Surprising Reaction To The Latendresse Trade

It seems there’s more fans than I thought who feel moving Guillaume Latendresse was another bad Bob Gainey decision and should never have happened.

I don’t know why. Are we patient babysitters or do we need this team to win?

The team is struggling with offence. It’s a rarity when someone other than Plekanec, Cammalleri, or Gionta light it up. It was expected of Latendresse, along with several others such as Max Lapierre and Max Pacioretty, to do their share in this department. But Latendresse talled two goals and one assist in 23 games, which in my book, are underachieving numbers for a guy who’s supposed to be an achiever.

Yes, he’s only 22 years old and probably hasn’t reached full potential yet. But what if he has? Can the organization afford to wait around and be patient when they’re sitting far down the standings and need to make some kind of small move up the ladder right now? And at 22 years old, a player should be a textbook case of energy, something I didn’t see much of at all from him. I often saw a player going throught the motions out there, like he had the job won.

Latendresse wasn’t helping the team win at all. Cammalleri, Gionta and Plekanec have been. So has Travis Moen and Roman Hamrlik and several others. But at what point in this season did we say after a game, “Wow, Latendresse was great tonight.” Was there a time?

He may or may not have a good NHL career, it remains to be seen. At this time, it doesn’t look like it to me. The average career in this league is about five years, and only those who produce and get the job done in one way or another last longer than that. He’s a player expected to provide offence and hasn’t provided this.

If I look back at players who have left Montreal, I think right off the bat to Steve Begin and Tom Kostopoulos. These were guys who left it all on the ice, who played every game like it could be their last, and I was sad to see them go.

In Latendresse’s case, I feel much differently.

He wasn’t helping the Habs, he was invisible on many nights, and so it was time.

Good luck in the future to Guillaume Latendreese with whatever team he ends up with. May he have a long career. It’s just too bad he couldn’t do the job in Montreal.

2003-04 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 53 24 25 49 66          
2004-05 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 65 29 49 78 76 6 6 4 10 7
2005-06 Drummondville Voltigeurs QMJHL 51 43 40 83 105 5 3 2 5 8
2006-07 Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 16 13 29 47          
2007-08 Montreal Canadiens NHL 73 16 11 27 41 8 0 1 1 19
2008-09 Montreal Canadiens NHL 56 14 12 26 45 4 0 0 0 12
2009-10 Montreal Canadiens* NHL 23 2 1 3 4          
2009-10 Minnesota Wild NHL Statistics Unavailable          
  NHL Totals   232 48 37 85 137 12 0 1 1 31

20 thoughts on “Surprising Reaction To The Latendresse Trade”

  1. See, my problem with the trade is that I think Latendresse has been a productive, helpful NHL from his first career onwards. He was providing 5-on-5 goals and physicality, two things that were in short supply in Montreal, especially in combination. I think his inability to repeat that this year is at least partially due to him being mishandled and miscast by a new coach, who chose to change his game rather than work on what’s made him successful in the past.

    I think that even if he hadn’t been a useful NHL player, it’s silly to then turn around and trade him for a guy who has done less than he has, mostly because the coach didn’t like him. What is Pouliot going to accomplish that Latendresse couldn’t, exactly?

    The problem is not so much with trading Latendresse per se, but getting a much inferior player in return. That’s what makes it such a bad deal. The only saving grace is if you believe Pouliot will ever live up to his fourth-overall billing. Martin, who knows Pouliot well, may think he will, but I am extremely skeptical.

  2. I wish the guy the best.

    Dennis, at 22 years old… he is young.

    But I don’t remember being motivated to say that he was doing such a great job.

    I suspect that although he mentioned Holmstrom, and Jacques Martin mentioned him in that kind of role…. maybe it just proved itself that he isn’t that kind of player… and maybe can’t be.

    Personally I think he had a few years to work on his skating… and physical play…. but “it” just didn’t happen.

  3. MathMan:

    One thing that Pouliot will provide that Guillaume wasn’t is speed…

    Pouliot will skate the puck in at a faster pace with the short pass possession game Martin is trying to play.

    Guillaume was more of a “dump the puck in the corner” player…

    I think he could have been a useful role player…. scoring some golas…etc.

    But he was a bit hyped in the Montreal Media.

    He wasn’t handled like other players who experience going up and down in the minors…. and I think he may have developped an “entitlement complex”… partially because of some of the Hype… they’d always ask him about it.

    No one is asking the same kind of questions to Tom Pyatt… and Pyatt is busting his ass to “take” his spot.

  4. I almost mentioned speed in my initial post, but thought it was pretty irrelevant. Pouliot may be faster than Latendresse, but that hasn’t made him a better player with a higher contribution, and it doesn’t appear to be anything that the Habs are in short supply of. On the other hand, we keep hearing they need size, physicality, and goal-scoring. All qualities Lats has more of than Pouliot, on top of much superior production over his career.

    The idea of “fitting in the system” is a valid one, but still, swapping player styles shouldn’t result in making such a bad value deal. The jury’s still out on whether Pouliot can be a useful NHLer at all, which would make his stylistic difference with Latendresse rather moot.

    As fans, we tend to value the appearance of effort more than effectiveness, which is why a guy like Pyatt is lionized over someone like, say, Alex Tanguay. But I would expect the team’s coach to operate on a different basis.

  5. The cost-benefit ratio of this deal favour the Habs.
    I feel Bob Gainey was wise to make the trade and get Pouliot who may have some potential as a Hab. For one thing he stated that he always wanted to play for Montreal so right there that’s a plus. Maybe being a Franco-Ontarian will inspire him to play at another level amid all the banners and rich hockey history at the Bell Centre.
    If Pouliot does play well Gainey will look like an absolute genius. Plus it send a not-to-subtle and powerful message to the team’s under-achievers that they must put in the effort or they too could be packing their bags.
    If Pouliot turns out he’s a dud, well so what Gui! was not setting records either. The only possible downer is if Gui! actually starts performing for the Wild. But that doesn’t seem likely, and even if he does at least he is now located in the Western Conference where we won’t see him very much.
    I feel sorry for Gui; in his interview with RDS yesterday where he took several parting shots at the organization and blamed everyone but himself – the eternal victim. What a bad move. This just proved he was not compatible with the team. It’s really sad he had to exit this way instead of bowing out gracefully. Now it’s plain to see he really wasn’t a class act at all.

    So off to the wilds of Minesotta with you Gui!

    You made your bed, now you can sleep in it.

  6. One thing’s for sure, Danno – you and I are on the same page about this. It’s very well put. I didn’t hear his parting remarks but if he thinks he got shafted after a two goal, one assist effort, then it speaks volumes about him.

  7. Pouliot didn’t “always” want to play for the Habs. He said before the draft he hoped he would be drafted somewhere else.

    If Pouliot turns out to be a dud, as seems likely, then the Habs have traded a guy who has been a useful NHLer for them for, essentially, nothing. Understand this: Lats only needs to perform at the level he already has to make this deal look bad for the Habs. He does not need to improve or develop. His contributions and achievements so far are really understated and are certainly superior to Pouliot’s. But he has a great deal of upside still.

    Martin knows Pouliot and doesn’t likely dislike him, so Pouliot will at least get every chance he has to show himself off, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him receive an indulgence that Latendresse was not afforded. Maybe he’ll show that he can in fact match Latendresse’s contribution, hopefully more — but the problem is precisely that he’s not at Latendresse’s level and we don’t even know if he can get there!

    There’s nothing wrong in principle with trading Latendresse — I don’t agree with it, but if he doesn’t fit in it’s a fair enough decision. What is bad is that the Habs took a much inferior player in return, and did so apparently because the coach disliked Latendresse to the point that getting rid of him ASAP took priority over asset management.

    I really have trouble understanding how a positive spin can be put on this trade. I think it’s a combo of inherent dislike for Latendresse combined with a hefty dose of wishful thinking regarding Pouliot. From a purely hockey standpoint this has very little going for it.

    The only think Pouliot does have going for him is the ability to play center. Olivier brings up the point that Gainey trading for a center may mean a prolonged absence for Gomez. That would probably mean time to cut bait on the season and work for next year. In fact, it’s possible the Habs already have done so and asked Spacek to stop playing hurt, which would explain why he’s out tonight.

    We’ll see I guess. Trading 22-year old players is never something you can evaluate completely in the short term. Although this case would seem to come close…

  8. You can’t say “if Pouliot turns out to be a dud, as seems likely”, because there’s no way of knowing. It doesn’t seem likely at all, it’s just whatever it will become. It’s like Mike Ribiero. He went to Dallas and played better. But Ribiero was a problem-child in Montreal and would never have gotten any better. I remember the mic was on Ribiero in the last few minutes of the game against Pittsburgh which Montreal was losing, and on the ice between whistles he asked Sidney Crosby, with a big smile on his face, if he could have his stick afterwards.) Ribiero played better after leaving. Latendresse had two goals and one assist and the way he was underachieving on most nights, he was destined to have about 5 goals for the season. Montreal needs to win now and they can’t afford to wait around while a guy decides whether or not to play.

  9. I stand corrected on that point MathMan.

    For the record:

    Pouliot grew up near Montreal and said he is looking forward to back to Quebec — despite at the time being indifferent about the chance of becoming a Canadien in the 2005 draft.

    “I was 18 at the time,” Pouliot said. “Today, I’m 23. I’m more mature and I regret what I said.”

    While no one can predict the future with any certainty, I still believe this trade may pay dividends for the Habs.

  10. Hey everybody, are we still talking about a slow forward who frequently looked lost when on the ice, didn’t hit as much or as effectively as we would have like and whose play on the boards only served to underscore the tenacity with which Pleks and Gionta have played so far this season?

    Gui has been having a lousy season and really hasn’t offered anything to the habs in the past 23 games that they can’t get from a scrub picked up off the waiver wire. Past performances by Gui have been promising however– a player that young producing in even strength situations, it all seemed so rosy for the future. But when do we stop viewing this production in terms of future potential and instead objectively reflect on its efficacy in the here and now? Seems Bob was tired of waiting.

    Was Gui a character player? Did he make his teammates or linemates better? How many of those 16 goals a season were game winners? How come his even strength production is lauded and yet he still managed a career -22?

    Oh, and the whole coach misused him thing? I think the words of Sean Gordon and the folks on other wonderful websites such as AllHabs etc., have put that old chestnut to bed. Listen I wasn’t happy with the way Jaques Martin dealt with Sergei, and I hope issues such as this are handled better in the future, but to think that Gui was somehow maligned by the coach? Don’t see it. He had plenty of opportunities and took advantage of none of them. Contrast that with Andrei Kostitsyn and his credible, hard working shifts when demoted to the fourth line and I think we can agree something was missing from Gui’s approach to his position with the team.

    As for Pouliot, well at the very least he can be the next player that contrary to what we might think we’ve seen on the ice in a season, didn’t underperform, didn’t sulk, didn’t disappoint–nope, rather he’s the next player who wasn’t used effectively by coach, was mismanaged by Bob and who will bite us in the ass when traded. I just threw-up a little in my mouth after having written that.

    I do hope that Gui finds his game in Minny and continues to have a good career. I don’t wish him harm and I don’t think he’s the anti-christ. But this team, right now? With the amount of injuries received and hardwork and guts its taken for the team to battle through them– well Gui and his lackadaisical play can go take a long walk off a short peer.

  11. In the last post, mathman you said something like this: Gui is better then Pouliot, therefore it was a bad trade. But in my opinion, this matter goes further than just the stats, and don’t say it’s becasue of martin, cause it’s not. Bob had the balls to fire a good friend, I don’t think he’d hesitate to fire Martin if he didn’t think he was working well with some of the players. If Gainey thought there was a bad relationship with more then one player, i don’t think it would be the players shipped out of town.

    So I said that its not just about the stats, because i believe it has a lot to do with the media, like i said in my last comment. Gui was crumbling under pressure, pressure that he shouldn’t have on him in the first place. I have seen no indications in the past that he is capable of being on the first or second line, and I am glad that Martin recognizes this. I was watching l’anti-chambre the other day, and it made my day when i heard the former NHL coach say: “I think it’s about time we just accept that Latendresse is not a first or second liner not playing well, but a solid third or fourth liner”. I wish everybody thought of it that way, but it was as if no one listened to him. I think gainey did this to create a sort of fresh start, with no expectations, and no pressure. I think the trade was good for Gui, as well as the habs as a team.

    Now the habs have a big solid, third or fourth liner, not an underperforming first liner

  12. Ribeiro was still a bad trade even had Dallas not gotten Ribs to tear apart second lines. The problem, like is the case with Latendresse, is the return. Trading a 50-point second line pass-first center, which we thought Ribeiro to be, for a capable mid-pairing defenseman would have been a decent enough deal, even if it turned out later that Ribeiro was actually more of a 70-point guy. But trading him for Niiniimaa, who was a #7 defenseman for the Habs for exactly one year, is not good value. This is exactly the same problem now, where the Habs didn’t get a player who was good value for the guy Latendresse has shown he can be, let alone what he could become. And even then, Niniimaa, at least, was a guy who *used* to be good, but clearly pro scouting had let the Habs down there.

    Latendresse was never well-liked and now he’s getting villified so we can feel good about the transaction, but that won’t change reality — you can slice it any way you want, but he is better than Pouliot. This trade only makes sense for the Habs if Pouliot turns into a good player. Even then, the reason for the trade, the case of a productive and young NHLer cratering under a new coach for whatever reason, is not a good story for the Canadiens.

    I’ll be elated if Pouliot turns into some sort of Eric Staal, and satisfied if he becomes a second-line center, but I won’t be hoping too hard. I think Lats is the better player now, and that it’s most likely that he will continue to be in the future.

    You win some, you lose some, I guess. Montreal lost the Ribeiro trade, and they lost this one, too.

  13. “Now the habs have a big solid, third or fourth liner, not an underperforming first liner”

    Let’s hope Pouliot can develop to at least that level, but I’m not sure I understand how you see him. He’s not an energy guy, he’s not physical, ir anything he’s actually less suited to a grinder role than Latendresse, so really he needs to become a top six forward to become an effective player. He can’t stay a third or fourth liner, it’s not his style at all.

  14. Yes, Latendresse has sucked this year, and based solely on this year the trade was more than fair.
    But I’m with MathMan. If you include the previous 3 years into consideration, the trade sucked. Gainey should have held out for a better player in exchange, or required Minnesota to at least throw in a 3rd round draft pick to even things out.
    The French media isn’t responsible for Latendresse’s expectations. His play in the last 3 years indicated he would become at least a 2nd liner. That’s the result of scoring 16 goals and 29 points as a 19 year old rookie with minimal ice-time. His major drawback is that he never improved the way a player should with age, size and experience. However his +/- did improve since he was -20 as a rookie, so calling him a career -22 is misplaced.
    I’m not particularly upset with him being traded but I think he should have been given a bit more time. As an example, O’Byrne was a disaster last year, but this year he’s playing to expectations. Maybe Latendresse would have picked it up. Did he have too much experience to be sent down to the Bulldogs? I worried that Gainey’s handling his mistake of bringing him up too soon by trading him too soon.

  15. Chris -Them not getting more is the only thing I see is the problem with getting rid of Latendresse. It’s no time to be patient. Three points this year is pretty well as mediocre as it gets. Mathman wanted them to stick with Lats. I wanted them to do something because when you’re in 11th or 12th place almost hal-way through, something needs to change. And dealing a huge underachiever is one answer. When a guy has only three points, how much in return do you expect?

  16. I expect more than a fringe, injured player with only 4 points.
    I agree that something had to be done, but would have preferred starting with a benching until something reasonable came along. It’s not like this trade or equivalent wouldn’t have been available anytime until the trade deadline.

  17. I know both of you are absolutely right that we got less than we could have. I just think his market value was bargain basement. Gainey also said that he was through being patient.

  18. Bottom line for me….

    Gainey got “something” back.. and honestly, it’s a guy who has potential.

    Gainey moved a guy that it was clear was not going to fill in the role they wanted from him…. “in front of the net”…. use his big body…. Tomas Holmstrom (from Gui’s own lips)….

    They tried. It was mentioned several times this year and last.

    I’m not sure we really lost much. A guy who had a little success…. but whom most of us would say “he could potentially be…. (fill in the blanks)”…

    So we’re replacing potential with potential. A different kind of potential maybe… Pouliot is faster… maybe he can play center…. maybe he’ll fit Martin’s system.

    All maybes… all potential.

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