Saturday, 14 July 2012

HABS-TOWN: "It would be wrong to ride it out with those crap assets"

Often times during the evening I sit on the couch after my day of work. The dishes are done, dinner has been eaten, and it's time to veg. Sometimes I have my smartphone in hand and the wife will ask: "What are you doing?", my usual answer "I'm on Twitter".

The conversation usually ends there, because the phone goes away, but when it doesn't - it's usually because I am having a long drawn out discussion with CTV's Brian Wilde.

For those of you who follow @BWildeCTV on twitter, you already know that he is a very active tweeter. He is passionate, articulate, and opinionated on many things. Movies, Music, Tennis, The Impact, but mostly The Habs.

Brian Wilde has been with CTV Montreal since the mid-90's, and he has been on the Habs beat that entire time. Before that he covered the great Gretzky led Oilers dynasty in Edmonton.

Being a reporter is different from being a fan. Reporting requires someone to be impartial, and yet Brian Wilde in his impartiality is also passionate. He frequents Randy Tieman's TSN 990 show when there is something Habs related to talk about and he speaks with unwavering conviction about his point of view.

Whether you like him or dislike him, whether you agree with his opinions or not - Brian Wilde is an asset to the Montreal sports scene - and in particular an asset to this HABS-TOWN.

What got you into hockey, or later on more specifically the Habs?
Growing up I was just another kid who wanted to play hockey and loved it but who wasn't talented enough. Later on, I worked firstly with the Oilers as their host and then moved to Montreal. I Got the Habs gig when the previous guy quit but it wasn't too surprising because I am passionate about it.

You grew up in Edmonton, so I doubt your first NHL fan experience was at Habs game. Or was it?  Do you remember your first NHL game? when was it? who took you? What do you remember about it....
My first best memory is actually an Edmonton Oil Kings junior game. Al Hamilton was the best player. My dad took me. It was at the Edmonton gardens which has since been demolished - a real old barn. I just Thought it was the greatest thing ever. One of the moments where you are looking around all the time. Time flew. 

First NHL experience was the Oilers first game in the league or close to it. Against Detroit. I remember thinking "how much are Oilers gonna get killed?" They did by 3 if memory serves. Greatest memory was the red wheel uniform. Looked so red!!!

Do you have a favorite Habs player ever on ice? if so, whom, and why?
My favourite players are not conventional. I usually like them as people and not players. So my favourite player though we never became close at all and all conversations stayed on hockey is Hal Gill. Just so obvious that he sees the bigger picture! The one about team and commitment and winners are winners because they stand up and care for each other. 

I've seen the great Oilers cup winners and lousy teams up close and Hal gets what becomes obvious over time. Josh (Gorges) too. Matt Darche too. Gotta have players who want a "team to be proud to be a team" as Ken Dryden says.

I was a fan in the seats the night Saku Koivu made his triumphant return from cancer. What was it like covering that moment?

The fans stick out most. It was that kind of Montreal welcome that is so famous. The fans appreciation can be the story even when a guy comes back from cancer. It is just that way here. Saku tried to minimize the moment in clients about cancer. Natural from him.

Anyone who follows you on Twitter can tell you're a big fan of the Impact. Are you able to be a Habs fan?
I don't cover the impact so I've let myself have a little fun there. I don't have contact with the players so I don't worry about it.

With the Habs I most definitely have to and find it easy to keep an objectivity. I talk to the players every day. I can't let them believe at all that there is a line I am willing to cross. As far as being a fan -  no way. I am however a fan of my more enjoyable life so there is a natural hope that I can travel in the playoffs. But that pervades in only a very general sense but doesn't impact the day to day. The love of the soccer team is also a love of the city. If this city has another Expos moment I will actually feel crushed.

If someone asked you to fill in the blanks: "My ideal place to watch a game is______ with _____" how would you fill the blanks, and why?
I'm a very nostalgic person. I have a high value for things older and simpler - so I wish I could have time back with my dad because inward robbed of too much of it and I wish I could have it back. So my dad and I'd combine that with another trip down memory lane and say the old Chicago stadium. Wow what a place to see a game. I opened a telecast at the organ loft once. Incredible.

What's the best game you ever went to? what do you remember about it?
Best game I ever went to? Man. You'd think I'd pick out an Oilers game having season tickets for 4 of the 5 cups but Habs comeback vs NYR from 5 goals down. The press box went from "these guys aren't that good" to "holy these guys can do anything". At 5-3 everyone knew the Habs would win. 

Then 2nd would be take 7 in Pittsburgh to beat the penguins in the playoffs. That was memorable because of my cameraman Jason Clarke who was so stoked that he could barely control his enthusiasm. Just his reaction was priceless.  
I seem to recall you talking on air with (Mitch) Melnick or Randy Tieman that you had a bleak outlook for that Pittsburgh Series. That you just didn't see any way that the Habs could possibly beat the Penguins. Somewhere deep down inside, do you think you may have felt something like what Jason was feeling?
I saw Pittsburgh as a more complete team. Playoff ready.

Well, it meant traveling another round in the playoffs which is fun work to do. 

What do you think of the hiring of Marc Bergevin and his moves so far?
Bergevin has done perfectly for me. He seems to get it in every way and my initial impression is he is going to be an all timer at it. Yep I said it. He seems to understand about overvaluing an asset. He passed up on Jagr and Parenteau when it would have been easy to seek more strength short term.

He is going to be a great one. People need to let him plan. That's all.

You wrote a fantastic blog posting about 2014-2015 being the year for the Habs. Many veteran contracts expire then, many younger players may be ready to step in. What do you think fans can expect to see in the interim? 
Short term before all the money and assets come available I think it s going to be lean. Not as lean as last year but lean. (Former General Manager) Pierre Gauthier acquired some awful assets. No one talks about Markov and I have stopped too because of the flak but I am on record maintaining that there is little left in that knee. He played very fearfully so that besides Bourque, Gomez, Kaberle is a 4th big money suspect asset. Sorry but teams don't win in the face of stupid issues like that. That is 4 of 20 players and almost 20 million in payroll. That's scary. There is a lot for Marc Bergevin to patiently get off the books.

Are you scared to see how much room those assets are given this season? I'd personally rather let the prospects dominate in Junior or in Hamilton and let the assets that are here bring what they got in the interim. 
Normally it would be wrong to ride it out with those crap assets and let them play out the string but nothing is happening now on this big transformation to greatness, so this season is always going to be limited. 

If you have a long term view on how to win the Cup, then you just quietly don't worry about this season. Just don't jeopardize any long term plan and have the money available when you need to fill the gap. Just don't tell the fans who shell out the big money to attend your limbo season.

For more from Brian Wilde, I encourage you to follow him on Twitter: @BwildeCTV
I also strongly urge you to listen to Randy Tieman on TSN990 weekdays 12-2pm
and of course, catch them both nightly on CTV Montreal News at 11:45pm for Sports night.


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