Jack Todd: If the Canadiens had any luck at all, it would be bad

Montreal’s latest long-term injury, to Alex Newhook, is another impediment to accurately evaluating the talent on this young team.

Article content

When one of our old tractors broke down or a horse got loose and we had to waste half a day catching it, my dad would shake his head ruefully and say, “by gosh, if I had any danged luck at all, it would be bad luck.”

Pop, meet the Montreal Canadiens — a billion-dollar 21st century enterprise with about as much luck as we had on our hardscrabble farm out in the badlands of western Nebraska 60 years ago. Like us, if this team had any luck at all, it would be bad.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Article content

Read ‘em and weep: Kirby Dach, David Savard, Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Jordan Harris, Chris Wideman, Alex Newhook. Even with the imminent return of Arber Xhekaj, it’s a crazy number of bodies to have in Team Clinic this early in the season — and we’re not counting Carey Price, the $10.5-million cap hit through 2026 who will never play again.

When Newhook’s skate lost a battle with the net last Thursday and he emerged with a high-ankle sprain that will keep him out of the lineup for 10 to 12 weeks, even a certain crusty old journalist was heard to mutter, “oh come on now. This isn’t even fair!”

Fair or not, it’s the busted flush the Canadiens have been handed of late. Maybe it goes back to that 2021 run to the final, when the Habs used up all their luck and their two best players, only to fall short of a 25th Stanley Cup.

Or maybe it’s the fact that the sacred Forum is now a Dollarama. The ghosts can’t be happy about that.

Seriously, this bizarre run of injuries affects the club in so many ways. You can’t coach injuries. You can’t develop injuries. You can’t trade injuries and above all, you can’t evaluate young players like Dach, Harvey-Pinard, Harris and Newhook based on their performance in the clinic.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Even the belief that the luck has to even out sooner or later is based on a mathematical fallacy. Like the example of the coin that you flip 99 times and it comes up heads, the odds on the 100th flip are still 50/50. Ditto the injury odds next season, and the season after that.

The Canadiens did what they could. They tried a complete off-season overhaul of the training and medical staff. It was never going to prevent freak injuries like the one Newhook suffered but in theory, it might make a difference in assessment and treatment after too many players returned to the ice too soon following an injury.

Or not. Any hope that changing personnel might change their luck is clearly futile. If there’s a bright spot, it’s a lonely one: that Team Tank might luck into another top five draft pick in 2024 and come away with a premier offensive forward, filling a clear need.

Related Stories

All is forgiven, Hawk: In the past, we’ve been a little shocked at the unseemly haste with which some former Expos sought to cash in on their election to the Hall of Fame — or, in the case of the late Gary Carter, sought to enter Cooperstown with a Mets hat rather than an Expos hat.

Advertisement 4

Article content

That’s not the case with Andre Dawson, arguably the most respected player ever to wear the uniform of Nos Amours. Back in the nasty days of collusion, Dawson received a ridiculous contract offer from the Expos and turned it down before signing with the Chicago Cubs for a paltry $500,000 — chump change even by the standards of mid-1980s.

Dawson sacrificed his knees on the concrete turf of the accursed Big O, probably shortening his career by three to five years. His grievance against the club, though understated, is real and justified.

Dawson has never gone public with his grudge, but obviously the way he was treated by the Expos still stings, so it was no surprise when (in his usual quiet fashion) he asked the Hall of Fame to switch his hat from the Expos to the Cubs.

We hope the Hawk gets his wish. If any former Expo deserves it, it’s Andre Dawson.

Moniker madness: Ladies and gentlemen, it has come to our attention that fans or teammates of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard have bestowed on him the nickname “Bedsy.”

This is an egregious violation of the Nickname Rules, which decree that if you can’t do better than add an “-sy” to a player’s name, just leave it be. It’s the brilliant “Wi-Fi” for Arber Xhekaj or nothing.

Advertisement 5

Article content

Seriously, though. Bedsy? What next? Boopsy? Bitsy? Batsy? Bopsy? Mopsy? Topsy?

I can hear it now: “Boopsy got the puck to Bitsy and Bitsy left it for Bedsy, and Bedsy one-timed it through the five-hole.

Please, in the name of Rocket Richard, the Pocket Rocket and the Roadrunner. Make it stop.

Heroes: Christine Sinclair, Samuel Montembeault, Marc-Antoine Dequoy, Mark Weightman, Danny Maciocia, Jason Maas, Patrick Roy &&&& last but not least, Andre Dawson.

Zeros: A new roof for the Big Owe, $7 million for the L.A. Kings, Jim Harbaugh, Nick Saban, Milan Lucic, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

[email protected]

twitter.com/jacktodd46

Article content