It’s come to this sad reality for Habs fans in 2019 — the only kicks we get are by laughing at the Boston Bruins for not winning the Stanley Cup.There was a big thing on Twitter this week with some Canadiens fans making fun of Bruins forward Brad Marchand for crying near the end of his team’s Game 7 loss to the St. Louis Blues. I hate Marchand as much as the next guy, but let’s keep in mind that he is an all-star winger who has been to the Cup final three times in the past eight years and has one Stanley Cup ring.Like so many Habs fans, I was cheering for the Blues and was super happy to see them win their first-ever Cup simply because I loathe the Bruins so much. (An aside: I also always cheer for the underdog and you don’t get more underdog than this year’s Blues.)But it’s a sad state of affairs when your NHL playoff fun is reduced to cheering against an archrival of your team. Here’s a novel concept for the Canadiens’ managers: How about getting our team into the post-season so we can actually cheer for the Habs?
Ryan O’Reilly of the St. Louis Blues celebrates with the Conn Smythe Trophy after defeating the Boston Bruins 4-1 to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden on June 12, 2019 in Boston.
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Speaking of Habs management, how are you feeling about the fact that Habs general manager Marc Bergevin took a pass on Ryan O’Reilly last summer? O’Reilly was clearly done in Buffalo and it was an open secret that the Sabres were looking to unload the centre who had not been a success there. Bergevin reportedly called the Sabres, but as soon as they told him he’d only get O’Reilly if he gave up prospect Ryan Poehling, Berg immediately said there was no deal to be had.At the time, most hockey journalists here and many fans said Bergevin made the right call, that he was smart to stick to his “reset” plan for the team. In the end, the Blues were the ones who snared O’Reilly and, with 20/20 hindsight, it turned out to be a stroke of genius on the part of Blues GM Doug Armstrong. O’Reilly, who had eight goals and 15 assists in 26 playoff games, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP and he became the first in NHL history to score in Games 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup final. Did I mention he was playing with a cracked rib?Bergevin keeps saying it’s hard to find good No. 1 centres, but there was one right in front of his eyes and he decided to take a pass. The Bergevin boosters will retort that you can’t give up Poehling and that Montreal is resetting. But they’re wrong on both counts. Poehling may or may not become a No. 1 centre, we just don’t know. O’Reilly is one and would be far and away the best forward on the Canadiens.As for the argument that the Habs are in “reset” mode, I’d suggest the infamous “reset” is just old-fashioned improvisation. As long as you have high-priced aging stars like Shea Weber and Carey Price on the roster, you should be in win-now mode.In other words, if someone like O’Reilly is available, you go hard and go get him. You make a big-boy move, like the Toronto Raptors did last summer on trading DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Pöltl and a protected 2019 first round draft pick to the San Antonio Spurs in return for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. I know the Raptors were closer to a championship in 2018 than the Habs were, but the message remains the same. You need to roll the dice if you’re going to win big and who can say where O’Reilly would’ve brought the Canadiens this year.The other guy in the Blues’ camp who I sure would’ve liked to see in the Canadiens organization is Larry Robinson. Big Bird won his tenth Cup Wednesday night, this time as a senior hockey-operations consultant for the Blues. He was behind the bench as an assistant to head coach Craig Berube when Berube took over in November and even when he returned home to Florida, he continued working with the team, particularly their defencemen.During Game 7, according to my former colleague Dave Stubbs of nhl.com, Robinson headed down to the dressing room after the first period to give advice to defencemen Vince Dunn and Colton Parayko. Robinson was one reason that blue-line corps was so amazing.As Stu Cowan recounted a few years back, Bergevin could’ve had Robinson as his defence coach, but instead opted to hire his childhood friend Jean-Jacques Daigneault, a journeyman rearguard and an absolutely terrible defence coach.On that note, congratulations to Big Bird. As Berube said this week, Robinson has a Stanley Cup ring for each of his firstname.lastname@example.org/brendanshowbizRelated