Canadiens Theme -- 'The Difficult We Do Immediately.'

Montreal Canadiens will make their first Cup appearance since 1993. Kraken pick their coach. ESPN hires Messier. The Rangers make more organizational changes.

A U.S. Marines theme during World War II went like this:

The difficult we do immediately; the impossible takes a little longer."

With a slight alteration it can be adopted for Montreal's magnificent hockey team that has -- most incredibly -- moved into the Stanley Cup Final.

By defeating the heavily-favored Vegas Golden Knights last evening at Bell Centre, the Habs continue to write -- and rewrite, and rewrite -- what's emerging as the NHL Cinderella tale of all tales.

When the Knights fell on the swords 3-2 in six games, it set up a new slogan for the skaters from the Province of Quebec. It goes like this:

The impossible takes a little longer but we should accomplish very soon.

Who would dare doubt these dauntless demons that wear the most gloried colors -- blue, blanc et rouge -- in NHL annals?

After three glorious series wins, the Habs have deleted all doubters.

The only question now is how they complete their magical conquests.

As if to add incredulity to incredulity, the Canadiens have swallowed up foes these days with Luke Richardson behind the bench.

Imagine, Richardson -- interim coach replacing the interim coach -- and you just can't make up these stories. Never, ever.

Perhaps even more incredible is the fact that the Habs winner was scored by Artturi Lehkonen, a smoothie all right, but not the guy you'd expect to be the superhero of this particular series.

No way!

Then, again, that's what this Canadiens team is all about. 

It starts in goal where Carey Price has carried his Habs on his shoulders -- but not always. Still, he out-goaled Robin Lehner who -- to begin with -- had been mishandled by coach Peter DeBoer. No question, DeBoer was outcoached from the get-go by Luke Richardson.

DeBoer's insane decision to start Marc-Andre Fleury in Game Five goes down in history as one of the colossal blunders in sports history.

But it was more than that; much more. 

Carey & Company smothered the Vegas sharpshooters and deflated the Knights big-money acquisition defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, not to mention captain Mark Stone (0-0-0 in this series) who played as if he had hands of stone.

Meanwhile, Richardson made the most of his bench -- especially rookie sensation Cole Caufield who scored another biggie-beauty for the Habs. 

Which means Montreal will meet the winner of tonight's Game Seven in Tampa Bay between the defending champion Lightning and the NHL's other Cinderella team; the Islanders. 

Of one thing you can be certain; neither of the pair will take the Canadiens lightly!

Stan’s Java Jive


THE JIVE: While most of the civilized world figured that Seattle's new franchise would hire any one of a dozen familiar candidates starting with Mike Babcock and ending with Claude Julien, they fooled all of us. The choice, Dave Hakstol, came so far from left field that I don't the the supreme "Insiders," Elliotte Friedman or Darren Dreger, got the scoop first. And, if either of them did, my hats off to them. Kraken g.m. Ron Francis is nobody's fool. He must see something special in Hakstol whose NHL head coaching debut did not exactly end up with a Stanley Cup. No worries; a guy can live and learn and Dave did assisting in Toronto. Good luck to Dave and the Kraken!


THE JIVE: Starting in the 2021-22 season, Hall of Famer and six time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier will be a studio analyst for the NHL on ESPN, the company announced today. Now, two of the top three all-time leading scorers in NHL history will be in studio talking about the NHL on American television. 

"The game of hockey, and the NHL, have afforded me enormous opportunity, success and experiences on the ice and in my life," Messier said in a statement announcing the news. "My passion for the game is as strong as it has ever been and I am looking forward to sharing that passion, plus my insights and analysis with the sport's incredible fans. The NHL is beginning a new era with ESPN and The Walt Disney Company -- with an exciting, evolving game and phenomenally talented players -- and I am thrilled to be a part of the team."

"Mark has been one of the NHL's biggest and most iconic stars, and we are ecstatic to have him be a large part of our upcoming hockey coverage," Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president and executive editor, production, said in the statement. "As a six-time Stanley Cup Champion, he will bring incredible insight, knowledge and analysis to ESPN and The Walt Disney Company that will both resonate with fans, and connect more and more of them to the game and to the league."


THE JIVE: Rookie Rangers general manager Chris Drury isn't fooling around. Now that he has his head coach, Gerard Gallant in hand,the new boss has made the following addition changes. 

More from The New York Rangers:

"Benoit Allaire has been promoted to Director of New York Rangers Goaltending, and Jeff Malcolm has been promoted to Hartford Wolf Pack Goaltending Coach. In addition, Jean-Ian Filiatrault joins the Rangers’ player development department as Goaltending Consultant, and Matt Hunwick also joins the hockey operations’ player development department.

"As Director of New York Rangers Goaltending, Allaire will oversee the development of goaltenders at all levels throughout the organization, including at the American Hockey League (AHL) level and ECHL level. He will continue to be based in New York and will remain the head goaltending coach for the New York Rangers. The 2021-22 season will be Allaire’s 18th season in the Rangers organization. He has spent the last 17 seasons with the Rangers coaching staff after he was named Assistant Coach and Goaltending Coach on July 15, 2004.

"Filiatrault will work with Allaire and assist in the development of Rangers goaltending prospects throughout the organization, including in Europe and at the junior level and collegiate level. Prior to joining the Rangers organization, he most recently worked in the Colorado Avalanche organization as Goaltending Development Coach. Filiatrault has also worked in the Anaheim Ducks organization and Toronto Maple Leafs organization during his coaching career.

"Hunwick will work with Director of Player Development Jed Ortmeyer, as well as Assistant Directors of Player Development Tanner Glass and Tuomo Ruutu, in the development of Rangers prospects on and off the ice, and he will primarily focus on working with defensemen in the Rangers organization. He joins the Rangers organization after serving as a Volunteer Assistant Coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, for the past two seasons. As a player, Hunwick skated in 535 career NHL games over parts of 12 seasons. He played one season with the Rangers (2014-15) and helped the team win the Presidents’ Trophy."