Saku Koivu makes his long awaited return to the Bell Centre on Saaturday. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
The Montreal Canadiens will be hosting several former members of the franchise, during a four-game run, this week. The most notable comes this Saturday, when the Anaheim Ducks and former captain Saku Koivu pay a visit.
With the 2010-11 NHL season now into it's second half, I thought I would scout around the league to see how the "alumni" are doing in their current colours.
Hopefully I tracked all of the ex-Habs down, and the stats listed are based on this NHL season up to games ending on January 15.
As much as I toyed with it, I'm sticking to just current NHLers. Therefore, those who had brief NHL stints, such as Cedrick Desjardins and Steve Begin, etc. are excluded. It also keeps me from making any cracks about Sheldon Souray (still in the AHL) and Cristobal Huet (on loan to Europe). I've also excluded Dan Ellis, who was merely with the team on paper for 24 hours, as he has enough "Twitter problems" of his own to deal with.
Kyle Chipchura ( 27GP 0G 2A) Chipchura was an odd man out in the Canadiens system last season, and was ultimately traded to the Ducks for a 4th round pick in 2011. He scored 12 points with the Ducks, in 55 games last year. He missed most of November with a concussion and has been a healthy scratch in the last couple games.
Saku Koivu ( 46GP 11G 13A) There is no doubt that there will be a very warm reception for the second-longest serving captain in Canadiens history this Saturday. It will certainly be a strange feeling for the 36-year old, who is enjoying life outside of the pressure cooker in Montreal. Koivu had 55 points with Anaheim in 71 games last season, and is playing alongside longtime Finnish National teammate Teammu Selanne.
Maxim Lapierre (5GP 0G 1A) Though Popular with the fans,and the predomenant French spokesman for the team Lapierre was unhappy with the ice time Jacques Martin was giving him, and reportedly asked Pierre Gauthier for a trade. He was dealt exchange for defenseman Brett Festerlingand a fifth round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and has averaged aroud 15 minutes on the ice in his first five games.
Paul Mara (32GP 1G 1A) After spending most of his only season wit the Canadiens on the IR, Mara signed with the Ducks as an unrestricted free agent over the summer. He hasn't seen action sice December 18, being a healthy scratch, but did register the hardest shot (100.7 mph) at the team's skills competition last week.
Ron Hainsey (47GP 1G 5A)A former first round pick of the Canadiens, Hainsey is currently on the third pairing of what has become a very good defensive unit in Atlanta. The 29-year old is the second youngest rearguard with Atlanta and has played in all 47 games this season.
Mark Recchi (44GP 9G 18A) The Canadiens thought they were getting the better of the deal when they traded John LeClair to the Philadelphia Flyers. The deal played in the Flyers favour and LeClair flourished in the City of Brotherly Love . Recchi put up decent numbers in Montreal but bever found the success he had in Philly and prior with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now at the age of 42, Recchi just keeps on going and recently passsed the 1500 point plateau.
Michael Ryder (44GP 13G 13A) The pride of Bonavista, NL left the Canadiens on a less than notable note, spotted throwing paper airplanes from the press box. He got back on track in the goal scoring department in his first season with the Bruins (27 goals), but slipped to 18 last season. He seems to be back on pace for another 25 goal season, but is a -2 on a team that is an overall *31 (#rd in the NHL).
Craig Rivet ( 23 GP 1G 2A):There was a lot of disheartened fans when the Canadiens traded away the popular Habs rearguard to the San Jose Sharks for Josh Gorgesand a draft pick that later became Max Pacioretty. These days, I'm pretty certain that they forgave and applauded Bob Gainey for the move. Gorges, before his season-ending injury was the teams most reliabel defenseman and touted as a future captain. Pacioretty was tearing up the AHL before being called up, and seems to be the answer to the Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta - ?? line.
Rivet was ultimatley traded to the Sabres, and is the current team captain. This season however, he has been a healthy scratch and since the New Year has averaged less than eight minutes on the ice. "It's a bad situation all around," said The Buffalo News' Mike Harrington via email. "He can't play, but they got locked into a three-year deal ($3.5 million per season) and they can't move him with that contract yet. Maybe by the deadline. Maybe."
Tom Kostopoulos (42 GP 4G 4A with Calgary and Carolina)"Tom the Bomb" was another of those players that gave his all every night for the Canadiens over two seasons, and his only full season witht he Carolina Hurricanes was a near statistical match to his last in Montreal. He recently logged his 500th career game, but in doing so laid out a severe head shot on the Detroit Red Wings Brad Stuart, receiveing a six-game suspension for his actions.
Alex Tanguay (45GP 10G 22A)Tanguay's time in Montreal was cut short due to injury (41 points in 50 games) and fell victim to Bob Gainey's blow up of the team in the summer of 2009. His totals so far this year are an improvemnent after a full season with the Tampa Bay Lightning (10G 27A), but whether he gets back to his numbers with the Colorado Avalanche and his previous stint in Calgary remains to be seen.
Ryan O`Byrne (34GP 0 G 6A) If Pierre Gauthier could have a do-over, he might have wanted to get Ryan O`Byrne back from the Avalanche. While Gorges and Andrei Markovfell to injuries, the Canadiens were short in manpower on the blueline. Nevertheless, at the time OB was behind Alexandre Picard on the depth chart and was subsequently traded for forward prospect Michael Bournival on Remembrance Day. Since day one in Colorado, O`Byrne has been the physical player he was envisioned to become in Montreal. He leads the Avs in hits (86) and is second in blocked shots behind is blueline partner John-Michael Liles.
Mathieu Garon (8-9-5, 2.70, .902) Garon played 53 games for the Canadiens and picked up four shutouts along the way. After being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for Huet, he bounced to the Edmonton Oilers and a brief visit to Pittsburgh, where he earned a Stanley Cup ring and took the Cup for a boat ride.
Mike Ribeiro (45GP 9 G 30A) After 65 and 53 point seasons in 2003-04 and 2005-6 respectively, Ribeiro was dealt to Dallas for Janne Niinimaa and a fifth round selection in 2007. It was certainly a bad move for Gainey as Niinimaa resulted to nothing for Montreal, and the future of the prospect they drafted (Andrew Conboy) still remains to be seen. Ribeiro has had seasons of 83 and 78 points with Dallas and has never had a season with less than 18 goals.
No ex-Habs, but they have the best roster page layout in the league.
Chris Higgins (34 GP 8 G 8A) After being dealt to the New York Rangersin the Scott Gomez deal, Higgins found himself in Calgary by the end of the 2009-10 season. He signed as a free agent with the Panthers, and his offensive production has been lees than expected despite a recent four-game point streak. He is currently listed as day-to-day, bothered by a hamstring injury.
Tomas Vokoun (16-15-6 2.56 .922) Vokoun has been the heat of the Panthers, ever since coming over from the Nashville Predators. He played just a single game for the Canadiens, while in their system, and his play and health is essential for a team that is currently battling Montreal for playoff positioning.
Guillaume Latendresse (8GP 3G 3A) It's been really hard to compare who got the better of the deal between 2005 Draft picks this season. While Benoit Pouliot has had his ups and downs with the Habs this season, Latendresse saw just eight games before an abdominal injury put him on the injured list. Last season Latendresse had career highs in goals (27) and points (40) in 55 games with Minnesota, and 23 with Montreal.
Jose Theodore (8-7-3 2.66, .913) After losing his starting job with the Washington Capitals to Semyon Varlomov, and a tough free agent season for goalies, the one time Vezina and Hart Trophy winner with the Habs found himself on the Thousand Lakes State. Earlier this month Theodore went 3-1-0 with a 1.50 GAA and a .946 SV%, including a 26-save performance to earn his 30th career NHL shutout. The performance was enough to earn him Third Star of the week, but Theo is currently battling a hip injury on a Wild team that has seen their goalies hampered by injuries.
Francis Bouillon (43GP 1G 9A) The guy who played with a lot of heart for the Canadiens played in every game for the Predators last season. The 5'8" dynamo leads the team in hits (133) and is third in blocked shots (53).
Sergei Kostitsyn (40GP 11G 12A) After never finding his way in Montreal, and a foot injury to start this season, SK74 is slowly finding his way in Music City. He has already exceeded his career season high in goals, and is four points shy of his point total, both reached in his rookie season in Montreal.
Dainius Zubrus (43GP 6G 10A) Zubrus played one full season in (42 points in 73 games), bookmarked by partial seasons in Montreal before being traded to the Washington Capitals. His best seasons came in the post-lockout, but since then he's managed 40 points just once since. He is -16 on a Devils team that has been just a disaster on and of the ice this season.
Mark Streit- Suffered a left shoulder injury during an inter-squad, training camp scrimmage on Sep. 25, 2010 and has been on the team's IR ever since.
New York Rangers
Ryan McDonagh (5GP 0 points)The Canadiens first-round pick in 2007 was another piece of the Gomez deal. He made his NHL debut on January 7. and is +2 in his first five games.
Alex Kovalev (42 GP 8G 10A)The enigmatic winger has been having a seriously down season. A man once revered and praised in Montreal has found himself relegated to the third and even fourth lines in Ottawa this season. He is currently out for at least a week with a knee injury.
Corey Locke (2GP 0G 1A) A fourth round pick by the Canadiens in 2007 before being dealt to the Wild for Shawn Belle, Locke has always been a solid performer in the AHL, and was the league's leading scorer (55 points in 38 games) before being called up to Ottawa last week. Locke will want to make the most of this opportunity, as prior teams (Minnesota, NYR) never commit ed to him after one season.
Matt D`Agostini (44GP 10G 13A) D'Agostini was another Canadiens prospect that just didn't fit in the puzzle. After a pair of seasons split between Montreal and the Hamilton Bulldogs, there was nowhere for him to go once Bob Gainey shuffled the deck in 2009. He played seven games in St. Louis last season and has seen up to 19 minutes TOI this season. He is even getting time on the first line with 9 points (2G 7A) in his last ten games. At home in St. Louis, D'Agostini has 15 points (6G, 9A) in 23 career games.
Jaroslav Halak (16-14-4 2.54 .910) It will probably take a year or so, plus a few playoff rounds, to determine whether or not Carey Price was the right choice in Montreal. Both goaltenders had near equal starts to the season, and have had slumps of late. While Price struggled in December, Halak is a less publicized 1-3-0, with a non-decision in his last five starts (3.34 GAA, .885 SvPct). But if we go based on overall performance through the first half, Price was selected to the All-Star Game, while Halak was not.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Dominic Moore (41G 8G 8A)The first trade acquisition Pierre Gauthier made as GM was to get this two-way forward for the playoff run in 2010, and it certainly paid off, Now with Tampa, he remains a top faceoff man and penalty killer. His -16 rating can be misleading on a playoff contending team that is a combined -11.
Mikhail Grabovski (43 GP 18G 17A) He was clearly not a favourite amongst Habs fans, but Grabovski has found his scoring touch with the loathed Leafs. He is well on pace to exceed his career numbers (20G, 28A) that he reached in his first season in Toronto. His +6 leads a team that has just three regulars above 0 in the plus/minus category. When traded to the Leafs, the Canadiens earned the rights to Greg Pateryn, who is currently with the University of Michigan. The second-round pick they also obtained in 2010 was later dealt to acquire Robert Lang from the Chicago Blackhawks.
Mike Komisarek (40GP 1G 8A) Despised by the Montreal faithful for jumping ship for a bigger paycheck in Toronto, the 6'4" Komisarek has lost his impact ever since his on-ice humiliations with Montreal at the hands of Milan Lucic. Injuries limited him to 34 games last season, but despite his 82 hits (2nd on the Leafs), his ice time averages just over 15 minutes a game this season.