The Montreal Canadiens season is finally starting; as the first game will feature Craig Rivet and his Sabres, hosting his best friend, Saku Koivu and his Canadiens.
Changes, switches, trades have been made along the way; to finally make the team look like an actual NHL one. There are those we still do not understand, those we regret, and those we've welcomed with open arms.
Starting this 2008-09 season, the team looks like this:
The average age is around 28. Fifteen players are 25 or more, ten of them are 30 or more. Patrice Brisebois is the oldest of all, 37; and Carey Price remains to date the youngest, 21. The two goalies combined are one year older than legendary Goaltender Dominik Hasek!
Four players already won the Stanley Cup: Mathieu Dandenault won three with Detroit (eh, that's the closest he can get to the Hall of Fame!); Alex Kovalev was among Marc Messier's crew in 1994; Alex Tanguay had Patrick Roy as the winning goaltender in 2001, and finally Patrice Brisebois took part to the last Montreal's quest to the Cup in 1993 (a long long time ago!).
Six players had their entire career with the team to date. That also implies the sad truth that they never got past the second round! Saku Koivu leads the way with 13 years as a Montreal Canadiens.
Nine players have reached 50 points or more at least once in their career, and six of them, more than 60. Alex Kovalev clinched an impressive 95 points in 2001, and Defenceman Roman Hamrlik reached 65, in 1996. Yes it was 12 years ago, but we've got to learn from the past, right?
About the team chemistry, some of those players already played together in the past.
Roman Hamrlik and Alex Tanguay were teammates during the 2006-07 season, with the Calgary Flames.
Tanguay was also among the Colorado Avalanche roster, when Patrice Brisebois came to his last season with the team, in 2005.
Hamrlik and George Laraque played together for the Edmonton Oilers, in 1997; before Hamrlik moved to the New York Islanders in 2000.
Tom Kostopoulos, Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang all played for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001/02 - but maybe not all on the same line! However, Lang and Kovalev were line-mates, reaching their career highest that season.
Robert Lang said in a recent interview that he felt great being able to speak his native language with some of his teammates. Everyone but Saku Koivu can actually express himself into his own language.
Indeed, there are two Americans, one Slovak and three Czechs, two Russians and two Belorussians, and thirteen Canadians, with seven of them being French Canadians (the highest in the entire NHL - Quebecois fans must be thrilled about this!), and finally one Finnish who is the Captain. But he is very fluent in English and has a good French!
The coaching staff totalizes eleven Stanley Cup rings, as players.
Guy Carbonneau, Kirk Muller, and Doug Jarvis combined, won seven as Montreal Canadiens. Of course, if we add Bob Gainey, it would make 12 Stanley Cup rings!
Roland Melanson won his three Stanley Cups with the New York Islanders, but mostly as a second goalie.
For the coaches as well, chemistry didn't have to be created at their first contract together.
Roland Melason and Kirk Muller were both traded by the New Jersey Devils to the Montreal Canadiens, in 1991; when Guy Carbonneau was already the team Captain. Muller also played with Carbonneau with the Dallas Stars a little part of the 1999-2000 season. Doug Jarvis was behind the bench, as an assistant coach, during that time; and Bob Gainey was the General Manager.
That's pretty much about this year's edition of the Montreal Canadiens. A few changes might come along the way, we really never know. But so far, it doesn't look that bad, doesn'it?