Connect with us

Habs Prospects

Canadiens Montembeault & Barron Win Gold, Hutson Criticism



World Championship Canadiens Latvia

The 2023 World Championship came to a close on Sunday, and though we tend to focus on all things Montreal Canadiens on this site, we’d be remiss if we didn’t discuss the excitement involved in the yearly tournament.

The biggest storyline heading into Sunday’s action was the play of Team Latvia, which split hosting duties with Finland.

Latvians don’t just like hockey, they also happen to be one of the loudest and most entertaining fanbases in the world. Anyone living in a city that has hosted the World Junior Championship can attest to this phenomenon.

Latvians travel well, and they travel hard.

But this time around there was very little travel required for Latvian fans during the tournament, and consequently, Riga looked like a high-energy hockey party from the very first puck drop.

Team Latvia responded in style, earning their very first medal at the World Championship, a well-deserved bronze medal that was earned by beating teams such as Czechia, Sweden, Switzerland, and finally the United States.

Their great run wasn’t just exciting and historic, but it also defied the odds.

Latvia’s population is 1.8 million, less than half the population in the Montreal metro area.

Of those 1.8 million Latvians, fewer than 8000 of them are registered hockey players. The United States, on the other hand, has well over half a million registered hockey players.

If you’re not quite impressed yet, we can look at it another way.

There are 7,898 registered players in Latvia. Estimates place the number of hockey rinks in Canada at 7860.

Everything related to Latvia, from the passion of the fans to the excellent play on the ice, created energy and excitement around the 2023 World Championship.

And that, my friends, is what sports are all about.

Team USA

The Americans were the dominant team throughout the tournament, making their loss to Latvia even more frustrating. Canadiens prospects Sean Farrell and Luke Tuch were relegated to tertiary roles on the team, however, phenom Lane Hutson quickly stood out as one of the most productive players in the lineup.

Hutson earned two goals and four assists in nine games, performing many of the same duties he was tasked with during his rookie season with the Boston University Terriers, including being the driving force behind the team’s transition game.

Overall, he had a great tournament, especially when we consider he was one of the youngest players to represent his country at the World Championship.

But there was one play, in particular, that led to a firestorm of smooth-brain comments on Twitter.

Hutson was on the ice for a significant stretch of the overtime period between the United States and Latvia, which, as per usual, led to a bevy of scoring chances for his team.

But he was also on the ice for the final goal of the game, which eliminated the United States from gold medal contention.

The first thing that comes to mind is that Hutson definitely could have done better, despite how long he had been on the ice.

His approach left something to be desired, as an awkward pivot gave his opponent enough time and space to score the game-winning goal.

However, beyond the giant muffin of a goal allowed by Casey DeSmith on this play, only lazy analysis will focus on a single play. Hutson had just finished creating three high-danger chances for his team, chances that should have found the back of the net.

And he also kept his opponent to the outside of the ice, which is exactly what you want to see at 3v3.

It’s all about the big picture.

Hutson was also trusted to play in the most crucial moments for his country, showing that the coaching staff was quite confident using their youngest player when the game was on the line.

A lot of the criticism on social media seems to stem from the idea that Canadiens fans are not willing to admit Hutson has flaws.

This, of course, is a lie.

A glance at the coverage related to Hutson will quickly erase that notion.

Canadiens fans are well aware of his weaknesses. It’s one of the reasons no one batted an eye when Hutson declared he was returning to the NCAA next season.

But they’re also well aware of his strengths, which are many, and impossible to ignore.

Once again, the key in hockey is looking at the big picture.

I’m not quite sure why so many people are cheering for this young man to fail, but it is reminiscent of the same type of unreasonable criticism faced by Cole Caufield following the 2019 Draft, in that it reeks of envy.


Justin Barron and Samuel Montembeault will return to Montreal as World Champions thanks to a 5-2 win over Germany in the gold-medal game.

Barron was mostly used on the second pairing, playing a much more reserved style of hockey than we’re used to seeing in Montreal.

And that’s absolutely fine.

When it comes to Barron’s development, there’s one glaring issue that comes to the surface: decision-making under pressure.

But this issue was nowhere to be seen at the World Championship, which should serve as a fantastic confidence booster for the 21-year-old defenceman, who figures among the most important young players on the Canadiens roster due to the fact that he’s a right-handed blueliner.

As for Montembeault, he allowed a few questionable goals during the tournament, including a goal against Latvian forward Rudolfs Balcers.

Other than noting that, unlike the goal that led to a bevy of criticism for Hutson, MacKenzie Weegar allowed his opponent to make his way to the middle of the ice, we should also remember Montembeault kept the Canadians in the running to win several games in which they were outplayed.

This was far from Canada’s best team at the World Championship, but Montembeault did his part to hold the fort when the going got tough, as evidenced by his .944 save percentage.

Considering Montembeault is expected to take over as the official starter for the Canadiens next season, his well-deserved gold medal, and the confidence that comes with it, couldn’t have come at a better time.

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Once Hutson develops his defense further he will be awesome! Offensively he was magnificent on overtime against Germany. He just needed to deek the German goaltender and he would have scored the winning goal. Defensively, he still needs to work on defending rushes. That will come with experience.

john harmsworth

He’s young and he plays a pretty wide open style to make the most of his maneuverability and creativity. He’ll have to adjust a bit as a pro, but a kid with that kind of imagination and talent, I have to believe he will get the hang of it. He’s got at least one year of college hockey to go still that will make a big difference in his game. He should be fun to watch as he grows into an Erik Karlsson type player

Last edited 4 months ago by john harmsworth

Name 1 player who doesn’t have flaws. How many people don’t have flaws in their character.