Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy 18th Henri!

Today, February 29, 2008, is Henri Richard's 18th birthday - he turns 72!

A leap year baby born in 1936, Richard was a man born to defy odds and circumstance.

I learned about Henri's birthdate at a young age. My father was a great and astute hockey fan to whom I owe a tremendous amount of perspective to. He was born on August 31, 1931 - the same day as Jean Beliveau! My mother, oddly enough, was born on February 28th, likely just hours before Henri.

Me, I've had to settle with sharing a birthday with Eric Desjardins and Valeri Bure in Habs lore!

Henri will assuredly take great pleasure today in joking that is finally eligible for the NHL draft and enjoying his first legally consumed brews in the bars of Montreal.

This birthday post is my tribute to Henri. I hope that younger fans of the Canadiens are able to appreciate this man, not having seen him play, for he is not only unique in many ways, but he is a life story waiting to be turned into a movie.

Enjoy the post folks, and by all means check out each link below and learn about the man many consider a hockey icon. Henri, should you read this - all the best to you in love, family, health, and happiness. May the current Habs family provide you with another Cup win!

Henri Richard is not only one of my all time favorite Montreal Canadiens, but in my books he is one of the best and most complete NHL'ers of all time.

My appreciation of Henri goes beyond the incredible 11 Stanley Cup championships he has been a crucial ingredient in. My regard for him has less to do with him being the younger brother of the iconic Rocket Richard.

The reason I love the Pocket so much was that he is in every possible way the consumate Montreal Canadiens player. Despite a bundle of offensive gifts, Henri Richard was a team player first and foremost, and possibly wore the CH emblem on his chest with more pride than any Montreal Canadien before him or since.

I consider myself quite fortunate to have not only seen him play, but see him in one pivotal game, late in his career when he was at his very best.

The game in question, the seventh of the 1971 Stanley Cup final against Chicago may have been Richards best game ever.

With Montreal down 2-0 in Chicago Stadium and the Blackhawks one period away from the Cup win, Henri Richard almost singlehandedly destroyed the Hawks hopes. After Jacques Lemaire scored his legendary 90 foot goal in the fog to make it 2-1 late in the second period, Richard took over and gave Chicago fits.

Poised against the Blackhawks dynamic duo of Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, Richard not only shut them down and got under their skin, he forced them into taking penalties, pounced on their mistakes and led the Canadiens to an unexpected 17th Stanley Cup.

Four minutes after Lemaire scored, Richard tied the game at 18:20 of the second, while the Canadiens were down a man. Early in the third, Richard struck again at the 2:34 mark, breaking loose from Chicago defenders to streak in alone and beat Tony Esposito.

Henri was motivated by pride and sheer seeing red anger, having been benched by coach Al McNeil the game before with the Habs trailing. Richard had made some blistering headline declarations that he'd latter regret concerning McNeil's coaching abilities and was determined to prove him wrong in game seven.

Richard played this game as he had played many during his 20 year career - with an edge.
Entering the NHL as the Rocket's younger brother, Henri felt he had something to prove. He ended his career in much the same manner.

He was the consumate Hab because he understood the team ethic and was always prepared to sacrifice body and soul in order to win. Henri, after entering the NHL, retooled his game beyond his goal scoring and playmaking talents, to become one of the most well rounded players the game has known.

He became the Hab for all occassions, playing on both the powerplay early in his days and as a penalty killer in his latter years. He was frustrating to play against because he was relentless in his thirst for victory. At 5' 7", 170 lbs, Richard smartly used his speed rather than his physique to foil and disturb opponants.

When the going got rough, and it often did due to Henri's tactics, he never backed down. If there was a scrum, Henri was in it face first and likely at the heart of it.

Amassing over a 1000 career points from 1955 to 1975, Richard did it the hard way as he was never the team's number one pivot. Playing behind Jean Beliveau in the Canadiens pecking order at center for his first 16 seasons, Richard was often aligned against players of Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull's stripe, and his career numbers show that he did more than just shut them down.

In 1999, The Hockey News ranked it's top 50 NHL players of all time. The panel of hockey experts rated the Pocket Rocket 29th, but in my book, he was top 20.

Henri wouldn't care - he's won 11 Stanley Cups and owns hockey most unattainable record. When eternity is over, he'll still own it!

Here's what The Hockey News had to say:

Maurice Richard was very good at being great. Henri Richard was great at being very good.

That, in a nutshell, is the difference between the player THN judges to be the fifth greatest player of all time and his brother, Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard.

Rocket Richard was perhaps the most dramatic hockey player to ever grace the NHL, but aside from the essential question of goal scoring, his brother was a better player.

"Henri is better all around than I was", Maurice Richard said. "He stickhandles better, controls the puck more and skates faster. He's better in every way but goal scoring."

Henri delivered more seasons, played more games, and accrued more regular season and playoff points than the Rocket.

The second best goal scorer in the Richard family still managed to outscore Hall of Fame gunners such as Andy Bathgate and Nels Stewart, but if the real measure of the professional is victories, the little richard stands on the top of the mountain.

Henri Richard was a first team all star only one time, but more summers than not he went home to a parade. He won 11 Stanley Cups in 20 seasons. The great Rocket, by comparison, won eight and only two others, Jean Beliveau and Yvan Cournoyer, broke double figurs with 10. Former Bostob Celtics star Bill Russell, also an 11 time champion, is the only other North American athlete to have as many big league championships as Richard.

Just 5 foot 7 and 160 pounds, Richard was the best little man to step into the NHL. Dave Keon, the Toronto Maple Leafs Hall of Fame center, was among the legion of smallish players who learned not only how to survive but also thrive by watching Henri Richard.

Henri was only six when Maurice broke in with the Canadiens. Because of the 15 year gap in age, "Maurice was more like an uncle to me", said Henri.

Henri eschewed comparisons to his brother. His sister dated a plumber and when someone asked, that's the profession to which Henri Richard said he aspired.

Inside, he knew better.

"Playing hockey was what I wanted to do since I was six years old," Richard said. "I wanted to play with Montreal. Without hockey, I don't know what I would have done."

While his talent and drive were unquestioned, Richard's size made the NHL a longshot.

He weighed only 120 pounds as a star with the Jr. Canadiens, but he filled out and eventually made the Canadiens just in time to fit into the supporting cast of the club's five Cup run from 1955-56 through 1959-60.

A prolific goal scorer in junior - Richard had 56 goals and 109 points in 1953-54 - he never scored more than 30 goals or recorded more than 80 points in a season.

Instead, he fashioned himself into a steady 20 goal scorer as a pro, one whose skating, tenacity, positioning and playmaking made him an outstanding NHL player. Richard led the league in assists twice.

"I wanted to be like Maurice, but I soon found out I couldn't be like him", Henri said. "I just couldn't put the puck in the net, so I had to change my style."

That style made him a perfect counterpoint to the Rocket, whom he centered for the first five seasons in the league.

"Henri kept me in the league a year or two longer than I normally would have stayed", said the Rocket. "The way he skated, the way he worked, he made my job easy, much easier than I would have found it otherwise."

"You can take Jean ( Beliveau ) and all the others", said former Canadiens defenseman Ken Reardon, "Give me Henri. That little bugger could skate for five minutes without getting tired."

When he arrived in the league, Henri Richard was unilingual and he was so intimidated by the hallowed Forum, he did not feel at home enough to shave there for 10 years. He matured, however, into a well respected leader and captain.

After quarrelling with then head coach Al McNeil in the 1971 finals, Richard scored the tying and Stanley Cup winning goal in game seven at Chicago Stadium.

Richard also scored the controversial Cup winner in 1966 when he knocked in the decisive goal with his arm while skidding on the ice. The losing Detroit Red Wings were incensed.

"They say there is no room in the game for small players", said former team mate Pete Mahovlich. "I'll tell you something: if they have the same fire and drive that Henri Richard had, there's always room for players like that."

Here are a handful of links about Henri Richard to complete the picture of the man, starting with one from this site, arguing that it is a no brainer that Henri is one of the top 50 NHL'ers of all time.

11 Stanley Cups Ought To End Any Debate - Eyes On The Prize

Q. How did the Chicago Blackhawks blow the 1971 Stanley Cup? - Pro Ice Hockey

Leap year baby Henri "Pocket Rocket" Richard to celebrate 18th birthday - Canadian Press

Above, a pic from the Henri Richard Tavern in the 1970's.

A Weekend With Henri Richard - Habs World

"He exudes a certain dignity that he carries wherever he goes. And even while checking into the hotel, he made a point to talk to all of the younger hockey players. While many of them were unaware of who he was, there was a light that went off on many of the youngsters faces as soon as their fathers told them who this dignified looking gentlemen was." - T.C.

HHOF: Henri Richard Biography

HHOF: Spotlight - One On One with Henri Richard

"I wanted to play hockey because Maurice was playing hockey. But I never said it to anybody. When I was in school, they used to ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I never said, 'A hockey player.' I always said, 'A plumber' or something like that." - Henri Richard

HHOF: Henri Richard Photo Gallery

The Henri Richard Collection at Classic Hockey Auctions

A Bio by Kevin O'Shea at Montreal

A Bio by Mike Wyman of Inside Hockey

A Bio from Hockey's Greatest Legends

Above: Prior to the 1959-60 season - Rocket Richard's final year - the Canadiens invited Maurice and Henri's youngest brother Claude to training camp. The three Richard brothers played on a line together during a pair of exhibition games that year.

Above: The Pocket sticks it to the Blackhawks a second time in 1973, winning his 11th and final Stanley Cup as captain of the Habs.

Here is Henri today

This recent photo was taken by Dave Sandford and features the surviving members of the Canadiens five in a row dynasty from the 1950's

(Bottom L-R) Dickie Moore, Jean Beliveau and Tom Johnson (Top L-R) Don Marshall, Jean-Guy Talbot and Henri Richard pose for a group photograph during the "Salute to the Stanley Cup Legends" on June 1, 2007 at the Brookstreet Hotel in Ottawa, Canada.

Habs For Breakfast - 2008-02-29

The Habs Beakfast skipped a day - Mom's 72nd birthday.

Here are the more essential reads from yesterday and today.

Habs Youth Movement Pushes Veterans To The Side - The Gazette

"They have become the casualties of a winning team - one that appears determined to sink or swim with its youth. Forwards Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos, along with defenceman Patrice Brisebois, were acquired as free agents last summer, signed by general manager Bob Gainey for their experience and veteran leadership. And, coming off yet another non-playoff season, Gainey perhaps wasn't quite certain about the composition of his team." - Herb Zurkowski

"It was a little bit shocking": Huet - The Gazette

"The classy goaltender, who was traded to the Washington Capitals yesterday for a second-round draft choice in 2009, said his only regret was that he hadn't played better in recent weeks." - Pat Hickey

One Hungry Offense - Montreal

Halak hopes to give Price a battle - The Gazette

"After bouncing back and forth between Hamilton and Montreal during the past year, Halak received a vote of confidence Tuesday when Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey moved Cristobal Huet at the trading deadline and said the team would go forward with Halak and Carey Price." - Pat Hickey

Price Ready To Take Over Canadiens Net - TSN

"Nothing's going to change for me,'' the Vancouver native said. ''It's just looks like I'll be playing more minutes."

Price Is Money - The H Does Not Stand For Habs

"Well, Carey Price justified his GM's and his teammates' belief in him...for one night at least...with a great performance against the Thrashers. As for the other price...the one for bringing those same Thrashers' Marian Hossa to was too high." - J.T.

Jaroslav Dangerfield? - The H Does Not Stand For Habs
"I'm not saying Halak is better than Price or that he'll be some kind of miracle worker for the Habs if the team isn't working together to win. But he's a good young goalie in his own right who does deserve some notice for his contribution to the team in the past." - J.T.

Leafs Need Version Of Gainey - Toronto Star

"It's worth remembering that twice – once in 1997, once in 2002 – the Maple Leafs under president Ken Dryden came oh-so-close to landing Bob Gainey to run the team's hockey office." - Damien Cox

Au front avec des jeunes - Le Journal

"Il y a un respect mutuel entre Gainey et les joueurs" raconte Mike Komisarek. "Il a décidé de faire confiance aux deux jeunes gardiens et, également, de ne pas se départir de joueurs clés pour faire l'acquisition de Marian Hossa. Maintenant, c'est à nous de répondre à l'appel et de faire le travail demandé."

Grabovski entend saisir sa dieuxième chance - Le Journal

"Après avoir brûlé la Ligue américaine, Mikhail Grabovski entend maintenant obtenir sa place à Montréal, comme l'ont fait avant lui les frères Andrei et Sergei Kostitsyn, ainsi que le Québécois Maxim Lapierre."

Koivu mise sur la concept d'équipe - Le Journal

"Les succès d'une équipe ne peuvent pas dépendre que de deux ou trois joueurs, a-t-il dit. Ça va prendre la contribution de tout le monde." - Saku Koivu

Gainey dévoile son objectif - Le Journal

"Le Canadien a été la dernière formation canadienne à remporter la coupe Stanley, dit-il. Je veux qu'il soit la prochaine équipe du Canada à la gagner." - Bob Gainey

Carbo se méfie des Sabres - RDS

"Le Canadien a perdu ses trois derniers matchs face aux Sabres de Buffalo. Le dernier affrontement remonte au 24 novembre, il y a plus de trois mois. A ce moment-là, les Sabres se remettaient encore du départ de Daniel Brière et de Chris Drury. Plus maintenant."

Melanson est devenu indispensable - RDS

"Rollie est ce qui se rapproche le plus d'un adjoint d'expérience. C'est comme s'il était lui-même un gardien auxiliaire, dit-il. Il peut leur suggérer des choses, il peut leur parler." - Mike Komisarek

Grabovski veut imiter les Kostitsyn - RDS

"A son retour début février, il a repris le temps perdu, inscrivant 18 points dont huit buts en sept matchs. Son rendement lui a valu le titre de joueur de la semaine dans la Ligue américaine."

Gainey n'a pas sacrifié les jeunes - RDS

"S'il a perdu Marian Hossa qui est, rappelons-le, un joueur de location, Gainey a conservé tous ses jeunes joueurs, ses atouts, qu'il pourra toujours utiliser dans d'éventuelles transactions lors du repêchage, durant la période d'embauche des joueurs autonomes ou simplement pendant l'été."

Une histoire de gardiens - RDS

"Un gardien numéro un dans la LNH, dont je vais taire le nom, me posait la question lundi soir. Il ne comprenait pas pourquoi Huet, qui a été élu gardien du mois de janvier de la Ligue, avait perdu la confiance des dirigeants de l’équipe dès que Carey Price avait été rappelé. Est-ce vraiment sa fiche de deux victoires et trois défaites depuis le rappel de Price au début du mois qui a forcé les dirigeants de l’équipe à l’échanger?" - Renaud Lavoie

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Koivu, Higgins and Ryder Trio Key To Habs Success

Going into the 2007-08 season, many assessments of the Canadiens standing were based on the upside of the team's number one line of Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder, and Chris Higgins.

While each member of the trio were coming off career best seasons of sorts, the predictions remained grim for the Habs, and the 80 or so goals brought by these three players rendered them something less worthy than a true number one line.

That might have been the reality in some people's eyes before the season, but the perspective now is greatly different as the former number one line is no longer alone in expectations to shoulder the load.

In fact, Koivu, Ryder, and Higgins are not only not the team's top line this season, they have only played together sporadically. This season, Koivu and Higgins have been whittled down to a duo more often than not, as winger Ryder has struggled to find the scoring touch that placed him on the captain's side since his rookie season.

At times the duo have been flanked by the likes of Guillaume Latendresse, Mark Streit, and most recently, and seemingly with permanance, Sergei Kostitsyn.

Had Ryder been a constant on the scoresheet since October, all this neccessitated juggling would not have been required. They have been reunited on occassion, and they either ignite sparks or sputter to a stall, depending on the opponant and perhaps the ebbs and flows of games.

In sprinklings of games during the month of February, the trio has been reborn of sorts. The line has seen more time together and success seems to have found them more often. Perhaps rebirth is a premature word, but all three former linemates have been turning in more inspired performances of late - most recently Higgins 2 goal effort against Atlanta on Tuesday.

Last week, Ryder lost a hat trick on a deflection of Streit's ankle, and Koivu has begun to resemble the whirling dervish we've always known him to be.

What has been noticable most, is that in games where these three players point, the Canadiens win.

The brunt of the Habs offensive thrust this season may be carried by the team's nouveau top trio of Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec, and Andrei Kostitsyn, but as perspective renders reality, the contributions of the Koivu line as reinforcement leading into the playoffs are becoming essential.

Against top teams, the well rounded ones, top lines can get shut down from game to game, and this is exactly where the importance of Koivu, Higgins and Ryder come into play. The Plekanec line, who I like to call the Tomahawk line ( Toma + AK + AK ! ) will not be able to carry the Canadiens offense alone come April. Team depth wins playoff rounds, and the Koivu line's resurgence couldn't come at a better time.

It has been a rough season for the three so far, and each have had their issues to overcome.

For Koivu, his struggling and slumping linemates have affected his point total and perceptions of his overall effectiveness and team worth. Even through successful stretches, the exasperation and frustration of the failures of his line to produce were evident on Koivu's facial expressions.

One can see and sense that he wants more for his team and from himself, but varying situations from game to game have dictated otherwise. The captain has batlled, sweat and bled for his team over the years.

In the Habs dressing room for all read daily is the Flanders Field quote, "To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be it yours to hold it high." The quote is most often taken in the context of retiring players passing on the flame to a group of players that will carry on the Canadiens tradition.

Koivu may well represent the first Habs captain, active and still capable, whose gestures and plight actually suggest that all hands together must grab the flame and hold it up.

Koivu has been inspired as he finds himself surrounded by the most solid Canadiens team since his rookie season over a decade ago. His inspiration has worn of on his linemates.

Michael Ryder is scoring again and that is great news. Lately he has shed the split second of hesitation that has bogged him down this season and in games where he has been successful he is making smarter choices with the puck when scoring opportunities aren't present.

This season Ryder has attempted to become a more complete player and has focussed on his play without the puck. By becoming less of a deficiency in 5 on 5 play, he has been more properly positioned than before when the puck isn't on his stick. He is reading the play better, and often it has hurt his offensive game as it has caused a hesitance in what was always instinctive in him. Not the most fluid skater or passer, Ryder of late is choosing the simpler plays when carrying the puck and is not turning the play over as often as he was in the first half of the season.

Ryder has found success lately through this simplicity and is learning to be open in different ares of the offensive zone. Standing still less often and variying his positioning has made him a target for Koivu and his defenseman's passes once again. The split second he has gained back is serving him well.

Chris Higgins style of play involves many elements in tandem with center Koivu. He takes his roles seriously to heart as he tries not only to be defensively sound but offensively effective.

Battling hard in the corners to win the puck, Higgins has more shots on goal than any Canadien this season. When not emerging victorious from the corners to shoot or pass, he is adept at crashing the net for rebounds. It is this last facet of his game that has been successful of late.

When the three play together and are all on their game, their strongpoint is cycling the puck behind the net to create scoring chances in front of it. When they haven't been united, the flip flopping of Ryder with Sergei Kostitsyn between the second and third lines has helped the production of both trios, and as long as these two player continue to pop in the odd goal every other game the Canadiens will be well served offensively.

With seven players topping the 40 point mark and nine goal scorers in double digits, the Canadiens offense is neck and with Detroit and just an offensive outburst away from catching the Senators.

The balance is enviable and with a hot scoring second line the Canadiens should be hard to stop. Should Koivu keep playing with the renewed zest he has shown, and Ryder and Higgins keep finding the net, the Habs should be served well down the stretch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For Sale: Never Used Pair Of Red, White And Blue Gloves

It's been a hectic two weeks leading up tp yesterday's 3 PM deadline, and in this morning after the big disappointment - and an oustanding Canadiens win - I'm still a little peeved at Bob Gainey.

Not for trying to aquire a premier forward in Marian Hossa.

Not for failing to land Hossa.

I'm peeved, slightly less this morning, for Gainey getting us all swept up in it.

Talk about a frenzied hockey city - post impact player Gainey quote!

Hossa sightings at airports, phantom gloves on order, and rumours galore. You'd think it was playoff time already. The absurdity that everyone including myself were swooped up in reminded me of when Patrick Roy had his appendix removed between playoff games, and someone put a bid on it!

Montreal gets like that, and Gainey should have seen it coming. Hockey fever at it's most fervent.

I was surprised as many were when he came out and spoke his intentions out loud. For a man who usually is low key about his goals, the admission was uplfting and stunning. In the aftermath, declaring he was out to hit a home run only set up disappointment.

When Gainey made the quote, I considered the effect on the Montreal media. It had the same effect on me. I got swept up in a way of hope.

I recall thinking, "Bob, what are you saying! Come to your senses!"

Bob came to his senses at 2:53 PM yesterday, apparently. When dance partner Don Waddell's asking price became a touch too lofty for Gainey to assume, the wise man backed down.

What happened was Waddell did as any GM worth his salt would - he upped the ante until the last minute. When the Thrashers GM asked Gainey for more, the good Bob stood his ground. The Penguins had offered the four bodies they ended up sending and the Canadiens balked at the offer of Mikhail Grabovski, Matt D' Agnostini, Mark Streit, and Ryan O'Byrne.

You can decide which offer you'd choose, but Waddell went with the two NHL regulars offered by Pittsburgh, a first round pick in 2008, and the disappointing Angelo Esposito that the Pens chose last summer.

Gainey could not see the Habs as being improved, had they surrendered three assets from their starting lineup, and good for him!

This team did not look too shabby on the ice last night, but the playoffs are a whole other test.
What confounded me from the get go, was that the Canadiens have plently of offfense. After last night's game, they have scored 201 goals. Detroit have 203 with one more game played. Ottawa has 210.

Offense is not the problem, defense is more of a concern.

Markov, Komisarek, and Hamrlik rate a great top three, though none will be confused for Pronger, Niedermayer or Lidstrom.

Francis Bouillon and Josh Gorges have surprised of late - in certain games. Ryan O'Byrne is coming along as well as hoped.

There's Mark Streit to sub on the PP point and fill in when penalties get hairy and rotations go out of whack, Mathieu Dandeneault in emergencies, and Patrice Brisebois when...when...when hell starts to freeze.

It would have been good to see Bob add, say, Adam Foote or another top 4 d-man to the corps.

Instead, Gainey delivered the curve I so greatly feared when writing about this two days ago.

Certainly many weren't prepared to see Cristobal Huet dealt, especially at a time when there was little market for goalies. The returning second round pick does not make Gainey look genial today, but he may be looking at things differently than most.

Standing to lose Huet to free agency this coming summer, and with Jaroslav Halak once again standing on his head in Hamilton, a choice needed to be made. As this is a young team, perhaps Gainey wants his goaltenders to peak at the same time the core of the team reaches its apex.

That is not now. It might just be next year. It will surely be the year after, in many estimations.
In order to have the goaltending be where it needs to then, the process of them being front and center, taking the bullets, must begin now. With Huet in the picture, this would not have happened.

Yesterday cemented the notion of Price as the man of the moment, over simply being constantly regarded as the goalie of the future. Gainey's decision makes clear the future begins now.

It was good then that he sacrificed none of it yesterday.

Gainey's final piece, his home run signing, Hossa even, can come this summer.

He'll appear a great deal wiser when it happens - as long as he doesn't tell the world exactly what his intents are with two weeks notice.

Habs For Breakfast: Trade Deadline Hangover Edition

Good thing this day happens but once a season!

The stress felt by fans must be nothing compared to that felt by the players. I had to work a 3 to 11 shift, which was bad enough. Then I get called in for 2 PM, which means I had to wait until 5 PM last night for the disappointment of knowing the Canadiens made no other moves than the Huet trade. In the end, I'd have been just as content had Gainey not made any moves at all.

Here are today's stories:

Canadiens romp over Thrashers - HIO

Price Era Gets Off To A Great Start - The Gazette

"I think this is definitely a step in that direction when they trade away an older player," said Price,. "It was definitely a surprise. I didn't think it would happen this year. Huet) was unbelievable. He was a first-class guy, a great teammate who took me under his wing. I can't say anything bad about that man."

Price Up To The Challenge - The Gazette

"Price said that Huet's influence continued even after he was traded. He left behind a message on the bulletin board in the Canadiens dressing room, that read: "Had an awesome time with you off and on the ice. Best of luck."

GM's In The Deadline Spotlight - TSN

"I think Bob Gainey is going to take a lot of heat. At the end of the day, we know what Gainey is like, he's got a lot of resolve and he's got an idea of how things should be done. That's the way Bob Gainey played hockey, and that's the way he manages." - Bob McKenzie

Price's remarkable ride to No. 1 job - HIO

Why Bob? Why? - The H Does Not Stand For Habs

"'ll recover from the disappointment and I believe Gainey knows more than I do. I'm relieved he didn't trade any of the team's youth, especially Higgins, O'Byrne and Halak." - J.T.

Higgins marque deux fois dans la victoire de 5-1 du Canadien

"C'est évidemment un soulagement pour moi que d'être encore ici, a admis Higgins. Je suis content de vous parler après une bonne performance de ma part. "Tout le monde est un peu plus relaxe. Plusieurs gars serraient leur bâton trop fort dernièrement, et j'étais un de ceux-là. "

Les Thrashers trop exigeants - Le Journal

"Ils nous demandaient quatre joueurs, dont trois qui seront sur la glace ce soir», a laissé savoir Gainey lors d'un point de presse tenu en fin de journée. Nous n'aurions pas amélioré notre équipe si nous avions cédé ces trois joueurs de notre formation" a-t-il ajouté.

"Price est notre homme": Carbonneau - Le Journal

"Mais je n'aurai aucune crainte de faire appel aux services de Jaroslav Halak. Il était le meilleur gardien de la Ligue américaine la saison dernière lorsqu'il était venu nous aider en fin de saison et il l'était encore cette année. J'ai confiance en Halak." - Guy Carbonneau

Carey aime jouer avec le fusil sur la tempe - Le Journal

"Je n'étais pas craintif jusqu'à ce que mon nom sorte, a-t-il raconté après la victoire contre les Thrashers. J'ai regardé la télé durant une demi-heure, puis je l'ai fermée pour aller faire ma sieste. Je m'étais énervé pour rien." - Maxim Lapierre

Pas besoin de Marian - RDS

"On se venge comme on peut et le Canadien, qui s’est fait damer le pion par les Penguins de Pittsburgh dans le derby Hossa, a prouvé qu’il n’avait pas besoin de la vedette slovaque pour remplir le filet adverse."

Price a perdu un grand frère - RDS

"La nouvelle m'a ébranlé. J'ai été très surpris", a commenté Price, à l'issue de la victoire de 5-1 du Tricolore. "Je ne m'attendais pas à ce qu'il parte cette saison. Cristobal a été comme un grand frère pour moi. Il était toujours là pour moi. Il m'a pris sous son aile. Je ne peux dire que de bonnes choses à son endroit."

Gainey est déçu, mais confiant - RDS

"Si j'avais fait l'échange, je serais plus dans le pétrin que je le suis devant vous actuellement. Les amateurs de hockey de Montréal sont des connaisseurs. Ils auraient trouvé qu'on avait trop donné." - Bob Gainey

Ryder est toujours a Montréal - RDS

"On a eu des propositions au cours des derniers mois, mais c'était du pareil au même. On nous offrait des joueurs semblables", avance Gainey. Le directeur général a expliqué qu'il a préféré, à ce moment, garder la "carte Ryder" dans sa manche afin d'inclure son nom dans une transaction majeure, qui n'a jamais eu lieu.

J’aurais aimé finir le travail: Huet - La Presse

"Je ne suis pas en colère, même si je suis un peu surpris. Est-ce que j’ai été apprécié à ma juste valeur? Je ne sais pas. C’est une ville difficile pour les joueurs, Montréal. Quand ça va bien, tu es adulé, mais quand ça va moins bien c’est difficile. En bout de ligne, ce sont les performances sur la glace qui comptent" - Cristobal Huet

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Huet's Is Out, Price Is In

Robert L Note: I'm not crazy about this deal, but it can be assumed that Bob Gainey didn't figure on resigning Cristobal Huet this summer. With Jaroslav Halak doing so well in Hamilton, and a offer of a second round pick coming to his way, Gainey perhaps felt that Huet's stock was as high as it was going to get.

Here's the TSN take on the deal:

The Montreal Canadiens have traded goaltender Cristobal Huet to the Washington Capitals for a second-round draft pick.

Huet, 32, has a 21-12-6 record and 2.56 goals-against average this season with a .916 save percentage.

With Huet dealt, the Canadiens have turned to 20-year-old Carey Price as their third starting goaltender in as many seasons. Ironically, Huet became the team's new starter in 2006, when general manager Bob Gainey dealt former Hart and Vezina Trophy winner Cristobal Huet to Colorado on the eve of the trading deadline.

Huet is in the final year of a two-year contract and will become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

NHL on TSN Analysis

Keith Jones on Huet: "I'm shocked. I don't think they got enough for Huet... The Montreal Canadiens have had succeess going with rookie goaltender in the past... But I'm surprised the market was so small for Huet."

More on this as it comes in.

Higgins Hoping Roommate Stays

Translated from an article in today's Le Journal

Maybe it is the fact that he has become almost immune to such talk, but Michael Ryder didn't seem too bothered yesterday by the mounting rumours that he is on his way out of Montreal.

"I don't know what I can tell you", Ryder said while removing his equipement after practice, "We'll just have to wait until tomorrow."

All that is known for now is that the winger from Newfoundland is not a Calgary Flames - where the rumours dais he was destined.

Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter was unequivocal yesterday in maintaining that Alex tanguay would not be moved. Not yesterday. Not today!

For his part, Ryder says he is not following the rumours.

"I'm not up on it", he admits, "I'm just following my normal routine when I leave the Bell Centre. After that, it's just a waiting game."

Team mate Chris Higgins didn't hide behind the fact that he would be saddened to see Ryder leave. The two are close friends.

"I hope he stays. He's my best friend on the team and we room together on the road. Things would be different for me if he left."

Higgins doesn't consider himself untouchable either, even though Bob Gainey declared last Friday that he did not want to cut into the core of the team when dealing.

"When the manager states that he is in search of an impact player, then it becomes evident that roster players could be asked in return. When the GM makes such a declaration, rumours circulate in no time."

Higgins admits that all the trade scenarios being bandied about are a distraction for him.

"It's talked about lots in the dressing room", Higgins said, "As soon as a sports channel is turned on in the dressing room, you hear the talk."

"I'm not wondering whether I'll be traded, but it is a relief when it is over."

Mike Komisarek won't be sitting down to watch it unfold.

"I don't see myself wasting hours listening to commentators speculate", says the big defenseman.

Habs For Breakfast: Trade Deadline Day Edition

Robert L Note: This post will be augmented with the trade news of the day, and articles relating to it as the day progresses. Tune in a few times. Should there be updates concerning the Canadiens, they will be added as I get to them.

Judging by the morning paper, today is turning out to be the Marian Hossa watch....

8:00 AM
Hossa: Je suis prêt à toutes éventualités - La Presse

"Une situation rocambolesque pourrait se produire aujourd'hui: Marian Hossa pourrait participer à l'échauffement matinal dans l'uniforme des Thrashers d'Atlanta, et arborer le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge au début de la rencontre!" - Marc Antoine Godin

Hossa changera - t - il d'uniforme dans la journée? - La Presse

"Des rumeurs qui ont atteint un sommet en matière de folie lorsque le site Internet a annoncé la tenue imminente d'une conférence de presse du Canadien parce que des employés de l'entretien ménager venaient de donner un coup de balayeuse sur le tapis rouge de la salle où se tiennent les points de presse du Tricolore." - Francois Gagnon

Montréal m' intéresse - Marian Hossa - Le Journal

"Il s'est dit flatté d'apprendre que des amateurs au Centre Bell avaient commencé à scander son nom lors de la troisième période du match de samedi." - Pierre Durocher

Ca se bouscule pour obtenir Marian Hossa - Le Journal

"On pense, du côté de la capitale nationale, que les Sénateurs seraient disposés à échanger Antoine Vermette, un jeune espoir qui pourrait être Brian Lee, Nick Foligno ou Ilja Zubov, ainsi qu'un choix au repêchage pour rapatrier Hossa dans leurs rangs." - Marc de Foy

2:00 AM

Habs Zero In On Hossa - Yahoo Sports

"The Dallas Stars will aquire Tampa Bay Lightening center Brad richards in a multi player trade and the Atlanta Thrashers right wing Marian Hossa is heading to the Montreal Canadiens before the NHL trade deadline, an executive within the league said Monday night.

Montreal GM Bob Gainey, who appears to have outbid the Ottawa Senators for Hossa, pointed out last week the team traded for Alex Kovalev at the trade deadline in 2004, and despite only playing 12 games with the Canadiens at the end he decided to re-sign in Montreal."

1:45 AM

Habs Still Chasing Sniper Hossa - TSN

"It's a hockey city. I've played in Canada and I know how the people are crazy about hockey, so it's an interesting place to play. But right now that's all I can say." - Marian Hossa

Canadiens Still Trying To Swing A Deal - National Post

"It's always a tough time of the year and it's different when your name is out there but I'm still here. I'll leave my cell phone on and I'll just wait and see what happens. I'll let you know how I feel at three o'clock." - Michael Ryder

"Aucun gardien n'est a la hauteur" - RDS

L’entraîneur-chef Guy Carbonneau a fait son choix: Carey Price sera le gardien partant du Canadien mardi contre les Thrashers d’Atlanta.

Terminer pour Huet a Montreal - RDS

"Bien sûr, Huet n’a pas de contrat en poche pour la saison prochaine. Je pense donc que cette situation prouve que c’est terminé pour lui à Montréal. À moins que Price trébuche dans les prochaines parties, il va hériter du poste de numéro un." - Gaston Therrien

Les medias versent dans l'exaggeration, selon Carbonneau - La Presse

"On lance des noms, on commente les rumeurs, a-t-il continué. Je sais que ça fait partie de vos tâches de journaliste, mais c'est injuste. C'est dur pour les athlètes. Mettez-vous un instant dans leur peau et que vous entendiez depuis un mois que vous allez être échangé." - Guy Carbonneau

Gainey In A No Win Situation

The harsh reality of today's 3 P.M. deadline for Habs GM Bob Gainey, is that regardless of what he does, he will be unfairly maligned for it.

No matter what the evolution of several unfolding scenario's will be, unless there is a Stanley Cup attached to it, what he does or does not do today will be described as a failure.

And that outlook could start as early as 3:05 P.M. Tuesday.

Gainey could do one of three things today. He could decide to stand pat in light of the rising cost of the players he seeks. He could succumb to the pressure and foolishness of the day, not wanting to be outbid for who he truly has an eye on, and overpay dearly for 2 months worth of rent a player disinterest. Lastly, he could choose to unload a potential free agent as he did last season for futures and get crucified for it in the short term should the Habs fail to have a season's end that could be termed a success.

Watching the trickle of signings and trades in the past hours leading up to February 26, I get the sense that several GM's are about to get squeezed in the same vice of helplessness.

Three key happenings have helped set what is, or isn't, about to go down on Tuesday.

First, Mats Sundin and other valuable trade commodities in blue and white, have refused to waive their no trade clause. This removes possibly three or four potential deals with teams who were interested in these players.

Second, Calgary GM Darryl Sutter seems quite serious about hanging on Alex Tanguay until summer. The bidders for this player will be turning their focus elsewhere.

Third, Peter Forsberg has signed with the Avalanche, and Dan Boyle with the Lightning, who then traded Vaclav Prospal to the Flyers. The moves cut down potential scenarios that other teams might have envisioned.

How all this affects the Canadiens and Gainey's situation is that it raises the price of players on the market by supply and demand.

The asking price for Gainey's targetted player of choice, Marian Hossa, will now have risen because there are more teams bidding. What Thrashers GM Don Waddell was asking yesterday, will have increased by today.

Gainey, a sensible man amongst a league of gambling fools, might just choose to suffer the consequences of sitting still once again.

I'm prepared for such an eventuality - I'm almost expecting it.

Should he do so, it's not the worst landscape in the world. I'll comfort myself with the thought that Gainey has at least not taken his stare off he big picture.

Should the bidding get ridiculous, and it will, much will depend on how the domino's fall. The big fish of the day other than Hossa are Brad Richards, Ollie Jokinen, Brian Campbell, Patrick Marleau, and Glen Murray. When they move will be as important as where they move to.

It is said that the most serious threat to the Habs landing Hossa is his former employers, the Ottawa Senators, who are rumoured to be offering two or more roster players, as they have little to offer on the farm. The Senators, if you can appreciate this, are even more desperate to make a move for the Holy Grail than the Canadiens are. Should the stakes rise, my feeling is that Ottawa will either fall out of the Hossa contention early, or make a ridiculous unrefusable offer that compromises their future depth somewhat.

If Montreal were to part with Michael Ryder, Ryan O'Byrne, Mikhail Grabovski, David Fischer, and Alexei Emelin for Hossa, I think every Habs fan would shudder.

Especially if Gainey fails to sign Hossa in the summer.

Would he even do such a deal if Hossa came signed?

Names of other Canadiens such as Mark Streit and Chris Higgins (doubtful) have been also mentioned as possibly heading out of town on such a deal, as well as prospects Matt Carle, Pavel Valentenko, Jaroslav Halak (doubtful as well seeing Huet is a free agent soon) and Matt D' Agnostini. Draft choices could also come into play, but seeing the Canadiens will not be picking in the top 10 that pick would not be highly valued or a deal breaker in any way.

In the end, Gainey might just throw everyone a curveball, and send one of Ryder, Streit or Huet to some team on the playoff bubble and fetch a first round pick, while lining himself up for the firing squad that is the Montreal media.

Such a play would be doubtfull as Gainey as unabashedly stated his mission this time out.

When the day is done, let's hope he has neither settled for something lesser than his target, or compromised the future depth of the team to win an additional playoff round.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Habs For Breakfast - 2008-02-25

Sundin's Decision Changes Trade Market - TSN

"Montreal and Ottawa appear to be the two front-runners for Marian Hossa's services and there is every reason to believe that this is a trade that could go down as early as Monday as opposed to Tuesday. Waddell had an extended stay in Toronto after the Thrashers' played the Maple Leafs last Saturday. He watched the Hamilton Bulldogs play the Toronto Marlies in an AHL game as he attempted to size up some of the Habs' prospects." - Bob McKenzie

Defense Must Come First: Kovalev - The Gazette

"We know we can put on a show, but it's not the time now to impress our fans. It's time to really play well defensively and try to win 1-0." - Alex Kovalev

Growing Pains For Hulking Komisarek - The Gazette

"For everything that Bob's done for this organization, as players we wanted to respond and get the win for him," Komisarek said. "So it's definitely disheartening and tough to swallow, especially with our effort." - Mike Komisarek

Le Canadien a interet a gagner - RDS

"Le Tricolore peut toujours espérer terminer au premier rang de l'Association Est. Mais il peut aussi glisser hors des séries. Le bleu-blanc-rouge a d'ailleurs intérêt à amasser des points cette semaine avant d'entreprendre un long voyage dans l'ouest américain."

Gorges prend du gallon a la ligne blue - RDS

"Le temps d'utilisation de Josh Gorges ne cesse d'augmenter. Le jeune défenseur a joué plus de 17 minutes par match en moyenne à ses trois dernières rencontres."

Les cartes dans le jeu de Bob Gainey - Le Journal
"Dans le vestiaire du Canadien, Gainey racontait vendredi qu'il n'était pas question de sacrifier son noyau de réguliers pour mettre la main sur l'attaquant d'impact qu'il convoite."

Le Canadien serait nez a nez avec les Senators dans la loterie Hossa! - Le Journal

"On peut penser à Mikhail Grabovski, qui a marqué encore deux fois dans la victoire de 3 à 1 des Bulldogs aux dépens des Marlies. Matt D'Agostini est un autre jeune attaquant qui pourrait répondre aux aspirations des Thrashers."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Habs For Breakfast - 2008-02-24

The Canadiens flat performance in light of a beautiful ceremony homouring Bob Gainey last night might explain why teams do not retire jerseys come playoff time.

It reminds me of the line in the song "Who Are You" that goes, "How can I measure up to where you are now, after such a love as this".

Perhaps the Habs were unfocused when the puck dropped, gazing up at the 14 banners hung proudly, and thinking that a honour the likes of the one bestowed upon Gainey is so far out of reach for them.

On a night when Gainey was raised to the roof, the Canadiens lowered their guard.

In the links below, the Fisher and Bertrand entries are essential reading on Gainey. If anyone should like a translation of Raymond's piece, speak up, and I will get to it overnight.

Gainey Steals The Show -

"The cheers reached new heights when Gainey instead appeared at the Zamboni entrance in full equipment with his trademark No. 23 on his back. As the crowd roared, Gainey took a few laps around the ice, even picking up the pace and spraying a little snow on the red carpet for good measure."

Canadiens Retire Gainey's Number - TSN

"Gainey's close friend Christine Pickerell and his sister Maureen began the ceremony by introducing the Bell Centre crowd to the Bob Gainey most fans don't know - the generous family man, his sharp sense of humour, the intense pride he feels for the city of Montreal and his hometown of Peterborough, Ont."

Leclair Rains On Gainey's Parade - The Gazette

"That's the biggest disappointment for me, that we couldn't win this game for Bob," head coach Guy Carbonneau said after the Canadiens turned in another lacklustre performance at home last night, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Leclair And Gainey Steal The Show - Lions In Winter

"The play of the game actually happened before the game tonight. It was when Bob Gainey's #23 was raised to the rafters to the roar of the Montreal faithful. It was an honour that was well deserved for the former captain. This will surely rank up there as a career highlight for the Hall of Famer who has bled Bleu, Blanc et Rouge for over 35 years. Unfortunately there was no play made by any current Habs that could top this one tonight, and I mean no play." - Tobalev

Leclair Shuts Out Habs In First Game In Hometown - Globe And Mail

"I could accept losing and goals-against when the other team works for them, but when you give them away, it's a different thing," Carbonneau fumed. "I've never seen a team give up no shots. Shots are going to happen."

Dream A Little Dream - The H Does Not Stand For Habs

"Halak reminds me of Roy. Squishy like Gumby, but tight and in postition when he needs to be. Twitchy and squirmy, but solid when the shot comes...ON VEUT HALAK!!" - J.T.

Gainey Stands Tall Among The Very Best - The Gazette

"It was all about a guy who did things his way as a player, such as celebrating this night in full uniform and calling on a long-time friend, Christine Pickrell, to introduce him en anglais and his sister Maureen, the delightful mother of seven children, to introduce him in French." - Red Fisher

Bob Gainey l'immortel - RDS

"Bob Gainey ne cessera jamais de surprendre. C'est vêtu de son uniforme du Canadien, chaussé de ses patins, que l'ancien numéro 23 du Canadien a fait son dernier tour de piste, sous les acclamations et les cris d'un public enthousiaste."

Bob Gainey en chiffes - RDS

Soiree penible pour Mike Komisarek - RDS

"Peut-être veut-il en faire trop, a ajouté l'entraîneur. Il est jeune et il a encore des choses à apprendre. Sauf qu'il doit être mieux préparé à entreprendre les matchs. Comme d'autres, il répète les mêmes erreurs."

Casseux de party - La Presse

" Nous nous sommes fait prendre tôt dans le match. Contre une équipe comme Columbus, c’est deux buts ont fait très mal. Il faut être meilleur défensivement et nous le serons." - Mike Komisarek

Hommage a Bob Gainey: Merci Montreal - La Presse

"Je n’ai jamais joué au hockey dans la LNH sans en avoir un des deux près de moi. Ce sont de grands joueurs, mes étoiles à moi", a lancé Gainey avec fierté après qu’il eut demandé à ses deux employés de venir le joindre au podium.

Le 14e Immortel du Canadien - Le Journal

"Bob Gainey a toujours mis l'accent sur le concept d'équipe et il l'a prouvé encore une fois hier soir en se présentant sur la glace du Centre Bell vêtu de son uniforme du Canadien, comme à la belle époque. Et comme pour nous dire qu'il était ici d'abord pour recevoir un honneur en tant que joueur." - Dave Levesque

Carbonneau Dessapointe pour Gainey - Le Journal

"C'est sûr et certain que nos gardiens doivent être meilleurs en début de match», a déclaré Carbonneau, "C'est la meilleure explication que je puisse trouver pour nos lents débuts de rencontre."

"On ne peut pas gagner quand on a peur de le rondelle": Kovalev - Le Journal

"On n'arrive à rien quand on ne joue pas avec confiance, a poursuivi l'attaquant russe. Ce soir, nous avons obtenu beaucoup de tirs, mais ils venaient de l'extérieur. Nous avons essayé de faire dans la dentelle, mais à ce temps-ci de la saison, ça ne fonctionne plus."

Eloquent dans le silence - Le Journal

"L'homme a célébré de grandes victoires sans jamais extérioriser son bonheur. Il a survécu à de terribles douleurs, tant physiques que morales, sans jamais les évacuer publiquement. Hier midi, durant un dîner pour lequel il avait lui-même dressé la liste des invités, il a convié à l'avant quelques personnes qui lui sont chères afin de leur rendre un hommage personnel." - Bertrand Raymond

Hommage bien merite a mon capitaine - Le Journal

"À l'heure où les honneurs individuels prennent toute la place dans la Ligue nationale, il est bon de saluer un homme qui a été, avant tout, un joueur d'équipe. Durant toute sa carrière, Gainey s'est oublié pour le bien de ses coéquipiers, mettant son talent, sa passion, son leadership et sa détermination au service d'une seule cause : le succès de son équipe." - Guy Lafleur

Un grand homme devenu un grand athlete - Le Journal

"Je le considère exceptionnel pour d'autres raisons que le hockey. Nous avons sept enfants et en 1991, pour Noël, nous avons reçu un paquet avec des pyjamas aux couleurs du Canadien pour chacun d'eux. Et en 1996", Maureen Gainey a poursuivi, "quatre de nos enfants ont pu aller dans un camp d'été pour la première fois grâce à lui", a-t-elle dit pour évoquer sa grande générosité.

L'intimidant monsieur respect - Le Journal

"Pour une raison que je n'arrive toujours pas à élucider, je fige lorsque je rencontre le directeur général de l'équipe dans les corridors du Centre Bell. Je crois que je suis un peu intimidé par sa présence. Le grand Jean Béliveau me fait le même effet. C'est peut-être à cause de mon admiration pour tout ce qu'ils ont accompli comme athlètes et comme individus. Chose certaine, les deux hommes m'inspirent un très grand respect. Je crois que c'est ça : Bob Gainey, pour moi, c'est monsieur respect." - Jacques Demers

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Habs For Breakfast - All About Bob Edition

Tonight, on the Bell Centre red carpet, Bob Gainey will stand and watch, with a lump of his heart clutching his throat, as his jersey is so rightfully immortalized alongside giants of the game.

He'll make a short and dignified speech, thanking those who have helped him get there. He'll do all this with more emotion than we've ever seen from this most private of men, but likely with less emotion than those whose numbers were honoured before him.

Gainey is a man without fluff and pomposity, and it will be curious to see how he holds it in tonight during an event that is long owed to him.

Gainey the player, is being honoured by the Canadiens for being the best at what he was - a superb defensive specialist who needn't use machismo, illegal indiscretion or charisma to effectively negate the game's best players better than anyone since.

Gainey, the man, is also being honoured by consequence. The current GM of the team might feel a touch uncomfortable being employed by the team as he is honoured, but he will handle all the ceremony with the class he has always been associated with.

There will be moments when Gainey pauses during his words, his thoughts surely drifting to memories of those family members he so dearly wishes could stand alongside him on this evening.

The number 23 will then be raised, and if I had my way, I'd like to see it sit next to number 4 - another class act with similar attributes!

For today's edition of the Habs For Breakfast, in honour of Gainey, I've culled from various sources, 23 different takes on Gainey, both past and present and in both official languages. They include looks at his life and career, as well as pieces on his present thoughts with the trade deadline rapidly approaching.

The chances are slim, but wouldn't it be great if Gainey pulled off a trade on this day. Could you just imagine the frenzy he could create by simply pulling a cell phone from his jacket as his banner was being raised to field a call!

Here is everything I could find on Gainey from this week. Enjoy!

Bo Knows Hockey - The Gazette

"He took this hit and immediately came off the ice holding his shoulder," Dr. Kinnear recalled. "He came into our dressing room. I took one look and it was obvious he had a dislocation. Now there's a difference between a dislocation and a separation. With a separation, it's just rest and the player gets better. With a dislocation, you put your foot in the armpit and you pull like hell. With luck, it goes back in." - Red Fisher

Gainey Awaits Dance Partner - The Gazette

"Teams are in a difficult position, say the position we were in last year, where how do you take a good player off your team when your fans have invested emotion and dollars and time, and everyone has the same goal to make the playoffs?"

Together Again - Montreal

"Whenever Bob Gainey and Larry Robinson have joined forces over the years, great things have happened. The 2007-08 season will be no different with the longtime teammates and buddies each slated to have their number raised to the Bell Centre rafters."

Click on the Gainey photo to see a cool slideshow

Gainey Recalls Sam Pollock - Habs Inside Out

"Gainey’s career path was largely charted by a man he’d never met. Pollock used the Canadiens’ first-round choice in the 1973 amateur draft, No. 8 overall, to select a rugged 19-year-old winger from small-town Ontario." - Dave Stubbs

Bob Gainey, A Quiet Man With Much To Say - The Gazette

"Don't waste your time, a few colleagues told me when they learned I would meet Gainey away from the arena. You'll learn nothing, they insisted, about a quiet man who hasn't much to say. But I learned a great deal over four hours that January evening as Gainey laid bare his life, while we sat at his kitchen bar and ate the dinner he had prepared." - Dave Stubbs

Gainey An Instant Hit Behind The Bench -

"Gainey is in his second stint as an NHL general manager. He took over the helm of the North Stars in 1992 and guided them through their move to Dallas the following year. He continued through the 2001-02 season, when he turned the reins over to assistant Doug Armstrong. Under Gainey's leadership, the Stars won five divisional titles and the 1999 Stanley Cup." - John McGourty

Gainey Deserves The Honours - Globe And Mail

"This much is certain. Tonight's ceremony will be a tear jerker. The Habs do this stuff better than anyone else (consider the closing night at the Forum, versus the closing night at Maple Leaf Gardens), they strike the right balance. And playing in the background will be the knowledge of Gainey's personal struggles, of a wife lost, a daughter lost, and the great dignity with which he and his children have played the hand they've been dealt." - Stephen Brunt

Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Biography

"Termed the world's best all-around player by Soviet national team coach Viktor Tikhonov, Bob Gainey brought many elements to the Montreal Canadiens during his 16-year NHL career. The burly left winger was a tenacious competitor, relentless checker, respected team leader and capable contributor on the offense. His presence on the Habs' roster helped the team win the Stanley Cup five times in the decade between 1976 and 1986."

Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Statistics

Bob Gainey: HHOF Legends Of Hockey Photo Gallery

One On One With Bob Gainey: Legends Of Hockey Spotlight

"It started off to be a regular part of winter life where all the boys in my age category would play hockey for some kind of local team. We had a program that was run through different churches that used to sponsor teams. I continued on and started to push into some of the rep programs, but neither of my brothers had that same desire."

Emotion High As Gainey Sets For Jersey Retirement And Trade Deadline
- Hockey News

"I have had the chance in the last few years to see people, some of whom I played with and some I didn't, who have been honoured in the same way, so I'm thrilled," Gainey said as he met with reporters in the team's dressing room. "I'm being selected out of a very broad group of great players."

Busy Times For Bob Gainey
- Hockey's Greatest Legends

"Gainey certainly deserves the honour. He was perhaps the best defensive forward of all time, so good they basically made a trophy to honor him and players like him." - Joe Pelletier

Feeling The Heat
- CBC Sports

"Bob Gainey had an undeviating plan to restore the Montreal Canadiens to perennial Stanley Cup challengers from the day he was hired as general manager in 2003. The strategy, as Gainey envisioned it, was to shrewdly improve the team with young players who would become the team's cornerstones, and specifically, bolster a roster littered with underachievers." - Tony Care

Greatest Hockey Legends Gainey Profile

"Gainey was a defensive specialist. He was constantly bumping, grinding, tormenting, frustrating and nullifying his opponents. The NHL didn't hand out an award for the game's best defensive forward until 1978, and Gainey's awesome largely responsible for the creation of the award. Gainey was the first recipient of the Frank J. Selke Trophy and won it 4 years in a row." - Joe Pelletier

L' emotion va eteindre Gainey

"Je vais essayer d'avoir les idées claires et de ne rien oublier dans la courte période de temps que je vais avoir"

Gainey croit n' avoir rien inventee

"Il y a eu des prédécesseurs, particulièrement chez le Canadien. Je pense à Claude Provost qui a été un joueur formidable. J'ai suivi sa voie et celle de Jim Roberts."

On ne deshabillera pas Paul pour habiller Jacques - La Presse

"Dans le style sibyllin qui lui est propre, Gainey a indiqué qu'il n'était pas prêt à toucher au noyau actuel pour mettre la main sur un joueur qui, aussi bon soit-il, pourrait mettre en danger l'équilibre actuel. «Il y a une très bonne chimie au sein de notre formation et ce facteur sera une partie intégrante de notre réflexion d'ici à la date limite des transactions."

Bob Gainey: L' as cache du Canadiens - La Presse

"L'as caché du Canadien au cours de sa carrière de 16 saisons à Montréal, Bob Gainey sera entouré de quatre dames qui ont marqué sa vie lorsque son chandail numéro 23 ira rejoindre ceux qu’ont portés les 13 autres immortels du Tricolore. Qui sont ces quatre dames?"

Gainey pret a echanger ses jeunes espoirs
- Le Journal

"Cette saison, nous avons ajouté bon nombre de jeunes à notre alignement et nous devions le faire. Ces joueurs ont été repêchés, ils sont bons et ils aident notre équipe à gagner aujourd'hui."

Pourquoi le Canadien et non les Maple Leafs
- Le Journal

"Bob Gainey a été plusieurs fois courtisé par l'un de ses meilleurs amis dans le hockey, Ken Dryden, alors président des Maple Leafs de Toronto."

"Gainey: "Est - ce que j'aurais obtenu le poste si je n' etais pas billingue?" - Le Journal

"Gainey a réalisé à quel point la connaissance d'une langue seconde est une richesse quand il est allé passer près d'un an à Épinal, en France, pour y structurer un programme de hockey après sa retraite."

Gainey pourrait louer - Le Journal

"Je pense que nous avons vécu une assez bonne expérience avec Alex Kovalev il y a quelques années", rétorque Gainey. Nous avons transigé pour l'obtenir, nous avons donné de bons actifs en échange. Puis il a appris à nous connaître, nous avons appris à le connaître et nous sommes encore ensemble!"

Hommage a l' ultime guerrier
- Le Journal

"Gainey a été le plus grand joueur défensif de son temps et probablement de toutes les époques. Si grand qu'on s'est senti mal à l'aise de ne pas pouvoir saluer ses mérites. On a donc créé un trophée juste pour lui. Il a gagné les quatre premiers, un exploit individuel qui n'a jamais été répété."

At the Gainey retirement thread at Habs Inside Out, regular reader J.T. came up with this great notion:

"You know what would be a nice gesture? If those of us who can manage it could donate $23 to the Gainey Foundation today as a tribute to him. I think you can do it online at the Foundation website. "

J.T. is bang on with this, donations are accepted by PayPal. Click on the link and make a difference.