The plan (for now)

4701610

We’ll still keep an eye on all things Habby.

And once Boone has recovered from the Canadiens’ seventh-game loss to Boston – he’s been curled up in the fetal position, sobbing uncontrollably, since Wednesday night; it can’t last forever – he’ll be live-blogging some meaningful playoff games and cheering for teams that employ McGill University alumni as coaches and/or include Canadiens alumni on their rosters (a Detroit-Vancouver Western Conference final could be problematic).

Watch this space for details.

Stu Hackel, maven of all NHL matters, will still be aboard. And we’ll post links to good hockey stories from all over.

There may not be much Canadiens news before the June draft. Pierre Gauthier has some big decisions to make, but he’s not the kind of guy – Hello, Burkie! – who shares his hopes, dreams and strategies with the media. We’ll keep our eyes, ears and the microphone we’ve planted in his office open.

At minimum, Hockey Inside/Out will continue to provide a forum for you to tell Gauthier and Jacques Martin how to do their jobs.

How many sleeps till training camp?

• Red Fisher: Gauthier has tough choices to make

Go Flyers, Go!

Red’s notebook

• Arpon Basu on the Gomez situation

Stu Cowan on Gomez

• François Gagnon’s open letter to Gauthier

• Boone on hockey and the royal wedding

• Mathias Brunet on the D

Lightning win opener

• Just because he’s a great writer, Stephen Brunt’s Requiem for Boxing

Photo by Adam Hunger/Reuters

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  7. blueline says:

    I don’t see the Habs immediate future in as rosy a light as some of the more optimistic posters here present it. There are some fundamental weaknesses that have developed mainly due to poor decision-making by the team’s present and immediately previous general manager. I’ll focus just on the defence in this post.

    a) The defence as a group is too old, too slow and not physical enough. With the exception of Subban (age 22), no current regular Habs defenceman is under the age of 27 (Gorges and Wisniewski are both 27). With very few notable exceptions (like Niklas Lidstrom at age 41) there aren’t many defencemen that are capable of playing at a high enough level much past age 36. The combination of younger, stronger and faster opponents added to the cumulative effect of aging bodies, injuries and slower recovery times mean that most players at least need reduced ice-times and most begin to seriously consider retirement.

    Bearing these obvious facts in mind, what “plan” if any existed to provide successors for this position? How long can they possibly expect Hamrlik(age 37), Spacek(age 37) and Gill(age 36) to keep on playing at all, never mind at the level required for any serious playoff run?
    The Hamilton Bulldogs cupboard is virtually bare for NHL-ready defencemen and two of the most recently promising blueliners, McDonagh and O’Byrne were given away. Part of the role for veteran defencemen is to have them mentor the younger guys coming up. But if one doesn’t or won’t supply these inevitably needed youngsters, then the veterans’ experience is being sadly wasted and to boot they’re also being worn down even faster than they should be.

    b) As for Markov(age 33), he is probably on the ‘bubble’ as some sports writers have written. While no doubt possessing good skills, they are only of benefit when he’s healthy. And that’s the rub. We’ve seen that he’s injury prone and what’s worse the most serious of his injuries have been to the knee. There’s no guarantee that his knee will be able to withstand the rigors of an entire season. The very real possibility exists that it may not. Don’t forget that no matter how skilled a player may be, the knee is the most critical body joint in hockey and those old enough to remember Bobby Orr know that chronic knee injuries ended his career too early. Signing Markov is a gamble, and depending heavily on him to play a key role in the defence for a whole season is an even bigger one.

    c) What happens to Wisniewski(age 27), Mara(age 32), Sopel(age 34) and Weber(age 23)? If choices have to be made, common sense would suggest that it would be wise to sign Wisniewski and Weber because of their skillset and age. At some point very soon Gauthier will need to form a core around which the future defence will form, in fact that process should’ve begun several years ago by Gainey/Gauthier instead of expecting the above named veterans to be what…here forever?!

    d) That leaves Gorges(age 27). He’s young and yet experienced enough to comfortably assume the role of a veteran d-man. His performance in last year’s playoff run and his commitment to the team speak for itself. In fact, he wanted to sign a contract extension earlier this year. His signing then should’ve been a no-brainer.

    Note: I could have sworn that Gauthier said in a press conference last week that being a GM is a “365 days a year job” and that “if you snooze, you lose”. Based on what I’ve seen, he makes Rip van Winkle look like an insomniac! Why didn’t he begin the work to re-sign when Gorges offered to? Instead of negotiating in an unhurried manner back then and getting him safely under contract fairly quickly, Gauthier refused and now has to negotiate with the clock ticking and the initiative resting now more with Gorges agent and run the real risk of having to pay more or even lose him to another club. Just because his predecessor operated that way, doesn’t mean it makes any sense to put oneself behind the eight-ball when negotiating. There is after all a salary cap to consider.

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    • Feraco says:

      Great post, love the insight but I feel you write with so much anger and dispair…I wouldn’t be too hard on Gainey. He picked up the team when it was in complete shambles. He brought in Kovalev who played his best years for MTL, drafted Theodore, and they finished 1st in the Eastern Conference. Sure they we bounced in the 1st round but what more do you want! Finishing 1st is no easy feat and obviously a Stanley Cup is the best result but you don’t just fluke into being a 1st place team.

      My rebuttle:

      a) They have taken some risks with the aging D but look at how they have performed since they were signed. Year 1 – conference finals (regardless of how good Halak was it was a team effort) Spachek was one of MTLS best defensive D’s, and Hammer logged all of Markovs lost minutes. Gill was exceptional. Georges was exceptional. Aging, absolutely but Gill is a FA, Hammer is a FA, Spach has 1 yr left and Markov is a FA. They revamped their forwads last year, now have the option to do the same to the D this year.

      b) Markov – he has been a pioneer for the last decade for the Habs, should not mix business and personal feelings but for what he has brough to the Habs, let him go on his terms. If he wants to sign and his knee holds, sign him to a 1 / 2 yr worth 10 million. If he wants to leave, he leaves on his term. Alot of money but he stayed with MTL when not many players would sign here.

      c) Weber is a RFA and will stay with the team. Wiz – wanted to be a FA from the time we traded for him. For me, I believe its either Wiz or Markov. My guess Wiz asks for 4 Mil +…seems like alot of cash! Great player though.

      d) Georges knee may be worse than expected. OR if he was signed during the season, some of the D would question where they would be next year as a spot would be given to Georges that they were competing for. Having open spots on D will keep the D motivated as the spot could be theirs.

  9. 4m3y2j says:

    So if they at some point bury Gomez in the minors does that free up the money spent on his contract and allow management to utilize the balance for new prospects?How does it work?

    • Mr. Biter says:

      I don’t think so. Souray is in the minors and still shows as a cap hit on the Oilers cap hit site. We would have $8 Mil. less to play with and so it’s better he’s here. I’m just hoping he goes home re dedicates himself to playing and comes back in September ready to play. If however he has basicly “hit the wall” after next year his salary does go down. Here’s hoping he comes back and has the comeback season that Carey had even though I allways had full confidence in Carey’s potential.I also don’t know what the cost would be against the cap if he was bought out. My worry is after next year Carey becomes a UFA (as well as PK) so if PG could get one or even better both to sign new contracts this year. What they would cost next year if they both improve, I don’t even want to think of that.

      Mr. Biter

  10. DarthWade says:

    Well, according to Mr. Cherry next season is the season where Gomez is going to have a breakout year and kick all kinds of ass. We shall see.

    If Pacioretty is on his line I can see his stats going up but I doubt he’s going to score more than 20 (and if he does that’ll be a miracle). He’ll probably have a crapload of assists though thanks to Pac and Gionta.

  11. eric says:

    I think we should get rid of Gomez now and get the player’s we need. After next season Cary’s and PK’s contract will come up and we won’t be able to afford to carry Gomez’s contract. Hopefully either DD or Eller will be able to take his place. Way cheaper. I’m sure DD could put up more than 35 pts in a season.

  12. newbrunswick troy says:

    Wow, many ideas and comments on Gomez, i agree with many but also would like to point out the most frusterating part of signing him: How could Sather (who actualy negotiated the contract) ever let the figures get that high?? i mean, did Sather or even Gainey for that matter not realise how crippling that would be on trying to assemble a team around that??? All the same , someday we will look back and see that the Gomez contract was bar none the worst nhl contract even given!!!!
    It is my oppinion that Gomez knows this and also knows he will never live up to that contract…that is the main reason for him to be so “nervise on the ice”
    The Habs will have to deal with it next year, but will probably dump his contract the year after when its goes down to “only 5.5million” and they have to re-sign Price and Subban

  13. 44har48 says:

    I’m really not sure what to do with Gomez. I guess you give him one more chance on a short leash before sending him down. I realize that it lessons what we can do to replace him when we wait.

    I also would like to remind people that as much as it pains me to say this, the reality of Gainey getting Gomez was a last ditch effort to improve the team – meaning plan Z. Nobody wanted to come to Montreal due to the taxes and at the end of the day, play with Saku or our other band of merry warriors at the time…we had nothing attractive for other players to play with and no hope of advancing beyond the 8th seed every year if we were lucky. Getting Gomez and having real hockey people involved with the draft started everything we have today – which is a bright future now. Gomez is why Spacek, Cammy, Gill, Gionta, etc finally wanted to come here. Nobody ever wanted to come here and play before – and that said a lot given the passion this city has for the team and the team’s rich history that all players are aware of.

    • Mr. Biter says:

      Good post. Unless you get paid a lot of money Quebec has the highest taxes, most rabid and passionate fans who follow every play (good or bad), probably the most critical media (one positive 2 negatives). Yes to play in the “Meca of hockey” is good for some players yet can tear apart others.

      Mr. Biter

  14. Danno says:

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  16. the Man says:

    First post. Long time reader of this crazy site.

    The only way Gomez reasserts himself as a top 6 centreman next year is if he somehow establishes himself again as a threat to score. Otherwise his ‘gain the blueline’ rushes will continue to be pointless. Gionta suffers….

    I don’t see it changing. But I’ve been wrong before.

    • The Cat says:

      He definitely has to shoot more, I dont know if itll happen though, playmakers often seem to have that disease where they wont ever shoot enough.

      [Disclaimer]: I’m a hockey fan. I care about the habs, but probably not as much as you.

    • New says:

      I look at it differently. Scott Gomez had some good years when he had players with creds telling him what to do. Once Gomez became the player with the contract and began deciding what to do his game went south. He is innately a lazy player gifted with speed. Gomez does not have an NHL level shot relying on chip and tap ins. Today’s goaltenders stop most of his shots readily.

      Every now and then a player comes along and endears himself to management by admitting fault. GM like Gauthier love people who do that. The GM or a coach suggests something, the player reports back it is done, worked like a charm, and his life has changed. Everybody gets a warm and family feeling. The feeling goes away because nothing really changed, and the player milks it some more. It isn’t a plan, it is a coping mechanism the player has adopted through life. It works great.

      Scott Gomez has buckets of talent but doesn’t know what to do with it and won’t listen to those who do. Bury him while the burying is good. A leopard does not change it’s spots but will proclaim he is a gazelle if that gets him into the herd and up to the supper table.

      • Lafrich says:

        Disagree. What makes you think he has “buckets of talent”? Because he skates well? I think he is way overrated. He has had ONE season of over a point per game, and it was barely that. I would call him a one trick pony that had all things go well in one particular season. Somehow that one season, plus the ability to skate, has blinded people.

    • Nojo says:

      Gomez has nowhere to go but down. His body is aging which is part of the reason he doesn’t compete that hard in the corners or in front of the net until playoff time. What is frustrating to watch is the amount of ice time that Martin gives him in spite of the fact that he is consistently a liability in his own zone and therefore a poor example for the younger players on the team.
      Martin’s refusal to play his 4th line as the games progressed is part of the reason the Habs lost to Boston. Martin wore down his first 3 lines and the 4th line didn’t get the chance to add a more physical element to the Canadiens attack.

      You cannot spend your way out of recession or borrow your way out of debt

  17. EricInStL says:

    Luongo….bad bad bad…..

    Anyone know a Vancouver site like HIO?

  18. Habfan4lfe says:

    So Muller is going to another team. Greaaaaaat. We are stuck with dumbo on our bench and his bestest buddy Gauthier backing him. I guess Montreal is just “easy cash” for the owners. Guess the money coming in gives them the opportunity to make mistakes like this. First Boucher let go, now Muller. Welcome to another year of get the lead and protect it again folks. Only matter of time before it becomes official.

  19. otter649 says:

    GSP wins again but not much of a fight cause of A GSP eye injury ?

    • EricInStL says:

      GSP is a welterweight who seems to hit like a lightweight.

      I’m happy he wins but not impressed. To keep his popularity going he’ll have to start dropping guys. Silva would beat him.

    • Habfan4lfe says:

      So Muller is going to another team. Greaaaaaat. We are stuck with dumbo on our bench and his bestest buddy Gauthier backing him. I guess Montreal is just “easy cash” for the owners. Guess the money coming in gives them the opportunity to make mistakes like this. First Boucher let go, now Muller. Welcome to another year of get the lead and protect it again folks. Only matter of time before it becomes official.

      EDIT: Man this site is getting on my nerves. Reply system sucks.

  20. Peter Young says:

    I could never get behind any other team in the playoffs now our Canadiens are out. But I do not–I really do not–want either the Boston Bruins or the Philadelphia Flyers to win the Stanley Cup or even reach the finals, although, regrettably, one of them will reach the semifinals.

    I dislike both these teams intensely. They are both stocked with players who practice the dark arts, players who are the filthiest of the filthy. They are more than filthy players, though. They are also evil swine. They injure their opponents intentionally and revel in it. They lie about what they have done, and they care not that their lies are transparent. They glory in telling obvious lies.

    The Bruins and the Flyers are a scourge in the NHL, and so I will cheer for any team that has to meet one of them in the next round. In the meantime, may they damage each other as much as possible; may they bring their practice of the dark arts to a new low; may their play be the filthiest ever; may they smash each other up; may they revel in blatant lies; may they show what they are for all to see; may their supporters be plunged into deep shame even they cannot escape with their rationalizations and evasions.

    The good feelings–an inexplicable happiness–that, ludicrously, came over me while watching that fantastically ridiculous wedding and revelry far away in my native land, as well as the civility requirement this blog’s operators enforce, preclude me from expressing my feelings about the Bruins and the Flyers with full force. I am too filled with good will and civility. But I know you will get my drift, and I know many, perhaps most, of you join me in these sentiments.

  21. HardHabits says:

    So who gets the game winner, Sergei K or Max Lap?

    • scrowe21 says:

      Lappy almost had it.. some nice moves there. He has been playing good for them in the playoffs. Depressing.

    • Jim Edson says:

      Yappierre’s legendary hands of stone have followed him to the left coast!

      ———————————————————————-
      …..My empire is crumbling, my international sponsors are deserting me, my authority is questioned, I am held in contempt wherever I go.

      Who am I: Mohamar Ghadaffi or Gary Bettman.

  22. Marc10 says:

    I’m disappointed in the talking media heads who never fail to slag of Habs management for not improving the club, but want to bring Spacek next year.

    I get we’re on the hook for Spacek next year, but if he’s in the lineup we don’t win a Cup. Simple as that. He is not an NHL top 6 D on a contender.

    And that should be the criteria for any guy on the roster. Is he extra baggage it a guy we can slit in to make a difference?

    Look at the Pens when they won their Cup. Guys like Talbot, Gill and Scuderi carried a lot of water to get them there. So the question anyone wanting the Habs to progress is: Is X, Y or Z a legit contributor on a contender come playoff time? If the answer is no – and you seriously need to look at this in the case of Pouliot, White, Darche, Moen, DD, Pyatt, Halpern, Gill, Spacek, Hammer and even hot&cold AK46 – then you don’t bring them back and look for a replacement that can step up.

    • habstrinifan says:

      I dont think it’s a case of them wanting to bring Spacek back. He is grouped together with Hammrlik/Mara/Sopel and maybe Picard as 6th to 7th DMEN options and since he is UNDER contract for one more year , and really there is NO HUGE difference in ability between him and the ones I have mentioned… then why not go into the seson with him after having made the more important signings and changes re the UFA’S AND RFA’S and possible acquisitions on defense. No real need to worry about him as a 6th or 7th D right now.

  23. Steven says:

    Did anyone watch the Bruins game? I was out so I missed it.

    What happened to Philly? 7-3 seems like an insane score.

    EDIT: Also, what’s up with Don Cherry? I was watching the Habs through CBC this playoffs, and was bracing myself for a huge bigot, but he seemed to give a really good analysis and it wasn’t exactly biased either way.

    • Chuck says:

      What happened to the Philly? 7 goals against and only 18 saves pretty much sums it up.

      • habstrinifan says:

        Watching the secound rounds so far, I cant help but feel that either Boston or Tampa Bay will come out of the east and could well win the Stanley Cup.

        I dont see real resiliency from the teams out WEST. Vancouver’s goaltending and top line play isnt strong. Detroit looks formidable WHEN they are on. But I dont see sufficiently strong goaltending out west.

        I think, Bruins have best goalie remaining and Tampa Bay has best overall team and coaching(including YZERMAN).Tampa Bay’s game to game adjustments have been outstanding.

        Sad to say we may be seeing a Bruins Cup. Still a long way to go however.

    • Jim Edson says:

      Boucher and Bobby couldn’t stop a beach ball!

      AGAIN!

      Same old same old!

      So much for those new theorists who insisted after last year that good goaltending was not a prerequisite for winning the Stanley Cup!

      ———————————————————————-
      …..My empire is crumbling, my international sponsors are deserting me, my authority is questioned, I am held in contempt wherever I go.

      Who am I: Mohamar Ghadaffi or Gary Bettman.

      • Steven says:

        Yeah, I remember that fiasco.

        San Jose telling everyone that goaltending isn’t important, getting rid of Nabokov so that Greiss could start. Then they sign Nittymaki and Niemi like 2 days later…

        It’s really showing in these playoffs, how you need a great goalie to do good.

  24. Lafrich says:

    Hey Boone. Where’s the “About this Season” I’ve been waiting for?


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