In this week’s Montreal Canadiens News & Rumors rundown, we’ll break down the final week of Montreal’s season. Canadiens fans will tearfully say their goodbyes to a legend of the game this week as Guy Lafleur will lay in State. Carey Price will have to find out if he can continue playing at a level he finds appropriate, but he may have played his last game in the NHL. Jeff Petry may be another member of the team that could have played his last game as a Montreal Canadiens. Interim head coach Martin St. Louis will be in search of a new contract and general manager Kent Hughes has two months to set the team up for an entertaining two days at the NHL Entry Draft.
Saying Goodbye to Guy Lafleur
Canadiens legend, Officer of the Order of Canada, Hockey Hall of Famer, helicopter pilot, and former Honorary Colonel of 3 Wing Bagotville, Guy Lafleur, passed away last week.
His life touched all Canadiens fans old and young. Fans have spent the week sharing their personal stories of him, and having so many that have spent time with him demonstrates the type of person he was: kind and giving. In his passing, his legend will be carried on in the hearts and minds of everyone associated with the Montreal Canadiens.
The Government of Quebec will be honoring Lafleur with a State Funeral. The memorial services will be hosted by the Canadiens at the Bell Center.
“This national funeral in tribute to the memory of Mr. Guy Lafleur bears witness to all the admiration and love that Quebecers have for him. He marked our history and our national culture forever. We will pay him a well-deserved tribute for the great man he was.”–Quebec Premier François Legault
He will lie in repose at the Bell Centre for two days. Fans wishing to pay a final tribute can visit the Bell Centre on Sunday, May 1 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET, or Monday, May 2 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Lafleur’s funeral will be held at Marie-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral in Montreal on Tuesday, 3 May at 11 am ET.
Losing a legend always impacts the fans, but to his friends and family, he was loved, and to them, I, and the entire THW family, extend our deepest condolences.
Coaching Takes Priority
When St. Louis joined the Canadiens as the interim head coach, the discussion was about his lack of experience in that position. Since then, he has earned a 14-19-4 record in 37 games behind the bench. In that short time, he has taken a team that was at the bottom of every statistical category, and over the 37 games, has improved them to becoming a mid-level performing team, all with a roster missing some key players that were traded away at the trade deadline.
According to Eric Engels from Sportsnet, there are no more coy or avoiding answers from St. Louis in regards to his desire to remain in Montreal.
As for Canadiens management, they too are open about their desire to retain his services.
It is now just a matter of meeting and signing a contract. The only question is will it be a two-year or three-year deal. Either way, it is likely to be the first order of business for general manager Kent Hughes to complete this offseason.
The Carey Price Question
Carey Price returned to the Canadiens’ crease for the final game of the season. Price may have played his last game in a Habs uniform. This may have made fans believe he was back and able to return to normal training in preparation for next season. However, there are still serious questions to be answered.
On Price’s health, he still has swelling in his knee, preventing him from doing movements without pain. In his end-of-season press conference, he candidly answered all questions leveled at him.
“I’m still getting a lot of swelling on my knee, I don’t think I can play a full season with that, it isn’t sustainable…another surgery is on the table.”-Carey Price
He was also asked if that may have been his last NHL game, which is something that he has thought about as he told John Lu of TSN that he prepared for the game as if it were his last.
Price seems at peace with whatever path he must take, in answering if the game against the Florida Panthers is his last NHL game he said, “Yep. The whole day was an exceptional day. If it is, that would be a great way to do it.” Fans are hoping he recovers and can return, and will want to stay with the Canadiens. But the uncertainty and questions surrounding Price from last summer remain. Will he stay, will he go, was this the last time we’ve seen him in an NHL uniform? Either way, the team’s winningest goaltender has secured himself a place in Canadiens lore.
No, Thank You to the World Championships
It is now official, Cole Caufield and Nick Suzuki will not be joining their national teams to participate in the World Championships
Suzuki declined Team Canada’s invitation and will focus on his recovery from a back injury. For Caufield, his focus will be on recovery and offseason training in preparation for the next season. He is coming off of a rookie season that saw him score 23 goals, but 22 of those goals came in the last 37 games. His focus is on being able to score consistently, which should please Habs fans as he is an exciting player to watch when he is at his best.
Brendan Gallagher has also declined Team Canada’s invitation due to injuries.
It comes as no surprise that many Canadiens are dealing with injuries. After such a long and painful season, it is probably for the best that they all return home, recover and train for next season because more will be expected from them, not just by the fans, but also by their desire to perform at their best.
Will Petry Stay?
The question being asked of Jeff Petry is if he still desires a trade out of Montreal. In his end-of-season press conference, he addressed this topic. When asked the reason as to why he would want to leave, he cited his family situation, and anyone who has a family can understand that they always take priority.
When asked if he were to stay, would he be willing to play on a rebuilding team, he stated:
“There’s a lot of very good pieces in this organization and there are a lot of good pieces coming up. It’s not a process that’s not going to take 7-8 years.”-Jeff Petry
Regardless of if he stays in Montreal or if he is traded, Hughes has repeatedly said that it isn’t something that will occur without there being a deal that would be a fit for both the Canadiens and Petry. After rediscovering his game and starting to produce offense again, 21 points in the last 31 games, it should make it easier to find a suiter if Hughes does trade Petry.
The Next Captain
With Hughes’ declaration that the Canadiens will have a new captain next season, this summer will have another storyline for fans to follow: who will wear the “C” next season?
There will be a handful of candidates to choose from — Joel Edmundson, Gallagher, and Suzuki. When asked, Chris Wideman believes it will be Suzuki.
Suzuki signed an eight-year, $63 million contract to make him the team’s highest-paid forward starting next season. He also led the team in points and skated in his first NHL All-Star Game this past season. Currently, Suzuki is in an alternate captain role, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 22-year-old pivot be named captain before the 2022-23 season training camp.
With the end of the 2021-22 regular season, news about the Canadiens is still occurring — oh, and the NHL playoffs are still a thing if you’re into that. Keep an eye on our THW Podcast Network for all your hockey needs, as well as THW’s affiliated podcast Habs Unfiltered for the latest Canadiens news, notes, and rumors.
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Blain is a regular contributor as a THW Writer. For over 7 years he has been a part time journalist and podcaster covering the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and its affiliates. He has made appearances on various television and radio stations as well as podcasts to discuss the Canadiens, and the NHL. Blain has taken the lessons on integrity, ethics, values and honesty that he has learned as a 29 year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces and applied them to his work as a journalist with the goal to be a trusted source of information and entertainment.