For Bruins fans, that’s what made the 2011-12 season a delightful one. Not only were the Bruins able to wear the title of “defending Stanley Cup champions” with pride, but they watched the Habs finish dead last in the Eastern Conference and have a hailstorm of problems.
Former Canadien and current Bruin Benoit Pouliot was not surprised by the fall of his former team. The forward told WEEI that he saw the fall of Montreal coming during his two seasons with the Canadiens.
“For a guy that’s been there two years, I had seen it coming,” Pouliot said. “I think some of the other guys there would say the same thing. Just the way everything unfolded, and the way things were not only around the city but the team and everything, it was tough. It wasn’t good. Now they’re cleaning up, which is good for them. Honestly, they needed to, and we’ll see what they do.”
The Canadiens fired general manager Pierre Gauthier and head coach Jacques Martin. Randy Cunneyworth took over for Martin on an interim basis, but was criticized by the Montreal media for his inability to speak French.
None of these changes were able to turn Montreal’s season around. The Habs finished with a 31-35-16 record despite being one of the better defensive teams in the NHL.
Of course, no one is probably happier to leave the Canadiens than Pouliot. Rather than being stuck on a last place team, Pouliot is riding high with a Bruins club that has a legitimate opportunity to be the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since the Detroit Red Wings back in 1997 and 1998.
Coming off a season high in points last season with the Habs, Pouliot had an up and down first year in Boston. Despite periods of inconsistency, Pouliot established a new career high with 32 points and should be a key figure on the Bruins third line when the second season begins on Thursday against the Washington Capitals.
While the left winger spoke highly of his former team, Pouliot said that the Bruins seemed to mesh better than they did in Montreal.
“I loved the guys in Montreal, but obviously here we’ve got better chemistry [in Boston],” Pouliot said. “The attitude, the way we approach the games and the way we are in the room. It’s just a big difference from what I was used to in Montreal.”