The episode starts out with head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend with his hands full; seven players are out of the lineup with injuries and there's a whole lot of rehabbing going on. Luckily for a couple of Bulldogs, this means their chance to come on up and play for the big boys - Mike Blunden and Patrick Holland are in town and getting ready for practice.
Wunderkind Michael Bournival gets called to Michel Therrien's office after practice, to meet with him and Marc Bergevin. The two tell Bournival to get busy finding a place to live in Montreal; he's earned his spot on the Canadiens' roster by his work ethic and performance and demonstrating a seriousness both on and off the ice. He responds maturely and in a subdued manner. When he leaves the office and walks down the hall, J.J. Daigneault hollers for him and congratulates him, showing the enthusiasm that Bournival must be holding back. Bergevin then gets his one-on-one with the camera (after a Bergevin-less episode the week before, what gives, man) and reiterates the obvious reasons to have Bournival stick around. My notes here say: Bergevin nose hair. When you see the episode, you'll totally know what I'm talking about.
It's October 22 and game day against the Edmonton Oilers. Bournival will be playing on the same line as Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Pleks and Bournival have a sit down in the dressing room to talk tactics - Pleks tells Bournival where to be, and where Pleks is going to be, going down the middle.
The game starts well with Plekanec scoring on the power play and Brendan Gallagher with a steal and scoring another. I kind of wish the game ended here. These days, I kind of wish games would end after the first period. Anyway.
Travis Moen and Luke Gazdic drop the gloves, toss their helmets and get ready to fight. The refs immediately intervene, and Moen and Gazdic are all, "What?" We hear the ref tell Moen, "He's gotta take it off for you and you gotta take it off for him," referring, of course, to the helmets. "If you don't want us to get in there you have to do it that way." Finally, the helmet rule explained. P.S. It's so stupid.
First intermission and Therrien's pep talk consists of, "Same thing, same thing, shift after shift!" Sooo I guess Edmonton heard him and went out and scored two to match the Habs' first period. Therrien marches off the ice, making that raised-eyebrow, round-mouthed exhale that you know means he is pi-issed. He calls for Galchenyuk and you think he's going to be uncool, but he's super cool. Never raises his voice, and has a little powwow with him telling him to do a better job and keep his eyes open. I think he's a good rookie coach. Gives them chances, lets them make mistakes, and coaches them.
Anyway, blah blah blah, Edmonton gets two more goals in the third. I'm really glad they don't show how Gio gets a goal with three seconds left in the game and gets so excited. That was embarrassing. Three seconds left? Still down a goal. Um. Later, a mute Therrien watches game video with Bergevin who tries to initiate conversation and Therrien's not having it. He leaves, Bergevin is left rubbing his face and then leaves himself. Pleks, not proud of the game, comes to review some video and exorcise the demons of the game.
(The teaser here before commercial shows us a few seconds of what's coming up after the break, with Therrien screaming, "Pricer! Stop the puck!" in the video room, and a shot of Carey Price looking very serious. Which of course makes us wonder why on earth would he be shouting at Carey??? I myself already actually had my dukes up.)
Saku Koivu and the Anaheim Ducks are up next for the Habs, and we get to see Saku talking to a lot of folks at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal. He tells the 24CH cameras that every return to Montreal involves a lot of emotions, and that after 10 seasons in Montreal as the captain, he still knows a lot of people here, and that there are still a lot of people working with the team that he knew. It's always special for him to return to Montreal.
Cut to Brossard, where the Habs are hanging out and a handful of them are checking out Lars Eller talking shoelaces, regarding his appearance in a men's fashion magazine. We don't get much about what this conversation is about, but Eller, Max Pacioretty, Gally, Rene Bourque and David Desharnais are all crowding around to look at the magazine, and of course P.K. Subban walks by and chirps, "Now it depends if you say, best looking player? You know who that is. Mmm hmm!" They all smile. P.K. makes his teammates smile. I can't help but think of last season during P.K.'s contract negotiations, when the media were wanting us to believe the guy was not liked. The guy is LIKED.
Being liked does not make you immune to pranks. Brandon Prust and Galchenyuk play one on P.K. When his back is turned, they have the sleeve on his jacket sewn closed, and put his watch and keys in a pocket and sew that up, too. We see P.K. in the dressing room putting on his jacket and realizing what happened, and laugh in exasperation. "This is a good one. Is this going in the next episode? ... For sure," answering his own question. "This is definitely Brandon Prust's work ... Prusty's a dead man." He goes to see Patch, trying to get confirmation, and Patch tells him to, "Watch the next 24CH."
Last week, we learned that voluntary French classes were to begin, and this week, we see Gally, Josh Gorges, Mike Blunden and Davis Drewiske in class with Madame Massoud. Gally, of course, knows what "Le but" means. The next class consists of George Parros, Douglas Murray, Prust and one other guy (help). It's all very basic French, and Parros and Prust practice with each other.
Parros: (extending hand) "George."
Prust: (shaking hand) "Brandon, ca va?"
Parros: "Ca va, merci. Uh ... au revoir."
That exchange, by the way, made me L right OL.
Therrien then assembles the troops in his video room to swear at them a little about their team play. Carey Price is in the back row, picking his nose (Stars! They're just like us!), and this is when we get the context of Therrien's "Pricer!" outburst. He was trying to say that the guys are all pretending they're friends, but on the ice, they're not respecting each other.
"I'm gonna go, I'm leaving, take the shot ... 'Pricer! Stop the puck! I don't care, stop the puck!' - I'm your friend, but I don't give a f*** if you get a f***ing goals against! That's the reality, this is what we see. You guys are playing the game for yourself. And after that you're my friend and I'm f***ing let you down? Play for your teammates. This is what you gotta do."
"Don't forget, two years ago, you finished the last in the conference. Two years ago. You're playing the same f***ing way. Play as a team. If you don't play as a team, you won't be successful, I'm telling you, you won't be successful. This is how you win respect. Win respect from your teammates. Do the right thing, go be successful."
We meet another behind-the-scenes member of all things Habs, Diane Bibeau, organist at the Bell Centre. I'm a terrible feminist, always having assumed it would be a man. Lovely lady, hers is the easiest French to understand, for me, thus far in the series. She always wanted to be an organist for the Habs, telling her parents at the tender age of eight that one day she'd play at The Forum. She played there from 1987 to 1992, then stopped after the switch to "electronic" music, returning to the organization after Geoff Molson himself requested it in 2011. After the return of the organ, she says, when she touched the first note, everyone shed a tear of joy.
It's finally game night, with Saku and the Ducks ready for action. We see Diane up in her room playing O Canada for Charles Prevost, and she tells us how she times everything during play, watching the refs closely to know when to stop. This is why I love this series; who ever realized all the moving parts to this machine. Bournival gets a goal, tipped in from Nathan Beaulieu, and Diane takes enough time from her organ to whoop and cheer in delight. Then, Pleks pots in another, from Bournival, and the Habs are up 2-0.
Footage from the first intermission is about 2.6 seconds long; Pleks marches through the dressing room and slaps Bournival on the shoulder. Then it's back to the game.
Gionta scores on the power play, Therrien is happy, shouting to him on the bench, "Like the old days!" and then Price makes a beautiful save, eliciting a "Wow" from the bench. I turned this back a few times to see who said it, but it's not clear. I think it's Therrien, whom we've seen say a similar wow before.
Second intermission, spirits are good, and Peter Budaj hollers at Bournival, "Come on Bourni, keep skating, kid, fly!" Boods is a great presence on this team. I think he's a good energy to have; completely cognizant of his role and ready for anything, and a good support to his teammates whether he's in nets or not.
The Ducks get one goal and manage to avoid the shutout but the Habs go on to win the game 4-1, which is somehow their magic number so far this season. In the final seconds of the game, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau makes the classy move of ensuring Koivu is on the ice. And the Bell Centre crowd is on its feet, cheering Saku's name, which Saku soaks in. He's then named third star of the game by the fans, and takes to the ice for the ovation. Saku is one class act. I for one would have found it extremely difficult to be so classy considering the way he left town. I would have been bitter. B-i-t-t-e-r. I will never not miss Saku. Pleks and Francis Bouillon also stay to salute their former captain.
The day of the San Jose Sharks game, the children from Leucan, a Quebec association "committed to helping cancer-stricken children and their families" are welcomed at the Bell Centre. We meet young Anthony Vachon, there with his parents, who was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three. He says it was "difficult" for him. His dad, Dany Vachon, speaks about how Anthony started loving hockey during his treatment, and we see a photo from a few years ago of Carey holding Anthony. It looks like now, Anthony is healthy, but older photos show him and his older brother Alexy - Alexy's head is shaved bald in solidarity with his younger brother. Alexy says he hated seeing his little brother in pain, to see him suffer. "I wanted to take his place."
Anthony says, "I have the best older brother."
Then we see him showering his mommy with kisses.
I don't care about anything else right now. How about you?
Anthony then cheers the boys coming out on the ice from his spot in a private suite at the Bell Centre, and at the 0-0 first intermission, he tells Geoff Molson that his favourite player is Galchenyuk, whom Molson concedes is all right.
Things don't go the Habs' way in the second, getting scored on twice, once with Price out of his net. Gallagher then gets flattened like a veritable pancake on the boards, and shrugs off medical attention on the ice, racing back to the bench. He swears when they insist on checking him out anyway, having to leave the bench to assure them he's "fine, fine, fine" and coming back to the bench to fly out on the next shift.
Game's over, the Habs are shut out and Moen is nursing what we now know is a facial fracture in the dressing room. The boys clean up however to go back and meet the kids from Leucan. We see Anthony, completely not giving a shit about the score of the night, because he's about to meet his heroes. He's literally jumping for joy down the hallway to meet them. For him, "La plus grande des victories, c'est la vie." The biggest victory is life.
It occurs to me that amidst all this language debate and this side and that side, that these lessons the Habs are taking in French are fantastic - if they can even ask a little boy what his name is, or be able to have the briefest of conversations with these fans, they're totally worth it. Totally.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Sam Pollock - A Beautiful Mind Part III - Trader Sam
- Hamilton Bulldogs player of the week - Martin St. Pierre
- EOTP Selects Team Canada - November Edition
- Monday Habs Links - Michel Therrien drags P.K. Subban through the dirt again
- Martin St. Pierre called up by the Montreal Canadiens
- Ears on the Prize - Episode 8 - Podcast