Chemistry

Tonight my beloved Montreal Canadiens will hit the ice for their first exhibition game of the fall. I’ll miss nearly the entire pre-season, as well as their season opener against the Leafs (blurg!) while we’re in France, but I’m intensely curious about how the team will look.

I’ve held off talking about all the off-season changes Bob Gainey’s made as I wanted to see the final product take shape before commenting. This was the most change I’ve seen my Habs, or maybe any team, go through in one summer. After the disastrous 08-09 season, the centennial celebration in which the Canadiens were supposed to contend for the cup, Gainey knew he had to do something. And what he did was blow up his team’s leadership core and start over.

Saku Koivu, the heart of the team and one of the club’s longest-serving captains, wasn’t signed. Likewise Alex Kovalev, their most talented player and assistant captain. Mike Komisarek and Chris Higgins, both of whom have worn the A and have been projected to eventually don the C, are gone. Alex Tanguay, Robert Lang, Mathieu Schneider, Patrice Brisebois, Tom Kostopulous, Mathieu Dandenault, Francis Bouillon…all gone.

Plenty of players came back in return, and on a talent-by-talent basis they’re as good or better as what went out the door. The interesting part of the great reset of 2009 was the fact that Gainey looked at his core of veteran players and decided he simply wasn’t going to win with that group. Loathe as I am to admit it, he was completely right. There’s been something lacking on the Canadiens team for a long time, something intangible…usually teams use words like chemistry or cohesiveness to describe it. Maybe it was heart. Short of Koivu, who would probably run through walls or kill a hobo if that’s what it took to win, there were a lot of guys on the team who would disappear when their backs were against the wall. But even Koivu, with all the heart in the world, often couldn’t get his name into another gear in crunch time. The effort was there but the execution wouldn’t come.

So, Gainey brought in Scott Gomez, Mike Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Jaro Spacek, Hall Gill (!), Travis Moen and Paul Mara to reform the bulk of the team. Whether they can produce the chemistry Gainey’s looking for, or whether the departure of the old guard allows others to finally step up, remains to be seen. There are already early whispers of better chemistry in the room, so we’ll see if that sticks. Interestingly, those comments about chemistry came from Carey Price, upon whom success this season hinges more than anyone. If Price doesn’t bounce back from a bad year, all of Gainey’s machinations may be for naught.

However, the time for introspection is passed. The time for hockey is…uh, tonight. I can’t wait to hear the sweet sounds of blades carving ice and boards being rattled.

Go Habs go.

It was (about to be) the best of times, it was (about to be) the worst of times, and then it was about to be the full-on bitchinest of times

Pretty exciting few weeks coming up for Nellie and I. Tomorrow night we see our first film festival movie of 2009, which we wrap up just 72 hours later. Then I have five days in which to complete the twelve labours of Hercules at the office, and then…France.

Woo!

Then, once I get back — and I realize this is much more exciting for me than for Nellie — the hockey season starts. Technically I’ll have missed the Canadiens’ season opener against the Leafs, but a classic Saturday night game should make me feel right back at home in Canada.

Finally, in what could be either extreme serendipity or a classic over-reach, the day we get back is Nuit Blanche. Since we’ll still be on France time we’ll likely fall asleep early and wake up around 3 or 4 in the morning…the perfect time to head out to see some art. It’s a nice bonus that the TTC will be running all night too. We’ll see how that holds up.

Things I've learned in the past 24 hours

  • I’m getting sick. Not enough to make me feel like I need to stay in bed, but enough to drain me of all energy and motivation to, you know, move.
  • The Rob Zombie remake of Halloween (imdb | rotten tomatoes) started off better than I expected, in that it gave us a Michael Myers preview, but the remake part was just standard slasher fare. The only thing I liked better about it than the original was that Myers moved like a normal guy…fast sometimes, normal speed the rest of the time, instead of at a slow zombie pace.
  • Sometimes our cats will sleep quietly through the night. Other times they will stage a Bob Fosse revival on our bed at 3AM. Last night was the latter.
  • We need a new coffee table and over-sized (but not too over-sized) chair, but aren’t having much luck finding them. Lo and behold, I read this in Thursday’s issue of Now, and figure we should give it a try.
  • Even when the Canadiens are down 4-1 going into the third period, I should still finish watching the game, especially when it’s against a soft team like the Islanders. The Habs scored 4 goals in the third period and won. They’re playing .850 hockey so far this season, the best of any team in the NHL.
  • The Raptors look pretty good, having won their third in a row to remain perfect in this young season. Bosh looks better with O’Neal there to take the pressure off, Bargnani looks better coming off the bench than he does starting, Calderon looks better without the T.J. Ford of Damocles hanging over his head, and Kapono just looks better. But the defense is what seemed different last night…not all the time, but a lot of the time. Players like Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson have carved through the Raptors like butter in recent years, but last night, the Raps seemed to challenge more. Anyway, we’ll see how they fare against real competition like the Celtics or Lakers.
  • John McCain isn’t funny.

Desperate times

Well, I fear my Canadiens have had it. They were down almost the entire game, came storming back in the third to tie it up, and then a horrendous call by a referee late in the game (against one of the Canadiens’ best penalty killers, naturally) gave the Flyers a power play, et voila…3 games to 1, Philadelphia. To be honest, I’d be surprised if Montreal can win Saturday night, even on their home ice…something like that must just be so deflating.

If you’re going to call chintzy penalties, call the dozen interference and holding calls you should’ve called on Philadelphia this series. If you’re going to put the whistle away, then keep it away in the FINAL MINUTES OF A TIE PLAYOFF GAME, crapweasels.

.:.

92.11% of the way through the MBA just doesn’t feel like enough right now. I’m past the point of being ambivalent about it; I’m outright annoyed at still having 112 days to go.  I’m away on the second-to-last course next week, and then it’s the home stretch; let’s see if I can stay awake.

[tags]mba, canadiens[/tags]

"Give him the gun. Give him all the guns."

Bad night for my teams. The Canadiens lost and now trail a series for the first time in these playoffs. The Raptors lost and were eliminated in the first round, 4 games to 1.

.:.

I forgot to blog about it, but we watched both parts of Grindhouse (imdb | rotten tomatoes) a few weeks back. I’d heard Planet Terror was better than Death Proof, but I found it to be the other way around. A lot of people complained about the prolongated girlie conversations in Death Proof, but I found they were good buildup to the high-grade ass-kicking at the end.

[tags]canadiens, raptors, grindhouse[/tags]

Things I realized today

  • Quickest way to make friends with the neighbourhood homeless guys: take pictures outside at night. Like moths to a flame.
  • I can write a 4-page marketing assignment in one day if I need to, even if I couldn’t possibly care any less about it.
  • Enough people listen to the request show on my old home town’s community access radio show via the web that the server was choppy. Also: requesting Nicole Atkins and The Thermals will probably confuse the locals; they did come hot on the heels of a request for “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” by Poison. Thanks for playing them anyway, Andrew.
  • Seeing the Canadiens finish first in their conference is surreal. The last time this happened was 1989, and I wasn’t even that into hockey yet (it hit me two years later), so it didn’t mean that much. Now, after watching them struggle for so long, it’s just…weird. Nice, but weird. Come Wednesday (or Thursday?) I’ll be so amped up I won’t care about my next marketing assignment.
  • I’d pay somebody $100 if I didn’t have to go to work tomorrow.
  • It may have been 11 degrees somewhere in the city, but down here by the waterfront, t’wasn’t.

[tags]parrsboro, nicole atkins, thermals, canadiens, toronto weather[/tags]

So I says to Mabel, I says…

It sucks seeing your weekend disappear before it even arrives. I’ve been working too late every night this week to get anything done on my marketing assignment, which is due Monday, and that means I’ll have to knock the whole thing off this weekend. I hope it’s not long. Or difficult. Or worth much.

.:.

For the second game in the row the Canadiens came back from a big deficit, even taking the lead in the third period, but they gave up two quick goals and lost to the Penguins. What they are doing is not good for my heart, people.

.:.

All these wacky hours is also hurting my music-listenin’. Right now this is what I have waiting in the music inbox:

  • annuals . be he me
  • devotchka . little miss sunshine soundtrack
  • duke spirit . neptune
  • ladyhawk . shots
  • rebekah higgs . rebekah higgs
  • siberian . with me
  • sigur ros . hvarf-heim
  • sigur ros . svarf
  • silver mt zion . 13 blues for thirteen moons
  • sons and daughters . this gift

[tags]canadiens, penguins, annuals, devotchka, duke spirit, ladyhawk, rebekah higgs, siberian, sigur ros, silver mt zion, sons and daughters[/tags]

I think the $117 would've been better spent on an hour of therapy

From the “I’m glad it wasn’t my country” file:

Who got the money and why? It went to help pay a psychic who performed a ghost exorcism in one of the units. The occupants of the home reported hearing banging noises and seeing objects flying across the room by themselves, and told officials on Easington Council in Durham County, England they believed their apartment was haunted.

[via CityNews]

.:.

Torontoist makes a very good point today that I should’ve made yesterday: while the national news media makes fun of Toronto’s weather spazztasm, the local media leads the hand-wringing.

.:.

Big night for my teams. Montreal snapped a 3-game losing skid by scoring late to tie the game and then winning in overtime, while the Raptors beat Vince Carter and the Nets like a red-headed stepchild…a game T-Bone was lucky enough to see live. The Duke Blue Devils even beat Maryland tonight, which I kinda half care about.

[tags]haunted apartment, torontoist, toronto media, snow, canadiens, raptors, vince carter, duke blue devils[/tags]

Hooray for schadenfreude!

Today started off pretty crappy. Annoying, puking cats. Broken PVR. Lack of sleep. 2.5 hour meeting. It didn’t get much better either. Bad lunch. Headache. Frustrating day at work. I finally got home excited to watch the Canadiens game (in English for once!) only to find that Sportsnet was blacking the game out* in Toronto. Oh, and more cat puke. Argh.

However, just a few minutes ago events transpired to make my day, despite it having only a few hours of life left: after watching Montreal beat Ottawa 4-3 I flipped over to TSN where I saw…Florida 8, Toronto 0.

If my heart has cockles, they just got warm.

* I’ve never understood the whole local blackout thing. Or rather, I understand why it’s done, but I don’t understand why fans haven’t demanded an end to the archaic practice.

.:.

It’s pretty obvious to me now that music, once the most significant art form in my life, has diminished in importance. I’m still a big fan, but I simply don’t consume as much of it as I used to. In 2003 I bought 64 CDs. In each of the following three years I bought about 40 (some time in 2006, though, it became downloads and not CDs), but in 2007 I bought only 20. That’s still a lot for most people, but it corresponds to a decreased interest in seeking out new music, attending concerts (I go to maybe one a year now), reading music reviews, etc.

Movies, clearly, are my new crack. I was unable to watch as many as I would’ve liked in 2007, but in December I made up for it by watching 26. A friend of mine recently pointed out she probably hasn’t seen that many movies in her entire life. I watched 144 films (watched for the first time, that is…I don’t count re-watches) in 2006, and this year I plan to take a week’s vacation to watch 30 films at the film festival. That’s a lot of time and money spent on films.

I guess old obsessions don’t die, they just shift mediums.

[tags]canadiens, senators, panthers, leafs, music obsession, film obsession[/tags]

I am a happy fellow

My assignment, the last for this course, is done. I finished it off around 10:00 and practically skipped — pranced, even — to the couch to watch the Canadiens-Bruins game on the PVR.

That’s the last schoolwork I have to do for a couple of weeks. Weeks, internet, weeks! On an unrelated note, there’s a bluebird on my shoulder and everything is satisfactual.

[tags]mba, canadiens, bruins[/tags]