There’s a reason why general managers make big bucks and have meetings in nice, warm places with palm trees. Because they have to make massive decisions that could turn out to be either brilliant or extremely lousy.
Montreal will have seven restricted free agents to deal with this summer, which means these players’ contracts are up and other teams can offer them wheelbarrows of money, but the players aren’t going anywhere if Montreal matches or ups the offer. Unlike unrestricted free agents who are simply free to go to anyone who wants them.
The seven restricted free agents Pierre Gauthier must consider are Mathieu Carle, Sergei Kostitsyn, Maxim Lapierre, Gregory Stewart, Tom Pyatt, and lo and behold, both goalies, Jaroslav Halak and Carey Price.
Forget about the other five; It’s the two goalies that’ll get blogs and radio talk shows and TV panels going long after the matter is settled.
Halak earns $800,000 and Price $850,000, and these salaries are about to double at the very least, very soon. And Halak is just slightly more than a year older than Price, so age isn’t a factor.
What will Gauthier do?
Halak, of course, was the second-coming in the post-season and Carey Price spent most of his time cheering his mate on from the bench.
This is what we know. What we don’t know is - Will Carey Price, at some point reasonably soon, become the all-star goaltender most, until recently, believed he would become? And will Jaroslav Halak continue his great play on a regular basis, proving to everyone that the playoffs weren’t just some kind of miraculous fluke?
No one knows. That’s the problem.
Gauthier has hinted that he may possibly keep both, which seems, when first thought about, the natural way of doing things. After all, imagine dealing Price and he blossoms into the next superstar and enjoys a Hall of Fame career all the while thumbing his nose at his former team, the Canadiens?
This is possible.
But imagine keeping Jaroslav Halak and he free-falls into just an ordinary mortal, and we sit back and wish we had Price.
Or this; Gauthier deals Price for a big, top-six forward who is a key piece of the puzzle and the Habs become much stronger.
Or how about, deal Halak, keep Price, and Price continues to be extremely shaky and Montreal ends up with lousy goaltending and doesn’t go anywhere for the next ten years.
I have my personal thoughts, and I know many out there, when they hear it, will tell me my mother, if she were alive, wears army boots. Or toss several colourful phrases at me, many of which begin with “F”.
Let Price go. I have only tiny faith in him at all at this time. Whenever it was announced he’d play during the year, I was nervous, like many, I’m sure. Rarely was he a rock between the pipes. He seems slow moving from one side to the other. He allows goals that superstar goalies don’t allow. Some nights he looked like he couldn’t make an AHL team, other nights he gave us beautiful hope.
He’s got a good glove hand, can handle the puck with the best of them, he’s big, and he’s young. But he’s had some absolutely horrendous games.
I also think, and I’m not the first to bring this up, that Montreal may have damaged the young guy somewhat. Take a guy off a small BC community, stuff his pockets with money, and tell him to take an apartment in downtown Montreal with the sights, sounds, women, and booze oozing from all corners, and expect him to behave like a mature human being. If the same was done to me, I’d probably be in jail right now, although I might have a bit of a smile on my face.
I know my wife likes him, and probably a million young women, They think he’s cute.
But cute doesn’t stop Mike Richards or Sid or Alex.
The Canadiens shouild have done what Pittsburgh did with Sidney Crosby – have Mario Lemieux and his wife take care of him, or Guy Lafleur, who lived at Jean Beliveau’s place when he first showed up in Montreal.
I’m glad I’m not general manager, and when I own the team, I’ll stick to what I feel I’m best at – stick boy and making sure the players’ wives are comfortable.