In Montreal, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don&#039

P.J. Stock said it so well on the team 990 the other day; if you’re a player for the Habs, you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t.

Pretty much all hockey enthusiasts out there know about Montreal and its passionate fans, critical media and rich hockey history. More often than not, that same passion gets in the way of reason and quite frankly, after 10 years of mediocrity, that passion can make people develop bitter perspectives on everything that’s team related. It seems that nowadays, it is easy to criticize the team and its surroundings. Its even easier to forget the positives.

The Montreal Canadians annual golf tournament is a gathering of players and media where much is discussed and there is little room left for golf. Everything from team signings to various players’ outlook on the upcoming season, is covered. Saku Koivu made some noise with a statement that even Bob Gainey felt Koivu spoke for 20 seconds too much. He simply stated he believed that the team has what it takes to make the playoffs while a cup contention is a bit far-fetched. Now that last remark caused somewhat of an uproar in the fans. Many people believe that his captaincy should be put into question as well as his devotion to the team. Now lets be honest here folks, if he were to say that they’re cup contenders, people would have said he’s BS-ing. Now that he said the opposite, people are questionning his leadership. Perhaps some would argue that he should have said nothing. NOTHING? At an annual team event where the core of the team, especially the captain, are expected to give their thoughts about the team’s position, saying nothing would be the worst scenario. Now I ask you, what is he supposed to say? The same blabber about working hard and playing for 60 minutes? That old record doesn’t sell many newspapers. Koivu made it clear at the end of the season that he’s not interested in playing for a team that’s rebuilding. He’s not getting any younger and he deserves to contend for a cup. Can we really blame him for being true to himself? For his honesty?

After battling numerous injuries, fighting cancer, recovering from a career threatening eye injury, answering all the most difficult questions the hoard of journalists throw at him game in and game out, losing his friends and teamates Craig Rivet and Sheldon Souray to trades, ongoing criticism about his french speaking abilities (or lack thereof) and finally, his implication (physical and financial) in a fund to bring a PET scanner to Montreal; it is obvious that his devotion, his heart and his leadership lie within this city. If people fail to see that, he deserves a chance somewhere else because I’m sure there’s at least 29 teams out there that would be interested in what he brings to the table.

24 Responses to In Montreal, you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don&#039

  1. eron says:

    Saku Koivu is one of the greatest Captains in Habitant History.  Yeah, I said it.  He plays with more heart and determination than even some of the names up in the rafters of the Bell Centre.  Yeah, people might be calling blasphemy there, but watching Saku race body first to the opposing net with his small frame to dig out a puck in hopes that his linemates will get set up for a goal is just amazing to watch night in and night out.  No-one puts their well being on the line quite like Saku, and on top of that, he faces adversity head on and head strong. 

    What Saku said was right to say, and I'll tell you why.  The General Manager (Bob Gainey)'s job is to set the team up for success.  The coaches job (Guy Charbonneau) is to get the chemistry set up right, bring the players to their top potential and strategize off the ice.  What does the captain do?  He is the leader of the team, and more importantly, represents the team ON THE ICE.  That is Saku Koivu's job.  If the CAPTAIN says the team, right now, from what he evaluates, is not a Cup contender (or isn't considered one as he tried to backtrack), it is up to the TEAM TO PROVE THEIR CAPTAIN WRONG.

    People need to stop being such sensitive dolts and remember that this is goddamn hockey.  You can't make everyone feel good all of the time.  Sometimes you got to push, and you gotta push hard.  If you keep making everyone believe that they are giving it their all, there will be no room to get better.  Saku shouldn't go out there and say, "Skies the limit, boys!", he needs to light a fire in their ass.  Thats what he tried to do, and everyone, especially his own damn team, jumped on him for it.

    I hate to say it, but guys like Mats Sundin and Saku Koivu do nothing but work their asses off for some of the greatest Franchises in sports history, but because they are not Francophones or rough Canadian boys, they get treated like second class hockey players, when they have been top class their entire career.  The truth is, both guys are too good for the Franchises they captain, but they will stay to the end, because they look those teams just as much as the fans do.

    Sad but true.

  2. habsoverserver says:

    i think koivu was misquoted.  i think he said we could make the playoffs and then anything could happen.  he acknowledged that montreal is not the consensus favorite to with the cup, but that's painfully obvious. 

    when gainey went after a bunch of high priced free agents wasn't he admitting the team wasn't yet good enough and needed more talent? 

    koivu – who statistically is among the bottom tier of first line forwards – is still a great leader by example in effort on and off the ice.  i think he is very deserving of his captaincy and if gainey is going to defend guys like brisebois who quit on their team then he should keep his mouth shut about guys like koivu. 

  3. muckies says:

    Personaly I don't think Koivu ever deserved to be Captain of the Habs and only one on default because when he was named Captain they had really no other chioces the players where that bad – maybe Brian Savage

    Koivu is a good player, but Habs Captains are supposed to be NHL legends like Gainey, Carbo, The Rocket and the Pocket Rocket.

    The inability of the Habs to land a true superstar and legit all around Captain speaks to the shittiness they have displayed over the past 10 seasons. 

  4. eron says:

    Are you kidding me?

    Great Hab Captains are players who can lead and lead by example.  Koivu does that.

    My all time favourite hockey player is Vincent Damphousse, and I'll say right off the bat that Koivu deserves that C more than Vinny D did. 

    Koivu is a leader.  Sure, he isn't some rough nosed Canadian or "Beacon of Respect" like a Beliveau, but he has the heart and leadership to be a Captain. 

  5. muckies says:

    Yeah, Vinny D was a terrible Habs Captain and didn't deserve it either.

    Koivu plays hard, but I'm not sure what type of LEADER he is. Neidermeyer, Iginla, Crosby are true born NHL leaders and Captians – Koivu is a #2 center that could very easily be traded and forgotten by Habs fans as quickly as Jocelyn Thibault was

  6. eron says:

    Crosby is not a true captain.  When has Crosby shown leadership?  He still throws tantrums.  I see better leadership from young players such as Mike Richards who already plays to lead.  Gretzky was never a great captain, he was simply a great player and role model for the teams he played on.  Even in L.A. there were better captain choices.  Gary Roberts will be the true Captain of the Penguins.

    You named three Canadian boys who I doubt you could really tell me why they are great leaders aside from collecting a few trophies.  Mike Modano has collected some trophies himself and he gets told to take the C off because he is not a real Captain.  Koivu is a number two centre, yes.  Gainey and Charbonneau were never number one centres, either.  As well, Habs will never forget Koivu because of the adversity he faced and the fact they remember every game how hard he worked.  I should also remind you that the Habs team sticks to Koivu so much that when he got injured in the playoffs the team completely fell apart against the Hurricanes, a team they could have beaten.  If a captain has that much meaning to a club, its unhealthy, but thats the Habs situation.  They NEED Koivu.  He is their leader.

  7. leaffansareajoke says:

    Is PJ Stock the rapist or is that Billy Tibbets?  Either way, was would either of these have valued opinions?

  8. ferron says:

       The captain of any sucessfull team should be able to change the momentum of a game, should be healty, energetic and should be the best Player on it's team(do not have to be team's top scorer) cause sometimes the captain should get up in the dressing room and be able to look any other player(s) straight in the eyes and tell him or them to make more of an effort but Koivu Can't do that, he is to small to realy get notice and was never able to out-powered the oppositon's top line so I say it's time for a new Captain or co-captains(Komisarek and Higgins) These two guys will be with the Habs for a very long time. Lot of people out there ranked the habs 10th- 13th in the east but I say that the Four way Goalie Battle between Huet, Halak, Danis and Price will make the Habs one of the eastern's conference top team, all four of these goalies could be number1 goalie on most of NHL's teams! It would also be nice if Kovalev, Dandenault , Begin and Brisebois could all get Kidnaped or abducted by aliens!

  9. Rabid_Badger says:

    First off, I'm disappointed PJ Stock never had his head handed to him after his cheap shot that broke Zednik's jaw and derailed The Hab's playoff run.  I would have liked to have had Derrian Hatcher on the team for just one game after that incident.

    Ferron, I think you undercut the point you are trying to make with facts you present:  "The captain of any sucessfull team should be able to change the momentum of a game, should be healty, energetic and should be the best Player on it's team(do not have to be team's top scorer)"  Momentum: how about the fact the Habs were up 2 games to none on the eventual Stanley Cup champs in the '06 playoffs, but failed to win a game when he was out of the lineup?  Energetic: Koivu is a little dynamo.  If you've seen a Habs game unaltered you can appreciate this.  Best player on the team: aside from Theodore's lone season of glory no one player has been more of an asset any given year since Koivu has been captain. Don't even say Souray was last year because his defense did not compensate for his offence.  AND Koivu was the top scorer last year. 

    Look at the putzes Koivu has been saddled with as wingers: "Mr. October", Brian Savage, Martin Rucinsky, Ryder is okay, but not consistent, Higgins is good but is young and still developing.  You could make the point those two have Koivu to thank for their success.  You'll also notice when he plays with premier wingers like Selanne and Lehtinen in international competition he always leads the tournament in scoring.  Oh yeah, he's captain of the Finnish national team.  You're not supposing the Finns are lacking healthy energetic guys to captain their team are you? 

  10. Rico71 says:


    Stock was not the one that ended (he's been finished since) Zednik's so-so career…it was Kyle McLaren.

  11. ferron says:

      When I said energetic, I met that sometimes Koivu isn't very consistent, he tends to slow down by the end of season due to numerous injuries, nobody's blaming Koivu for the habs insucess but The Habs never had a worst decade than this past decade with Koivu as our Captain. Koivu's one of the leagues top 2ND LINE center but is no first liner or Captain. Then you tell me that he plays well in international competition "News Flash" this isn't international Hockey, this is NHL Hochey where players don't have the space or the balls to do as please!, How many gold medal did the Finish won with Koivu as there Captain. One more thing Good/Great players make the other players around them better witch Koivu was never able to do! You also said Koivu was our top scorer last year, 21-54=75 PTS, impressive! 75 PTS you had to be joking! Man we all love Koivu but the HABS and The FANS gave him ten years, It's time to give the "C" to someone who can actually handle it, just to take some pressure off Koivu. How about Komisarek, Higgins?

    No beef, just hockey talk!

  12. eron says:

    75 points lead the team.  Just another point that the team itself has to step up.

    Aside from Sergei Samsonov, everyone who plays on Koivu's line has an increase of production. 

    Habs had an awful decade due to the amount of great players they lost for nothing in the mid 90's and the amount of bad deals and management.  Rejean Houle and Mario Tremblay have more to do with a tumbling Habs organization than Koivu ever will.  Not only that, but blaming Saku Koivu for the fact no-one else on his team can step up is pretty asinine.

    Komisarek and Higgins are too young.  Koivu will retire as Captain and then the C will be passed off.

  13. Rico71 says:

    I'll say something…

    Koivu will be gone by the trade deadline if the Habs are not going to make the playoffs.

    He's not going to sign in Montreal this summer. He's fed up with the team's consistent mucking around. Who wouln't be? Almost 15 years of mediocrity.

    I like the guy, but he needs a change of scenery. Minnesota would be a great possibility. They have shown interest in him before…and Miko plays there.

  14. Rabid_Badger says:

    Thanks for the clarification about McClaren, Rico.  Zednik is mediocre, but he was on a tear and leading the playoffs in goals the year he has cheapshotted into the fans seats.

    Yeah, you have to hand it to him for sticking around through the Houle/Tremblay era.  I wouldn't blame him if he bailed for MN.  He would put up some sick numbers feeding Gaborik the puck. 

  15. mike11 says:

    very well said. saku is a great captain and has the right to his own opininon. after all lets be serious here people. im as much of a habs fan as the rest of you but realistically speaking we are not cup contenders. we are well on our way, but not quite there yet.
    Sure id love for them to win a cup this year. it would be the happiest moment of my life, but lets be serious.

  16. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    Ferron, while I don't doubt your love for the Canadiens, I suspect the team's lack of success over the last 15 years has clouded your judgment.
    Koivu has been our best overall player ever since we drafted him 21st overall in 1993 which, incidently, was the last time Montreal won the Cup.
    Koivu is not responsible for the lack of success that has you seeing red, and trashing Koivu won't make the mediocre players of the past around him play like superstars.  It is amazing to me that you expect Saku to turn 20-goals scorers into 40-goal scorers.  Newsflash!  Even Lemieux and Gretzky couldn't help the likes of Savage, Rucinsky, V. Bure, Hoglund, Audette, Zednik etc, etc, etc…and we all knew Koivu was no Lemieux or Gretzky when we drafted him with our 1st pick overall.
    The blame falls squarely on the ownership and upper management for the dismal record of the Habs over the last 15 years.  One player cannot change his team's fortunes all by himself.  He must be surrounded by quality teammates and led by quality coaches. 
    Ever since Gainey became GM (A. Savard should also be credited for getting the process started) things have begun to look a lot better.  Koivu's better quality linemates (Kovalev excluded) have made a marked improvement in his production and, as a result, the overall success of the team as evidenced by Saku's career numbers this past season.  But Rome wasn't built in one day and neither is a winning NHL franchise, unless you're playing NHL2008.
    In short, I hope everyone stops crapping on Koivu for everything that ails the Habs.  He's an integral part of the success of our team (he was our top scorer with 75 points – 11 more than Souray) and blaming him won't make him play any better than he is.  The man leaves it all out on the ice after a game which is more than can be said for some of the stiffs he's had as linemates over the years (Kovalev included).
    Yes, Koivu is a second line centreman, but for the time being, he's our #1 centreman and our captain.  Give him some respect, he deserves it for putting up with a mediocre team all these years.
    Peace out.

  17. ferron says:

      Everyone has an increase cause they move from a third or even fourth line (Latendresse, Streit, Perezoghin sometimes) to the first witch translate into way more  ice time not cause they're playing along Koivu, just wait until Ryder gets traded at the next deadline and end up having a John LeClaire kind of Career somewhere else! Like I said in my previous post nobody's blaming Koivu for the last 10 year but now it's time for a change a refreshment, Koivu looks tired and fed up at times( who wounld't be!), and doesn't have the same state of mind he had when He was 25. The habs biggest problem is that they won't trust the youth in the AHLor Junior and you CAN'T rebuilt a team by finishing 14-17th overall every years!

  18. ferron says:

      I respect Koivu more than any players on the Habs roster, but now He looks tired at times and doesn't have the spark a 25 year's old has! As for Gretzky he played in an era when defensemen where getting a 100 pts/season easy, but if you start comparing Lemieux and Koivu, maybe you should stick to ringette. Do you remember a guy call Rob Brown, yes the same Rob Brown who scored fifty playing along with Lemieux, when Lemieux stop playing the first time Brown Vanished faster than Alexandre Daigle, oh! And do you remember a guy call Steven( only player in NHL history to score 60 with 200 penalty minutes) once again playing with Lemieux, besides Jarg and Reechie( who also played with Koivu and that was also Reechie's worst year ever by far!). But all this is beside the point, all I'm saying is "I AM" tired of watchin guys like koivu, Kovalev, Brisebois, Dandenault getting lots of the PP time after proving throughout there career that they could not produce while on the 5 ON 5, I'm not saying that we should bench them but maybe give some PP time to some terefic stick handlers like Plek, Higgins, Kostitsyn you have to put your best offensive players out there regardless of there past  and what was the reason behind the Brisebois signing, why is Garth murray, Dandenault, Gorges and Begin will again take some valuable time away from the Rookies. Lot's of you will tell me they have to develope, for how long? O'Byrn will turn 23 and CAN't grow any bigger, samething goes for Archer, Valentenko will be ready in 15 minute that without, Grabovski 23, Chipchura 22, Locke 24,Milroy 24, Danis lost almost all of his value dispite never having a loosing record throughout his career and will turn 25 any day now, besides Price where are all those great prospects everyones talking about, Great prospects don't make there entrance in NHL at 23 years of age, More like at 18,19 or 20 at the latest. Right now we only have 1 SPOT left for all the rookies in the system? Those are not the actual lines but just to show the extra junk we went and got  and the kids that could of have there spots.

    Kostop-Smolinski-  ?  Lahti/Kostitsyn/Locke/Milroy/Murray/Grabov/Chip/Ferland ect ect…..


      This off season we lost Dan Jancevski who was the Bulldogs best D last year, so why let go Jancevski and then sign River? Next we lost top foward prospect Juraj Mikus, who the Leafs drafted this year. Year after Year we sign Guys like Brisebois, who WE(Habs Fans) Bood out of Montreal!

  19. rojoke says:

    To be honest, I don't think what Koivu said caused an uproar amongst the fans so much as it did certain members of the media, some of whom have never held Koivu in high regard in the first place, and I think Gainey made a mistake in addressing the media about it.  Gainey up to this point has been doing the job without really placating the usual suspects in the press who like to see what they can drum up around the team, and Koivu's comment was a prime example.  I saw the quote on RDS, and what he said was pretty much dead on:  no one is picking this club as a Cup contender.  This is a playoff-calibre team on paper, and once you get to the playoffs, it's a whole different game.  If Bob and Guy wanted to know what he meant, they should have asked him in person (and no one knows if they didn't talk with him about it.)  But by speaking to the press about it, Gainey just gave back some of the power he's been trying to take from them since he was hired.  He's already gotten grief because he won't write a blank cheque for guys who evidently don't want to play there in the first place.

  20. boutch says:

    TO : Rabid_Badger

    Just to let you know that it wasn't P.J Stock who stone cold Richard Zednik in the playoff… it was Kyle McLaren who did it… Make sure of what you are talking about before blaming someone on a move that serious!
    P.J's not even tall enough to get to Zednik's neck!

  21. Rabid_Badger says:

    Thanks boutch, I'd hate to ruin Stock's rep since my opinion is so widely regarded.  I keep getting he and McKlaren mixed up since Stock was the one who took the stick to Donald Brashear's head.

  22. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    Take a deep breath, ferron.
    At not time was I comparing Lemieux to Koivu I was simply pointing out the fact that Koivu has been, until recently, on lines with players of average/below average skillset.  I also pointed out the fact that Koivu is really a #2 centreman on any other team but because we don't have a Thornton, Crosby or Lecavalier means that Koivu will have to do as our #1 centreman.
    Put another way, with quality wingers such as Ovechkin and Heatley you wouldn't be complaining about Koivu's points production.  The problem is those elite players aren't wearing le Bleu, Blanc Rouge, are they?  Don't crap on Saku for that minor detail.
    You're also pissed at the fact that we're not playing the kids enough.  Did it ever occur to you that, just maybe, they aren't ready to play a significant role on the big club?  Do you not think that the coaching staff is more qualified than we are in evaluating talent?  The fact that we're discussing this on a website and that Bob Gainey's sitting in the GM's office and Carbo's behind the bench leads me to believe that they are.  I'm not going to second-guess those guys as you're doing.
    Furthermore if you're implying that we should load up on rookies and let them play critical roles you'd better be ready to pick in the top 5 come the amateur draft in June because the Habs would be a bottom feeder, not the middle-of-the-pack team we currently are.
    So you're tired of watching Koivu, Kovalev, Brisebois et all, playing the powerplay?  Higgins and Pleks can't play the entire 2-minute man-advantage.  Who would you like Carbo to play once those guys are too tired to even skate back to the bench?  Begin, Lapierre and Latendresse, with Komo and Bouillon at the point?  I hate to tell you this but, we're not THAT skilled a team to turn up our nose at players like Koivu and Kovalev.
    And for your information, VERY few rookies get to play in the big show at the tender age of "18, 19 or 20" unless they're named Ovechkin, Crosby or Staal.  When you consistently pick 10th to 20th in the draft year after year, your talent pool will reflect that fact.  Your prospects may or may not pan out, but you'll likely need to follow them for 3-5 years to see if they're NHL material.
    Dan Jancesvki (who is from my hometown) is 26 years old and will likely never play more than the 2 games he did with Dallas.  He's a career AHLer.
    The fact that he was our best D-man in Hamilton does not make him an NHL defenseman – or, by your logic, he would have made it at age 18, 19 or 20.
    Anyhow, I just thought that I'd present the other side of the argument since we're both so passionate about our Habs.  We just don't agree about the state of our beloved team and how to get to #25.
    Peace out.

  23. jamiehepditch says:

    i couldnt agree more with the staement that you have made.. kiovu knows that last year was a dissapointment. a dissapointment not only to be blamed by the players but also by the g.m and the coaching staff. gainey knew it was gonna be tight at the end of the year to get into the playoff and they knew that they had problem with the goalie situation.. i mean come on abby was not the soulution to the problem.. gainey could have aqquired a top goalie for the duration of the joseph for example..joeseph was a bargain.. the canadians could have afforded to trade away a young goalie cause they certainly have loads of talent in that department. but instead they opted for halek, who did so -so but cant be blamed for this at all.. i mean u can’t expect to put a young goalie into the fire like that.. especially in montreal where the media can be sooooo unforgiven. there plenty of ways to trade samsonov last year.. they could have trade him for yanic perrault and maybe a young prospect like danni or even halek.. yanic would have fitted into the habs wonderfully could’ve got both players for a steal if gainey had to play his cards right.. and should have placed huet on the D.L for the remainder of the season which would also have freed up some cap space to bring in some guys.. i know it was a great opportunity to allow the young habs to shine… but i dont think this was the right time for it.. but i think that if the habs will tend to falter this year.. you can bet your bottom dollar that koivu won’t the the only guy on the block this year.. ryder will be one if they cant sign him to a long term contract.. kovelav will be another one.. he might be gone before the trade deadline

  24. rojoke says:

    If you're referring to that infamous night involving Brashear, that wasn't Stock either.  That was Marty McSorley.

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