On a day dominated by Louis Leblanc-related hysteria (more on him later), some very positive news has surfaced: Brian Gionta is ahead of his rehabilitation schedule. The Canadiens captain should be cleared for contact later this week and is aiming to return for Montreal's late September preseason matches. Gionta is a tough-minutes workhorse and Montreal's true unsung hero. EOTP's own Olivier displays, in graphical form, Gionta's importance and predicts his improved health status days before the news broke. In summary, Gionta, Olivier, and today's links are all awesome; enjoy each at your leisure. (This sounds creepy, apologies.)
Montreal Canadiens News and Analysis
For a Tuesday in which the team had a day off, there's a fair bit of roster shenanigans to report. Most notable is that Louis Leblanc was cut from Montreal's main camp and has been assigned to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Louis is bummed, his tennis pro girlfriend Aleksandra Wozniak is miffed, and people are despairing over the 22-year-old's career prospects with the club. Kenny MacMillan of A Winning Habit looks at Leblanc's career, noting his progress relative to other 2009 first rounders.
P.K. Subban sits sixth, behind Zdeno Chara, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Duncan Keith, and Erik Karlsson, on ESPN's list of the top 50 defensemen in the NHL. David Backes knows what's up though, calling P.K. the best defenseman in the game.
Scott Reynolds over at Copper & Blue is comparing the ten best prospects from each NHL team, as determined by each team's SB Nation Top 25 Under 25 list, to discover who has best "young core" in the NHL. In yesterday's bracket-style match up, Toronto, Long Island/Brooklyn, Montreal, and Chicago faced off. Reynolds picked Nazem Kadri over Max Pacioretty as the best #3 prospect, which is very upsetting.
General NHL News and Analysis
An Emroy University study has set out to rank the economic value of fan bases in the NHL. The methodology consists of modeling revenue "based on market potential (population and median income), team quality (winning rates) and other factors (such as team payroll)" and then comparing actual revenue to the model's predicted revenue. By these measures, Montreal's fan base is a lucrative one, outperforming predictions to rank third behind the Leafs and Oilers. However, Brian Stubits over at Eye on Hockey feels that the model doesn't pass the smell test, noting that it ranks the Florida Panthers ahead of St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, L.A. and Washington. Speaking of the smell test, my grandmother would remark that Ottawa is "in the shitter," placing 28th on Emory's list.
Speaking of Ottawa, Amelia L over at Silver Seven Sens profiles the career of Bryan Murray, from his days as a GM in Detroit to the drama of this past off-season. It's an impressive piece.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has told the organizers of the 2014 IIHF World Championship, scheduled to begin on May 9 in Minsk, to insure against losses from a potential boycott, postponement, or cancellation. The European Parliament has urged the IIHF to move the event away from Belarus due to Lukashenko's crackdown on political opponents, including at 2012 parliamentary election that returned no opposition candidates.
Chris Pronger is on an arduous, uncertain march to recovery from a slash to the eye that has sidelined him with headaches and balance issues since November 2011. ESPN's Scott Burnside sat down with the former Norris Trophy winner to talk about his health, his status as a non-playing player, and how he keeps his spirits up.