(Updated, 5:30 p.m., Feb. 20.)
The Habs' centennial season has become open season; it's just matter of how big the window.
The rumours are flying fast and furious. Having two Russian players, Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn, being accused of being "mobbed up" is the burning flame that draws the media moths. It goes without saying. The Canadiens, as Pierre LeBrun noted today, are followed in a way unlike that no other team in the NHL, maybe all of North American sports ("You don't trade priests," as Guy Lafleur once said).
At this point, little is known other than a pair of young jocks were hanging out an alleged criminal. It can't be shrugged off, but nothing happens in a vacuum.
Montréal is the organized crime capital of Canada. It has been a town where a character such as Pasquale Mangiola can draw a lot of water. Nothing which has happened since Nov. 15, 1976 has done anything to work against that. It's a more rough-hewn place than anywhere else in Canada, but it's also more alive, more vital than other cities whose names start T and rhyme with oronto.
It has its good and its bad. It's impossible to imagine someone from Toronto having the same meteoric rise as Georges St. Pierre and being worshiped the way GSP is in his home city and province. He embodies that flinty Montréal toughness.
It has a rough edge, though, personified more or less by bad dudes such as Mangiola. It's not really surprising it would eventually get mixed up with the mystigue of Les Canadiens.
(Alex Kovalev is back at practice, but that is more a hockey decision, since the Habs really cannot trade him.)
Original post, overnight on Feb. 20
It appears that the NHL is about to get hit with one its biggest scandals in history.
La Presse is reporting that three Habs, Roman Hamrlik and brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn will named in connection to a network of drug trafficking. Although it's unclear whether they will be arrested, police need to speak to the players.
All three have been taped and filmed associating with a man arrested for gang activities earlier this month.
Scandale des Canadiens: Les frères Kostitsyn et Hamrlik auraient de mauvaises fréquentations
Canadiens scandal rumours abound (From The Rink)