Not many saw this coming, that among the first wave of players who would be sullenly giving exit interviews before sailing off into the proverbial spring sunset would be ones who wear the CH on their chests.
The Montreal Canadiens were stunned in New York Saturday night, falling 3-1 to the Rangers and tumbling right out of the post-season.
ANALYSIS: What's next for the Montreal Canadiens?
Today, some of the players stood in front of a sea of microphones to wax poetic, or at least as poetic as they tend to get, about their season: how it all came crashing down, and what's next, either personally or for the team.
On the season:
Mixed feelings, you know. When you don't achieve your goal, it's obviously disappointing. But, at the end of the day, a lot of the guys are proud of the season we had.
... We had a lot of character on this team. We've got great chemistry here. It was one of the most fun years I've had here with this group of guys.... That's kind of one of the most disappointing parts, when you know you had a group in here that could have done it, and you just fell short.
On the lack of goals:
You have to give the team on the other side credit, too. They played pretty well defensively, Hank [Rangers' goalie Henrik Lundquvist] played well. And we all just needed to find a little more to give, and that would have been the difference.
On his contract:
I don't have any worries. I'm sure it will all take care of itself.... I love playing here and I'm sure we'll work something out.
Would resigning involve a balancing act, having all the pieces in place to win?
I want to stay here, and I know we'll find a way to make all the pieces fit and bring a championship here.
On Alex Galchenyuk:
He's a really good hockey player. He's got all the tools. He's also gaining experience. He's still a really young player. He's been here for awhile, but he's still a young player and has some things to learn, and I have no doubt he'll make the proper strides next year.
On what was wrong with the team's offence:
I really don't know. I think everybody's shocked and disappointed. Like I said, we can stand here all day and talk about what went wrong, but at the end of the day, right now, it really doesn't matter. We're out, we're out in the first round and that's not what we worked [for] all year, to be in the position we are [in] right now, and it sucks. But we have to learn from our mistakes and bounce back.
On how he was used this year:
Reporter: Do you think the team used you in a way that they could get the best out of you this year?
AG: Wow, you're always with the controversial questions today.
Galchenyuk asks reporter to repeat question.
AG: [Pauses] Uh, next question.
Reporter: You don't want to answer that?
AG: No. I mean, I don't know. Why are you trying …
Reporter: Did they get the best out of you?
AG: I think everybody has their job, coaches, players — coaches, coach and players gotta play. Of course, I wanted to do some things differently on the ice, but you know can't always get what you want, you know — you compete, everybody competed, but things didn't go our way. It's frustrating, but it is what it is.
On coming back:
I love this team, I love this city, I love the fans, everything about Montreal I love and, you know, it's an exciting place to play.
On adjusting to the NHL:
It was a lot to learn, for sure, but the guys we have on the team took me in from the beginning of the season and really showed me how things are done, and that helped me a lot along the way.
On how the season concluded:
It's not the greatest feeling. I mean, nobody wants to get knocked out this early in the season. We knew, or we believed in ourselves, and we believed we could have gone further, but it wasn't meant to be this year. So I mean, it's kind of disappointing for sure.
On the playoff performance:
We wanted to do more, we expected more, and we should have done better.
I think playoffs [are] about the details, and I think we talked about it a lot, but we didn't really do it as much as we should have. We did other parts of the game really well, but we weren't able to sustain it for 60 minutes.
On what's next for the Habs:
A lot of young guys came up this year, played really well, and I think the future's pretty good for this organization.
On his future in Montreal:
My first option is going to be in Montreal, and I'd like to stay here. I've always been here and most probably I'd like to finish my career here, so we'll see what's going to happen in the summer.
On Montreal's future as a team:
We still have lots of room to improve ourselves: many guys will be better next year, and the team will be better next year. Like I already said, there are lots of positives in the future, and hopefully we're going to keep working and we're going to be better.
On his first year with the Habs:
I had a great time here. Enjoyed every minute of it, and I think we have a good future ahead of us. It's tough to sometimes look at the future, but it's bright, and I think we've got some good parts, some good pieces and we're just going to get better moving forward.
He played great. He made the saves he needed to make and obviously he was hot. It's tough sometimes when you run into a hot goaltender, obviously you want to create more. You can sit back and say, I should have done this, I should have done that, but at the same time we didn't get it done, we didn't find ways to get the puck by him, so credit to him and his team, and that's why they're moving forward.