The Montreal Canadiens 100th season was very much like watching a car accident.
It cruised along during the first half of the season, with the team having both hands firmly planted on the wheel and a strong wind behind it.
At the start of the new year, and heading in to the All-Star break, the back wheel got a little wobbly, making the car somewhat unbalanced and shaky.
When the push for the playoffs began, the wobbly back wheel blew, sending the car swerving all over the road. The team jerked the wheel, fought for control, managed to keep it steady for a moment or two.
As the regular season came to an close, the car hit the gravel shoulder and spun it wildly out of control. Four games later, it flipped and hit the median, sending the team smashing through the windshield and littering the road with bodies and busted debris.
As with any wreck, an investigation is underway as to its cause. The question is: Who was behind the wheel at the time of the crash?
Some would like to point the finger at Guy Carbonneau, the former coach and former player. It would appear, however, he was riding shotgun and focusing on the GPS, trying to find the best combination to get the team where it needed to go. Ultimately, he got them nowhere, fast.
It's fair to say Carbonneau was distracted by the rambunctious kids in the back seat, guys like Carey Price, Chris Higgins, and the Kostitsyn brothers but it was near impossible to get them under control, bewitched by the fast cars and easy women.
Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev were also in the car but they kept nodding off, waking up only when the car hit a pothole or if they were being poked by the media who were also along for the ride.
That leaves only the GM and new coach Bob Gainey driving the Habs' car in to 100th season oblivion. Gainey was not oblivious to what was going on with the car, but Gainey being Gainey, kept it all inside, quietly working on a solution but finding none that worked.
He even blamed, in part, the mechanic who worked on the car prior to the trade deadline, Tampa Bay Lightning GM Brian Lawton, who, according to Gainey, talks too much and fails to get the job done.
Gainey, and the team, survived the crash although many are lingering in intensive care, awaiting contracts. In the end, they may get the care they need in other cities, players like Mike Komisarek, Robert Lang, Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, and Mathieu Dandenault.
Such is the way of car accidents. Some make it, some don't. Now is the time for the Montreal Canadiens to regroup, dust off the broken glass and pieces of asphalt and start chatting up free-agents and car salesmen.
It's time to put the past behind them like the faded yellow lines of the highway. The road is long and the destination is certainly worth it, provided the team can keep all four wheels firmly on the ground.
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