It’s Video Game Week here at SB Nation, and in the midst of my playing Pokémon Sword, I had a half-baked idea: “What if the Habs were Pokémon?”
In the interest of saving myself a lot of time, I’m opting to limit this task to the first 151 Pokémon created, because otherwise I’d likely be spending the better part of a month attempting to research all of this. What follows is the ruminations of a 29-year-old adult channeling his 10-year-old self to help fill this long void between games of hockey. So please enjoy the Montreal Canadiens as Pokémon!
Carey Price: Dragonite
This one is pretty easy. Carey Price is the pseudo-legendary dragon from the first Generation, nearly unbeatable in its prime, but perhaps more flawed as the years wore on. It matches Price’s career path pretty well, going from a god-tier destroyer of worlds, to someone who can’t always withstand that last ice beam (or disastrous penalty kill). He’s still great, but not as great as he once was.
Keith Kinkaid: Magikarp
The Habs got him semi-cheap, he flopped around a lot, didn’t do much to help, and then we loaned him to someone else to try and level him up to make him a useful piece. Harsh, but accurate, no?
Shea Weber: Machamp
The Man Mountain could only have ever been one of the muscular fighting types from the first incarnations of Pokémon. Weber being Machamp only makes sense when you consider that, much like Price, in his prime Weber was an unholy terror who could maim you with hits, his shots, and sometimes his fists. Machamp in his prime was a terrifying beast of a Pokémon, with four arms, a ridiculous attacking stat, and just being bigger than hell, it’s a perfect match for the Canadiens’ captain.
Jeff Petry: Arcanine
Offensively gifted, able to get hot at a moment’s notice, and quick as a flash, Petry embodies so many of the qualities of an Arcanine. While he is prone to the odd defensive lapse, he makes up for it at the other end of the ice, using a Fire Blast of a slapshot to find the back of the net with regularity.
Ben Chiarot: Poliwrath
Big, menacing, but not quite like a Machamp is Chiarot. He proved a surprising offensive boost on the blue line, while being a physical beast in defensive situations.
Karl Alzner: Porygon
Alzner and Porygon have a few things in common. They were both very expensive to acquire, with Alzner costing $4.625 million a year, and Porygon costing up to 9999 credits at the Rocket Game Corner. They both also aren’t all that useful, and while it seemed like a good idea at the time, fans and trainers alike were both soon disappointed.
Brett Kulak: Starmie
In the highly underrated category comes Kulak playing the role of Starmie. Kulak fits into so many different roles, much like Starmie can work as a wall, a defender, or a mixed attacker in Pokémon game depending on your mood.
Victor Mete: Pikachu
Lightning quick on the ice, with a chance to stun opponents when he leads the rush, Mete embodies a lot of Pikachu in his game. That also includes getting bullied a bit when defending, but maybe Claude Julien has a Thunderstone in his back pocket and we might see the evolved form of Raichu soon.
Cale Fleury: Electrode
Capable of producing big hits, stunning opponents, and being quicker than you’d expect pin Fleury as an Electrode. Much like his Pokémon counterpart though, sometimes those hits can self-destruct, leaving him out of the battle and in the doghouse.
Brendan Gallagher: Zubat
This might have been the easiest player to pick out of all the current Habs. Gallagher, much like Zubat, is absolutely everywhere annoying the hell out of everyone all of the time. His grin only serves to infuriate people further, and much like a Zubat using Confuse Ray, people only end up hurting themselves when they go on the attack.
Max Domi: Primeape
Extremely offensive minded, great on the attack almost always, whether it be with his stick or his fists, Domi fits the mould of this fighting-type Pokémon. He also inherits its legendarily short temper, which sometimes makes him more of a hindrance than a help in games.
Jonathan Drouin: Lapras
An extremely rare find in any Pokémon game, just like Drouin was a rare find for Montreal. Lapras is semi-limited in what it can do in battle, but when put in the right situations it becomes a proper beast.
Phillip Danault: Mew
Long believed to be a myth, but actually appearing in a time of need, Mew is an allegory for the Canadiens needing a first-line centre.
Tomas Tatar: Gyarados
Capable of devastating offence, at the cost of sometimes doing a bit of damage to his own team, the crossover between Tatar and the fearsome Gyarados is nearly perfect.
Nick Suzuki: Alakazam
Alakazam is said to have an IQ of 5000, and that it can process things like a super computer. Given how quickly Suzuki adapted to the NHL and started making cerebral plays on the regular this was a match made in heaven.
Joel Armia: Rapidash
Just an absolute thoroughbred of a player on the ice, Armia makes so many high-skill plays look flawless. He flies under the radar a bit with his play, but when he takes off and takes over a game it’s hard not to stand in awe.
Paul Byron: Diglett
Fast, able to hit you harder than you expected and then dig out of trouble? Sounds like Byron, who despite his small stature packs a potent offensive punch, though isn’t always able to take a ton of hits in return.
Artturi Lehkonen: Jynx
I’m picking this for the name alone because if anyone has a jinx on them it’s poor Lehkonen.
Jordan Weal: Squirtle
If you ever needed a Swiss Army Knife in your battles, Weal is that guy, and Squirtle is that Pokémon. Weal can play the man advantage, the penalty kill, and eat middle-six minutes, while Squirtle can be your attacker, your Surf HM user, and a wall to hold off enemy attacks.
Dale Weise: Chansey
At one point he was a brilliant piece of the history as a cult hero who took plenty of punishment but kept on ticking, but now he’s there to support the younger players and help get them through their tough times. He’s able to be plugged in now and then, but don’t expect what he once was.
Charles Hudon: Pidgeotto
He’s not quite to the final evolution in his career, but he’s so close and shows flashes of becoming that Pidgeot. Still useful to plug in when you need him, but not always the right choice for certain situations.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi: Charmander
You see the future Charizard in the young Finnish forward. He has all the potential in the world to spread his wings and terrify opponents every night. As it stands right now, he has some evolving to do, but one day soon he’s going to set the Bell Centre on fire with his play.