Montreal Sits Almost Pat

Trade Deadline Day saw Montreal grab Brad Richards, Jason Arnott, Dustin Penner, and Ales Hemsky, which is quite exciting, don’t you think?

No they didn’t.

It was more exciting than that, as the team sent defenceman Brett Festerling to Atlanta for goalie Drew MacIntyre. Festerling had come to the Habs from Anaheim in the Maxim Lapierre deal, who, by the way, was shipped off to Vancouver. Now, all those Canucks fans who professed their hatred for Lapierre when he was a Hab must now learn to love him to pieces.

Canucks also traded for ex-Hab Chris Higgins from Florida, which means one thing. Vancouver has just screwed themselves. Higgins is a non-achiever and a cocky soul and Vancouver fans might want to be aware that their fine chemistry isn’t so fine anymore. Of course, I don’t know Higgins personally but as a tried and true Habs fan, I know what Higgins brought to the table as a Montreal Canadien and it wasn’t much except for maybe when the team was partying and needed someone to wear a lampshade on his head.

In other news and for what it’s worth, TSN’s Craig MacTavish lists these five teams who have the best shot at winning the Stanley Cup -  Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Chicago. Boston might be in there too but I’d just come off a graveyard shift when I heard this and things were fuzzy so I’m not sure.

Hell, Chicago might not even make the playoffs. And Pittsburgh’s two best players are on the shelf. It’s also amazing how so many TV folk are saying nice things about Alex Kovalev now. How come?

31 thoughts on “Montreal Sits Almost Pat”

  1. Chicago? Pittsburgh? Was Craig Mac drunk? Again? Higgins will flop and so will Maxim. Glad they’re there and not with Montreal. They” have more media criticism than praise for sure.

  2. I would have liked to see a big forward…. but, at the price LA paid for Penner… I’m glad Gauthier didn’t make a similar move.

    Maybe it will pay off for LA but a high price none the less.

    With so many UFAs and RFAs going into the summer, Gauthier will have alot of work to do.

    Plus Gauthier seemed to try and address some needs (like filling out the D spots) prior to the deadline without really costing too much. Conservative approach, but not a bad one considering the changes that may come this summer.

  3. Yves, do you think Gauthier has given up on this year and is preparing for next? I was hoping for “go for the whole thing this year.” I just know, especially after seeing them play the Canucks in Vancouver, that they’re too small.

  4. Happy Golden Goal Day Dennis!
    CBC is reporting that today has been proclaimed a special day in BC. Did you get the day off? Didn’t the BC Ferry bosses get the official memo?

  5. Yes indeed, Christopher. And because the good folks of the BC government are such generous and saintly people, they’ve assured me they’ll chip a bunch, maybe zillions, when it’s time for me to buy the team. And about a day off? I would’ve worked anyway because I care about the traveling public and their happiness is more important than me relaxing on a couch. You believe me, right?

  6. I think PG is giving up for this year. we didn’t fill the needs (top 6 forward; top 4 d-man). Maybe current group will step up to the plate? If AK, Gio, and the rest step it up one more notch, maybe we can be respectful in the playoffs? I think we have a slim chance but a chance nonetheless. I think we are set up nicely for next year with a few big contracts being let go. We will definitely be younger, faster and hopefully finally bigger.

  7. This year seems eerily the same as the past 10-15 years. They never pull the trigger on a deal that would improve their scoring, their size, their strength. Seems like the GM’s are afraid to give up anything to get something. This team isn’t getting any better and i do not see them get any better. They have to make deals. The days of building a team only through the draft are over.

    This team hovers around eighth and doesn’t go anywhere in the playoffs. Last year’s playoff run was all Halak. About 3 or 4 years ago Montreal ended up first in the east but did not go out in the summer and improve their team.

    Our top scorer has 46 or so points…… 62 games?????????

    We are trading for third rate defencemen.

    Subban will not win the rookie of the year but he is the best rookie in the league.

    Untouchables: Subban, Pacioretti, Camelleri, Price, Markov, the rest are all game.

    FIRE JACQUES MARTIN PERIOD

    I long to hear the voice of Danny Gallivan “And now now here’s Lafleur over to s Shutt back to Peter Mahovilich over to Cournoyer over to Lemaire back to Robinson over to Lapointe to Savard back to Lafleur he shoots he SCOOOOOORES

  8. Frank, great comments. Let’s go over them a bit.
    Like you say, we definitely have to make deals, but I guess the linup is set now. As good as Price is, the rest of the team has to play some hockey in the playoffs too. And if they make some noise, the deeper they get, the stronger both physically and mentally they have to be. They’re too small overall. But I have the ongoing faith that miracles happen and somehow they can pull it off.
    None of the forwards are big-time point getters and this is one of the things I miss about the Canadiens. I want so much to see a great offensive scorer like we used to have, like Lafleur.
    Subban is the best rookie in the year. Where else has a rookie been called upon to do yeoman’s service the way Subban has? He one of our real bright lights.
    I agree with your untouchables except for Cammalleri. I’d put Pekanec there instead. And I don’t know what to think about Markov. Is he too prone to injuries?
    And I long too to hear the voice of Danny Gallivan describing the play. It’s as magical as it can get.
    Thanks, Frank.

  9. Hey Dennis.A cannonating drive,a scintilating save,a Savardian spinerama.What more could you ask for in a hockey game?

  10. Dennis, if Vancouver thinks Higgins will help them then they’re not the offensive power-house everyone thinks they are. The idea of him on their 2nd line is almost as funny as the Leafs making the playoffs.
    But I think they made a good deal to get Lapierre and I’m happy for him to be somewhere hockey matters.

  11. Small… speedy…. talented. I don’t know why everyone moans about Bigger being better when Montreal HISTORICALLY does not do justice to those bigger players many seem to covet.

    LeClair was relegated to the 4th line in Montreal before being shipped. But came back to kill the Habs pretty much every time Philly came to town.

    Desjardins – supposed offensive defenceman with Montreal…. was lights out against them.

    Ryder (not a huge guy but a bigger one) One good year…

    We don’t play a “Big Man’s Game” and as much as throwing one of our D in front of the net, we don’t play an inside game, we score from the perimeter… for YEARS.

    My issue is that people are willing and ready to forefeit the future for a chance at the grail, and there isn’t enough roster spots to change tack and swing the boat in a different direction.

    Unfortunately the Habs NEEDED to make trades earlier in the season as injuries plagued us. Decent pick ups, though Mara is a bit of a head scratcher… but Wiz… point per game pace eases the pain on mara.

    And for those thinking Van has a chance… despite the pick ups will have to suffer another great regular season and loss in the first 2 rounds… again.

    Gomez has to be a player PG is thinkning about moving… has to be… please make it be him that leaves.

  12. This was a sellers’ market and Pierre Gauthier felt too many assets had already been used to deal with the injuries leaving little left for a trade.
    The price tag for anything decent was deemed to be way too steep for players like Dustin Penner (prostpect Collen Teubert, a 1st and a 3rd round pick). Penner can be great but is inconsistent not unlike Kostitsyn.
    However, the Capitals got a good deal snagging Jason Arnott — although at 36 he’s no spring chicken. Still, he would have been a good addition for us by adding much-needed size to our front end.
    Most of the big trades happened several weeks ago. And after all the hype, trade deadline day was another lunchbag letdown.
    And in the end, we’re still stuck with Gomezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  13. I think we all have to get used to the fact that Gomez is with us until his contract is over. The only way we can get rid of him is if PG invites him into his office and says “Scott, it is clear that you are getting over paid for what you are doing here. We want you to consider a pay cut let’s say to 2 million a year. If you do not agree we will send you to Hamilton or we will bench you and bring up somebody who is only making 700,000. You will never play hockey again in a canadiens uniform.”

    Now is that going to happen NO….

    What has always bothered me about big contracts is that when someone has a couple of good years he wants 5,6,7 million dollar contracts. Good on ya if you can get it. But where it gets me is when that same player has two bad years he should have the integrety to say I’m not pulling my weight I need to take a pay cut. Maybe GM’s should state that in the contract when signing a player…..

  14. I think that PG didn’t think this was the year to go for it. As Danno mentioned, it was a sellers market. I don’t think Gauthier did too badly to fill the holes in the D, getting Wiz and Sopel…. Mara to me will likely be as effective as Spacek had been… just a bit more physical.

    With the salary cap, contract structures with the no trade clauses, partial no trades…etc. I’d say it’s a challenging job to sometimes identify when to “go for it”.

    In PG’s position it’s simple. If he moves… some people will shit on him. If he doesn’t move, some people will shit on him.

    And I think his comments yesterday were accurate, especially in Montreal, he can’t officially go into a rebuilding mode. He has to somehow “stay competitive” and build his team up for future years, or a future run.

    So in this sellers market with (arguably) his two best D-men out already in Markov and Gorges it wouldn’t have made sense (to me anyway) to go out and grab more high end guys who are basically rentals… .costing you a chunk of your future.

    It’s a delicate dance…. especially in Montreal. Because he’ll get shit on if he goes for it, and will also get shit on if he doesn’t…. and if he pays the price of some solid prospects and picks jeopardizing the future competitiveness of the team…. he’ll be sitting under a mountain of shit.

    I think it’s harder for certain markets to just allow or accept a couple of “let’s tank” years in order to grab high picks. Montreal is one of them.

    I think their goal is always to make the playoffs. That’s how I see it…. not saying I prefer tanking or not tanking… that’s just how I see his position.

    I may write an article on my thoughts today.

  15. Yves, I understand where you are coming from yet the point I am making is that for the last several years it has always been a sellers market for Montreal. Will next year be a better year to pull the trigger or the year after that or will PG be fearful of the backlash if he rebuilds? If he doesn’t begin the re-building process then all we can hope for is a team that will end up anywhere from 6th to 10th and get knocked out in round one or two because they aren’t big enough for the bigger teams in the later rounds.

    Two years ago Gainey changed the faces. Problem is he made the team smaller (Except for Gill). If we want a serious contender we are going to have to rebuild.

    Otherwise who are you going to cheer for in the finals San Hose or Philadelpia.

    With the strategy we have now, how is that building for the future?????? You have built a team that has no trading power…. No one wants Kostisyn and no one wants Gomez……. the very palyers we need to get rid of.

    You can’t play against the bigger boys because you are too small.

    You constantly rely on your goal tender to pull you through.

    Montreal has stayed competitive for the last 10 years. It is time to get better.

    Oh by the way, if Montreal wins the Stanley cup or eevn makes the finals this year, I take everything I said in this post back.

    GO HABS GO

  16. Christopher, for sure. Good for Max, and Higgins won’t help. It’s true, ther Canucks think they’ve got a good one on their hands. The joke’s on them.

  17. Thanks for this, SmurfPosse. Maybe they don’t need so much a bigger team in general but one player, like John Ferguson, who can police the game and take care of the Lucic’s and Hartnell’s of the league. You’re right, a speedy team is what the Canadiens have mostly always been and I like that. But we need to strike some fear into others and there’s no one to do that. I thought Moen could fill this role but hasn’t, and before that I thought O’Byrne might and didn’t. So I agree with you – not so much a bigger team, just one you also don’t fool around with. Mara’s big but is he ever a plodder. I really noticed it at the Vancouver game last week, and he’s also not aggressive at all, so this is another one no one on other teams will get nervous about.
    Vancouver? Getting Higgins is funny. And Gomez? Stop the madness.

  18. Danno….Gomezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Yep, the trade deadline was a little disappointing – it’s always exciting when we pick up a bright light, but I think most of us already realized not much was going to happen. Eric Brewer might have been a great fit. Brad Richards would have been just excellent and one I would have gotten really excited about. But oh well, we go with what we have and then win the whole thing. That’s the plan.

  19. Makes too much sense, Frank. Pay cuts are a lovely idea but one which would cause agents to jump over cliffs. Hmmm. This is good! I just can’t imagine Gomez sticking through the pressure cooker that is getting hotter and hotter for him. I’m sure he’d heard for years about the pressure of playing in Montreal and now he’s in the eye of the storm. But he made his bed and now he’s either going to have to pick it up several notches and win us back, or continue going down until they take your suggestion that he goes to Hamilton and be the highest paid player in the AHL.

  20. Hi Yves. Mara isn’t nearly as good with the puck as Spacek, although Spacek wasn’t great. Mara is as conservative as they come. But he’s big and if he can decide to use his size a bit more it would help big time. I also don’t like the idea at all of rentals. It goes against the way my brain cells are set up. Hell, I even hated it when Boston setn Ray Bourque to Colorado so he could win a Cup. To me it’s like the integrity is questioned a little. Maybe Gauthier is on the right track. Go with the existing lineup and see what happens. And the thing is, the goal of making the playoffs isn’t good enough. The goal should always be to win the whoile thing. Hockey has changed a lot over the years and it’s all because of the almighty dollar. I’ll check your site later. Thanks, Yves. How’s the music coming?

  21. Frank, I think it is possible to be a small team and ber successful against a bigger one, but there needs to be one or two players on the small team who can really scrap. That would end a lot of the bullying. But we don’t have this and Georges Laraque missed the boat regarding this. I love a small and fast team and I also love it when I see a Larry Robinson etc. beat the crap out of some boorish thug. One great fighter could change the entire landscape in Montreal. You are so right – It’s time to get better.

  22. Frank, I guess the problem I have is we just went through a major rebuild. It’s first was (arguably) successful in a playoff run.

    This year’s verdict is yet to be “out”.

    And I believe if our defensive core hadn’t of suffered so many serious injuries, it may have been a year to spend more…. at the very least, possibly our best player Andrei Markov, would have been a part of a strong playoff run.

    Makes it harder to make a serious push if some of your “upper level” talent is out. You’re already paying to replace them.

    Dennis, music is getting busier for me again. ;-)
    I agree with you Dennis, that the goal should be to win the whole thing, but I think there has to be some caution when you know some of your “big” pieces are out. (I.E. Markov, Gorges)

    A GM also has to play the “if” game…. he can spend alot to truely “replace” them or attempt to improve on them (which would be pretty hard to do any day of the year)…. and “if” he spends a ton to get replacements or improvements…. for rentals (usually most of what is available are rentals)… and “if” you can’t resign a Markov (UFA)…. or “if” Markov comes back half of what he once was….

    You’ve now more then handcuffed your team for years.

    It’s a delicate balance.

  23. I wonder. Why did Pierre Gauthier pick up Drew MacIntyre?

    Curtis Sanford is injured so that might explain it. Or maybe Alex Auld’s days are numbered as a Hab. Maybe Sanford will be coming up as soon as he’s better and MacIntyre will be the Bulldog’s regular goalie.

    Some interesting facts about MacIntyre which I found on All Habs News…

    “MacIntyre backed up Sanford when the two played in Vancouver. MacIntyre is also familiar with Alex Auld having played with him in Winnipeg.”

    And…

    “In 2008, as a member of the Manitoba Moose, MacIntyre scored an overtime game-winning goal vs. the Chicago Wolves.”

    Injured or not, Sandford sound eager to get that call to come and play for the big club in this piece by the Montreal Gazette’s Randy Phillips…

    http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Sanford+leads+Bulldogs/4352970/story.html

    Sanford had a 23-13-3 record, a 1.94 goals against average and .930 save percentage. Pretty respectable. And he does have NHL experience. Who knows?

    On a side note, it was nice to read about Nigel Dawes scoring his first goal as a Bulldog in that story and getting the game’s first star. Dawes was included in the trade we made for Sopel with Atlanta. Who knows? Maybe he could get that call from the big club one day too. His stats aren’t all that bad…

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=62489

    Also, I was wondering why they sent Ryan White down to Hamilton yesterday only to call him back for tonight’s game. What’s that about? Was there a trade was in the works that fell apart?

    It just seems odd.

  24. Yves, GM is a job I know I could never do. You’re damed if you do and damned if you don’t. Losing two big D-men was a huge blow and frankly, now I’m not sure if Markov should be re-signed. I just don’t know. You’re absolutely right – it’s a delicate balance. All I know is, if Markov never had any serious injuries and was playing now like he can. I’d go to great lengths to ink him for several more years. But things have changed. I just want to give a huge shout out to PK Subban for coming to the rescue in so many ways. We’ve got a beauty on our hands.

  25. Hey Danno. When they traded for a goalie it was the first thing I thought – is Auld about to be replaced. I’ve also been wondering lately why Sanford hasn’t been at least tried. And Dawes? He was talked about often when he was beginning his hockey career, and after that it was different teams, up and down from the minors to the bigs, and he’s never really solidified himself as an NHLer. He has 84 points in 208 NHL games, so that means if he’s called up soon or next year, he’ll still score more than Scott Gomez.

  26. I agree Dennis. PK’s a great young player. So fun to watch.

    Actually, I also have to say that I wouldn’t be able to be a GM. It’s so easy for everyone to criticize and him and haw that PG missed the boat… or screwed up.. or use 13 “F words” in a sentence about not making a major move.

    But he has to view the short term, mid term, long term….. he has to. It’s his responsibility to the team’s ownership and fanbase.

    Danno….. I think Sanford deserves a few games in the bigs. He’s played so well in Hamilton.

    Lot’s of changes coming this summer too I’d say.

  27. Danno, I read this dude’s article and he says “After all, Penner might be the antithesis of most Canadiens forwards. He’s huge and young; they’re old and small.” The fact is, of the 14 forwards, ten are in their twenties and four are in their 30′s. The oldest are at 34 – Darche and Halpern. So I’d say the forwards aren’t old. The defence might a little but not the forwards. These people drive me nuts. They dislike the Canadiens because the team beat their dad’s favourite team 20 years ago.

  28. Yves, have you ever been to Las Vegas? Down there, all lined up along the strip, are a bunch of Mexicans handing out sex cards all day long. The street is littered with sex cards these people have given out. I’m thinking that Scott Gomez will never be out of work if we get rid of him. He can give out cards!

  29. In http://canadiens.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=554618, Gauthier says “Even today, with the deal we made to acquire MacIntyre, it was because [Hamilton Bulldogs goalie Curtis] Sanford has incurred an injury and we don’t know how long it’s going to last.”

    Danno, my guess about White is that he was sent to Hamilton for play-off eligibility reasons.

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