A major shift has occurred on the seventh floor of the Montreal Canadians brass, and it's a refreshing sight for a franchise that became a laughing stock of the league after a season filled with class-less moves made by a man who many believe slithered his way to the top.
Former General Manager Pierre Gauthier's reign of les Habitants was an utter disaster in public and player relations. He not only traded away a fan favourite in the middle of a game, he also hired a coach he knew couldn't speak French, which made no sense from a man who was raised in Quebec speaking French. To put it into perspective, it would be like General Motors hiring a new CEO who couldn't speak English.
Language hasn't always been the main story in Montreal -- there have been coaches in the glorious past of les Habitants who didn't speak French, but that was before today's media age of wall to wall coverage. The departure of the other province's team Les Nordique de Quebec in 1995 to Colorado didn't help things either, and as a result only increased the pressure for Les Canadiens de Montreal to be a French organization from the ice to the board room.
After waiting several days to see just how hard Brendan Shanahan would come down on Raffi Torres for his latest on-ice indiscretion, the hockey community seems to be split on the 25-game penalty announced on Saturday.
Some feel Torres more than deserves the lengthy suspension given his history and the severity of his crimes, while others feel this is another example of the inconsistency of penalties given out by Shanahan (see Weber, Shea). Nobody seems to doubt the sentence, just the way at which it was arrived and how it compares to others. What might be more important, however, is whether this penalty ends up being a one-off, or if it's the NHL's way of finally laying down the law when it comes to head shots and other cheap hits.
Tuesday night at the NHL Draft Lottery, the Edmonton Oilers won the right to select first overall for the third-straight year at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Barring a major surprise, that pick will be used to select Nail Yakupov of the OHL's Sarnia Sting.
Whether or not the Oilers are the team that will ultimately select Yakupov remains to be seen. Yakupov appears to be an exceptionally skilled forward, but the Oilers currently have an abundance of quality forwards, leading many to believe they would be better off trading the pick to address more urgent team needs.
When asked by TSN's James Duthie if the Oilers were considering selecting Yakupov first overall, or selecting another player, or trading the pick, Oilers GM Steve Tambellini replied, "All of the above."
Wherever Yakupov plays, the pressure of being selected first in the Draft is immense. Expectations are high, scrutiny is intense, and failure to perform can chisel your name into the memories of hockey fans forever, for all the wrong reasons. No one wants to be the next Alexandre Daigle.