Updated: May 3, 2021
Who here remembers Milli Vanilli or more specifically their lip-sync scandal? Regardless who was really behind the vocals, one has to admit that they did come out with some pretty entertaining songs, including one which ended up being a classic (granted, depending on your music genre): "Blame it on the rain" (yeah, yeah).
Well, entertaining, the Canadiens certainly are not. But, as history shows, the fan base here is fine with boring. That is, as long as the team is winning. When the Canadiens upset the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals in back-to-back series, during the spring of 2010, they played a very conservative and dull, rope-a-dope brand of hockey. But hey, they won games and fans didn't really complain about Jacques Martin's ultra-defensive (aka sleep inducing) tactics.
Unfortunately, this season, the Canadiens have not only been painful to watch, but they also seem incapable of stringing together wins.
Season after disappointing season, during Bergevin's tenure, and particularly since the end of the 2015/2016 catastrophic year, we've been served up a healthy dose of deeply dug manure from the Grand Book of Excuses, to justify their shortcomings: everything ranging from a bad team attitude, to difficulty making trades outside of PlayStation, unfortunate injuries, and even, if you can believe it, a lack of vitamins (B12 and D, to be more precise).
But few seem willing to criticize the organization, to take an honest look at the way they built this team, their brutal track record in both drafting and developing players (particularly first-rounders), or their mismanagement of the cap space (hate to repeat myself but you can't have close to 30M$ tied to four players whose play have all been visibly declining- Price, Weber, Drouin and Byron, heck isn't Karl Alzner still on the books?).
So, what will they serve us up this season, especially if the trend continues and they either end up missing the playoffs (after such high expectations- set by the organization itself if you recall) or bow out quickly in the first round? The lack of cap space? The Covid case that derailed their schedule and forced them to play so many games in a short period of time? The Gallagher injury perhaps?
After 9 years at the helm, countless changes in the team's identity on the fly (remember when the Canadiens were small but fast?) should the GM not be the one to be finally held accountable? Or will he once again look for scapegoats, try to hoodwink us by highlighting some silver linings, like perhaps how much experience was gained by the youngsters on the team this year (question: did any of them actually progress?). Perhaps flash another shiny object and tout how impressive the Rocket's season was?
Truth is, unfortunately, that he is likely to have several in the media backing these assertions, defending him, praising the so-called outstanding job he did this off-season by acquiring some key players. Few will be bold enough to bring the inordinate amount of cap space used in years past on bottom-pairing defensemen, on goaltending, and now, on the wings (but so little on the most critical position of all- center). Or the fact only 3 regular players on the current roster were drafted by the organization (we could point to additional miscues- see previous blog). But outside of this group of journalists, clamoring and clapping at his every move like a pack of Seals at SeaWorld, his critics (myself included) will be hoping that this season finally was an eye-opener for the team's ownership group.
Should this "prestigious" Book of l̶i̶e̶s̶ Excuses fail to find another precious reason as to why this season went from boom to bust, perhaps the Canadiens brass can always turn around and just stand up during their end of season presser and sing, in unison, their own rendition of Milli Vanilli's blast from the past "Blame it on the Rain".