Blue in the Face

The puck stops here. (THE GAZETTE/John Mahoney)Carey "The Puck Stops Here" Price. (THE GAZETTE/John Mahoney)

From the comments here on Inside/Out, it was obvious that some fans were happy with the Huet trade, while some were sad and disheartened, but mainly it seemed that people were surprised – and even mildly confused – that Montreal’s Number One netminder had been moved to the Washington Capitals. You can count me among that perplexed majority.

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and I’m still holding my breath. When I learned that netminder Cristobal Huet had been traded to the Washington Capitals (for a 2009 2nd round draft pick) I was, to say the least, shocked. Huet has been a solid puckstopper and a consummate team player. His presence will be missed. I have, however, tremendous faith in GM Bob Gainey. I figured that the move would be for the best and also that the Canadiens would be very busy before Tuesday’s 3:00 P.M. deadline.

 

So, like everyone else, I waited.

 

The clocks on all the sports networks ticked down steadily – sometimes faster, and sometimes slower – than I would have liked. As it became clear that Pittsburgh’s GM, Ray Shero, had negotiated a true deadline buzzer-beater and snatched Marian Hossa away from the grasping hands of Gainey and others; that Ollie Jokinen would see another sunrise in Sunrise; that Brad Richards, Brian Campbell, Sergei Federov, had all been traded to teams other than the Canadiens; that Jared Stoll, Jeff Carter, Bobby Holik, Chris Gratton were staying put on their respective teams; and that Vincent Lecavalier, Rick Nash and Marion Gaborik weren’t all coming to the Habs in a surprise deal – I felt oddly unsatisfied. I say oddly because prior to the deadline I wasn’t in favour of any potential big moves involving the Canadiens. Acquiring a big, strong, face-off winning center for a draft pick was about as exciting as I was willing to get. After Huet was traded, however, I started to hope that something good was coming back to the Habs. But nothing did.

 

I guess that in the end this is an example of addition by subtraction. I’ve been a fan of Carey Price since the day that the Habs drafted him and I believe that he will be a franchise goaltender. I’ve been a fan of Jaroslav Halak since watching him play for the Canadiens last year and I believe that he can be a Number 1 netminder. Now they will both get a chance to prove themselves. Price will be pushed because the spotlight is focused squarely on him. Halak will get the chance to show that his strong performance last year in the NHL and his excellence in the AHL over the past two seasons was no fluke. The Habs’ forwards will get the chance to show that they can score – and that they can win – without an "impact" player. Hopefully this team can play strong, consistent hockey and show everyone why Bob Gainey has such faith in them.

 


NOTES

 

I guess my "worst-case scenario" concerning the Montreal goaltending situation isn’t likely to happen. With Halak getting a chance to play in the NHL, even as a back-up, he probably won’t bolt to Russia in the off-season. Hopefully we can see a Price/Halak tandem for years to come.

 

 

The Washington Capitals made some decent acquisitions on deadline day picking up Matte Cooke, Sergei Federov, and, of course, Huet. The Capitals are hoping to make a push and sneak into the playoffs. They could grab the 8th spot, or if they surpass Carolina and grab the lead in the weak SouthEast Division, they could theoretically place 3rd in the East. While the race is very tight right now, Montreal could very easily finish in the sixth spot. A Montreal-Washington matchup in the first round? That would be interesting.

20 Comments

  1. showey47 says:

    Very true and i was pissed that carbo made that decision. Huet had no business being in that game. But look at the 2 games huet played against the laffs this season, same result. I just think they are in his head. I’m not even sure if huet even beat the laffs last season.

  2. RH says:

    I find it amusing that when ever people bring up the last game against the leafs, last season, to show how much of a choker Huet is, they always seem to conveniently forget that Huet had just gotten off of IR and hadn’t seen a puck in more than two months. While the team had been in a bit of a funk before Huet got hurt, the slide really hit hard AFTER he was put on IR. The Habs had ABSOLUTELY NO goaltending UNTIL Halak managed to shake off the nerves and concentrate on improving his game. Huet should NEVER have started that game against the leafs BECAUSE Halak had the hot hand and, Huet was STILL rusty. Coaching mistake 101. Go with the hot hand. Huet has had stinkers but, he has also carried this team on his back.

    Look, Huet was never a 60+ game guy. He’s a very good back-up who managed to seize the opportunity to improve his game and show that he could be a reliable goaltender when called upon. I wish him nothing but success in his future endeavors.

  3. Hammer says:

    I find it really perplexing how the folks are all over themselves about the Habs not having goaltending going into the playoffs. With Huet having a grand total of six games, I believe the Habs have not lost much. The biggest game I ever watched Huet play ( outside of the Hurricanes playoffs) was the game he stunk the joint out against the Leafs.It was a game the Habs had to win and their money goalie was no where to be found. In fact Halak had played very well up to that point and they sat him for Huet. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Huet was a team guy, and served a role over the last couple of years. But, there was no way they were going to win the cup with his skills. In fact prior to the trade he was not playing well at all. The Habs are building for the future, and he was not going to be signed next year anyways. The Habs are a mid level playoff team, and they may suprise and win a round. 2009 is the year to watch!!!!

  4. Hammer says:

    I give you points on the Leaf situation, and yes you are right they should not have started an ailing Huet. But any way you look at it, they still lost the game and Huet was in the net.
    Also, if you believe that Huet is a ” very good backup”, then we did not lose much.

  5. nightmare_49 says:

    Great points and also the big contract that Ilya Bryzgalov signed showed that patience surely pays off.

  6. habitual says:

    I don’t think he’s going anywhere either, but … your assumption is based on Halak’s wanting to play in the NHL.

    Some Europeans/Russians (pls accept this for all those in the former Soviet bloc), don’t have the emotional attachment to winning the cup, don’t like NHL travel, and don’t like North American culture. Halak could conceivably get a health salary offer from the Russian Super League – and remember, Yemelin has opted to stay there, for now at least.

  7. The Big O says:

    There is too much being made about this fear of Halak supposedly bolting to Europe. That would have been the WORST move of his career and here’s why. He’s 21, he can’t file for unrestricted free agency till 26. IF he went to Europe all Montreal would have to do is qualify him like they did with Perezoghin and retain his rights (it costs Mtl nothing to do this). Now where would he be better served, in the AHL with a chance at the NHL or in obscurity in Europe? The answer is obvious.

    Now, others will say that someone would have offered him an offer sheet as a restricted free agent. It should be noted that you have to put in an offer that is so over the top, please see (Dustin Penner, 450K to 4.5 million) that a team won’t match vs. putting in a so-so offer (Ryan Kessler, 1.7 million for 2 yrs from philly, canucks matched) that a team will match. So a team would have to offer at least 2.5-3.5 million to get Halak (NHL salary 500K)on an offer sheet for Montreal not to match, in which case, Montreal would get a 1st and 3rd rounder. Now the 2008 and 2009 are supposed to be expectionally deep drafts, so who out there would offer that for an AHL goalie? I don’t think anyone, also there are plenty of NHL goalies available or will be available soon. So in the end, Halak, really had NO cards to play and this migration to Europe was nothing but an empty threat!

  8. nightmare_49 says:

    Huet mentioned that their was no talks at all between his agent and Gainey and these figures were speculated by the media after Bryzgalov and Lundqvist contracts.

  9. smart42 says:

    I can’t remember so much hype around the trade deadline, surreal to hear every radio talk show host in the city dedicating airtime to the buildup, the regular topics they discuss are potholes and poop n scoop laws, suddenly becoming hockey experts. It has to be such a brutal distraction to the named and suspected trade bait players.

    Huet and Bob were soooo far apart, there was no way at his age and at the bucks he felt he is worth there was any hope of signing a new contract. When and how you end the relationship is the perennial question. There was a phase two and perhaps three in Bob’s plan to the trade which never materialized, or fell apart, hell of a poker game going on. Bob likes the draft route to build teams, I get the feeling he sees better possibilities with cheaper and younger talent than getting into a bidding war and trading away “assets” which have quite frankly changed the complexion of the Habs for the better.

    However, if Huet starts standing on his head and dropping his goals against average…

  10. G-Man says:

    Roy and Dryden had zero playoff experience, too. More recently, Cam Ward. So, what’s the problem?

    Gilbert

  11. The Big O says:

    Huet has only played 170 NHL games, how much experience is that years wise? well if he played all 82 games a year, that’s a little more than 2 yrs worth…in my books that’s not a whole lot of experience, games or years wise….

  12. showey47 says:

    I know, the way people are talking they make it sound like huet is a 10 year veteran with loads of playoff experience. I also read a post that said what he lacks in playoff experience, he makes up with international experience. Yeah, playing 40 games a year (there’s that number again) playing divion II hockey in france and the swiss elite league compares to the nhl playoffs.

  13. RH says:

    I realize that Price needs to play games to get better but, with the Habs battling for the division lead and, maybe to a lesser extent, the Eastern conference lead, is it really necessary to let Price work out his kinks at the professional level? Carbonneau’s job just got harder, in my opinion, and if Price doesn’t continue to progress, then it’s back to the ‘win and you’re in’ formula. Only this time with two goalies of very little experience, year wise.

    With Grabovski back, it seems to me that the Habs have just drank from the fountain of youth. They’re starting to look like the Montreal Bulldogs. I really hope Grabovski is tough enough to play in this league. The Habs don’t need another small player on there roster but, if he can prove himself to be resilient, then I’ll re-consider my own assessment of him.

  14. HotHabs says:

    A first round series vs. the Caps would be very interesting. But, in all honesty, would that not be the lowest of lows were we to lose against Ovech, Huet & company? It’s not like they haven’t beat us before. I think that Habs are a much better team, but the playoffs are often unpredictable!

    enjoying the high’s & enduring the lows of being a Habs fan

  15. P St. Pierre says:

    It would be interesting to see a Montreal vs Washington playoff series. Great post Chris.

  16. showey47 says:

    First of all kolzig would get the start because he has been the man there for years. But if huet actually got to play against us i suggest we the habs put on laffs jerseys for the games because huet always chokes against them.

  17. teamplayer says:

    p. st. pierre, that would be an interesting matchup but does that mean we finish 6th and washington 3rd or us 1 or 2nd and caps 7 or 8

    and chris i dont know about a solid tandem, they dont always work out, id rather have that solid 1 starter, i.e. luongo, brodeur, kipper.

  18. tony d says:

    ouch… but oh so true

  19. wd40 says:

    yeah, again, i heard this morning how this situation leaves Montreal with two young goalies with no playoff experience. you gotta be kidding me, no offense to Huet, but had a grand total of 7 playoff games under his belt. 1 for the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL, and 6 with the Habs in which he won 2. let’s relax a bit about the playoff experience.


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