Adding toughness was an offseason priority for the Canadiens
After a miserable 2015-16 season, the Canadiens needed fixing. This offseason, it became clear that Montreal wanted to be bigger, tougher and meaner.
It’s an interesting time to take that approach, especially when the NHL seems to be moving in a different direction.
The Pittsburgh Penguins used speed and skill to their advantage during their 2016 Stanley Cup journey and we should expect to see more teams try to emulate that this season.
But GM Marc Bergevin clearly isn’t interested in following the latest hockey trends.
Bergevin made two trades on draft night. He sent Lars Eller to Washington for a pair of draft picks and he acquired Andrew Shaw from the Chicago Blackhawks.
“Two Stanley Cups in five years,” Bergevin said of Shaw, per NHL.com. “I like guys who don’t like to lose. Everybody likes to win, everybody’s happy when you win. I want guys, when you lose, it gets them inside. It hurts. And then you go back to work the next day.
“Andrew Shaw has it. I was in Chicago long enough to know they don’t take losing with a grain of salt. I want guys who don’t like to lose.”
Days later, Bergevin stunned the hockey world when he shipped P.K. Subban to Nashville for Shea Weber.
Again, Subban is no push-over, but he isn’t as nasty as Shea Weber.
“He’s the toughest defenseman to play against in the NHL and I’m glad I don’t have to do any net-front battles with him again … maybe in practice,” Shaw said earlier this month, per the Montreal Gazette. “But I think it’s going to be huge for the team. He’s a good leader guy, a good team guy. He’s got that experience, too. He’s got that shot from the point that will help both on the power play and even strength as well. He’s just that big, strong man in front of the net that’s going to help out defensively as well.”
Clearly, the Canadiens feel that having Carey Price back and playing a physical brand of hockey will allow them to be competitive in the Eastern Conference.
Time will tell if they chose the right approach.