Tuesday, February 26, 2008

D-Day

Reason number 230932 why I don't like deadline day: I'm afraid the luck is running out.

I, like many Montreal Canadiens fans, believe Bob Gainey is the right man to be sitting in the GM's chair. He's got a plan, and he's ahead of schedule in seeing it bear fruit. He's smart and patient and disciplined. He's also a very, very lucky guy when it comes to dodging bullets from a gun he loads himself.

Let's take the case of Daniel Briere. He's put up twenty-two goals and thirty-three assists in sixty-two games. Not too shabby, right? Well, he's also a -24 and is making ten million dollars this year. Compare that with Tomas Plekanec, who's making 1.4 million dollars, is plus-four and has put up twenty-one goals and thirty-three assists in sixty-three games. So either that extra goal is worth 8.6 million bucks, or Bob Gainey got a major deal by paying Plekanec instead of Briere. The part that scares me is that the deal Gainey got appears to be pure luck, since Gainey did offer Briere the big contract and was left holding the money bag when Briere chose Philly instead. Maybe Plekanec would have had the same numbers even if Briere had come to Montreal. Or maybe he'd have been relegated to the third line with plugger linemates and have half those totals. Either way, the Habs would be a different team. Briere's millions would mean another player would have to go to make way for his salary, and considering Alex Kovalev's resurgence this year, the team salary structure would be seriously out of whack.

And speaking of Plekanec, it's pure luck he's still a Hab at all. When Gainey made the deal with the Rangers to bring Kovalev to Montreal, he offered Glen Sather his choice of four prospets. Sather chose Jozef Balej because he was the Hamilton Bulldogs' leading scorer at the time, passing over Plekanec. Whew...another bullet dodged.

And Sheldon Souray. Imagine if he'd accepted Gainey's 5.5 million last season. There would be no Roman Hamrlik who's stabilized the team defence immeasurably over last season. Instead, the team would be saddled with Souray's big dollars and defensive errors, as well as his constant injuries.

Yes, Gainey's been good, but he's also been very, very lucky that some of the things he's tried to do have fallen through. Imagine the team with giant salaries to Daniel Briere and Sheldon Souray, and Tomas Plekanec toiling away in Ranger Blue. Not a pretty picture, is it? That's why I'm hoping the trade deadline passes without any big splashes made by Gainey cannonballing into the pool. This is a year to be prudent.

Because sooner or later, the luck will run out.

1 comment:

Douglas said...

good post, j.t. but notwithstanding the hatred many habs fans seem to have for ribeiro, i'd say that that trade didn't have much "luck", either.

adding to your "luck", however, is today's avoidance of trading a roster player for a rental. if it was lapierre, ryder, and grabs, i think that that was a fair deal and i'm glad bob toed the line. the avoidance of being tempted to include higgins was measured rather than involving luck, at least.