There once was a time when the Montreal Canadiens had no shortage of offensive weapons, the Richard (s), Béliveau, Lafleur to name a few were fantastic offensive threats but for a while now, the Habs have been associated with great goaltending first and foremost. Meanwhile, they've been struggling to put the puck in the back of the net and they're always on the lookout for help offensively. Current GM Marc Bergevin has told us time and time again, it is not easy to sign free agents to come to Montreal, be it because of the language issue, the taxes or even perhaps lately the odds of winning hockey's biggest prize... Just last summer, we had another exemple. Matt Duchene came, saw and off to Nashville he went... Always the bridesmaid and never the bride as they say.
These days, there isn't much happening in the hockey world and a friend of mine sent me an interesting link this morning... One that really surprised me:
If you're not interested by Wings history, fast forward to 46 minutes... Yup, that's right, Brett Hull himself says that he was one night away from telling Montreal he was signing with them. And this wasn't a washed up player either. This was the summer of 2001, he was coming off 3 seasons with the Dallas Stars raking up 58, 59 and 79 points and winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1999.
That right there was a guy who could put the puck in the net at a frantic pace and knew how to win. If you grew up in the 90s, you probably remember seeing Hull slapping in one-timers off beautiful Adam Oates feeds and thinking "wow we need a player like this"...he was the closest thing to Ovechkin scoring from his office today. Fans, players, golies, everyone knew the big shot was coming and yet, there was no stopping it. As reported in the video, Hull ended up putting pen to paper with the Detroit Red Wings and playing with a rookie called Pavel Datsyuk. For someone who needs a set up man to score, that is not a bad match-up eh?
Let's dream a little bit here. If Hull did sign with the Canadiens in the summer of 2001, what would the Canadiens line-up have looked like? Well, the scoring leaders were as follows: Yanic Perreault, Richard Zednik, Oleg Petrov, Doug Gilmour, Joé Juneau, Andreas Dackell, Patrice Brisebois, Brian Savage, Craig Rivet and Andrei Markov. Brian Savage only played 47 games with the Habs that year before being traded and Saku Koivu only played 3 because of cancer but how useful would it have been to be able to count on the Golden Brett that season? This was the year when José Théodore won both the Vezina and the Hart trophy, taking the Canadiens to the playoffs and had they had Hull that Spring, who knows which heights they could have reached? As 8th seed they managed to beat the Bruins before being ousted by the Hurricanes in the 2nd round. With the Wings, Hull played all the way to the Cup final and won it for the second time of his career when the Wings made short work of the Canes claiming the ultimate prize with a 4-1 series win. That spring, Hull registered 18 points in 23 games...
Of course, he wouldn't have had Datsyuk to feed him the puck in Montreal but still, there were still some pretty decent names in our line-up at the time...really makes you wonder what could have happened doesn't it?