TRAIKOS: Naming Suzuki captain is perhaps a sign that Habs will not backside out once more

Someplace, Roch Service should be questioning what has occurred to his beloved hockey sweater.

Or, perhaps the favored youngsters’s creator is at church praying for God to ship him one other “hundred million moths” to undo the injury that the Montreal Canadiens have performed to one thing so sacred.

You are reading: TRAIKOS: Naming Suzuki captain is perhaps a sign that Habs will not backside out once more

That was the preliminary response after seeing an RBC patch on the entrance of the historic sweater on the crew’s annual golf event on Monday. 

It wasn’t the one new addition that prompted eyebrows to rise. 

Equally surprising — albeit in a great way — was that Nick Suzuki’s No. 14 sweater didn’t simply have a company brand on the entrance, but additionally a ‘C’, signifying him because the crew’s latest captain. From a personnel standpoint, the choice made sense. However the timing of it appeared odd, contemplating the place the Habs completed final yr.

Lottery-bound groups don’t usually have captains. There’s often no want for one once you’re (fortunately) dropping each evening. Which is why Montreal didn’t have one final yr. And why Arizona, Anaheim, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Seattle are with out one this yr. 

So why did Montreal put a ‘C’ on Suzuki’s chest now, and never subsequent yr, or two years from now? 

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Did they in some way overlook that they have been the worst crew final season? Or that they’re as soon as once more going to be with out goalie Carey Worth? Or that they nonetheless play in a crowded and aggressive Atlantic Division that features Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston and Florida.

In spite of everything, you don’t identify a captain in a yr the place you’re hoping to backside out and land No. 1 prospect Connor Bedard. You do it in a yr the place you anticipate development. The place you anticipate to compete, whether or not for a playoff spot or a Stanley Cup. However regardless of most betting websites pencilling within the Habs for yet one more lottery choose — solely Arizona and Chicago have worse odds of successful a championship subsequent season — the crew apparently has different concepts.


“It’s going to be a fantastic crew fairly quickly, so I believe I’m actually excited,” Suzuki advised reporters. “I believe we’re going to shock lots of people this yr.”

That mentality, together with a piece ethic and skill-set that put him on the radar for Canada’s subsequent World Cup crew, is why Suzuki was named the youngest captain within the franchise’s storied historical past. He’s a competitor. He doesn’t need to spend one other season getting his tooth kicked in.

Like head coach Martin St. Louis, who stated “we’re not the thirty second place crew,” Suzuki believes the Canadiens received’t be a cellar dweller once more subsequent yr. Does that imply they are going to be a playoff crew? Perhaps not.

However as Suzuki stated, don’t be shocked if Montreal finishes greater than some are predicting.

Name it wishful considering if you would like. However after the summer season that the Canadiens had — drafting Juraj Slafkovsky with the No. 1 choose, buying Sean Monahan, Kirby Dach and Mike Hoffman — it may not be so unrealistic.

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This can be a younger and rebuilding crew. However it’s additionally a crew with a ton of potential, which appeared to play higher and higher after St. Louis took over behind the bench and gave the younger guys increasingly more accountability. 

“I believe Nick is a good match for the place we’re and the place we’re going,” Hughes advised reporters.

Two years in the past, Suzuki and Cole Caufield have been a giant a part of the rationale why the Canadiens shocked the hockey world and ended up within the Stanley Cup closing. And although they’ve misplaced Worth and Shea Weber and Philip Danault since then, they’ve gained some much-needed help. The additions of Dach and Monahan give Montreal extra depth down the center than they’ve had in years.

Mike Matheson joins a defence that features Joel Edmundson and David Savard, and probably high rookie prospect Kaiden Guhle. Goaltending, the place Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault are sharing the crease, nonetheless stays a query mark. However you may say the identical factor about Toronto and plenty of different groups.

The truth is, the similarities between the place Toronto was after they landed Auston Matthews within the 2016 draft and the place Montreal is after buying Slafkovsky are notable. Bear in mind, the Leafs have been dead-last after they chosen Matthews with the No. 1 choose. The next season, they completed in eighth place and have but to overlook out on the playoffs since.

Perhaps, Montreal could make an analogous soar. In that case, they will want somebody to prepared the ground. Who higher than a participant who’s coming off a profession yr the place he scored 21 targets and a team-leading 61 factors. 

“Simply the respect that administration, teammates, coaches have for me,” Suzuki advised reporters in Laval, Que. “I believe it’s a giant function, however I believe I’m prepared for it. There’s a shiny future right here and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

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