x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Problems continue for the Montreal Canadiens

The last Stanley Cup success in 1993 is beginning to feel like a long time ago, writes Sam McCaig

Five of the Original Six - the NHL's founding clubs - have had great starts to the season and are holding down play-off positions. Everyone except the Montreal Canadiens.

Yes, the Canadiens, the league's all-time gold standard, the winners of 24 Stanley Cup championships.

Their fall to earth is nothing new, of course; Montreal have not won the cup since 1993, and have had to fight tooth and nail just to scrape into the post-season in recent years.

But it is difficult to remember a time when the league's other old-time clubs - the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs - were all ahead of Montreal in the standings, secure in play-off berths while the Habs struggled to remain respectable.

Surely, there are a few smug smiles on the faces of Bruins and Leafs fans, Montreal's biggest rivals, who endured decades of second-class status while the Canadiens claimed cup after cup. Especially in Boston, where the Bruins won the cup last spring for the first time in 39 years.

Montreal's mystique still exists. But the Canadiens, who celebrated their 100th anniversary season a couple years ago, cannot expect Carey Price, PK Subban and Mike Cammalleri to turn into Ken Dryden, Larry Robinson and Guy Lafleur overnight. Or ever, for that matter.

Those types of players come along once in a franchise's history, and the storied Habs have already had 100 years of glory.