|In the spring of ’86, teammates Claude Lemieux, Gaston Gingras and Serge Boisvert went so far as to have t-shirts made commemorating their sentence at Alcatraz during their playoff run.
MONTREAL - The great chemistry that exists on this year’s squad is about to be put to the ultimate test both on and off the ice. On the brink of being quarantined together during their postseason run, the Canadiens will have no choice but to get to know each other a whole lot better.
On the eve of kicking off their playoff series against the Bruins on Thursday night at the Bell Centre, head coach Guy Carbonneau has decided to gather his players under the same roof at a downtown Montreal hotel.
This isn’t the first time the Habs have tried such a move. Carbonneau and Bob Gainey experienced it first-hand as players in the spring of 1986 when head coach Jean Perron and GM Serge Savard whisked the Habs away to a hotel hidden somewhere on the South Shore of Montreal throughout the entire postseason. While the move paid off for the Habs as they raised the Stanley Cup that spring, Carbonneau and his fellow teammates/prisoners had nonetheless aptly dubbed the remote hotel “Alcatraz.”
“Whenever we did something like this, it was always geared toward making our players even tighter and more unified as a group,” explained Carbonneau. “In 1986, there were far fewer distractions for us as players, but being isolated like that really worked for us. But things were different in 1993 and we won, and in Dallas in 1999 we all stayed in our own homes and still won as well.”
Avoiding playoff fever once it hits Montreal is no easy task. If TV networks aren’t overloaded with coverage, then local papers are churning out page after page of postseason hype. Simply put, the playoffs are everywhere.
“I have a 45-minute commute to the Bell Centre each morning and people must say hello to me about 150 times each day by honking their horns,” added Carbonneau. “Our fans are obviously very excited and everyone’s phones are ringing non-stop. Even neighbors are getting in on it. A bit of peace and quiet at the hotel to rest will only help our preparations.”
Mike Komisarek not only agrees with his coach, but is even psyched about being pampered hotel-style during the posteason.
"I think it will help us focus better, and who doesn't like sleeping in a nice hotel room, anyways?" asked Komisarek with a smile. "Getting to sleep in a nice clean room with a made bed is pretty rare for me."
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com