The Monday Morning Quarterback on Patrick Laine, Victor Hedman, the Ex-Rays, the Impact and more!

So you want to see towering Patrick Laine in a Habs uniform? Really, really, really? Okay then, here’s what you do: Repeat after me, bridles &&&& gals: Patrick Laine. Patrick Laine. Patrick Laine.

Say it often enough and perhaps the deal will happen.

Much as I dislike these exercises in futility, where people work up depth charts based on players their team doesn’t have, I do like the idea of Laine on the first line next to Nick Suzuki. And Jonathan Drouin, if we must.

Frankly, if Laine is a Canadien, I don’t care where Drouin plays. Or if he plays. The big Finn is a tower of power. And whereas I wouldn’t give a bag of smelly hockey laundry for Auston “Captain Underpants” Matthews – for Laine, I’d give the moon.

As long as that moon does not include Suzuki or Jesperi Kotkaniemi. If the Canadiens really can acquire Laine for the package my mentor Pat Hickey outlined (Max Domi, Brett Kulak and the Canadiens first-round draft pick, number 16 overall) then I’d take it in a heartbeat despite Laine’s iffy contract status.

When he’s healthy and on, Laine can tip the balance. He’s huge. He scores. He’s young. He will have Canadiens fans doing socially distant high fives if Marc Bergevin can acquire him – which he should be, even if word is that Bergevin isn’t all that interested.

With the center position resolved, with Alexander Romanov and Joel Edmundson to firm up the left side of the defence and Jake Allen at backup goaltender, Laine could be the missing link, the player who makes the Canadiens serious contenders.

Hey, we’ve got a Stanley Cup final going on in September. A fella can dream, right?

V FOR VICTORY: If you’re the GM for the Seattle Kraken and you get to choose any player in the NHL (not any player from the list of available talent) who do you choose? Connor McDavid? Leon Draisatl? Roman Josi? Carey Price?

Sorry, I choose Victor Hedman. Hedman is the best defenceman in the National Hockey League. Not Josi. Not Washington’s John Carlson. Not Alex Pietrangelo. Not Shea Weber. And no, deluded ones, not P.K. Subban.

After Hedman’s three-minute shift against Dallas  Saturday night, I was in awe – and as a regular thing, I don’t do “awe.” By now we’ve all seen so many highlight-reel goals, saves, dunks, kicks, passes, home runs and catches at the wall that we’re numb. We don’t impress easily.

No, Hedman didn’t win the Norris. But at the very least, he took his team to within a win of a Stanley Cup, something neither Carlson nor Josi could manage. Surely that counts for something?

Failing to make an Impact: Even with the Expos long gone, the Canadiens awaiting news on the next season and the Alouettes and the CFL skipping this entire campaign, the Impact have failed to make an Impact. They are awful, undisciplined, unfocused, wretched. And in the midst of this mess they decide they don’t need Evan Bush, virtually the only name on the roster that is recognizable to the majority of fans.

Thierry Henry will undoubtedly take the fall for this but I don’t believe it’s his fault. The Impact’s problems go all the way to the top, to the jittery, meddling ownership of the inept Joey Saputo.

Meanwhile, YOUR Montreal Expos: Will not be part of baseball’s postseason once again. We are 15 years and counting since the Washington Nationals made their debut in a chilly ballpark in Philadelphia and the effort to bring back the Expos is temporarily on hold.

For Stephen Bronfman & Co., the news has been all bad. They seemed close to a team-sharing deal with the Tampa Bay Rays but Tampa owner Stuart Sternberg (who in some of his machinations bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Jeffrey Loria) threw cold water on that one.

Then L’Office de consultation publique de Montréal complained, justifiably, about the lack of detail in the ballpark plan submitted by the Bronfman group, meaning at the very least that they are going to have to put some cards on the table to make this happen.

Then the coronavirus pandemic delivered a sucker punch to the solar plexus of every sport, with the result that the Expos plans are now somewhere on the back of the back burner. Which is a shame, because if nothing else, the Ex-Rays would be a damned good team.

Tampa can play – in fact they are one of the favourites to win the World Series when postseason play commences this week. But Montreal won’t be part of it.

Lies, rumours &&&& vicious innuendo: When it comes to hype around Canadian basketball players going into the NBA draft, Jamal Murray was way down the charts from Andrew Wiggins and R.J. Barrett – a couple of soft and selfish players I wouldn’t want if they turned up at my door bearing gifts. Murray is the guy for Canada. … 

Rule one of the NBA playoffs: Don’t piss off LeBron James. The Denver Nuggets had nothing to do with the MVP balloting or with the 18 games James missed due to injury last season and the fact that analysts were writing him off. But at 35, James is still the game’s best player when he wants to be and right now he wants to be. Badly. …

If you saw the first Dallas goal Saturday night, you know Mikhail Sergachev missed the part of the course where they tell you, “whatever you do, don’t run into Alexander Radulov.” …

Think about this: Brayden Point fell way down in the NHL draft because he couldn’t skate. Take your weakness and make it your strength. …

Dusty Baker becomes the first MLB manager ever to take five different teams to the playoffs. And one of our favourite managers all-time, right after Felipe Alou. …

Speaking of coaches, Erik Spoelstra of the Heat is one of the best in the NBA. But I’m still mystified as to why he left rookie Tyler Herro nailed to the bench the game after Herro torched the Celtics for 37 points. Herro was barely out there long enough to break a sweat in the first half and by the time he got some serious playing time, it was too little, too late. …

Gotta love that old guys Corey Perry and Joe Pavelski had scored the last six goals for the Dallas Stars going into Sunday night’s Game 6. …

Money talks, and money is running the French Open. Money and Wilson, which landed the deal to provide the tournament with the heavy balls that have infuriated Rafael Nadal. In fact, there is little about the French Open to entice the viewer: Obnoxious Novak Djokovic, cold wet weather, heavy balls, no Roger Federer, no Naomi Osaka – not a year to be at Roland Garros. …

Speaking of which, the Gazette once had a sports editor so absent-minded, he once called to tell me that he had decided he didn’t want me to go to Mont Tremblant to cover Canadiens camp – and then phoned back 15 minutes later to ask if our photographer could share my room in Tremblant while I was covering the training camp he had just told me not to cover. He was so forgetful that I had a plan to fly to Paris and call him from Roland Garros and say I was filing from the French Open. And if he objected, I would tell him, “we discussed this! You told me to go!” Unfortunately, he was gone before I could put it into effect.

Heroes: Marc Bergevin, Jeff Petry, Patrick Laine, Brayden Point, Nikita Kucherov, Mikhail Sergachev, Joe Pavelski, Corey Perry, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Russell Wilson, seven-inning MLB double-headers, Dusty Baker &&&& last but not least, Patrick Laine in a Canadiens uniform.

Zeros: Brian Burke, 82-game NHL seasons that start in January, Joey Saputo, Rudy Camacho, Romell Quioto, Emanuel Maciel, Lance Stroll, Ron MacLean, Sportsnet, Jack Armstrong, Novak Djokovic, Dan Snyder, Ron MacLean, Don Cherry wherever he is, the Blue Jays pitching staff, Claude Brochu &&&&& last but not least, David Samson and Jeffrey Loria.

Now and forever.

TWITTER: @jacktodd46