Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Practice?!? We're talking about *practice*?!?

Over the past couple of years I've given the Habs a lot of grief for lacking heart and passion. A lot of it has to do with typical rival-baiting and trash-talking, especially since the Bruins have traditionally contrasted themselves with Montreal in terms of grit, toughness and attitude. In fact, I'm willing to put aside my bias and admit that from time to time the Habs have actually acquired a player or two who has a faint sparkle of personal character.

So I'm not really sure how to react to this:

The day before the Montreal Canadiens face elimination in Game 4 of their opening round playoff series with the Bruins, coach Bob Gainey decided to make today's practice optional. The Habs played hard for most of last night's game and some players probably legitimately needed a breather today, but to have 8 players show up for practice the day before you face elimination to me shows that this team just doesn't care. -- Stanley Cup of Chowder

The Bruins fan in me is already committing this paragraph to memory, so I can recall it in a drunken argument 5 years from now as evidence that the Habs are really just whiny losers.

But the hockey fan in me sees this as just plain sad. 8 players? Really? 8 players show up to possibly the last practice of their season?

This is not just a red flag, it's a crimson banner stretching all the way from Rue de la Montagne to 2313 St. Catherine St. It's a slap in the face to Bob Gainey and the faith he has put into his players, and it's an indictment of players like Kovalev and Koivu who were expected to be the leaders of a great Canadien era.

And ultimately it reflects poorly on Gainey, who constructed this team to make a Cup run and called an optional practice before a must-win home game.

It's also worth wondering whether the Habs' conditioning program has something to do with their numerous untimately injuries and their long-standing problem of losing steam at the end of playoff games.

There is no love lost for the Habs on this blog, but my sympathies go out to their fans for having to endure this sort of pathetic, un-Canadien behavior.

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