Some Habs-centric thoughts as the 2011-12 NHL season begins…

This is the first year in a long time that I’m genuinely excited for a Canadiens season. I started getting a little jaded when I was with the Alouettes a few years back and the Habs decided they hadto retired Patrick Roy’s number 33 the friggin’ night before we hosted the Grey Cup. It just showed a total lack of class by the “big boys” in town. They just had to do it on Nov. 21… get it? 11 + 21 = 33. Very, very, very lame for an organization that prides itself as supposedly the epitome of class.

Can Mike Cammelleri score 40 goals? I say yes. (Pic copied off a site that didn't credit its source)

That, coupled with the whole 100th-anniversary disaster season, and I just felt like the Blue, Blanc, Rouge was being jammed down my esophagus and I needed some space. I’m under no illusions that anyone other than myself gave a crap, but I bet I’m not the only one who felt like it was a little over-the-top.

Oh, and let’s not forget the whole Affaire Alex Kovalev.

Kovalev was a complete and utter embarrassment as a Canadien. A coaster a best and a whiney drama queen at worst, Kovalev was a very skilled player who excited the lowest form of bandwagon-jumping Habs fan, which unfortunately seems to be the majority of people who fill the Bell Centre these days.

But now all that is past.

While Saku Koivu leaving for Anaheim still bugs me a bit, the Canadiens are now mostly devoid of the Kovalev/Mike Ribeiro/Jose Theodore-style personalities, and are full of players of character like Mike Cammelleri, Brian Gionta, and Carey Price.

The only seemingly sour part of the franchise is coach Jacques Martin.

I’m not a fire-the-coach-all-the-time kind of guy – in fact, I usually disagree with firings. I’ve been saying for years the Habs never should have let go of Alain Vigneault or Claude Julien – and I’m sure no Habs fan missed the fact that Julien and Vigneault coached against each other in the Stanley Cup Finals last year…

But Martin? He’s about as inspiring as the bland double-breasted suit jackets he wears. And a master strategiest? Sure – if the strategy is to allow as many shots against as possible and hope your goalie is amazing while scoring the fewest amount of goals possible, then he’s great.

I predict he doesn’t finish the season in Montreal.

And on that note – some other predictions/ideas/theories for the 2011-12 Canadiens:

–          Mike Cammelleri finds that having Erik Cole around opens up the ice a little and scores 35-40 goals;

–          Andrei Markov comes back and proves to be reliable, but it is PK Subban who truly becomes the team’s number 1 d-man;

–          Subban gets dissed by the old white man media that dominates the hockey world, and in particular the overtly racist white old man French media in Montreal for: being too glib, speaking too much, speaking too little, making too many passes, not making enough passes, wearing brightly-coloured sneakers, wearing brightly-coloured ties, wearing a hat, not wearing a hat, and so on. PK rises above it all, gets a tattoo that says #BLAMESUBBAN on his arm, and simply flashes it to reporters whenever they complain;

–          The Canadiens will finish third in the Northeast and seventh in the conference and face the Bruins in Round 1 of the playoffs. Montreal wins in seven.

–          If – and this is a big if – Cole turns out to be a 35-40 goal-scorer, that means the Habs finally have the big body they’ve needed for seemingly forever, and will finally be genuine contenders;

–          Finally, Carey Price will have another Vezina-calibre season, but will not be a Vezina finalist. Instead, the top goalie award will go to Dwayne Roloson, who plays way better than a 40-plus-year old should, en route to leading Tampa Bay to the Eastern Conference Finals.