Friday, June 18, 2010

Keeping the Faith... or Not

by Tyg

Hallelujah! The Great Goalie War of 2009-2010 is OVER! Why isn't everyone rejoicing?

I know there's a lot of Halak vs. Price comparisons going on again today - frankly they've been going on for a while now and I've read all that and how their stats are comparable and what not.

I've read more than I care to about this trade, and while logic has gotten through to me and I understand about salary cap issues, etc. let me make one thing clear: Just because I understand something doesn't automatically equate to me liking it.

I'm not a Halak worshipper, nor am I a Price faithful.

I like both goalies and think both are highly skilled and capable. I would have preferred to keep both, though I honestly thought that wouldn't happen—again due to the cap issues.

Also, unlike a lot of learned hockey commentators and the casual fan on the street, I do not think this automatically means a re-signing of soon to be UFA Tomas Plekanec.

I can see why people are upset, and I'm one of them, but not because the Habs have just traded their playoff hero. I'm upset for a few other reasons, the first of which is Carey Price himself.

Carey Price
I've read a lot about Price recently, and how he has matured during this recent post-season Habs run, and while that may be true, what I saw for myself was Price slashing Nik Backstrom from the bench and shooting a puck into celebrating Caps. Cue the 2 unsportsmanlike penalties.

He did an awful lot of growing up during the Pens series and the abbreviated Flyers series then, I guess. Considering he failed to do it over the three seasons he's been in Montreal thus far hardly inspires confidence in me and makes me think he's worthy of the net, the responsibility, and the faith he has once again been handed on the proverbial silver platter.

I really hope the month of maturity he impressed pundits with is here to stay, because if not it will suck for him, but more importantly it's going to suck for me as a lifelong fan, and probably for many other fans.

I suspect it will suck for the Habs as a whole, and their chances at a playoff run next season as well.

Pierre Gauthier
For every fan calling him out for this trade (including the great Red Fisher whom I highly respect), there are fans who are lauding him going against the fanbase and making the hard call.

While I can understand what Gauthier was thinking, I have to side with the former.

Regardless of the fanbase and the cap issues, what Gauthier has done is trade away a solid NHL player that the organization has managed to develop, for two untested prospects. That amounts to another crapshoot for me and I just went through the same thing with Bob Gainey.

Yes, Gainey's crapshoot turned out to have more upside than down, but sometimes when you roll the dice you get lucky. Sometimes you don't.

As a fan, I'd like a lot less gambling. We've been "rebuilding" for 17—going on 18—years and it's not working.

I had a friend who wisely posted that the alternative is to do nothing and maintain the team we had last season. I disagree. The alternative is to keep the key pieces that are working and offload what isn't. And that brings me to my next gripe.

Jaroslav Halak
Yes, this kid did so well in the playoffs that he worked himself out of the salary cap in Montreal. Congratulations and job well done and so long and thanks for all the pucks. Now there's the door. Don't let it hit you on the way out.

I'm talking about R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and until he got the Habs into the playoffs, make no mistake, Halak wasn't getting any from Gautier and Co. He still didn't even after the playoffs because at no point did Gauthier ever even consider keeping him.

So Halak should have sucked then, and none of this wouldn't have happened, right?

Not really.

How about you keep the goaltender that has earned his spot in the net. Rumors abound that more GMs were interested in Price anyway. He's got a question mark and Halak doesn't.

There's a lot of criticism coming Halak's way now that he's been traded—it's a fluke (despite his consistently improving stats over the past few years and throughout the minors), the size restrictions on the pads will wreck his game, and he can't stand on his head ever again like that.

I'll give you the last one, but that's all.

He EARNED it. He earned respect from this organization as well. He's getting neither. He was never going to. And that loops back to my assessment of Gauthier.

Eller and Schultz
Who? Exactly. My problem is not that the Habs failed to trade Halak for an NHL level ready player. My problem is the organization itself - more specifically, it's unfailing inability to turn promising prospects into true NHL calibre talent.

Kids shine in the AHL and WHL all the time. They really do. And then they get brought up to the NHL level for their shot or due to injury or training camps or whatever. And that's when the wheat gets separated from the chaff.

The Habs organization has not proven to be a good farmer. Now that former Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher has defected to Tampa Bay, I expect that will hardly improve.

When I think of the kids the Habs have drafted and tried to turn into solid NHL players I think Chipchura, Latendresse and Sergei Kostitsyn. There are others that failed to impress me as well. Ryder and Higgins, for example.

Every now and again, the Habs do harvest one or two. Plekanec and Halak spring to mind. Both are solid hard workers, and both flourished under coach Jacques Martin's system. They are the exception, though, not the rule.

PK Subban has yet to see a full season at the NHL level, so I'll reserve judgment on him.

I've read a lot about Eller and Schultz, and it varies widely. There's a lot of talk about potential. There's just as much talk about how Eller is not a finisher and likely will never be, and is also injury prone. And Schultz is expected to be a 3rd liner at best, years from now.

If people want to talk about potential then I'd like to point out that there's a whole lot of potential for this to turn out to be a very bad deal for the Habs.

Recent history actually favors this to being the case.

I'd rather not spend another season "rebuilding" and waiting for these two kids, along with Carey Price, to come around and save the franchise by bringing it back to glory with a 25th Stanley Cup.

Hey, I've been doing that. I've been patient. I'm been hopeful. I've been loyal.

From where I'm sitting today, the Habs, led now by Gautier, are still going around in the same circle they have for the past 17 years.

Now I'm just getting dizzy.

Tyg used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.


Kamal, I like you so I'm going to attempt to make you feel better by just pointing out something for you to think about and share with your readers.

Question: Would you trade PK Subban to get Halak in return if you were the habs right now? (with Price)

The answer is an emphatic fucking NO but here's the kicker for ya:

The blues just did that.

Eller is a nobody to you but he is the Blue's #1 prospect. And they just traded him away.

To disgruntled hab fans: Enough of this shit please grow some hockey sense.

Support your habs no matter what!

Kamal didn't type this I did. I have supported this club for over 30 years and I DO have some hockey sense, thanks. Doesn't mean I have to blindly agree with everything they do. It doesn't make me any less of a fan.

PK Subban has yet to suffer a full year under the great NHL system of Jacques Martin and in the fishbowl of Montreal. Price has a question mark. Halak doesn't. I'd probably make the trade. I don't care what the Blues just did. I'm not a Blues fan.

Eller is one of many good Blues prospects. They have more. They let him go. He MAY turn out to be all that and a bag o' chips. He could just as easily NOT. Yes, he is nothing to me - for now. This organization's track record with young prospects is not encouraging, and Boucher is not there to teach the Blues' version of PK Subban. Those are FACTS.

Habs fans have the right to disagree, as you may choose to agree, with the moves of this organization. You do not have the right to bash them, and me, for it.

Who cares who wrote this, the point is that none of you people are thinking about the future of the team.

If you don't want to be bashed or contradicted than don't post anything, by doing so you invite comments which promote discussion.

And to get back to basics you didn't answer my question, probably because of blind rage.

Give your head a shake you aren't that special.

Hey Tyg,

Nice piece!

I think your point about the Habs going in circles is salient and I think it is a valid point of frustration because right now it feels like a step back.

For me, I personally think that this is the first move by Gauthier this summer, not his last, and that the deal might look better in light of other things he does.

Just a feeling, but I think that is how the cookie will crumble.

Nick: You're right...the Blues were VERY high on Eller and he is a player they had work with to develop and get ready for the NHL.

As Tyg pointed out, there is no guarantee that he will develop, but he looks like he will be a solid 2nd line center in the NHL. But that is the key here because if he doesn't pan out then this deal will look real bad for the Habs.

Personally, I have no real problem with this team because it is essentially a 1st and a 3rd rounder for Halak.

Not THAT bad, imo.

Nick - bashing is not okay. Contradicting is fine. There's a line, and I would appreciate it if you wouldn't cross it. Again.

I'm not actually raging about anything, and I did answer your question. Perhaps you might care to re-read my response. Not sure where I indicated that I was "that special" tho.

I am thinking about the future of this team. I'm also thinking that particular future is likely to take another 5 years, and since I've been waiting 17, I'm starting to resent it. That was the point of my entire post actually.

As to who cares who wrote this - I simply did not want Kamal to take the heat for something he did not state. That is all.

Kamal I'm glad to see you got the point of the post. You usually understand where I'm coming from, even when we don't agree, and I do always appreciate that.

I hope Gautier makes a deal that justifies my having to wait another few years to plug the holes in this team. I don't expect Pleks to resign this close to FA. If nothing else, logic and his agent would dictate he's more likely to test the market, in which case he's also likely to be overpaid.

Even trading Halak tho, I have zero hopes for Marleau, and frankly everyone else is a downgrade IMO. I like that they're high level prospects, but I just don't like this organization's recent record with developing prospects.

Can't argue with you there Tyg!

The team has not shown an ability to properly draft, cultivate and develop top line players.

3rd and 4th liners? We're full of them! 5-8th defenseman too, but for some reason the Habs have a lot of difficult hitting top notch home runs.

Gauthier, with this move, put all his eggs in the Carey Price basket. Let's hope that he's right!

You know Kamal I'm fine with giving Price another shot. I just want it to be the last one. From now on all I ask is he earns it.

Wish Boucher were still here. *sigh* I'd be more optimistic.

Yep, it's hard to argue with them "handing" the job to him over and over. It's a bit ugly.

That being said, I personally feel that he is ready this time and that if they get a veteran backup he will round into form over the next 24 months.

We have to remember that Price has 3 years of experience and is still only 22. That is insane!

As a general rule, goalies don't tend to hit their stride until their mid twenties so I think that Price will only get better and by the time he is the same age as Halak (25) will be one of the best in the league.

Time will tell!

As for getting ANOTHER chance after this, there is no way.

This is the last chance for Price, Gauthier, Boivin, Martin and co.

They have banked their future on this trade and if it doesn't work out, they are all gone (and the team will be set back a good 5+ years).

If it DOES work out, however, and Price DOES become and elite goalie, and Eller DOES become a 60+ point player, then this deal is going to look awesome!

Great post Tyg!

While I don't agree on all points it is very refreshing to read a well balanced thought out reaction instead of those emotion-laden incoherent rants I keep reading/hearing still today.

Like you I am not a fan of JM's and will be mourning Guy Boucher for still some time to come. Although I'm not convinced that the 7th floor team in place is the best one to hold the Habs destiny in the best possible way, I am willing to give a chance to the trade and reserve my judgement for later. Also, PG's next moves will influence my overall appreciation...

Keep it up!

Thank you Lise and it's nice to hear from you again. I am also waiting to reserve judgment - what else can any of us really do anyway? But my initial impression overall is not overly optimistic. Since I'm a pessimist by nature tho, that's hardly surpising.

Agree that PG's next moves will carry some weight on this one. Hearing Frolov rumors again if Pleks walks...


Tyg, that was a fine piece and I'm not sure why Nick has his shorts in a knot but that's fine. You made solid points about all concerned. We don't know how Eller and Shultz will do and we're hoping for great thing from both. But really, Eller has almost no resume per say (7 games in the bigs) so I'm cautious like you about this. Good job.

Thanks Dennis and glad you stopped by. I'm just having reservations - as is usual for me with this team's management and its trade deals - and I want some payback now as opposed to potential for payback 2 or 3 years from now.

Fans always get bunches in their panties, especially when fan faves are traded and the lines get drawn. It's part of fandom, particularly with the Habs.

I'm also cautious about Eller, and Schultz, and I just hope to GAWD they are wheat and not chaff.

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