Hockey Sports

No surprises for the Canadiens through 49 games

The Montreal Canadiens are where they should be in the standings after the season’s unofficial first half.

The all-star break has arrived, and the Canadiens currently sit in seventh in the Atlantic division and 26th in the NHL with a 20-21-8 record through 49 games. The Habs held a 20-25-4 record through 49 games in 2022-23. Injuries have been feasting on the team, as has been the case for the past several seasons.

Promising centre Kirby Dach tore his ACL in the second game of the season and is expected to miss the entire season. Centre Alex Newhook sustained a high ankle sprain in December and was slated to miss 10-12 weeks. Centre Christian Dvorak and defenceman Chris Wideman have also missed significant time.

Nevertheless, the Canadiens have persevered and look rather similar to the 2022-23 team in several categories. The team’s 2.78 goal-per-game pace through 49 games in 2023-24 mirrors its 2.83 goals per game clip from last season.

According to NaturalStatTrick’s expected goals model—how many goals a goaltender should allow based on the quality of shots that they face—Habs goaltender Samuel Montembeault is having another solid season. He has saved 7.76 goals above expected over the course of the season according to the model, meaning the average goalie would allow roughly eight more goals than Montembeault has this season. He is already approaching his 2022-23 performance, where he finished with 8.3 goals saved above expected in 40 games.

As they did in 2022-23, young players continue to lead the team. Captain Nick Suzuki (24) is the team’s leading scorer with 42 points in 49 games. He notched a career-high 66 points last season and is currently on a slightly better pace at 70 points over 82 games.

Winger Cole Caufield (23) is the team’s leading goal scorer with 17. It’s a step down from his 26 goals in 46 games last season, where his unfortunate injury likely prevented him from becoming the franchise’s first 40-goal scorer in 31 years. However, he has touched twine more often as of late, scoring six goals in his past eight games.

One reason for the 2023-24 Canadiens to be cautious is the 2022-23 team’s second-half collapse, going 11-18-2 record in their final 31 games following the all-star break. But this iteration of the Habs could look much different soon with the Mar. 8 trade deadline rapidly approaching. Centre Sean Monahan, defenseman Mike Matheson, and goaltender Jake Allen have all been heavily involved in trade rumours. With the team well outside of playoff contention, general manager Kent Hughes and his colleagues could be looking to get valuable returns for those players.

Right now the Habs would hold the seventh overall pick in the 2024 NHL draft. Barring any major turnaround, they should not shift more than one or two places in the overall standings down the home stretch.

Features Sports

Réjean Houle and his hockey legacy

Former Montreal Canadiens player Réjean Houle remembers his playing time and what the future holds

The Montreal Canadiens professional hockey team brought fame to some of the greatest names in hockey history and has been around since 1909. Réjean Houle saw his time shine in the 1970s and as a general manager in 1995 until 2000.

Houle is a former right wing of the Montreal Canadiens from 1969 to 1983. He was born in Rouyn-Noranda, located in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of Quebec. He started his hockey career playing with the Thetford Mines Junior team from 1966 to 1967, before moving to the Montreal Junior Canadiens the following year. He was the first overall draft pick in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Montreal Canadiens in 1969. During his active career, he helped bring five of the ten Stanley Cups home to Montreal. After his retirement, he returned to the team as General Manager and later as the President of the Canadiens Alumni Association. 

Houle remembers growing up watching hockey with his father, dreaming of one day becoming what he was seeing on the television screen. 

“I always dreamed of playing for the Canadiens. I was able to achieve my goal several years later by putting in the necessary effort, I made it,” said Houle.

Archive Image courtesy of the club de hockey Montreal

While he admits he was not one of the big names of the team at the time, he is proud to have been surrounded by some of the greats such as Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur, and Bob Gainey. 

“I was on the third line. I was working to help the team win, but I had a specific role. I didn’t score ‘Guy Lafleur’ goals,” said Houle.

Playing as a right wing, he contributed to the lineup by making the necessary passes to earn a victory, which makes his role just as important as center. 

“There is an expression, ‘you have to know which chair is yours,’ so a player must know what he can give to the team. That doesn’t mean he’s not as recognized as Guy Lafleur, but inside the team, he plays an important role,” said Houle. 

Photo by Charlotte Megelas

As a former General Manager, he saw how the game changed on the ice. In hockey changes are minimal since coaches have kept similar strategies on managing the game, according to Houle. He says the players now have more range on the ice. 

“Before, you couldn’t get too far to the side of the red line because it was offside, whereas now you can get from the red line to the opponent’s other blue line, so the play is much faster, the puck circulates much more now than before,” said Houle.

Houle not only made passes to help the team win, he also scored 161 goals himself. In recent years, he noticed that the new style of hockey sticks give more feel and power to the puck.

“The ‘one timers’ at the time, didn’t exist. The sticks are different, they are lighter, they have a kind of spring in the stick so it speeds up the game. The puck comes at 100 miles an hour,” said Houle.

He remembers his time with the team as an honour. No matter how much time has passed in his career, he and his former teammates still stay in touch and remain connected as one big family. 

“We keep this link there always. For us it’s very important because the years go by, but you have to remember the good times. Then in the most difficult moments, we stick together and we get through it,” said Houle.

He commemorated his teammate and friend Guy Lafleur, who passed away in 2022. To the fans, Lafleur was “Le Démon Blond,” but for Houle, “He was a star.”

After building that strong connection with the sport, Houle did not see himself leaving hockey overall. Houle played hockey for 14 years, and when the time came for him to retire, he knew his life would change once he left the team. 

“The most important change is when you retire because you didn’t feel like it, I didn’t feel like retiring,” said Houle. 

Since Houle was in the same era as Guy Lafleur, Serge Savard, Yvan Cournoyer, Ken Dryden, and Jean Béliveau, he had the honor of winning five Stanley Cups. He remembers the feeling of winning those cups as a privilege in his career.

“When you’ve tasted it once, you always want to win it, then when you play with good players, your chances are always there of winning it, so that’s kind of the period that I lived in. I was lucky. Timing is everything sometimes in life,” said Houle.

To Houle, hockey is more than just a sport. He has grown to appreciate it more as a spectator after he retired and seeing how many people come together and watch it. 

“There is great satisfaction because the Canadiens is a team that is very involved in the community. People don’t realize that, but it’s very important because it unites a community,” said Houle.

When the Montreal Canadiens arrive, whether you’re French, English, Asian, Lebanese or Canadian, the team will always be a symbol to Montreal, according to Houle.

Houle had a huge support system of his teammates, who became his friends as the seasons went by. He continues to love their support and thanks them for helping him become the player he always knew he could be. 

“To have the opportunity to play with members of the hall of fame, great players in the organization, it helps you when you’re younger to become better yourself because you are well surrounded,” said Houle.

“The most you can do is improve yourself when you have people around and helping you out, that’s what it was in my case. I was lucky that way.” 

Houle owes everything to hockey, from helping raise his own family to focusing on his life after his professional career. He is still active with the Canadiens as the President of the Alumni Association, and he attends every home game surrounded by other former players and their families. Houle remembers hockey as a big part of his life, from when he was watching it on television with his father, to building a legacy with the team. Truly a full circle moment for a Rouyn-Noranda kid with a dream.


Young Canadiens’ core energizes team, shows hope for the future

Strong early performances from captain Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and other young players show a promising future for the Montreal Canadiens

It’s a new era in Montreal. After finishing last in the league last year, the Montreal Canadiens are faring better than many had anticipated so far this season. While they’re currently in the bottom half of the league in points, there is still a lot about this team that has been impressive, like the performance of the team’s young core.

After a mediocre season turned into an unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago, the Canadiens failed to generate much of anything last year. With goaltender Carey Price out for nearly the whole season — owing to a knee injury and mental health issues related to substance use — as well as several other players being plagued by their own injuries, the team lacked morale and direction.

Amidst this, team owner Geoff Molson fired both general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Dominique Ducharme, replacing them with former player agent Kent Hughes and former NHL player Martin St. Louis, respectively. The new pair wasted no time shifting focus to the team’s young talents, in particular 23-year-old Nick Suzuki and 21-year-old Cole Caufield.

The team immediately saw improvements, especially in Caufield, who improved from one goal scored in 30 games under Ducharme to 22 goals in 37 games under St. Louis.

Now, this year has been a new story for the Montreal Canadiens. The offseason saw the key additions of 2019 third-overall pick Kirby Dach (21) from the Blackhawks, and the first overall selection of Slovakian winger Juraj Slavkovský. Suzuki also became the youngest team captain in Canadiens’ history this summer.

This young group has managed to defy expectations this season, winning a number of key games, and showing real teamwork and fighting spirit even in defeat.

Montreal’s top offensive line currently consists of three players 23 years old and under — Suzuki, Caufield, and Dach — having scored 45 per cent of all the goals this season. While it’s still early, at this rate it would not be surprising to see one or both of them reach 40+ goals this season, which no Canadien has done since Vincent Damphousse in 1993-94. 

While Slafkovský is quite a young player with a lot of room to grow, he has still performed impressively, netting three goals so far and becoming the only draft from 2022 to have scored in the NHL at all. The Habs also have a number of promising offensive prospects developing in major junior leagues, notably centre Owen Beck who is netting nearly a goal per game for the Mississauga Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League.

Defensively, rookies Kaiden Guhle (20), Arber Xhekaj (21), Jordan Harris (22), and Johnathan Kovacevic (25) have also exceeded early expectations. Drafted in the first round in 2020, Guhle already displays the confidence and ability of a more experienced player. Xhekaj has quickly become a fan favourite for his tough playstyle and strong work ethic, which are the very qualities that earned him a spot on the team after going undrafted (and working at Costco during the pandemic to support his hockey career). On the third defensive pairing, Harris and Kovacevic have become one of the strongest pillars of the team’s defence.

It may be a few years before this team can be seen as a serious contender, but under the management of Hughes and St. Louis, the leadership of Suzuki, and the impressive play of the team’s young core, they are headed in a very positive direction. No matter how the season ends, one thing is for sure: it’s truly an exciting time to be a Montreal Canadiens fan.


Colour Commentary: Carey Price returns

A new chapter for the Montreal Canadiens began on Friday night.

Carey Price returned to the Bell Centre on Friday night, where he would be given a heart-warming welcome from the crowd. This would be the NHL’s highest paid goaltender’s first game since Montreal’s 1-0 defeat to the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 7 in the 2021 Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens have had a rough season without their star goalie and have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. 

The Canadiens’ netminder allowed two goals against 19 shots in his return versus the New York Islanders. The Habs would go on to lose 3-0, after Islanders forward Brock Nelson scored an empty-net goal late in the third period. 

For the game, Nelson would get a goal and an assist, with two shots on goal. The Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin also had an impressive performance, shutting out the Canadiens and making 44 saves. 

Despite the loss, the Canadiens and Price have come a long way. Price has had many hurdles since his last game in July. He had knee surgery on July 23 and has struggled during his recovery. He also entered the NHL’s player assistance program on Oct. 7 before the start of the 2021-22 season.

This is only the beginning of a new chapter, only time will tell what’s in store for the Canadiens’ star goaltender.  


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


Montreal says goodbye to memorable faces at NHL trade deadline

The Canadiens are doing everything right in the second half of the regular season, besides winning hockey games.

The new and improved Montreal Canadiens won’t make any noise this season, but are clearly trending upwards under interim Head Coach Martin St. Louis. In his short tenure thus far, he’s empowered the team’s youth and energized the franchise in a meaningful way despite the playoffs being completely out of the realm of possibility. 

Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, the team’s executive vice president of hockey operations and general manager respectively, have also done their part in beginning a hopeful chapter since joining the Habs. Here are my thoughts on their first trade deadline with the Montreal Canadiens. 

The Florida Panthers acquire defenseman Ben Chiarot

Montreal received a first-round pick in 2023, a fourth-round pick in 2022, and a forward prospect in Tyler Smilanic. Considering how poorly Chiarot played for most of the regular season, it was shocking to see the Canadiens get three future assets back for the 30-year-old defenseman. 

The Panthers were already among the best teams in the league, but were looking to improve and bolster up their defence ahead of the playoffs. It goes without saying Florida paid a hefty price for Chiarot, but shows how much they value his game, which tends to shine the brightest in the postseason when physicality becomes of increasing importance. 

The Colorado Avalanche acquire forward Artturi Lehkonen 

In return, Montreal got defensive prospect Justin Barron and a second-round pick in 2024. While the team has struggled all season, Lehkonen has been having the best individual season of his young career (29 total points in 58 games played). Beyond the stats, the 26-year-old forward plays with a high motor on a nightly basis, and can be a quality depth player on a contending team.  

For the Habs, it made sense to move on from their hero from Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Conference Finals against the Golden Knights. Colorado had to offer up a promising prospect in Barron, who should fit Montreal’s contending timeline better. But the Avalanche are a much better team today with Lehkonen, even if he is due for a raise after the season. 

The Edmonton Oilers acquire defenseman Brett Kulak 

The Canadiens got back 26-year-old defenseman William Lagesson, a 2022 conditional second-round pick, and a seventh-round pick in 2024. This deal involves a couple of depth players and consequently made fewer headlines, but the Habs came away with a couple more future assets. 

On paper, Kulak is an upgrade for the Oilers but he’ll need to regain his confidence and perform better to make this worth it for Edmonton. When he’s right, Kulak is a puck-moving, defensively sound player but moving a second-round pick for a marginal upgrade is a steep price to pay.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


Liking rival teams can be a healthy way to enjoy sports

Being a fan of two rival teams isn’t easy, but it can be fun

Every sports fan has a favourite team. Some even have two or more for the same sport, which helps them follow different conferences or divisions. But how often does it happen that someone likes two rival teams? It’s rare, but not impossible.

Rivalries are one of the most fun parts of sports. It can even get to a point where you’re rooting for a team’s failure and not another team’s success.

If you’re as big of a hockey fan as anyone in Montreal, there is no way that you don’t absolutely despise the Boston Bruins or the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Or maybe there is.

Pia Yared, who has been living in Montreal since 2015, became a Canadiens fan the second she started living in Montreal. That was until last year, when she watched her first Leafs game and it was love at first sight.

“I just loved their energy, and how they played,” she said. “All it took was one game and I became a Leafs fan.”

She said she is now 55 per cent a Leafs fan and 45 per cent a Habs fan, but that it can fluctuate during the year.

Mitch Levis, a Montrealer and Baseball Québec umpire, also mentioned these numbers, but for the MLB.

He is 55 per cent a Cincinnati Reds fan and 45 per cent a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

Before that, Levis was a huge Expos fan, but he stopped following MLB altogether after the Expos moved to Washington, D.C., and became the Nationals.

However, he got back into it in 2010 when he travelled to Cincinnati and went to a Reds game there, with the Cardinals visiting.

“On the Cards’ roster was Rafael Furcal, a player I had met as a child when he played for Atlanta. But on the Reds was all-star Canadian player Joey Votto,” Levis said, explaining what helped him get back into watching MLB and following these two teams.

Although he doesn’t watch baseball during the regular season due to his busy schedule, Levis watches some games during the preseason and the playoffs. He also follows both teams in the news and on social media to keep up with everything.

He said if he were to watch his two favourite teams against each other, he would probably root for the Reds.

“But I’d also lean more neutral and hope for an exciting pitching matchup,” he said.

Yared also said she doesn’t watch a lot of games during the regular season, but tries to keep up with the news as much as possible.

She mentioned she usually roots for the Leafs over the Canadiens when they face off, but hopes for a fun game, even if it’s not the outcome she expects.

“I try to go into it neutral and see how the game goes,” she said. “And if a team is too disappointing, I’ll cheer for the other one.”

This is exactly what happened in the 2021 playoffs. She went into it rooting for Toronto, but ended up cheering for Montreal the closer they got to winning the series.

At the end of the day, sports are meant to be fun and to bring people together. Everyone has unique sports experiences. You can like one team and be loyal to them until death. You can like a team, then decide you don’t like them anymore, and pick a new one. You can also not have a favourite team, but instead just enjoy a sport.

Or, you can have two favourite teams that have a great rivalry, and enjoy every second of chaos you’ll witness.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The NHL enforcer: adapting to the times

The role of the enforcer in the NHL has changed throughout the years.

Once upon a time, NHL teams took great pride in having a tough fighter on their roster. These intimidating figures, known as enforcers, were not necessarily the most skilled players, but were physically imposing competitors who would stand up for their teams and fight. 

For many years, enforcers played a crucial role in the sport by protecting the team’s best players and spending a lot of time in the penalty box as a welcomed consequence. Having a tough guy would boost the morale of the team, and give teammates confidence while offering a sense of safety by not hesitating to get their hands dirty.

With time, the game of hockey changed, as well as the role of the enforcer. Following the 2004-05 NHL lockout, teams began to search for more complete players, who were faster and displayed more skills. Nowadays, teams are leaning away from having that one-dimensional fighter, opting to instead use their cap space for players who can add to the scoresheet.

TSN’s Calgary Flames reporter and Concordia University journalism alumni Salim Valji said having someone whose sole purpose is to fight is not needed to win in today’s game. 

“The game doesn’t revolve around fighting quite the same way as, say, 20 years ago. I think that you need players who have some skill but are also able to be physical and occasionally fight. So the enforcer role isn’t as common, instead it’s hybrid players like Tom Wilson, who can impact a game on the scoresheet in addition to bringing extra physicality, that are seen today,” he explained.

It’s no secret that the Montreal Canadiens, last season’s Stanley Cup finalists who fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games, have been struggling this season. Despite the underwhelming season, Valji said the Habs should emphasize building a winning culture instead of looking to toughen up the roster. 

“I don’t think that would make a real difference for a team like the Montreal Canadiens, since they are clearly going through a rebuild. Instead, they should bring in veterans who work hard, are good professionals, and can mentor and guide the young players,” Valji said.

With the evolution of the role in modern hockey where fighting has become more frowned upon in today’s day and age, Valji doesn’t think that the evolution of the role takes away from the fans. “Everything in life changes and evolves. The game is faster, more skilled, and more creative than a few years ago — and I think that’s a great thing. And who knows, maybe in five seasons it reverts back.”

While old-school enforcers are few and far between in the NHL today, Valji said the player archetype is not yet extinct.

“I think there are still a few old school enforcers […] Nicolas Deslauriers of the Anaheim Ducks comes to mind. He plays on their fourth line, stands up for teammates, and is really well liked by the organization. Zach MacEwen is another one whose job description is just to be physical and fight. There are far fewer enforcers now than 10 years ago, but some are still around.”

Over time, hockey has certainly changed, but enforcers continue to impact the game. As time goes on, we’ll see how the game continues to evolve, and whether there’s a potential resurgence with enforcers down the line.


Graphic by James Fay


Colour Commentary: Nick Suzuki is an NHL All-Star

The Montreal Canadiens’ young centre will make his All-Star Game debut on Feb. 4

Before the season, if you told Canadiens fans that Nick Suzuki would be an NHL All-Star in the 2021-22 season, they’d be ecstatic at the news but hardly surprised given his talent level and his performance in the Habs’ Stanley Cup Playoff run last summer. The team as a whole performed exceptionally well, but the 21-year-old Suzuki in particular led the team in goals and points, with seven and 16 respectively. 

A little over six months later, the Habs have won a mere eight games through 44 total contests, and find themselves competing for the worst team in the league. For a variety of reasons that have already been extensively discussed, this season will go down in the Canadiens’ storied lore for all the wrong reasons. Frankly, no one on this roster deserves to be an All-Star, especially when you consider the talent that ultimately didn’t make the cut. 

Disclaimer: diehard Habs fans might want to close their eyes for what’s about to come. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

In 44 games played, Suzuki has tallied 27 points and has disappeared for extended stretches of the season. Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand has 21 goals and 47 points in 37 games this season, playing some of the best hockey of his career. One of these two forwards didn’t make the cut (settle down, Marchand skeptics), for a simple yet nonsensical reason. 

The NHL All-Star Game must showcase at least one player from each team, a requirement that makes snubbing deserving players inevitable. In each of the four divisions, 11 All-Stars are selected from the eight teams (nine skaters and two goalies). A contest, meant to showcase the league’s top talent, fails to do just that on an outdated technicality. 

Is Suzuki a top-nine skater in the Atlantic division? Before the season, it wasn’t entirely out of the question that Suzuki could make the leap into stardom. Having watched most of the Canadiens games this season (a tough watch on most nights), I can safely say he isn’t there yet. Nonetheless, he will be recognized as the best player on this bottom-feeding ensemble. 

So yes, Suzuki is an All-Star, a bittersweet notion that should still excite Montreal fans. The team’s newly-implemented number one centre is now 22 years old, and the Canadiens’ nightmare season is hardly a result of his play. And before I get labelled as a hater, I think Suzuki has what it takes to be Montreal’s foundational piece for years to come, and he earned every bit of the eight-year contract extension he signed in October 2021. 

It’s just unfortunate that his first All-Star season — a feat worthy of remembrance —  will be spoiled by the Canadiens’ woes and incompetence.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


The Concordian’s top moments of the year in sports

Our staff members revisit the most captivating moments of the year in sports

Maggie Morris – Managing Editor

In 2021, I did something I never thought I’d do: I cheered for the Habs. As a lifelong Sens fan, I’m used to facing adversity, but the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs tested me in a way I had never experienced before. Ultimately, when the Canadiens were matched up with the Leafs in the first round, it made the decision significantly easier. The Leafs suck. 

The Habs’ playoff run made Montreal come alive in a way that it hadn’t since early 2020. While it’s always more fun to watch your own team achieve that level of success, it was still so cool to be a part of. Honourable mention to the European Football Championship, which assured me that I will never be able to break my British boyfriend’s heart the way that final did. 

Guillaume Laberge – Music Editor

As a French Canadian and a hockey fan since the age of five, it’s hard not to put the Montreal Canadiens’ unbelievable Stanley Cup finals run as my favourite sports moment of the year.  They had such an improbable Cinderella story with them coming back from a 3–1 deficit against the Toronto Maple Leafs (what a choke) and then beating powerhouses like Winnipeg and Vegas along the way. Their win in game six of the semifinals over Vegas was definitely the climax of their run, and the fact that it happened on Quebec’s national day made the story feel unreal. It’s a game we Habs fans will remember for a long time. I’ve been following the Habs closely for about 15 years now and never have I felt more joy and excitement following them over the summer. 

Liam Sharp – Sports Editor 

Having no fans in attendance during UFC fights was an experience I will never forget. Sure, all sports are ultimately better off with spectators, but being exposed to MMA without the deafening crowd noises and reactions was weirdly satisfying. Hearing the heavy breaths, the strikes landed, and coaches’ instructions in excruciating detail throughout a bout was something I’ll probably never get to witness again unless I’m fortunate enough to be octagon-side in the future (or unfortunate enough to experience another global pandemic). 

Without fans, Max Holloway’s beatdown of Calvin Kattar on Fight Island to start the year tops my list. With fans, Rose Namajunas’ flash knockout versus Weili Zhang perfectly encapsulated why this sport can be so endearing. 

Gabriel Guindi – News Editor

Other than the Canadiens making the finals, my favourite sports moment had to have been the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA championship. In this day and age of NBA super teams usually winning it all, I found it refreshing that a traditionally-built, smaller market team got to win the Larry O’Brien trophy. Especially for Giannis Antetokounmpo, his loyalty to the franchise by staying with the Bucks and not scampering off to a bigger market team based purely off hype, was gratifying not only for him, but for the city of Milwaukee who haven’t welcomed a professional sports title in over 50 years.

Maria Bouabdo – Assistant Sports Editor

Excluding the Habs’ playoff run, this was my favourite sports moment. Not because it’s amazing or impossible to do, but because of the exact opposite.

Brandon Duhaime is a clumsy and relatable Minnesota Wild rookie, as you can see in the clip. I think it’s pretty rare for hockey fans to watch professional athletes and relate to them on the ice. Like have you ever heard someone say “I could totally pull that off” when talking about Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? I doubt it. However, a lot of us can 100 per cent say that we have enough skills in the clumsiness department to pull off what Duhaime did. So that alone makes him a 2021 icon for me.


Graphic by Madeline Schmidt


Colour Commentary: Montreal Canadiens hit with reality check

Montreal Canadiens fans are rightfully upset with the team’s start to the 2021-22 season, but should they be surprised?

The Montreal Canadiens — last year’s Stanley Cup finalists — are a bottom-feeding team in the NHL through the opening stretch of the 2021-22 regular season. The storied franchise that was on the precipice of glory last spring can’t even muster two consecutive periods of quality hockey today. 

Canadiens fans are rightfully upset, but should they be surprised? More specifically, was last year’s postseason run simply a fluke, or are the Habs wildly underachieving through the first 10 games of the season? Both perspectives to the aforementioned question carry real weight.

On one end, the Canadiens limped their way into the playoffs last season, showing little to no signs of life before they went on to defeat Toronto, Winnipeg, and Las Vegas in successive playoff rounds. They went into every series as underdogs and played a low-scoring, physical defensive style that relied heavily on Carey Price’s heroics and reputation. And he delivered, despite the inconsistency he displayed through most of the regular season. 

The truth is, among the major sports, hockey has the most parity. A hockey team can essentially go from near mediocrity to greatness in the span of a few weeks, a notion that is so rarely seen in other sports like basketball, for instance. Last season’s Habs were the latest example of how unpredictable hockey can be. Ultimately, the sport’s parity is what draws many fans to it. 

Losing team captain Shea Weber, veteran two-way forward Phillip Danault, and Price to start the season for varying reasons meant losing the Canadiens’ anchors of stability, so a regular season dropoff was to be expected. As a result, this year’s offence is being manned by young, unproven talent into unknown waters. So far, Montreal’s key players — namely, Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry —  simply haven’t shown up and met expectations. 

Despite the fact the current Canadiens roster barely resembles the veteran squad it suited up during the postseason, there is reason to believe the Habs shouldn’t be as bad as they’ve been. As things currently stand, the Canadiens find themselves situated next to the NHL’s worst teams in the standings, many of which have embraced losing in their hopes of rebuilding. 

On the other hand, the Habs are in a unique and dangerous circumstance, one where they fully intend on remaining competitive but are continually failing to tally wins. This team is teetering between mediocrity and success, and considering the fact that they’ve already dug themselves into a near insurmountable hole, at some point Montreal needs to forget about last year’s Stanley Cup run and think towards the future.  


Colour Commentary: The puck drops on another NHL season

The National Hockey League’s regular season will start on Oct. 12

The 2021-22 NHL season is upon us, marking the start of another promising run at the Stanley Cup for some franchises and their fanbases, and continued suffering and anguish for others.

Here are the teams you should keep an eye out for in the exciting weeks of hockey to come, for better or worse.


Of course, I have to start things off with the local band. I just wish I had an inkling of a clue of what to expect from them.

The Montreal Canadiens are coming off their most successful postseason in over two decades, ultimately losing in the finals back in early July to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Stanley Cup champions of the last two seasons. Their regular season, however, was the epitome of inconsistency and turmoil. 

That’s easy to forget, given how well the team performed come playoff beard-oil time, but the Habs were scrapping for a playoff spot — an absurd notion considering the Canadiens started the season off incredibly hot. 

Cinderella runs like last season are few and far between, but there’s still reason to believe their chemistry last postseason wasn’t a fluke. That being said, the Habs will be relying heavily on their young guns Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki to take the reins and produce on a consistent basis. 


I don’t need to remind Maple Leafs fans about last season, right? 

Since the emergence of Mitch Marner, the acquisition of John Tavares in free agency in 2018, and the drafting of Auston Matthews in 2016, the pressure has been on for Toronto. They have an undeniably skilled core that most NHL franchises would kill for, and the results have been fairly positive in the regular season. 

But the postseason has been riddled with annual disappointments, and now is the time to translate their regular season success into postseason accolades. For the sake of my father — a long-time Leafs fan who has never seen them win it all — I’m admittedly rooting for them to return to glory. Yikes. 


On paper, the newest expansion team’s roster looks to be average at best. After all, the Seattle Kraken should be near the bottom of the league in their inaugural season. 

But remember when the Las Vegas Golden Knights made a historic run to the finals in their inaugural season under similar circumstances? Nobody had them pegged as contenders. 

Seattle has some sneaky good depth at defense and should have an invigorated fanbase that could swing the momentum of games in their favour. Las Vegas’ feat in the 2017-18 season may never happen quite the same way again, but there’s a world where Seattle finds success right away while preserving their cap space for the future. 


The Habs and the trade deadline

This is the year where the Montreal Canadiens should be buyers

It’s been a while since the Montreal Canadiens have had such an opportunity to go deep in the playoffs. With the realigned divisions for the 2020‒21 National Hockey League (NHL) season, the Habs are only playing fellow Canadian opponents in the regular season.

The best four of their seven-team division will qualify for the playoffs, and with those teams only playing each other until the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the chance to make it past the first two rounds is there for the Habs.

The Canadiens have started the season strong, but have had some trouble in the past month, even firing their head coach. Yet, they’re still in a playoff spot and seem confident on the ice against pretty much all their opponents. It would be fair to think that this season, for the first time in years, General Manager Marc Bergevin would try to improve his team by the NHL trade deadline, with hopes to shock the hockey world and win the Stanley Cup.

After adding key players Tyler Toffoli and Josh Anderson last offseason, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bergevin add depth for his third and fourth lines. Bergevin doesn’t often make trades, but when he does, he rarely fails to improve his roster, either in the short-term or long-term.

An important player who could be traded is Phillip Danault. Despite being a great centreman and good defensively, Danault is in the last year of his contract, and hasn’t offered much offensively this season. Any team looking for depth at this position would give a lot for him, especially at the trade deadline, when teams often overpay.


Graphic by Rose-Marie Dion

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