For two hockey clubs considered flagship NHL franchises - can you still say that about the Leafs? - neither Toronto nor Montreal has done much this off-season to suggest a return to winning. Each added the ubiquitous 'depth' guys and that's about it.
Last season the Leafs finished in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, one point up on the 14th place New York Islanders, two on the 15th and last place Canadiens. For Toronto it was the 7th straight year they've missed the playoffs (8 counting the lock-out), tops in the league; for Montreal it was the 6th time in the last 13 seasons they've missed the postseason; with the exception of Jaroslav Halak taking them into the conference finals in 2009-10, they've never threatened for the Stanley Cup in those years.
For the Montreal Canadiens it is goals that are needed, as they finished 18th in the league in goals scored with 212. Their plus minus was not horrific at -14 and had the Leafs been that bad they might have made the postseason, instead they wound up a -33. Why? They allowed 264 goals, 29th overall and ahead of only the porous Tampa Bay Lightning, who allowed 281.
Montreal and Toronto: NHL teams in need
Montreal started their off-season by hiring the guy who'll get them goals - GM Marc Bergevin, who in turn replaced coach Randy Cunneyworth with Michel Therrien, who hired a staff of Patrice Brisebois, J.J. Daigneault, Gerard Gallant and Clement Jodoin. Good hires? That's a function of time, but the real hires are in acquiring players and to date Bergevin has not come up big.
Colby Armstrong, Brandon Proust and Frances Bouillon are pieces, not players that will make or break a playoff season. Alex Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft, is a goal scorer, but one in waiting; he was, in any case, a gift from former GM Pierre Gauthier, who was unable to ice a team that could do better than 28th overall last season.
Improved? No. Montreal, like Toronto, didn't add a Alex Semin or Jordan Staal and neither added a significant piece. Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs have taken care of making minor additions, Jay McClement, Keith Aucoin and Mark Fraser, a trade for James van Riemsdyk, he'll help, but they had to give up Luke Schenn. More is required, certainly after the sophomore performace of James Reimer, a goalie is needed. But to date, no Roberto Luongo, no Jonathan Bernier, no goalie, period.
2012-13 NHL season: repeat for Leafs, Canadiens
It's not over, can't be. Because it's imperative in order for these franchises to regain their places that they make some strides this off-season. But there is nothing in any addition either club has made that suggests to fans that last season won't be repeated. If anybody out there knows any reason for optimism speak now or forever hold your tongue because right now, for both, it appears we'll get a repeat of 2011-12, no postseason hockey in Montreal or Toronto.
And why does it matter? Maybe it doesn't, after all the league, any league, will always have clubs at the bottom. But in the case of these two they both were once NHL flagship franchises and, certainly in Canada, seeing them fall so far removes something from the game.
That last bit was directed specifically at Mr. Bergevin and Mr. Burke.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com