Habs Numbers Project as well as makes for another fine return from my 2013-14 mailings.
Today's hero is David Desharnais. The diminutive center (5'7'', 170 pounds) hasn't exactly had an easy time since I last featured him two and a half years ago; back then, he was in the midst of a 60-point season in the middle of Erik Cole and a surging Max Pacioretty.
Desharnais and Pacioretty had already been inseparable with the Hamilton Bulldogs, and both even went to play in Switzerland during the 2012-13 lockout, albeit on separate teams. When NHL play resumed, Pacioretty went back to his usual ways (39 points in 44 games, some streaky production followed by periods of not much happening), but Desharnais had trouble adapting the first-line opposition, though coach Michel Therrien tried his best to shelter him by giving him very few defensive-zone face-offs and starts, almost all-offense minutes, and first-unit powerplay time. Still, he managed only 28 points in 48 games.
Worst still, the duo combined for just one point in 9 playoff games - a Desharnais assist - as the Montréal Canadiens were eliminated in just 5 games by the surprisingly physical Ottawa Senators.
2013-14 started off on the same foot, with both players under-performing just about until the Holidays, the pair even getting separated for a while; even newly-elected Montréal mayor and mascot-shaped food enthusiast Denis Coderre tweeted his discontent. However, Patch-man publicly defended his friend, instilled confidence in him, and the pair were off and running again, with Desharnais finishing with 52 points (on 36 assists), and Pacioretty 60 (on 39 goals, most of them coming off multi-goal games in the last month of play).
Desharnais also amassed 8 points in 17 playoff games this season, after having only had two assists in his first 10 post-season games spread over two seasons. His size will always be an issue whenever he hits a cold streak - particularly in the era of the ultra-quick-yet-huge Los Angeles Kings - but his will and skill can never be questioned. He has been an MVP and All-Star at every level before the NHL, and has proven to be creative and great at controlling the puck in the offensive zone - even in high-traffic areas - in 4 seasons so far.
At still just 27 (28 when next season begins, as he was born on September 14th, same as me), he will have no trouble reaching the 60-point mark for the duration of his contract (the next three years), particularly if always paired with Pacioretty; they seem to share a brain, and each's skill set complements the other exactly, like Batman and Robin, or Laurel and Hardy.
I had written him and sent in 4 cards on February 4th, 2014, and he returned all of them, signed in black sharpie with his jersey number (51) tagged at the end, on June 12th (2014), good for a 128-day return. Here's what they look like:
my box break last December. Both show him wearing the Habs' white (away) uniform.
Also in white is this custom card I made, from my own Hell's Kitchen 2013-14 Series 1 set (card #18 in the collection), where he is battling for position in front of/with the New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist (an omen?):
Alexei Emelin right behind him), from Panini's 2013-14 Score (#262 in the set, the Gold variant):