Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why We Still Should Love Pleky

If you've read my blog in the past, you'll know I have only had two Habs players I considered my "favourites" in a particular era. In my early years as a fan, I adored the young Patrick Roy. I loved his skills, his attitude (the Wink!) and his willingness to drop 'em in a goalie fight whenever the spirit moved him. His trade put my relationship with the Canadiens on hold for nearly five years.

For the last decade-plus, my favourite has been Tomas Plekanec. I love his two-way game, and his brutal honesty. And, most of all, I respect the way he always did whatever the coaches asked of him without complaint, even if it meant his own stats suffered in the process.

Now, however, my boy is old. Last season he was on the road to being a hockey senior citizen, but now he's there. With the encroachment of age, his offensive-zone play has dropped off and the vultures are circling. Angry, disillusioned fans are looking for someone to blame for the disaster this season has been, and they want Pleky dumped for a pick at the deadline. While it's within the realm of common sense to trade a player in his declining years if the return is decent, it doesn't make sense to dump a guy who's given everything to the franchise for peanuts over nearly a thousand NHL games just...because.

With that in mind, and remembering what an unexpectedly solid career this third-rounder has had in Montreal, there are still reasons why we should love Pleky.

1.  The time he scored a 5-on-3 shorty against the leafs. I had actually never witnessed a shorty with two men down before, so this was extra cool. It was also an added bonus that Phaneuf was on the ice when he got the breakaway. How can you not love the guy?!

2. One of the all-time greatest Pleky moments was in the 2010 playoffs, when he scored the OT winner in Game One against the Caps. After honestly saying the Washington goalie tandem wasn't the best in the league, Jose Theodore mocked him, pretending he'd never heard of him and then calling him "Jagr." It was SO sweet to watch him own Theodore on the winning goal, it's become a classic Plekanec moment.

3. One of Plekanec's trademarks is his unselfish play. If a teammate has two goals, he'll always look for that guy for the hat trick. If another player has the better look, Pleky will give up his own chance to score and give it to his teammate. He's team-first and always has been..

4. Pleky actually has an underrated shot. He's scored some important, unexpected goals over the years because of his sneakily-quick shot.

5. While his shot is good, his passing is Plekanec's real offensive weapon. In his prime, he could thread a needle with black thread in the dark at midnight.

6. Over the years, Plekanec has spent about two-and-a-half minutes penalty killing per game. This often meant his offensive production slowed down as the wear-and-tear of the heavy workload wore on him later in the season. The problem has always been, the Habs have had nobody who's better at it, so Pleky gave away some of his scoring in order to be a more well-rounded player, for the good of the team.

7. He's probably the only guy in the world, other than the Dos Equis dude who can rock the turtleneck

8. Over the years, my favourite moments of any game have been Tomas Plekanec breakaways. The anticipation that allowed him to intercept an opponent's pass or receive one in the clear, then the head-down, all-out turbo speed up ice was always so exciting.

9. I believe you have to love Plekanec just because Brad Marchand hates him. Any player that little meathead despises is good enough for me.

10. It's very special that, after a dozen years in the NHL, Plekanec has always been a Hab. It's extremely rare in these days of early free agency and deadline trade deals that a player stays with a single team for a career, so it's a little bit remarkable when it happens. Pleky is less than forty games away from achieving that landmark as a Canadien, and it's reflective of the value he's had to this team for such a long time.

So, there you go. Even though he's old and doesn't score much anymore, Tomas Plekanec has earned our respect and praise. If he's traded next month, let it be for a real return. Otherwise, let him retire as a Canadien as a sign of the honour he's earned as an excellent Hab. We shouldn't forget all he's done just because his boss didn't build a better team.


Harry said...

I agree,Pleky should be able to retire a Hab,but they dumped a lot of great ones in the past.
I still can't forgive them for letting Saku go,that was just wrong in so many ways....
Thanks for the blog..

GK said...

He also seems to be a clean player. I can't remember when any opposing player has retaliated or sought revenge. Has he ever been in a fight?!

Scott in Montreal said...

I was really happy he got #600 and a goal to top it off yesterday. His offensive skills (the perfect passes and shot accuracy) have seen a significant drop-off, almost from the moment he signed his last contract. I think he has another two-year contract waiting here for him, once he gets the call to go to a Cup contender as a rental. His quiet leadership and solid two-way play are assets that are not easy to find (and quite easy to overlook). Now it looks like LB (Byron) is ready to pick up the mantle, perhaps even as a centre-man, at least on the PK.