All Habs Mailbag: Bozon, Collberg, Habs’ Needs, Lockout, Fighting


By Robert Rice, Senior Writer, All Habs Hockey Magazine

TORONTO, ON — The All Habs Mailbag is as popular as ever! This is the place to send in your questions about all things Montreal Canadiens.

Then check every Thursday to read the answers to the most popular or poignant questions about the Habs. Keep in mind that we will discuss the entire Canadiens organization so questions about prospects and roster players are equally welcome!

Submissions can be mailed directly to [email protected]

Three Guidelines for Submissions:

  • This is not for hate mail or complaints. If you have an issue with what you read on these pages, this is not the place to bring it up. The mailbag is for questions about the Montreal Canadiens organization and the NHL.
  • As long-time readers of All Habs know, we do not publish rumours.  Therefore I will not engage in discussion of the validity of rumours — frankly I consider them a waste of time anyway.  For every rumour that was close to accurate, there have been about a thousand duds.
  • Nothing of essay-length please. There will be other people who will have questions and it is a bit unfair if I have to dedicate the Mailbag to answering one very large question or someone who’s asking five questions at once.
So, let’s open the All Habs mailbag!



What is the most glaring need on Montreal?

To put it very simply, goal scorers. Montreal can credit itself with only two players on their roster who put up 30 goals last season (Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole) and this was the first time this century that the team had accomplished the feat of having two 30-goal scorers. With the remaining 20+ capable goal scorers essentially being Tomas Plekanec, Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta, we will see a serious issue if even one man is injured for any significant length of time. While the development system has some appreciable promise in Louis Leblanc and Brendan Gallagher, they are far from being proven as quality NHL scoring forwards.

One can look further down the road at Alex Galchenyuk, Sebastian Collberg and Tim Bozon as well, but it should be kept in mind that while Galchenyuk may be close, Collberg and Bozon are likely at least three years away. At present, Montreal needs all it’s scorers to stay healthy and consistent as the team can not afford injuries to strike given their depth issues with scoring talent.



After seeing a reduction in fighting in the OHL, do you feel that the NHL will eventually adopt a similar fight/suspension rule?

I can hope, but I doubt it. The NHL has a very old-school style of thought towards the game, hence the general snail-like progress made by the NHL in improving player safety. Unless (and I consider this unlikely) a more modern influence gets into the NHL operations offices and more progressive-minded owners gain significant clout in the NHL, I imagine we will stay business as usual. There are simply too many people who believe that a fight is good for selling tickets, when they should appreciate it is a Sidney Crosby or a Pavel Datsyuk that really sells rinks out.



How do buyouts work during lockout, do they not get paid?

From the information I have been able to collect, any player who has been bought out by a team will collect what is owed to them as part of a buyout package and the lockout does not affect it. It is somewhat of a tiny hidden blessing for those NHL GMs who would love to see their cap space open up in case of a cancelled NHL season by having some of those buyout packages burn some time.



Do you think their will be another offer from the players soon?

I am not of the opinion the players will bother, having been shut down by the NHL in their last presentation of an offer and being informed it is an “our way or the highway” situation. At present, the players seem set to wait until the NHL presents an offer that will guarantee the full amount of all contracts that are currently signed, it is the line the players have drawn in the sand and are waiting for owners to meet them there.



Any chance Collberg can join the Bulldogs at some point this year? Maybe even before Swedish Leagues are done?

Since Sebastian Collberg is still under a professional contract with his Elitserien team Frölunda for the 2012-13 season, he would need to gain a release from that deal, which is almost certainly not going to happen. I would think given that at minimum, Collberg’s season will extend to at least March as that is the end of the regular season in Sweden. I can not say I have heard of any cases of European prospects signing a deal after their season is over and transferring to the AHL. The reason for this likely stands on that the remaining time as it gives a disadvantage to the signing NHL team, it is long enough to ‘burn’ a contract year of the player’s entry-level deal.



I don’t follow WHL, can you talk about Bozon’s start? Is he legit or benefiting from great linemates?

I would say that Tim Bozon’s production has likely jumped ahead of where it would be on some other WHL teams, but at the same time, you have to be good to keep up with high-scoring teammates. Bozon scored 73 points last season as a rookie in the WHL, which was also his first year of playing on North American ice. Given that, this is partly him being a year older and better developed for playing in the WHL while playing alongside two senior teammates at the peak of their junior careers. I think Bozon was underrated going into the 2012 draft by some, and this is him displaying what he is capable of when working with other strong players. It should be expected for Bozon to take a statistical drop from his current pace, but I think he will be a top player in the WHL this season.



 How is it possible that some of the owners are for this lockout while the rest are silenced by lawyers? Shouldn’t they all have equal say in this?

 If I may clear up a misconception that is going around, no NHL owner has made public statements during this lockout. Only Gary Bettman and Bill Daly have spoken on behalf of the NHL — the talk around the owners is all speculation and second-hand information. While it is an open secret that Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is a lockout hawk, he has not publicly spoken on the issue, he is just present in the ongoing negotiations for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. As for the split between the owners, there are definitely two camps, but the issue at present is nobody can know of how many are for or against it, only that there are enough for the lockout to keep this process dragging on.


  1. To add to the final question, after the previous lockout, Gary Bettman changed the directive of the Board of Governors to state that he only needed the support of 8 owners to lockout the players. Those 8 teams haven’t been SPECIFICALLY identified, but are obviously being lead by Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs. Other’s considered in the “8” are: Minnesota, Calgary, Dallas, Anaheim, New York Islanders, Florida and Columbus. (Though that is completly unofficial)

    • Correct Dan, that’s what makes it worse. A 2/3 majority should be able to end this you’d think, but there are enough bad teams with bad ownership and management to hold us all hostage.

  2. Bang-on goal scorers are most lacking aspect of team, with softness on back-end being 2nd.

    Also agree fighting, at present, will be tough to get rid of.
    But being the only league that allows it, when Rubgy and football are more physical and have instant ejection rule, hockey really dosent have a leg to stand on, if it tries to argue for it’s necessity.

    World juniors is super hockey, with zero fighting.

    Yes, zero chance Colberg coming over, till end of year.

    Of course Bozon is benefitting from older linemates, exactly as Holland did last year.
    But Bozon had 71 points in 71 games last year, so he is a talented kid, who is more skilled offensively than Holland. Bozon is 6’1″ and likely an equal to Gallagher skillwise, so he likely has better long term odds of NHL sucess.

    Bettman is paid huge salary to be owners mouthpiece lawyer and he is good at that and i agree most of other stuff is just hearsay.

  3. I agree completely with your analysis Robert that goal scoring is a glaring hole in the Canadiens lineup. While fans were rushing to applaud GM Bergevin’s addition of “sandpaper” many of us wondered who would put the puck in the net.

    I also think you are correct in identifying your list of 30 and 20-goal scorers with one exception. Let’s not forget that Lars Eller had 16 goals last season with a constant carousel of slugs as linemates, and virtually no power-play time. If better deployed by a smart coach, Eller could be added to the 20-goal group.

    • I really like Lars Eller, but for me I wasn’t ready to give him 20G status as he’s still a bit buried in the centre lineup, which costs him on PP time, at least at his best position (C) while at the same time, we’re hard-up equipping our Top-6 with good scoring wingers, let along giving much help to the 3rd line where Eller will be skating. I gave 20G credit to guys who have multiple seasons on it as I was trying to do reasonable projections.

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