In the Gazette, Jack Todd offers up his final MMQB column, making New Year's Eve a little less happy. I've always enjoyed reading his stuff, and even used to spend a precious Toonie back in my university days to buy an imported Gazette so I could read him over my Monday morning coffee in the SUB. He's leaving the Gazette to concentrate on writing fiction, and maybe he's getting a head start in his last column by suggesting that the Habs have a chance to land Alex Ovechkin as an RFA this summer. Seriously, is there any price the Capitals wouldn't match? NO!!!!. Todd also takes a moment to ask Montreal fans why they've never properly appreciated Cristobal Huet, despite his consistent excellence. He wonders if it's because Huet is, like the Conehead family, from France, or because he's viewed as a transition goalie, from Theo to Price. I think the reason Huet has never gotten his due from fans is that he emerged at a relatively advanced age from minor-league obscurity, while Habs fans only have eyes for the next over-hyped hot-prospect goalie. They want Dryden. They want Roy. They wanted Thibault, then Theo, now Price. It's as though otherwise discerning Montreal fans won't believe a goalie is good unless a bunch of magazines and talking heads tell them he is. Anyway, good luck Jack Todd!
Elsewhere in the Gazette, Pat Hickey finds coach Guy Carbonneau "more than satisfied" with the Habs' performance in a losing effort last night in New York. Carbo says it was one of the team's "best games this season", especially given that the Habs were missing key player Saku Koivu, and had to play short-handed after Corey Locke's gear didn't make it to MSG on time. Hickey quotes Huet as knowing "where [Shanahan] was going to go" on his overtime winner, but the shot was perfect and Huet admits, "I just couldn't stop it". Huet did allow a softie earlier in the game, but now stands at 3-0-3 in his last six starts, and atop the NHL stats in save percentage. The Habs will be relying on him to stay hot and stay healthy, as they continue to scratch and claw for points over the balance of the season.
Poor Corey Locke. An OHL star who wasn't drafted until the fourth round because of his size. An AHL star who has never gotten a sniff of the NHL, because of his size. And after waiting three years for a chance to play with the Habs, he misses the opportunity ... because the airline lost his luggage! Hoping to avoid a second consecutive flu epidemic on the team, coach Carbo has Saku Koivu in quarantine, and Locke was going to have a chance to fill in. It could have been the break he's been waiting for, but it turned into another tough break for guy. Here's a new airline slogan idea: "Air Canada: Crushing Dreams Since 1956".
If you've got the stomach, check out this New York Daily News article on the game and all the credit it gives to Sean Avery for the Rangers' win. Avery, it crows, "backed slightly into the goalie's pad on the follow-through, wobbling him slightly as Drury flipped home the rebound". Yeah, that Avery, he's some player. It's bad enough the tying goal was the result of that clown's goaltender interference, but since when do sports journalists congratulate players for crappy plays like that?. Thanks for reminding us how bad the officiating in the NHL is, NY Daily News!
Here's a piece on the waiving yesterday of Sergei Samsonsov by the Chicago Blackhawks: the Globe and Mail's Erik Duhatschek thinks Samsonov's career might be over. Well, actually, this event marks only the end of his playing days in the NHL; as any Montreal fan can tell you, his playing career ended at some point the summer before last. We certainly didn't see him play much hockey last year.