It has been since 2012-2013 that I have decided to give up my passion for following the NHL and in particular my passion and following of the Montreal Canadiens, my beloved Habs.
Has it been difficult, sure I miss it, I miss watching the Toronto Maple Leafs impress early on in the season and then almost on que- the mid point of the season occurs, and the Leafs fall through the standings as if it was autumn all over again! I miss the Hartford Whalers (sorry Kirk I don’t!). Yeah I miss the banter between fans of the different teams, it’s as if we know so much more about the sport than the next guy, when in fact all we are, are observers of the game. Our support for one particular team doesn’t make them win or lose (no matter what we may tell ourselves).
So why am I writing about players of a sport I no longer follow as a diehard- it’s simple– while growing up in Eastern Canada, hockey, the NHL, collecting hockey cards (shameless plug here- my cousin Ken Reid, co-anchor on Rogers Sportsnet wrote a great book on hockey cards- Hockey Card Stories– check it out!), & playing road hockey after school, it was part of who I was and helped shape who I am today. I still love the sport, just not to the degree I once did, & I still love playing ball hockey, just not as competitive as at one time.
So, to the topic at hand, Love them or Hate them, Les Habs and my ode to the players I grew up loving to watch on Hockey Night In Canada up to some of the present day Habs:
Stephane Richer– Number 44, had one of the best slapshots of the day. He scored 50 goals twice and over 400 in his NHL career. I often emulated number 44 whenever we were playing ball-hockey, somehow thinking that maybe I could blast a shot just like Richer, well I guess not, but it was always fun trying!
Mats Naslund– Number 26 and one of the best Swedish hockey players to ever play in the NHL. Small in stature but huge in heart, leadership, and consistency.
Guy Carbonneau– Number 21 and one of the best defensive forwards-ever! I always enjoyed watching Carbonneau chase the defense of the opposing team behind their own net to regroup, he was a great Captain!
Patrick Roy– Number 33, one of the most animated goalies of the day. 3 time Vezina and Conn Smythe winner. “La” Roy became one of the best goalies to ever dawn the Habs jersey, although I believe there is a particular Price who is making a name for himself as possibly one of the best of all-time!
Russ Courtnall– Number 6 and fast as lightning, “Rusty” Courtnall could hit another gear as he went down the wing, his speed was fascinating to watch.
Chris Chelios– Number 24, An American born player that fit right into the Canadiens organization of producing solid defense men. He donned the ‘C’ for the Habs and has played in over 1600 games in the NHL- a true work horse and one tough player.
Shayne Corson– Number 27, had a couple of stints in Montreal during his career. Corson, was tough, he was a grinder, a leader and the backbone of the Habs during the 80’s and late 90’s.
Saku Koivu– Number 11, in my opinion, is one of the greatest examples of what a captain should be. Saku was the heart, soul, and breath of the Habs. He is the true definition of what it means to be an overcomer. As far as Captains in the NHL go, Koivu ranks up there with the Messier’s, Gretzky’s, Yzerman’s and Lemieux’s!
Carey Price– Number 31 is still young in his NHL career, Price has become a household name thanks to his stellar play during the 2014 Sochi Olympics where he helped Canada win the beloved Gold. His amazing play during the 2014-15 season awarded him 4 trophies including the Hart (MVP) and Vezina. What makes Price special though is his support of the First Nations kids in the community he grew up in- Anahim Lake, BC.
In keeping with Tradition,
Go Habs Go!!