All Habs Headlines: Plekanec, Kaberle, Bulldogs, Therrien, Gorges, NHL’s Broken

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All Habs Headlines: Thursday January 17, 2013

On this day in hockey history… In 2003, the Canadiens fired head coach Michel Therrien, replacing him with Claude Julien.

ALL HABS HEADLINES

 Day 4 at Camp: For the first time since camp has opened, Tomas Plekanec skated on the same ice surface as his teammates yesterday, practicing at his expected spot in the lineup – the one Lars Eller had been keeping warm for him – between Alex Galchenyuk and Brian Gionta.  Eller, then, falls to the spot Brandon Prust had been practicing in, allowing Prust to return to his more comfortable winger role.  The lines likely reflect what we’ll see Saturday, including a defense that is still missing P.K. Subban:

Plekanec201301161336489775743-p2
(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

Pacioretty – Desharnais – Cole
Galchenyuk – Plekanec – Gionta
Moen – Eller – Bourque
Prust – White – Armstrong

(Dumont – Gallagher)

Markov – Emelin
Gorges – Kaberle
Bouillon – Diaz

(Tinordi – Weber
Commodore)

Also skating for the first time yesterday were the five additional players called up for tonight’s scrimmage, though they practiced on a separate sheet of ice from the main group.  Despite this, if we take him at his word, coach Michel Therrien indicated that anyone at camp – including those players – has a chance to earn a starting job with the squad.  Also arrived in Brossard was Aaron Palushaj, though he continues to rehab from an early-season injury and will likely spend time back with the ‘Dogs prior to having a shot at returning to Montreal.

Read more: Good Plekanec News, Bad Subban News

► Depleted ‘Dogs Drop Two DecisionsIt may not be fair to refer to the visiting team hosted by the AHL’s Abbottsford Heat the past 2 nights as the Hamilton Bulldogs.  The club has been on a bumpy road already this season, losing stars Aaron Palushaj and Blake Geoffrion to injuries along the way, but this week has been particularly difficult with the departures of nine additional players (Gabriel DumontBrendan GallagherJarred TinordiMike Commodore, Louis LeblancFrederic St. DenisMichael BournivalPatrick Holland, and Mike Blunden) to the Montreal Canadiens training camp.  Thus, it isn’t surprising the club ended up on the wrong side of 3-1 and 2-1 decisions yesterday and the night before, but the fact that the team remained in both games for most of the nights might be.

What kept the Bulldogs alive were stellar outings by goaltender Cedric Desjardins.  In game 1 of the back-to-back, Hamilton was outshot 36-15, with Desjardins making 13 first-period saves yet finding his troops down 1-0 after 20 minutes all the same, having mustered only 3 shots on net.  Yet midway through the second, tryout Tyler Murovich – making his Bulldogs debut – found the back of the net on a powerplay to even the score.  It wouldn’t last long, though, as the also depleted Heat regained the lead just 12 seconds later and were able to contain the non-threatening Hamilton offense the rest of the night.

Hamilton battled even harder in the second game, following a storyline one might compare to the 2000 Keanu Reeves flic The Replacements.  There may not be a “tomorrow” in the AHL for some of the players signed to tryouts as most of the called up ‘Dogs should return to Hamilton following tonight’s intrasquad game in Montreal.  But the makeshift team battled even with Abbotsford, leading on the shot clock 29-28 and forcing the game to a deciding shootout thanks to a third period Philippe Lefebvre marker set up by Alexander Avtsin.  Following an unorthodox approach, coach Sylvain Lefebvre included two defensemen in his first 5 shooters, and it paid off with both Nathan Beaulieu and Mark Isherwood scoring, but it was still not enough, as Desjardins allowed 3 goals on 6 shots giving the Heat the win.

The Bulldogs next play back home at Copps Coliseum Saturday night.  While the Canadiens will be taking on the Leafs in Montreal, the two squads’ AHL affiliates will also be doing battle as Hamilton hosts the Toronto Marlies.

Read more: Heat Beat Bulldogs 3-1, Heat Burn Bulldogs 2-1 in a Shootout

A Tale of Two Tomas’es: Panic and confusion reigned yesterday when for a few hours, it seemed much-maligned blueliner Tomas Kaberle had worked himself into Michel Therrien‘s very good books.  “Tomas will play around 20 minutes a game, both on the powerplay and penalty kill,” the coach proclaimed.

The story was picked up and spread rapidly, with many fans scoffing at the thought of Kaberle’s poor defensive zone coverage eating away at the team’s generally efficient penalty kill percentage.  It was surprisingly only much later in the day that clarification was received.  It seems that even though the coach should have been speaking about Kaberle based on the context of the conversation, his answer was in reference to how he plans to use Tomas Plekanec, a player much more fitting of the responsibilities

Read more: Kaberle, Diaz Fill in for Subban at Canadiens’ Camp

► Warriors Lead: Josh Gorges has always been a leader on the ice and in the dressing room for the Montreal Canadiens.  At training camp this week, Gorges has been noticeably active as a mentor to his younger defensive teammates. On Wednesday Gorges spent a considerable amount of time advising Raphael Diaz about his positioning.  When Diaz clearly wasn’t getting it, Gorges escorted the young Swiss d-man to the dry erase board mounted on the arena glass where he diagrammed his point.

Read more:

It’s Broke, and They Didn’t Fix it: We’ve made the point for a long time that the business model advocated by Gary Bettman and adopted by the NHL isn’t working.  It is a fact that is masked by the passion and loyalty to hockey by fans in Canada. Labor negotiations are often one opportunity for the model to be fixed — sadly the antiquated union tactics used by NHLPA chief Donald Fehr, and the selfish focus of the NHL’s Gary Bettman did nothing to address the issue.

Researchers from the Conference Board of Canada have released a paper supporting our point. The NHL is driven, more than any other league, by ticket revenue.  That’s fine in traditional hockey markets, like Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit and most of the Canadian NHL cities but leads to disaster for Phoenix, Dallas, Columbus, Florida and Nashville.

Not only did the lockout not solve the problems experienced by non-traditional hockey markets, it exacerbated them.

“Going forward, there is little doubt that the NHL hurt its brand with consumers of hockey by locking out the players for four months. In northern NHL markets where passion for hockey burns bright, we fully expect the fans to come back, despite the grumbling. But in southern markets with little wide-spread passion for hockey and lots of choices for sports consumers, we do not expect a bounce-back in the attendance numbers any time soon—in places like Nashville, Florida, Dallas and Phoenix. If anything, the lockout probably made the situation worse!”

Read the rest of the report here: The Lockout May Be Over, but the NHL’s Business Model Is Still Broken

 

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