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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Friday, June 18, 2010