I will preface my comments today by stating I am a Montreal Canadiens fan, maybe not as much as I used to be, but still, that is the team I have been cheering for since the mid-1960’s when I started grade school.

I can admit the Habs overachieved in the 2020-21 season.

Having said that, they peaked at the right time and should be proud that they won three rounds in the playoffs, captured the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl, and finished as the second-best team in the NHL.

It does not matter that they ended up 18th in the overall standings in the regular season.

What does matter is the accomplishment in the post-season?

Over the years, I have had arguments with friends and fans about the significance of being the runner-up.

Detractors are quick to point out that “to finish second you might as well be last.”

That of course is rubbish and sends the wrong message.

Should an athlete or team feel bad if they capture Silver at the Olympics?

The obvious answer is no, in fact, they should be loud and proud to be second best.

We all want to “win”, sometimes at any cost but what is winning?

Do you have to be “first” to be a winner?

According to the Merriam Webster dictionary

the Definition of winner includesone that wins: such as

a: one that is successful especially through praiseworthy ability and hard work

b: a victor especially in games and sports

c: one that wins admiration

Don’t the Canadiens hit those check marks?

They were successful in beating Toronto, Winnipeg, and Vegas and they received praise based on their hard work, effort, and determination no matter what the odds suggested.

They had more playoff victories (13) than losses (9) and were 4-1 when facing elimination.

The Canadiens also won admiration by getting outstanding goaltending, superb play from their defencemen, and by being opportunistic with timely goals.

Carey Price was terrific but Conn Smythe Trophy winner (Playoff MVP) Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Lightning was a bit better.

Despite the Cup final going just five games, the Habs won their last home game and when facing elimination against the much more talented team, they battled to the end, only surrendering one goal.  (Unfortunately for Montreal, one goal was all Tampa Bay needed).

To suggest Tampa was the best and 30 other teams were losers is so ridiculous it is not even worth an argument.

Sure the Canadiens may not make it back to the Stanley Cup final in the next several years, heck they may not even make the playoffs next year.

This does not take away from a memorable run under trying circumstances.

Tampa was the better team, no disputing that, but the Canadiens were the best of the rest and that is an accomplishment that should not be diminished.

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What does Jon Cooper of Prince George have in common with Toe Blake, “Punch” Imlach, Scotty Bowman, Fred Shero, Al Arbour, Glen Sather, Darryl Sutter, Joel Quenneville, and Mike Sullivan?

They are the NHL head coaches that have won multiple Stanley Cups over the last 60 years.

I am not sure if Cooper feels as good as 35-million dollar winner Gary Hill of Kamloops, but he might, and for good reason.

Money may or may not be able to buy happiness but hard-earned success can make a person feel like they are on top of the world.

Sure, Cooper had the best goalie in Vasilevskiy, the top defenceman in Victor Hedman, and the best collection of forwards including Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point plus the most overall talent to work with, but he was the master that made it all click from behind the bench.

Winning arguably the hardest trophy in the world once was special, and doing it twice in a row was remarkable.

A team has not won three Stanley Cups in a row in 38 years since the 1983 New York Islanders won their 4th in a row.

Tampa will likely be losing some key players next season making a three-peat all that much more of a challenge.

Lightning has already struck twice in just 10 months with a third time a distinct possibility.


Taking Note:

 

FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

The Seattle Kraken have hired Jay Leach and Paul McFarland as assistant coaches. Asked to comment, Leach said, “now we have to get crackin.”

*Contributor Marc Ragovin

Uh oh, Jacob DeGrom is slipping. The Mets star allowed two solo home runs against the Brewers Wednesday. And his ERA rose to 1.08.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Bruce Springsteen’s daughter, Jessica, has made the U.S. Olympic equestrian team. So, if she wins, instead of playing the national anthem, will they play’ She’s the One?

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

According to Reuters, a London hotel was hoping its house-of-horrors suite would draw customers with “sights and sounds that tease and torment guests.” Don’t laugh; it works for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

*Western Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports director/supervisor plus morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97fm. He also is the radio color commentator for P.G. Cougars’ home games.
Hartley has been on the Prince George airwaves since 1979 and is the author of You Don’t Say (sports quotes).
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca