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Hoodwinked! Canadiens' brilliant offseason PR strategy

Updated: Sep 26, 2021

Make no bones about it the Canadiens were fully deserving of their appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals. They displayed the level of grit, unity, and heart that largely compensated for a modest level of talent. Their goalie Carey-d them, until he could no longer keep the weight of the team on his mighty shoulders. They eventually went down mercilessly to the NHL juggernauts that is the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But then came the post, postseason, and, um, well what imagery can we conjure to aptly describe what has taken place during this time. Jack-and-Jill tumbling down the Hill? Too harsh perhaps. What about Humpty Dumpty plummeting down the Big Wall? Either way, feel free to use the analogy you like, but the reality is the Canadiens' summer has been nothing short of a calamity.

No need to provide a lengthy recap of the unfortunate events that have taken place since July 7th, but here's a quick refresher: leaving their franchise goalie unprotected (a high-risk gamble that ultimately paid off some say, but was there a legitimate plan in place to replace him? An Allen/Primeau tandem would have been a misguided one). They also lost their captain for the foreseeable future and replaced him by a defenseman best suited for a bottom pairing. Drafting an admitted sex offender in the 1st round (who himself pleaded not to get selected) was an absolute disgrace. Letting heart-and-soul player Corey Perry walk, losing Phil Danault, their top line center these past few years (and a key contributor to their postseason success) for absolutely nothing, and the contract mismanagement that eventually led to KK's departure were all significant knocks in what has been anything but the Summer of Marc. Losing Kotkaniemi is a continuation of the Canadiens' embarrassing track record when it comes to developing their top prospects during Bergie's tenure (let's hope they don't make the same mistake with Norlinder, Ylonen or Kaiden Guhle- though one shouldn't put it past them).

What irks me even more is their pathetic attempts at hoodwinking fans and media. Bamboozling and skewering us. You know, look over here while we do something else right over there.

Management, for years, seemed "allergic" to drafting Québécois players. This year, however, they loaded a Costco shopping cart full of them. Their twitter account has been tweeting stories non stop, showcasing blurbs and interviews with these players (none appear to be high-level prospects). They even populated their AHL and ECHL (affiliate team) rosters with even more "gars de chez nous". Hear me out: I'm all for this, but I just can't help wondering how genuine this all is- or whether this is suddenly part of a marketing coup, an attempt to bewitch part of their gullible fan base.

Spin doctors extraordinaire, to say the least. Phenomenal marketers.

I swear, not attempting to be sarcastic here, but the Canadiens definitely pass with flying colors when it comes to selling (false) hope.

And, once again, many in the media were quick to pump Marc Bergevin's tires (though Popeye certainly requires no help when it comes to pumping up his own arms that's for damn sure). No mention of the significant players lost, the fact they continuously fail miserably in developing young assets (whether it be rushing them too soon to the big league -see Victor Mete, Alex Galchenyuk or Jesperi Kotkaniemi, or simply finding ways to shatter their confidence once these prospects are brought up to the club- see the same names above, and probably toss in a couple more names too including Alexander Romanov) or their gross mismanagement of the cap these past few seasons. Little was also done at the trade deadline these past couple of seasons to bolster the lineup. But media seem persistent in their attempt to remind us that Bergie is a great deal maker, which if it may be the case, in fairness, should not in any way overshadow the shortcomings of the past few seasons.

Like finally finding a legitimate puck-moving d-man. Well, we're still waiting after all these years. Center depth? Niet. And frankly there isn't anyone within their pool of prospects ready to take on a top 3 C spot. Sure, let's see what Poehling can do this season but there are reasons to be doubtful as to his true potential (and they allegedly tried trading a few times this summer).

Again, you can claim all you want that Joe-Les-Gros-Bras is a wizard wheeler-and-dealer (how did the Drouin - Sergachev deal work out?) but there's no denying that spade's a spade: the Canadiens missed the playoffs in 2016. 2017 was a 6-and-out first round exit to an average Rangers team, and in 2018, 2019, they watched Le Grand Bal des Playoffs, on their television sets. 2020 was the nonsensical, pandemic-induced charity playoff gimme series (sorry for a lack of a better description). 2021? Had it been an 82-game season within their regular division, it is likely they would have missed the post season for a fifth time in 6 years. Hardly a stellar track record folks. And there are few reasons to believe this season will be any different.

Yet, if one were to read many of the articles published this summer in the local media, follow the endless "feel good" tweets from the Canadiens' Twitter account, or listen to some of the talk shows in Montreal, you would get the impression that all was fine and dandy in Habs land. You could easily be confused that they were referring to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Their hocus-pocus spell over this city appears to be so powerful, so captivating, that it would likely dwarf the abilities of the great sorcerers of our time (um, Doctor Strange, Scarlett Witch, Mesmer, you know...). The Kool-Aid has been served in healthy portions these past few weeks, and, evidently, it's been gobbled down both blindly and precipitously.

I assume that even with another playoff miss in the coming year, many will still be more than happy to dance to the beats of the same, old, broken record classics like "The Future looks promising", "Its very difficult to make the postseason", or, my personal favorite "We had injuries, a difficult schedule and trades only happen on PlayStation".

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