Montreal Canadiens: Press Box Pressures


Photo: Frederick Breedon/Getty Image

The Montreal Canadiens Press Box is currently occupied by three recurring occupants.

When the roster was set prior to Game 1, Marc Bergevin clarified his commitment to two young defencemen who were anticipated to be lost to waiver pick up if they did not make the team. With that decision, Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn became the first two Press Box Boys.

Based on what we saw in the pre-season, it was anticipated that Jacob De La Rose would be sent to St. John’s for further development, and that one of Brian Flynn or Devante Smith-Pelley would become the 13th forward and third occupant of the Habs press box. However, Zack Kassian’s personal crisis opened a spot in the top 12. Preferring to develop JDLR, Paul Byron was claimed off waivers to become the Habs 13th forward, and hence, the third Press Box Boy.

While not an ideal plan for development for young prospects, generally the 13th forward and 7th defenceman can count on a healthy number of games over a season of 82 in injury relief alone. Fortunately, the Habs have been blessed with health in recent years, and few man games have been lost to injury relative to other teams. Plus, if you’re the Habs 8th defenceman, how many IR games is reasonable to expect?

A team that is 7-0 is one whose line-up is hard to question. I’m sure our hats are off to Michel Therrien for maintaining line combos so fans can watch chemistry develop on four contributing lines.

But what about those guys in the press box? The priority is obviously to win games, and that is working. But does that mean Pateryn, Tinordi and Byron are left to watch until the team loses a game or two? I’m not convinced this is the best option.

Marc the Marketer

Last season fans bemoaned Therrien’s continued use of Moen while youth sat. We thought patience might never run out for Rene Bourque before he was finally waived. Both guys were traded before November was done. We were left to assume both guys were being shopped on the trade market.

Obviously, it’s easier to sell a useful product. A veteran player who has been relegated to the press box is not being marketed well. It is quite conceivable that Bergevin will soon move one of his veteran defencemen – Gilbert and Emelin seem the most likely candidates – to make room for Pateryn or Tinordi. The chances of making such a move effectively are increased if the player is playing, and playing well.

If Pateryn or Tinordi get a look in, it won’t shock me if fans are disappointed with who sits. If Emelin or Gilbert are indeed trade bait, they’re going to be playing unless they significantly deteriorate.

Changing a Winning Line-Up

We all expected to see Paul Byron on the road trip that began the season. We expected it because Therrien said we would. But then we didn’t… because “you don’t change a winning line-up.” It’s hard to be cross about that logic when your team is kicking ass and showing up in Stanley Cup predictions.

Let’s be clear. This philosophy is not a Therrien invention. Maintaining a winning line-up has a practical mythical quality in the NHL. But is that line of thinking sound management? Or is it superstitious?

There are a couple of flies in the ointment for me. First of all, if you don’t change a winning line-up, are you really that confident in your depth? What’s the point of having depth if you’re not confident to keep winning despite inserting a depth guy or two? Secondly, I’m not sure about the wisdom of a system where the security of a guy’s spot is tied up in wins and losses, regardless of how he played. For example, if the Habs lose tonight, and Plekanec has a crappy game, is he coming out tomorrow for Byron? Not likely. But another guy might even if he played just fine.

Back to Back Games Policy

I like the Habs current line-up. I also like a system that rewards good play with playing time. But I also believe that the current situation in Montreal, particularly where the defencemen are concerned, warrants a more strategic approach to including the Press Box Boys.

I’d like to see the Habs implement a Back-to-Back Games policy. So far, it appears Therrien intends to play Mike Condon in one game when there are back-to-backs. I love it. Rest Carey Price for the post-season. Build Condon’s confidence. Play solid in front of two goaltenders. Win. Win. Win.

But why not expand that policy? Markov was gassed last April, whether anyone on the team wants to admit it or not. Why not rest him in the 2nd game of a back-to-back? This would give Pateryn or Tinordi the game, while also giving Beaulieu some minutes with PK. If a player is a little banged up in the games close to a back-to-back, as Flynn was in the last one, why not rest him and insert a Press Box Boy?


8-0-0 means there is nothing to complain about! But as the coach and players love to say, there is always room for improvement. Can implementing a Back-To-Back Games Policy introduce several benefits for the entire team, including the Press Box Boys?

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One Response to Montreal Canadiens: Press Box Pressures

  1. I agree with your thoughts on this..the back to back idea is a good one. If you want to strengthen your depth and rest your top players, especially the older guys, this makes perfect sense

    Kerry Clark October 25, 2015 at 12:23 pm Reply

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