“Les Glorieux, les habitants, the habs, the Club de hockey Canadien” or simply the Montreal Canadiens. Whichever nickname you choose to give them, the team has some pretty big questions surrounding their future. And the result of the following month’s discussions that will be made per their front office braintrust will surely seal the Canadiens fate for the coming years, for better or for worse.
After coming off their eighth postseason appearance in the past 10 years, the Habs continued their regular season dominance that, for the 24th consecutive year, did not translate into perennial playoff success. That of course is measured as “unsuccessful” in the view of the die hard Montreal Canadiens fans that have been influenced by arguably one of the winningest cultures in all organized North American sports since their inception in 1909. The Canadiens possess something that only few teams have at the moment, harboring an elite player at every position on the ice with Shea Weber, controversial but 35+ goal scorer Max Pacioretty, and the undisputed netminder Carey Price.
With that being said, on paper, the Montreal Canadiens do in fact have a team that could at one point bring home Lord Stanley’s hardware. However, since 2012 when the team faced a major renovation in front office management, tied with new and exciting prospects that should flourish with the team for years to come, it has now been six seasons and the Canadiens have nothing to show for it except for a disappointing past and a questionable future. With a window of contention that is nearly closed, a farm team that has finally made the playoffs for the first time in five straight seasons (since the Hamilton Bulldogs/St John’s Icecaps staff was hired) but has had trouble developing top promising prospects in the likes of Louis Leblanc, Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu, and a management team led by General Manager Marc Bergevin, who was groomed as an assistant GM alongside Stan Bowman and witnessed the Blackhawks dynasty be built, the Montreal Canadiens have failed to gain much significant success.
Not to mention, head coach Michel Therrien was finally given the axe after four underwhelming seasons under his watchful eye (with his accusations as an unfair, conservative and old fashioned coach leading to his demise) and beloved hero P.K. Subban was banished to Nashville. 2012 third overall pick Alex Galchenyuk’s development is seeing a steady decline, as even though he posted a career high 30-goal season in the 2015 campaign, many believe that his recent injury this past season may have changed his playing style overall as a player, even if he did manage to put up nearly 20 goals.
Carey Price and Max Pacioretty both have expiring contracts within the next two seasons and, with an aging core, a general manager who seems to be in a tight spot, and a lack of results in the past six years, what lies next for the Montreal Canadiens? A retool to maybe give the team one last shot at redemption, or a rebuild that will almost guarantee a continued cup drought for this hockey crazy city? Only time will tell.