It’s been a staple for a couple of years, and the fans seem to love it, but the post-victory triple low-five between Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and defenceman P.K. Subban is a thing of the past.
The Habs are now officially a no-flamboyance zone.
“There’s going to be no low-fives this year. There’s only a team celebration at the end of the game,” Price said after a team practice on Friday.
Call it a symptom of the culture change imposed by new coach Michel Therrien.
The Habs have taken to holding a New York Rangers-style centre-ice salute after victories, and while no one in the dressing room could seem to remember whose idea that was - at least when quizzed by a reporter - it seems pretty clear the coaches had considerable input.
And it seems clear that the new management is waging a military boot camp-like campaign against individualism - the group shall be placed ahead of all other considerations.
“I always like teams who are humble. It’s a team concept, it starts with that, in life I think you have to be humble, you have to respect the game, you have to respect the other team, and you have to respect our fans. And the way we decided to celebrate this year, when we win a hockey game at the Bell Centre, is to salute our fans,” Therrien said by way of explanation.
It’s a small thing, but a thing nonetheless; if the irrepressible Subban didn’t clearly understand there’s a new world order in the Habs’ organization, he surely does now.
Speaking of the 23-year-old, he took a regular turn at practice with veteran defenceman Francis Bouillon.
That suggests he’ll play in Saturday’s home matinee against Buffalo the first of back-to-back games this weekend – but Therrien was playing his cards close to his chest.
“I don’t have an answer right now,” he said.
But Michel, surely you wouldn’t waste precious practice time by putting Subban out with Bouillon if you didn’t want to see how they look?
“Do I have to answer that question?” said with a laugh, later adding: “We’ll make the best decision for the team.”
If that’s the criterion, presumably he’ll dress Subban in favour of Tomas Kaberle, who has seen only limited action at even-strength.
Therrien will also have a decision to make on forward Max Pacioretty, who has once again demonstrated almost super-human powers of recovery.
Barely five days after undergoing an emergency appendectomy, Pacioretty was back on the ice with his teammates, and said he’s been cleared to return.
“I pride myself in taking care of my body, and hopefully that will help with this injury,” said the winger, who led the Habs in scoring last season. “All it took was the doc to say ’you’re not going to make it any worse and the timetable is in your hands’, that’s I guess music to my ears . . . if they let me play as soon as possible, I’d be willing to do that.”
With Pacioretty’s usual centre David Desharnais off to a slow start to the season, Therrien may be tempted to slide the 24-year-old power forward into the lineup as soon as Sunday’s game against Ottawa.
“He looked good today,” Therrien said, pursing his lips as if to stop himself from saying more.