First dilemma of 2011

Who sits against the Thrashers tomorrow?

Do the Canadiens play David (Desharnais, generously
listed at 5’7″, 170 lbs) against Goliath (Atlanta defenceman Dustin
Byfuglien, 6’4″ and a cheeseburger shy of 260)?

Does Jacques Martin mess with the lineup that won in Florida?

Desharnais was not recalled so he could fatten up on Bell Centre hot dogs. But the roster now includes five centres: Tomas Plekanec, Scott Gomez, Jeff Halpern, Lars Eller and Desharnais.

If Eller moves to the wing, candidates for a pressbox seat would include Tom Pyatt and Travis Moen. But they, along with Halpern, are valuable components of a penalty-killing unit that was heroic in Florida. And we know how much the coach loves his special teams.

Mathieu Darche?

I don’t think so. Darche has bumped Andrei Kostitsyn off the first wave of the power play, and my man from McGill is one of the few Canadiens with the cojones to go to the crease and get pounded for his troubles. In only 13 minutes of ToI against Florida, Darche led the team with seven shots on goal. And his line, with Eller and Benoit Pouliot, was one of the more energetic 5-on-5 units.

Of course, AK46 and Benny are perennial possibilities for a paid vacation. But when they’re on their game – and let’s check the astrological charts for 2011 to predict when that might be – the former high draft choices are scorers on a team that has a paucity of snipers and finishers.

Some pundits, including my great and good friend Tony Marinaro, think Eller belongs in Hamilton, where he can play 20 minutes a night and hone his undeniable skills.

There is some validity to this argument. And Eller is a bright kid who could probably handle the demotion without turning into a SK74-type drama queen.

But Eller is a Top Six talent who has made progress since the season began. And his game probably will improve more by centring Benny and Darche than Aaron Palushaj and Andrew Conboy.

Maybe Trader Pete, fresh off hitting a home run by acquiring James Wisniewski and looping a Maxim Lapierre liner into deep left Anaheim, has another move in the works.

(And props to Pierre Gauthier and his pro scouts for seeing how the Wiz could help.)

The Thrashers will provide a telling gauge of where your Montreal Canadiens are at, as 2011 begins, and where they should try to be as the year progresses.

Never a dull moment.

•  •  •

HIO thanks and shout-out to PhotoShop genius GG11 (check out her Women on the Ledge web site) for the sanitized statue of David (which you might have to click on the headline to see)


  1. gloveside says:

    I’m getting pretty tired of hearing the phrase “if the stars align, he might become a good NHL player” for every Habs prospect.

  2. RS says:

    C’mon people, don’t be too negative. DD could be the next Corey Locke!

    Okay, a smaller version of Corey Locke.

  3. SeriousFan09 says:

    I’ve seen Pacioretty’s AHL highlights, he has a decent shot but he isn’t going to where he should be collecting his kind of goals, the goal mouth really, seems to be doing too much perimeter and deferring to Gionta to go there. Now while I love Gionta, the guy who’s 7″ taller and 45 pounds heavier should be the designated man to go to the net on the All-Americans.


    – I shall always remember Captain Koivu. Habs and Hockey.

  4. habs-hampton says:

    Some of you might remember a guy named Bruce Boudreau, who was of the best all-time scorers in the AHL, but only had a cup of coffee in the NHL. It’s a big jump, and not everyone can make it.

  5. twilighthours says:

    It is ok to be a habs fan and love the city of Toronto, you know.

    Toronto is a world class town.

  6. twilighthours says:

    Not picking on you, Avatar, cause you’re a good guy, but…

    I think people are getting over-excited about Desharnais.  He’s got tons of skill but we’ve got many, many amateur scouts (i.e. Bulldog fans) who see this guy play all the time and they suggest that he has neither the ability to get hit nor the speed to play in the top-6 in the NHL.

    Versteeg for Desharnais+ is a no-brainer for the Habs: they’d get a quality NHL player (yeah, he is a good player but is just out of his role in Toronto) for a guy who might, one day, if the stars align, become a good NHL player.

  7. avatar_58 says:

    Per CBC – interest in Versteeg by teams……is PG shopping Desharnais + ??? for Versteeg? God I hope not…

  8. sidhu says:

    Sorry Pyatt….


    Hammer-The Wiz

  9. PeterD says:

    lol…my thinking exactly!

  10. showey47 says:

    I guess the habs don’t plan on sending maxpac back to hamilton since festerling is already wearing max’s  #23.

  11. smiler2729 says:

    Lapierre occasionally pull off a nice deke??? HAHAHA! Like Lyle Odelein pulled off that Bobby Orr end-to-end stuff all the time… Laps got lucky when he scored and he was a mouthy embarrassment on the ice, good riddance.

  12. Vid says:

    We’ll see how Wiz does over the next month to truly evaluate his performance.  Still, only having to give up a 2nd rounder and possibly 5th rounder for an NHL caliber defenceman is an excellent deal in my books.  He has a good hard right handed shot that gets on net and he can and does dish out the hits and fights too.  Pretty much fills a lot of what the Habs need more of.

    I’m indifferent about Lapierre being traded.  Do’nt know whether Habs got fair value back for him.  Laps could hit and had size and enough talent to occasionally pull off a nice deke to score a goal.  He was at best a 3rd liner so it’s not what I would consider a big loss.

    Desharnais…doesn’t matter to me if he plays or not because I know very little about him.  Benching either eller or pyatt to give him a chance for a few games wouldn’t bother me.  Preference for benching Pyatt who despite all his effort can’t score when the opportunity arises.  I think eller can be used on the pk.

    It’s nice to have 3 right handed Dmen (although I think OByrne would’ve helped if given a fair shot this season).  I’m not sure what the D pairings were but I’m guessing

    hamr wiz

    space weber

    gill subban

    I also don’t have much to say about weber because I haven’t seen him play enough and reading the boone blogs here it seems weber alternates between being an Nhl caliber dman to having no future.  I like that in theory weber brings more offensive ability to the backend but whether he can demonstrate those abilities at the nhl level is a question mark.

  13. Timo says:

    Markov I would love to see back but doubtful. Hammer and Gill at less than 2 mil per playing less than 12 mins a game I think would be great. Not like these guys are terrible… they are simple not cut out to play lead D minutes.

  14. smiler2729 says:

    F Toronto

  15. smiler2729 says:

    Let’s hope so, those guys are pathetic know-it-alls, unlike us.

  16. Timo says:

    I believe he said good ‘ol Canadian cities… and you’re shooting with Tarana?

  17. Timo says:

    Maybe PG’s secret agenda is to shut down L’Antichambre… so he is trading all the homeboy heros.

  18. showey47 says:

    Because if boyd gets called up he would probably be picked up by someone else on recallable waivers. Especially the way boyd has been lighting it up in the minors lately. Do you recall this season if boyd ever had an oppurtunity to flank the gio-gomez line when everybody else from the bottom 6 got a shot? Just asking because i don’t recall it.

  19. smiler2729 says:

    F***ing CBC showing me Maple Waffles instead of Pens/Caps… the corporate fellatio continues (can I say that or will it be censored? It’s not crass slang, how else would you describe it politely?)

  20. Matt_in_TO says:

    Umm, it’s +12 and raining here in Toronto so it’s not just US cities that have having a mild day.  I don’t think anyone could have predicted that we’d have this kind of New Years.  Besides they’ve lucked out with great weather up until now.


    – In Price We Trust

  21. HardHabits says:

    All I can say is this. Dustin Boyd. 7 AHL games, 10 goals. Why don’t they call him up? Too bad it’s not Dustin Boivier. Just kidding. Laps gone. No Lats. No MAB. L’antichambre is running out of home boy heros to root for and call for top line duty or defensive pairing time.

    Love MaxPax’s grit but get serious. His goals are of the shoot it to the net and hope anything can happen garbage variety. I think every goal he got deflected in off of a skate or player. Not saying that shooting to the net isn’t a bad play but lucky bounces a snipe does not make.

    Up front is still weak. Missing one piece at least.

    I think Desharnais just makes matters worse by adding another tiny albeit skilled forward into the line-up.

    Here I have a line:


    The shortest line in all of hockey including midget bantam and peewee.

  22. PeterD says:

    Pittsburg temperature +13…is it raining for the BIG game?

    Maybe these so called “winter classics” should scheduled in good ol’ Canadian Cities that actually have winter…Oh that’s right Bettman hates Canada and Canadian teams.

  23. Habifax says:

    It’s still early but for starters yes. Do you see Markov, Hammer and Gill all back next year?

    As for Festerling he looks like he could be a career minor leaguer. I see that trade as moving Max because he wanted to be traded and to keep him cold have caused problems in the room.

  24. Timo says:

    So we are replacing Markov, Hammer and Gill with Wiesnewski and Feirsteling (whatever his name is). That’s some jumping. 

  25. Habifax says:

    I figure that PG is getting a jump on the league for free agency/next year. I can see Hammer and Markov gone from the defense and maybe Gill. So he brings in the Wiz with the thought of signing him long term and letting the other guys go. He still has some work to do up front but does not have the flexibility there because of long term deals on the books.

  26. PeterD says:

    I would love to see DD with Gio and Patches…not sure where to move Gomez…and am getting sick if his rushes into the o-zone then stopping once he hits the top of a face-off circle and looking for Gio.  I would love to see what DD could do with his imagination and his vision on the ice to find his wingers…Do I think thayt will happen …Not unless Gomez gets injured…

    Eller is ready and able to play in Montreal…the last think he needs is to go to Hamilton.  I just don’t get the logic being thrown out that if he is sent to hamilton he could play 25 min. per game…To what end?  SO he could called back up and sit in the line up behind Gomez and Pleks and only get the 11 mins. he is getting now?

    Watching Eller these last few games shows a kid that is getting very tough along the boards digging and gaining and keeping possession of the puck in the oppositions end…keep the kid in the line up and keep developing him a the rate he is on now and next season make room for a permanent role as a top 6 centre…if Gomez has to go …so be it.

  27. Habifax says:

    I agree Gomez is way to predictable on the rush. And I really like the way Eller is playing now I see a big improvement from the beginning of the year. To send him down would be a mistake now.

  28. Bouleau noir says:

    That’s right … never a dull moment … just as Markov’s absence was starting weighting us down here comes a multi- talented Wiz perking us up out of our suffocating dillema and giving us some of our wings back…. and with the wind turning around to blow our sails open again why stop there ? … no reasons, so lets bring in a better skipper for up front, Desharnais in, Lapierre out.

    Am excited about 2011, ok, am a bit of a sukker when it comes to offensive talent and I do like to see my team’ s lines deep with skill players on them…. now, if Desharnais was used as a center to our third line along with Eller and Pouliot playing the wings this would go a long way in helping us to play sooner a truer version of the puck possession based system which is something that can never be fully adopted with confidence until the players puck skills in a team isn’t fully stretched all the way to its third line.

    I loved what Gauthier just did to the team and am looking forward to the futur…. long live to Boone’s blog and a Happy New Year to all.   


  29. HabFanSince72 says:

    Two words: Corey Locke.


  30. HabFanSince72 says:

    It’s about 20%, based on past drafts.

    The problem is it’s not Fischer and Lappy for Wiz.

    It’s more like O’Byrne for Wiz and Bournival, and Lappy for nothing.

    O’Byrne for Wiz and Bournival, and only that, might have been better.

  31. solomio says:

    I;ll repeat myself by saying that if JM doesn’t put Desharnais with Maxpac we’ll know for certain that he’s got a screw loose.

    I’d like to see the following:

    Maxpac / Desharnais / Gionta

    Eller / Gomez / Puliot.

    Along with the top line of Cammy / Pleks / Kostitsyn I think we’ve got 3 very offensive considerations for the opposition to handle

  32. mjames says:

    Amen – I agree 100%.


  33. Former Jets Fan says:

    Hmmm…. Flair, style, flashiness. 

    And then personality, creativity, youth and smiling.

  34. WestHab says:

    I keep hearing this nonsense, if fact I wouldn’t be surprised if Sutter lost his GM job because he may have wanted to trade Iggy.

    – Who will be at the Heritage Classic?

  35. WestHab says:

    If the Habs had lost Yesterday there’d be no delimma. But since they won (and I can’t remember JM changing as much as a sock after a win) he goes with the same line up that played last in 2010. DD will have to pray for a loss before they ship him back. I hope his prayers go unanswered.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    – Who will be at the Heritage Classic?

  36. habsfan0 says:

    I still think Iginla might end up in a Habs uniform. Should make the outdoor game in Calgary next month even more interesting.

  37. Timo says:

    Eller is a top six talent?! Only on the Habs. 

  38. Exit716 says:

    You sure it isn’t a Komisarek $4.5 million?

  39. ManApart says:

    DD plays. He’s got more talent than most of the team. Max Pac himself, said he’s the best player he ever played with, and Max played with Gomez and Gionta a great deal last season. You can rotate the extra man according to performance. IF DD isn’t doing well after 5 games or so, he can be one of those candidates. Let everyone know that if they don’t bring it every night, there is someone waiting to take their place. Move Eller to the wing and sit Pyatt to start.

  40. Chuck says:

    I’d like to think that as long as Eller can keep maturing as a player and developing his game at the NHL level, he’d stay with the big club.

    Oh… and Happy New Year to everyone on HI/O! Well, not everyone. You know who you are.  😉

    Centre Hice: yeah, but was it legal?

  41. VintageFan says:

    Logic and facts do not apply here.  In Martinworld rookies are defensive players who play on lines 3 or 4.  Skill is something to be very, very wary of.  And flair, style, or flashiness are three of the seven deadly sins.  btw does anyone know what the other 4 are in Martinworld?

  42. VintageFan says:

    Maybe Gauthier & Martin are still working for Ottawa?  Every move seems to bring us closer to the Senators in both style and standings.

  43. twilighthours says:

    From where I sit we essentially traded Fischer and Lappy for Wiz and minor-league Dman.

    I love this trade.

    And for those lamenting the loss of a 2nd round pick, Scott Cullen of tsn (who I typically find obnoxious) raised an excellent point that a late 2nd rounder has about a 25% chance of becoming a regular contributed in the nhl at some point.

    Doesn’t seem like too much to worry about.

  44. Sheldon says:

    Who forgot to feed the damned squirrels last night?

  45. Sheldon says:

    “Why score when you can bore?” – Jacques Martin

  46. Gindan69 says:

    DD sits. He won’t break up the winning combo for some added offensive punch. Not when Pyatt can titilate him with his hard work in the defensive end. When DD will play, it will be between Pyatt and Moen, and Eller will sit,  because, again, god forbid we have more O punch and of course, that nasty rookie must first prove himself in a shutdown role before he earns a shot at scoring anything.

  47. Mike Boone says:

    I wish. Commodore 64.

  48. rwparent says:

    maybe they can send AK46 to Nashville and reunite the sisters?

    the biggest problem lately has been all the dumb penalties – how do you coach that?

  49. Sheldon says:

    Martin will make the decision that has the greatest possibility of ensuring a boring game that ends in a loss!

  50. smiler2729 says:

    I like Eller and have no problem with him staying up (Tony Marinaro’s a goof).

    The guy I have a problem with is Andrei Kostitsyn, man, what a panty waste he is, y’know by now he should be in his prime, scoring 35-40 goals a year, but noooo, he insists on being terminally out to lunch.

    Trade him now, PG, please!!!

  51. ABHabsfan says:

    Be Carefull! You can really hurt your shoulder patting yourself on the back. Perhaps change your handle to IGJAM (I’m Good Just Ask Me!) Though PG should have pulled the Wiz -trigger before Christmas and we may have beaten the Isles on the 26th. 

  52. ABHabsfan says:

    I have to agree, it seems there is another shoe yet to drop. Moving Laps for a minor leaguer and pick clears another 900K in cap space and no roster spot. The Habs have 8 d-men when Gorges is included. You have to think something else is brewing and I applaud the notion that PG is doing something when something needed to be done. At least the GM is not satisfied with perennial mediocrity.

  53. habitual says:

    I haven’t seen Desharnais play, sounds like you have.  I know the AHL is a league below, but success at that level foreshadows success at the next.  As Desharnais has been very successful in a pro league he can’t be afraid to get hit.

    I totally agree that he will need ice time and size on his wings.  But I am worried, as you seem to be, that Martin will not give him a fair shot.  Which goes to my concern about Martin as a coach – too loyal to vets, too impatient with younger players to develop them properly.

  54. rwparent says:

    I would encourage some of you commenting to WATCH THE GAMES, and then if you still think that Eller should go to Hamilton – see an eye specialist. Hopefully, that will end the nonsense. Eller is a big step ahead of needing time in the minors. What he needs is MORE time in the pros. All the best in the New Year – would be nice to meet some people at a parade later this year…know what I mean?

  55. CHsam says:

    Photo aint popping up…. say, you guys running HIO on a 486 or something?

  56. 24 Cups says:

    It’s a tough call in terms of where Desharnais would fit into the line-up.  Pleks and Gomez are locks as the two top centres.  Gomez is starting to come to life so it’s crazy to shift him around.  I was always under the impression (and hope) that Eller and Leblanc were being trained to one day take over those two spots.  Not sure why we would then have Eller play wing.  Halpbern is a given as the 4th line centre.

    If DD plays, he needs to get regular icetime and be with a couple of guys who have size and can score.  Otherwise it’s just a matter of time before Martin sours on him and puts the kid in the pressbox.  Or maybe he’s just here as a precautionary measure because they knew Laps was being traded.

    The last thing the team needs is another small forward but DD has excelled at every level.  Who knows?  We certainly should take a look before trading him away. 

    My biggest concern is how he skates around the ice always anticipating that he is going to be hit.  He has to play a fearless game and try and gain that extra bit of acceleration so he’s blowing through the on-coming traffic.

  57. Chorske says:

    Haha, even a broken clock is right two times every day. 😉

    Gotta admit, I didn’t like the idea at the time. Jury is still out, but early signs are good. And like you point out, it solves problems on D and still leaves us room to maneuver to get a scoring F… especially now that Max is gone and some of the bottom six clutter is being cleared out.

  58. habitual says:

    Festerling went directly to Hamilton, Chris, and hasn’t been a regular yet in his career.  I read into that Martin is going to stick with Weber and Picard.  I also read, like others, it clears a spot for Desharnais to show if he can play in the NHL.

  59. Shiloh says:

    It just seems as if Gauthier has something up his sleeve. Maybe something outrageous – could be interesting. Desharnais has kept his mouth shut and his nose clean while playing very well in Hamilton. He’s earned his chance – hope JM gives him a regular shift for a week or so.

  60. habitual says:

    Don’t know Tony M, but I hope this is the last time we hear a comment about Eller going to Hamilton.  He is consistently one of the hardest working skaters we have.  I think the question should be, on a team of underperforming forwards – who except Gionta, Pleks, and Darche shows up every game – why isn’t Eller getting more ice time, including the PP and PK?

  61. HardHabits says:

    I don’t hear anybody thanking HH for getting the Wiz. Back on Nov 15 for the Markov done for the season? thread NightRyder asked who could the Habs get to fill in the hole left by Markov’s absence by offering a list of d-men that could potentially be available in case Markov is done for the year. He favoured Shea Weber. Who wouldn’t. Let’s be realistic though.

    I went on to reply:

    I’d prefer to use the extra cap relief for help up front. The Habs have some organizational depth on D, for the time being at least, although that OByrne trade is looking a bit premature in hindsight.

    However if they could get their hands on Wisniewski I’d be ecstatic although he’s due for a pay raise. Maybe NYI can’t afford him. I’d even prefer Wisniewski over Markov. Sorry SF09.

    PG get Wisniewski!!!!

    Wiz over Markov? Whoa dude. WTF was I thinking? OK. How about Wiz and Markie!!! I can’t believe the shiznit I come up with some times!!!! Nevertheless in the absence of Markov, at the time I thought Wiz looked the best. Leaves room to acquire a forward too. 😉


  62. Chris L says:

    In the states here… just curious what RDS and the Quebec contingent has been saying on the recent moves.  I thought the Wiz move was genuis (even before last night’s game).  Then adding another defenseman in the Lappy move.  Was RDS still pushing for MAB?  These 2 moves should put an end to it. 

    I see 3 Quebecors on the roster with the Desharnais call-up.  Losing Lappy and adding him keeps it at 3, yet it could be 2 at the end of the week if they shuttle him back to Hamilton.  Is this an all-time low # for the Habs?  I saw with the Wiz acquisition, they are at high with Americans.

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