Bob Gainey’s recent decision to sign great big defenceman Ryan O’Byrne to a multi-year contract means Gainey and coach Guy Carbonneau feel O’Byrne could turn out to be a force to be reckoned with, which he hasn’t shown yet in his handful of games with the Montreal Canadiens except very briefly here and there.
Patience is being shown here. That’s why Gainey and Carbonneau are hockey bosses, and not working in a supermarket.
O’Byrne has shown that he knows how to party, which landed him in hot water in Tampa last year, but he hasn’t yet shown signs that he going to be the next Larry Robinson. But this kid could be a huge asset to the Habs. All he has to do is play with more of a chip on his shoulder.
O’Byrne is 6’6″ and 228 pounds, a size that other General Managers would trade their wives and kids for. And now, with a brand new three year contract under his belt, O’Byrne can relax, get mean and nasty, and throw smaller players trying to score on his goalie up and over the glass.
I’m also sure that with this new contract, O’Byrne and his parents are going “WHEW” after the fiasco in Tampa that could have possibly blown his career. (For those unaware, O’Byrne and his teammates had their annual party where rookies pay the shot, in Tampa Bay two days before a game, and around three or four AM, police were called when O’Byrne was somehow left standing there holding a few bucks and a purse belonging to a young woman in the restaurant. It was all very odd, but the team backed him, and now, with this contract, he can put it all behind him and step it up a notch.)
Montreal also signed a young player out of the University of Michigan with the great name of Max Pacioretty. And what a great name it is! Sounds like he’s out of the 1930′ or ’40’s. Sounds like he could be a pulp fiction private eye.
But what Max brings to the table is a big, young power forward who, as Gainey explains, isn’t far off from making the big club. And we all know that Montreal needs a big power forward.
Max says he models himself after the Canucks’ Ryan Kessler, which could be a great thing indeed. Kessler plays a big mean game with the Canucks, and is one of their most important players. Other GM’s drool about this guy. Pacioretty is 6’2″, 203 pounds, while Kessler is 6’2″, 205 pounds, which means, after I did the math, that they’re pretty well the same size.
So Bob Gainey probably decided against signing someone like Todd Bertuzzi, a power forward on the big downside of his career, because he had planned all along to ink Max P., a babes-in-arms power forward.
In my book, you have to really like these two recent signings. And add Georges Laraque to the mix, and the Montreal Canadiens have gone from one of the smallest teams in the league to one of the biggest. meanest machines around.
October can’t come soon enough.