Centennial Season or Sizzling Dud?

Earl CollierContributor IMarch 14, 2009

Ole' Ole' Ole'....? Umm not quite. Not lately. Not yet.

The Montreal Canadiens and their legions of devoted fans don't have much to celebrate these days but there has been no shortage of fireworks surrounding the team this season.

Less than a week ago the Habs enigmatic leader Bob Gainey, stepped in to replace head coach Guy Carbonneau behind the bench. His mission is simple, to rekindle the icy cold, "emotionally disengaged" crop of underachieving prima donnas before their free fall lands them on the golf course come playoff time. 

After a disappointing non-effort against the lowly New York Islanders two nights ago it appears Mr. Gainey may have his work cut out for him. If he fails in this current pursuit to resuscitate the flat lining Habs he may not have any work at all come training camp time next year.

This season was supposed to bear something remarkable. One hundred years of greatness Les' Canadiens style. The ghosts of the old forum were finally going to make their long awaited exodus to the rafters of the spirited Bell Center and bless the cheering hoards with echoes of Richard, Morenz, and Plante and even the coveted Lord Stanley.

Thus goes the illusions of grandeur, yet it seems this years addition of the Habs lack passion, perseverance and heart. That is a long winded way of saying they simply aren't winners.

If the Montreal Canadiens have what it takes to be champions they have certainly flashed no inkling of it at all so far during this campaign.

They have demonstrated a number of plagues though: Horrendous defensive play, spotty and unpredictable offense, inconsistency from period to period, a lack of discipline and leadership and...Oh yeah, a desire to make the most of Montreal's wild nightlife (with or without known Hells Angels associates).

So far this season, the only thing the Habs have done consistently is make headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Not exactly the glorious dynasties of the '50s, '60s and '70s is it? Not even close to the magical cinderella lore of '86 and '93. When I watch the Canadiens play lately all I see is a team with no definitive identity. Yet on the front of their shirts they bear the most recognizable symbol of excellence in hockey. The glorious CH, a logo that is synonymous with a long tradition of champions in every sense of the word.

The current debacle that is this season would be much easier to swallow if this group of players made up a weak team with no expectations; as was the case for most of the 1990's and the early segment of this particular decade, but this year was christened with high expectations.

Alas, it looks as though fans will be let down.

At least this season was filled with lots of drama to keep us somewhat entertained. Maybe there is still hope for a miracle and a Stanley Cup after all...who knows.

Not likely.

It seems the Habs are right on course for a headline finish:

The Centennial sizzle: One hundred years of greatness underscored by one year of mediocrity. 

At least they are still better than the Leafs.