New season, new hopes for the Montreal Canadiens

After a season that made it difficult to be a fan, 2017-18 is showing a lot of promise.

We have all faced those familiar feelings: the nerves and uncertainties of something new, questioning whether this time will be different, and learning to let go of negative associations with past experiences. At least, that’s how I always feel about a new season.

Last year, I 100% fell out of love with the Montreal Canadiens. I simply had no desire to watch games, to read up on the latest news, or to write. And when I did write, it was to complain.

You see, I, like many Habs fans, felt pretty frustrated last year. I cringed at the lack of action when dealing with player development and allowing high-calibre draft picks to stick it out under poor decision-making from those in charge in the AHL. I grew tired of the same song and dance and seeing underwhelming performances all around, especially from players who were given the opportunity to shine but never really did dig their skates in. And perhaps most importantly, I felt a bit cheated by management with how they dealt with player injuries and trades.

But something is different heading into this season. Riding off of some of the positive changes to last year’s lineup, notably a coaching change, has me geared up once again.

A full season under Claude Julien is going to look remarkably different than the last. Julien came in at the tail end of a tough season and worked with this team through a short playoff run. With that bit of time under his belt, I think we see his typical approach this season. I also sincerely hope that we see the coach give some up-and-coming youngsters a solid chance. Time will tell.

Though the differences between Julien and former coach Michel Therrien are enough to make you optimistic for the season, you can add the solid addition of Jonathan Drouin and a long-term deal for goaltender Carey Price to the mix. Drouin has the potential to fill a hole on the top line for the Canadiens, should he still be playing centre when the season begins.

“It doesn’t matter to me, I’ve been playing all over the place. In the past few years, I’ve played left, right, and a little bit of centre, wherever they want me, I can definitely play centre. I played a full year there in junior. I’m definitely not going to be nervous if that’s where they want to use me.” — Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Gazette

Are the 2017-18 Canadiens perfect? Far from it. Fans are still on the fence about losing Andrei Markov to the KHL, Alex Galchenyuk’s bridge deal, and an increase in already expensive ticket prices. And of course, the questions regarding player development linger with Sylvain Lefebvre once again behind the AHL bench, now in Laval.

But as another season approaches, I can’t help but feel excited for the bleu, blanc, et rouge to flash across my TV screen, for the sound of the boys’ skates on fresh ice, and the chant of ‘Go Habs Go!’ erupting from the Bell Centre crowd.

September is a special time in the hockey world, and I am so ready to fall back in love.

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