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Stars want to leave Canadian teams: will the Canadiens escape?

Things aren’t going well for Canadian teams. At the moment, it seems as though the Stanley Cup, which hasn’t been around the country since the Canadiens won it in 1993, has no desire to leave the United States.

And why is that? Because the phenomenon we saw during the pandemic (Americans want to play in the U.S.) seems to be continuing in a revised version: stars want to leave certain Canadian clubs.

If you look at what’s happening in Calgary and Winnipeg, you can see how sad it is. The Flames, who lost Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk last year, now face a similar wave this year.

Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin, Mikael Backlund and Tyler Toffoli are all looking to leave the club.

In Calgary, it looks like the only top skater who’s going to stay is Jonathan Huberdeau.

I wonder, though, if he’d feel like leaving if he didn’t have eight years left on his contract… but if so, he’s the architect of his own misfortune at this level since he made the choice to sign in Calgary on his own.

But the Flames aren’t alone. The Winnipeg Jets are in a similar situation, as you know, with Pierre-Luc Dubois, Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele all looking to leave. These are two franchises in trouble right now.

In Canada, they’re not the only ones in trouble. The Vancouver Canucks are in disarray and there seems to be no clear direction for the club at the moment.

Maple Leafs? We really wonder if Auston Matthews wants to stay for the long term. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Senators? Alex DeBrincat doesn’t want to stay in town and there’s a rumour about Brady Tkachuk. I’m not saying that the guy who wasn’t sure he wanted to stay two years ago is really going to leave, but he doesn’t seem to be rooting for Ottawa, let’s say.

There’s the Oilers, who don’t seem to have a recalcitrant player at the moment.

But on the other hand, it’s easy to attract forwards to play with Connor McDavid, but top-notch defensemen and goalies aren’t running around in that corner of Alberta.

Which brings me to the Canadiens. When Kent Hughes took over, he dealt Jeff Petry and Ryan Poehling, two players who wanted to return to Uncle Sam’s country. But since then? Publicly, there’s nothing to suggest that another player wants to leave.

And that fascinates me. Why is that? Because of all the Canadian teams, the CH was the worst in 2022-2023. But unlike most other teams in the country, the guys want to be here.

Cole Caufield, an American, didn’t hesitate to put ink to paper for the long term. Chris Wideman and Jake Allen accept a smaller role to mentor the youngsters. Sean Monahan has chosen to stay. Josh Anderson and Joel Edmundson, often the subject of rumours, are adamant that they have no intention of leaving.

As for Pierre-Luc Dubois, he really wants to come and play here.

Is this the Martin St-Louis effect? Yes, it’s certainly part of the process. The fact that Montreal is an attractive city (especially in summer, as the guys realize) must help.

But above all, I think the players are buying into management’s plan, which puts them in a good position for what’s to come.

That’s the feeling I have because, in reality, the CH has the same constraints as other clubs in the country: cold, taxes, pressure, pandemic management, etc.

And in Montreal, you have to add the language.

I’m fascinated to see that even if the club isn’t very good at the moment, it seems to be building a culture strong enough to be a magnet for the players who are there.

Imagine what it’ll be like when the club is good, the youngsters have continued to progress and the GM has some salary cap room. On paper, the future looks bright for Montreal, even if it is a Canadian club.

In bursts

– The deal’s done.

– Speaking of the QMJHL.

– Interesting.

– Bonb Hartley pays tribute to Pierre Lacroix. [BPM Sports]

– It’s still the talk of the town.

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