Canadiens bury Maple Leafs after Mats Sundin has jersey retired

Canadiens bury Maple Leafs after Mats Sundin has jersey retired

The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Not only did Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens crash the party, they did their best to spoil it.

Carey Price FigurePrice turned aside all 32 shots he faced Saturday as the Habs hammered the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-0 on a night the team honoured long-time captain Mats Sundin.

It was the third straight loss for the Leafs, who remain in eighth spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal has won four games in a row and now sits seven points back of the final playoff spot.

Erik Cole, Rene Bourque, Max Pacioretty, Lars Eller and Mathieu Darche scored goals for Montreal (23-24-9).

The Maple Leafs saw their record drop to 28-22-6 with their most embarrassing loss since getting beaten 7-0 by Boston on Nov. 5.

Mats Sundin figuresThere was more emotion than usual on a night that started with the Maple Leafs raising Sundin’s No. 13 banner to the rafters at Air Canada Centre. During a thoughtful speech, Mats Sundin urged fans to embrace their young team because of how difficult it can be to play hockey in Toronto.

Less than two hours later, the Leafs were being booed off the ice after 40 minutes.

Montreal seized control during a second period that saw it score four times on seven shots against James Reimer.  Cole started the barrage at 5:01 with a shot through the goalie’s legs, Bourque made it 2-0 less than two minutes later with a one-timer and Pacioretty squeaked a shot past Reimer at 15:54.

That goal came with Leafs forward Tim Connolly in the penalty box for slashing — making it the first time in 18 games the team had surrendered a goal while shorthanded.

For good measure, Eller made it 4-0 at 18:54 after skating right around Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and beating Reimer, prompting a loud series of boos from the sellout crowd.

Jonas Gustavsson FigureRon Wilson sent Jonas Gustavsson out for the third period, no doubt reviving the goaltending debate in the process. The Monster fared only marginally better than his counterpart, getting beaten by Darche on a breakaway just 1:29 into the period.

Price secured his fourth shutout of the season after seeing two Toronto shots hit the post in the final 20 minutes. He also stood tall during a late power play.

The Habs goaltender had to be sharp in the early stages of the game. He stopped a tricky Clarke MacArthur shot in the opening minutes and denied Phil Kessel on a partial breakaway shortly after.

Toronto goalie, James Reimer was also tested a couple times during a first period that saw the Leafs outshoot the visitorsJames Reimer Figure 14-8. He looked solid until Cole opened the scoring.

It was just one week ago the Leafs registered an impressive 5-0 victory in Ottawa and looked poised to make a climb up the standings. But after beating Edmonton on Monday, they dropped a game in Winnipeg on Tuesday and Philadelphia on Thursday and now face a tough three-game swing through western Canada.

Montreal dug a big hole early in the season but is doing its best to keep slim playoff hopes alive. The Habs return home to face Carolina and Boston next week and need to keep winning.

Notes: It was the 16th shutout of Price’s NHL career … The Leafs had US$7.5 million in salary in the press box with Colby Kobe Bryant FigureArmstrong and Mike Komisarek scratched. Both players are alternate captains for the team … Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski each wore an “A” in their absence … Travis Moen, Ryan White and Yannick Weber sat out for Montreal … Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was among the announced crowd of 19,685.

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Keira Knightley upsets Maple Leaf fans with Habs jersey

The Canadian Press,  Sat. Sep. 10 2011 2:21 PM ET

TORONTO — Keira Knightley risked rankling a Toronto audience by striding into a film festival press conference with a Montreal Canadiens jersey slung across her shoulders.

The British movie star says she did so at the bidding of her “Dangerous Method” co-star Viggo Mortensen, who is a big Habs fan.

Mortensen says he gave his co-star a “thorough coaching” on the politics of Canadian hockey before coming out. He proudly displayed a Habs jersey bearing the name Lafleur on the back, as well as a Scott Gomez sweater.

Knightley says they thought it would get the ire of their Toronto-bred director, David Cronenberg, and it did.

Cronenberg called the stunt “perverse” and expressed mock dismay that it didn’t seem to bother Knightley.

Knightley says she actually has no idea who hockey hero Guy Lafleur is, but says she expects her career to take off in Montreal after the appearance.

“Actually, I have to admit I have no idea what the jersey is…. He told me it would wind David up so we decided it would be a good idea,” Knightley said Saturday, gesturing to Mortensen who sat beside her.

“Something about a blond demon, I don’t know what that means.”

“I’m going to be huge in Montreal after this.”   We just have one thing to add: Go Habs Go!

Guy Lafleur Action Figure NHL

Bob Gainey at the 2011 Heritage Game in Calgary

Who is the best hockey player ever? If you ask the Russians, they will tell you it is…Bob Gainey. Gainey had a lot of tools. He could skate, stickhandle, pass and check. Marking the best players in the league, Gainey covered them like a blanket, emerging as one of the NHL’s top defensive forwards in his career. Unlike many of his peers, he rarely resorted to tactics that resulted in penalties. He was a very special player and person!  His jersey number (23) was retired by the Habs in 2008.  I found the following article very interesting….read on….

Article from The Canadian Press.

Bob Gainey Hockey playerBob Gainey has no regrets about his decision a year ago to step down as the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens.

Gainey, who spent 16 years as a player in Montreal before eventually serving as the team’s GM for seven seasons, commended Pierre Gauthier on his performance after taking over for Gainey.

“I think Pierre Gauthier’s insertion into that position last year in February had a real impact on the team,” Gainey said Saturday. “I understood when I left my job last February that you walk away and you leave the good parts behind and you leave the not-so-good parts behind.

“There was some crap that I left behind that Pierre had to clean up and there was some good things I left behind that he got to take care of. I can say easily Pierre took what was left to him and he’s done an excellent job with it.”

Gainey left as GM for personal reasons but remains with the club as a special advisor to Gauthier.

Gainey travelled with the team for Sunday’s Tim Hortons Heritage Classic outdoor game and coached the Canadiens’ alumni team Saturday night against their Flames counterparts.

Gainey said the time was right last February to take a less prominent role with the Canadiens.

“It was a big change,” he said. “My day-to-day responsibilities and my day-to-day habits changed.

“I had a lot more freedom and a lot more time, which I enjoyed.”

Similar to Craig Conroy’s new role as a special assistant to acting Calgary general manager Jay Feaster, Gainey does his best to keep tabs on Montreal’s farm team, the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

“I see quite a few home games and I have stayed in touch and up-to-date with the team in Hamilton so that I can speak to Pierre with an idea of all the players in the organization,” said Gainey.

He approved of Gauthier’s decision to retain goalie Carey Price and trade last season’s playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to the St. Louis Blues in the off-season. Montreal drafted Price fifth overall in 2007 during Gainey’s tenure as GM.

“(Price) had to earn his way past skeptics and some of his play from last year,” said Gainey. “I think he’s done a really fantastic job of just hunkering down and taking care of his work and really being a solid pro. Montreal’s lucky to have him.”

Montreal rookie defenceman P.K. Subban has been a polarizing player in the NHL because of his brashness, but Gainey doesn’t want Subban to change his style.

“I think he should have fun and he should play and some of those people should shut up and play against him — just keep their mouths shut and play,” Gainey said. “Anyone who’s met him knows that his personality is outgoing, overflowing and it hasn’t yet been tempered with full maturity.”

Gainey went so far as to compare Subban to a former Canadiens’ defenceman who went on to a long and successful NHL career.

“One player who came into our team at one point and had impact like that, a huge impact, was Chris Chelios,” he said. “I think Montreal’s lucky to have him, the NHL’s lucky to have him.

“He’s difficult to play against. He’s the kind of player on a team you play against that you have to be conscious of him and you know he can hurt you.”

Habs sign Cammalleri and Gionta

The Habs signed free agent winger Michael Cammalleri to a five-year, $30 million deal worth $6 million annually.

Although he grew up in the Toronto area as a Maple Leaf fan and was courted by the Leafs and the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday Cammalleri knows he is headed into the perhaps the deepest, brightest fishbowl on the NHL landscape: Montreal.

“I’m pretty aware of it,” Cammalleri said of the pressure late Wednesday afternoon after he signed on to try and help resurrect the Habs’ sagging fortunes.

Cammalleri spent the past season with the Calgary Flames after spending the first five years of his career with the Kings. The diminutive winger scored a career-high 39 goals and 82 points last year playing with Jarome Iginla.

He is getting a substantial raise from the $3.6 million he earned last season. In 364 career NHL games, the 27-year-old Cammalleri has 132 goals and 155 assists.

He said playing in Calgary for a year gave him a good taste of what it means to play in a Canadian NHL market. Cammalleri noted the newcomers to the Habs’ lineup — Scott Gomez, Hal Gill and Jaroslav Spacek — and said they’ll all be in the same boat trying to fit in.

“Hockey’s the ultimate team game. We’re all going to need each other,” Cammalleri said.

Cammalleri’s agent Ian Pulver said the Canadiens made a push for the talented forward’s services right out of the gate Wednesday but were joined by Ottawa and Montreal.

Pulver said Cammalleri will embrace the pressure of playing in Montreal where the Habs are coming off a tumultuous season with a bevy of problems on and off the ice including allegations of player ties to convicted felons and the benching of star Alexei Kovalev and the firing of head coach Guy Carbonneau.

The makeover of the Montreal Canadiens continues Wednesday night with the signing of free-agent forward Brian Gionta to a five-year, $25 million deal.

In Montreal, Gionta will be reunited with former New Jersey Devils teammate Scott Gomez, the two having known offensive success together. Gionta was fourth on the Devils last year in scoring with 60 points. It was his fifth straight 20-goal season.

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Habs get Gomez from Rangers for Higgins

Scott Gomez

The Montreal Canadiens have acquired centre Scott Gomez, winger Tom Pyatt and defenceman Mike Busto from the New York Rangers in exchange for winger Chris Higgins and defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko from the Montreal Canadiens.

Gomez, 29, is coming off a down season for the Rangers, finishing with 58 points, his lowest total since 2002-2003.

A two-time Stanley Cup winner with the New Jersey Devils, Gomez was a blockbuster free agent signing for the Rangers last summer. Gomez is signed through 2013-2014, at a salary cap hit of more than $7.35-million, so he represents a significant investment.

In 706 career games, Gomez has 148 goals, 430 assists and 578 points, adding 81 points in 114 career playoff games.

Higgins, a 26-year-old restricted free agent winger, also struggled in 2008-2009, scoring a career-low 23 points in 57 games as he missed a combined 25 games with hand and groin injuries. Prior to last season, however, Higgins recorded three straight seasons of at least 20 goals and he’ll be a more economical option for the Rangers as he earned $1.7-million last season.

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