Remember being in high school sitting next to your crush hoping they would like you more than “just as a friend”? You sit beside them in Chemistry class. You let them copy your homework (25 years ago we had to handwrite our notes) hoping they would like you more. You ask your mom to put some tee shirts in the dryer for a little longer hoping that the shrinkage will accent your biceps to the point she will notice you at the big party that night. Then you muster up the courage to go talk to her at the party (again, 25 years ago we had to talk to people using our voices and real faces). You walk into the next room, your heart racing, and just as you are about to talk to her, you see her making-out with your cousin who is also your best friend, and you know, right there, that you had no chance!
Then, upon reflection, you remember the Garth Brooks song and you Thank God for Unanswered Prayers.
I have been praying for a #1 center and I cannot tell you how happy I am that my prayers went unanswered after watching Pierre Luc Dubois go to the Winnipeg Jets.
The rumours surrounding the Habs and Dubois had mentioned possible trait bait in the names of Suzuki or Kotkaniemi. That price is way too high and given that Dubois’ contract ends after the 2021-22 season, the Habs can then pursue him via free agency. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi look very strong right now and 2 years is a perfect amount of time to see if they are #1 centre-worthy. (Bergevin need not worry about his biceps should he try to catch the heart of Dubois in 2 years. They remain fantastic!)
Speaking of Bergevin, let us give credit where credit is due. The acquisition of Josh Anderson looks like an absolute steal. Huge props to Bergevin and his pro scouting staff for recognizing the talent, despite the injury Anderson endured last season. Speaking of talent recognition despite injury, how about the signing of Tyler Toffoli? Last week, my old neighbour Joe and I were discussing the Habs roster and he told me that I would love the Toffoli signing. My east-coast bias had me blinded to Toffoli’s skills as I cannot stay awake for LA Kings/Vancouver Canucks games. Two days after our chat, Toffoli buried 3 against the Canucks and then followed it up with 2 more the next night. Joe is one wise neighbour and a great friend.
Based on his performance last night, another great friend to have is Joel Edmundson. Joel Armia took a hit to the chin from Tyler Myers on Thursday night and suffered a concussion. In the warm-up Saturday night, Edmundson took it upon himself to let the 6’8” Myers know that they would have to settle it in the first period. I cannot think of a better way to endear yourself to your new teammates than standing up for them and having their back. It was a great fight and it served notice to the rest of the North division that the Habs are no longer the little guys you can push around (Myers deserves recognition for standing up for himself and atoning for the hit).
Furthermore, the smaller Habs forwards can play with a little more bravery knowing they have friends like Weber, Edmundson, Chiarot, and Anderson out there ensuring that the other team doesn’t step out of line. The Habs just might have a team that can beat you in the alley or on the ice.
I remain cautiously optimistic after the scorching 4-0-2 start. The Habs started last season 11-6-5 only to finish 24th overall. Last year’s team, however, wasn’t leading the league in scoring after 6 games. They certainly weren’t this big or tough. They did not have a back-up like Jake Allen. Suzuki and Kotkaniemi were not playing with this much confidence.
Could this be the year the Habs carry a strong start to the finish? Unlike that heartbreaker in Chemistry class (thank God I’m over her), this is a prayer worth answering!