Wednesday, February 27, 2008

For Sale: Never Used Pair Of Red, White And Blue Gloves

It's been a hectic two weeks leading up tp yesterday's 3 PM deadline, and in this morning after the big disappointment - and an oustanding Canadiens win - I'm still a little peeved at Bob Gainey.

Not for trying to aquire a premier forward in Marian Hossa.

Not for failing to land Hossa.

I'm peeved, slightly less this morning, for Gainey getting us all swept up in it.

Talk about a frenzied hockey city - post impact player Gainey quote!

Hossa sightings at airports, phantom gloves on order, and rumours galore. You'd think it was playoff time already. The absurdity that everyone including myself were swooped up in reminded me of when Patrick Roy had his appendix removed between playoff games, and someone put a bid on it!

Montreal gets like that, and Gainey should have seen it coming. Hockey fever at it's most fervent.

I was surprised as many were when he came out and spoke his intentions out loud. For a man who usually is low key about his goals, the admission was uplfting and stunning. In the aftermath, declaring he was out to hit a home run only set up disappointment.

When Gainey made the quote, I considered the effect on the Montreal media. It had the same effect on me. I got swept up in a way of hope.

I recall thinking, "Bob, what are you saying! Come to your senses!"

Bob came to his senses at 2:53 PM yesterday, apparently. When dance partner Don Waddell's asking price became a touch too lofty for Gainey to assume, the wise man backed down.

What happened was Waddell did as any GM worth his salt would - he upped the ante until the last minute. When the Thrashers GM asked Gainey for more, the good Bob stood his ground. The Penguins had offered the four bodies they ended up sending and the Canadiens balked at the offer of Mikhail Grabovski, Matt D' Agnostini, Mark Streit, and Ryan O'Byrne.

You can decide which offer you'd choose, but Waddell went with the two NHL regulars offered by Pittsburgh, a first round pick in 2008, and the disappointing Angelo Esposito that the Pens chose last summer.

Gainey could not see the Habs as being improved, had they surrendered three assets from their starting lineup, and good for him!

This team did not look too shabby on the ice last night, but the playoffs are a whole other test.
What confounded me from the get go, was that the Canadiens have plently of offfense. After last night's game, they have scored 201 goals. Detroit have 203 with one more game played. Ottawa has 210.

Offense is not the problem, defense is more of a concern.

Markov, Komisarek, and Hamrlik rate a great top three, though none will be confused for Pronger, Niedermayer or Lidstrom.

Francis Bouillon and Josh Gorges have surprised of late - in certain games. Ryan O'Byrne is coming along as well as hoped.

There's Mark Streit to sub on the PP point and fill in when penalties get hairy and rotations go out of whack, Mathieu Dandeneault in emergencies, and Patrice Brisebois when...when...when hell starts to freeze.

It would have been good to see Bob add, say, Adam Foote or another top 4 d-man to the corps.

Instead, Gainey delivered the curve I so greatly feared when writing about this two days ago.

Certainly many weren't prepared to see Cristobal Huet dealt, especially at a time when there was little market for goalies. The returning second round pick does not make Gainey look genial today, but he may be looking at things differently than most.

Standing to lose Huet to free agency this coming summer, and with Jaroslav Halak once again standing on his head in Hamilton, a choice needed to be made. As this is a young team, perhaps Gainey wants his goaltenders to peak at the same time the core of the team reaches its apex.

That is not now. It might just be next year. It will surely be the year after, in many estimations.
In order to have the goaltending be where it needs to then, the process of them being front and center, taking the bullets, must begin now. With Huet in the picture, this would not have happened.

Yesterday cemented the notion of Price as the man of the moment, over simply being constantly regarded as the goalie of the future. Gainey's decision makes clear the future begins now.

It was good then that he sacrificed none of it yesterday.

Gainey's final piece, his home run signing, Hossa even, can come this summer.

He'll appear a great deal wiser when it happens - as long as he doesn't tell the world exactly what his intents are with two weeks notice.


Anonymous said...

Robert, Thanks for that. I've posted elsewhere similiar comments because i think people are letting emotion get in the way. Having Halak and Price hold the fort makes a strong statement of confidence in these kids. It's no doubt a huge risk but a smart risk. If the tandem works well it's a win. If it doesn't then Gainey knows to get someone in the offseason while it doesn't hurt anyone. If he thinks that we can make the playoffs but not necessarily win the stanley Cup with great confidance then this is the time to take this risk. Show the kids some confidance let the team grow together and assess what they can do and what it will take to get them to the playoffs. Like i said it's a big risk but i think Bob is positioning the organization to be in good shape or the best shape possible for years to come. I miss Huet and i would have liked to have seen Hossa (not at the price he went for mind you) but i think the potential for emotional and psychological growth for the team is huge with this decision.

Let's face it the Habs are ahead of the curve nobody figured them to be where they are today so there's no need to precipitate things take a gamble and see what happens we haven't hurt the team and we are still on track for what Bob is building here.

I'm really exited, nervous but excited. I hope the team responds in the way that Bob/Guy are thinking they will.

Continue the great work Robert!

Go Habs Go.


Anonymous said...

If you remember right, before the season, it was said the reason Price wouldn't be in Montreal this year was he was the type of goalie that needed a lot of work, and for him to sit on the bench behind Huet wasn't going to help him. After 2/3 of a season, Price has shown flashes of brilliance, but has had to worry if he has a bad game that Carbo was going to put Huet back in next game. Now that worry is gone and Price is the man. This move was to build confidence in Price, get him the workload and experience he needs, and get a return on a UFA that wouldn't be here next year, and wasn't going to get us any further than Price can this year. I'm sad to see huet go, but it's the right move for both the team and Huet. Gainey has the rest of the year to analyse the team and decide what assests can move in the offseason, has the draft picks and money to improve the team, and the aura of Montreal is changing, and players are now looking at Montreal as a place they'd like to play.
Gainey has done a tremendous job to get us where we are, and has set us up to be contenders for a long time (as we should be) while the Penguins overpaid dearly for a rental player that could end up in Montreal 4 months from now. I like this team, as it has something that Montreal teams hven't has since the mid 90's, talent and commeradiere. They play as a team and enjoy each other.
Even though we neded up being sellers yesterday, while I was waiting for the news about Hossa, I was reminded that it had been many years since MTL was a contender and the talking heads were talking about MTL in such positive ways, and not talking about what assets we were giving away to the contenders.
Feels good to have the Canadiens back at the top of the standings and vying for the Cup.
In Bob we trust!

Geoffrey said...