Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ryan White fills a need in the Canadiens' roster

A while back I did some research on Ben Maxwell and Milan Lucic to see how they were ranked coming into the draft. Doing so I stumbled across a Ryan White writeup, wherein he was described as a high-energy player whose coach trusted him to play center in pressure situations and always seemed to be around the puck. It was an eye-opener for me, but what really surprised me was the fact that he was ranked the #7 prospect in the WHL, higher than both Mr Maxwell (#12) and Mr. Lucic (#14).

The writeup did state that despite winning most battles, Ryan was not an ideal physical specimen, and needed to dedicate himself to his conditioning. So it’s refreshing that apparently he’s one of the kids who gets it, as opposed to Benoit Pouliot, and it shows that there is hope for someone like Ian Schultz, who apparently is not well-conditioned. Mr. White’s success story is also refreshing in light of the torrent of negative comments from posters who castigate Canadiens’ management for poor asset management and development.

This is a clear steal for our club. Here is a player who showed character and produced in junior, but who ‘fell’ in the draft, maybe after a poor showing at the combine. Having to parade shirtless before scouts may not have helped his stock, but we were lucky to scoop him in the third round. Good work by our scouting staff on that one, it kind of reduces the sting of David Fischer and Ben Maxwell being drafted in the first and second rounds.

One thing which worries me is that a lot of posters here in the HIO community, who may reflect the average Montreal fan to some degree, seem to stress the importance of Ryan’s pugilistic prowess above all else. In light of his performance in Calgary and Hamilton, I think we should consider him to be more of a Mario Tremblay type of player, one who will hit and go into the corners and show character and passion and pot a timely goal, instead of reducing the expectations to him being a cruiserweight.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Alexei Kovalev slams the door on his way out

Alex Kovalev is not the great player he thinks he was.

Alex Kovalev is the kid in the back of the class who is really smart and doesn’t need to pay attention or do any homework and still gets an A-, but all the while he messes around and distracts the other kids and drives the teacher mental.

Alex Kovalev is the diva wide receiver who makes 60 catches for 1100 yards and 7 touchdowns in a season, but lets another 15 passes clang off his hands, who doesn’t block on running plays or when another receiver gets a grab, who argues with the HC, OC and QB about play selection, who thinks the quarterback diverts too much attention from him, and who runs routes half-heartedly when he’s not the primary receiver, and causes an interception when the QB goes from his hot receiver to his second or third option and launches the ball into the waiting arms of the safety, who is camped where the WR should have been. After said interception, said diva wide receiver will make a great show of being furious by tackling high, most likely with a grab of the facemask, and will then stalk back petulantly to the sidelines, kicking turf and hurling his helmet at the bench. He will then be agitated and inconsolable, until the sideline camera is no longer pointed at him.

Alex Kovalev is that insanely hot girl you work with and you wonder why she’s single, and who you end up taking her on a date and you can’t believe your luck, and when you’re sitting down to dinner at your favourite steak house, she goes on and on about this other Italian place this other guy took her to, so you ask her if maybe she doesn’t like steak and would like to go somewhere else, but she says no I like steak it’s just I’ve never been here usually I go to the Keg for steak, and your waitress is standing there while she goes on about the Keg, so you make nice with the waitress because you’re a little embarrassed and want your dinner to come saliva-and-snot-free, but your date gets jealous and defensive and starts treating the waitress like dirt and you very coldly, so that you can’t wait for the night to end and you would bolt and leave her stranded there but you remember what your mom and dad taught you so you tough it out and as soon as you can you bring her back home and give her all the platitudes about how everything was great and you’ll call her but both of you know you won’t call.

Alexei Kovalev is that sullen teenager sitting on the bus with her purse on the seat next to her as the bus slowly fills, with other riders trying to make eye contact with her to silently implore that she put her purse on her lap so that someone else may make better use of that seat, but who resolutely stares off in the middle distance and when, after two or three throat clearings and excuse-me’s, has to be asked point blank with a please and thank you to remove her purse, which she does but with an annoyed expression for the impertinent other rider.

Alex Kovalev is the guy at the gym who uses the squat rack to do biceps curls with a 35 lbs bar. When you ask him to scram, he apologizes that he only has five more sets to go. When you insist that he take his pencil-necked, gym-etiquette-devoid self and go do his, ahem, arm curls somewhere more appropriate, he rolls his eyes and sighs and mutters under his breath as he slinks away. Later when you’re on neutral territory and have had time to take a few deep breaths, you’ll attempt to explain to him that a squat rack is a safety device used when training with large amounts of weight, and not just a convenient way to avoid having to pick up your weights off the ground, but you won’t be successful since he will interrupt and tell you no worries, it’s all good, whatever, no harm no foul, barraging you with passive aggressive hokum instead of listening and entering into a conversation.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Montreal needs a facelift

I'm a proud native Montrealer and defend it and the province of Quebec against the inanities that sometimes spout out of the mouths of some unenlightened Canadians here out West. Having said that, the state of the roads and bridges and tunnels in Montreal is shocking. It really does look like the Third World, or a post-Apocalyptic movie set with all the graffiti. I can't help but notice the cracks and patches in the concrete, the rust stains, the visible re-bar where chunks have fallen off. Calling the surface itself a patchwork is a misnomer, it's more of an agglomeration of patches with the original matrix long gone. Oh, and a hell of a lot of patches are missing too.

Last time I was in town visiting my girlfriend who lived for a while on Berri above Sherbrooke. It was a great neighbourhood with a nice feel, except for a lot of buildings in the walking area that are really rundown. Not old, not heritage, just run down, needing a lot of maintenance instead of a sloppy coat of paint on top of the previous 16 coats of paint. Another thing was the graffiti, again it's everywhere, and my girlfriend was so inured to it that she didn't notice it anymore, whereas it jumped out at me. Some private residences had some on their walls, and it remained for the two weeks I was there. It seems like it's an accepted part of urban life, instead of a blight that needs to be stamped out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a hater, I meet a lot of visitors in Whistler and when I can I get in a plug about going to Montreal, mention all the great things you can do and see. On my last trip I took in the Jazz Festival's many outdoor concerts, saw Zachary Richard at Place des Arts (great show), took Bixis everywhere and loved them, had some smoked meat at Schwartz's, bagels at St-Viateur and Fairmount, took in a couple of fireworks shows, rode the Metro and marveled at how easy it was to get around compared to Vancouver...

I see unemployment in Quebec being perennially high, the economy being in need of stimulus, and an infrastructure that needs massive overhaul. I wonder why the province can't attack these three things at once, in a massive project way way bigger than Baie James was.