Habs 100 Season

Habs 100

The Montreal Canadiens’ 2009 NHL campaign was supposed to be a season of hope and an energized quest towards the 25th Stanley Cup in franchise history. Coming off a 47 win year which earned the Habs top honors in the Eastern Conference last year, there was plenty of buzz surrounding the monumental Centennial season for this storied franchise so rich in tradition. What it ended up turing out to be was a roller-coaster of highs and lows eventually culminating in an embarassing playoff sweep to one of their arch rivals. Here is a timeline of milestone events that occurred throughout the 2008-2009 season:

Oct 15, 2008 – Montreal celebrates a 4-3 shootout win over Boston in their home opener. Habs legends Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, Guy Lafleaur and Yvan Cournoyer among others are in attendance helping unveil the new “Ring of Honor” in the upper bowl.

Nov 22, 2008 – Canadiens retire #33 of all-time great Patrick Roy in an uplifting ceremony prior to their game vs. Boston. Roy helped lead Montreal to 2 Stanley Cup championships (’86,’93) earning Conn Smythe honors in each run.

Patrick Roy

Dec 10, 2008 – Carey Price suffers a lower body injury in practice igniting the start of the Canadiens’ downfall. The Habs hold a 16-6-5 record at the time, good for 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

Jan 4, 2009 – Amid voting controversy, 4 Canadiens are elected to start on the Eastern Conference All-Star squad (Alexei Kovalev, Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, Carey Price) keeping Alexander Ovechkin among others off the starting roster.

Jan 25, 2009 – Montreal hosts the All-Star at the Bell Centre which features the return of Henri Richard and Dickie Moore among other Hab greats. The Eastern Conference wins 12-11 in a shootout with Canadiens’ forward Alexei Kovalev earning MVP honors scoring 2G, 1A and adding a shootout goal.

Alexei Kovalev

Feb 17, 2009 – Alexei Kovalev is sent home for 2 games having scored 1 goal in the previous 13 games of which the Canadiens lost 10. Kovalev returns 2 games later on Feb. 21 scoring 1G and adding 2A in a 5-3 win over Ottawa.

Feb 20, 2009 – The Kostitsynbrothers (Andre, Sergei) along with Roman Hamrilik are reported to be linked to organized crime in Montreal along with drug trafficking.

March 3, 2009 – Head coach Guy Carbonneau is fired less than 1 year after leading the team to the Eastern Conference’s top seed. General Manager Bob Gainey takes over coaching responsibilities for the 2nd time in 3 years (previously in 2006 after the Claude Julien firing).

March 4, 2009 – Amid rumors for Frenchman Vincent Lecavalier and with the club in desperate need of Forward support, the Canadiens stand pat at the trade deadline.

March 14, 2009 – Martin Brodeur ties long-time Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy’s all-time win mark of 551 in Montreal in a rousing display of affection from the home crowd. Brodeur goes on to break Roy’s record 3 days later in Chicago.

March 20. 2009 – Owner Gary Gillett considers selling the team he had purchased at $185 million 9 years ago.

April 9, 2009 – Grammy award winning singer and Quebec native, Celine Dion takes interest in buying the Canadiens in a joint bid. Forbes values the franchise at $335 million.

Celine Dion

April 9, 2009 – Montreal clinches a playoff spot earning a point in a 5-4 OT loss to Boston. The Habs finish the regular season going 0-7-1 agains the Bruins 1 year after going 7-0-1 against them.

April 22, 2009 – Canadiens are quickly dismissed in the 1st round of the playoffs in 4 games by the hated Boston Bruins setting a franchise record losing 8 straight postseason games dating back to last year’s loss to Philadelphia in the 2nd round.

In the end, the pressure from the 100th season along with high expectations from the Montreal faithful was too much to overcome. The Canadiens demonstrated how easily the mighty can fall from 1 to 8 in one season and Boston exacted revenge from the previous year to eliminate their arch rival. While I will be a Hab follower for life, I hope all the drama from this past year will have subsided by the time the 2009-2010 season rolls along and Carey Price regains the form that transformed him into elite company in 2008 prior to his injury.

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