When one operates a hockey blog, inspiration for posts can come from just about anywhere!
I was thinking about this one comedian whose name escapes me, who did a schtick on doctor patient relationships. Mimicing a phychiatrist and a mental patient, the comic went about his routine invoving ink blots and word association, with the answers, of course, revealing details of the patients psyche.
When shown the ink blots the patient is asked to describe the first thing that comes to mind.
Usually in movies, the answers always involve sex. In one movie I recall, after seeing a dozen different blots that reminded him of sexual positions or perversions, the exasperated shrink asks the patient, "Is that all you can think about - sex!" To which the patient shoots back, "Whaddaya want me to think about? You keep showing me all these dirty pictures!"
With association, the psychiatrist tells the patient a word, and the patient replies the first thought that enters his mind.
For example, a patient hearing the word "black", will say "white" if he is a contrarian, a very normal human response. Another patient hearing the word "sky" could say "rain" or "sunshine", and on it goes until a patern of thought is revealed.
So with the Canadiens in mind, I thought I would play this game of association with players names. I placed the names of 25 current Habs players, rookies included and pulled them from a hat. The hitch was, I could not use simply a word to describe them, I would have to associate them to a former Habs player.
Often, the first thought coming to mind didn't really add up, but I wanted to be honest with my answers and analyze them afterwards.
After doing this, I called up a fellow Habs fan and asked him to play along. I described the idea I had in mind and asked if would be willing to associate current players to those of the past.
On the grounds, he stated, that today's players "simply just can't compare".
I understood his point of view, but gamely offered that he was in fact missing the point. After some going back and forth, he offered to partake in the word association idea that I originally introduced to him as an explanation of what I was attempting to do with this post, provided I name the player that I likened today's Habs to.
He agreed and I settled for that, knowing his opinions on current Canadiens players were hardly uniform takes. He reads no internet news or print media, and he watches games in french, without understanding the language. To top it off, he works in an environment where hockey is hardly discussed.
In short, his opinions would be quite pure and uncorrupted.
I decided that his take would be interesting, and that they may add something to the post that I could never achieve. My only restrictions on his answers were that they be his initial thoughts - brief, phrase-like, and to the point. He added his impressions to my player choices on some.
I suppose after all this, it is more for others to judge, than it is for me to analyze. I placed my friends comments on each player in parentheses after my first thoughts and the inclination that brought them. I stopped at 20 names, as answers were either becoming ridiculous, redundant, or painfully irrelevant.
So here it goes, for what it's worth!
Alex Kovalev - Pierre Larouche: Funny I would yank this name first! Talented, charismatic, and enigmatic are traits I guess both these stars shared. Both could tantalize, disappoint, and frustrate fans all on one shift! ( Magic - My friend qualified Kovalev as a magician replaying the same tricks.)
Janne Lahti - Petr Svoboda: Not much of an evalution here, seeing as I've watched him play only one game. He looked like a lost little boy on closeups. I imagine he reminded me of Svoboda as a boy amongst men. One game can't leave much more of an impression than that. ( Buddy was stumped as he missed Monday night's game.)
Maxim Lapierre - Mario Tremblay: Plays with the same shit eating grin as le Bleuet Bionique did in his heyday. Stirs it up and acts the innocent part without shying away. Has a smile that annoys rivals to no end. Do not confuse the love of the player with the hatred for the coach! ( A shitster full of pranks.)
Saku Koivu - Mats Naslund: Small European with heart and guts to spare. Koivu is definitely more courageous, having faced the possibility of death in the prime of his career. ( Soul. Injury prone. Has not been the same player since the injury in his second year.)
Michael Ryder - Steve Shutt: Snipers both, Ryder unfortunately is more visable than Shutt was. The two players play like cat burglers, only Ryder gets arrested! ( Dimwit. Stunned and perplexed look on his face, even after scoring a goal. Too slow to be Shutt.)
Roman Hamrlik - Vladimir Malakhov: A one game take that is hardly fair. Just the first name that popped into my head. Likely totally inaccurate. ( Olympics. Wasn't the "Roman Hammer Lick" some kinda medievial emperor sport!)
Andrei Markov - Serge Savard: Subtle, precise and underappreciated until missing. Not much more to add here, just my initial response. ( Mr. Bean. Could also be a woman in drag with those lips on a high cheekbone face.)
Chris Higgins - Claude Lemieux: Minus the theatrics and vulgarities, Higgins brings a similar intensity. Has the tendency for big goals in big games. ( Pug. Has the wide nose of a tenacious dog.)
Tomas Plekanec - Guy Carbonneau / Jacques Lemaire: I was divided here. Pleks plays two roles at a time. He's positional and sly. Sly enough to make opposition players pay for their mistakes. Give him two brilliant wingers and his stats will catapult to more stratospheric heights. ( Shadow. You only realize what he's done, after he has done it.)
Mike Komisarek - Craig Ludwig: Feared but rarely a focal point. Not as ugly or as Ludwig, nor as angled and awkward, Komi is as punishing a player should a rival be suddenly distracted. Both players make daring forwards pay the price. ( Crash. A bull in a china shop.)
Carey Price - Doug Wickenheiser: I blinked here. I too easily could have obviously said Dryden or Roy. I`m not comparing the players or persons involved here. As a longtime fan, I gather that expectations were the inclination behind spitting out Wickenheiser's name. I can't read anything else into this - and don't you! ( Snake oil. I've heard some rumblings about this guy that are too good to be true. What's the deal?)
Ryan O'Byrne - Gilles Lupien / Robert Picard: Tall awkward defenseman with a ton of upside. (Who?)
Mark Streit - Jimmy Roberts: A previous blogpost comparing both made this one too simple. Each player had value in more than one position. Beyond that, for now, I cannot expand on Streit's upside. (French painter. Skinny moustache, sheepish grin.)
Andrei Kostitsyn - Pete Mahovlich / Bobby Smith: Alternately great passers and puck eaters. I've seen both former stars earn boos hanging onto to pucks too long. Ironically, like Kostitsyn, when a goal scoring opportunity finally arises, it is then that they contrarily opt to pass. ( Smooth. Looks very sleek from the bits seen late last year.)
Guillaume Latendresse - Frank Mahovlich: Seemingly slow and deceptive. Becomes impassioned when purpose presents itself. ( A workbench on skates.)
Bryan Smolinski - I drew a blanc here! ( Was he that bald headed Senator?)
Kyle Chipchura - Bob Gainey: A one game assessment. Positional and composed on the ice. ( Who?)
Patrice Brisebois - Patrice Brisebois / Terry Harper: As a lark, first thing to come to mind is he is already, due to injury, reminding me of his former self. At one time he was under valued just as Harper was. That was long ago. (Fuck, is he back! )
Steve Begin - Brian Skrudland: A martyr for the team, willing to throw his smile in front of a shot if it helps win a game. Limited skill wise, but with unlimited dedication. (Warrior. Without consequence to grand outcome of things.)
Cristobal Huet - Ken Dryden: Big, calm, and composed. The two goalies that came from nowhere to win starters jobs from heralded goalies. ( Big. Boring. One quotable, the other silent. )
There you have it. My initial answers are hardly in sync with how I have generally assessed certain players over time. Some of my own intuitions actually surprised me.
In truth, all of these players cannot compare until their names are etched on Stanley Cups.
As young and unacomplished as most of these names are - only time will tell.
Now Doctor, the Habs are 1-2 in exhibition, where's that straightjacket?