The Montreal Canadiens didn’t live up to expectations last season and much of the blame is being put on team management and coaching. Despite this, for some inexplicable reason, there haven’t been any major changes to the Habs’ brass over the summer (other than the Muller hiring). The team coined the phrase “No Excuses” a few years back but removed their motto from the dressing room wall following a season that put that saying to shame. Habs fans are tired of hearing excuses, and it’s time for the team coaching and management to step up and lead their group to some form of success in 2016-17.
Whether Therrien and Bergevin want to admit it or not, all that was proven last season was that the Habs are nothing without Carey Price. The star goaltender has carried the team for the bulk of the last few years, and this became all the more evident when he missed the vast majority of last season. It was almost as if when Price got hurt, the team (led by the coaching staff and management) threw their arms up and said: “well, there’s always next year.”
— Stu Cowan (@StuCowan1) August 24, 2016
Another issue that was evident to any Habs follower over the last few years was that the team needed help offensively. If the excuse wasn’t Price, then the team used the old “we’re good, we just need another scorer” excuse. It seemed that they needed that one extra piece to push them over the line of mediocrity into the realm of contending for the Cup. To give credit where credit is due, GM Bergevin addressed this issue this offseason as he signed Russian forward, Alex Radulov. Radulov was brought in to contribute as a top-six offensive threat that can give the Habs the scoring depth that they’ve missed for some time.
So Now What…?
Well, with a healthy Price and a new top-six forward, is there anything left to make excuses about? Sure, having another top-six forward would be nice, and sure, having someone to step in and take some minutes from the aging Andrei Markov (cough cough, Nathan Beaulieu) would be nice, but the team this year is better than the team last year.
On top of all of this, the culture in the locker room has shifted greatly over the summer, as the biggest, loudest personality on the team was shipped off to Nashville and the hiring of an assistant coach who will hopefully be impactful in working with special teams. Taking all of this into consideration, Habs fans should be expecting a better result at the end of this coming season.
The fact is, a professional sports team shouldn’t need to have the words “No Excuses” in bold on their wall, since this should be a given. Part of working in professional sports is being able to take accountability when you mess up. This goes for all members within an organization, whether it’s a player, coach, or manager. Luckily for the Habs’ organization, this season presents an opportunity for redemption.
There isn’t any time for excuses for Therrien and Bergevin, as the team now has their star goalie back and a scorer that should contribute to 5-on-5 offence as well as the power-play. Therrien and Bergevin have had their chance to change things, and now having two key pieces that were missing last year, it’s time to see some results. If the two can’t succeed now, Habs fans had better hope for some changes. For now, though, fans should cross their fingers and pray for a healthy 2016-17 season for their club.
The Habs could be a team that surprises many this coming season since there has been such a shift in team direction. Plus, adding the best player in the world to your lineup will surely help.
I’m a Montreal Canadiens columnist and lifelong Habs fan. Follow me on Twitter (@gregkatz19) for all kinds of hockey talk, and to be up to date on my newest articles. I previously wrote for Too Many Men on the Site, a part of Fansided NHL.