blueline

Member since February 27, 2008

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  • Comment on The plan (for now) (2011-05-01 23:26:09)
    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.
  • Comment on Game 60: Flames freeze out Canadiens (2011-02-21 17:02:37)

    So you're telling me that after trying to sign those three and not succeeding (for various reasons that I'm sure we all don't know about) Gainey should have stopped looking and done nothing further! His performance as GM should be judged on actual accomplishments, not hypothetical could-have-beens.

    While some players may not want to come here you need to determine why. Is it a matter of not enough money. Or they don't like being under scrutiny to perform. Or taxes too high. Or they only want to play for a real contender. Or they don't like the way the organisation is being handled. The reasons are many and varied. But that doesn't mean there aren't quality players with heart and skills who wouldn't want to play here.

    One kid growing up was a huge Habs fan and would have loved to be drafted by them. His name...Sidney Crosby. So don't tell me that no one wants to play here. 

  • Comment on Game 60: Flames freeze out Canadiens (2011-02-21 01:34:57)

    You can't be serious. It's a joke, right? Why didn't you add several other notable 'achievements' in Gainey's career as Habs GM. Here's some you missed:

    • signing the 8 million dollar - seven goal - minus 18 'star' forward
    • not negotiating contracts or extensions during the season so that those players simply walk away as free agents during the summer with absolutely nothing to show for the loss of those assets
    • dismantling the number one power play in the NHL
    • screwing over a coach (Carbonneau) who managed to accomplish far more with the very limited offensive talent provided for him
    • making scapegoats out of Koivu and Kovalev by making it appear that they were the reasons the Habs weren't more successful
    • sitting on his hands for years and not getting any players like Gionta or Cammaleri to help out and take some of the scoring pressure placed squarely (and unfairly) on players like Koivu and Kovalev
    • acquiring Tanguay for two first round draft picks then letting him go after a year with nothing to show for it, except the loss of two draft picks

    There are probably a few others I missed, but I think the point has been made. If you're going to assess the relative merits of any GM then you've got to look at the entire record in order to arrive at a sensible conclusion. Now that would make real hockey sense.  

  • Comment on The Islanders? Really?? (2011-02-11 22:51:40)

    Sorry about that. I pressed the post button before applying proper paragraph structure. If it helps any try increasing the page magnification. It makes it a bit easier on the eyes.

  • Comment on Habs deal Desjardins to Bolts for Ramo (2010-08-18 21:35:40)

    How about brainless as in dumping a proven goalie who has more than demonstrated his maturity and capacity to play under extreme pressure very successfully in favour of one slightly younger one who has demonstrated his immaturity and incapacity to play under the same kind of pressure? If you've watched any Habs games this past season then I don't need to name the two netminders in question.

    I guess Gauthier seems bound and determined to fly in the face of common sense and logic that says one should reinforce and reward success and not failure. Mike Camalleri was quoted as saying that he really enjoyed playing during the Habs playoff run. I sure hope he liked it because I doubt the Habs will ever come that close again once Gauthier's "brilliant" stewardship takes hold.

    As for your last point, do you actually think that Yzerman is going to admit that he plucked a potential diamond in the rough from a gullible sap? After all, he may want to dump more crap and get much better in return from the same source in the future.

     

  • Comment on Habs deal Desjardins to Bolts for Ramo (2010-08-17 22:16:07)

    I couldn't agree more.

    It's really just a sad continuation in the developing pattern of brainless deals perpetrated by Gauthier. So far he's shown us that he's the best talent acquirer for Tampa Bay and St. Louis.

    Too bad he doesn't exhibit the same expertise in performing that role for the Habs. 

  • Comment on TGIF roundup (2010-07-11 04:07:10)

    Speaking of putting a little thought into things, do you honestly believe that the Habs would have gotten as far as they did in the playoffs with Price in the net? It was plain for all rational thinkers that Halak was almost single-handedly responsible for the incredible playoff run success. After all, let's be real, the Habs are not the greatest of teams at present. What happened this spring is that they: 1) possessed a hot goaltender who inspired his team-mates to frequently play at a level much higher than their collective talent level and 2) they had a large measure of good fortune as well. How else can you possibly explain how a team that was outshot so badly and so often managed to win so many games? And as a reward for Halak's valuable and outstanding play our "genius GM" gives him away for potentially useful but by no means guaranteed performers! Isn't the goal of any enterprise seeking success to keep what works and dump what doesn't? I've yet to run across any knowledgable hockey analyst who thinks otherwise. In fact isn't it the conventional wisdom as put forward by hockey gurus that a succesful team is built from the net outwards? I suppose Gauthier didn't believe the proof of that as witnessed by his own eyes this past spring.

    As for Plekanec, what exactly makes him so valuable or sacred that he needed to be signed at all costs? He has exhibited somewhat of a tendency in his time with the Habs to fall into that category of player who's a regular season hero and a playoff zero. It must be one of Gauthier's criteria as he also just had to sign Pouliot who has shown so far to be that type of player as well. No one can deny that he virtually vanished in the playoffs.

    Don't forget we live in an age of free agents. The current strategy seems to be go out and just sign up what you need as there's always a number available out there. Isn't that how the core of the Habs was built now? (For reference consider Gomez, Gill, Cammalleri, Gionta, Spacek and several other minor ones.)

    All hockey experts and  fans agree that the "real" season starts in April and ends in June. Any player who exhibits skill, can handle the pressure and excells at that time of the year belongs on the team. Any who fail to perform don't belong. And any who exhibits top ability both during the regular season and in the playoffs is a rare gem to be treasured. There's no question that Halak falls into this last category.

    If the "market is clearly not there for goalies" as you claim, then how would you go about explaining why St. Louis promptly signed Halak for $15 million over 4 years? Perhaps you ought to take your own advice and put some thought into what you write down.  

  • Comment on Too quiet (2010-07-10 11:54:38)

    Purely a personal opinion, but others may feel the same way regarding what I see as the underlying problems with the draft lottery and the health of professional hockey.

    The main cause of the problem is free agency. It has created a league of nomadic mercenaries that ultimately destroys the notion of drafting and the farm system as the way to build a team. I can see how it came about as a reaction to exploitive owners who up until the 60's paid the players peanuts. But now the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction where too many players are being grossly overpaid. Salaries have reached the point where, as a band-aid solution, a team salary cap had to be instituted or the very real danger of small-market teams having to fold or move because they couldn't keep up with the big-market teams driving up the costs simply to buy championships.

    The problem is that the salary cap shouldn't be a team cap but an individual player salary cap. The ultimate solution would be to have fixed salaries for players based on years of service and player position with any potential bonuses based on team or individual performances over and above the baseline pay rate. This would prevent the current condition where a small core of players hogs too much of the available financial pie and leaves little left to compensate other roster players thereby weakening the overall team talent level and having to shed some players that you would like to keep. 

    And I'm not talking about revisiting the bad old days. Considering the mutual interests of players and management for a healthy, competitive and profitable league and with the players organised as they are now along union lines there is no danger of them being underpaid ever again. The end result would be to restore the draft and farm system as essential components to build a team. It would also weed out the incompetent general managers by making them become shrewder handlers of a team's player personnel through drafting and trading and just not annual signers of cheques to the latest hired gun whose "team loyalty" extends as far as the bank. Time was when the players became a part of the communities of the teams they played for. Nowadays, not so much, as they exist on such an elevated financial plane from the average fan that they inhabit a fantastic existence far removed from you and me. And that extends increasingly even to fringe players with modest talent as well as to the superstars.

    I think a player's loss of freedom to decide where they feel like playing or what team will pay the most or will provide the surest chance to win is a small price to pay for the privilege of playing a sport , being exceedingly well-compensated to do so, and ensure the long-term survival of the game and career they profess to love. 

  • Comment on TGIF roundup (2010-07-10 04:35:00)

    Lots have changed for the Habs since any of my last posts...except one thing. And that's the level of muddle-headedness of the team's general management.

    Personally, I would have chosen Halak over Price because of demonstrated skill, maturity and the confidence he generated among his team-mates. Many rightfully considered him a Conn Smythe candidate. They knew they could depend on him to make the big saves under pressure when one of them screwed up. Not so with Price. Due no doubt to team solidarity (and the players won't admit it) but you could see in their faces and on-ice demeanour that the defencemen especially were terrified that if they made the slightest error with Price in the net, it would likely result in a goal. It doesn't seem the best sort of way to build team morale for a serious run at the Cup does it?

    In any event, Gauthier (a true Gainey disciple unfortunately) opted to go with Price and "trade" Halak. Or should I say give him to the Blues for a couple of farmhands who'll be lucky to even set foot in the Bell Centre sometime in the future.

     Hmm...I wonder if the NHL should have a special Generosity Award for the GM who donates so much talent to other league teams and receives so little in return. That would likely be the only trophy the Habs would likely compete for and win. But I digress.

    What is truly astounding is that the dumping of Halak was done BEFORE signing Price. For a GM who's supposed to be all concerned about salary-cap space he's left the vault door open for Price's agent all because, except for the back-up Auld. the Habs presently don't have a first-string goalie on the roster! Wouldn't it have made much more business sense to sign Price before trading Halak? The way it stands now the Habs run the very real risk of having lost the services of all their premier netminders and will have to pay a premium to sign one.

    I'm guessing the only long-term hope for the Habs is for Geoff Molson to take control and boot the Boivin-Gauthier-Gainey clique out the door and get some real hockey men who know what they're doing to run the team properly. In the meantime.......sigh.

  • Comment on The Islanders? Really?? (2011-02-11 21:44:42)

    Enough is enough. There were 9 goals scored by the Habs in the last two games giving a potential of 27 scoring points. How many did the highest paid forward (and overall team highest paid) get? Nada, zip, zero. Without question, Gomez has to be the most useless player the Habs are saddled with. He gets paid a Sidney Crosby-like salary and delivers a Travis Moen-like scoring ability. Absolutely disgraceful. It's now 2/3 into the season and he's got 7 goals. Wow...he's on pace to get maybe 10 this year! Hell, Kovalev and Koivu are currently better at burying the rubber in the net...and at a fraction of the cost! Not only does Gomez not score, but he does little to prevent the opposition from doing so while he's on the ice. His +/- number is the worst on the team. (I'm not counting Wisniewski as much of his was acquired while with the cellar-dwelling Islanders). If he were any place else in the league he'd have been benched or sent to the minors. But here the coach's hands are tied. How would it look to not play your highest paid "star"? Jacques Martin has to be fuming. The worst culprits in this fiasco have got to be the then managing tandem of Gainey and Gauthier. What were they possibly thinking when they took Gomez? He had a proven track record of under-achieving for all of his NHL career except for one year out of the fifteen-plus he's played. Even the most gullible of casino gamblers wouldn't touch those odds. What's even more damaging is that there's virtually no salary-cap space left to acquire a real scorer for the playoff drive this season and likely for years to come. They certainly can't trade Gomez simply because there aren't any other GM's stupid enough to take him. Eventually, his presence on the team will become a corrosive distraction. What do you say to all those others who perform better, but get paid 1/7 or 1/8 of what Gomez gets, when contract time rolls around? It's almost inevitable that at some point in the future something will have to be done, but it will prove to be costly in terms of money and reputations. Current management will need to all but admit it made a bonehead move acquiring him in the first place and then they'll need to ask the owner to bite the bullet and provide the funds to buy out his contract. They could follow the Blackhawks method and ship him off to Europe where at least his salary would cease to be factored into the Habs cap space. Either way he still gets paid. The thinking Habs fans are not idiots. They know champs from chumps and I'm sure a great many of them have been thinking along the same lines as those expressed here. We keep getting told that hockey is a business. Now tell me, what kind of a business will succeed by purchasing inferior products or investing in incompetent employees? Well this little speech is over, and I'm not certain that anyone will be able to rationally dispute the facts or logic presented.