Okay. Now it's hitting me. We won't see another Habs game for SIX MONTHS. Sure, we'll have the hiring of a new coach, the draft, the signing of the Canadiens own free agents before July 1, UFA season, development camp, rookie camp and training camp before the new team takes the ice in October. But it's not the same.
For all their faults, there are very few Canadiens I'll be glad to see leave town. And I know we've seen the last games of more than one of them. I'll miss Kovalev's precision shot over the goalie's left shoulder. I'll miss Koivu's digging in the corner and coming out with the puck against guys with thirty pounds on him. I'll miss Dandenault's speed, Higgins' hustle, Tanguay's seeing-eye passes, Markov's PP set-ups, Halak's stopping forty-plus shots, Kostopoulos' "fights," Price and Gorges' funny win celebrations when the team was winning, Komisarek's shot blocking, Schneider's bomb from the point, Lapierre's energy, Plekanec's sweet passes from behind the net, Bouillon's bodychecks, Breezer's dramatic outlet pass, Kostitsyn's once-in-a-blue-moon virtuoso rushes, Laraque's smile when he lines up with the other team's goon, Hamrlik's big minutes and willingness to take on whatever the team asked of him, Metropolit's heart, Sergei's feistiness and the hopefulness of kids like D'Agostini, Pacioretty, Stewart, O'Byrne and Weber. There's something to like about every one of them.
It's going to be such a long summer for us though. I think it's worse because it's tinged with such sadness and uncertainty. Last year we were all impatient for the summer to pass and the new season to pick up where the promise of the old one left off. Now we're looking at wholesale changes in staff, the roster and possibly even the ownership. That's making it really tough to look ahead with much optimism. But, ironically, maybe that's where the optimism can be found.
Maybe if we're not expecting great things, the possibility of a pleasant surprise exists. Perhaps a return to realism after all the fairytale hype of the Centennial will mean a lot of the bandwaggoners will drop off and leave the team to supporters who don't expect a Cup just because the media tells them they should have one...and who boo when they don't get what they were told to expect. Maybe returning to normal will mean the players will smile again and their development will get back on track after the derailment of this awful season. Hey...I guess there's hope after all. Bring on the draft!