Brace yourselves. If you think it's been tough being a Habs fan the last few years, then you better grab your bottle of choice right now. Cause you're going to need it. And often.
Sure, the mid-to-late '90s were painful to watch. Few, if any, budding young stars, and the veterans were nothing to brag about either. Those were the Scott Lachance, Brad Brown, Jason Dawe, Brett Clark, Scott Thornton, and Turner Stevenson years. Frankly, it was like watching paint dry. Sure, you had (oft-injured) Brian Savage, the feisty Saku Koivu, and the talented yet aging Vinnie Damphousse, but these editions of Les Canadiens were anything but easy on the eyes.
Then we had the 2017-2022 years, which, if it hadn't been for the nonsensical pandemic rules (come one come all to the postseason), would have seen the Canadiens miss the playoffs for 5 straight seasons. Mismanaging their young players, poor draft picks, and self-inflicted cap issues were the reality in Montreal during those years. Fans were growing sick and tired of the 20+ year team slogan (aka broken record) of "let's just try to get into the playoffs and then.... maybe... if.... anything is possible...should Jesus carry us across the river...". Some chose to drink this Kool-Aid, but an ever-growing percentage of the fan base had seen enough (as evidenced by the empty seats).
Fast forward to today, and the prospect of a successful season seems once again quite dire. Granted, the team appears to be rebuilding, with young, promising players (likely no future superstars, but perhaps a very deep team in 3 to 4 years). But let's be brutally honest: this season will be quite the horror show. Cap-strapped, injuries piling up already, young players that look promising but are not quite ready yet, and a few veterans who look like they don't want to be here (or even play hockey anymore?), surrounded by a very inexperienced coaching staff, and you have what looks like a recipe for disaster.
But hey, I sure don't want to sound like a Debbie Downer. There should be plenty of hope, and excitement, just a few kilometers north of the Bell Center, where the Laval Rocket will be icing a dynamic, talented team, filled with several highly touted Canadiens prospects. That should offer a bit of that warm and fuzzy feeling, throughout another dark and ice-cold Montreal winter (ok, check that, call me Debbie).
And if that's not enough, one can choose to spend trying their luck at some of the draft-lottery simulators, or even reading up on the latest trade rumors as there should be plenty of player movement in Montreal these coming months. Entertainment on the Bell Center ice, however? Alas, no, not for another few years.