What We Learned on 24CH: Strategy [S3:E22]

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(Image: screen capture)

by Erica, Staff Writer and Fundraising Specialist, All Habs Hockey Magazine

(Image: screen capture)
(Image: screen capture)

MONTREAL, QC. — A game of hockey can be like chess. Every player is a piece – he has a function, a particular skill set, a role in winning the game. The coaching staff manages strategy. And all the pieces need to be in place to ensure victory. Here’s what we learned:

Some pieces need to be changed. This was the road trip on which the Canadiens traded Jiri Sekac for Devante Smith-Pelly. There is no emotional goodbye to Sekac, just a quick farewell from Tomas Plekanec and a lonely walk to an idling taxi. In with the new: It looks like Smith-Pelly has no trouble adjusting to his new team, unlike his new equipment that isn’t quite a perfect fit. (Equipment manager Pierre Gervais had no trouble getting him a jersey before the road trip started, but could only find pants and gloves that were close to the right size.)

The Habs’ new forward makes an impression on the road; when he arrives in his new home city, it’s the game that makes an impression on him. Smith-Pelly can’t hide the smile, the incredible energy that came from playing a home game at the Bell Centre.

Gilbert puts his pieces together. Tom Gilbert introduces us to his wife and newborn son, Henley (named after singer Don Henley.) He feels guilty that his wife spends so much time alone with their son while he is on the road, but she is glad to have a husband who does his best to be involved despite his schedule. Gilbert is still getting used to fatherhood, but is giving it his best shot – he can tell when his son is hungry, and looks at ease bottle-feeding the child while one of their dogs climbs on his lap. Will Henley Gilbert be part of the 2033 NHL draft class? That’s up to him, say his parents. Gilbert plans on letting his son choose his own career path. Maybe he’ll be a golfer, so his dad can caddy for him. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Malhotra knows what to do. Some chess pieces have specific functions. Manny Malhotra has made himself indispensable as a faceoff specialist. Malhotra’s faceoff wins have led to goals and have helped his teammates improve their game. He leads by example.

It was only a matter of time until the friendly, bilingual Malhotra got his own segment on 24CH. Growing up, he worked as hard as he could to improve his game. His bantam teammates recall seeing him on the ice before and after practices, continuing to work on his skating and technique. He continues to focus and work hard, and does it all for love of the game: he has always played because he loved it. He credits his parents for allowing him to play without ever being overbearing. Malhotra’s father, Shadi, says he was happy to support his son as long as Manny did something he loved. Which he does, and he tries to bring that love to every moment on the ice: “You can’t fool a teammate. They know when your heart’s not in it.” Malhotra’s heart is always in it – he leads by example, he helps start the plays that lead to goals, and near the end of the episode he scores his first goal of the season.

Best bits. Jacob De La Rose scoring his first two NHL goals and trying to be bashful about it; a childhood photo of Manny Malhotra with a full-on flat top; P.K. Subban blowing a kiss to Elise Beliveau at the Bell Centre.