Monday, 14 July 2014

Canadiens to sign Bokondji Imama as a pre-emptive strike?

An article on RDS about Bokondji Imama, and we learn a couple of things therein.  He's not quite 18 yet, but is already 6'1" and 220 lbs.  And apparently, he can skate, unlike a lot of the enforcers who infest the NHL.

None of the reports I read from the development camp were very encouraging regarding his level of play, but I'm now taking into account that he only recently began to 'focus' on hockey, having also played football at a competitive level, as well as soccer and baseball and other sports recreationally.  And that he's very young, he was one the least experienced players at camp lined up against pros and college players.

The Canadiens haven't had a true-blue homegrown heavyweight since Donald Brashear, if memory serves, and John Kordic before that.  I know the buzz is that the league is moving away from fighting, due to the Bruins decreasing their nuclear capability, and the requirement for players entering the league to wear visors among other factors, but I'll believe it when I see it.

We got burned when Gary Bettman said after his Second Lockout that the league would be all about skill and offence and scoring and entertaining hockey.  Bob Gainey took the bait and chomped down on the hook, putting together a team in 2009 that was small but speedy and skilled, and we got gooned by the likes of the Bruins, who bullied our players with evident glee on their vicious, villainous faces, and the truculent, bellicose Leafs.  So I don't want to lay down our arms before they do.

We're kind of off-trend, drafting and signing players like Jack Nevins, Stéfan Fournier, Connor Crisp, and Brett Lernout, and inviting players to the development camp like Evan Wardley, while the rest of the league is supposedly pointing at our defeat of the Bruins as a sign that the 'Boston model' needs to adjust to include more skill and skating.  Supposedly, the new templates for success are Chicago and the L.A. Kings, teams that don't have a classic enforcer in their ranks, and don't tend to fight very much, but instead just have a lot big players who can actually play and can all take the heat.

And I don't care.  Sure very soon, probably in a couple of seasons, we'll have a team that has the toughness as an intrinsic part of it, like the Kings do with their size and useable fourth-liners who can square off with another tough guy once in a while, but until then I don't want to risk being the only team without a chair when the music stops.

So let's make sure we have a battleship this season for when we run against the devious Bruins waving a white flag, or when the Sharks are in town and they insist on dressing John Scott.  And let's keep turning over every rock in the CHL and elsewhere searching for the next Chris Nilan, the next Georges Laraque, and then coach him up to become the next Tim Kerr while we're at it.

EDIT: On July 25, RDS reported that Bokondji Imama was invited to the Canadiens rookie camp in September.

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