Harry How/Getty Images
Former Montreal Canadien Scott Gomez.
The Habs did get off to a pretty good start in 2012-13, including a 4-2 run right out of the gates without a certain notable defenseman in the lineup—not that Davis Drewiske really would have realistically pushed them over the top or anything, but every little bit helps, right?
Obviously, that’s actually in reference to Subban and couldn’t possibly apply to Drewiske for the simple reason that, uh, he’s not notable. But I digress.
Subban only joined the team in early February after holding out for the first few weeks of the season. Now, he may have only opted to sign when he did because:
a) He realized he was losing any leverage he had little by little with each passing day, or
b) He acknowledged that if he played well enough, he would get the rich payday he had been seeking, and that the $5.75 million over two years he was being offered in the meantime would certainly tide him over until then.
Whatever his reasoning, he obviously made the right decision to not sign a long-term deal.
Nevertheless, there’s little denying Subban had become a distraction, and while yes, the Habs were 4-2 without him in the lineup, their last game before his return was a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Their first game with him in the lineup? A 6-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Clearly Montreal is better with Subban than without. The same of course can’t necessarily be said for Scott Gomez, whom the team bought out just prior to the start of last season. Ditto for Tomas Kaberle, whom the team bought out this past June.
Without those contracts and their pending buyouts looming over the team, the Habs are free to actually focus on hockey come September, which will be another nice change of pace.
With the lockout done and buried going on seven months now, teams and players are free to go about business as usual, almost as if it never even happened at all. Just ask the Winnipeg Jets and Zach Bogosian.
Add in an honest-to-God training camp and the Habs should be good to go. Now that may admittedly apply to all teams, but, technically speaking, the Habs will still be better conditioned and prepared for whatever newer, shinier distractions are sure to come along.