Week 25 in One Word: Atmosphere

April 3, 2023

There were four games on tap for the Montreal Canadiens in their 25th week of action. On Monday night they were in Buffalo and Michael Pezzetta was the shootout hero in a 4-3 win. They were off to Philadelphia for a Tuesday night game that ended in a 3-2 loss. On Thursday they were back at home where the Panthers handed them a 5-2 loss. Then on Saturday the Carolina Hurricanes were in town and all but the goaltender played a stinker in a 3-0 loss.

The way Michael Pezzetta celebrated his shootout goal says something about the atmosphere developing in Montreal.

One thing that we can say about this season – a losing season – is that it’s been fun. Despite the losses and the bizarre injury adversity, a fun atmosphere has been evident from start to finish. This roster likes each other, they like playing for their coach, and they can see the direction unfolding under HuGo.

When a fourth liner – one who would likely be in the press box if the team were healthy – is comfortable to attempt his best rendition of the Tiger Williams celly, that says something about atmosphere. But wasn’t it obvious before Pezzetta had the chutzpah to ride his stick?

The fact that Martin St. Louis selected Pezzetta to shoot in the sixth round, after already going with defensemen Michael Matheson and Johnathan Kovacevic in previous rounds, says something about the atmosphere that Marty is trying to build. He’s willing to throw his weight behind a guy who has been hot, or one who has shown promise in practice, and he has everyone on that bench cheering for their peer’s success.

A comment and a look from Marty had some wondering about a shift in atmosphere amongst the leadership group.

In just over a year of working together, all indications have been that Jeff Gorton, Kent Hughes and Martin St. Louis are all on the same page with respect to where the Habs are headed and how to get there. Hughes has said they openly express divergent opinions but a decision last week left some wondering if we had seen the first rift.

In a pre-game presser, Marty was asked about Sean Farrell being in the line-up on Tuesday night against Philadelphia without having the benefit of practicing with the team. Marty’s response was that the question should be directed to Kent. The impression left was that the coach had not made the decision, and perhaps did not agree with it.

Farrell had just signed his entry-level contract. Perhaps playing in all remaining games was a negotiation point and, if so, that would hardly be unique. You’d expect the coach to be on board with that.

Or perhaps icing him in front of his family who were in attendance, while also choosing to play Cayden Primeau in Philadelphia where he has roots, were part of building that atmosphere players want to play in that Hughes committed to building when he signed on. You’d expect the coach to be on board with that.

Perhaps Farrell and Primeau were in the line-up because they will be part of a package for Carter Hart and the Flyers wanted a look. You’d expect the coach to be on board with that.

All speculation but whatever unfolded there, one thing is clear to me. If the coach values atmosphere as much as he says he does, he’ll be more careful about how he lets these things play out in press conferences.

An atmosphere of intense competition is developing amongst the forward group.

Brendan Gallagher scored the 200th and 201st goals of his career this week, and both goals were snipes. After another injury-plagued season, it’s clear that Gallagher wants to prove he can still contribute on a team where the forward group is getting pretty crowded.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard also scored a couple this week. Jesse Ylonen has looked good and contributed in the shootout. Farrell scored in his second game on Thursday against Florida. Emil Heineman has been on fire since joining the Laval Rocket. That’s four young players that will compete to start next season in Montreal.

If a good team atmosphere is built on meritocracy, Kent Hughes is going to have to find new homes for some veterans. They’re going to have a tough time keeping up with some of these kids.

With the signing of Jakob Dobes, the Habs net has a bit of a crowded atmosphere.

On Friday the Canadiens signed the goaltender to his entry level contract that will start next year. Dobes also signed a professional tryout with Laval.

In the Spring of 2019 Marc Bergevin signed Cayden Primeau to his ELC in very similar circumstances. Both goalies had played just two years in college with impressive statistics. Primeau was signed near the end of the first year of Carey Price’s monster contract. I’m sure Berge had a vision of an eventual cheap back-up for Carey.

As with Primeau, there was no rush for the Habs to sign Dobes after just two college years. Perhaps Hughes felt he had little left to prove at the college level and wanted to get him into their developmental atmosphere. Or perhaps we can look for one of Primeau or Jake Allen to be dealt in the near future.

I wonder if HuGo is considering how Logan Mailloux might impact the atmosphere surrounding their team.

Over two weeks ago I left for my Hawaii vacation, and before I left I submitted a column for Wreckhouse Press. It was a Canadian playoff fantasy. In the fantasy, the Winnipeg Jets were eliminated in the first round and immediately traded Pierre-Luc Dubois to the Habs. In my fantasy the package going back included Logan Mailloux.

While I was away and before the column published, a rumour surfaced out of Montreal that the Jets were scouting the London Knights and may be asking for Mailloux as part of a package for PLD. I suspect that rumour has as much basis as my fantasy.

But here’s the thing that struck me. The suggestion that Mailloux might be dealt for PLD unleashed a world of irrational. I’ve read tweets from folks who said they would not trade the two one-for-one.

Let me spell that out.

Some would not trade an unproven prospect that the NHL has not confirmed it will allow to play one game in the league for a proven top-line centreman.

In. What. World?

In Logan Mailloux’s world, apparently.

The Habs community is completely divided about this player. Some were so disgusted by the pick that they are unprepared to consider any future for the player in Montreal. Others have completely minimized his criminal activity to something that resembles “boys will be boys.”

Most fall somewhere in between, on a continuum that has one pole prepared to reluctantly and uncomfortably accept him if he keeps his nose clean and the other pole accepting the reform narrative and applauding his junior hockey prowess.

Any genuine review of his performance is completely lost in debate.

Wherever you sit in your view of Logan Mailloux, I think you’d have to agree that his presence in the organization has an impact on the atmosphere surrounding the Montreal Canadiens. I can’t believe this is lost on Geoff Molson, Gorton or Hughes.

On Saturday night, a bad outing by the Habs gave birth to an impatient atmosphere.

It was a rough night for the Habs where the opponent was just too much, and they were out of energy for another futile battle. It’s kind of shocking that they made it to Game 77 before they ran out.

Only five games remain in the 2022-23 season. I’m expecting a big summer of business, and we will be able to look forward to a better atmosphere next year.

Published by Lori Bennett

Hockey is my hobby. I love a respectful hockey chat or debate, but it stops being fun if we're jerks.

9 thoughts on “Week 25 in One Word: Atmosphere

  1. Terrific article Lori.. Atmosphere and Culture go hand in hand towards sustaining Development of individuals into a positive Team focus. Thanks. Cheers. Kerry

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My pleasure Lori. Many thanks for sharing your thoughts and writing skills. Cheers


  2. No one has minimized what happened with Mailloux. But plenty have tried to virtue signal off the back of it.

    He paid the price and then some. The kid is doing great, on ice AND off ice, by all accounts. He provides a perfect opportunity to help improve the behaviour of other young superstars in the making who continuously have to deal with having all kinds of “things” thrown at them.

    He was a brilliant draft choice. As for 1 for 1 for DuBois – who knows. besides why trade ANY assets when we can sign Dubois as a UFA “if” he really really wants to come here.

    All I know is, personally speaking, I’d like to see Logan dominating and leading the habs to potential cups for the next decade.


      1. I’m not new to Twitter- I don’t do Twitter! never have …it’s pathetic and always has been. And you don’t even hypothetically trade a 6 foot three 225 pound right defence who is capable of scoring 20 to 30 goals a year.


  3. Wow, hadn’t heard the LM to Winnipeg rumour yet. It does make sense for him to be included in a deal for PLD even hypothetically. Just means that Montreal might have to look elsewhere in the off season for RD strength. In my opinion it would be nice to see Dach and PLD up the middle for Montreal.

    I see you also touched on the Carter Hart rumour. I had heard that one. I believe that would solve the goaltending riddle for the foreseeable future with a Hart and Monty tandem. Losing Jake Allen would sting but he might fetch a useable player; maybe even that elusive right D!

    Thanks as always for a fun and insightful read!

    Liked by 1 person

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