Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Kovalev? Goodbye. Koivu? Good luck. Komisarek? Good riddance.

Not shown: traitorous fucking pigdog defensemen.

So it's been a week since the grand free-agent frenzy started, and the Canadiens are a mixed bag of what the fuck that really won't get sorted out until we see if Bob actually had a plan or just threw money at anyone who wasn't part of last year's monumental cock-up of a season. Those types of arguments will last as long as Leaf fans gloat about how Flyers North will beat the Hobbits/midgets/Lollipop Guild/Roloff Family into submission next year (which should be until they realize that at some point, all those thugs will take penalties and pay dearly for it - we hope.) I'm reserving judgement on who the Habs kept, solely because I don't have a fucking clue what will happen. I'm resigned to hoping for the best and expecting something far less. Sort of like the last 15 years.

No, today is the day to talk about the ones who went away, got away, or were shamefully pushed away. Kovalev. Komisarek. Koivu. In that order.

Kovy, the Superstar that Never Was:

And so the era of Kovalev ends fittingly, with all sorts of rumours, mystery, rabid fans defending "L'Artiste", just as many rabid fans wishing he would fuck off, and an anticlimactic finish (the Sens? That's it? Not the Penguins to play with Malkin, not LA to mess up the young kids, not a reunion with Jagr in Russia?)

On any given night, Kovalev was the best player in the rink or the worst. He was dominating and controlling the puck for minutes at a time, or shying away from contact on the boards. He was making a mockery of physics with a wrist shot from an impossible angle or taking a stupid penalty. He is, for a generation of younger Habs fans, the closest thing to a non-goalie superstar they have ever known. To the older generation, he's a modern day Pierre Larouche; talented beyond most mere mortals and never able to put it all together in the package it deserved.

The stories surrounding Kovalev run the gamut from "slacker/cancer/bad influence/only tries when Koivu is out" to "great teammate/amazing work ethic/great mentor for the kids". Given what I saw on the ice and the implosion of the dressing room last year (including Kovy's infamous walk in the snow with Gainey) I lean more towards trouble than terrific. And with Gainey clearly looking to take this team in an entirely different direction on ice and in the room, Kovy's time was clearly up. I will remember the fantastic performance in the playoffs against Boston, the epic comeback against the Rangers, the night he crushed Darcy Tucker, the countless one-timers that sizzled into the top corner, the myriad of tricks, the goal he destroyed Chara and Thomas on. But I'll also remember the bizarre pronouncements, the amount of times I shouted at the tv because it looked like Kovy was taking a shift or a night off, and that I knew I would kill to put his talent into the body of a guy who played full-bore like Steve Begin just to see what would happen.

In the end, I don't have any ill will towards Kovalev. I appreciate that he came to Montreal and then re upped with them when they were struggling badly on ice and off. But I am not about to shed a tear for his departure or curse at him for going.

I will save my bile for ...

Komisarek, the ungrateful turncoat:

(Note to Leaf fans who seem to think this Komisarek hate is irrational: Please review what you said about your former captain when he was contemplating his future about one year ago. That's a pretty big glass house you live in.)

It's not that he went to the Leafs. I hate the Leafs, but I hate the Bruins more. What drives me (and so many other Habs fans) to white-hot-levels of "Komisarek is a Judas" hatred is the perception that Komisarek essentially gave the finger to an organization that:

a) Announced he was priority number one in free agency, over the beloved team captain, the talented Russian fan-favourite, and the French-Canadian scorer the team gave up a first-round pick for just a year earlier;
b) Thought so highly of his input and contributions that they asked him to coach while he was injured this year;
c) From all reports, bent over backwards to help him and his family when his mother passed away; and
d) Made no secret of the fact that they considered him future captain material.

Komisarek received an offer from Bob Gainey that was reported as 5 years, $20 million. He left for the Leafs for 5 years, $22.5 million. According to reports, Komisarek never even gave the Habs the opportunity to match the offer. He bolted. That, more than anything is what hurts. The franchise drafted him, taught him, had plans for him. The fans adored him, defended his questionable tactics when other teams accused him of late hits, not fighting, or cheap shots. We all suffered the guffaws and countless youtube replays of Komisarek getting destroyed by Milan Lucic and stuck by him. The Canadiens and the fans invested in Mike Komisarek, and he didn't invest anything back. That's why we're mad. That's why we turned so quickly. That's why next year, I will cheer every time he gets caught out of position trying to make a big hit, every time he gets thumped by Lucic, every time he takes a stupid penalty. That's why he's getting his ass booed at the Bell Centre for the rest of his life. Like that fucker Grabovski, he looked the Habs franchise in the eye and spit; So fuck him. He could have learned a thing or two from:

Koivu, the man who deserved better:

Lost among the rage over Komisarek's departure and the stupidity of a rally for an enigmatic 25 goal scorer was the shabby treatment doled out to the most important Montreal Canadien of the past decade. Saku Koivu never became the elite scorer his early seasons promised due to a combination of bad luck with injuries, bad linemates, lack of size, whatever. He never lead the Habs to a Cup, which is how legends usually get made in Montreal. He was never fully embraced by a large segment of the fan base, either because he wasn't Francophone, or didn't score highlight reel goals, or because he had the misfortune of being the leader of the most rudderless, Three Stooges-esque collection of Habs teams ever (thank you, Mr. Corey and Mr. Houle and Mr. Tremblay).

The measure of Koivu's worth to the team and city can't ever be quantified in points-per-game or trophies won. His tireless charity work, his ability to come back from knee injuries and cancer and almost losing an eye, his calm and dignified response to the barbs lobbed at him over language by the Guy Bertrands of the world, his willingness to get on with the business of playing hockey without complaining about his contract, or his linemates, or his lack of support from certain fans all speak to the man he was. Koivu was a throwback to an earlier incarnation of Montreal Canadien; The class of Beliveau, the guts of the Richards, the little big man tenaciousness of Joliat. He isn't as fast as he used to be, and he isn't strong enough to continue to battle for 25 minutes a night against the Getzlafs or Malkins of the world anymore. But his time with Tanguay and Kovalev last year and his work with kids like Little Tits and Gui! Gui! Gui! surely show that he had something to offer on the ice to go along with all he brings off it. Obviously none of us know what transpired between Koivu and Gainey over the past year, and we don't know what kind of offers or counteroffers were made. But in my opinion, Koivu deserves better treatment from the franchise he has served so well for so long. If by some miracle he returns, I will welcome him with open arms. If he is indeed done as a Canadien, I will wish him nothing but the best and hope that his next appearance at the Bell Centre results in a deafening ovation. He deserves that. He deserves better than what he's received so far.


Habsfan1993 said...

Amen on Koivu, HF10. A sad day.

Word verif: "sesicat." As in, Bob Gainey has sesicated my heart.

HabsFan29 said...

Could not agree more with everything. Well said, 10

he's a modern day Pierre Larouche

my god that's perfect

HabsFan29 said...

hehehe i just noticed this:

Not shown: traitorous fucking pigdog defensemen

i think pig dog may be two words. i'll check

eyebleaf said...

That was fucking beautiful, what you wrote about Koivu.

lawyergirl77 said...

Brilliant post, 10. Just absolutely brilliant from start to finish.

I'm going to go cry over my Saku now.
The Ducks just became my second team.


Anonymous said...

This is a fucking amazing post... kudos

L Dude said...

Slow clap on the Koivu bit.

Never thought I'd cheer for the Ducks, but now I will.

Well, at least we can officially move on.

Anonymous said...

I hope he come's back.

KML said...

Wow, it is incredibly weird to honestly hope the Ducks win it all next year (knowing that the Habs won't).

I knew this was coming all along, I think we all did. But still, it hurts knowing that I'll never be quite the same fan as before.

But LD is right, time to move on.

I've sent three different emails today about the already laughably overrated Leafs (three #3-4 d-men, plan the parade!). Plus you just know that Kovy will say something prickish about the Habs following his inevitable hat trick against them.

Koivu leaving is sentimental, but lets not forget about all of the irrational hate that makes this shit so much fun.

moeman said...

I agree 100%, couldn't be said better.

KML said...

I should have added that my irrational hate is slowly directing itself toward Gainey.

This has to be his final chance. Not even making an offer to Koivu is, euphamistically-put, "gutsy". But fuck him if his "plan" fails.

Montréaliste1 said...


"(...)lobbed at him over language by the Guy Bertrands of the world."

Again, you have to understand that even the Liberal MNAs and ministers (including Charest) publicly expressed their disapointment about Koivu inhability to speak or understand French.

I don't think its fair to compare these people to bipolar zealots like G. Bertrand. What people living outside of Quebec don't get, is that the French "thing" is not a political thing, its cultural.

Habsfan10 said...

@ Montrealiste:

Yes, but only Bertrand and his ilk were right fucking pricks about it. I'm not getting into this with you again. I have yet to paint every Francophone with a "pequiste" or "bipolar zealot" brush like you keep implying, and I spent my undergrad at the fully bilingual University of Ottawa while the last referendum happened and then spent four years shoulder to shoulder with Francophones of all political stripes at McGill law. I'm well aware of the cultural significance that language holds in Quebec. But I'm tired of what seems to be your desire to bait me into a debate on a goofy hockey blog. Stop it, for everyone's sake.

Montréaliste1 said...

You're probably right, living in Ottawa and studying in McGill (of all places) probably gives you the best approach to understand the "cultural significance that language holds in Quebec".

I'm not trying to be a prick; I am far from being a "pequiste fuckhead" and people like G. Bertrand make me want to puke.

That said, it pissed me off that Saku couldn't speak any French, while American tourists I help in the streets are clever enough to at least speak a few words.

Koivu is clearly at fault, he could of easily learnt French in the 14 years he was here.

I'm not trying to "bait you". L'histoire autour de l'incapacité de Koivu de parler Francais n'est pas un caprice des Francophones, comme tu sembles le décrire. C'est une question de respect.

lawyergirl77 said...

Cristie de débat de langues de marde encore une fois... Ça me fait chier AU CUBE!!

Le problème, Montréaliste, était que Saku le parlait, et ce TRÈS BIEN, en privé. Tu aurais du le voir avec les enfants/patients à l'hôpital quand il allait les visiter... toujours bien loin des caméras et des médias. Je l'ai entendu de mes propres oreilles.

La question revient - pourquoi est-ce qu'il ne le parlait pas en public? Il avait honte de son accent. C'est un homme super fier (presque à défaut, selon les rumeurs qu'on entend de la chambre), qui haïssait montrer quelque défaut que ce soit.

Il l'a parlé à l'écran lors de la présentation des joueurs après la dernìère fureur de Guy Bertrand et sa gang d'imbéciles.

Fact: he spoke French. Spoke it relatively well, considering it was his FOURTH fucking language. His pride led to a situation in which he didn't want to cave in to the vipers, which only exacerbated matters.

The fact that this is the thing for which the French media remembers him makes me want to puke.

Le respect duquel tu parles aurait dû être MUTUEL. I think that, had he gotten one fucking crumb of respect from the French media regarding this issue, you would have heard him speak French a lot more...
Instead it became a ridiculous issue that haunted him, especially near the end of his tenure. Which makes me even more sad.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

Any Leaf fan that calls your hatred of Komisarek irrational is out to lunch. I agree with every word about him and if you weren't that upset I'd question it.

As for Koivu, he was literally the only Habs player I have ever liked and wanted to see succeed. I'll never forget his comeback game or that 3-1 comeback against the Bruins.

Having said that, anyone questioning his language habits (from what I understood he actually did take French lessons) is a huge prick. I could care less about the place the French language has in the Quebecois culture. Koivu wasn't paid to be a cultural ambassador. He was paid to be a hockey player and he was pretty good at it plus a hell of a captain. Seeing him in another jersey will surely be as jarring for you guys as seeing picture of Sittler as a Flyer or Sundin as a Canuck are for us.

And for all of your talk about the great Jean Beliveau I was disappointed to read a report that he said that maybe the Habs shouldn't re-sign Koivu. Tell me he didn't suggest that? Because that seems out of character. Or are the rumours about Koivu not being re-signed because it would make him the longest serving captain in franchise history true?*

*oddball rumour I heard.

Anyway, great post. I agree with everything. Now I am going to take a bath in lye.

Pension Plan Puppets said...

heh, leave it to LG77 to say it better and in both languages.

lawyergirl77 said...

PPP - No, Beliveau said the opposite, while carefully sitting on the fence... He said that he was disappointed with BG's decision but that he understood that the team wanted to go in another direction.

Béliveau always said that the only current member of the Habs' roster who would have fit in with the Dynasty teams was Koivu.

Okay, now I'm even more depressed...

Le said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Montréaliste1 said...

@ LG77: Big fucking deal, ya dit trois mots en français à la présentation des joueurs.

I don't believe that he could speak French, but only in private, that would be ridiculous, the Habs' PR guys would've gone insane because of that irony.

Hockey is pretty close to politics in MTL (la langue de bois, l'importance dans nos vies, ect);
imagine a PM of Quebec, or a Mayor of MTL that couldn't speak English. Unacceptable.

Imagine if the captain of the Laffs could'nt speak English. Outrageous.

The media in MTL only did their fucking job, asking questions about what the people cared about.

@PPP: thank you for reminding us there is two solitudes in this country.

Koivu had more years (including lockout) but Beliveau had more games.

kevincrumbs said...

I have no idea what to say about Saku leaving besides the fact that I am really sad. I mean, I'm 27 and at the end of the day, it's just another hockey player going to another hockey team... yet I feel a little bit like when Roy was traded and how I felt when I was 14 or so.

Saku always deserved a lot better from everyone and everything, as HF10 mentioned in his post. I'd like to think that he was classy enough and that Montreal meant enough to him that he chose to go West. One last classy gesture from a classy guy.

I'll be forever grateful for having seen him play in person multiple times.

Thanks for everything, Saku, God Bless and I'll definitely be flipping to Ducks games as soon as Habs games are over this coming season.

VW: spitt. As in Bob Gainey and this organization may have just spitt in Saku's face.

Carina said...

Habs fans, it's ok, I always thought Komisarek was overrated. You're better off without him.

Sonia said...


Politics is way too close to everything in QC. A healthy culture should define its politics, not be a slave to it, and Québec culture is definitely a slave to politics. That's both a reality and a malaise, and the reason why there seems to be a total lack of perspective in this debate.

If we could just put away that political prism and look honestly at the sum of all that Saku Koivu is and has done, we'd see a great Montrealer.

too close to toronto said...

i can't beleive saku will be wearing another jersey. every time i think about it i almost want to cry. if i keep drinking, i think i just might. overreacting much? yeah, probably.

i'm old enough to have seen the last two cups, but i was still pretty young in '86. for just about as long as i have been following hockey with more than just casual interest, saku has been part of my team. saku was my captain.

i have never owned a jersey with a number on the back, but i think that is about to change.

thankfully now it will be just a *little* easier to cheer for the ducks, now that pronger is gone.

man, this ain't right. i am sad.

Lukestar said...

Indeed a sad day for all true Habs fans...despite the disappointing seasons he may have led us through, you always felt miracles had the chance to happen (and occasionally did) with saku at the helm.

I still get emotional watching his return from cancer on youtube, and surely he has to be considered one of the greatest to don a Habs jersey merely for the personal trials and tribulations he overcame.

Like others have expressed today, I am thankful I got the chance to see him in person last year for the first time way out here on the west coast.

I wish him all the best in Anaheim, he deserved a much better ending to his time in Montreal.

Sheriff25 said...

Fuck another year or two, when they start teaching kids how to write blogs in elementary school, they should just print this off and hand it out. Obviously written by a true fan, it was painful for me to read at times (and I hate the Habs). I know what it's like to watch a team just fall apart and appear rudderless. Great fucking blog.

Number31 said...

This day was inevitable, and such is the way of today's NHL. This is to Saku. He's a hero, and I retire his number.

And I'm also very sick of all the Gainey hate...but I digress.

Clark said...

Very eloquent post, but the Komisarek/Sundin comparison is off-base. This exact scenario happened with Curtis Joseph in 2002, when he turned down more money from Toronto to chase a ring in Detroit (now known as "pulling a Hossa").

Karma took care of Joseph (the other part of "pulling a Hossa"). Time will tell what happens with Komisarek.

kevincrumbs said...

@Clark: I think people would understand if Komi was indeed "chasing a ring" and signed with the Hawks, Pens or another team like that.

Kaz said...

Great post, and I almost agree with every word. Almost. I'm not sure I can get to the level of Komi-hate you do, because the most heinous parts haven't been confirmed, ie, Gainey's offer being so close to the Leafs, the refusal to allow the Habs to counteroffer, and the "bending over backward" part (Great. Now I can't get the image of Gainey bending over in front Komi out of my head). All rumours, as far as I know. I just can't crucify the guy until these have all been established as facts.

Wasted Years said...

Just found this Blog yesterday and think it's great. Though I am a huge Leaf fan I completely understand your hatred towards Komisarek right now, am embarrassed for how the organization treated Koivu (one of my 10 favs in the league)and happy for all of you that you were able to rid yourself of that waste of talent Kovalev.

Justin Crowder said...

As a young man barely old enough to remember any of the details of 1993, Saku Koivu is the greatest Canadien, and one of the greatest men, I have ever had the privilege of watching play the game of hockey.

I've been rapt by his class, courage, tenaciousness, dignity and pride from the time he was drafted by les Glorieux, and I get teary-eyed reading all these tributes to the man whose career and legacy will always be unjustly clouded by bad luck, weak teams and baseless criticisms.

Thank you, HF10, for doing your part to pay tribute to the man that Saku was and will forever be.

I can only hope he will be remembered in this light and welcomed back into the Canadiens family at some point in the future as all legendary Habs are.

microfox said...

This profession of faith, loyalty and deep love for Koivu is so touching I have a hard time to stop the tears from coming down.

What I don't understand though, is why all of this love has to be expressed with so much frustration about the other solitude ?

Is this frustration and anger related strictly to Koivu or is this just part of your everyday's lament ? In case it's only based on Koivu's departure, then it's absolute bullshit. If it's rather a regular routine, let me tell you it would be just as easy to fill these blogs with the exact same shit against the opposite solitude.

Pension Plan Puppets said...


I could care less about the place the French language has in the Quebecois culture. Koivu wasn't paid to be a cultural ambassador.

I re-read this this morning and it definitely did not come across the way I meant it to. That's what poor editing, quick typing, and a distracting office will do.

If I would re-write it I would clarify that I meant that as it relates to the Montreal Canadiens. Overall I try my best to understand the issues, being of hispanic descent I understand the power that regional languages and cultures have. Not that I condone a lot of the problems that arise but I kind of get it.

Sonia also makes some great points.

LG77: thanks for the clarification. I thought I had to have heard it wrong.


Karma did get Joseph back. I hope he leaves Komisarek alone.

Kaz said...

@Montréaliste: please, put your energy into something more constructive, like Quebec separatism. Then maybe you wouldn't feel so damn insecure about your place in the world.

Montréaliste1 said...

What pisses me off is that commentators, including on this blog are acting as if the French media was to blame for picking on poor Koivu.

The media only did their job, it was a concern amongst the Francophone population (85-90% of Quebec) that our captain couldn't speak French.

If Koivu wanted to be scandal proof, the steps were VERY simple; take a few French lessons over the summer and say at least a few fucking words in French once in a while.

A part from that, I respect the man and his courage fully.

@ Kaz: wtf, this is a super local issue.

Anonymous said...

there goes the KKK. :(

word veri: bunfelen. as in: Burke is bumfelen Komi.

Laszlo said...

This is the best piece I've read anywhere during this free agency circus. Bravo!

K-Mart said...

I always liked Koivu. Sad to see him leave Montreal.