It is without a doubt that the Montreal Canadiens’ issues started in the offseason when they lost key pieces in Corey Perry and Philip Danault, losing Shea Weber to a career-ending injury, and most notably, Carey Price.
As much as the general manager, Marc Bergevin, tried to address them, the writing was on the wall for the team after stunning the league last summer, making it to the Stanley Cup Finals before losing to the two-time champs, the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Today, the fantastic run was more hurtful than positive for the club. In the long run, this writer honestly thinks Vegas Tampa should have been the right final, and it would have been a way more competitive series.
Geoff Molson and ownership decided to take a fresh idea and hire new brass who didn’t have current experience and see where it led them. They hired Kent Hughes, a player agent, and Martin St Louis to replace Dominque Ducharme, who was never meant to coach an NHL team.
On April 30th, in their end-of-season media availability, the GM and several players discussed what happened during another failed season, and it doesn’t look positive. Hughes will be very busy this summer trying to offload Weber’s contract and a strong NHL Draft.
After months of speculation and wondering if the Canadiens think St Louis is the man for the head coaching job Hughes did confirm both sides are working on a deal to keep the Quebec native behind the bench.
Although the Canadiens finished the season only winning 2 of their last 10 games, he did ignite a Cole Caufield to score 22 goals in 27 games, and the kid finished the season scoring a hat trick in his last game against the Florida Panthers.
Caufield had spent the majority of the season buried on the fourth line under Ducharme and only managed to score one goal in the first 30 games of the season, which hurt his chances of winning the coveted Calder trophy.
We now turn our attention to Carey Price, who did confirm he is still dealing with his knee injury, which kept him out of the lineup most of the season, not to mention his time in the NHLPA Player assistance program for substance abuse.
He did confirm on the Habs last trip to New York he traveled with the team to go see his doctor and admits that at this point of his career, playing 50-60 games a season is not feasible, and he did prepare for his last game like it would be…his last.
Price is one of the best athletes on the planet, and he stated if he is not 100%, he will not take a chance to return and could be closer to the end of his playing career.
Brendan Gallagher, who can be considered the heart and soul of this team, said he had a very difficult year and is dealing with some issues himself and will be spending the summer trying to recuperate and get ready for another season.
The Canadiens will now turn their attention to the NHL Draft lottery on May 10 and the draft in Montreal in June and will have the highest odds of selecting first at 18.5%, and due to those odds, the lowest the Habs can pick is third overall.