How the Halifax Mooseheads can learn from the ’87 Montreal Canadiens

Philip Croucher, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - It’s a loss Bobby Smith calls his most disappointing as a NHL player.

Jonathan Drouin hoists the President Cup last year on Metro Centre ice.

After hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986, the Habs were again in the hunt for the NHL’s top prize the following season.

But facing the Philadelphia Flyers in the conference finals, the Canadiens run at back-to-back titles came up short. The team lost to Philadelphia in six games.

“I realized that feeling we had last year wasn’t going to happen again,” Smith said about being Stanley Cup champions again. “I can still remember being on the ice at the Forum when the Flyers beat us.”

Smith talks about that setback in reference to the team he is now majority owner of, the Halifax Mooseheads.

Coming off its first-ever QMJHL title, and then a Memorial Cup crown, the talented-laden Mooseheads are again heading into the playoffs as one of the team’s to beat.

But with success comes the desire for more and Smith is confident his club will be just as eager to win a QMJHL title for a second time, as they were for the first.

“Once you’ve felt that you want to feel it again,” he said.

This year’s Mooseheads team has the talent to go all the way. But Smith said it’s unfair to try and compare this year’s team to last, which he likes to call maybe the best ever in junior hockey.

If Halifax is to go all the way, Jonathan Drouin will probably have to lead them there.

Last year’s team featured the dynamic duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Drouin. This year’s club is about Drouin and rookie sniper Nikolaj Ehlers.

The difference between Drouin and Ehlers comes down to experience. Drouin knows what is takes to win. He’s proven it, and Smith believes the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect will shine again.

“His leadership comes with his ability to compete and his talent. And when he plays that way, we’re a very hard team to beat,” Smith said.

“He’s got a chance to go out again and really leave his mark on junior hockey and the Halifax Mooseheads.”

Drouin in running for back-to-back MVP awards

Jonathan Drouin has been named one of three nominees for the QMJHL’s MVP award.

The league announced its finalists Tuesday, with Drouin having the chance to win in back-to-back years.

He is up against league scoring champion Anthony Mantha of the Val-d’Or Foruers and Anthony Duclair of Québec Remparts.

Nikolaj Ehlers is up for three awards – rookie of the year, top professional prospect and offensive rookie of the year.

MacKenzie Weegar is one of three nominees for best defenceman, a list which includes former Mooseheads blueliner Randy Gazolla, who is with the Foreurs.

Goaltender Zach Fucale is up for personality of the year, while Brent Andrews is nominated for best defensive forward.

Blueliner Brendan Duke has landed a nomination as well for the Humanitarian and Community Involvement Trophy.

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, NHL Tampa Bay Lightning

Geographic location: Val

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