Today's honorary ringer: Josh Gorges
This is the team's leader. Not a silent leader, a vocal, intelligent and dedicated human being. I understand the organization's decision to have named Brian Gionta captain. When you sign a bunch of high profile veterans to make up the nucleus of the team it's hard to anoint the young guy as a leader without facing some feeling like an outsider issues. Don't fool yourself though, this is the next captain of the Montreal Canadiens. Gorges has quietly become what we all thought Mike Komisarek would be. A valiant presence, a defying shot blocker, a courageous athlete whose presence on the back end bound the defense corps into a solid cohesive unit.
What words can you have for a guy who plays most of his career with a knee injury that would have shelved any athlete at the onset. What do you say about a player who takes a rocket off the head which left an ugly laceration behind the ear and returns to play the next game. Captain.
The team did right by Gorges. After repaying his services with the threat of arbitration, an always nasty and petty affair, the Habs opted to sign Gorges for 1 year last summer. They were obviously not willing to bet on 2 massive contracts leaning on 2 wonky knees. We now understand who has materialized as the pillar on this team. You can only wonder what a healthy Markov would bring to the mix. Gorges, Markov, Subban, Gill, Emelin, Kaberle. Sounds as versatile and delightful as ever. Gorges is the glue that holds it all together. His responsible play and impeccable positioning affords any partner on his pairing the right to cheat just a little. The school of Adam Foote. He leads this terribly weak team in the +/-, he leads the league in shot blocking and as a result is a huge asset on the penalty kill.
Bravo to the Habs front office from doing this right and braking with the nonsensical tradition of not negotiating with a player during the season. The Habs used to see this as a distraction. It wasn't. It was good business, a show of respect and gratitude for what a player has brought to your organization and the only way to keep the betting low. Talk to your guy while you're the only one who can.
Gorges is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens should be about. You build from the inside out, around the integrity of this type of player. He'll wear the C. And we better not hear a peep about him not conjugating "Je suis le véritable meneur de cette équipe" adequately.