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Pheebs888
06-30-2016, 08:19 PM
On a cold day of December '95 15 year old me had her heart broken by the very disturbing news that Patrick Roy and Mike Keane (him I didn't really mind) had been traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko. What you have to understand is that the now 15 year old me had grown up watching Patrick Roy and became a totally addicted Habs fan at the tender age of 6, wearing her pillows as pads and trying to emulate what Roy was doing on the screen, that year, I didn't miss a minute of the final even though it was against Calgary out west. I was getting put to bed early and my dad would wake me for the game at 9:00 PM and my sheer fascination with Roy meant that not once did I give in to sleep, I saw every minute until my hero lifted the Cup. Fast-forward to 1993, by then I could go to bed whenever I may please but it wasn't an issue in the first round when the Habs battled the Nordiques. Now unlike me, my dad had always been a Nordiques fan, and with the Quebec outfit up 2-0 in the series, he was picking on me on a daily basis. Then, Ron Hextall decided it was time to boast, saying they had figured out Roy...fatal mistake, Saint-Patrick got in beast mode and the Habs went on to win the series 4-2 on their way to what stand right now as the last cup of the franchise. Less than 2 years down the line, Mario Tremblay was hired. Young, hard headed and with plenty of character, he would soon find out that the qualities which made him a great player wouldn't necessarily make him a great coach. Indeed within 2 months, his strained relationship with his star goaltender eventually led to what is, to many Habs fans (including this one), the worst trade in Canadiens history. On that day, for the first time, I shed tears of sadness for my team, my favorite player and the very dark future of the franchise.

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Some 15 years later, the Canadiens once again dressed a larger than life athlete called P.K. Subban and in the words of Tony X the man was lit! In 2009, 29 year old me lived in England but was still completely “Habssesed”, so when the Hamilton Bulldogs came to play the Gardiner Cup in Scotland, she headed up there on the train ready to be entertained with a whole weekend of hockey. Needless to say, she wasn't disappointed. It was the first time she saw Subban play and she was immediately under his spell. He displayed the raw skill and talent that are the mark of elite athletes. From then on, the mission for the weekend became to get his autograph on her Bulldogs' jersey. 24 hours later, after spotting the Dogs bus pulling up next to the rink, the mission was accomplished. Not only did he sign the jersey that is now framed and hanging up on my wall, but he took the time to talk to me and ask what a Quebecer was doing in Scotland watching a hockey tournament. Ever since then, he has been my favorite player and he never failed to entertain me. He literally flew up and down the ice working his magic, lifting up the whole Bell Centre crowd with sequence that somehow reminded my generation of the “Flying V” sequences of the Mighty Ducks movies series but with only one player. Now, in 2016, 2 days before his no movement clause kicked in, P.K. Subban was traded to the Nashville Predators. I'm not ashamed to say it, for the second time in my life, I shed tears of sadness for my hockey team. Turns out 36 years old me is just as invested in hockey as 15 year old me was. I had said numerous time since April that should the Habs trade Subban “ la Roy” picking a coach over my favorite player once again, that would be it for me, I would be done with the Montreal Canadiens. A whole life of near fanaticism out of the window but here's the thing: I cannot do it.


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Why can't I do it? Well, quite simply put, this time yes they traded my favorite player but they got real value in return. It's impossible not to be upset when your personal favorite is sent packing, BUT when the return is team Canada's first D-man it makes the pill somewhat easier to swallow. Before you jump the gun, yes I do know that Weber is 4 years older than Subban and that his contract is of “Gomezesque” proportions but what we must remember is the fact that the Montreal Canadiens' best player, Carey Price, is signed at a discount price for the next 2 seasons and that their top goal scorer is signed for the next 3 seasons at an even bigger discounted price. This means one thing and one thing only, the Canadiens' window of opportunity is NOW. And in the now, no matter what the stats, advanced or otherwise say, most general manager would rather have Shea Weber as their blue line general than P.K. Subban. Yes P.K. Is more exciting but is he more reliable? I think he might not be...Subban, while offering some insanely electrifying plays, has also committed a lot more turnovers than Weber has in the last 3 seasons. Yes Subban could come down on an opponent at the blue line like a wrecking ball from time to time but Weber is known around the league for being a tough customer who fights for every single inch of ice. When the Chicago Blackhawks' captain, Jonathan Toews, tweets you to say thanks for leaving the division, it means that you are one heck of an opponent.

Speaking of Twitter, do you remember at the end of last season when Weise and Fleischmann were traded how Habs players reacted? The tweets along the lines of “good luck and sad to see you go” were everywhere. Now, just a few months later, not a single current Habs player has tweeted Subban to wish him luck and say he will be missed. Could it be that the Canadiens organization has told his players to keep a low profile in order to calm the fans uproar? Maybe...but maybe not... Could it be that there were some issues in the room between Subban and his teammates? I suppose it could be. I mean, have you ever seen a player donate $10,000,000 to a children's hospital and not receive a King Clancy nomination from his team after a vote? No, you haven't for sure as such a donation has never occurred in the past. To be fair, I do not know what Max Pacioretty does in the community that has motivated his team to vote for him but I can tell you that when I heard the news, I thought it was a slap in Subban's face. For those of you who are rather active on Twitter, you must have heard about the comments made by Tony Marinaro on TSN 690 this morning. While some will say that he made them to help the Canadiens tame the fans' rage, Marinaro's past record seems to point to the contrary. He has never shied away from asking the tough questions or from speaking his mind. If you have missed his comments, here they are in a nutshell. He started by saying that he had been sitting on some information for the good of the team for a while before saying the following:

-he has been informed that while discussing the Norris trophy with teammates, Subban would have said something along the lines of: “Of course Doughty's gonna win the trophy, look at who he plays with and who I play with”. He did say that it could have been said in different context, maybe it was serious or maybe it was jokingly but bottom line, it didn't go down well with his teammates.
-he has been told that Subban was the one and only player missing from the Canadiens' Christmas party this year and that it did upset the players. Why was he missing? Nobody knows as he did not reply to Marinaro's text asking about it.
-Subban would have been late to team meetings and would have missed curfews on the road on a number of occasions with another player who has since been traded. This one made me raised an eyebrow since Bergevin said in his presser yesterday that: “there was no problem with P.K. He was a good player and was punctual”. How funny that the one thing he mentioned was fine was his punctuality while reports are coming out that it really wasn't.

Now, whether these reports are true or not, they and the other above mentioned elements, seem to indicate that there were problems between Subban and his team. I wasn't in the room, neither were you so we'll never know the absolute truth of this. However, I believe that anyone who has ever competed in a team sport at a high level will tell you that chemistry in the locker room is very important indeed. If your players are fighting and can't really stand each other, you are not going to win...it's as simple as that. Now, were it up to me, I would have shipped out Pacioretty rather than Subban but what if it wasn't just an issue with the captain but with most of his teammates that plagued Subban? In any case, whether these reports are accurate or not, one fact remain: Shea Weber is a leader. Is he as flamboyant and out there as Subban? No he definitely isn't. Is he as entertaining to watch? No he isn't, although he will deliver his share of big hits. Is he as good a leader? Yes he is if not better. Weber has been the Predators captain since 2009 and throughout the years, he has played with less than stellar players but always managed to not only shine but make his team shine too. We may not like it but last year's season plagued injury put at the forefront a leadership issue in the Canadiens' locker room. To fix the issue, some of us (me included) wanted to see Therrien fired but Marc Bergevin refused to do so. Instead, he sent Lars Eller (a quiet guy in the room according to all accounts) to Washington for picks which he then flipped to Chicago for Shaw who is seen as their version of Brendan Gallagher. I believe we all know that leadership is definitely not something the diminutive winger lacks. After that, he traded for a team captain who is known, across the league and around the world, as a world-class leader... Weber said it himself, he is not Subban nor will he try to be. When you look at the players who could conceivably spend their whole career in Montreal (Plekanec and Markov) one has to admit they are as far from Subban as could be. They are discreet individuals who have often been described as shy and have not once in their life been called very vocal. With Lafleur's comments a few months ago saying that Subban needed Ritalin and wouldn't have been tolerated in his day, all signs points to one fact: Montreal is a traditional market and to stay in it, you have to fit the mold. P.K. does not fit it but Shea Weber does. It all really comes down to this. You will not hear reports of Weber being out on the town or registering his own brand or going to a banquet in Washington and that, is precisely what the Canadiens were after. They wanted an anti-Subban who would fit the mold.

One has to ask though, what kind of message does that send to free agents Montreal is trying to sign? Subban might have been out there but he was also taking French classes (I personally couldn't care less what language a player speaks as long as he speaks winning), he made the biggest donation in history to a children's hospital and he visited said hospital time and time again looking like Santa with plenty of presents for the kids. There is no way anyone can say he was not trying to fit in with the community...

In the end though, while Subban has not yet hit his ceiling, Weber certainly has. I think it's too early to say he's in his decline however and in the short term, this trade may very well work out for the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge. Furthermore, when Weber does start declining, let's face it, his ground floor his still better than a lot of player's ceiling and if the peace in the locker room is achieve and persists, the Habs faithful will have very little to complain about especially if la Sainte-Flanelle puts its hands on Lord Stanley's Cup...In the meantime, Habsland has a few months left to lick its wounds and get ready for the new season when the healing process will hopefully be complete. Besides, as Queen once sang “The Show Must Go On”...


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