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‘Carnival of insanity’: After hiatus, Canadians golf tournament returns

A lot has happened — including a pandemic — since the team’s last charity tournament in 2019.

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Eight years ago, Christopher Curtis covered the Canadiens’ golf tournament at Laval-sur-le-Lac on his first day as a Montreal Gazette sports writer covering the team after spending the previous three years working as a city reporter.

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Curtis wrote that the whole thing was overwhelming, adding: “There’s no other way of describing the scene outside the clubhouse.”

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It was a fantastic and funny piece of writing, and that overwhelming scene at Laval-sur-le-Lac will return Monday when the Canadiens hold their golf tournament with players, coaches, management, fans and sponsors who paid big bucks to play in the charity event. Because of COVID-19, the last time the Canadians held the full tournament, including players, was in 2019.

The Montreal Canadiens’ charity golf tournament isn’t just a day for the players to get together and shoot a round with some of the club’s financial backers,” wrote Curtis, who spent one season covering the Canadiens and left the Gazette in 2020 to launch The Rover, a crowd-funded investigative journalism project. “It’s the beginning of a campaign that, under the very best circumstances, will end 10 months from now with a Stanley Cup in hand and a city on fire.

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“It all begins with this carnival of insanity on the golf course,” Curtis wrote, describing players and other golfers walking past a brass band playing ragtime jazz and into the clubhouse.

Curtis added: “Picture an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, but less subtle.”

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He also wondered why he bothered locking the doors to his Toyoto Echo in the parking lot, which was full of BMWs, Ferraris and other luxury sports cars.

Back in 2014, when Curtis covered the tournament, the big news was former GM Marc Bergevin announcing the team wouldn’t have a captain for the upcoming season, instead using four alternate captains following the departure of Brian Gionta.

Much of the focus at that year’s tournament was on PK Subban.

Bergevin and Subban are both gone from the Canadiens now, and the only players who are still part of the team who were there in 2014 are Brendan Gallagher and Carey Price, who is now on the long-term injured reserve list.

There have also been a lot of changes since the Canadians’ last full golf tournament in 2019. The only players remaining from that tournament are Gallagher, Price, Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Drouin, Paul Byron and Joel Armia.

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Monday’s tournament will be the first for Jeff Gorton, the new vice-president of hockey operations, GM Kent Hughes, head coach Martin St. Louis and the majority of the players. Gorton, Hughes and St. Louis will speak with the media starting at 8:30 am, followed by players before they tee off. We might also find out when the Canadians will name a new captain, with Suzuki and Gallagher the leading candidates.

The weather forecast looks great, with a mix of sun and clouds and a high of 26 C.

After going through the worst of COVID-19 the last couple of years, it will be nice to see the Canadians’ “carnival of insanity” return to Laval-sur-le-Lac.

Don’t expect this season to end with a “Stanley Cup in hand and a city on fire” for the rebuilding Canadiens.

As Curtis put it in 2014: “There’s plenty of time for this whole thing to derail and explode into a million tiny controversies.”

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