A Lockout Winner

It would be hard for Montreal to have a worse season than 2011-12 -- they finished dead last in the Eastern Conference -- but I don't see a big change in the team's fortunes as we enter the lockout-shortened 2012-13. No need to recount the indignities suffered by the Canadiens last season, an embarrassing campaign which led to front-office and behind-the-bench changes. But the labor impasse buys general manager Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien some time to implement changes. Little was expected even if the season started as normal last fall, but those expectations are lowered with a shorter schedule. It's a built-in excuse for a sub-par season. But the short season is also a concession I'll grant Bergevin and Therrien. With less than a week of training camp, there's very little time for the decision-makers to implement the on-ice changes or the players to adjust to change. It's the stable franchise, one with little organizational change that should do well and carry the burden of expectation. The Canadiens can continue on a course for a high draft pick while cleaning up the problems afflicting their roster. Bergevin/Therrien brought in a couple of heavy hitters that should make it tougher on opponents when beating the Canadiens. Brandon Prust and Colby Armstrong won't solve Montreal's anemic offense, but teams will know they've been in a battle. This will be an opportune season for the Canadiens to let some younger talent develop, like Louis Leblanc and Lars Eller. Or give some real neophytes, with high offensive upside, like Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, minutes in the NHL.


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