MONTREAL — Fire the coach? Make a big trade? Human sacrifice, perhaps?
OK, the last one is a stretch, but it is Montreal and it seems everyone has an antidote to what ails the Canadiens these days.
With the NHL club slumping badly in the past six weeks, the team’s fan base is reeling and offering suggestions on how to stop its historic free fall.
“We need scorers, we need big scorers,” Matthew Messier, 21, said Tuesday as he minded the ticket booth at a downtown ice rink. “They need a real star – pay the price for a young guy who can score goals.”
After starting the year at 9-0 – a team record from the beginning of a season – and trailing for only 2:57 in that stretch, the Canadiens have been plummeting since losing all-world goaltender Carey Price for a second time on Nov. 25.
On Dec. 1, the team had a 19-4-3 record. Since Dec. 2, the Canadiens have managed nine points out of a possible 40, last in the league during that time.
As a deep freeze settled over Montreal and they prepared to play their bitter rivals from Boston on Tuesday night, the Canadiens also found themselves on the verge of falling out of a playoff spot.
For Messier, a few choice moves now would be worth it to see another Stanley Cup down the road.
“I wasn’t even born when they won the (last) cup,” said Messier, referring to the 1993 champions. “I’ve never lived through a victorious year, so I’d like to see it in my lifetime.”
While nobody among a handful of fans interviewed by The Canadian Press mentioned the dismissal of coach Michel Therrien as the answer to the Habs’ woes, there have been comments galore on social media that it might be time for the team to seek leadership elsewhere.
In the face of the hugely disappointing performances in the last six weeks as well as the team’s scoring woes across the board, not all fans have an answer.
“I am way not educated enough to make that kind of call,” Devin Brodie, 28, said after an afternoon skate wearing his Habs jersey.
Brodie believes the club will make the playoffs, an assertion he bases on Price’s return, even though no date has been set for that potential game-changer for the Canadiens.
Shayne Deguire and his father-in-law, Louis La Haye, Canadiens fans from Rockland, Ont., outside Ottawa, were on the same page as Messier in saying a major trade is a must in order to bring in much-needed scoring.
“It takes an impact player, we need secondary scoring,” Deguire said, prompting La Haye to chime in: “The Canadiens have three untouchables: Price, (P.K.) Subban and (Brendan) Gallagher. Put everyone else in the hat for a big move.”
With Montreal on the playoff bubble, there’s a possibility no Canadian teams will qualify for the post-season.
The Ottawa Senators are the other Canadian team currently closest in the playoff picture but La Haye said neither team has the depth to win a Stanley Cup, suggesting the Canadiens should set aside playoff aspirations to cast a gaze to the future.
“We don’t have a team to win the Stanley Cup this year,” he said. ”Give up on getting knocked out in the first round this year and look ahead.“