ryan White are all on injured reserve. Scott Gomez got the green light to return to action, but he’ll be a scratch. Andrei Kostitsyn will miss his second straight game with a lower body injury and Mike Cammalleri will also be held out, also with a lower-body injury.

That leaves Montreal with forward lines looking something like this:

Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Mathieu Darche – David Desharnais – Erik Cole
Travis Moen – Lars Eller – Aaron Palushaj
Michael Blunden – Petteri Nokelainen – Yannick Weber

Palushaj was called up from Hamilton of the AHL on Wednesday. Weber is a defensman lining up at forward. Blunden has only played in seven games this year. Yikes.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes have won three of their last four at home, are close to full health and have two of the league’s hottest players in Radim Vrbata (nine points in his last five games) and Mike Smith (6-2-2, 2.36 GAA, .926 save percentage.)

Did we mention Phoenix has also enjoyed a five-day break, having not played since beating Edmonton 4-2 last Saturday?

Three (News) Stars of the Week: Talented teenagers, Montreal Canadiens and Ilya Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov
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“Three (News) Stars of the Week” will run every Friday. It’s our way of acknowledging the week’s big NHL stories that gave us lots of page views, thereby increasing PHT’s attractiveness to advertisers.

Third star: A bunch of teenagers who are good at hockey

A number of the top picks from the 2011 draft were under the microscope this week as teams had to decide whether to keep their highly-touted prospects or send them back to junior. Most of the big names survived the cut, including Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson and Sean Couturier. Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad didn’t make it, so he’s clearly a bust. It will be interesting to see if any of the teams made mistakes keeping their young guys up instead of giving them more time to develop at a lower level. Kyle Turris was rushed into the NHL too soon, and his career’s a mess right now.

Second star: Somebody had to pay for Montreal’s slow start

The Canadiens lost to Florida on Monday at the Bell Center, dropping their record to a disastrous 1-5-2. It was the Habs’ worst start since dinosaurs roamed the earth, so the city was in quite the tizzy. Calls for coach Jacques Martin’s head came from both the fans and media. Sensing this unrest, GM Pierre Gauthier took decisive action and fired assistant coach Perry Pearn. Why he did this isn’t entirely clear. Some have speculated Martin had become too reliant on Pearn’s advice and wasn’t listening to the other people in the organization. Those other people must have had some useful things to say, because as soon as Pearn was gone the Habs started winning.

First star: Ilya Bryzgalov is a basket-case

The Flyers thought they’d finally put their biggest issue to rest this summer when general manager Paul Holmgren signed goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge contract that doesn’t run out for a long, long time. Many long-time hockey watchers considered it a risky move, as the 31-year-old Russian with the peculiar personality boasts no record of playoff success and has never played in a big hockey market like Philadelphia. Bryzgalov started out well with his new team, but he quickly fell on hard times. After a poor performance Wednesday in Montreal, he was forced to come off the bench Thursday against the Jets in relief of back-up Sergei Bobrovsky. Bryzgalov allowed four goals on 10 shots and Winnipeg won 9-8, after which the distraught goalie bared his soul to the media, admitting he had no confidence in himself, saying he was lost in the woods, and generally crumbling in front of our very eyes. Bryzgalov is scheduled to start Saturday in Carolina.