Top News

CRACKS OF DON: These days Habs SHOULD be thrown parade for making playoffs

Quebec Premier Francois Legault puts on a Montreal Canadiens face mask as he finishes the daily COVID-19 press briefing, Thursday, May 21, 2020 in Montreal.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault puts on a Montreal Canadiens face mask as he finishes the daily COVID-19 press briefing, Thursday, May 21, 2020 in Montreal.

It’s known as the greatest franchise in NHL history, among the very best ever in pro sports.

But these days in these years, the Montreal Canadiens have become a politician’s joke.

“If the Canadiens make the playoffs, unfortunately we will not be able to have a parade this summer,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault said at his Thursday briefing, which was held in Montreal rather than the usual venue in Quebec City. “And we’re not working very hard on Plan B either.”

Legault apparently spoke with tongue in cheek, but that cannot be confirmed because he wore a fashionable piece of coronavirus protection on his face. It was a gift, he said, from Habs captain Shea Weber.

“In January I suggested that he be traded,” said Legault. “And he still sent me a mask.”

We’re assuming Legault knows you don’t throw a parade for making the playoffs, which the Canadiens wouldn’t have a hope of doing if not for COVID-19. But under a 24-team post-season proposal that appears to be gaining traction, they will qualify with the 71 points (31-31-9) they had at the time of the pause.

In a breakdown of the blueprint (courtesy of TSN.ca’s Frank Seravalli) that still needs all sorts of approval and questions answered, the Habs would square off in a best-of-five against the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the winner facing the Philadelphia Flyers.

In the unlikelihood they got through Round 1, they almost certainly would bow out in Round 2. Unless, of course, a rested and red-hot Carey Price carries them all the way to the Stanley Cup.

That’s the way it could be with teams returning after a layoff of at least three months — which essentially means the start of a new season. All or almost all of the injuries will be healed as everyone begins from Square 1, with the top four teams from each conference getting a better Square 1 than the others.

The Habs have won the Stanley Cup 24 times (which is 11 more than the next most successful team, the Toronto Arenas/St. Patricks/Maple Leafs), but have been denied from champagne sips since 1993. They’re still the most recent Canadian team to hoist Lord Stanley’s coveted mug, which should be an embarrassment to red and white flag-wavers everywhere.

Montreal’s record in playoff series since defeating the Los Angles Kings in the championship best-of-seven in 1993 is a lousy 9-15. Even worse, the Habs have failed to qualify for the post-season 10 times since then (including the last two, and three of the past four) and only a pandemic is saving them from increasing that futile mark to 11.

Maybe Montreal should have a parade the next time its storied franchise makes the playoffs in a season that’s played with the regular rules.

TOP OF THE ORDER

First time the legendary Brian Kilrea saw Marco Rossi play was a couple of years ago in a scrimmage at the University of Ottawa. “Some day,” Killer said to his longtime friend and assistant coach Bert O’Brien, “that kid is going to win an OHL scoring championship.” Rossi, who was named the league’s MVP on Thursday, did that this season going away. Literally … Last Rossi story: In a conversation with the kid’s parents a while back, our pal Cam Donaldbell found out the 67’s 5-foot-9 star was a pretty good all-round athlete growing up. One time he had to choose between playing in a hockey game or a school basketball tournament. He opted for the latter. “Was he a centre in basketball, too?” Donaldbell asked Rossi’s father. “No,” Michael Rossi replied. “If they had played him at centre we would have spent his youth buying him high-heel shoes.” … Home schooling is a chance for parents to teach their kids actual life skills rather than the mostly useless stuff they’re daydreaming through in classrooms. And no, it’s not the teacher’s fault, it’s the system.

CONNECTING THE DOTS

Wonder if the University of Ottawa’s decision not to interview Jaime Elizondo for the head coaching post of the football Gee-Gees had anything to do with him leaving the Redblacks high and dry — remember the headline on the team’s press release, “Elizondo quits on Redblacks” — six weeks before last year’s training camp started. Their lack of an experienced quarterback was certainly one reason for the Redblacks scoring just 312 points, by far the league low, but losing their offensive coordinator like that also had to be a contributing factor … The over/under on the use of the “waiting game” cliche in this paper during the NHL pause has been reset to 12. Oddsmakers didn’t imagine anything like this — and I’m not talking about the length of the NHL pause … First Horace Grant, and now Scottie Pippen is “livid” and “so angry” at Michael Jordan for the way he was portrayed in The Last Dance , according to an ESPN reporter. What apparently has Pippen peeved is being called selfish by Jordan for delaying ankle surgery just before the start of the 1997-98 season, while he was in a bitter contract dispute with the Bulls. But wait, isn’t that selfish?

ON THIS (May 22) DAY

Exactly 18 years ago, Dominik Hasek assisted on the Game 3 overtime winner against Colorado to become the first goalie to record an OT point. Fourteen years ago, give or take a few days, I was at a party and saw Hasek standing in front of the microwave, staring at it intently. That night he became the first person I ever saw nuke red wine.

FINISHING TOUCHES

To no surprise, Alexis Lafreniere was named winner of the Michel Briere Trophy as the QMJHL’s MVP on Thursday. He is the third repeat winner of the award, joining Sidney Crosby (2003-04, 2004-05) and Mathieu Chouinard (1998-99, 1999-2000). You remember Chouinard, the goalie so nice the Senators drafted him twice? Once in the first round (15th overall) in ’98 and, when they couldn’t sign him, with a second round (45th overall) choice in 2000. Chouinard’s NHL career consisted of one game. With the Los Angeles Kings … The front page of Thursday’s New York Post had “one man’s plea” (a writer for the tab) to save the Big Apple from dying. About the shutdown of society due to COVID-19, the headline screamed: “IT NEEDS TO END. NOW.” I agree. Enough’s enough. Let’s be careful and smart and get back to living our lives.

dbrennan@postmedia.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories