Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ten To Zen

Breathe. In. Out. Close your eyes. In. Out. There. Feel better?

I do, because, like most of you, I've been forgetting to breathe in the general panic this season has become. We need to slow it down, breathe and remind ourselves about a few simple truths if we're going to survive until April while remaining semi-sane fans of the Montreal Canadiens. So, here are the ten rules for achieving Habs Zen before our heads explode:

10. Forget about Scott Gomez's salary. Yes, it's a ridiculous amount for a second-line centre. But it's there, it's real and grinding your teeth over it will not only fail to change it, it'll end up giving you outrageous dentist's bills as well.

9. Accept that Andrei Markov will not save the team. He's a great defenceman and he will help the transition game and the powerplay a lot. He'll be good for 25-30 points in the thirty-five games he's likely to play this season. But he will not singlehandedly turn the Habs into a contender. Hoping he can will only lead to more frustration and a bigger emotional crash in March when becomes apparent Markov is not God.

8. Latendresse and Chipchura are gone. Stop freaking out every time one of them puts up a point for their new teams. Similarly, Koivu, Kovalev, Souray, Streit, Ryder, Tanguay, Lang and Schneider are playing for other teams and aren't coming back, so stop asking "what if?"

7. Carey Price and Jaro Halak are both good, young goalies who have yet to establish themselves as bona fide NHL stars. Stop losing your mind every time one of them lets in a "questionable" goal. Every goalie in the league lets in goals they maybe should have stopped. We need to stop analyzing every goal allowed. And we need to stop arguing about how one goalie is the real saviour while the other one should be traded.

6. Andrei Kostitsyn will never be Getzlaf, Perry, Parise, Carter or Richards. But he is a talented player who's working on improving his game. Let the 2003 draft go.

5. Mike Cammalleri, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price, Brian Gionta and Andrei Markov are good players. Enjoy them and stop wishing for them to be bigger, taller, faster or Frencher.

4. Ryan O'Byrne, Max Pacioretty, Ryan White, Josh Gorges and Sergei Kostitsyn are all still developing and showing signs of improvement. Hope for them.

3. Stop watching/listening to/reading inflammatory rhetoric about the team. It's bad for the stomach and gives you unsettling dreams.

2. Stop stressing about what Bob Gainey's up to. We cannot mentally push him into signing Plekanec, trading Gomez or dumping Laraque, no matter how hard we concentrate on bending him to our will. It's best to let Bob be Bob, and just relax since we can't do a damn thing about it anyway.

And the number one piece of advice for finding peace and enlightenment as a Habs fan this year:

1. Leave the past in the past. The team is never going to be as good as it was in the '50s, '60s or '70s. The navel-gazing, self-congratulatory Centennial ends tomorrow, and with it the past can be laid to rest for a while. That means it's time to stop looking back and begin to look forward. This applies to the team's management as well as its fans. We've lived on memories long enough. Now we have to find the good in the future and focus our attention there.

And don't forget to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Good luck, and may your head remain intact no matter what happens with the Habs in the next four months.


Unknown said...

OK now this is one that Habs *management* should read. :-) said...

A BIG thank you for reminding us that breathing is essential and that a little dose of reality never hurt anyone.
the little ups and downs are the hardest. I don't expect the Habs to contend but I can't help but hope that hey might not fall flat on thier face

GoldenGirl11 said...

Since '93 cvetching has become part of the Habs ritual. Cvetching and bragging about the past. Habs fans have become the ultimate Jewish mother. "My son the doctor was always the smartest in his class. He got 102% on a math test once and won every award at graduation. He even won Miss Congeniality even though it was supposed to be given out to a girl. But ever since he married that choleria you think he could visit once in a while? Maybe pick up a phone? Oy."

And regarding the Centennial, I think I'll watch the game in my wedding dress and big red lipstick that goes way over the outline of
my lips. Kind of a tribute to all the insanity.

dusty said...

Great advice, thanks. As far as signing Plekanec goes I really don't care one way or the other. He's ok but this team is bottom 5 in the conference with or without him. I'd love to see some body bangers like Boston has so I could enjoy the losing more (so I'd keep Laraque) and there will be alot more.

Olivier said...

Wooo, that almost sounds like the stage of acceptance. And we've only played one game in december.


DB said...

A few other points.

1) Remember we rarely know all the facts so don't jump to conclusions. Making wild accusations should be left to the professionals in the media.

2) Keep things balanced and in perspective. Stop making a prospect a star before he proves himself. Stop calling a player a bust, useless or a bum because he is in a slump. Don't judge the team only on a few good games/plays or a few bad games/plays.

Remember the Pygmalion Effect - people focus on the negatives and downplay the positives of players they don't like and focus on the positives and downplay the negatives of players they like.

3) Consider the following items when assessing performance of management:
a) Most years one-third of first round picks are busts or fringe players.
b) The 2004 and earlier drafts were before the crackdown on obstruction.
c) What were the concerns about Getzlaf that made 18 teams pass on him in 2003?
d) What is the definition of "best player available"? Would you rank a player given a 90% chance of being a second line player and a 10% chance of being a bust ahead of player given a 50% chance of being a first line player and a 50% chance of being a bust?
e) Was a trade made to benefit the short term at the expense of picks and prospects.

Anonymous said...

Whoa - I haven't taken a breath since 1996.

pfhabs said...


-as consumers you/we can choose the services and products we wish to continue to buy or avoid. you vote with your wallet. it's a very clean in or out relationship. unfortunately you're trying to invoke this same cold detachment to sport. well fans of their respective teams can accept ultimate efforts, sacrifice and playing to one's capability but they will never accept mediocrity, continual failure or half-assed attempts

-breathe all you like if it makes you feel better but doubt it'll help if they lose the majority or do poorly in the 17 games in 31 nights schedule called december

-as for your advice you should try it out. your incessant angst towards Pierre McGuire is misguided because his track record is impeccable and in time he may be the next CH GM...what will you do then ? :)

GK said...

In retail, they have a sales technique called "a loss leader" -- one brand is marked down below cost just to get you into the store.

That's the way I've always seen Gomez. After he came aboard, others followed. A big part of his contract was bait.

And as fans, why the heck are we concerned about salaries anyway? I evaluate the quality of the team against the cost of the ticket I buy to see it play.


pfhabs said...


-salaries matter in terms of something called the cap which I'm sure you've heard of. if you spend a significant portion of your cap in an unwise manner it screws you in terms of future years and what you can or cannot do in terms of (re)building your team. salary/the cap (average salary over term of contract)is very important

-as for Gomez its a myth that he's a loss leader. both Gionta and Cammalleri were asked the question if they came to Montreal because of Gomez...the answers were NO !

-in fact Gionta was offered $2.75 by Jersey and Lamerillo even told Brian that he had to take the Montreal deal ($25 million/5 yrs) for the sake of his family. similarily Cammalleri was offered around $4.5 by Toronto and Ottawa.

-in simple terms they came to MTL because of the MONEY !

-Scott's contract was a bit of stupidity by Glen Sather and Bob played Santa taking the cap hit off the NYR books allowing Sather to sign Gaborik who would look real good playing on the wing next to any of Plekanec, Cammalleri or even Koivu..its a loss leader alright. $7.37 million for 12 points in 24 games is quite a "loss"