Stu Cowan: Canadiens forecast — Quiet week gives way to flurry of moves

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Stu Cowan: Canadiens forecast — Quiet week gives way to flurry of moves
© Provided by The Gazette Montreal Canadiens defenceman Jeff Petry during first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Montreal on Feb. 10, 2021.

It has turned out to be a very quiet bye week for the Canadiens.

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If you were expecting head coach Dominique Ducharme to be fired, it didn’t happen.

If you were expecting defenceman Jeff Petry to be traded, it didn’t happen.

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The most interesting things that did happen during the Canadiens’ break in the NHL schedule were some tweets from Tyler Toffoli’s wife, Cat.

First, Cat tweeted a photo on Monday of her picking up Toffoli and teammate Jake Evans (along with his girlfriend) at the Los Angeles airport, writing: “Picking up my fam for the break.”

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Toffoli and Cat met when he was playing with the Los Angeles Kings and she was working in broadcast and entertainment for the L.A. Dodgers.

On Tuesday, there was a video from Cat shared on the Canadiens’ Twitter account showing Toffoli cuddling with their tiny dog, Dodger, along with the words: “Hope everyone’s week is going as great as Tyler’s!”

Picking up my fam for the break ❤️

— Cat (Belanger) Toffoli (@catbtoffoli) February 1, 2022

The day after that, Cat tweeted a hilarious photo of Toffoli holding Dodger while standing with Evans poolside with the two players wearing matching green Hawaiian shirts and shorts.

That was about the only Canadiens news this week, apart from Nick Suzuki heading to the All-Star Game, which will be played Saturday in Las Vegas (3 p.m., SN, SN1, ABC, TVA Sports, TVA Sports 2).

One of the only bright spots in this Canadiens season has been following Cat Toffoli’s Twitter account as the California girl shares her experiences during a pandemic Canadian winter.

On espère que vous passez tous une aussi bonne semaine que @tytoff16!

Hope everyone’s week is going as great as Tyler’s!

(🎥 @catbtoffoli)#GoHabsGo

— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) February 1, 2022

On Jan. 11, she posted a video of her taking a pot of hot water on the balcony outside their downtown Montreal condo, throwing it in the air and watching it turn to snow.

“Okay this is actually amazing,” she wrote.

On Jan. 22, Cat visited to the provincial capital and wrote: “Took a little road trip to Quebec City on a whim and my jaw keeps dropping every time I turn a corner. This place is stunning.”

Break vibes 😆🌺

— Cat (Belanger) Toffoli (@catbtoffoli) February 2, 2022

She also posted a video of her going down the famous toboggan slide in Quebec City, writing: “Bucket list item” with a check mark.

Toffoli has also been a bright spot for the Canadiens this season, tied with Suzuki for the team lead in goals with nine despite missing 11 games after having hand surgery in December. Toffoli also ranks second in team scoring with 9-16-25 totals in 33 games, two points behind Suzuki (9-18-27), who has played all 44 games.

The 29-year-old Toffoli has two more seasons remaining on his four-year, US$17-million contract with a very reasonable annual salary-cap hit of $4.25 million. There will certainly be teams interested in Toffoli ahead of the March 21 NHL trade deadline, but if I were GM Kent Hughes I wouldn’t be in a rush to trade the winger.

Okay this is actually amazing 🥶

— Cat (Belanger) Toffoli (@catbtoffoli) January 12, 2022

Toffoli and Suzuki have good chemistry as linemates, which can only help the 22-year-old Suzuki’s development. In the seven games since returning from his hand surgery, Toffoli has 4-4-8 totals, while Suzuki has 2-6-8 totals during that span.

They click together.

Not much has been clicking for the Canadiens this season, which is why they are in last place in the overall NHL standings with an 8-29-7 record and haven’t been able to win two games in a row. They headed into the bye week on a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) and have only two wins in their last 24 games (2-17-5).

Bucket list item ☑️

— Cat (Belanger) Toffoli (@catbtoffoli) January 23, 2022

If the Canadiens were going to make a coaching change — even on an interim basis — this would have been the week do it if they wanted somewhat of a fresh start. The players will return to the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday afternoon for practice before playing the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night at the Bell Centre.

When Jeff Gorton was named vice-president of hockey operations in November he said Ducharme’s job was safe until the end of the season and it certainly looks that way. The fact owner/president Geoff Molson is still paying Claude Julien US$5 million not to coach this season and also signed Ducharme to a three-year, US$5.1-million contract last summer might factor into that decision.

It would be surprising if Petry is still with the Canadiens at the end of this season. It’s obvious the 34-year-old is no longer happy in Montreal, especially with his wife and three young sons back home in Michigan because of Quebec’s COVID-19 restrictions. The fact he’s in the first season of a four-year, US$25-million contract and playing very poorly won’t help Hughes when it comes to making a trade.

Hughes has said he will trade Petry if he can make a deal that works for both sides. GMs from other teams will still remember how well Petry played last season and factor in his unhappiness with the current situation in Montreal. It doesn’t make sense to keep a very unhappy veteran in the locker room, so I expect a trade will be made.

Not much happened this week, but expect a lot to happen ahead of the trade deadline.


  • Canadiens by the numbers: Character, leadership key cogs in rebuild
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