Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Anniversary


Well, folks, it's been five whole years and nearly 1000 posts since this blog first saw the light of day. The H Does Not Stand For Habs, aka Habsloyalist, was born in February, 2008. A lot happened that month, and a lot has changed since then. Back then, Michael Ryder was in the pressbox nearly every night, soon to be let go to join the Bruins. NHL teams were lining up to vie for the services of Peter Forsberg. Mathieu Dandenault was playing on the first line for the Habs. Brian Burke was the GM of the reining Stanley Cup champion Ducks. Ryan O'Byrne and Tom Kostopoulos stole a purse. The Habs were down 5-0 and came back to win against the Rangers. Carey Price got his first NHL shutout. Cristobal Huet got traded. And Bob Gainey missed out on the bidding war for Marian Hossa.

Then again, some things look just the same five years later. Josh Gorges, Andrei Markov and Francis Bouillon still patrol the Habs blue line, even if their roles and responsibilities have changed. Carey Price is still in goal, and Tomas Plekanec and Michael Ryder (as of Tuesday) remain in the lineup. The Canadiens were first in the Eastern Conference and the Ducks were a powerhouse in the West.

Overall, though, looking back reminds us that five years are, in the lifespan of a hockey team, a generation. The Habs' second-longest reigning captain was let walk way from the team that drafted him, stood by him through injuries and cancer, and let him struggle valiantly as the number-one centre without real wingers for 13 years. The team was sold by George Gillett and purchased, once again, by the Molson family. Bob Gainey gave way to his buddy, Pierre Gauthier, who then was turfed in favour of Marc Bergevin. Five men...Guy Carbonneau, Bob Gainey, Jacques Martin, Randy Cunneyworth and Michel Therrien...have stood behind the bench. The Habs won the East and they finished last in the East. They beat the Bruins in Game Seven in the playoffs, and they lost to the Bruins in Game Seven. Scott Gomez was a blockbuster acquisition and an ignominious buyout. Georges Laraque came to protect the skill players and got bought out for adhering too closely to his antiquated Code. Mike Komisarek was let stand with the coaches and was touted as the next captain, then bolted to Toronto for a little bit more money than the Habs offered. The Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks, Bruins and Kings have won the Cup, while the Habs won three playoff rounds. The power play has been first in the league, and last.

I was thinking about a way to mark five years of this Habs-dedicated space. I thought of posting a top-ten list, perhaps of my favourite posts (Kovalev speaking to God, the concussion study and some of the interviews with guys like Mats Naslund, Mike McPhee and Guy Carbonneau came to mind), but that seemed too self-serving. Then I thought of writing a blog about all the things Habs fans have obsessed about over the years, that don't matter anymore (Kovalev, Carbonneau, the PP, Martin, Gauthier, Price vs.Halak...etc., etc.) but that felt a bit too negative.

Therefore, I've decided to celebrate with you, the readers. I'd love for you to drop me a note to tell me what the most outstanding Habs-related moment has been for you in the last five years. Was it the 5-0 Rangers comeback game? The Centennial? The firing of Gauthier? The 2010 playoffs? Maybe you had a personal experience and met a Habs player, saw a special game at the Bell Centre or felt moved by someone connected with the organization. Whatever your special Habs moment might be, share it and I'll throw all the names into a hat and draw for a Habs-related prize. After all, if you weren't reading, I probably would have closed this space before now. So, thanks for reading here in the last five years, and for all the welcome feedback you've provided. It's been a lot of fun to be here.

24 comments:

habfan10912 said...

The upsets of the Pens and Caps are near the top but for me its the comeback game against the Rangers after being behind 5-0. The Bell Centre roof was shaking.
Congrats on your 5 years.

Ian said...

Congratulations on your five glorious years, Leigh Anne. I came across your blog a couple of years ago, and it is now my first must-read blog every day on the Habs.

I have been a fan going back to the 60's when the Habs won five Cups in a row. I have been lucky enough in the old days to see games in the Forum, flying down from Thunder Bay, Ontario to do so. I recall my buddy and I insisting on wearing suits to our 1st ever game, in deference to the image of the Forum. We sat four rows right behind the Habs bench and could walk behind the players' bench to grab a beverage during the game, actually touching the backs of the players (imagine that!).

Obviously, so many great memories for a great franchise. I especially love that we have won 10 Cups since the Laffs last won in '67.

A recent highlight for me, other than the tremendous start this shortened season, was a game last year in Montreal against the Ottawa Senators. Four of us drove down for the weekend from St. Catharines to see the game.

Eric Cole scored a hat trick in the first five minutes and we went on to win 5-1. It made for a nice eight hour drive home the next day. One of the few highlights of a train-wreck season.

I love your passion, and your journalism skills are evident in every post you do. Thank you so much for entertaining us for the past five years.

Here's hoping to many more years ahead...Ian.

JoshSS said...

Has to be the Caps and Pens playoff run

Peter said...

First off, thank you Leigh Anne for all your writings. Your wit, incite, and passion is evident in each paragraph.


As for moments?

I have to say the Habs playoff run in 2009-2010.

That being said, Ryan O'Byrne's own goal in the 2008 Islanders game might be my high-comedy moment. He always seemed to be involved in some embarrassing or tragic Habs moment (you already stated the purse incident).

LAD said...

Yhe Habs beating back to back Pens then Caps. This was huge excitment fot all I am sure.
My first time on your blog. Respect!

Harry said...

I have lots of memories over the years,one of them being Saku's comeback,I was so happy for him and us as fans and then they ruined it and let him go.I will never forgive them for that,the only way to make it somewhat bearable would be to have him back before he retires.
Thanks for not quitting your blog as you contemplated one other time,I really enjoy it.
Lets hope we are here at the end of the next five years !!
Harry

Coach K said...

Leigh Anne,

I'd have to say that my favourite Habs related moments had nothing to do with the Canadiens' on-ice exploits. It was instead, stumbling across Mike Boone's fledgling Habs/Hockey Inside Out page which led me to the discovery of your blog. Both have become daily "must reads" for me and my hockey crazy 15 year old son. I for one, appreciate the in-depth analysis that both provide particularly when contrasted with the bland (but required) material posted in the general media.

Your reasoned arguments and shrewd hockey insight have helped shepherd us though the all-too-many lows of the last 5 years as have your imagination and wit.

The added bonus of being able to interact and provide additional comment has proven therapeutic; giving us a chance to vent and of course to celebrate when things do go well for our team.

Thank you for your efforts. Looking forward to the next 5 years!!

Kyle Roussel said...

Congrats on all that you've done in five years. Your blog remains the one of only two Habs blogs that that I keep in my RSS feed...I read 'em all!

My big Habs moment over the past 5 years has to be game 7 of Pens-Habs in 2010. I was at the Bell Center as they showed the game on the scoreboard. It was a surreal experience!

A close second has to be the house cleaning of 2012. Seeing Martin and Gauthier walk the plank was a soothing balm on an open sore. The two most ill-suited men to run this team finally getting the boot was like a refreshing blast of clean air in a stale house.

Here's to another five years, or however long you decide to keep it going.

FarAwayMax said...

Ryder scored 2 goals in that comeback.

But my favorite thing is by far the 2010 playoff run. I still watch the 10-minute highlight reels on YouTube once in a while!

moeman said...

Congrats J. T.

For me it is also the playoff wins and also PKs playoff goal vs. the broons

Steve said...

The Halak run, drafting Gallychuck, Eller 4 goal game.

Unknown said...

Going to Florida last year to see my first habs games. They lost, but it was amazing to see a home town crowd in Florida.

Josh Semrow said...

Congratulations on 5 years. I first started watching hockey during the 2008-09 season, so I'm about the same age as this blog. You were a big help in my attempt to get into the game because your posts often went over aspects of the game that I had yet to learn (especially when you used to do live updates during games).

My favorite moment was Plekanec's overtime goal against Washington in game one of the 2010 playoffs. That game, series, and playoff run really cemented my belief that I was a Habs (and hockey) fan for good.

Another fun moment was drafting Galchenyuk and finding out that he's from Milwaukee, where I'm from. I recently moved to Michigan right across a bridge from Sarnia, so I was hoping to be able to see him play there, but it seems like it's a good thing I didn't have that chance. Hopefully some day I'll be able to get to the Bell Centre for a game (or at least catch them in Detroit).

HabsinOttawa said...

It has to be the Halak playoff run, specifically right after we beat Washington. Everyone was saying "Washington in 3", but we showed them that even a power house can lose. It was an amazing feeling.

The Spirit of Cook said...

Congrats on a fantastic 5 years. I look forward to many more years of reading your insightful and entertaining blog!

My favorite "moment" in the last 5 years is the amazing playoff run a few years ago. That's kind of cheating since it really was a series of moment but it really was a magical time.

If I did have to pick one single moment, it likely was the Subban destruction of Marchand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Rpk0JlVZ4I)

Deniz Bevan said...

I couldn't choose one for myself, so I asked the two Habs fans closest to me. One of their first responses was "the playoff run with Halak, of course!"

hfotwc said...

We traveled from Vancouver Island to Vancouver last year to see the Habs play the Canucks. The trip became surreal first when we arrived at the Ferry terminal in the afternoon where hundreds of Montreal fans (of couse in team colors) have already started the party. From that point on on the trip, high fives and cheers were exchanged. Prior to the game, there were so many red jerseys downtown Vancouver that it made you wonder where you really were. It didn't take long at Rogers Place that we the fan took over the arena, being way louder than the very subdued Canucks fan. To me, it's the passion of the fan, and the attachment to our team.

Congrats on your 5 years and sharing your passion.

Hadulf said...

Happy Anniversary, JT. Keep up the good work! ;)

For me, the 2010 playoff run is at the top of my list. Second is that centennial game where Camalleri scored his hat trick. Plus the fact that we 'easily' won that game against the Bruins to top it off. Was a great game it was! That's one game where I can say I wish I was there!

rj tremblay said...

congratulations on 5 successful years. and here's to the next 5. onward and upward.

certainly a lot has happened in that time, the Halak playoff run, the Ranger comeback, Cole's hatty, PK's arrival and emergence.

for me, it's the arrival of this year's team on so many fronts. veterans coming back from injury: Markov, Gio, Wolverine; youthful contributions: Eller, Gally, Chuckie; and the general development of a deep and balanced team playing offensively minded possession-based hockey. a great goalie, defensive depth, a quaity 4th line and a very balanced and talented top 9. a team currently 1st in the east with cap room on the way in the off season.

that is a seriously positive position to be in at the outset of 5 more years. good seasons lie ahead for this organization. and i for one, can't wait.

Hansolo said...

Leigh-Anne:

Congratulations on your 5-year anniversary. Props to you for writing away persistently and eloquently, and most important,all the while consistently keeping up a very high standard. I imagine that is very hard to do. So many other hockey blogs have died a natural death (Four Habs Fans comes to mind)or have gone commercial, not that there is anything wrong with that. But you have explicitly stated your blog will not be. In your case, the blog is truly a labor of love -- and it shows. I love visiting the blog. I hope I can say this without coming across as creepy. I treasure the words on the page. I often want to run my fingers across them because they often seem like they're alive and want to jump up from the page.

There haven't been too many high points for me in the past 5 years in regards to on-ice performace. (I've followed the Habs since Ken Dryden was called up). The first place finish in 2008 and the trip to the ECF in 2010 have to rank up there. But mostly, it's been seeing young players develop: Subban, Pacioretty and now the twp Gallys. The exuberance of young players is what's exciting for me to watch. I don't yearn for the good ol' days -- whenever I catch myself being wistful about the old-time Habs teams, all I have to do is look at Mario Tremblay or Don Cherry and I then snap out of ir.

Thanks so much for what you do.

J.T. said...

Wow! Thank you all so much for your wonderfully kind comments! There have been times when the team sucked and during the lockout when I thought about closing up shop. I'm glad the Habs are making it fun to write about hockey again. I agree the excellent playoff run in 2010 was a real highlight of the last five years (even if I had to hide my head under the pillow during the third period in Game Seven against Washington.) A personal favourite moment, even though a small thing in the great scheme of things, was the 3-on-5 shortie my boy Plekanec scored against the leafs last season.

The winner of the Habs prize is...The Spirit of Cook! Congrats, and thanks for reading. If you could drop me an email at habsloyalist@gmail.com, I'll get your address and send it off to you.

Go Habs Go!

DRA HAB said...

My impression is you would like our thoughts on the Habs during your tenure writing. Well I have many fond memories starting with the way they celebrated their 100th anniversary and the roll call of every Hab who ever donned the blue blanc et rouge for even a game. I also like whenever we beat the bruins. I am also fondly remembering when Eric Cole high fived the linesman after a goal last year. My favorite moment was seeing Max Pac come back from a terrible hit (I was there and thought he may have passed) to play at such a high level again. It reminded me of the time Saku came back from cancer or super Mario as well. Great players transcend time and difficult circumstances.

zaskar said...

Love reading your posts and would like to thank you for the great effort. Please keep writing.

The comments you posted on each period of each game (and that were re-posted by M. Boone) were absolutely hilarious! They usually had me in stitches and I certainly miss them.

Two other fun and exciting moments were Eric Cole high fiving the ref after scoring and watching Subban score the tying goal in game seven vs. the Bruins. My wife and 3 sons were all going crazy with me!

Cheers,
Peter

KmaXXX said...

The highlight for me in the past 5 years has been actually finding a way to follow the Habs from over here in the UK. I grew up in Quebec in the late 60's and 70's and went to the Forum many times. When I moved to the UK I lost track of the Habs for a lot of years, mainly because it was almost impossible to get consistant, up to date news about them. So I missed the lean years after the Cup win in '93, but, about 5 years ago or so, the internet improved, bandwith increased and suddenly I could stream games live and read blogs. And the blogs were (for the most part) really good. Your blog, Leigh Ann, is one of the best! And like many here, I read it regularly. Thank you for the years of great insight, commentary and entertainment you have provided. Long may you continue. Go Habs Go!!