Success or lack thereof is really in the eye of the beholder. Different people, I’m sure, have vastly differing opinions as to whether the 2010-11 season was a success for the Junior de Montreal. I think most would agree that the regular season was a rounding success and the playoffs were a disappointment. Their season ended almost a month ago and since some time and distance has passed it is time for an objective wrap up.
High hopes were held out for the 2010-11 season for the Junior de Montreal. During the off season plenty of trades were made in order to really shore the team up for a President’s Cup victory and then a Memorial Cup run. Before and over the course of the season players like Loik Poudrier, Eliezer Sherbatov, Guillaume Asselin, Janos Hari, and Marc-André Levasseur left the team and Viktor Hertzberg, Alex Lemieux, Raphaël Pouliot, Philippe Lefebvre, Francis Meilleur, Jean-Laurence Beauchemin, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Charles Landry, and Louis Leblanc were added. All this added talent made for a very deep team with a fair bit of experience. As I said, hopes were high.
The regular season went very well. Montreal ended up behind only the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2nd place overall in the QMJHL. They amassed 102 points over 68 games and a 46-12-5-5 record. That record meant that they only lost 17 out of 68 games. Impressive. This record got them noticed nationally and throughout most of the season they were ranked in the top 5 nationally. They ended up 4th overall in the country.
All this translated to them having huge expectations heaped upon them once the QMJHL playoffs started. In the 1st round the Junior faced the Bobby Smith coached Halifax Moosehead. It was a quick series that seemed at times like men against boys. Montreal swept in 4 games with scores of 5-3, 6-0, 2-0, and 4-2. Next up was the Lewiston MAINEiacs. Lewiston ended the season in 8th place overall and had lost four times during the regular season to Montreal.
The series started off well for the Junior as they won the first game 6-5 in overtime. Pretty much everything from this point on went downhill. They lost the second game handily 6-2 with Lewiston pointman Olivier Dame-Malka and his laser beam of a shot proving to be the thorn in Montreal’s side.
Over the course of the series Dame-Malka scored 7 goals and many of those coming on the power play. Montreal’s strong penalty killing had all of a sudden deserted them. They had come up against a team that was physically tough and had the speed to skate with them. The team did not react well. That coupled with the fact that Viktor Hertzberg did not play at all due to his 3rd concussion in four months led to Montreal not being able to play its usual four lines.
Montreal lost the series to Lewiston four games to two. They had been knocked out of the playoffs in the 2nd round. Disappointing. The quick exit from the playoffs to a lower ranked team took some of the shine off the marvelous regular season.
The management of the team, meaning coach and general manager Pascal Vincent along with co-general manager Martin Routhier (who was replaced during the last week of the regular season by Stéphane Pilotte) had essentially bargained the future on winning this season. Players like Jérémy Gouchie, captain Nicolas Chouinard, and Francis Meilleur have definitely played their last games for the team as they will be turning 21 in the off season. Other players like Louis Leblanc, Charles Landry, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Louis-Marc Aubry, Philippe Lefebvre, Trevor Parkes, and Jean-Francois Bérubé might have played their last game for the team as their rights are owned by NHL clubs so they will probably be moving on to the AHL. Viktor Hertzberg is also eligible for the draft this summer.
The future will depend on players like defenceman Xavier Ouellet, goaltender Etienne Marcoux, winger Jean-Christophe Laflamme, winger Michael Clarke, winger Alex Lemieux, defenceman/winger Matt Provost, defenceman Alex Micallef, defenceman Jonathan Narbonne, and winger Samuel Aquin (who was injured most of this season) stepping up and shouldering a bit more of the load. The team cannot be expecting anything big from the summer draft as they traded away several of their picks to obtain the players they did for the 2010-11 season. I don’t expect many trades to be made as the team really doesn’t have much to offer. So it is going to be up to the young guys plus the couple of 20-year-olds (David Rose? Dylan Anderson? Philippe Fontaine? Raphaël Pouliot? Jean-Laurence Beauchemin?) they decide to hang on to.
With all the potential movement happening in the off season on the team it will certainly be a different team come fall 2011. Fans of the team will just have to sit back and wait to see what takes shape.
-Stats: Most Goals: Trevor Parkes – 33
Most Assists: Francis Meilleur – 45
Most Points: Trevor Parkes – 62
Most Penalty Minutes: Raphaël Pouliot – 139