Jack Todd: Habs made it count in dramatic 2005 NHL Draft

When you have one of the top picks, it’s not the number you draw – it’s the player you choose.

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Even with the last-place Canadiens holding the best shot at the number one pick in Tuesday evening’s NHL draft lottery, it can not possibly match the drama of the 2005 draft.

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It was July 22, 2005 and I was on Notle Notre-Dame with 150 or so of my colleagues, most of us in shorts and T-shirts. The CBA ending the lockout had been signed earlier that day, the World Aquatics Championships were in full swing, and we were all taking a break from diving, swimming and water polo to watch the draft unfold on a couple of smallish TV screens in the media tent.

Because of the season lost to the lockout, all 30 teams were in the hunt for the number one pick and the opportunity to choose Sidney Crosby. It was hot outside and as team after team fell away and the Canadiens were still in the hunt, it was so quiet in that tent you could hear the sweat drop.

After the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets heard their names called, we were down to five teams. When the Montreal pick fell to the fifth slot, there was an audible groan in the room – Sidney Crosby would not be playing for the Canadiens.

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But when the draft itself was held on July 30, the Canadiens made it pay off. After Crosby, the best of the rest were goaltenders Carey Price and Tuukka Rask and Slovenian centreman Anze Kopitar. The Habs grabbed Price, Columbus was stuck with Montreal fan fave Gilbert Brulé, Los Angeles got Kopitar with the 11th pick and Rask fell to the Leafs, who traded him to Boston for Andrew Raycroft – thus helping to prolong their post-1967 Stanley Cup drought at least as far as this spring.

The lesson here is that when you have one of the top picks, it’s not the number you draw – it’s the player you choose. Somehow, deep inside, I expect the Canadiens to end up with the cursed number three pick, the one that brought the assorted miseries we associate with Alex Galchenyuk and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

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Neither, we should add, was a terrible pick. At least the Canadiens did not have the opportunity to choose Nail Yakupov in 2012, but there were a slew of quality defencemen in that first round, including Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Matt Dumba and Jacob Trouba, while Filip Forsberg, Tom Wilson ( yes) and Thomas Hertl were all still on the board. Galchenyuk was a talent – unfortunately, he came with a father attached and any of the others would have been a better choice.

A few eyebrows (OK, mine) were raised in 2018 when new Carolina owner Tom Dundon was handed a gift from the league in the form of the number two pick even though the Hurricanes were 11th on the lottery odds chart with only a three-per -cent chance at the top.

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The Canes made the most of the gift by grabbing Andrei Svechnikov, who should have gone first overall. Kotkaniemi, like Galchenyuk, was not a terrible pick in the third slot – but in hindsight, Quinn Hughes would have been the one. (Sorry, I’m still not sold on Brady Tkachuk.)
As penance for championing Kotkaniemi in 2018, I’ll sit this one out. But if the Canadiens do as well as they did with Price in 2005, they’re going to get a very good player from this draft. And it all begins with the bouncing ball Tuesday night.

CF Montreal players celebrate a goal by Joaquin Torres (10) against Atlanta United during second half MLS soccer action in Montreal on April 30, 2022.
CF Montreal players celebrate a goal by Joaquin Torres (10) against Atlanta United during second half MLS soccer action in Montreal on April 30, 2022. Photo by Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press

Well, lookee here: Not only has CF Montréal set a club record with seven straight games without a loss to draw within sight of first place in the Eastern Conference, the Club Foot / Impact / Whatevers have also announced that they will begin next season with a new logo, following the unhappy fan reaction to their last rebranding.

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The current snowflake logo isn’t awful, it’s simply generic. Like something you’d expect to see on a city snowplow, not a sports team. The Club de Foot moniker, on the other hand, is just plain bad. So ridiculous that fans have gone right on calling it the Impact or resorted to CF Montréal.

Asking for fan input on a moniker change would excite public interest far more than a new logo – but then you risk coming up with something as horrendous as the MLB Cleveland Guardians or the NFL Washington Commanders.

I would vote to go back to the future by reverting to the Montreal Impact. Some find the name evokes the reflected days as a minor league team – but I would argue that the Impact name is already established.

Whatever direction the team chooses, it’s already clear that new president Gabriel Gervais is making his mark in place of Kevin Gilmore – and it’s a good one. So is the start this team has made to the season – no matter what you call them.

Heroes: Carlos Alcaraz, Joel Waterman, Djordje Mahailovic, Joaquin Torres, Wilfried Nancy, Gabriel Gervais, Cole Caufield, Nick Suzuki, Mike Bossy &&&& last but not least, Guy Lafleur.

Zero: Vladimir Putin, Alexander Ovechkin, Mark Scheifele, Kyrie Irving, Novak Djokovic, Dillon Brooks, Claude Brochu, David Samson &&&& last but not least, Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

jacktodd46@outlook.com

twitter.com/ jacktodd46

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