Wednesday, June 30, 2010

So What Do Habs Fans Think of Pierre Gauthier Now?

Yesterday's news that the Montreal Canadiens had traded disgruntled forward Sergei Kostitsyn, to the Nashville Predators, marked the fifth volley fired this offseason by the still relatively new Habs GM, Pierre Gauthier.

When Bob Gainey stepped down as General Manager, in late February, the hope was that the Habs braintrust would go out and perform a proper executive search for his successor.

Much to the chagrin of most Habs fans, in the same press conference where Gainey announced his decision, the team announced that his assistant GM, Pierre Gauthier, would be taking over Gainey's job on a full time basis.

The fact that there was no interim tag that came with the position was extremely bothersome to most, myself included, as fans felt that it was time for the Habs to go in a different direction.

Gauthier took over the reigns of an up and down team that was a few months away from having to make some very crucial decisions, namely what to do with his goaltenders—Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak—and his first line center—Tomas Plekanec.

In addition, he was tasked with tweaking the team by or before the trade deadline.

Gauthier was relatively inactive at the deadline, making only one move to bring in Dominic Moore for a second round pick. But that move proved to be a boon for the Canadiens as Moore provided a spark to the Habs third line.

While most Habs addicts were happy to have Moore on the team, there was a disturbingly ominous feeling that not trading Halak or Price at the deadline would prove costly in the offseason.

I think that this was because fans had gotten used to Gainey letting assets walk away for nothing. As such, many were worried that they were seeing a replay of previous years.

That was not to be, however, as Gauthier has jumped to action since the end of the season.

While Gauthier does share Gainey's poker face and tends to be very low key, he seems, at least so far, to be executing what looks like a well thought out plan.

Gauthier's first move was to start negotiations with Tomas Plekanec during the season.

For those who haven't followed the Canadiens the last few years, former GM Bob Gainey had an unofficial policy of not negotiating with free agents during the season.  Unfortunately, Gainey's theory was proven wrong last season, as he lost several valuable assets for nothing.

I can't stress enough how important it is to get something, anything, for your assets in the salary cap era. You either have to trade them or sign them, because letting asset after asset walk away for nothing, year after year, is a recipe for disaster.

But I digress.

So in breaking from Gainey's policy, Gauthier was showing fans that he perhaps had a different philosophy.

Once the offseason started, Gauthier's first move was to trade Halak to the St. Louis Blues for two prospects. While many fans were upset and believed that the Canadiens should have gotten more back in the trade, Gauthier essentially got a first (Lars Eller) and third round (Ian Schultz) pick for Halak.

That's not that bad, if you ask me.

The other thing that Gauthier did was to create cap flexibility going forward. This is another requirement of the salary cap era: teams need to manage their cap in the present and for the future.

By trading Halak, Gauthier anointed Price as "his man" and saved himself having to go through a tough negotiation with Halak that would end with the Canadiens having to pay more than they wanted to.

The next move Gauthier made was to sign Tomas Plekanec to a six-year, $30 million contract. This too was a bit of a departure from the Gainey years where he would negotiate with his free agents up to July first, only to lose them for nothing on the open market.

Gauthier wanted Plekanec on his team and he made that clear to him during the season.  In signing him long term, Gauthier made the decision to retain an asset that was drafted, developed, and properly cultivated from within the Habs organization.

That is something that we have not seen for a long time and is a refreshing change for this organization.

Once Plekanec was signed, Gauthier turned his attention to the draft.  While there was a ton of speculation that the Canadiens would make some kind of draft-day trade for a roster player, the real drama took place with the prospects.

The Canadiens traded up from the 27th overall pick to the 22nd position—by swapping first round picks and giving a second round pick—to draft hulking defensemen Jarred Tinordi.

For those who haven't heard, Tinordi looks like a can't-miss prospect and brings a combination of grit, toughness, skill, and leadership to go with his 6'6" 205 lbs frame.

He should become a powerhouse on the backend, playing in the Habs top-four within a few years.

With the draft behind him, Gauthier quickly signed Tom Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot to one-year "let's see what you can do" deals, before turning his attention to the stone in his shoe called Sergei Kostitsyn.

With yesterday's announcement that the Canadiens had traded RFA Sergei Kostitsyn to the Predators for UFA's Dan Ellis and Dustin Boyd, the Habs fan base was energized.

How was Gauthier able to get so much for such a devalued asset? Well the truth is that there are no guarantees that either Ellis or Boyd will sign with the Canadiens and as such, it's maybe not such a big deal for Nashville to have given up the rights to both players.

Even if the Canadiens can't sign either player, this deal still works out to addition by subtraction and the Habs come out ahead.

If, however, Gauthier can actually sign one or both of these players, then the deal looks even better as Ellis could be a great second to Price, and Boyd is a bigger, tougher, cheaper, and faster version of Glen Metropolit.

So now, on the eve of free agency, how are Habs fans feeling about their new GM?

How do they feel about his moves so far?

With one announcement after another, Gauthier's plan is slowly unfolding and with each move he is inspiring more and more confidence in himself.

When Guy Boucher was hired by the Tampa Bay Lightning, I remember having a discussion with a Habs addict on Twitter about the move and Habs management in general.

While neither of us was sold on Gauthier and Coach Martin, I told her that I was at least willing to give Gauthier the benefit of the doubt. I thought that since Gauthier was here to stay, that it was better to just see what he did with the team rather than being upset about the situation.

Well, so far, I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised. It’s nice to see the Canadiens GM taking strong, purposeful strides in sculpting the team the way he sees fit.

Gauthier still has several important decisions to make including signing Price and a backup, and deciding whether to trade Andrei Kostitsyn and Roman Hamrlik or not, so he is not done yet. Whether it all works out or not remains to be seen, but so far, Gauthier seems to be shaping this team into one that should get better, year after year.

So what do you all think of Gauthier now? What do you think of the moves he has made and what do you think he will do for the rest of the offseason?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Habs Trade Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville

The Canadiens have traded Sergei Kostitsyn to the Nashville Predators for forward Dustin Boyd, goaltender Dan Ellis and future considerations. The deal also includes future considerations for the Predators.

Analysis to follow...

In the meantime, what do you think of the trade?

Here are the player profiles:

Dustin Boyd
http://espn.go.com/nhl/players/profile?playerId=3304

Dan Ellis
http://espn.go.com/nhl/players/profile?playerId=2171

Monday, June 28, 2010

Habs Trade Up in the 2010 Entry Draft...Way Up.

by Willey

As is the case every year, going into the draft my hopes were high but the reality of the situation is that a fantastic playoff run left us with the 27th overall pick.

The worst 1st round position this organization has ever had.

But when all was said and done Pierre Gauthier and the Montreal Canadiens left Los Angeles with arguably the best prospect this organization has had since Carey Price.

In a gutsy move Gauthier agreed to part with both our 1st and 2nd round picks in exchange for the 22nd overall and a late 4th rounder in what was otherwise considered a very deep draft.

With the thoughts and distaste of many still fresh in our mouths with the Jaroslav Halak trade, the consensus on forum boards and water cooler chatter everywhere seemed to echo that once again we are simply giving up too much.

The continuous frustration of a team giving up valuable 1st and 2nd round picks when there is an obvious depletion of organizational depth, knowing all so well that these are quite simply crucial.

But when all was said and done, and despite being absolutely against the hiring of Gauthier as GM after witnessing his debacle in both Ottawa and Anaheim, I stood there applauding.

What Gauthier accomplished was what many had hoped Bob Gainey would do; pro-actively find the player you want and do everything in your power to get him in your organization.

It is my personal philosophy to approach every draft with a very simple mindset. Do your homework, make the decision you think is best but ultimately make sure that at least 1 of the players you have chosen actually makes it to the NHL as an impact player.

Sure the organization could have waited until the 27th spot and further use their second round pick for whomever they deemed the best at each of those spots.

Ultimately at the end of the day we would have seen ourselves with 2-3 or perhaps even 4 decent possibilities of making it to the NHL.  But Gauthier rolled the dice and gave up quantity and went for quality with the acquisition of the still growing 6’5 inch, 210 lbs beast of a defensemen, Jarrod Tinordi.

Still likely at least 2-3 years away from potentially earning a spot on the blue line, Tinordi possess’ all the attributes this team requires.  He is big, mean, tough, has a great skating stride, is a natural leader and best of all not only was he the best player on the board when the 22nd overall selection was to be made but he fulfilled an organizational need.

When 3 of your top 4 current Dmen and when the all of your top rated blueline prospects in your organization are 6’0 or smaller, Tinordi stands out as a promising light or should I say……. towering presence.

Time will tell whether he possess’ not only the physical attributes but the mental aspects that are needed to fully develop and become a regular at the NHL level.
However, his bloodline screams capable, his leadership dictates proficient, and his physical prowess shouts watch out Northeast Division…I am coming, and I plan on leaving my mark.

A mark which is only possible because of Pierre Gauthier and his pro-active pursuit.

---
Willey was the shinning light among the wicked growing up as the lone Habs fan in Toronto. Pray to Holy Ghosts of the old forum and all shall be answered I was told, and just like that my family was transferred back to Montreal and away from the damned. Olé Olé Olé.

You Be the Canadiens' GM - Question 5: Would You Make a Play for Lecavalier?

For the final question in the five-part series about what you would do if you were the Habs GM, I asked fans a question that brought a lot of hate-mail on me.

Well, mail hate-mail is the wrong word, but the question really got a lot of people in a bother and, to be honest, I completely understand why!

This is a tired topic that most fans thought they'd never have to hear about again.  The Habs came close—a few seasons ago—to acquiring Lecavalier in a trade, and when that trade fell through, many were happy to hear the end of it.

That being said, for question five in this survey, I asked fans if they would make a play for Vincent Lecavalier.

Keep in mind that this survey was done a few weeks ago so some of the answers no longer hold water. Here's a sampling of what some of you fans had to say:


Question#5: Would you make a play for Vincent Lecavalier?
1. Insert projectile vomit sound.

G-D forbid we bring in Vinny and watch him become useless while wearing a Habs jersey.

He is the girl you always dreamed of hooking up with but know deep down if you did, things would end ugly or you will be left with some itchy uncomfortable feeling down your pants.

Many players get motivated by contracts but when you sign a 10 yr deal, it’s hard to be playing for that other contract. I just envision heavy disappointment from unrealistic expectations in Montreal thus leading him to be completely miserable in this city.

2. Vinny? No way, no how. That ship has sailed.

3. Would only happen if they added some other players, and took Gomez and the Kostitsyns. Even then Gomez's contract is shorter.

4. Only if they take Gomez's ridiculous contract back. I would actually be really interested in Marty St. Louis if it was not the fact that he has the same size as Gionta. Swap Gomez, Markov and a pick for Lecavalier and Ohlund.

That's the only thing I could see happening.

5. No, Not ever, Never He's a 70 point player making the money of a 110 point player. The Habs already have one of those guys.

6. If you can get Vinny for cheap, sure pull the trigger. If not, I say don't do it. Last year, if I remember correctly Tampa Bay wanted Higgins, Gorges, Plekanec and Subban for him. All of those guys except for Higgins ended up being huge contributors to the team this year. Either way, Vinny's contract is just too big and we already have Gomez's monstrosity of a contract to deal with...

Consensus: No way, no how. Absolutely do not make a play for Lecavalier.


This one is a pretty open and shut case, to me. While Lecavalier was at one point one of the top three players in the league, he seems to have slipped a bit from that mantle over the last two seasons.

Now that Steven Stamkos is in town as the new young stud, Lecavalier is playing a slightly lesser role on the team. That being said, I think now that Guy Boucher is coaching the Bolts, Lecavalier has a very real chance of returning to his 90+ point level.

That being said, I think that the only way the Habs can or would make a play for Lecavalier would be if the Bolts were willing to take Scott Gomez back in the trade.

Unlikely.

I think that with Steve Yzerman at the helm of the Bolts, they are going to try to hold on to Vinny for at least one more season to see what he can do while playing under Boucher.

As for the Habs, they seem set in their current direction with Michael Cammalleri, Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Tomas Plekanec all having at least four years remaining on their contracts.

I am in agreement with what many of the fans had to say on this subject: that ship has sailed.

So what do you think? Would you make a play for Vinny? Does this question make you want to murder people? Inquiring minds want to know.

Oh, and thanks to the many people from Bleacher Report, HabsAddict.com, Hockeybuzz.com, and Inside Hockey who sent in their responses!

POLL RESULTS - Would you make a play for Vincent Lecavalier?
Hell, Yes! - 22%
Hell, No! - 77%

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Habs News - Canadiens Draft round up, Free Agency Looms...

Habs Inside/Out - Canadiens Draft Jarred Tinordi
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36490

More Draft Picks
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36501

Moving right along...
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36502

RDS - Three forwards and a defenseman (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301507.html

TSN - GM Gauthier thrilled with Canadiens selections
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=325834

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Habs Trade Up to Pick Hulking Defenseman Jarred Tinordi at 22nd Overall

Just a quick note that the Habs traded up from their 27th overall spot in the first round to select hulking 6'6" Jarred Tinordi, 22nd overall.

TSN's Bob Mckenzie says:
"Bob McKenzie: The son of former NHL defenceman Mark Tinordi is an absolute physical beast, almost 6-foot-6 and still filling out a frame that is more than 200 pounds. He blew scouts away with physical testing at the Combine. He’s naturally aggressive, a heavy hitter, with outstanding leadership and character, as evidenced by his captaincy on what may be the best U.S. U-18 team ever. Tinordi will attend Notre Dame in the fall."
(extract from Bob Mckenzie's final draft rankings http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=24944)

Here is the Hockey's Future profile on Jarred Tinordi:
http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/jarred_tinordi

This gigantic 18 year old shutdown defenseman brings leadership, toughness and size with a mean streak. He looks like he will be an excellent addition on the Habs back end for years to come.

RDS:
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301482.html

Habs Inside/Out:
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36490

TSN:
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=325730

TSN's Bob Mckenzie says:
"Bob McKenzie: The son of former NHL defenceman Mark Tinordi is an absolute physical beast, almost 6-foot-6 and still filling out a frame that is more than 200 pounds. He blew scouts away with physical testing at the Combine. He’s naturally aggressive, a heavy hitter, with outstanding leadership and character, as evidenced by his captaincy on what may be the best U.S. U-18 team ever. Tinordi will attend Notre Dame in the fall."
(extract from Bob Mckenzie's final draft rankings http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=24944)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You Be the Canadiens' GM - Question #4: How do you make the Habs bigger?

Greetings folks! It's time for the penultimate question in the five-question survey that I ran a few weeks ago. The survey asked fans what they would do this summer if they were the Habs GM.

For question number four, I asked how you would make the Habs a bigger team for the upcoming season. Below is a sampling of the responses I received. You'll notice that some of these options no longer hold water as some of the players mentioned have already been moved.

That being said, you Habs addicts out there put your thinking caps on and came up with some some very creative ideas.  So here goes:

1. Size at forward is nice but the Habs need a big skater on the blueline. I was hoping for Carl Gudbarnson but then we made the darned playoffs. Dan Hamhuis would be a nice pick-up. Raffi Torres will be cheap. He's not the answer but he'll be cheap.

2. AK46 and Pouliot gotta go. Neither are fit wingers for the top 2 lines, and there has to be some dealing done to get at least 2 solid wingers who will go into the corners to get the pucks for the skilled smurf players, and also protect them from the bullies. Dustin Byfuglien is money in the bank for the Hawks, and they're facing cap issues, so I doubt they'll deal him. But I would look for something similar for sure. No idea who though.

3. How we get bigger...Well it's not about getting bigger but getting more physical. Habs need people to open up space for their smaller players. Bang and crashers with some skill.

Colby Armstrong is a UFA and scored 15 goals last season, he would be a perfect fit for Gionta and Gomez.

Trade for Andrew Ladd from Chicago, they are in so much cap problems they are going to want a draft pick or cheaper talent (or both) in return...but it wouldn't cost the Habs much to pry him away.

Eric Belanger (a UFA) isn't that big but scored 15 goals and isn't afraid of the physical stuff and he's awesome on faceoffs, something that the Habs lack.

The above acquisitions would make the Habs tougher to play against and increase their size and toughness. What's more it wouldn't cost the Habs much as only Ladd would require a trade.

If that doesn't float your boat, then go after Horton from Florida, as the management there doesn't like his work ethic (I don't think he wants to play in Florida and could use a change of scenery)

Trade a goalie for David Backes from St Louis as they don't have a young goalie in their system and could use Price or Halak. Although I would hate to see either go.

4. Trade for David Backes. Let Pleck go and sign Brooks Laich (UFA) and sign Todd Bertuzzi (UFA). He's cheap and likes to park his rear in front of goalies. Bring up Pacioretty/white.

5. Trade Jaro Halak for David Backes, Sign Colby Armstrong. Promote Ryan White (More so for grit than size). Bring over Alexei Emelin. And Ryan O’Byrne doesn't sit in the press box.

6. Markov and the Habs 1st for Horton and the Panthers 1st? (I LIKE THIS ONE!)

7. Doesn't every team look for size every year? Best of luck to the Habs at finding a guy with size that is good. Teams don't normally give up those guys so easily so let's hope the "video scouting" proves effective in locating that big winger.

Consensus: There truly is none, although the name of David Backes, of the St. Louis Blues, keeps rearing its head. Ryan Clowe would be another good pick up for the Habs.


The Habs have already moved one of their biggest trading assets—Jaroslav Halak—and have signed center Tomas Plekanec long term. This means that they now have approximately $9 million left to sign eight players.

That's pretty tight so if GM Pierre Gauthier is going to make this team bigger this summer he will have to get creative.

If he can somehow move Roman Hamrlik's contract that would give him another $5.5 million to go shopping with. That being said, I think that with one more year on his contract, Hamrlik can be an important figure in helping P.K. Subban become a bonafide NHLer this year.

Gauthier's best bet is to try and move the Kostitsyn brothers who collectively make approximately $4 million a year. That is money he can use to try and sign a free agent winger like Alexander Frolov.

At 6"2' and 216 lbs, Frolov would be a welcome addition up front and his past history with Michael Cammalleri makes him all the more likely to be targeted by GM Gauthier.

So what do you think? How would you make this team bigger?

POLL RESULTS - How would you make the Habs bigger?
Move players/sign Frolov - 73%
Via trade - 15%
Via free agency - 10%
They're big enough! - 0%

Habs News - Pleks in the city, Henderson Jersey, NHL awards, Gauthier

Habs Inside/Out - Qualifying offers heat up contract talks
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36384

Pleks in the city
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36377

Henderson jersey
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36378

NHL Awards roundup
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36381

RDS - Habs make offers to five players (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301373.html

Montreal before money for Plekanec (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301298.html

Gauthier has other plans
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301298.html

TSN - Salary cap set at $59.4 Million next season
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=325481

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BREAKING NEWS - Habs ink Tomas Plekanec to long term extension

According to TSN's Bob Mckenzie, the Canadiens have re-signed Plekanec to a long term deal approximated at around $5 million per season.
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=325383

RDS is reporting it is a 6-year, $30 million deal:
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301251.html

Habs Inside/Out - Plekanec re-signs with Habs: TSN
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36374

As Habs Inside/Out pointed out, the signing of Plekanec leaves the Habs with $9 million to sign Carey Price, Maxim Lapierre, Glen Metropolit, Tom Pyatt, Benoit Pouliot, Marc-André Bergeron, Sergei Kostitsyn and Dominic Moore.

Things are getting pretty tight folks so hold onto your hats!

Habs News - Basu on Plek and Price, Habs schedule, Tampa for opener, TSN Draft rankings

The Daily Hab-it - What will the week ahead bring?
http://dailyhab-it.blogspot.com/2010/06/what-will-week-ahead-bring.html

Habs Inside/Out - Lightning to strike at home opener
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36369

Schedule announced today
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36370

RDS - Local opening against Guy Boucher (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/301183.html

TSN - Bob McKenzie's Draft rankings
http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=24944

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Monday, June 21, 2010

You Be the Canadiens' GM - Question #3: Re-sign or trade Andrei Markov?

In question three of my five-part survey on what fans would do they were the Habs' GM, I asked readers what they would do with Andrei Markov. Sign him? Trade him? Wait till the trade deadline?

Here's a sampling of what fans had to say:

Question#3: Re-sign or trade Andrei Markov?
1. Re-sign Markov. He's a top 5 D-man year in and year out, and he's a huge impact on the rest of the D corp. Also crucial to PP and PK special teams.

2. Trade him and get another stellar defensemen like Lubomir Vishnovsky.

3. I couldn't bear the thought of trading a top 5-7 defenseman when the only offensive help from the blueline besides Markov is coming from a 21-year old rookie.

Markov's injuries are not recurrent, just pure bad luck (See Price's skate, Cooke's hit). We finally have a great top pair on D for the coming years in Markov/Subban. Let them be. I would only trade Markov for a stud young center ala Staal, Carter, Kopitar, and that ain't happening!

3. I think we should trade him...maybe even package him with Halak to get a big top-6 forward. It's a lot to give up, but the return has the potential to change this franchise, plus Markov has been getting hurt at very inopportune times over the last few years (not that injuries are his fault).

4. IF you want to trade Markov (I don't, but say he seems unwilling to extend during the season), trade deadline is best in this case because he's injured at the moment. Spacek is no Markov, but he'd be better on his natural side and the Habs could have a D by committee approach while seeking a replacement.

5. Re-sign Markov. This guy has been with the Habs since he got in this league. I think it would be a shame to let him go next year. I love what he brings to the table both on and off the ice.

6. Don't trade Markov. He is a leader. He may have one or two good years and that can make a difference for younger players (Subban, O'Byrne, Webber).

Consensus: Mixed-bag. Some say trade him, some say keep him. If there is a consensus it is that people feel sick about the thought of losing Markov.

One of the top offensive-defenseman in the league year after year, Andrei Markov will be entering the final year of his contract this summer.

Logic would dictate that the Habs simply cannot afford to lose Markov and should re-sign him as soon as possible.

GM Pierre Gauthier has even publically said that he wants to start talking contract with Markov this summer, as opposed to next.

But is the Markov re-signing a total no-brainer or is there more to the story?

Markov has unfortunately seen a rash of injuries over the last two or three seasons which have caused him to miss all or significant portions of the playoffs last year and this year.

In addition, his freak skate-cut accident in the first game of this past season caused him to be out until the New Year. Then, after coming back from the injury, Markov torn his ACL during the second round versus Pittsburgh, sending him home for knee surgery and then home until next season.

At this point, Markov is projected to be back in the lineup in November 2010, meaning that the Habs might once again be missing Markov at the beginning of the season.

All this adds up to the Habs having to at least consider the possibility of trading Markov this season rather than signing him or letting him become a UFA.

Can you imagine Markov on a team like Washington, for example? He'd have just as many points as Mike Green, if not more, and would have a better plus/minus rating.

The potential return for trading Markov to a contending team could be massive and something that could help the Habs out for years to come.

You also can't discount the fact that the Habs made due without Markov for most of the season and playoffs.

So while he is their rock on the backend, they might be showing that they can play without him.

But who am I kidding?

If the Habs traded Markov, how would they find a replacement for him? You cannot easily acquire a No.1 defensemen either through the draft or by trade.

The temptation, however, is the potential return. That being said, Markov is only 30 and likely has at least four more good years in him.

I'd sign him for five more years and let him retire as a Canadien. If there is an incredible offer that comes in for him at the trade deadline you look at it then, in context. But until then, I would hold onto him as he should be one of the key cogs of this team if they are going to become a contender.

What's more important, in my opinion, is finding a true No.2 defensemen to play along side him!

So what do you think? Trade him? Keep him?

POLL RESULTS:
Re-sign him immediately - 62%
Trade him immediately - 20%
Trade him at the trade deadline - 16

Habs News - Draft week starts, Habs I/O looks at past picks, HF Habs draft preview

Habs Inside/Out - Draft week begins with a stoll down memory lane
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36367

Hockey's Future - Habs Draft Preview
http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/12209/canadiens2010_draft_preview/




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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Habs News - Basu on Price, Engels on Halak trade, Gauthier wanted Eller

Habs Inside/Out - Gauthier Wanted Eller
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36365

The Daily Hab-it - For What It's Worth...
http://dailyhab-it.blogspot.com/2010/06/for-what-its-worth.html

HockeyBuzz.com - Eric Engels on THE Trade (excellent article!)
http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eric-Engels/Gauthier-Trades-Halak-to-Blues-Commits-to-Price-a8230/82/28861

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Habs News - Halak, Price, Larry Robinson, Lars Eller and more...

Habs Inside/Out - Habs Silence Spurred Robinson
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36361

The morning after
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36363

It's almost summer - give hockey a rest!
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36364

RDS - Carey Price: Patience is required (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300996.html

Eller understands the Montreal context (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300995.html

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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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Official Habs Press Release - Habs Trade Halak for Eller and Schultz

THE MONTREAL CANADIENS ACQUIRE FORWARDS LARS ELLER AND IAN SCHULTZ FROM THE ST. LOUIS BLUES IN RETURN FOR NETMINDER JAROSLAV HALAK

MONTREAL (June 17, 2010) – Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced today that the team acquired forwards Lars Eller and Ian Schultz from the St. Louis Blues in return for netminder Jaroslav Halak.

Eller, 21, suited for seven games with the Blues in 2009-10, scoring twice (2-0-2) with a +2 plus/minus differential with a time on ice average of 10:49. Over the course of the last season, the 6’1" and 198 lbs centerman also played with the Blues’AHL affiliate in Peoria where he was the Rivermen’ second best point-getter with 57 points (18-39-57) in 70 games.

The Danish forward, who also played in the American Hockey League All-Star Game, finished 9th in the AHL with 22 powerplay assists.

A native of Herlev, in Denmark, Eller was a first round selection, 13th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

Prior to coming over to North America, Eller suited up with Boras HC in neighboring Sweden before being promoted to Goteborg’ HC Vostra Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League, where he played from 2007 to 2009.

Schultz, 20, was 6th among team scoring leaders in 2009-10 with 55 points (24-31-55) in 70 games with the WHL Calgary Hitmen. Ten of his tallies were recorded on the powerplay and two more while his team was shorthanded.
Schultz also served 150 penalty minutes. The 6’ 1’– 208 lbs power forward added 15 points in the 2009-10 WHL playoffs helping his team win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The St. Louis Blues’third round, 87th overall selection in 2008 Schultz has an older brother, Jeff, who plays with the Washington Capitals.

A native of Calgary, Schultz was the recipient of the Hitmen’ Enmax Energy Humanitarian Award for 2010.

BREAKING NEWS - Jaroslav Halak Traded to the Blues

Confrimed by TSN, RDS and Habs Inside/Out - Jaroslav Halak has been traded to the St. Louis Blues.

ESPN's Pierre Lebrun is reporting that the deal is for Lars Eller and Ian Schultz.

Hockey's Future Profile on Lars Eller
http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/lars_eller

Hockey's Future Profile on Ian Schultz
http://www.hockeysfuture.com/prospects/ian_schultz


The deal is done. Here are some news links on the matter:

Habs Inside/Out
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36358

ESPN.com
http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=5298330

RDS
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300918.html

You be the Canadiens GM - Question #2: The Curious Case of Tomas Plekanec

Much has been written since the end of the season about whether the Habs can and will re-sign Tomas Plekanec. Scheduled to become a free agent on July 1, 2010, Plekanec is coming off of a career season where he put up 70 points and was one of the best two-way players in the league.

The problem is that once again, Plekanec disappeared during the playoffs, from an offensive perspective. While there is no doubting that Tomas did everything else on the ice, he was inconsistent offensively and was not able to help an anemic Canadiens offensive when they needed him.

While his agent, Rick Curran, publically disagrees, Plekanec's weak playoff offensive performance a couple of years in a row is sure to hurt his market value a little.

But enough about me...

When put to the questions of what to do with Tomas Plekanec this offseason here is a sampling of what you had to say:


Question#2 - The Curious Case of Tomas Plekanec
1. Plekanec is great, one of my favorites but you're right he's a Scott Gomez with a better shot who can't win face-offs. He's going to command way too much money in a center starved league (Tor-Kessel,CLB-Nash,NJ-Parise,Cal-Iginla).

He's going and perhaps for as much as $6 million a season which is too much for a second second-line center. I don't think his rights are tradable but if you can, move them.

2. As much as it pains me to say it, I think Plekanec has played his last season in Montreal.

There is a huge demand for playmaking centers in this league and someone is going to back up the Brinks truck and throw a ton of money at Plekanec.

It's a case of supply and demand.

The supply of centers does not equal the demand and so Plekanec's value gets artificially pushed up. I don't think he'll take a hometown discount and the money will be too good to pass up for him.

3. I don't see any choice but to sign Pleks, but let's be reasonable, anything over $4.5 Million is too much. Habs don't have a replacement in the system for him however.

4. Pleks is a great two-way forward, but we need some size up front. Try and sign him to a four year deal at $4.75 Million per. If he takes it see if you can make your team larger by other means. If he wants over $5 Million you trade him. Edmonton or Florida would be all over him.

5. Trade the rights if you can, be prepared to let him walk if need be. DO NOT over pay. I might suggest that unless you can get him with a no brainer cheappy-cheap contract let him walk. He is not "the guy" for me.

6. If he's willing to take $4-4.75 million I'll resign Pleks. Otherwise, he can take his party elsewhere. It's a pity, but there's a cap issue at stake, and we already have Gomez, who is completely unmovable unless one of the other GMs is smoking something illegal.

Consensus: None, with about half the people trading his rights, and half re-signing him.

An interesting note is that of the people wanting to re-sign him, I did not get one that thought that Plekanec was worth more than $5 Million a year.

Personally, I think Plekanec and his agent will not settle for anything less than $5 million per season and as such, think there is no way he will sign in Montreal.

Sad, because it is always unfortunate to see a player drafted by your team grow and develop only to leave the organization, but I get the feeling that the Plekanec team is wanting a little more than the Habs want to offer.

For me, the first choice would be to move Gomez's huge contract, re-sign Plekanec, and try to bring in a big first-liner by way of trade. That, however, is a pipe dream as I don't think any GM in the league is about to take Gomez's contract off of the Canadiens' hands.

Since that is the case, I would shop Plekanec's rights and try to get a late first round but more likely a second round pick for him. Then, I'd go out and try to trade for a big No.1 center. Jeff Carter, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Marleau—who might be had by way of free agency—all come to mind and could potentially had by parting ways with either Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price.

So what do you all think? Do you agree with the consensus, or lack thereof? What would you do?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Official Habs Press Release - Canadiens Buyout George Laraque's Contract

MONTREAL CANADIENS BUY OUT THE CONTRACT OF FORWARD GEORGES LARAQUE

MONTREAL (June 15, 2010) – Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier, announced today that the Club has bought out the contract of forward Georges Laraque.

Laraque’s contract was valid until the end of the 2010-11 season. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Georges Laraque, 33, played in 28 games with the Canadiens in 2009-10. He registered three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and 28 penalty minutes. In 61 career regular season games with the Canadiens, Laraque recorded five points (1 goal, 4 assists) and 89 penalty minutes.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You be the Canadiens GM - Question #1: Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price?

Greetings Habs addicts! Hope you enjoyed the playoffs and are now basking in the summer sunshine and the brief pause from hockey. Don't worry the draft and free agency are just around the corner so there will be no shortage of hockey talk coming up.

About a week ago, I posted an article listing five pivotal questions that need answering for the Habs, this post season, and wanted you, the fans, to let me know what YOU would do as the Habs GM.

So, here in part one of five, I will start posting a compilation of some of the best answers I received with a little of my own commentary.

Before the post, however, I would like to thank all of the fans who sent in their thoughts and ideas from Hockeybuzz.com, HabsAddict.com, and the Bleacher Report including, but not limited to Tyg, Usman, bigsnake, Scott Weldon, Sharks_12, OVATION, Methodfilter, Discofunk, Crosscheck187, Brewstir, habs&islesfan, zack31, habsfans2010, African_Fanatic, Loen Harry, and so many more of you.

So, without further ado, here is a compilation of some of the best responses:

Question 1: Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price?
1. You have to move the goalie that gives you a top-6 winger. I would have to guess that goalie is Jaro. If that is the case, you get a Biron type to come play with Price.

2. Trade the goalie that brings the higher return—in other words, auction-time.

3. Keep Halak as your number 1. If Price will accept a number 1b role and salary, then keep him too. Otherwise Price needs to go.

4. Carey Price. Don't get me wrong, because I think the best short-term solution would be to keep both for at least another year in order to make sure that a) Halak isn't a one-hit wonder like Théodore and Huet, and b) Price has learned from the last two seasons and is ready to move forward in order to become a number one goalie.

Since I'm fairly certain we won't be able to keep both (mostly due to the fact that they both want to be starters), I say we sign & trade Halak whose value has never been higher than it is right now...Gauthier needs to strike while the iron is hot!

5. Shop them both around and trade the one that gets me a better deal, preferably a big, fast, capable winger for the Gomez/Gionta line.

6. I think the issue with Halak and Price is that it is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't. The goalie that you let walk could turn into a superstar and burn your team five years down the road. No one wants that to happen and so ideally you would re-sign both of them. Let them mature together and then in 3-4 years see which one is better, then make a decision.

They are both very young and still have tons of upside.


Consensus: Setup an auction and see which goalie can get you the highest return. While there were many advocates for keeping either Price or Halak, the consensus seemed to be to shop both of them.

In all honestly, that is likely the best strategy for GM Pierre Gauthier to follow. He has two assets of varying value around the league, who are both RFA's and who really have little leverage.

While Halak played a great season and even better in the playoffs, the best he can hope for is an arbitration hearing in which he gets a one-year settlement and can renegotiate with the Habs during the season.

Price? He's got nothing except pedigree. I would make him a qualifying offer and not a penny more. No raise for him.

The problem, as many of you pointed out, is that there is the reality that both goalies want to be starters and feel that they can and should be. So, while they don't really have a lot of leverage and the Habs can likely strong arm them both into staying for at least one more year, they have to consider the psychological effect this will have on the two players.

Moreover, they have to consider the effect it will have on the team.

From my point of view, I would shop both and see what I can get in return for them. That being said, I would not necessarily trade either of them unless I saw an opportunity to significantly improve my team.

What is a significant improvement? A No.1 center, top-six winger, or top-three defenseman.

This is not to say that either Price or Halak could fetch that return by themselves, but by packaging them with some of the moveable parts that the Habs have and maybe even a pick, they might be able to land themselves a nice return.

So what do you think? Do you agree with the people? Do you have a different theory?

I'll post the responses to question No.2 tomorrow: The Curious Case of Tomas Plekanec.

POLL UPDATE:
What would you do with the Habs goalies?
Trade Halak - 47%
Trade Price - 21%
Keep them both - 30%

Friday, June 11, 2010

HabsAddict.com Become Blogger Sponsor for Five Hole For Food

HabsAddict.com is proud to announce their affiliation with the charity tour called Five Hole For Food (http://www.FiveHoleForFood.com).

As a blogger sponsor, HabsAddict.com will be helping to chronicle and promote the tour for their Montreal stop.

The tour actually starts in Montreal on June 29th, with and outdoor ball hockey game where local food companies will donate food to a local food bank for each goal that is scored in the game.

So, take a look at their website and come out to support this great event!

Five Hole For Food
http://www.FiveHoleForFood.com

Where: Parc des Éperviers outdoor rink – 204 Rue De la Rivelaine

When: June 29th, 2010, 7:00 PM EST

Food Bank Beneficiary: NDG Food Depot

Special Details: The Monster Energy Team is going to be on site to be handing out free samples and lots of swag so get excited!

Post Game: Boston Pizza -Des Source – 2345, Place Transcanadienne Dorval QC H9P 2X7

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Official Habs Press Release - Gauthier Comments on Boucher Hiring in Tampa

STATEMENT FROM PIERRE GAUTHIER FOLLOWING THE APPOINTMENT OF GUY BOUCHER AS HEAD COACH OF THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

MONTREAL (June 10, 2010) – Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier, issued the following statement following the nomination of Guy Boucher as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“The Montreal Canadiens wish to thank Guy Boucher for his commitment to the organization. His dedication was a key factor to the success of the Hamilton Bulldogs during the 2009-10 season, and to the development of our prospects. We wish Guy the best of luck with the Lightning” said general manager Pierre Gauthier.

Chicago Blackhawks Win the Cup: Nine Things I Noticed About Game Six

First things first: Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks, their owners, management team, and most of all their fans!

The Hawks deserve the win and it was nice to see an original-six team who has not won the cup in 49 years, hoist Lord Stanley's mug.

Congratulations also goes to the Flyers organization and their fans for a well fought series and a great run.

OK, so niceties aside, here are nine things that I noticed about Wednesday night's Game 6:

1. The winning goal was the weakest goal of the playoffs
As well as Michael Leighton has played for stretches of the playoffs, when all the chips were down and he needed to make a routine save, he failed, letting in what could easily be described as the worst/weakest goal of the entire 2010 playoffs.

So what do we make of him now?

Leighton wasn't alone, in this series, as I have to agree with the experts who are saying that this was the worst display of goaltending in a Stanley Cup final in recent memory.

2. Scotty Bowman, as senior hockey advisor in Chicago, won another cup ring
In the post-game on-ice scrum, Scotty Bowman was interviewed by CBC. During the interview he explained how he never wanted to leave the Wings organization but couldn't turn down his son, who has overcome two bouts of Hodgkin's disease.

The win give Bowman 12 cup victories—nine as head coach and three as a member of the front office.

Good on you, Scotty!

3. Stan Bowman has no lips
No, really, the guy has no lips.

Watch his interview again. The dude has no lips.

I'm just sayin'.

4. Adam Burish has an awesome personality!
Wow. What a personality. I think he said "Man" and "Dude" a bunch of times during his on-ice interview, and he seems like a very down-to-Earth individual. He sounds like a great guy and someone I'd love to grab a beer with!

5. Duncan Keith is a hillbilly and I never knew that before
I have to admit that I have never heard Duncan Keith being interviewed before and, gap-toothed smile aside, I never realized that he is a country bumpkin.

It's not that there's anything wrong with that, but I was just surprised when he spoke.

Good for you, Duncan! Enjoy the cup for now because I predict the Norris Trophy is the next piece of hardware you'll be holding.

6. CBC's Ron McLean should not be trying interview coach Joel Quenneville while the team is taking their impromptu team picture with the cup.
Not much more to say here. McLean should know better and Quenneville should have just run away from him and jumped into that picture!

7. The Hawks have more red heads than any other team in the league
Not that we're counting, but it seemed like everyone that was being interviewed had red hair or a red beard.

Interesting. Perhaps that is the key to their success!

8. Brent Sopel looks like someone I would not want to cross in a dark alley
This is probably mostly because of the scraggly beard he was sporting, but he looked bad-ass.

9. The Hawks won the cup for the first time in 49 years and they deserve it
Enjoy it Hawks fans. Congratulations once again!


So that's it. The season is over. Now it's time for the winners to bask in their victory or for the losers to think about the what-ifs.

There is no rest for the wicked, as the June entry draft is just around the corner—two weeks away.

So for all you hockey fans out there, enjoy the summer, enjoy the rumours as they start to whirl, and enjoy the fact that hockey is just an awesome game to watch.

What a ride! See you at the draft folks!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Good News, Bad News for Habs Fans on Guy Boucher

In case you didn't hear yet, the Habs affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs' head coach, Guy Boucher, was offered and turned down the head coaching job for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Yay!

And in case you didn't hear yet, according to reports from Rue Frontenac and TSN, he subsequently accepted the head coaching job for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Boo!

Guy Boucher has been the most sought after coach since his Hamilton Bulldogs were eliminated in Game Seven of their conference finals less than two weeks ago.

Having won gold with the Canadian World Juniors two seasons ago and, more importantly, taking an improbable Hamilton Bulldogs squad to within one game of the Calder Cup finals this year, Boucher's star had been rising for quite some time.

The murmurs throughout Habs-nation this year had been that Boucher was exactly the type of coach that Montreal needed behind their bench.

Moreover, as the Habs struggled through an up and down season Jacques Martin's "system" began looking more and more antiquated. As the inconsistency persisted, fans started getting more and more frustrated that Martin had a four-year contract while the organization had a gem of a coach, in Boucher, sitting in the AHL.

As twisted as it might sound, many were hoping for an early first round exit by the Habs, followed by the firing of Martin and the potential promotion of Boucher.

Well, as of this morning, that dreams has evaporated.

Tampa now becomes the benefactor of a great hockey mind in Steve Yzerman who will be coached by the youngest and most educated coach in the NHL—Boucher is 38 and has a degree in sports psychology.

I have to admit that I would have loved to see Boucher behind the Habs bench, even as an assistant as he is part of a new generation of coaches who work the intangible side of hockey as much as the tangibles.

If there is one thing that Boucher was known for it was his ability to help young players get their heads screwed on straight.

It remains to be seen how successful Boucher will be in the NHL but suffice it to say that if he was able to help Sergei Kostitsyn to change his thinking at the beginning of the year, he should be able to get Vincent Lecavalier back near the 90+ point range.

So, while the talk over the last little while has been able the poor first rounds draft picks the Habs have made over the last ten years, the focus will once again turn to coaching.

Despite the improbable run that the Canadiens went on during the playoffs, many if not most fans still believe that Coach Martin is the wrong man for the job. Many also believe the Pierre Gauthier is the wrong man for his job.

While the loss of Boucher is sure to continue to sour people on the Canadiens management and coaching decisions I would say this: they had no choice but to let him go.

The Canadiens are not an organization that will stand in front of someone's progress for selfish reasons. If they did not want Boucher to leave then they should have offered him a job in Montreal. Seeing as this was not what happened, the Habs rightfully granted teams the permission to speak with and hire Boucher.

As for the Habs tandem of Gauthier and Martin, I too am not the biggest fan of either man's track records to date. That being said, I am willing to give both the benefit of the doubt.

Let's see what they can do.

Despite Martin's spotty playoff history he somehow managed to take a terribly inconsistent team to within three games of the Stanley Cup final. That has to count for something.

Let's see what he does with a full year with the same core group under his belt. Let's see how he does without, hopefully, having to deal with the tremendous number of injuries to key players throughout the season. Let's see how he does without having to teach 23 players a new system.

As for Gauthier, this will be his first offseason as the GM of the Habs and there is no shortage of difficult and important decisions for him to make going forward. So let's give him a chance to do his thing and, like Martin, we can judge his body of work after it has been performed and not before.

UPDATE - According to RDS, Habs assistant coach Perry Pearn will be leaving the Habs to become the head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings (Junior team).

Habs News - Boucher to Tampa, Hickey on Leblanc, CAA represents Leblanc

Habs Inside/Out - Goodbye Columbus....and hello, Tampa Bay
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36212

RDS - Direction Tampa (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300288.html

RDS - First Boucher now Pearn? (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300312.html

TSN - REPORT: Boucher accepts job as head coach of Lightning
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=323927

CAA to represent Habs' Leblanc as famiily advisor
http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=323876

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Habs News - Jackets offer job to Boucher, Leblanc's rights to Juniors, Gauthier speaks

Habs Inside/Out - The GM speaks
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36031

Blue Jackets offer coaching job to Boucher
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/36110

RDS - Gauthier satisfied with Timmins (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300118.html

Boucher has an offer from the Jackets (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/300171.html

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Five Pivotal Decisions for the Habs: You be the GM.

With so many big and important decisions to make this summer, GM Pierre Gauthier has his hands full to say the least.

While many pundits are starting to get up on their soap boxes to tell the world what they think the Habs should do, I thought it would be a good time for you, the fans, to let the world know what YOU think the Canadiens should do this summer.

With so many armchair GM's following the Habs, there is no shortage of ideas about how to tweak this lineup to make the Canadiens a contender.

So, put on your GM hat and let us know what you would do.

While there are other decisions to make this offseason like what to do with the brothers Kostitsyn and whether or not to buy out Roman Hamrlik's contract in order to get some cap room, I think that the follow five questions are foremost in most people's minds.

What would you do if you were the Habs GM? Let us know in the comment section:

Five pivotal decisions for the Habs.

1 - Jaroslav Halak or Carey Price?Halak clearly established himself as a bonafide No.1 goaltender in the league this year. From his performance in the Olympics for Team Slovakia to his scintillating play in rounds one and two of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Halak has shown that he has arrived.

The question is, can he repeat the performance or is he a one-hit wonder?

Logic, and his track record—he has only improved and become the best goaltender at whatever level he has played in—seem to indicate that he is the real deal, but he is an RFA and doesn't have as much negotiating power as a UFA would.

That being said, if the Habs decide to trade him, the return could be impressive. But are you ready to give Price the reigns again?

While Carey has shown a definitely change in attitude off the ice he has yet to put it all together on the ice. We have to temper that with the realization that he is only 22 and most goaltenders don't tend to hit their stride until their mid twenties.

So do you keep him? Trade him? Keep them both?


2 - The curious case of Tomas Plekanec.
What a quandary the Canadiens are in with Plekanec.

A UFA for the first time in his career and coming off of a career high 70-point season, Plekanec is one of the few premiere centers potentially available for the 2010 free agent season.

The Habs seemingly have between now and July first to sign or trade his rights.

While there is no question that Plekanec is an incredibly multi-faceted two-way player, he also has a record of disappearing offensively in the playoffs and that should affect his value a little.

The other problem for the Habs is that Plek and Gomez are pretty similar players and despite the roles they have been thrust into, are both second-line centers.

The Canadiens can operate with one second-line center, but having two small No.2's is not a recipe for success.

So, in an ideal world I imagine that you sign Plekanec and trade Gomez, however Gomez's $7 Million plus deal make him virtually untradeable unless that Habs are taking back an equally horrible contract in the deal.

So what do the Habs do? How much value can they get for trading Plekanec's right prior to or on draft day? A second round pick? A late first rounder?

If Plek agrees to sign for $4-4.5 Million dollars, then is he worth keeping? What if he wants $5 Million-plus? What would you do?


3 - Re-sign or trade Andrei Markov.
Andrei Markov will be entering the final year of his contract next season and the Habs have said that they are interested in re-signing him during this offseason.

At $5.75 million a season, Markov clearly took a hometown discount to stay in Montreal. So what do the Habs do now?

When he's healthy, Markov is one of the best defensemen in the league. The problem is that he has not been very healthy for the past two seasons.

Last year and this year, Markov was injured and unavailable for all or most of the playoffs. This season, he was injured in the first game and out until just before the Olympics.

As such, the Habs had to make do without him for long stretches of the season and playoffs, and while his presence was missed, they showed that they could do so pretty effectively—especially in eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

So where do they go now?

Markov, if made available, would clearly be a hot commodity and could fetch a handsome return. If the Habs trade him, however, who could they get back that can shore up the defense in the future?

Keep in mind that Roman Hamrlik and Hal Gill are both entering the final year of their respective contracts and will need to be replaced next summer.

While the Habs have shown that they can still win without Markov, his loss would leave a massive hole on the backend. So, if you trade him, who would you target to replace him? Or, do you simply re-sign him for three to five years and have him finish his career in Montreal?


4 - How do you make the Habs bigger?
If one thing was made clearly during the playoffs, it's that Montreal needs to get bigger up front.

With Gionta, Plekanec, Cammalleri, and Gomez being the only Habs to really contribute on the top two lines and all being under six feet tall, the Canadiens are lacking scoring size on their top two lines.

Andrei Kostitsyn has clearly worn out his welcome in Montreal, and despite flashes of brilliance, Benoit Pouliot has yet to show that he can be a consistently effective power forward in the NHL.

As a result of their floundering wingers, the Habs had trouble establishing net presence, picking up rebounds, and making the goaltenders' lives difficult during the playoffs.

Having a big gritty winger on each of those two top lines would completely change the Habs attack plan. Imagine Dustin Byfuglien playing with Cammy and Plek?

Sick.

So, knowing that the Habs need more size up front, who would you target and what deal would you put together to get him on the roster?


5 - Would you make a play for Vincent Lecavalier?
I know, I know, we are all sick of hearing about the Lecavalier to Montreal rumors and, as of right now, there really isn't anything more than speculation out there regarding Vinny.

However, with a new GM in Tampa—Steve Yzerman—who cut Lecavalier from the Team Canada Olympic roster, the question is bound to come up as to whether he wants to move him or not.

If Yzerman does want to move Lecavalier and his ugly ten year contract, the logical first thought has to be the Canadiens given Vinny's Montreal roots.

But, from a Montreal perspective, is he worth it?

Can Lecavalier rediscover his 50-goal, 100-point form, or is he past his prime and closer to a 70-80 point player?

If Vinny is even available what trade package could you put together to get him, keeping in mind that the Habs would have to move salary back the other way to fit him under the cap.


OK, that's all I've got for now. Remember to let us know your answers in the comment section below. I'm going to take the best responses and compile them in a post, so put on your thinking cap and let's hear your best ideas!

Habs News - Postcards from camp, Leblanc, Boucher, Marc de Foy, Dumont

Habs Inside/Out - Post Cards from camp
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/35917

Today's Reading
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/35918

Dumout deployed his full arsenal (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/299963.html

Louis Leblance and the big question (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/299964.html

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Habs News - Habs fire 6 scouts, Boucher to Columbus, Development camp opens

The Montreal Gazette - Questions Surrounding Habs
http://www.montrealgazette.com/sports/Questions+surround+Canadiens/3095023/story.html

Habs Inside/Out - Bloodbath in the scouting department
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/35822

Saving $$$ on scouting
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/35916

Boucher, Blue Jackets talk
http://www.habsinsideout.com/main/35820

RDS - 30 hopefuls at development camp (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/299898.html

CH: Cleanup in the scouting department (French)
http://www.rds.ca/canadien/chroniques/299884.html

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