The Wall of Shame: Kotkaniemi Edition

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The Date: June 22nd, 2018. Location: Dallas, Texas, USA. The consensus: Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin will be selected first overall by the Buffalo Sabres. Next: Andrei Svechnikov should be selected second by the Carolina Hurricanes. Odds for third overall, selection owned by the Montreal Canadiens: QMJHL product Filip Zadina or stand out prospect, Brady Tkachuk. The rumblings: the Habs would go off the board and select Jesperi Kotkaniemi, the highest ranked centre in the draft at third overall, considered a stretch by many. The results: Shane Churla (former Stars) announces Kotkaniemi as Montreal’s first round pick at number three. The reactions: Priceless!

It’s early, I know. There’s a lot of hockey remaining to be played this season and I will be the first one to admit that I did, for some time now, believe that Kotkaniemi’s place was in the NHL or in Finland. I still believe that except that I think that his chances to stick with the Canadiens are much, much higher now after a dozen games. A dozen games seeing the Habs tied with the Bruins and Maple Leafs, one point from first place in the Eastern Conference, four points back of first overall in the NHL (with a game in hand). Kotkaniemi? Six (6) points in 12 games with around 14 minutes of ice time per game.

Wall of Shame

You see, I’m old school. I believe in accountability which is why I’m so opposed to the Instigator rule (but that’s a whole different topic). It’s easy to flap your gums, be a keyboard warrior, particularly on social media, as most times, no one will remember what you said – or typed – months ago. Guess what? Let’s make some people eat crow, shall we?

First, the Tweet…

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Then, the Twits…

Okay, let’s start with the obvious… everyone remember this couple, right? Or the guy with the… P.K. Subban jersey (go figure)…

Back to Twitter now.

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The morale of the story is this: have an opinion. You’re fully entitled to it. But don’t you go out there with stupid statements without knowledge… or it’s you and nobody else, who will look foolish when someone takes the time to expose  you. How’s that crow tasting today? #GoHabsGo

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The Habs and The Quebecois Syndrome

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On this St. Jean Baptiste day of 2018, while residents in Quebec and Quebec-born Canadian citizen celebrate our birth province’s holiday, the dust is settling on what was a very uneventful NHL Draft. Aside from a few trades picks for picks, this year’s Draft was abnormally quiet on the trade front, with only one major trade having been completed between the Calgary Flames and the Carolina Hurricanes. Like everyone else, Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin sat there and let his Draft experts, led by Trevor Timmins, work their magic in hope that it pays off in the long run.

Now before anyone thinks that since moving to beautiful British Columbia, I have become an anti-Québécois, let me remind you of a piece I wrote a few years ago, one of my most satisfying article, one that I point out to anglophones who downplay the need to have Quebec-born players on the Canadiens.

The outrage on Twitter was, however, palpable with many residents in Quebec, particularly French speaking, being outraged with the fact that their beloved Habs only managed to select one player from the QMJHL.

True that with all the picks that they had, the Canadiens only managed to select one local player, by calling Samuel Houde‘s name at number 133. But I was curious to find out why it was the case. Were the Canadiens really spitting on players from their own backyard and selecting others at similar talent? If that were the case, those Quebec-born players would have been selected soon after the Habs’ picks, I figured… right?

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Well I did the research and here’s what I discovered:

  • 217 players were selected at the 2018 NHL Draft
  • 22 of them (10%) came from the QMJHL
  • Half of them were born in Quebec
  • Of those 11 selected, 4 were goalies, a position the Habs don’t need
  • And of the 7 remaining, the Habs were able to select one.

So what does that tell you folks? It is telling me that overall, the QMJHL is doing extremely poorly at developing players attracting interest not just for the Montreal Canadiens, but for the other 30 teams! It tells us even more, as off those playing in the Q, more than half (55%) of them are not even Quebec-born players! Yes folks, it means that 0.05% of the players drafted in 2018 (11 out of 217) were born in Quebec. And that’s Bergevin and Timmins’ fault for not selecting them?!?

Oh really? Is that really how fans feel in Quebec? What are Jonathan Drouin, Phillip Danault, Nicolas Deslauriers and Charles Hudon? Chopped liver? That’s four local products, more than we’ve seen on the Habs in a long, long time and considering that the number of them is dropping like flies in the NHL, that’s actually very remarkable. Further, someone tweeted this to me…

It seems like it’s not because the Habs aren’t trying. Under Bergevin, they even invested more in scouting in Quebec and in the QMJHL. The team is building outdoor ice rinks to allow young people to skate and play hockey! To borrow an expression from François Gagnon, “Simonak”, what more do you want them to do?

So for those who can differentiate the forest from the trees, let’s take a bit of a break, and hope that Bergevin can pull the trigger on a trade or two to solidify his formation, mostly at the centre position and even find a defense partner for Shea Weber. We’re less than a week away from free agency. Go Habs Go!