So this morning the Stanley Cup was visiting Paris for the first time since forever. Cristobal Huet is the first French player to ever get his name engraved on the trophy. As every other member of his team, he got to spend 24 hours with the Cup. Yesterday night, he brought the Cup to Grenoble, his hometown. This morning, it was announced that he would bring the Cup under the Eiffel Tower for some pictures and autographs, starting at 9:30am.
I don’t live really close to the Eiffel Tower, so I only arrived at 10.
The Eiffel Tower was definitely there.
Those crappy plastic souvenirs are the only shiny stuff I saw under the Eiffel Tower this morning.
I talked with some habs fans that were still around. They explained to me that Huet was there with the Cup for a few minutes. Then they took the Cup back into its case and into the bus. Cristobal stayed a few more minutes to sign stuff, and went back inside the bus too. So, the bus was still there, but I missed everything. The fans I talked to sounded pretty disappointed too. One of them was kind enough to give me one of the few autographed pictures he collected. So this wasn’t a complete waste of my time, I guess.
Cristobal under the Eiffel tower. Or at least, that’s what I could see.
(for a better view – with moving pictures!- watch this cool video sent to me by Alexandre, an awesome reader who apparently woke up earlier than I did… Thank you Alexandre!)
Now I know that they have a tight schedule with the Cup. I know the trophy was headed to Sweden soon after its presentation in Paris. I realize it was probably useless to organize a huge stuff here, because no one knows what the Stanley Cup is. But there are some hockey fans out there. And not only the Canadian expats. It’s disappointing that the best they could do was a few minutes. I’m not blaming Huet because I missed the thing. I knew it was starting at 9:30am, and I wasn’t there. I’m the only one to blame for that. But the whole thing apparently lasted less than 15 minutes. I don’t care how tight the schedule is, that’s pretty ridiculous. It’s pretty clear this was not something for the fans, it was just made so that they could have nice pics of Huet with the Cup under the Eiffel Tower. Those pics (and videos) will definitely be posted on the nhl and the Hawks websites, and it will look cool. I’m just a little annoyed that the pics and videos apparently mattered more than the fans.
To be clear, I’m not blaming Huet. He’s a nice guy, and he did bring the cup to his hometown fans yesterday, raising money for a local children’s hospital in the process. That’s cool. The Parisian episode today was just a footnote on this visit with the Cup. But for fans like me, it kinda sucked to be that footnote. But well… you’re still one of my favourite hockey players, Cristo. And I sincerely hope you’ll find a way to get back to the nhl once your big contract is over.
(I’ll be honest here, this photoshop idea directly comes from the avatar of weazel-1, a poster at the official blackhawks discussion board. I stumbled upon it looking for a pic of Huet, and I couldn’t resist redoing it)
I love this picture so much I could just end the post here. But I won’t. As I said, I got the idea while looking for a Huet picture. And I wanted a picture of Cristobal, because I wanted to aknowledge he seems to be playing much better these days. He only allowed 3 goals in his last 3 starts, getting a shutout in the meantime. Yeah, those games were against the Preds (2 times) and the Wild, who are not scoring a lot this season, but still. People were quick to bash him when he struggled earlier in the season, but no one seems to be giving him credit for his improved play.
Anyway, I admit I’m a little biased when it comes to Huuuet, so you just know I’ll defend him…
I love this mask
Now speaking of goalies, it’s time for me to write a little bit about Price and Halak.
Price will get his first start tonight in almost two weeks. As you all know, Halak started the last 5 games. He was relieved by Carey during the last game in Pittsburgh, so it’s not really surprising to see Martin giving Price the start tonight. Of course, there has been a lot of discussion over the goalie situation over the last few days. What I’m about to say probably isn’t groundbreaking, but if you’re reading this, maybe you’re actually interested in my 2 cents.
I think the current Price/Halak tandem is not sustainable in the long run. I know it’s good for a team to have two young and talented goalies, so the habs are not in a terrible situation here. And I also think it’s good to give Price a little bit of competition, and to show Halak that he’ll get his chance. But in the long run, the Habs know they’ll have to make a choice. It pains me to say so, because I am a big fan of both of our goalies, and I’ll be sad when one leaves (it’s not a if, it’s a when. It may not be before next season, or even the one after, but one will eventually leave). The situation is a little complicated for the habs and their goalies because Price and Jaro clearly never had the same status in the organization. Price, selected 5th overall, has always been projected as the future of the franchise. Halak, on the other hand, was picked 271st. He climbed his way to a backup job, but until recently, I never had the impression the habs seriously considered him for anything else than that.
Then,the question is: should we start questioning Price’s future status as a franchise goalie, and give more of a chance to Halak? This is not an easy question. If you still believe that Price should be considered as the future of the franchise, you want to be very careful. Sure you can give him a little competition, but you have to make sure he still understands that the team is not giving up on him. And of course, this means that you will continue to be a little unfair with Jaro, who will get less starts than he deserves.
If, on the other hand, you think Jaro and Price should be given an equal chance to earn the starting role, then it’s a little tricky too. You need to give more starts to Halak. But in doing so, it’s hard not to think you’re going to mess with Price. One of the issues with Price seems to be mental. He’s very young, and he’s slowly learning what it takes to be a #1 goalie. Price had success at all the levels he played before he made it to the nhl. So it’s probably the first time he has to cope with real performance and confidence issues. And he has to do that while being under the intense scrutiny of the media and the fans in Montreal. It’s obviously going to take a few years for him to learn how to deal with that. And have you heard of a goalie hitting his prime at 22? Of course not. What I’m trying to say is that giving Price the impression you’re not so sure anymore he’s the future of the franchise is probably not going to help him. At the same time, you don’t want to give him the impression he’s already earned everything…
As for Halak, he obviously is not facing the same pressure. If he becomes a bona fide #1 goalie, he will have beaten the odds and exceeded all the expectations. If he doesn’t, he might still get a chance somewhere else in the nhl. The issue with him is that it’s difficult to assess what he’ll be in five to ten years. It’s a little risky too to keep trusting Price no matter what, at the risk of frustrating Jaro and eventually losing him, only to see him outperforming Carey in the long run.
Now, I think the situation is not problematic in the short run. The habs have two goalies capable of winning games. The challenge for the team is to manage to handle the situation smartly. It’s crucial for Gainey and the coaching staff to turn this into a learning experience for both goalies, and a situation of healthy competition and emulation. It may not be possible in the long run (it could be in one year or more), and at least one of the goalies is likely to feel increasingly frustrated. But hopefully, by then, the habs will have made their choice.
Wow, I’m sorry, that was way too long… I’m not sure I’ve really helped to clarify the goalie situation… Now if your brain is not hurting too much, tell me, what do you think of all this? :)
Oh no, not the pajamas again!
I’m a little bit nervous about tonight’s game. The Blackhawks are a good team, they were shutout by the canucks in their last game and they need points to keep the home ice advantage in the playoffs. So they should play hard tonight. Also, Huet will play his first game in Montreal since he was traded last year. So you know he’ll be motivated. And the pajamas jerseys are back. That’s a lot to overcome for the habs!
I sincerely hope Huet won’t be booed tonight, but I know that’s unlikely. The crowd booed Souray, they booed Rivet, and they booed Streit when they came back. So there’s no pity for former habs at the bell center, no matter how good they were in Montreal, and no matter how classy they are (go read the FHF’s rant about that stupid trend here, if you haven’t already).
I love Cristobal. Not because he’s French (although that’s definitely a bonus), but because he is my kind of player. Low-key, very good, and really classy. And I loved how he continually had to beat the odds and prove the skeptics wrong. He arrived in Montreal as a backup to Theodore. He took over the #1 spot after Theo faltered and was shipped to Colorado. He was the main reason why the habs made the playoffs that season. But then, he had to compete with Aebischer for the starting job. He also won that battle, but got injured. And finally, last season, he started as the #1, but had to let an increasing space to Carey, and eventually, he was dealt to Washington. There, he played tremendously.
When he left, I was shocked, and really really disappointed. It was the first time the habs traded away one of my very favorite players, and it was tough to swallow. Carey Price himself seemed shocked, as the two seemed to really get along well. To me, this is the definitive proof that Huet is a great teammate. Price was obviously excited, because it was a great sign of confidence from Gainey. But he seemed genuinely sad to see Cristo leave.
This past summer, I was really excited when he signed in Chicago. As I’ve said before, I’ve always liked the Hawks. So it was a pleasant surprise for me to see one of my favorite guys end up in a team that I like, and a team that looked promising. His season has been a bit difficult, because the Hawks decided to also keep Khabibulin (who’s doing a great job, no question about that), and so once again, Huet hasn’t been the clear-cut n°1 goalie of his team. But Khabibulin will be a free agent this summer, so there’s hope Cristo will finally get his chance to be an undisputed sarting goalie.
Anyway Cristo, don’t listen to the crowd tonight. Or just pretend those boos are shades of the old “Huuuuet, Huuuet , Huuuet!” that resonated in the Bell Center not so long ago.