Arizona Coyotes 2014-2015 Season Preview: The Montreal Canadiens

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Howlin’ at the Habs: Some Friendly Season-Series Banter

March 6, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Phoenix Coyotes center Kyle Chipchura (24) moves the puck against Montreal Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec (14) during the second period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

HH: The Coyotes don’t have a whole lot that the Canadiens don’t as well- but one of those things is an established captain. Shane Doan has literally been with the team since it moved from Winnipeg- in contrast, the Habs still haven’t named anyone to step up and fill in the leadership role left behind by a departed Gionta. Do you think this could affect Montreal in a game against Arizona? 

KC: No. As evidenced by a million articles on the subject, there’s already leadership in the room for Montreal with David Desharnais, Subban, and a couple of others. Putting the official “C” on someone’s chest is great, but I don’t think Montreal actually lacks a captain- one just hasn’t been named yet. That said, the Rangers showed us just a few months ago that even teams that lose their captain in the middle of the season can make it all the way to the conference finals. The lesson to take here seems to be that a captain makes the team run more smoothly, perhaps, but unofficial leadership seems just as important as league-sanctioned leaders. 

“Putting the official “C” on someone’s chest is great, but I don’t think Montreal actually lacks a captain- one just hasn’t been named yet.”

CS: I think that’s a really eloquent way of putting it, and I feel inclined to agree with the majority of what you said. One thing that I think Doan brings to the team as an advantage, though, is his sense of not just leadership- but veteran leadership. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Antoine Vermette, and Keith Yandle all bring a lot to the locker room- not to mention Mike Smith, Martin Hanzal, Mikkel Boedker… but Shane Doan provides this unwavering loyalty to the team’s coaches, front office, and franchise community that I think brings the team together in a way that a lot of teams are missing. The Coyotes could very easily be another rendition of the Carolina Hurricanes or the Nashville Predators, but they perform better than other teams with similar caliber rosters because of this extra element. I think that Montreal has a lot of history, but not having that loyalty leading the team could hurt them. 

HH: Gotta say- love Carey Price. Kind of love Mike Smith though, too. Between the two goalies, who do you think is more of a universal fan favorite? 

KC: Well, this is tough. Everyone’s heard of Carey Price, due to his Olympic Medal and that nasty skates-first incident during the playoffs. He’s quick to save a puck, terse as all get-out, and wears cowboy hats for fun. The guy is one of the very few First Nations players in the NHL, and he just started working with the Breakfast Club of Canada, which will help feed children all across Canada, including First Nations children. He’s also come a long way in a little over five years, making him one of the top goaltenders in the NHL. 

On the other hand…

Overall, I think in order to be a “fan favorite” more people do have to know your name than not. In this case, Price takes the cake. 

CS: Excuse me, I just got distracted by that goal. I literally never get tired of watching that. Back to the question, though- while I agree that Carey Price is easily more well-known around the league, I think that a “fan favorite” requires more of a cult following. Price is a stand-up guy… but Mike Smith is like Ilya Bryzgalov. He has a real goal and a butt goal and a godawful mullet and now a tragic mohawk-esque creation and he’s strange as sin, but fans can’t get enough of him. Everyone knows Carey Price, but he’s not everyone’s favorite. Not everyone knows Mike Smith, but those who do have a soft spot in their hearts for him in some way or another- so I’m going to have to go with him, instead.