NHL logo rankings No. 13: Montreal Canadiens

Matt Larkin
HABSMAIN

Another Original Six team falls in the THN logo rankings. This time, it’s the Original Six team, the New York Yankees of hockey, the most storied, most successful franchise in the history of the sport. And that’s why plenty of rabid fans have probably oiled and ignited their torches already. The Habs? Not even in the top 10? Subscription cancelled, bro.

It was a surprise even to our voting panel when the Montreal Canadiens logo finished a modest 13th. The question to ask, however, isn’t “How could you?” It’s “What’s truly great about the logo?”

We know it calls to mind nostalgic images like Rocket Richard bearing down on goaltenders furiously or Guy Lafleur’s perfect hockey hair flapping in the breeze. Bleu, blanc et rouge is a pleasing color scheme. But strip away for a moment all the championships, all the history, and what do you have?

Well, there’s a ‘C,’ and there’s an ‘H.’ And they’re fused together.

It’s a perfectly old-school, understated, classy crest, and that’s why we liked it enough to rank it in the top half of the league. But, ironically, the rich history that had many of us doodling this logo when we were kids is also what drags it down. An eight-year-old can indeed replicate it rather easily with a few pencil crayons.

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P.K. Subban’s new contract a win-lose for Canadiens GM Bergevin

Adam Proteau
P.K. Subban (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The reaction in Montreal to P.K. Subban signing an eight-year, $72-million contract extension with the Canadiens Saturday afternoon was a combination of relief and elation: relief that the ticking time bomb of arbitration had been defused after Friday’s hearing had concluded in tight jaws and terse words; and elation that their star defenseman would return to the fold happy and secure.

Now that the smoke is clearing, two things are apparent: firstly, that Habs GM Marc Bergevin deserves credit for backing away from the abyss and coming to his senses before it was too late. Had he waited another day and allowed the arbitrator’s verdict to be rendered, who knows what bitterness would’ve lingered between the two parties and where that would’ve led.

But it’s also clear Bergevin’s 2012 gamble with Subban on a short-term, “bridge deal” has not paid off for him. In fact, it held him upside-down by the ankles and shook free more money and salary cap space than the franchise would’ve needed to utilize had the Canadiens invested on a longer-term deal two years ago.

You want to know why the Maple Leafs invested five years and $20.25 million in Jake Gardiner last week, and why so many teams sign their youngsters coming out of their entry level deals to long-term deals? This is why. Longer-term gambles are cheaper gambles. And if things don’t work out on one of those longer-term contracts, GMs usually can find a team to take the underachieving player off their hands. That’s because rivals always think they can tweak a player’s game and help him realize the promise that made his first team invest in him.

But that’s not what happened with Subban. All he did after Montreal gave him a two-year, $5.75-million deal two years ago was deliver on every count: he improved in each year; he won a Norris Trophy; he emerged as a leader and a frontrunner to take over the captaincy from Buffalo-bound Brian Gionta; and last spring, he proved he could deliver in the playoffs as a near point-per-game player (14 points in 17 games).

In other words, Subban didn’t just win this bet with Bergevin. He won it running away.

Would it have been possible to get Subban’s name on a five-year, $25-million contract after the NHL lockout ended in early 2013? You’d better believe it. He was making $875,000 in the final year of his rookie contract and was still honing his game. A four-to-six-year deal would’ve given him a tremendous raise, bought out some of those unrestricted free agent years and still allowed him to sign another massive contract at age 28 or 29.

Instead, the Habs now have to pay much more, much sooner. Yes, the cap ceiling will rise and reduce the amount of space Subban’s deal takes up, but Bergevin’s process with one of his young stars has hurt his team’s flexibility. He’s had a strong run as a young GM, but Bergevin burned his hand on the stove this time. He saved himself some money in the short-term, but nobody much cares for or remembers that anymore. All they’ll remember is that, while it’s great he didn’t allow the situation to backslide into open acrimony, Bergevin’s risk-reward policy didn’t pay off.

Veteran gamblers understand the house usually wins. But Bergevin learned the hard way: when it comes to player contracts, the players are the house. The league’s collective bargaining agreement is designed to make teams project and make tough decisions on elite young players earlier than ever.

By opting for that bridge deal, Bergevin tried to delay that process by two years. You’d hope that, as the ink dries on Subban’s new deal, he realizes why that was a mistake.

Subban agrees to eight-year, $72-million contract with Habs

The Canadian Press
Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Seven

MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens ended their stalemate with P.K. Subban by agreeing to terms with their franchise defenceman on an eight-year contract on Saturday.

Subban and the team endured an arbitration hearing Friday that would have led to a one-year deal.

Instead, the 25-year-old is in the fold in Montreal for the long term and will reportedly make $72 million over the course of the contract.

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L’Heisenberg: Drug dealer busted for Montreal Canadiens meth

Matt Larkin
Habs logo

You clearly don’t know who you’re dealing with, so let Michel Emond clue you in. He is not in danger, you guys. Michel Emond IS the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of him? No! Emond is the one who KNOCKS.

Mandatory comparisons out of the way, Emond’s alleged jig is up. Police have apprehended the accused methamphetamine kingpin, 36, in Costa Rica after hunting him for two years. The charges indicate he ran the operation out of his home in Laval, Que. Really should’ve driven an RV deep into the Laurentians for his cook sessions, but I digress.

Where’s the hockey hook? Look no further than the drugs themselves. The charges suggest Emond’s trademark was to shape the tablets like the Montreal Canadiens logo. If the meth is pure enough, you could call it ‘Et Le Blue.’

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Bob Clarke didn’t want Russians in the NHL…and he wasn’t alone

Red Alert

Russians have had a huge impact on the NHL and the way the game is played, but their arrival in North America wasn’t without controversy.

In the August, 1989, edition of The Hockey News, a wave of Soviet stars, riding the crest of glasnost, broke down barriers and signed to play with NHL teams. Slava Fetisov and Sergei Starikov inked in New Jersey. Alexandr (that’s how he spelled it in ’89) Mogilny officially became a Sabre. And Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov were brought into the Vancouver Canucks fold.

Some natives, however, remained suspicious and opposed.

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Brad Marchand says he HATES Tomas Plekanec

Rory Boylen
Brad Marchand

The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins rivalry is…heated you might say. It’s one that dates back to the early days of the NHL, of course, and it’s never really let up.

The two teams have met in four of the past seven post-seasons, with each winning two series. But the styles of these two couldn’t be much different. Boston is a team that always tries to play on the edge and gets the most out of its players when they’re physical and able to get a retaliatory rise out of their opponents. The Habs, a smaller team, didn’t let the Bruins get to them in their second round series this past spring and ended up winning in seven games that were still all very heated contests.

You’ll remember the series ended with Milan Lucic’s epic meltdown in the handshake line, where he apparently threatened to kill Dale Weise and inspired an incredible T-shirt, to say nothing of the backlash to his offenses on twitter and other social media platforms. Lucic may have been a cheap crotch-seeker too often last season, but I find entertainment in the kind of over-the-top explosiveness he showed at the end of the series.

And it appears those hateful feelings still linger amongst Bruins agitators.

At the Phoenix House Champions for Change dinner in Halifax on Tuesday, American League president Dave Andrews asked Brad Marchand which NHL player irritated him the most. Which is ironic, considering Marchand would probably top the list of most other NHLers if they faced the question.

“Tomas Plekanec from Montreal…I hate him. I can’t stand him. No, I probably shouldn’t say that. I dislike him very much. Somebody is going to call and get mad at me tomorrow.”

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Want to ask P.K. Subban a question? Now’s your chance

The Hockey News
P.K. Subban

Have you ever wanted to ask Montreal Canadiens superstar P.K. Subban a question? Now’s your chance, because the next cover story for THN magazine will be a question-and-answer with Subban – and all the questions will come from fans!

To have your question considered, email it directly to editorial@thehockeynews.com, or post it in the comments section below. THN will select the best questions – and if your submission is chosen, you could win a complimentary digital subscription! Good luck, and thanks in advance.

With no resolution in sight, Canadiens taking arbitration risk with P.K. Subban

Ken Campbell
P

Barring a couple of last minute settlements, Rand Simon of Newport Sports and Andre Lepage of the BCF law firm in Montreal will have a very busy couple of days. And they’ll probably get to know each other a lot better.

Simon, a former staffer here at THN and now an indispensible contract resource for Newport Sports, is scheduled to argue the salary arbitration cases for Nick Spaling of the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday and P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens Friday. Lepage, whose firm is retained by both the Penguins and Canadiens, will be arguing in front of the arbitrator in favor of the teams involved.

Of the 23 salary arbitration cases that were originally filed, only Spaling and Subban remain unresolved. Twenty came to terms before their hearings and Vladimir Sobotka of the St. Louis Blues, who will play in the Kontinental League next season, was awarded a one-year deal for $2.725 million, which he must honor whenever he returns to the NHL.

The arbitration case involving Subban is certainly the most compelling and prominent of all those that were filed and it’s looking as though the two sides are on a collision course that will see this thing go the distance. The two sides have had a history of having difficulty in contract negotiations and as of Wednesday morning at least, were not even close to consummating a deal that is suitable for both sides.

And there’s no doubt the Canadiens are taking a substantial risk here. In their pre-arbitration filings, the Subban camp is asking for $8.5 million and the Canadiens are requesting an award of $5.25 million. The Canadiens could have elected to take a two-year award, but chose only one. And there are a couple of reasons for that. First, Subban will still be one year away from being an unrestricted free agent after the 2014-15 season and the Canadiens have the option of taking him to arbitration next summer. If Subban doesn’t have a banner season, the Canadiens can come in with an offer of up to a 15 per cent pay cut on whatever Subban is awarded.

Secondly, a two-year award would not allow the Canadiens to even talk to Subban about a contract extension for at least 12 months, whereas a one-year deal will allow them to try to hammer out a deal with Subban starting Jan. 1, 2015.

But the risk for the Canadiens is very real. If Subban has an even better season in 2014-15, he could take the Canadiens to arbitration again next summer and really torch them on a one-year deal. If all that happens and he goes through arbitration again, it’s difficult to fathom Subban wouldn’t simply play out his last season before unrestricted free agency then explore the market. And even though the Canadiens can announce as early as June 15 of next year that they intend to take him to arbitration, any team would be free to submit an offer sheet before July 5. The Canadiens would then either face the prospect of losing Subban for draft picks or be forced to match the offer and not be able to trade him for a year.

Either way, Subban wins here. The Canadiens request of $5.25 million represents a 40 percent raise on the $3.75 million Subban made last season. And that’s the worst-case scenario for him. Best case will be arbitrator Elizabeth Neumeier chooses Subban’s number of $8.5 million, but she can also pick a number anywhere between the two. (Spaling filed a salary request of $2.85 million for next season, while the Penguins countered with $1.65 million.)

Subban’s hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday and the decision must come down by Sunday afternoon. The two sides have until the decision to work out a deal on their own, but the reality is that if this one gets to the hearing stage, there almost certainly won’t be a deal.

So the fate of one of the NHL’s best defensemen and one of its most marketable players is very much up in the air. And if it goes to arbitration, Canadiens fans had better get accustomed to uncertainty surrounding Subban, probably for the next two years.