Missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs by two points last season was a bitter pill for the proud Montreal Canadiens to have to swallow.
The franchise, led by stalwarts from the glory days -- Guy Carbonneau as coach and Bob Gainey as GM -- do not want to see the playoffs pass their team by again. So, the franchise made some difficult decisions and will ice a different looking team this year.
Sheldon Souray and his booming point shot left via free agency. Reliable veteran forward Radek Bonk and goalie David Aebischer also signed elsewhere. But those moves were acceptable for a franchise looking to find a new way of making things work.
In fact, the front office imported three proven veterans into what should be an intriguing mix of promising youth and experienced maturity that inhabits Les Habitants’ dressing room this season.
Defenseman Roman Hamrlik, so successful with Calgary, will be asked to replace Souray. Familiar face Patrice Brisebois will provide some depth on the blue line. Versatile veteran Bryan Smolinski, a natural center who can also play the wing, should shore up the forward lines.
Is it enough to get Montreal over the hump after last season’s disappointing finish? Only time will tell; but it is certainly a solid beginning to the process.
I don't have a crystal ball. Predicting is a real complicated thing. If we stay healthy, have enough depth and get the good goaltending we think we're going to have, you can go all the way. But a lot of things have to happen. There's going to be a lot of teams that think the same thing. Everyone made deals. We're all are optimistic about where we'll end up.
— Rangers general manager Glen Sather after being asked if he's constructed a team that can win the Stanley Cup before their 4-1 win against the Predators on Monday