No the Canadiens didn't win the Stanley Cup, but considering their team has been on the links for weeks, this has been a pretty good week for Habs fans.
Thanks to the fragile Leafs, the unimaginative Rangers and the hapless Penguins, Habs fans were forced to deal with the Boston Bruins in another Stanley Cup final. Minutes away from the prospect of a game where lucky bounces could send uber-hypocrite Claude Julien and his band of rule benders to a championship, the Chicago Blackhwaks finally recognized that the seeming fortress had cracks to exploit.
How sweet it was in the end that the most exploited weakness was none other than the thuggish and over-praised Milan Lucic. His goal had placed the Bruins in their position of choice, but it was him being deked by Patrick Kane and he who proceeded to watch two Blackhawks make way past his hulking frame into prime position for an eventual tying goal. The icing on the cake was his half-hearted defending that led to the break on the Cup winner seconds later as he stood and watched, no doubt readying his excuses for after his "Not time to offer excuses" tripe. It was, I should mention after a faceoff win for Boston as if the overplay of that statistic needed any more debunking.
As true Habs fans know, distaste for the Bruins and everything they stand for is second nature. Lucic is the embodiment of everything they stand for. Truly satisfying to see them crumble.
And taking heart from another's defeat? Well, it's what we do as sports fans, so I have no problem projecting my excitement onto proxies like the Hawks.
In other news, there have been buyouts announced this week. The Canadiens confirmed the worst kept secret in the world by announcing Tomas Kaberle would be bought of a contract. It's good news as it frees up cash. We still feel Kaberle deserves much credit for sitting through it all as he did.
Bryzgalov was confirmed too as a buyout target. This is good news for anyone that dislikes the Flyers (i.e., everyone but Flyers fans), as it leads to more than a few chuckles as we await to see how they'll get rid of Steve Mason after he loses first fiddle to Brian Boucher or Robert Esche or something. Bryzgalov was not the problem, and it's a comfort that the Flyers continue to neglect the reason for their string of poor goaltending. Daniel Briere too will be made a UFA by payment. He'd be getting that whole contract if he had opted for Montreal in 2007.
Finally, yesterday, it was announced that Vincent Lecavalier would be bought out too. This is good news for Montreal fans, as it provides something to talk about and care about as UFA season opens. I don't confess to a Lecavalier fetish as big as most of the Montreal media seem to have unleashed recently. However, I can see that he presents an option that is worth exploring at the appropriate price. I don't really expect Vince to go for an appropriate price, however. He will, after all, be trying to recoup some of his lost bounty.
The 2013 draft is upon us and the Habs are in a good and rather enviable position after 24 picks are taken. Of the 64 picks from 25 to 88, the Canadiens will be selecting 6 times, the 58 remaining picks split between 29 teams.
While I would be lying if I pretended that having 6 picks in this second wave of the draft is the best scenario. next to having one of the top 5 this year, it is certainly the next best thing.
The Canadiens have proven themselves to be particularly astute at finding NHLers that others have passed over, and so the value of the numerous picks is enhanced by the proficient amateur scouting.
My personal feeling going into the draft is cautious expectation. I have been disappointed before (picks traded for defensive defencemen), but we are coming off a year in which I was left very impressed at the haul.
Since Timmins has arrived, it has been the drafts with more picks that have yielded the most success. Perhaps in these years, he can answer to the many demands of the Montreal scouting needs and still play his real hunches. As our selectors enter the final decision-making period, I would hope they stick with the strong strategy of using multiple picks to turf out that single gem to come later. It was a strategy that provided us a Norris trophy winner.
All in all a good week for Habs fans. Enjoy the draft and the Lecavalier talk for the next while.