News for Thursday, December 20th

The Canadian Press has a great article (no author attributed) on the Canadiens' upcoming Christmas road trip. If you like esoteric, highly-specific statistics (we called them Curry Stats back in my university dorm, after a guy named Curry who liked to tell you how many Stanley Cups had been won by guys who also had sisters who were gold medalists in the Commonwealth Games in odd-numbered years) then this piece is for you. I love discovering new stats I had no idea about, such as this one: the Canadiens have not won a game on December 23rd since 1945, when they defeated the Bruins (you can always count on those Bruins!). The article is full of such ominous numbers. Try these on for size: since 1999, the Canadiens record between December 23rd and December 31st is 3-18-5. They haven't had a successful holiday since 1998 (3-1-0). There is something unnerving about trends such as this, which are as plainly extant as they are inscrutable. Why on earth should the Canadiens have such a persistently bad record over the Christmas season? It's not the distraction, which obviously would apply to both teams in the game. Maybe it's as simple as the fact that the Habs always have a Christmas road trip, an annual event necessitated by the corporate avarice that has the team's owners put Les Boys on the back-burner to make a killing renting out their arena for holiday events. Or ... maybe it's even simpler than that, a result of the fact that the Habs have had a lousy record just about all the time since 1998. Yes, that's probably it.

The same article highlights how the NHL managed to turn itself into the Grinch Who Stole the Habs' Family Christmas. Mr. Gillette and company wanted to lessen the impact of the road trip on the players' Christmas plans by taking the whole team and all their kin to Tampa, to spend Christmas together in the sun. Is that a great idea or what? Unfortunately, the NHL dictates that each team may only pay for one trip for one family member per year. So no dice. Let me take this opportunity - as I will gladly take every such one - to say, "Thanks for nothing, Gary." There's a man who deserves some coal in his stocking.

Also from the CP wire, the NHL has decided not to suspend Saku Koivu for cross-checking Jozef Stumpel in the face at the end of Tuesday's Panthers-Canadiens games. Lucky break for the Habs. Not so much for Stumpy.

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