Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Scouting, Not Denouement

I believe that I speak for a large number of fans whose main interest in these relatively unfamiliar names remains on their hockey abilities, more so than the years-long route taken to the Brossard arena this Monday.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't want to hear again about years past. I don't want to hear about how the guys feel (sorry, but it's predictably optimistic and thrilled). I want to know how they skated, passed, positioned themselves and shot.

It would be nice to get a scouting report before a life story. After a summer of manufactured stories, it would be a bit of sweet music to read about a slick deke or crisp passing play.

For the most part, the very capable observers are set back to default. The score is reported, the scorers and the story is peppered with quotes. I know that Alain Berger scored twice in a meaningless scrimmage, but most sites tell me little about the player we've been waiting months to see in a Canadiens uniform. Forget about the guys that did not score.

I know it's only been a day, and I would be the fiercest critic of anyone who wanted to read too much from 45 minutes of meaningless shinny, but it's been a really long time since we laid a path for Brutes to win a championship.

If like me you do want to know about how the guys play (all of them, not just favoured picks) then do yourself a favour and check out Dan's Daily Dose.

Dan is doing the diligence that we'd all love to do by attending the rookie camp. Not only that, he's also breaking free of the mould and delivering impressions on the players he is watching on the ice before him.

Yesterday, he didn't cover every player, but he did cover a lot more than anyone else. Moreover, where else are we going to hear that Palushaj didn't look so great or that Ian Schultz still exists.

It's a true breath of fresh air for the Habs fan who's waited a summer for skates to scratch ice and needs to look beyond coincidences to the mundane aspects of hockey like skating and skills. For the fan who wants to know and rate the chances that we'll ever hear these names again, there simply isn't a better way.


What I'm taking away

I'll begin by saying one day is far too soon to form full impressions. One scrimmage as insignificant as one NHL shift in the scheme of things. But even so, trends begin to form:

- Bournival started on the right foot. The plucky Quebecois is someone I'll keep my eye on for sure.

- If it takes baseline skill level to break through to the NHL then Gallagher might be the man. Can the Habs afford to start another small forward? Well that's another question altogether

- Berger is fascinating. Forget two goals. He is big and clearly kept up with his peers that were drafted. Let's count him in the bigger mix.

- Palushaj likely not destined for first line duty. Not to dismiss a player after a day, but let's be honest, we've seen him before and we all thought the same. If you don't stand out with lower level players, it's a rare thing to stand out with high level ones. That said, I already thought he could ably play on a fourth line, so should we care?

- Olivier Fortier injured again. The end of the road sign squarely in his rearview surely now?

- Louis Leblanc generates far too much fuss for what he is, especially on a first day of camp where he played in a diminished capacity and still got headlines

- Goalies? Anyone? Everyone realises that 3rd in line for the Canadiens crease is not really locked up right? Everyone remembers how for every season in recent memory the Canadiens relied on a goalie to take them wherever they went right? Over-the-top monikers aside, it would be nice to hear about someone, anyone that might grab a mantle.

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