Canadiens Watch: It could be worse

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Nobody associated with the Montreal Canadiens is happy with what the team has achieved so far, but just imagine how tragic the results would be if the Habs were still dressing all the same players they had last season.

Sweeping summer changes meant much attention – and money – would be paid to the new players brought in and asked to lead the Canadiens back to glory. But what about those guys who were allowed to pack their sticks and move out of Montreal; how are they faring?

The Canadiens will face one of their old friends Tuesday night when they visit Alex Kovalev and the Ottawa Senators. Many Habs fans implored team management to re-sign Kovalev, but he ultimately ended up inking a two-year deal with Ottawa. Through 25 games with the Senators, Kovalev has just four goals and 14 points, which is nowhere near the kind of production the Sens envisioned when they brought him on board.

Kovalev makes $5 million annually, the exact same amount off-season acquisition Brian Gionta makes for Montreal. Before going down with a broken foot, Gionta already had twice as many goals as Kovalev (eight) in six less games and was one of the Canandiens’ most consistent two-way forwards.

Two other forwards who left Montreal as free agents – former captain Saku Koivu and winger Alex Tanguay – are also struggling to adapt to new surroundings.

Koivu was signed by the Anaheim Ducks to be the team’s No. 2 center, but has a paltry three goals and 11 points through 24 games, putting him on pace for a meagre 36 on the year. Tanguay, despite playing on a Tampa Bay Lightning squad with lots of offensive talent, is also failing to find the net. He has just four goals this year and will be lucky to hit the 50-point plateau this season.

To put things in perspective, heading into Monday night’s game against Philadelphia, first-year Hab Mike Cammalleri had 15 goals this year. That’s four more than Kovalev, Koivu and Tanguay had combined over the same timeframe.

Maybe Habs fans should take a moment to remember that in sport, just like life, no matter how rough things seem, it could always be worse.

This article also appeared in the Montreal Metro newspaper.

Ryan Dixon is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Thursdays and his column, Top Shelf, appears Wednesdays.

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