Saturday, January 8, 2011

Habs' new training aid gets a "passing" grade

Forward Michael Cammalleri tries out his sweet new training aid

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention.  

On the heels of a disastrous holiday road trip that saw the team seemingly incapable of completing a simple pass, Montreal Canadiens Equipment Manager Pierre Gervais knew that something had to be done. And in a moment of inspired brilliance, it looks as though he may have hit on an answer. 

"I was over at my parent's place during the Christmas break, and while in the kitchen, I went to pour myself a cup of tea", explained Gervais. "My mom's teapot is covered with one of those knitted tea cosy things that's meant to keep the pot warm. Well, hers is knitted to look like a kitty sitting on the counter... little ears, whiskers and everything, though I don't like the pink colour. I mean, have you ever seen a pink kitten? If the Pink Panther had a family, maybe.... but anyway, that's when it hit me."

"If the forwards are complaining that the defense are incapable of anything other than hitting them in the skates with their passes, then why not make the sticks look like skates?"

Gervais and his assistants immediately went to work on a prototype. What they came up with was an attachment that looks like a skate, but fits neatly over the blade of a hockey stick. He's tentatively calling it a "skick", putting together the words "skate" and "stick". 

A few Canadiens ran the invention through its paces during an informal  practice at their training facility in Brossard, and Cammalleri was one of those immediately impressed.

"It's great," said the Canadiens forward. "I can stick handle with it, so that a bonus. But the main thing is that I'm now starting to receive passes from the defense where it's supposed to be: on my stick. Today was the first time that Subban didn't hit me in the foot since about early November."

As for the Habs' rearguards, they seem to like the idea, too. 

"Now I don't have to think about it," said the aforementioned Subban, referring to his passing. "I just see something flash by up ice, and pass to it without having to worry if I'm turning the puck over. It all fits into what Coach Martin has been telling me, that less is more."

With the players on board, Canadiens' management is looking into the possibility of being able to use their new training aid in actual games. General Manager Pierre Gauthier said that while there's not technically anything in the NHL rulebook that wouldn't allow the device to be used during play, he wouldn't hold his breath while waiting for the go-ahead from the league.

"There's nothing in the book either that says that you can stop the puck and skate backward into the goalie during a penalty shot. Not that I'm still bitter, but let's just say that I don't have much confidence in the league doing the right thing in terms of applying the rules."

As for Gervais, he doesn't think that his work is done. 

"I've only tackled half of the problem. Now me and my team need to find a way to make a skate look like a stick, and the opposition's goal to look like thirty feet of open ice."


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